EarMen Eagle

Otto Motor

Headphoneus Supremus
EarMen Eagle - Affordable Premium Sound
Pros: Linear response; natural premium sound; USB-A connector.
Cons: No storage case.

Executive Summary

The $129 EarMen Eagle is a rather refined sounding dac & amp that beats it immediate peers in terms of sound quality. It is the lowest priced dongle offering premium sound quality (of all the ones I have tested) imo.

This review was originally published at www.audioreviews.org


EarMen may be a rather young company that released their first products in 2020, but they have the very experienced premium manufacturer Auris Audio behind them. They are registered in Chicago but produce in Serbia, so you get an American-European product. Their first releases into the world of combined dac-amps were the excellent $199 Sparrow dongle and the $249 TR-amp, both receiving undeservedly little attention by consumers on our YouTube channel (You find the Sparrow video here and the TR-amp video there). But both products received high praises by reviewers.

The Sparrow is special in that it features a balanced circuit on top of the single-ended one, which appears to put the Eagle in its shadow, but undeservedly so, as we will find out. EarMen asked me to compare their Eagle to the AudioQuest DragonFly Red – which some reviewers have done already.

In this review, I will demonstrate that a comparison with the DragonFly Red is somewhat irrelevant and why I prefer the Eagle over the Sparrow. The Eagle simply has its very own merits and deserves to fly high above the radar of the dongle universe.

As mentioned before, I have written an extensive review of the EarMen Sparrow and both are overlapping in terms of functionality. I will therefore focus on my new findings with my experience in “dongle-itis” gained and rather focus on how the EarMen Eagle fits into the big picture.

EarMen Eagle


EarMen Eagle
EarMen Eagle

DAC chip is ESS ES9281.
Download Manual: EarMen Eagle

Purchase Link: EarMen Shop

Tested at: $129

Visit mqa.co.uk for more information.

Physical Things and Usability

EarMen Eagle

In the box are the EarMen Eagle, the warranty card, and a USB-A female to USB-C male adapter cable. This allows the Eagle to connect to Apple and Android phones/tablets, and any Windows/Mac computers. It features the ESS Sabre ESS ES9280 C PRO dac chip – which is well implemented.

As you may be well aware, the chip does not matter much for the sound as it is only one of many components. More important are its implementation (including filtering), the analog output stage, as well as the amp design and amp implementation. Therefore, devices with the same das chip may sound totally differently. One ingredient does not make a great meal, experienced chefs are needed. Luckily, they have good cooks at EarMen.

EarMen Eagle

In contrast to its Sparrow sibling, the Eagle features a USB-A connector, a rarity outside the AudioQuest models. The EarMen Eagle therefore works with iOS devices (but requires the Apple Camera Adapter) without creating a “monster dongle snake”. And that’s why I prefer the Eagle over the Sparrow.

EarMen Eagle
EarMen Eagle (top) and EarMen Sparrow: same dimensions, same build, different connectors: USB-A male vs. USB-C female. Now add the Apple camera adapter to connect to iPhone…

The actual EarMen Eagle is as sturdy and filigree CnC machined aluminium construction with top and bottom covered by glass…although I wished it had come with a sheath to protect it from being scratched. It has the same build and dimensions as the Sparrow.

The EarMen logo is illuminated depending on input:

  • White – Connected
  • Green – PCM/DXD/DSD
  • Magenta – MQA
  • Red – Not Connected

Functionality and Operation

A Summary Of What It Does

  • Can be connected to Windows/Mac computers or Android/iOS sources
  • USB-A connector works well with iPhone and Android alike (with included OTG cable)
  • Works as a pre-amplifier or dac when connected to a dedicated headphone amplifier
  • Drives small loudspeakers through its 3.5 mm output

AND Of What It Does Not

  • …has no physical controls
  • …needs no battery; draws power from source…and lots of it
  • …is not driverless: needs a USB driver for Window computer
  • …needs an Apple camera adapter or other third-party lightning cable for connecting to an iOS device
  • …does not like driving power-hungry headphones, let’s say my 300 Ω Sennheiser HD 600, is pushing it
Well, the first fail of most dongle manufacturers (imo) is the choice of a USB-C connector, be it a socket or a fixed cable. While this is mildly beneficial for Android users, it adds inconvenience to iOS users as they need to chain two cables together: an OTG one and the Apple Camera adapter, which results in a cumbersome “snake”. Yes, you can get third party lightning cables to connect to a USB-C socket, but their MFI chips are not optimized for Apple’s power management, which results in unreasonably high additional battery drains.

The EarMen Eagle contains no battery and is powered by the source device. It works plug ‘n’ play with computers, tablets, and phones (Windows/Mac/Android/iOS). And it requires adjusting the respective sound panel settings in Mac and Windows computers (and a Windows driver).

Volume is controlled from the source device – there are no buttons on the EarMen Sparrow. It is as easy as that. The EarMen Eagle decodes all 32bit/384kHz formats: PCM, DoP, DSD64, DSD128 and MQA.

Amplification and Power Consumption

You have to give it to EarMen that they disclose detailed power ratings (see specifications above). The Eagle drives any iem and mid-sized headphone such as the 70 Ω Sennheiser HD 25 very well, but starts losing heft at the more power-hungry, full-sized cans such as the 300 Ω Sennheiser HD 600.

In my 3h battery drain test of several dongles, the Dragonfly Black and Red had the lowest consumption on my iPhone 5S, the EarMen consumed about a third more, which placed it in the midfield. But it could have done far worse than that….see the detailed results. I would call the Eagle’s battery consumption acceptable but not outstanding.

Power Consumption Test: Parameters and Raw Results

I tested the power consumption of several portable headphone amps connected to my iPhone 5S. The conditions were as identical as possible: 3 h test, volume calibrated to 85 dB ± 0.5 dB white noise with Dayton microphone, no sim card, BT off, no other apps open; network on, 32 ohm Blon BL-03 iem, Genesis’s Supper’s Ready (from the Seconds Out album) played in an endless loop.
The iPhone’s battery was fully charged at the start of the test and the remaining charge was measured thereafter. The result is shown in the table below. Since the tests were performed at different times and considering the ongoing battery deterioration, the results have to be seen with a grain of salt.



Equipment used: MaBook Air/iPhone Se (1st gen.); Sennheiser HD 25; Cayin Fantasy, Sennheiser IE 300, Sennheiser IE 400 PRO, Moondrop Aria, Shozy Form 1.4.

Testing Details

My tonal preference and testing practice
My test tracks explained

The EarMen Eagle sounds essentially like the single-ended circuit of its sibling EarMen Sparrow. It is marginally off neutral with a bit of warmth added. Warm enough to work well with natural earphones, and neutral enough to work with warm sounding earphones. This makes it flexible with earphone/headphone pairings. It has a rather wide soundstage and a very pleasant, natural timbre, without any harshness or grain.

Voices are smooth, the imaging has some sense of ease, timbre is organic, transparency and clarity are good. The overall presentation is very musical, nothing is analytical or sterile. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Eagle, sonically, but rather everything right.

EarMen Eagle Compared

With tens of dongles on the market, it has become impossible for a single reviewer to keep the overview. As a rule of thumb, pricier models do NOT have necessarily more amplification but a better dac (implementation) in my experience, which translates to better sound. The Eagle’s money is not so much in the amplification but in the sound quality.

“Better sound” in this context means richer/fuller, with better microdynamics (“the small things”) and macrodynamics. It also means more organic/natural as opposed to digital. These improvements result in better musicality. This is not different with your desktop stacks.

I was asked to compare the EarMen Eagle with the $199 AudioQuest DragonFly Red. And the Red shows the Eagle’s limits, which is no surprise as it is 50% more expensive. The Red is bassier, punchier, and more agile & dynamic, it has more note weight and better note definition, and better detail retrieval. It is a bit fuller, richer, and smoother sounding. Vocals are more forward.

The Eagle has a wider but flatter stage. It is overall leaner sounding than the Red but also a bit clearer in the midrange. The Eagle is overall more polite. These differences are only obvious when A/B-ing. What plays into the Eagle’s hands is its more linear signature: the Red does not pair as well with thick sounding/bassy earphones, that’s where the Eagle excels.

Compared to the $85 Shanling UA2 and $109 Hidizs S9 PRO, the Eagle is ahead in terms of timbre. It sounds more natural and even, and it is fuller in the midrange. UA2 is the bassiest and warmest of the three. The UA2/S9 PRO feature an additional balanced circuit and more power. You have the choice: features or sound quality. Quantity vs. quality.

The Eagle’s closest competitor, sound wise, could be the $119 Earstudio HUD100, which is less dynamic but more linear than the Eagle. I prefer the HUD100 for earphone analyses and the Eagle for recreational listening.

In summary, I would draw a line in the sand and claim that the Eagle is the lowest-priced dongle with true premium sound. This is, of course, subjective.

Concluding Remarks

The EarMen Eagle (and the Sparrow) are the company’s first foray into source-powered portable amp/DACs. And it is a very good one. The Eagle sounds great without any major weakness, has excellent build, and it is practical with its USB-A connector. And that’s why I personally prefer it over the more expensive Sparrow. Of all the dongles I have tested, the Eagle is the lowest-priced one that offers premium sound quality imo, and it is worth pairing with the most expensive iems.

In the meantime, I have mailed the EarMen Sparrow to Biodegraded for a second opinion/review.

Until next time…keep on listening!

EarMen Eagle
Last edited:
OK Thank You.
I'd love to see the Cayin RU6 added to that power consumption chart 😁
Otto Motor
Otto Motor
I don't have one but it it is apparently a power hog.


New Head-Fier
EarMen Eagle. Dongle on guard for detail
Pros: Build, clear sound, neutral tuning, deep bass, soundstage, price for the quality, musicality, design
Cons: Amazing glass faceplate without case

I was greeted by a very laconic but stylish box. Inside was the Dongle itself, a USB to USB C cable, a warranty and instructions...a standard set for such solutions

Design and construction. Taking the Eagle in my hands, I got the feeling that the device costs not $130, but twice as expensive, the metal frame and glass panels give the impression of a premium product, I don't often have such sensations with Dongles, the last time I felt it with my Lotoo Paw S1, but it really is twice as expensive as the Eagle

The build quality is at the highest level, I have never held a Dongle for so long before listening to lol. There are no physical buttons on the case, but for me personally this is not an important option, especially for such a price. I would like to note that the American company manufactures this Dongle in Europe, namely in Yugoslavia, I will not make conclusions and comments on this, but on the face the highest quality of the device design, it is felt tactile and audiovisual

Sound. The first audition immediately caused a smile, because Eagle started playing exactly the way I like it, neutral, technical, legible and rich, without any color. The highs are palpable and crystal clear, the mids have structure and volume, the bass is punchy, rich and sinks to a very decent depth

When I choose IEMs, I often look for a neutral pitch, and here I found my favorite sound in Dongle. Recently, many manufacturers have been making such devices with an offset in the sound signature, it is not clear whether they do it deliberately or it turns out randomly. In this case, EarMen did not get the result by accident

The overall tone is neutral, but not dry, with excellent separation of plans. Brings life to absolutely all styles of music, from rock to hip-hop to acid jazz. This sound will never get bored, it can cause only one desire ... the desire to buy something more expensive from this brand lol, in order to dive deeper into the trademark honest and incredibly attractive EarMen sound

I highly recommend EarMen Eagle as the first serious mobile booster or to replace your annoying Dongle with clear accents. Eagle will be stuck in your heart and ears for a very long time...like mine

Appreciate the small and you will touch the great ©

#EarMen #EarMenEagle #EarMenAmp

Link to store: https://earmen-shop.com/products/eagle


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Review EarMen Sparrow and Eagle: Top tiers
Pros: For Eagle: Balanced, yet engaging, detailed and substantially open sound, with realism, very good soundstage, image and dynamics. Outstanding quality.
Cons: The soundstage could be bigger, leading to more full bodied sound, although this is not really a criticism.

Maybe the name EarMen does not ring a bell to everyone. Although, it is a relatively young company, it had a lot of activity since it was founded just a few years ago. Of course, this is no by accident; EarMen has an older sibling, Auris Audio, which is famous for making tube amplifiers characterized by their emphasis on purity of sound. The idea behind every Auris product is to perfect neutral, natural and clean sound and package the final product in a stylish and quality design that please the eyes and last for many, many years to come.

It is no secret that behind both Auris Audio and EarMen is Milomir "Miki" Trosic who has designed and engineered all products of both companies. Obviously, for someone who has designed the exquisite Auris products is rather easy to design the EarMen products. The difference between the two is that the former are hi end desktop products, while the latter are portable devices to be used with computers and smartphones. However, both share the same philosophy: Top sound and outstanding quality, and this is what characterizes the products under review EarMen Sparrow and Eagle.


Sparrow and Eagle share a lot of common characteristics. Both consist of an aluminum structure design on the sides,created via CNC milling, with a front and back glass plate. This is a light-weight but robust enclosure, which protects audio signal from interference. Also, both devices have smooth rounded edges, which make them look very nice, and the overall quality is truly outstanding and very pleasing to the eyes.

Technically, Sparrow and Eagle have top of the line ESS Sabre DAC chips, ES9281 PRO the former and ES9280C PRO the latter, both chips with HyperStream®II modulation and excellent specs. The difference is that, on top of all PCM, DXD and DSD formats, Sparrow also supports MQA rendering and Qobuz Hi-Res playback, which might be important for some people. Also, both devices sport a 4 layer gold-plated Printed Circuit Board (PCB) and super low Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR) tantalum capacitors; the result of these high quality components is reduction of noise to minimum and improvement of super fine details especially in Hi-Res files where one can feel and hear the differences.

EarMen Sparrow.jpeg

Now, if one difference between Sparrow and Eagle is the audio formats played by each one (see the previous paragraph), certainly the biggest difference between the two is that Sparrow, on top of the 3.5 mm output that both devices have, offers also a 2.5 mm balanced output. The benefit of the latter is much higher power, almost double of that supplied by the 3.5 mm output (see the specs below). The obvious and rather natural question is whether this 2.5 mm balanced output is actually needed and of course whether provides some improvement in sound quality; the fast answer is that this extra feature is needed in some cases and in those cases it provides (some) improvement in sound quality (see the section on sound).

EarMen Eagle.jpeg

A last difference between Sparrow and Eagle is the way device one connects to one’s computer, laptop or smartphone; the former through the supplied USB C to USB A or USB C to USB C cable, while the latter through its USB A port, which is part of the device, although a USB A female to USB C cable is also supplied.

Before we go to sound analysis, let’s compare the specs of the two devices:

Led indicatorWhiteConnected
RedNot connected
Unbalanced 3.5 mm
32 Ω
60 mW
150 Ω
26 mW
Balanced 2.5 mm
32 Ω
110 mW
150 Ω
100 mW
Audio Formats
DSD64/128 DoP
DXD384/352.8 kHz
PCMUp to 384 kHz
MQA RenderingMQA native hardware
Dimensions L x W x H42 x 22 x 8 mm
Weight12 gr
Supported Operating SystemsWIN 10, Android, Apple macOS, Apple iOS

Led indicatorWhiteConnected
RedNot connected
Unbalanced 3.5 mm
32 Ω
62 mW
150 Ω
27 mW
Audio Formats
DSD64/128 DoP
DXD384/352.8 kHz
PCMUp to 384 kHz
Dimensions L x W x H55 x 22 x 8 mm
Weight15 gr
Supported Operating SystemsWIN 10, Android, Apple macOS, Apple iOS


I use the word performance, because both Sparrow and Eagle have a DAC and an AMP section, so I shall comment on each one of the two, and the combined effect is what I call performance.

Soundwise Sparrow and Eagle share a lot of common behavior, and they also have certain differences.

First of all, through the unbalanced 3.5 mm output the two devices sound completely identical, and their first characteristic is that they are very nicely balanced; balanced does not mean what some people call neutral. One has to be very careful with this term, and because of that I very rarely use it. I do believe that very few manufacturers want to make a truly neutral product, and I very much doubt that they can actually do it even if they want to. Fully neutral means no engagement and musicality whatsoever, so maybe good for studio recording but not for listening to music. Sparrow and Eagle have tight bass, in the right amount in both sub- and mid-bass; mellow mids, with very nice female and male vocals; and extended but not hissing tremble. Overall, the timbre is natural and smooth and the tonality is uncolored and very nice. Both devices are very revealing with lots of details and very transparent. They have a quite big soundstage, both in width and depth, and a great holographic image and dynamics; they truly do open your sound, and I am sure that they would be an absolutely worthy addition to every computer, laptop and certainly smartphone. The whole of the audio spectrum is reproduced in a very articulate and engaging way, and there is a big difference from the usual one-dimensional output that comes out from a computer’s or a smartphone’s DAC.

The sound testing on both Sparrow and Eagle was done with a variety of musical pieces from TIDAL, varying from the classical songs “You’ve got a friend” and “The look of love”, beautifully performed by James Taylor and Dianna Krall,respectively; to the really powerful, but not for everyone, piece “Move” of the Japanese artist Hiromi; or the wonderful orchestral piece “Fanfare for the volunteer” by Mark O’Connor.

Now, the main difference between Sparrow and Eagle is the balanced 2.5 mm output that the Sparrow has, and the Eagle does not. Of course the interesting question is how one does compare two devices, essentially, on different grounds. Typically this is not possible, unless you do a little trick: Play Sparrow through the balanced 2.5 mm output and Eagle through the unbalanced 3.5 mm one, and adjust the output level to be (as close as you can) the same in both devices. Doing this little test, the difference, soundwise, between Sparrow and Eagle was truly minimal, to the point that in some cases I was really wondering if there was any. Of course, if your headphone set is truly power hungry, because of its high impedance and/or its low sensitivity, then this will bring Eagle to its limits; in such a case, using Sparrow’s balanced 2.5 mm output will supply the extra power needed, opening up the sound and revealing details that were missed through Eagle. Having said this, I want to emphasize that by no means I do not mean, and it is actually wrong to say, that Sparrow is more accurate than Eagle; the right statement is that both are equally accurate, given the power limitations of each one.

And talking about power, the obvious question is how powerful Sparrow and Eagle are? In the unbalanced 3.5 mm output the power is almost the same in both of them, and it is actually plenty for headphones with an impedance of up to 250 Ω. Now, if your set has an impedance higher than that or it has a low sensitivity, and depending of course how loud you want to listen to your music, then Sparrow would make your life easier.

Sparrow or Eagle?

For the majority of IEMs and headphones, Eagle is more than sufficient and its performance will satisfy even the most demanding listeners, keeping in mind that we are talking about a portable DAC. With, overall, top sound and outstanding quality, and keeping in mind that it is Made in Europe (Serbia), at $129.00 Eagle is a bargain.

Sparrow, for $70.00 more, gives you, on top of the unbalanced 3.5 mm output, a 2.5 mm balanced one, with the extra power that comes with it. Given that it has the same top sound and outstanding quality as Eagle, Sparrow is another great buy.


To Nuprime Hi-mDAC

The first comparison of Sparrow and Eagle was made against the Nuprime Hi-mDAC, which I consider one of the best DAC/AMPs in the market. The Hi-mDAC uses a Cirrus Logic CS43131 chip, it has a single 3.5 mm output and an MSRP of $139.00. It is known for its relaxed and balanced, yet engaging, presentation, which mainly comes from the very nice tonality of its internal chip. Hi-mDAC’s sound is very open and detailed, with great transparency, big soundstage, and very nice image and dynamics.

Now, the sound signature of Sparrow and Eagle is very close to that of Hi-mDAC, to the point that in some cases it is hard to distinguish between the three of them. They all have the same balanced and detailed presentation. The difference is that Hi-mDAC is a little bit on the dark side, while Sparrow and Eagle are more on the bright side. This might give the impression, in some musical pieces and depending on the IEMs that you are using, that Sparrow and Eagle are a little more open than Hi-mDAC. On the other hand, the power output of Hi-mDAC is kind of a mystery; although it was communicated by NuPrime that it is 30 mW at 32 Ω, it certainly appears to be higher. Nonetheless, whatever Hi-mDAC’s power output actually is, it is certainly lower than that of Sparrow and Eagle, so the latter have an added benefit.

To Resonessence Lab Herus+

The other comparison of Sparrow and Eagle was made against what I consider a reference portable DAC/AMP, the Resonessence Labs HERUS+ (an upgrade of the original HERUS). The HERUS+ uses the ESS Sabre ES9010K2M DAC chip, it has a 1/4 inch output and its MSRP used to be $395.00, so it was not cheap. On the other hand, the design and implementation of the HERUS+ was done by the people who designed and implemented the ESS Sabre chips (Mark Mallinson, the owner of Resonessence Labs, was formerly Director of Operations in ESS Sabre), so they took full advantage of the ES9010K2M’s abilities. The result is a portable DAC that is made like a tank, it is a pleasure to look at and a bigger pleasure to listen to.

HERUS+ is beautifully balanced, with a sense of naturalness and realism that is rarely found; it has superb transparency, with plenty of details, a huge soundstage, in both width and depth, and top image and dynamics. Up to a certain extent, these merits are found in Sparrow and Eagle, however not in the same amount, particularly as to the overall openness is concerned; Sparrow and Eagle are quite open, but HERUS+ is huge and its sound is certainly more meaty and full bodied. Powerwise, all three DACs are about the same, with the exception of Sparrow’s 2.5 mm balanced output. Now, maybe it is not fair to compare HERUS+ with Sparrow and Eagle, as HERUS+ costs at least twice as much and, essentially, it is a miniaturization of a desktop DAC; also, maybe this comparison does not make much sense anymore, given that Resonessence Labs closed down its doors at the beginning of 2020, so it is impossible for someone to buy HERUS+. Granted! But I thought I should give you a measure of comparison for those who happen to know HERUS+ (or HERUS for that matter).


Sparrow and Eagle have a sound that is balanced, yet engaging, detailed, substantially open and overall very articulate. By adding either one of the two to your computer, laptop or smartphone, it will result in a big improvement to the sound out of your headphones; you will hear details that you were missing before. Eagle is sufficient for most IEMs and headphones, roughly up to 250 Ω, and only if you are using the most demanding ones, you would have to switch to Sparrow; however, if you have to, EarMen gives you the option!

The quality of both devices is outstanding, and the aesthetics very pleasing.

Given their top sound and outstanding quality, Sparrow and Eagle have my high recommendation.



Headphoneus Supremus
EarMen Eagle: When an Eagle soars, you pay attention.
Pros: EarMen build
EarMen value
EarMen sound
EarMen quality
EarMen period
Cons: Compared to others, maybe pricey?
One-dimensional, unlike Sparrow
EarMen Eagle ($129): When an Eagle soars, you pay attention.


EarMen Eagle

I have had the pleasure of auditioning the Auris Audio Euterpe as my beginning to the Auris/EarMen world. Following that were the fantastic TR-Amp and Sparrow products from EarMen. When Miroslav contacted me to audition and review the Eagle, I wholeheartedly agreed as the TR-Amp is my go-to portable desktop amp and the Sparrow travels with me everywhere in my go-to bag. With a couple of differences, one could rightly think of the Eagle as a slimmed down version of the Sparrow. But it isn’t. Using a slightly “lower” Sabre chip along with a single 3.5se headphone jack, the Eagle also connects by USB-A.

While the unit on hand was given to me, it is understood that the Eagle may be asked back for at anytime or sent to another. Until then the unit is mine to keep, but not sell. All that will be provided by me is an open, honest review. I would have it no other way.


Input:USB A
Output:3.5 mm Stereo
Stereo 3.5mm:16 Ω32 Ω150 Ω
Power:1V/62 mW1.4V/62 mW2V/27mW
Audio formats
DSD:64 / 128 DoP
DXD:384/352.5 kHz
PCM:Up to 384 kHz
Dimensions L x W x H55 x 22 x 8 mm / 2.16” x 0.86” x 0.31”
Weight:15 gr / 0.033 lbs
Supported OS:Win10, Apple iOS, Apple macOS, Android

Chip: ESS ES9280 C PRO


In The Box:

EarMen Eagle
USB-A to USB-C cable

Gear Used/Compared:

Whizzer Kylin HE01 ($79)
Bonus IE & BIE Pro ($20 & $69)
Empire Ears Hero ($1349)

iPhone XS Max
EarMen Sparrow ($199)


Alex Fox
Pink Floyd
Buena Vista Social Club
Elton John
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Shane Hennessy
Jeff Beck
Dave Matthews


Lumped together, those who are familiar with EarMen will know the unboxing is simple and straightforward. A foam insert holds the Eagle and the case. Easy and well protected.

Build is as expected with the other EarMen products. Simple and well built. Small and portable, one could easily connect it to your Smartphone without bother. Hooked to your laptop, it takes up minimal space and could easily take up less if needed. Not as slippery as the appearance would suggest, the Eagle is a good-looking device, and their logo lights up to represent the color of the frequency response given; range dependent upon DSD, DXD & PCM.

One of the best aspects of an EarMen product is the ease of use aspect. For MacBook’s, the unit is plug and play. Some PC’s do need a driver installed, but I do believe that is changing. Ease of use is an EarMen staple and one could rightly state they were at the forefront of plug and play dongles.




One can now choose from roughly 50+ dongles as this seems to be the latest trend. One of the first (and still quite good, with their second iteration) was the Audirect Beam. Rough around the edged, it gave the user a quick boost of audio quality for their Smartphone. Ranging in price from $10 to a couple of hundred, the plethora offered is mind boggling. A user is currently sifting through many for a quite large review (some I have never heard of...) and while I applaud the effort, find that by the time it is done will be outdated and quite hard to discern differences. Good on him though, and I wish him luck. As for the EarMen, without volume controls you are limited to the volume control mechanisms of your device. No worry as the boost of power from the Eagle is minimal (sub-70mW at best). The real benefit is the audio support of a better DAC set up. And while many Smartphones are fast approaching audiophile territory you really cannot hook your Smartphone up to a DAP or laptop without it looking silly (and rendering it essentially useless as a device).

This is where the Eagle can come in. Giving a cleaner sound with a slight mid-forward and up push, the Eagle is meant for commuting or high-noise backgrounds. Providing excellent air between the notes and very good clarity, the Eagle does its job.



I will state upfront that I really like the Sparrow and the TR-Amp. The Sparrow allows me to utilize my 2.5bal cables on my Smartphone making for a quite pleasant listening experience. The TR-Amp doesn’t need it. Power is its game. And here is where the least expensive of the three can really make its mark. Simple of operation and use, it provides about 70-75% of the sound that the Sparrow does for $70 less. Still over $100, to me that price is warranted for the sound is so good. Chan Chan from the Buena Vista Social Club sound rich and vibrant with that mid-forward push. The users will have to decide at what point they stop, but when you reach a certain “affordable” level are you really getting the benefit or not? I have another dongle in for review and will of course compare it; but not here.

I find the soundstage expansive and high, with excellent depth across the board. The Eagle is one fine dongle and works to enhance the source you are hooked to. Going back to back with the Sparrow, my ears are not good enough to gauge a difference when utilizing the 3.5se on each. Take that as you may. What I can say is that the Eagle works to present the music closer to how the artist intended, with a slight boost of mids. That does carry over into the treble section as well, but I never found it to be tiring or tiresome. Meant to provide a cleaner platform for the sound as it travels the path from source to your ear, the Eagle does just that without bother.

As stated, many new Smartphones have latched onto the better audio quality from within, reaping the benefit from what I respectfully call the “normal consumer.” But in conversation with reviewer peers, we have noticed the sheer explosion of dongles of late. Much like the silly driver war of five years ago, and the mega-priced DAP’a of the last two years, manufacturers are realizing that an affordable easy to use dongle may be their meal ticket. Will this render DAP’s to the dinosaur historical elegy? It might make a dent in the low end for the normal consumer who might have been thinking about an affordable DAP because their geek audio friends espoused the virtues of those; but I think that misses the point.

As stated in another recent review, the sole purpose is to enjoy your music, no matter the source. If you are happy with that, then you are satiated and satisfied. If you want to spend mega, then do it. But having affordable, utilitarian options such as a dongle make perfect sense for the consumer and the manufacturer. It is a win-win.



What should you spend? Well, that is up to you. Go cheap if you wish, but many have espoused the virtues of a certain order Odonata, infraorder Anisoptera brand. I have not had the pleasure of hearing those but am thoroughly satiated with the EarMen Sparrow and Eagle. To me they set the bar early, and still do. The saying, “you get what you pay for” certainly rings true and you must be the judge of whether the cost is justified. I think it is, for the Eagle will stay with you a long time and across many devices, even when those devices are upgraded. The Eagle is my benchmark at this price and should be given a serious look if you are in the dongle market for its cleanliness of sound and opening of soundstage from normal Smartphones.

I thank Miroslav for the continued support. I am a fan of their products, and wish them continued success. The products are worth it.

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Reactions: Miroslav EarMen


No DD, no DICE
EarMen Eagle makes audiophile mobile audio more accessible
Pros: Excellent sound quality
Very portable
Cons: Lacks carry case
USB-A interface choice is questionable
Hot on the heels of its class-leading mobile DAC/amp dongle, the Sparrow, Chicago-based EarMen has made audiophile audio on the go even more accessible with the Eagle.

Housed in the same glass-encased metal shell as its bigger brother, the Eagle is a step-down in terms of features and connectivity options, but not that much in terms of sound quality.

Coming in at around half the cost of the Sparrow, that’s probably to be expected, but has it cut too many corners to appeal to more serious listeners looking for a cheaper, simpler alternative?


In the box

The Eagle comes in a similar-sized box to Sparrow, which is to say a very neat black cover with an image of the Eagle on the front, specs and details on the back, and security seals to certify this as a genuine product. Inside you’ll find the tiny Eagle sandwiched between two foam sheets, alongside a single USB-A female to USB-C male cable (more on this later).

On closer inspection the Eagle is made from the same materials as the Sparrow, giving it a shiny, premium feel despite the miniscule size. One side houses a single 3.5mm headphone connector (compared to the Sparrow’s 3.5mm single ended and 2.5mm balanced outputs). Also, unlike the Sparrow, EarMen have for some reason opted to do away with the USB-C connector on the Eagle itself, replacing it with a fixed USB-A male connector.


This is a strange design choice, considering how the whole world and its dog is moving towards USB-C as the de-facto interface standard, and, given this is primarily a mobile device, would need a fairly bulky adapter cable to connect to mobile devices. Thankfully EarMen include a high-end USB-A to C cable in the box, but as expected it’s far larger than the USB-C to C cable that comes with the Sparrow. Sorry iPhone users, you’ll have to source your own cable or use an Apple OTG adapter.

The USB-A connector does make the Eagle more convenient for connecting to a PCs front USB ports, but how many people will actually use the Eagle this way is questionable.

Connector foibles aside, the Eagle is still small enough to carry anywhere, and it would have been nice for EarMen to include a carry case for this purpose. I made the same point in the Sparrow review – if $20 earphones can ship with a carry case, so can $100+ dongles. But I digress, this is a high-quality device, that works first time with any device I plug it into, so it really comes down to how it sounds.

Sound impressions

If you’ve read my Sparrow review, you’ll know I gave high praise to its balanced sound quality, and while the single ended quality was still very good, balanced was clearly better. With no balanced out on the Eagle, I was worried this would mean a corresponding drop in sound quality. Thankfully, that’s not the case.

Equipped with a new-generation ESS Sabre ES9281 DAC generating up to 62mW of power at 32 ohms with less than 0.002% distortion, the Eagle is no slouch when it comes to audiophile-friendly specs. According to EarMen:

Super LOW ESR tantal capacitors, high grade components in power-supply design and four layer gold-plated PCB technology from the PC and smart phone industry, EarMen Eagle reduces the noise to minimum.

While not reaching the same sonic heights as the Sparrow in full flight, the Eagle presents a beautifully balanced soundscape that’s neither harsh nor bright, fairly neutral, and very detailed. It easily powers all my IEMs without any issues, but I wouldn’t go plugging any hard-to-drive full size headphones with any expectation other than disappointment. This is a mobile-only device, as far as I can tell, and while it will technically drive larger gear, there are far better solutions for that.


I’m not going to break down the sound character of the Eagle based on the usual bass/mids/treble delineations, because as far as I can tell, the Eagle will do very little to change the sound character of whichever IEM you plug into it. It’s very transparent, which is a good thing, and while it generously delivers smoothness and detail, that’s because it’s made well and tuned well, with quality parts, not because it’s shaping the sound in a particular way.

The big question for most users, I would think, is if the Eagle makes sense when most modern smartphones already have fairly decent audio output, and many even come with their own headphone-friendly dongles?

For me, that depends on what type of person you are, and how seriously you take your music. Without the MQA decoding capability of the Sparrow, the Eagle won’t help you when it comes to Tidal’s MQA unfolding. But it will ensure your lossless and hi-res music files (including those from Tidal) play back at the highest-possible resolution. It will also give you the peace of mind that you’re using a recognised, high-quality DAC and amp, which can only benefit the sound, especially if you’ve invested good money in a high-quality wired earphone.

Closing thoughts

EarMen hit a home run with the Sparrow – a true, high-performance, high-spec device for the modern mobile audiophile. But at $200, the Sparrow is not a cheap solution for many, and so with the Eagle, EarMen have been able to deliver much of what the Sparrow offers in the same compact format for casual enthusiasts who don’t want to spend above the odds for their audio enjoyment.

In a market dominated by cheap throwaway dongles on the one side and more niche products that carry bigger pricetags for their name more than their features, the EarMen Eagle will satisfy the vast majority of people who want trusted, reputable sound quality from a well-respected company using high-quality parts for a very fair price.

If that sounds like you, it’s a solid recommendation from me.

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Gotcha, thanks. I have the Black 1.5v which sounds good to me. Wanting great:)
Did you (or any other readers here) try this with the Apple Lightning to USB-A - aka Camera Kit - adapter? If it works, the choice of fixed USB-A male on this would make much more sense.
I'm afraid not, I don't use an iPhone. Shouldn't be an issue to get it working that way though.


Reviewer at Ear Fidelity
EarMen Eagle
Pros: Broad and deep soundstage
Technical signature
But not sharp
Very good build quality
Small and light construction
Very precise in the details
Cool looks
Cons: Not enough power to run most full-size headphones
EarMen Eagle

EarMen Eagle is a pendrive-size mobile DAC/AMP combo powered by ESS ES9281 chip and it costs $119.

Sound quality for the price
Rating: 9 out of 10.

Build quality
Rating: 9 out of 10.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10.

The box is big, but there’s not much inside.

EarMen has a consistent design among its products, so the box we’re getting with Eagle has a similar format to that from TR-AMP.
They’ve decided again to place an outline drawing of the product on the top of the box. On the sides, we can see the product name. The rear part is filled with technical info.
Inside, you won’t find much stuff. There’s only the Eagle, OTG to USB-C, and the info cards.

Build quality
2.5D glass, metal frame, very light, and stiff construction. Almost a masterpiece.

Build quality reminds me of the FiiO BTR5. They’re of similar construction, the metal frame and glass at the front and rear. For me, it looks way better than the Dragonfly series. The Eagle’s edges are a little sharp so that they can scratch after time, but if you keep things like that in a separate case (which could be included, I wouldn’t regret that), it shouldn’t happen. It has a very stiff but not really tight USB, and the glass is hard to scratch, which, I think, is even harder than the one used in my Xiaomi Mi9. The one more thing about the glass is that it is the 2,5D type, so it is curved, making an even better impression.

The whole device is very thin and light but with a premium feeling in-touch.

EarMen placed their logo on the front part, which lights up when the Eagle is working, and the color is dependent on the music quality. I like that feature unless I’m watching some video at night using this little DAC. It is just too bright in that kind of scenario.
The attached OTG cable is also very well-made. It’s pretty thick, similar to the OTG made by iFi. The main difference between those two cables is that the shell of EarMens one has rounded edges when the iFi has a rectangular case.

Battery drain

Well, the Eagle is hungry for power. It drains the battery in the blink of an eye. Listening to the music on my Xiaomi Mi9 made the SoT go down from around five hours to only three.

That combo is bright, but very involving.

The EarMen Eagle offers a sound signature that balances on a thin line between the technical and bright one, but that’s because of the pretty crispy treble and a more scientific presentation of the bass. It also offers outstanding dynamics and a beamy and deep soundstage.
In terms of power, it’s a small device, so it doesn’t provide a lot of juice. It’s able to drive less power requiring headphones, like the Meze 99 Classics, but the AKG K702 or even X2HR needs more power.

The bass is, well, incredible. It is very tight, clean, and plays straight to the point. For the Eagle, it doesn’t matter if you’re using earphones with 1DD, only BA, or some hybrid constructions. On every driver, the bass is powerful, speedy, and slams hard. Usually, it isn’t just one punch. It goes at the front and starts the tap dance, making the Eagle bass a magnificent beat provider.
Subbass isn’t growling yet, more like aggressive pouring. Midbass is vibrant and juicy, which provides pleasant feelings into that part. It is also springy, so with bassy earphones, it jumps on my eardrum like kids on the trampoline.

The midrange is rather technical but doesn’t really affect the earphones’ sound signature. The Eagle doesn’t push the vocals back but slightly slims the lower male vocals. Female vocals sound really wide, like one person choir. They also swing from right to left and backward but stay in the front part. The higher midrange is very clean and punchy, playing exactly but not sharp. It swings between the blades but doesn’t get hit unless you’re using the very bright and sharp earphones.
As mentioned above, the EarMen Eagle remains almost transparent, so it doesn’t change much beyond the things written before. There are no extra feelings nor dryness. For me, it dramatically matches the Craft Ears Four, which is pretty bright in the mids but provides a charming manner by itself.

Akg K702 gets pretty loud, but it’s not driven properly.

The treble is clean, with a lot of air, and it’s incredibly exact. The treble has a mix of behaviors of other frequencies. At first, like the higher midrange, the treble keeps dancing with the blades without getting hit. Then, like the female vocals, it swings in the air. More punchy sounds act like kickbass. It is bouncy and jumps all around.
One thing is totally different, in songs like “Dance Monkey” by Tones and I, we can hear the finger snaps, which behaves like sparks – shines and slowly fade out. All things that sound similar are like that one example. That’s not what everyone will love, but for sure, it’s an exciting thing. I think there will be only a love or hate relation in this regard.

The soundstage is really big for this type of DAC, it is even bigger compared to the iFi iDSD Nano LE. It is broad, but the depth is way more impressive. It is very precise, but not when it comes to the place in the width. It swings from right to left, but doesn’t move from the starting point further nor closer. Anyway, the soundstage is not the thing that will underperform the possibilities of your earphones. It will keep all the key points of your IEMs, and can boost the ones that are weaker, like the Bqeyz Spring 2, which achieved a little more space.

A small body with a great spirit.

EarMen Eagle is one of the smallest DAC/AMPs that I’ve ever used. The era of miniaturization is still alive and shows that small doesn’t mean weak. EarMen Eagle provides a pretty technical playstyle that delicately affects headphones’ sound signature and boosts up their soundstage. It is a brilliant value and a very pleasing device for everybody looking for a small and reliable device.

Definitely recommended.

Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
  • Headphones – Philips Fidelio X2HR, Audeze LCD-3, Bqeyz Spring 2, Craft Ears Four, Hifiman HE400i 2020, AKG K702, Moondrop SSP
  • Sources– FiiO BTR5, Dragonfly Cobalt, iFi iDSD Neo, Topping DX3 Pro, EarMen TR-Amp
@rev92 - you've mentioned Dragonfly Cobalt in your Eagle review.
Did you compare the sound and performance of the $99 Eagle vs. the $299 Dragonfly Cobalt?
I understand there is a huge price difference, but I am still wondering how they compare...