EarMen Tradutto

General Information





Latest reviews


100+ Head-Fier
Works well with all of my systems...
Pros: Compact, well built, performs great...
Cons: No preamp capabilities, price is not cheap (although I do feel it is worth it)...

TLDR version on YouTube: TDLR - Earmen Tradutto

The Tradutto has been sent to me directly by Earmen for me to share my findings and opinions in this review. There have been no requests (not even a time limit) from Earmen and, as always, I will do my best to be as sincere and unbiased as humanly possible.

The official page for the Tradutto can be found here: https://earmen.com/index.php/products/earmen-tradutto

As with all links that I share, this is a non-affiliate link, meaning that I do not receive anything for clicks or purchases made through this (or any other) link.

To avoid being repetetive in my reviews, you can find all the info about how I create the reviews, equipment used, how I receive the products and how to interpret my reviews by visiting: About my reviews



Earmen is a company that I have been curious about for quite some time but I didn’t get my ears on any of their products until a few months ago in Munich. At high end, Earmen actually had two stands, one with their products along with their products also being on show at their parent company's stand, Auris audio.

In show conditions it is very difficult to judge the sound of speakers or headphones (unless there is a very good listening room set up and you are lucky to find it empty), so trying to get a feel for DAC’s or Amps is almost impossible. Therefore, when Earmen said they would send me the Tradutto to incorporate it into my own system and review it, I was very happy to do so.

The Tradutto is a pure DAC, meaning there is no built in amplifier, nor is there a volume control, nor is there much else, but I’ll get to that under functionality in just a moment. Basically it does one job, takes digital signals and transforms them to analog, and it does that job very well.

I have actually been trying out the Tradutto during a time when things have been a little hectic for me and my review set up. I recently picked up some studio space, with the intention of moving all of my test set ups to the studio and being able to test and create my reviews there (as my house seems to have more space occupied by Acho Reviews than my family lately!). Unfortunately the setting up and moving to the studio is taking much longer than expected due to lot’s of other things going on, along with the fact that it’s summer, so who wants to spend time locked in a room setting up stuff rather than spending time in the pool?!

However, due to the hectic nature of me having things everywhere at the moment, it has meant that I have been able to incorporate the Tradutto into various systems that I problably wouldn’t have if I had just focused on my normal procedures. Basically I have had it hooked up to headphone rigs, main speaker rig, small speaker set ups and even a few loose systems that haven’t been used in quite some time. So, if one thing I am sure of, it is that I have tested the Tradutto in a huge amount of scenarios!

As usual with my DAC (and amp) reviews, I end up making them far too long and we haven’t even started talking about the device yet, so let’s get on with it.



After seeing the Tradutto in person and seeing how small it is, I was surprised at both the size and the weight of the box it appeared in. In a rather nice box with a lift up lid, surrounded with a cardboard sleeve showing the device and the specs, we find the device very well protected by multiple layers of foam and cardboard.

Inside we find the DAC, a nice little metal and rechargeable remote control, the bluetooth antenna, a fabric covered USB-A to USC-B cable, the power supply with interchangeable connections (so it will work not matter what country you are in), a micro fiber cloth and the user manual.

I have absolutely nothing negative to say about the presentation or the included contents. Of course a couple of interconnects would have been a nice addition, especially a 4.4mm to XLR as they are still not the easiest (or cheapest) or cables to source but we could always think of more things to include.


Build and Aesthetics…

The Tradutto is a small unit, basically a simple square box, with a small and simple screen on the front, along with 4 buttons. The aesthetics are something that seem to be more aimed at blending in than standing out and the small size does mean that you can fit it just about anywhere. Tradutto is engraved very nicely across the top of the device and is also shown in small white letters on the front panel. Personally I think that they could have skipped the model name on the front as I feel it takes away a little from the aesthetics but it is small and is certainly not shouty about it.

As with the box it came in, I was very surprised with just how much the DAC weighs. There is no issues with interconnect cables pulling the device around, as is the case with some other small units, it will sit where you put it. It also has feet that elevate it off of the surface, with the cooling vents underneath, allowing you to put the Tradutto wherever you prefer without having to worry too much about keeping it cool (you can tell the device is on by touching it but by no means does it get hot, or even warm).

The screen is nothing fancy, just a simple OLED screen that shows the selected input, file format, bit rate and frequency rate when fed by USB, in other modes it shows the selected input. There are no flashy colours but the important info is there at a simple glance and I am glad to say that it is not overly bright, even in a dark room it is easy on the eyes.

While the aesthetics are nothing special, I have no issue with them and I think that it looks quite good with the matching CH-Amp (the amplifier from Earmen) sitting on top, resulting in a simple small stack that doesn’t look out of place but will never be the center of attention.

Speaking of the CH-Amp, the remote included with the Tradutto has two sets of buttons, the top set to control the CH-Amp and the lower set to control the Tradutto. This is nice if you have the stack but is obviously redundant if you don’t. The remote itself is nicely built, small and compact, and features a USB-C port on the bottom to recharge the remote control and not have to worry about batteries, which is another nice touch.

In general, everything is well built and the aesthetics are something that I haven’t received any complaints about no matter where I have placed the Tradutto, even dead center under the TV in the living room 😉



The Tradutto is a very simple, no frills, DAC. There is no volume control, no filter selection, no menus, no anything except for input selection and power. If you are looking for something to spend hours tweaking settings, then you can look elsewhere. The Tradutto focuses on taking your choice of digital input and giving you a choice of balanced or single ended analog output.

On the back of the device we have, from left to right, the following:

- Power supply (12VDC)

- Bluetooth Antenna

- USB input

- Optical input

- Coaxial input

- RCA unbalanced outputs

- 4.4mm balanced output.

Moving around to the front, again from left to right, we get:

- IR receiver (top left)

- Power button

- Bluetooth pairing button

- Screen

- Input selection left

- Input selection right

That is it, a simple selection of 4 buttons that have one single function each, which are also replicated on the remote control (although left and right are labelled + and - on the remote).

I don’t think that there is much need to explain how this works, you plug in cables, turn it on, select your input and enjoy. The left and right buttons (or +/- on the remote) cycle through the inputs (USB/TOS/COAX/BT), yet when you reach the end, you will need to use the other button to cycle back the other way (there is no loop).

When I first hooked up the Tradutto to my PC (windows 10), it worked straight away with the usual windows audio mixer, however, in order to use WASAPI from Foobar, I did need to upgrade the firmware. The firmware is available on the Earmen site and comes with instructions, which are very straight forwards, and takes around 30 seconds.



As I said in the intro, I am currently moving a lot of stuff about, setting up the studio and redesigning my main listening setups at home, which means I also have a lot of equipment that is usually in storage. This allowed me to try the Tradutto in a lot of scenarios and I have to say that there wasn’t a one where I disliked the outcome.

In general, I would say that the Tradutto has a very detailed yet smooth signature. I know that this is my brain telling me that this is what I am hearing, maybe because I want to hear it, but the feeling that the Tradutto just works well with everything is the impression I have been left with.

Paired with things like the Schiit Asgard 3, I didn’t find the result to be overly warm, just nicely detailed and smooth. It is sort of a dialed back "iFi sound", with a hint of warmth and smoothness but never overly done. The same can be said with the Feliks Audio Echo MK2, where too much warmth can be detrimental, especially if using overly warm headphones, yet I didn’t get that sensation. I used the HD6XX and the Echo fed from 3 different DACs (the three way input selection on the Echo is great by the way!) and I didn’t find that anything was glossed over when selecting the Tradutto. In fact, it is very reminiscent of the R2R Dac in the EF400 as far as presentation with the Echo, yet I get the impression that the details are easier to identify but still not “in your face” as with some other more clinical offerings.

I hooked it up to the THX789, which is an amplifier that I don’t really use for listening to music very often but find it is still very good to evaluate sources (not just DACs but also the tracks themselves) as it’s cold and abrupt presentation quickly highlights any digital and/or harsh factors. With the Tradutto I didn’t find any of these, the presentation was obviously cooler and less smooth than on the other options I just listed, but it was still nice and smooth. In fact, it is possibly the most I have enjoyed listening to the 789 for quite some time.

Something that I did find positive was that there seems to be no difference in the output of the balanced and unbalanced connectors, apart from voltage that is. I have come to realize that, while most of my speaker setups are balanced, for headphones I have gravitated more towards unbalanced, so it is nice to not get the feeling that one output underperforms the other.

I also got a chance to hook the Earmen up to a set of Meyer Sound UPM-1P, a set of speakers that I am very fond of and are very revealing. The only issue was that I needed to control the volume before the DAC due to the Tradutto not having preamp capabilities (no volume control) and the speakers being active. Therefore I fed the Tradutto via coax digital from my DSP and controlled the volume level there. I have to say that the result was nothing short of great. It may be in my mind but I feel that the UPM-1's performed much better than directly from my DSP and the sound was not only detailed but also more musical. I would happily listen to the set up for… well, permanently 😀

With other less revealing speaker set ups, the pairing still performed well, without things getting bloated or overly smoothed (not more than the usual with said speakers of course) and with studio monitors, I found that detail was excellent while still sounding a little less clinical than with other DACs that I use in those situations normally.



As I always say, the mind is a very powerful thing (for most people at least) and is capable of filling in blanks and adding twists to things that may be dependent on us wanting to like something. While that may be the case here also, I am happy with the result!

I am sure there are reasons that I could come up with to not purchase the Tradutto, as with anything, but I honestly feel that the sound performance is not one of them. I have been enjoying this DAC in all the situations I have put it in and my biggest issue is that, if I hook it up to my speakers, I then want to hook it up to my headphone rigs and vice versa.

There are other alternatives out there at lower price points which perform very well, maybe even better, and there are others at much higher price points that perform better (or maybe worse in some cases), but if we disregard price and aesthetics (which are of course very personal and very important to some), as far as performance, I really can’t find a thing to complain about with the Earmen Tradutto.

As with all my reviews, this review is also available in Spanish both on my blog (www.achoreviews.com) and on YouTube (www.youtube.com/achoreviews)

Otto Motor

Headphoneus Supremus
EarMen Tradutto DAC Review
Pros: Natural sound; additional balanced circuit; beautiful design; excellent build quality.
Cons: No pre-amp function/headphone jack; 4.4 balanced output is currently still a rare standard.

This review was originally published in a slightly longer format incorporating additional general scientific aspects (chip etc.) at www.audioreviews.org

Executive Summary

The EarMen Tradutto is a natural, quasi-neutral sounding DAC that distinguishes itself from the competition through its minimalistic, artsy design and streamlined functionality. It works with headphone amps and stereo systems alike. A DAC for the demanding purist.


Traduttore is Italian for “translator”. Tradutto is obviously a play on this as a digital analog converter translates zeros and ones into sound. And that’s what this $799 unit does: it is a DAC without a (headphone) amp. Its job is to create a quality audio signal that is then amplified by another device.

Across the Adriatic sea from Italy is Serbia, home of EarMen’s production facilities. From here you get “Made in Europe”. The company itself is registered in Chicago, IL. It was established in 2019 as a spinoff of Serbian premium manufacturer Auris Audio.

So far, EarMen have focused on few products of high quality. Their TR-amp is a great $250 portable, battery-operated DAC/amp that does justice to even to 300 ohm cans such as the Sennheiser HD 600. Their $200 Sparrow dongle features two circuits, of which the balanced produces the largest soundstage of my test population. Both devices are currently on our very own Wall of Excellence.

The Tradutto is EarMen’s first true “desktop size” device, although its use is not limited to workspaces and personal stereo, but it can also be deployed with a full size stereo system.


USB DecodingXMOS 16-core (XU216)
DAC chipES9038Q2M
Tested at$799
User ManualGoogle Drive
Product Linkhttps://earmen-shop.com/products/earmen-tradutto


The Tradutto hosts the XMOS 16-core receiver chip and the ES9038Q2M DAC chip. The XMOS 16-core (XU216) is one of the standards in premium DACs for processing the data received by the USB/S/coaxial inputs. It handles MQA decoding in the Tradutto, for example.

Similarly, the ES9038Q2M is a proven DAC chip that processes digital audio files up to 32bit/768kHz or DSD512. You can find this chip across the board, from the $2150 Burson Conductor 3 (contains two of them), through the $300 DragonFly Cobalt and $200 Khadas T2 Pro, to the $80 Shanling UA2. EarMen’s own $250 TR-Amp also features this chip.

Tradutto’s sound and sound quality are actually determined by the DAC’s analog part, which is the result of a combination of parts and engineering.

After filtering the signal’s jagged edges coming out of the DAC (chip), the output analog stage performs several duties, for example, amplifying, additional filtering, removing distortions and residual DC, buffering, and providing balanced and single-ended outputs.

The Tradutto’s analog output stage feature German WIMA quality capacitors “for high-end audio applications” to minimize THD, audio electrolytes in combination with American MELF low noise resistors, and SoundPlus OPA1642 operational amplifiers (“op-amps”) by Texas Instruments.

But even more important than the parts is the engineering. EarMen claim to have minimized jitter (“packet errors”) through the separation of DAC and analog part by the power supply. The printed circuit board is gold plated for optimal contacts. And the solid metal chassis minimizes external interference.

The Tradutto incorporates the Bluetooth QCC5124 SoC(“System on Chip”) for wireless listening – that follows the Bluetooth 5.1 standard.

Last but not least, the Tradutto features a fully balanced circuit, which will work with your balanced amplifier.

Physical Things

In the box is way more than stated in the manual. Apart from the DAC, remote control, power supply with adapters for worldwide mains access, Bluetooth antenna, and user manual, further included are a USB cable, a mesh bag for the power supply, and a microfibre cloth.

EarMen Tradotto content.
In the box…

The Tradutto is a very compact but rather heavy device in its sturdy aluminum enclosure. The combination of relatively tall feet and the clean, square shape with sharp corners give it a minimalistic elegance with Italian design charisma.

The designers clearly had optical and haptical appeal in mind down to the smallest detail, which includes the font selected for the name on the front. The Tradutto therefore does not only address our ears, but also our eyes (and fingers)…and therefore all senses.

EarMen Tradutto

Aesthetical front panel.

Functionality and Operation

It does
  • create a full, rich, dynamic, natural sound
  • connect to balanced and single-ended amplifier circuits
  • accepts a variety of sources per Bluetooth (phone, dap), USB (computer), and coaxial/optical (CD player)
  • come with a nifty rechargeable remote

It does not
  • amplify
  • work as pre-amp
  • feature selectable filters

Front Panel

EarMen Tradutto front panel
Clean operational elements on the front panel: 4 buttons and an OLED display.

The minimalistic design is complemented by very clean operational elements on the front panel: 4 buttons with an audible, rugged quality mechanism and an unobtrusive OLED display that gives you bit/kHz numbers for the USB connection, and “COAX”, “TOS”, or “BT” for the other input options.

No dial knob, no “dancing” colour graphs, no selectable filters — form clearly follows function. The Tradutto is designed to work, to translate zeros and ones into the best possible, natural sound. No amplification, no headphone jack. That’s it.

Back Panel

EarMen Tadutto rear panel
All inputs and outputs are on the back panel.

The rear panel features all inputs/outputs (from L to R): 12 V SMPS power supply, Bluetooth antenna, optical, and S/PDIF in, and RCA and 4.4 cm balanced out. 4.4 cm balanced is not the most common standard but it saves space compared to an XLR socket. A 12 V SMPS power supply is included.


EarMen Tradutto Remote

The Tradutto’s front panel’s four buttons are mirrored on the included remote.

The remote is made of metal, has a great haptic, and its buttons have the quality spring mechanism experienced at the front panel.

It charges through any 5V power supply/computer socket through its USB-C socket. Charger and cable are not included.


One thing I am horrified of in DACs/amps is sonic sterility. I am a child of the pre-digital era going back to the late 1970s, and – with earphones – sacrifice detail resolution for organic sound.

One of the biggest shortcomings of low-quality DACs is a lack of realism and depth of stage, but added sharpness, and a thin, distant midrange. After all, both a $4000 or a $100 DAC do one thing, and one thing only: create sound (quality), that then needs to be amplified. A wow effect does rarely indicate quality: it is the long-term enjoyment that counts.

I tested the Tradutto with headphones in a desktop setting, and also with speakers on my big stereo system. I could not test the 4.4 mm balanced owing to lack of a balanced amplifier.

w. Headphones

Equipment used: Macbook Air (WiFi off, battery operated) with different USB cables (stock, Belkin Gold, AudioQuest Forest), Questyle QP1R with Lifatec USA optical cable, iPhone SE (1st gen.); AudioQuest Golden Gate RCA interconnects; Burson Funk amp; Sennheiser HD 600 headphones.

It is very difficult to isolate the sound of a single stereo component in a chain so that I arrived at my description through comparison with other DACs.

My general impression is that the Tradutto plays very natural, very maturely, never analytical, never lean, never sharp or aggressive. It has natural dynamics and is well composed across the frequency spectrum.

Bass is tight, lower midrange is rich and full, there is no upper midrange glare, and cymbals at the top decay naturally and are well resolving. Soundstage is wide with great spatial cues.

Dynamics is naturally dosed, never overwhelming or too polite.

EarMen Traduttore and Burson Funk
A harmonizing combo: EarMen Tradutto with Burson Funkamp (and Sennheiser HD 600 headphones).

When substituting the Macbook/Tradutto source/DAC with the portable Questyle QP1R DAP (its built-in DAC is believed to rival $500-700 desktop DACs), there was quite a sonic difference: the Macbook/Tradutto combo had better dynamics, clarity, and extension.

Substituting the Tradutto with other ES9038Q2M chip devices removed any doubt on the general misconception of the role of a DAC chip for sound.

The $250 EarMen TR-amp (as DAC) sounds slightly warmer than the Tradutto and it lacks the upper extension — but it can compete with the amount of bass. It does not rival the Tradutto’s soundstage, clarity, separation, and detail resolution. But it never sounded sharp or digital, harsh or lean. The Tradutto sounded livelier, better extended, with better defined notes. TR-amp is thinner and less dynamic/energetic.

The Khadas Tone2 Pro sounds flat with an attenuated midrange. It lacks depth in comparison to the other two devices. Voices sound lean and distant, which adds a component of air and a good stage width. But it lacks richness and body.

AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt without dedicated line-out needs more of the Burson’s amping power than the other DACs (I only set its output volume to 80% to avoid distortion). It lacks a bit in dynamics but sounds rather organic and natural – and surprisingly full and rich. The Tradutto has more bite, it plays bigger and clearer…
In summary, none of these DACs sound alike.

w. Stereo System

Equipment used: Marantz SA8005 SACD player with Cirrus CS4398 DAC; Blue Jeans coax cable, Sys Concept 1300 strand optical cable, AudioQuest Evergreen RCA connectors; Luxman L-410 stereo amplifier; Heybrook HB1 speakers & Sennheiser HD 600 headphones.

Using CDs as source, I could easily A/B between the SA8005’s integrated Cirrus 4398 DAC and the Tradutto, and also A/B between the Tradutto’s coax and optical inputs.

The Marantz ($1400 CAD in 2014) is known for its smooth, rich, clean, well balanced tone quality and its natural reproduction. It has a sweet treble but lacks a bit of sparkle. Its integrated DAC is at about the same price level as the Tradutto as the basic version of this player was $550 CAD at the time.

EarMen Tradutto and Marantz SA8005 SACD player.
EarMen Tradutto working well with the Marantz SA8005 transport.

When switching between Marantz and Tradutto (coax), the difference is…essentially zero at casual listening…and therefore ignorable for everyday use. But when spending some time and using my analytical ear, the Marantz is a tad bassier and warmer with a lesser controlled, fuzzier low end. This results in a narrower stage and less lower midrange separation and resolution.

The Tradutto has the tighter, faster low end and better note definition up to the lower midrange. It also plays a tad warmer than neutral (but less so than the Marantz) – which appears to be EarMen’s house sound (also found in TR-amp, Sparrow, and Eagle).

Towards the top of the spectrum Tradutto (coax) has a slightly better extension and both offer natural decay of high notes e.g. cymbals. And that’s where mediocre DACs fail — they sound articial.

Both Tradutto and Marantz have no attenuation in the midrange, no lean vocals, they are rich and lush. Vocals are better aligned in 3D space in the Tradutto, which also has the wider stage.

When switching from coax to optical, there is a difference in that the TOSLINK produces slightly slower transients compared to coax. The notes are more rounded and the sonic image is a tad smoother – also compared to the Cirrus DAC. Again, the differences are small.

Overall, the Tradutto is slightly better composed across the frequency spectrum than the Marantz — which plays essentially no role for my system for everyday use.

I re-produced the results with the Sennheiser HD 600 plugged into the Luxman amp.
What we learn is that the Tradutto sounds natural and not analytical or aggressive or lean. It does its job very well.


The Qualcomm SoC delivers pretty much a prefab standard sound in a black “box” where the engineer cannot optimize the sound.

I A/B-ed Bluetooth vs. coax with two iPhones (same music), one hardwired into the Marantz, the other wireless per Bluetooth.

Bluetooth plays quieter, it looses some richness and intimacy, and is edgier, but it is still decent, and more than good enough for casual listening.

Connection was great, I walked around the 1000 sq ft floor of my house (with the iPhone) and never had any problems.

Concluding Remarks

After 2 months of testing, I conclude that the EarMen Tradutto does what it is supposed to do: generate an analog audio signal of the highest quality. And it promptly delivers. It is sonically marginally ahead of my high-end Marantz SA8005 SACD player and beats all other ES9038Q2M devices I compared it to by a mile.

Apart from its sonic capabilities, the Tradutto is aesthetically pleasing (“Italian design”) and handles well, with high-quality button and a rechargeable remote.

The Tradutto is a mature product with Auris Audio’s experience behind it. It is small enough to fit on your desk/stereo system, easy to operate, and it sounds great. What else do we want?

Until next time…keep on listening!

Jürgen Kraus signature


The EarMen Tradutto was supplied by EarMen for my review and I thank them for that. You can purchase it at the EarMen Shop. I thank Gordon Rankin of Wavelength Audio and Paul McGowan of PS Audio for discussion.
Last edited:


Reviewer at Ear Fidelity
EarMen Tradutto
Pros: Quite small
Fully balanced
Will get many stack options in the future
Great looking
Highly musical sounding
Great detail retrieval and resolution
Cons: Not cheap, but worth it
Slightly sharp edges
No 4.4mm -> 2x XLR interconnect included
The EarMen Tradutto is the newest release from EarMen, which is a sub-brand of the well-known and beloved company called Auris Audio. It is a fully balanced, ES9038Q2M desktop DAC with MQA and Bluetooth functionality. The price is set at $799.



I’ve been waiting for quite a long time for this product and this review. We’ve awarded EarMen with two “Best of 2020” awards last year, as their Eagle and TR-Amp were both exceptionally good devices. Hence, ever since I’ve heard of them preparing a desktop DAC I was quite intrigued, that could be something really good.
Here we are, the Tradutto is a thing now, it’s launched and I had it for a couple of weeks to play around with and to prepare this review. Ever since my rather underwhelming experience with the Topping D90se, I was looking for some great DACs around the $1000 price market. EarMen and Auris Audio have both proved themselves a lot of times in the past, so let’s see what have they come up with this time.



First things first, the unboxing experience. The Tradutto has the coolest presentation of all the DACs I’ve reviewed in a very long time. The box is quite hefty and well-put-together, and it sports a really nice-looking graphic on top.

Underneath the outer sleeve, there’s a box with the strongest magnetic flap I’ve seen…this thing holds really strong. Apart from the DAC itself, the box contains some accessories like a Bluetooth antenna, a full-metal, sweet remote control, a power supply with interchangeable types of connectors as well as a really nice quality USB cable.


The overall experience is really good, it is far superior to everything Topping and SMSL have ever done in terms of the packaging, and it shouldn’t be a surprise, as both EarMen and Auris are more of a boutique type of company.
Let’s talk about that remote control for a second. I wish more companies would include such a good quality accessory to their DACs or Amplifiers. The remote itself is tiny and made entirely of metal. It has some weight to it and it’s just a pure joy to use, providing you with some basic controls, such as power on/off, Bluetooth button, and input selector.

Design and Build​


The Tradutto is a rather small DAC, especially for the features it packs. It is made entirely of a single block of aluminum, and the overall build quality is spot-on. Even though the unit is quite small, it’s quite heavy and very substantial feeling.
On the front, it has a screen that shows the most important information, such as the input being currently used and the sampling rate of a music file. While it is not something that would change your life, it is still a cool addition and a handy feature making your life just a little bit easier.
The whole unit looks modern and very sleek, though the edges are rather on a sharper side. While you won’t be cutting your hands while handling it, it is still worth mentioning.

The device stands on four rubber feet that add a little bit of height to the whole construction. It offers proper isolation from vibration coming from your desk or hi-fi rack, and I’m not gonna lie, I always liked the look of rather tall feet on my audio devices. It complements the overall industrial design of the Tradutto.
The only thing that I would have changed is the branding. It would have looked better with more subtle and minimal branding. The “Tradutto” etched on the top looks fantastic, and I don’t see the need of putting that name on the front of the DAC as well. It’s nitpicking though, as the overall presentation of the Tradutto, both in terms of the physical appearance as well as the packaging is just brilliant. Job well done.



Okay, the Earmen Tradutto is a $799 DAC, which means that whatever is under the hood is the most important, and here things are even more interesting.
Firstly, it is built around the ES9038Q2M sitting on a Gold Plated PCB to ensure a clean, low resistance contact. This chip is capable of doing 32bit/768kHz or DSD512 without breaking a sweat, which is quite important for a DAC to compete in 2021/2022.
Secondly, the Tradutto offers full MQA support for all of you using Tidal, me included. Even though there have been some controversies around MQA lately, I still think it is a nice thing to have. The latest MQA versions of Pink Floyd albums sound extraordinary on Tidal, and with the Tradutto, you’ll be able to experience them fully.
Another great thing about this DAC is its built-in Bluetooth support. It uses a Qualcomm QCC5124 chip to “meet the demand for robust, high quality, wireless Bluetooth listening experiences in small devices with low power consumption for longer audio playback”. While you probably won’t use it too much while sitting by the desk, the moment you plug the Tradutto into your stereo setup you’ll start to really appreciate it. It’s convenient to just connect to it wirelessly from time to time and quickly get going with some Tidal action.

Now, into probably the most important thing. As I said, the Earmen Tradutto is a rather small and compact full-size DAC, so it’s really nice to see that it is fully balanced, from top to bottom. It doesn’t have XLR outputs though, as they would simply be too big for the chassis, so Earmen went with 4.4mm Pentaconn output. While it is not the most convenient, as it’s not a standard for balanced connections yet, you still have the option to connect it to a balanced amplifier and take full advantage of its topology. I just got an iFi Audio 4.4mm to 2x XLR balanced cable and plugged the Tradutto right into the Ferrum OOR that sits on my desk, and the results have been astonishing.


I’d like to note one thing though. Earmen, please, if you do decide on a type of connection that is not widely used yet, include even a basic cable for us to get going. I’ve had some issues looking for a proper cable to take the full potential out of the Tradutto, so it would have been nice to find even a very basic and cheap cable in the box for a start. It might make you price the Tradutto 10-20 bucks higher, but I think it would have been more than fair.
Lastly, you have probably seen some photos of the Tradutto sitting on top of a very similar device on the internet. Well, I’ve seen it too, but failed to get any information about it using google. It looks like the Tradutto is the first device of a whole line coming up in 2022, which looks to have a dedicated amplifier as well as a streamer in it. This would have been absolutely marvelous to have a stack so compact, yet offering such high quality. Earmen, definitely go that route.
Here’s some additional information from the manufacturer, which might be useful for some of you:
  • We used XMOS with 16 cores (XU216), which with its excellent performance enabled us to hardware decode MQA as well as other necessary functions for listening to music.
  • The clock is carefully adjusted and has minimal jitter.
  • The digital and analog part of the circuit is also carefully separated by the power supply
  • We used wima capacitors to obtain the lowest THD, as well as audio electrolytes in combination with MELF low noise resistors and SoundPlus OPA1642 operational amplifiers which proved to be great for getting neutral sound.



Let’s get into the part that you’re here for, the sound quality. The easiest way to describe the Tradutto is incredibly natural, non-fatiguing, and full-bodied, with great detail reproduction and superb resolution.

As always, let’s start with the bass. It is big, bold, and rich, without any signs of being bloated or slow. It somehow reminds me of the Topping D90se, which offers a very similar approach to low frequencies. Both DACs are sounding fun, full-bodied, and just correct.
No matter which headphones I use with the Tradutto though, they still determine the type of bass that ends up going into your ears. For example, when paired with the Final D8000 Pro, the bass is tight and bouncy sounding, with rich textures and great extension. When I switch to the Hifiman Susvara, it immediately sounds more rounded and relaxed, but never slow or lacking in resolution.
That’s the level of sound we’ve got into regarding DACs in recent years. They do offer incredibly low distortion and high resolution, which give you a great impact and physicality to the sound.
It is not 2016 though, as these super-high-resolution DACs back then tended to sound a little shouty and lean. The Tradutto is everything but that, actually reminding me of a good R2R DAC in terms of its sound signature. So yeah, if you like that natural, big and physical bass that is very well-controlled at the same time, the Tradutto definitely has it all.

The midrange is even more reminiscent of a good R2R DAC. It is quite thick and romantic sounding, focusing mainly on the detail reproduction and that natural, slightly warm timbre.
The Tradutto is a master of vocals in this price range, offering sweet, hypnotizing voices that are very detailed and full of life.
Here, the differences between the Tradutto and the D90se start to show up, with the latter sounding a bit more sterile and lacking in the body in comparison. The overall amount of detail is quite similar, with a slight edge for Topping, but it’s just micro details, of which the D90se is probably the king on the current market.
So, back to the impressions. I’ve tried a bunch of different amplifiers and headphones with the Tradutto, and every single pairing gave me great midrange reproduction. When paired with the OOR and the Susvara, the sound becomes incredibly detailed and pleasant at the same time, with some fantastic vocal reproductions, definitely some of the best I’ve heard.
No matter if we’re talking about Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac, RY X, or Bjørn Riis of Airbag, all of them sound sweet, welcoming, and just “you’re there” like. For me, this is the most important aspect of good sound. I can have the best resolution and detail reproduction in the market (wink wink D90se), and still have some problems with enjoying the music that I’m listening to. While the midrange doesn’t entirely do it to me with the D90SE (spoiler alert, it’s soundstage), the Tradutto still comes up as more natural and pleasant sounding of the two.


The treble is a natural continuation to the midrange when we’re talking about the Tradutto. It is yet again full-sounding, pleasant, and musical with fantastic detail reproduction and resolution. Here, the Tradutto comes as more soft and rounded sounding than the D90SE, which gives us an overall warmer and thicker sound signature of the two.
Don’t make it fool you though, as the high frequencies of the Tradutto are far from sounding dull or recessed. It is more about the amount of body and the overall timbre of the sound. The overall technical capabilities of the Tradutto are brilliant, and it is just about its slightly sweet and romantic soul that adds to it.
The cymbals sound like a big chunk of metal, which is actually good. I often feel like they should sound a bit thicker with many pieces of equipment that I’m testing, and it’s not the case with the Tradutto. It is just right.
As far as female vocal goes, they do sound sweet and seductive, but they tend to get in the front row and take you right into a very romantic and pleasant trip. They are nowhere close to being recessed or veiled, giving you a feeling that the vocalist sings right in front of you, which is something that is widely desired.

Now, into the biggest difference between the Tradutto and the D90SE – the soundstage.
See, the Topping D90SE would have been an almost perfect DAC, if it wasn’t for its staging capabilities. The 90SE doesn’t have any soundstage depth, none, null. This is very unfortunate, because I actually bought the thing around three months ago, hoping it’ll be my reference DAC for quite a long time to come.
Sadly, after testing four different units in countless (literally, there’s been dozens) different systems, both in headphones and speakers, me and my friends came up to the conclusion that it simply has a very bad soundstage, so bad that it made the D90SE sound broken.
And then there’s been the day when my Tradutto was expected to be delivered. I still remember when after unpacking it I plugged it right into my setup in place of the D90SE, played a first song that came into my mind (it was Edison’s Children – Dusk, a fantastic song both musically and in terms of testing staging capabilities of audio equipment – definitely recommended!), and…I found peace. Compared to the D90SE, Tradutto offered a soundstage depth that is so huge and vast, it almost sounded like the Topping was broken, and as I stated before, it wasn’t.
So, this rather long story has a conclusion – the soundstage of the Tradutto is just fantastic, both in terms of its size as well as the imaging. It clearly goes out of your head and gives you a great feeling of spaciousness. While it is not THE biggest nor THE most accurate staging I’ve ever seen, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, to say the least.


Topping D90SE
Here’s the paragraph to summarize all the comparisons made between these two DACs in the Sound section of this review.
The Topping D90SE offers a slightly better detail retrieval and an overall insight into the music, being a more analytical and an almost “microscope-like” type of experience. However, the Tradutto sounds fuller, more musical, more natural and its soundstage is miles ahead of the Topping, especially in its depth. While going as far as calling the D90SE “broken” wouldn’t be entirely fair, considering that it has some aspects to it that are probably the best on the market, I can’t see anybody going for it after comparing these two DACs. The Tradutto is just a more pleasant and natural experience and given its huge soundstage advantage, it comes as a superior DAC to me, without the slightest doubt.



This comparison is pretty interesting, as both DACs share many similarities in terms of their sonic performance. Both are slightly warm and lush sounding, with hard-hitting bass and great vocal reproduction. However, the Tradutto offers a better sense of realism and slightly better detail reproduction, giving a more sublime and overall more mature sound. On top of that, it’s built better, has a better unboxing experience, and a smaller footprint.
On the other hand, the SU-9 is literally half the price of the Tradutto, and it does offer a brilliant value even today in very late 2021. The choice between these two should come down entirely to your budget and whether you want something that is more boutique and interesting. Both DACs are exceptional and their tuning is somewhat similar, and the more expensive one is better…is it 2x price difference better? It’s just a matter of perspective. For me it is, but it might not be for you. I recommend trying both between making a final decision.



Here’s a comparison between our “Best DAC 2020” and “Best DAC 2021”. They are priced similarly, with Tradutto going for $799, and the NEO iDSD costing $699.
First things first, the physical aspect. The NEO iDSD still makes me smile every time I see it, because of its very interesting and futuristic design. It can also stand vertically, something that is impossible with the Tradutto.
The build quality however goes to Earmen, and by a huge margin. See, the NEO iDSD looks great, but its build quality leaves something to be desired. At the same time, the Tradutto can be easily used as a blunt weapon, it feels denser and more substantial.
As far as the sound is considered, the Tradutto sounds more refined, neutral, and natural, with a more accurate timbre. NEO iDSD on the other hand sounds more magical and “different”, having that slightly vibrating tone and ethereal soundstage to it. While it does its magic in seducing you into the music, the Tradutto is just an overall better-sounding unit, both in terms of its timbre, as well as raw technical capabilities. If you have a separate amplifier (since the Tradutto doesn’t have one built-in), then go for the Tradutto.



I’ll keep this paragraph pretty short and straightforward. The Earmen Tradutto pairs excellently with everything I plug into it, no matter the quality and sonic signature.
It works great with the Ferrum OOR, xDuoo TA-26, and our Amplifier of the year, the XI Audio Broadway S, giving a rich and natural sound for the amplifier to work with.
In terms of the headphones, there hasn’t been a single pair that I didn’t like with the Tradutto. Our choice for the best headphone of 2021, the Audeze LCD-X 2021 sounds incredible with it, even though they do share some similarities in their tuning. It sounds great with my Final D8000 Pro, Hifiman HE1000SE, or the Susvara, giving me a great musical journey every time I turn it on.
And that’s really surprising – even though it definitely has its flavor and sound signature, it still behaves like a chameleon, pairing well with everything I’ve tried. This is the reason to call this DAC marvelous.



I’m left with no choice but to reward the EarMen Tradutto with our “Best DAC 2021” award. It does it all, starting with great design, flawless build quality, superb functionality all the way to a very mature, natural, and rich sound. At $799 it is definitely not the cheapest option on the market, but for a boutique product with such craftsmanship and the sound that involving, I definitely think it is worth every penny.

Highly Recommended.


Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
  • Headphones – Hifiman Susvara, HE1000se, Arya SE, Audeze LCD-X 2021, Final D8000 Pro, HEDDphone
  • Sources– Topping D90se + A90, Ferrum OOR, SMSL SU9+SH9, iFi iDSD NEO, Musician Aquarius, xDuoo TA-26, LittleDot MK III SE
Heard it twice. Tough competition vs a Gungnir A1 Unison. I thought it was good, but overall not quite a match to the Gumby. But in one area I did not like it. I thought the bass was too emphasized and even under damped a bit. The HEK Stealth, Ananda Stealth I heard with both were not driven as well (soft/lack of impact) in the bass by the Liquid Platinum than my Rag 1 - which is zero surprise, but w/ the Traddutto, even less control and and more bass (too much). Switch in the Gumby and no such issue. That carried over to the Rag 1 with those two cans, plus my modded HE-500 and 6 SE.

Just a thumbnail, not an in depth review.
Cat Whisperer Bob
Cat Whisperer Bob
The Tradutto has been a big step up over the IFI Signature DAC it replaced. Much larger soundstage, better clarity overall, and much stronger bass (as noted above).
However I do enjoy the bass emphasis even though it may be overdone, and it sounds great on my Hifiman HEK Stealth, and Sennheiser (Drop HD-6XX).
One "complaint" has been that is uses a 4.4MM TRRRS plug as its balanced output, but so does the IFI so I was all set in that regard, actually the savings of $100 + by using the same output cord helped put me over the top on this purchase.
For the price ($499 on sale) it was a bargain, possibly extra cheap because its being closed out, but no problem there.


There are no comments to display.