General Information

TempoTec Sonata E44 Headphone Amplifier Dual CS43131 USB Type C To 4.4MM Balance DAC& DSD256(Native) For Android Phone&PC MAC

Packing Included:

  • 1* Sonata E44
  • 1* Adapter(female type-c to male USB-A)
  • 1* Hi-Res logo sticker

In addition, give a gift:

  • 1* 4.4mm Male Balanced to 3.5 mm Female cable

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Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: -Excellent technical performance
-Lush, dynamic and musical
-Wide open spatiality
-Great resolution-imaging-transparency
-no bass or treble roll off
-Impressively fast & controlled PRaT
-Powerfull amping for a dongle (4vrms-175mw@32ohm)
-High sound value
Cons: -sensible volume control that can be press unwitingly (and make explode your ears)
-not the deepest cleanest spatiality
-not as crips-airy-sparkly as some other CS43131 based dongles
-a play/pause button would have been welcome
-some clipping at very loud volume with low sensitivity IEM

TONALITY: 8.5/10

TEMPOTEC is a chinese audio company specialize in portable DAC-AMP. They have collaborate in the past as OEM DAC-AMP company for company like Hidizs but decide to fly with their own wings and create their own ultra value budget DAC-AMP.
Tempotec get on the map with their 3 years old best seller, the HD PRO, which use a single cirrus CS43131 and cost 40$. AT the time, it was head and shoulder above all other hifi dongle offering in term of sound quality value and even today it stay very competitive.
Since HD PRO, they have launch alot of new dongle, most of them using dual CS43131 DAC like the BHD, E35 and the one I will review today, the E44.

Priced 80$, the E44 can be considered as the flagship dongle from this company. It use dual CS43131 DAC and have a 4.4mm balanced output. Let see if it’s a notable upgrade from the marvellous HD PRO (and HD V) in this review.




The E44 have an atypical design, firstly its cabled in both way, and the 4.4mm plug is near as big as dongle body. This body is made of metal and glass and is very thin. It have a volume control button. The cable material seem to be 6 cores silver plated and feel quite sturdy. To go back at this big 4.4mm plug, it’s heavier than the dongle itself too. The goal of this design is to make dongle more flexible, acting like a prolongation of earphones cable.


It make about 3 months I have this dongle and durability seem very nice. Everything feel premium with teh E44, even USB C connector which have thick metal body. 4.4mm is heavy as said and made of thick metal, it’s gold plated as well. Cable of both end seem not sensible to pulling stress and promise long durability too.


One notable drawback about design is the volume control, and this for multiple reason. Firstly it can’t be use in exclusive mode as single volume control, secondly it only have 32 steps, and thirdly the single long button is sensible to pressing and when you hold it it scale very fast in volume step. This mean i get my ears explode at least 10 times, it happen when i walk with the E44+phone in my pocket which can press button with phone weight pressing the long button…since the E44 can play VERY loud, this can be dangerous for hearing no doubt. In that regards, Tempotec BHD have better button, less prompt to easy pressure.

In term of packaging, it’s very minimalist and don’t even worth picture (ok, i lost the box and some accessories, this is why there no pics!). Its a small box wich include an extra 3.5mm female to 4.4mm male adapter, a USB-C to USB adapter, protective screen, wipe cloth and a much need Hi-Res sticker to stick on your cat or anything you find funny to transform into hifi product. All in all, we have everything we need here so no complaint.



At 4vrms, the E44 deliver a very respectable 180mw@32ohm which will be plenty enough power for 95% of IEM, earbuds and headphones. Top put in perspective, it’s 3 times more powerfull than the HD PRO. With a rather low level of total harmonic distortion, it deliver a clean and hiss free loud amping experience.

It seem Tempotec choose to use implemented amping section of CS43131 DAC in dual mode, but i’m really not certain. Still a single DAC deliver 2vrms, double it and it equal 4vrms….but for the rest, its mystery to me.

Still, i can certainly conclude it really deliver 180mw@32ohm since it one of the most powerfull dongle I own out of 20. I wouldn’t say it’s as clean or linear as THX AAA amp, nor as transparent, yet it’s crisp, with black background and great dynamic scale-something that I favor in amping factor, being able to feel difference in notes loudness and impact.

Clipping is very rare but can occur with very hard to drive IEM like the Final Audio E5000 when you pass certain volume level. This will translate in bass distortion, especialy sub bass heavy track, not so much with instrumental music. And even pricier Questyle M15 create this, but in a smoother way.


(main IEM used: Final A8000, Moondrop Aria, UM Mext)
I would call the slight tonality push as gently bright neutral to well rounded W shape. It’s energic and fowards presentation, yet, holographic and not harsh or agressive nor grainy or spiky. Hint of mid bass extra punch authorit, hint of extra upper mids bite and mid+upper treble snap. The balance feel natural, not forced, yet the dynamic is lively and engaging.
Since it’s not lean and cold sounding but feel it have hint of W shape dynamic heft to overall tonal balance, I can’t consider the E44 plain neutral. It’s injected with lush musicality, yet have a vivid clean and detailed rendering. Nothing feel distant with the E44, you have an holographic perception of fowards bass, mids and treble, all in their presence and body. Well rounded and full bodied tonality that sit between mature analytical and lush musical. Crisp L shape come to mind due to beefy low end. A unique yet cohesive mix of warm bass impact, bright clear mids and highly detailed treble without the CS43131 extra air spike we can expect from this DAC.

The E44 tend to add a bit of texture and punch to the mid bass, which is very notable with the Moondrop Aria, but what it do to this IEM is taming a bit the sub bass resonance and rumble, keeping it’s presence cleaner, more texture and tactile than physical. Yet kick drum sound more rounded with magnify layering, in the sens sub bass and kick doesn’t mix togheter but sit on each other in a neutral way. Don’t get me wrong, we never feel lacking sub bass, it just become less loose and more controlled with the E44, and the slam become tighter, rounder, less bleedy too.

When it come to mids, transition is smooth and dynamic have weight. Definition is detailed and clean, yet not edgy or clinical. It’s not the widest in presence, it centered and well sculpted in instrument singularity. Transparency is good but texture do make timbre a bit opaque. Timbre is quite dense tough, not thin like lot of other CS43131 dongle i try. Between lush and bright. Free of sibilance boost.

The treble is superb, even if it trade some sparkle and air to achieve this impressive timbral balance that feel so natural yet near analytical in it’s richness. Percussions have this 3D feel to them, in the sens it’s fully extract, not half done with faked sharpness or over boosted brilliance. You have full image of sound reconstitution here. And alot of micro-details to discover too. About brilliance and sparkle, it just don’t boost it, but will not tame it if your IEM produce some. Fact is that everything is organically balanced, yet with sharp but not spike definition.

The spatiality is a bit stretched in wideness-tallness and doesn’t blur deepness, so it tend to feel more holographic and fully presented in a 180 degree, not just stereo since center stage is perceive too.

Imaging is very impressive and better than the excellent Xduoo Link2 Bal in that regard since it’s cleaner in layering. You have both good separation of wide sound layers and pin point perception of static instrument, it’s precise without feeling forced or analytical and you can dig trough sound layers transparency even if their are richly textured.




This is a very hard to drive IEM due to low sensitivity, which is different than impedance and can even be more capricious in proper amping.
Firstly, good news, the E5000 sound open, have improved resolution and brighter mids and treble. Unfortunately, when it come to bass, we can have clipping-distortion at high volume and overall body isn’t as well rounded, warm and thick too, still, i do listen at unhealty high volume.
Let just say the fact E44 can properly drive the E5000 is extremely impressive, the sound is open, with more spacious imaging, faster attack punch and snap, timbre is still lush and natural yet with a hint of extra energy that permit cleaner mids presentation, which with warm dac-amp will make the E5000 sound overly dark and warmed by bass.
Simply put, unless if cranked at max volume to ears exploding level, this pairing is excellent and improve technical performance of the Final E5000 gloriously.


Ok, this is a great pairing and far from boring for sure since it make the Aria sounding more foward and energic as well as more focus on texture. So, brighter mids and more mid bass textured, so bit of extra punch and bit of sub bass taming. Female vocal sound fuller and better extracted, more textured and foward, less laid back overall. Beautifull crispness of Aria is preserve, perhaps with a hint of extra abrasive bite…as if Aria begin a transformation to become a Kato. That surely proof how Aria are transparent to source, since here its tonality is more W shape than U shape. Very interesting and rewarding paring, with an injected sens of immediacy and holographic between lush and crisp rendering. Highly immersive and addictive!

With TINHIFI P1plus

Though less hard to drive than both Final E5000 and Tinhifi P1, I wouldn’t say these Planar IEM are easy to properly drive either, and again the E44 proof to deliver plenty of amping power, this time without clipping issue at max volume as the well define and articulate thick sub line of ”Moonlight” track from IAMDDB show, rumble stay clean even when i crank up volumeabove my already loud listening range. So, we have an open and deep spatiality, punchy bass and gently bright P1plus here, with vivid dynamic and again this energic snappy performance. It isn’t as sharp and treble crispness foward as with other CS43131 source like Tempotec HD PRO or BHD, very balanced sounding and rich in texture, where the P1plus can show every single micro-details. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite pairing but sure a good one that can be resume: extra texture details and density, more energic less delicate dynamic, crunchier fuller treble.



VS FIIO KA3 (ES9032q2m DAC-80$)

So, the E44 have slightly lower power output, but it’s doesn’t translate into a lack of dynamic energy, which in fact is more weighty and lively in amplitude projection than KA3. This is surely due to dual DAC used that perhaps permit lower crosstalk.
(Indeed, I just check and E44 crosstalk is about 3 times lower.)
This doesn’t mean E44 sound clearer, but that dynamic is better articulated and sound projection perhaps more free since attack of KA3 is notably more retain and blend. In other words, high resolution of E44 doesn’t feel forced, while with KA3 it does, with extra grain that amplify brighness reveal.
Bass of E44 have bigger slam and warmer, fuller timbre, in fact here the timbre is very different, more natural and pleasant with E44, yet less amplify in texture and ”digital transparency”. Mids is where the KA3 show it’s more artificial tonality, it doesn’t open in wideness as much as E44 and make instrument like saxophone and some vocal notably more dry and thin and rude in realism. Finally ,treble is brighter and more agressive with the KA3 as expected, it have less natural brilliance and sparkle as well as resonance than E44.
Hum, here, the clear winner is Tempotec E44, even if technically it isn’t as ”frontal”, the dynamism is more coherent, hefty and fluidly articulated in contrast of amplitude than flatter colder more clinical sounding KA3.

VS XDUOO LINK 2 BAL (dual CS43131+independant amp chip-160$)

DAC=Dual cirrus CS43131
Power output= 175mw@32ohm 4.4bal

DAC=Dual CS43131
Power output=275mw@32ohm 4.4Bal 125mw Se

These are a bit similar in tonal balance, not timbre nor spatiality presentation since BAL is more open, wide and tall. The independant amp section did inflict greatly to overall sound ,adding hint of warmth and density to individual instrument without affecting negatively the resolution.

Still, E44 feel more cold-clean, with an edge in definition that is more evident in busy messy music passage where BAL will have more harmonic distortion and blurry micro details. E44 hacve deeper spatiality and more precise instrument placement in a more restrain spatiality. Silence feel cleaner as well as background noise lower.

Something surprising too, is how the bass differ with those 2, BAL being notably weightier warmer and more beefy in slam due to extra sub bass presence. Sub bass have more density, rumble and mid bass is a bit less vivid in tight punch, less well separated from mids tooa nd more prompt to mix and thicken tonality.

To go back about timbre, which is biggest difference between those 2 after power output, E44 is thinner with greater transparency, a bit more polished less textured-grainy than BAL, vocal are a bit more lush, euphonic and appealing with BAL but not as well cleanly extracted in presence.

It’s evident to me that LINK2 BAL is more about amping power upgrade than proper sound quality upgrade, since its really more about timbre and slightly warmer more analogish tonality which can be usefull for brighter IEM or power hungry ones like the Final A8000 I use, but still, if you plan to only use balanced output on it, im not sure you need this extra 100mw the extra amping section deliver. Why? Because it had hint of harmonic distortion, which will inflict technical performance in term of attack sustain, snap and overall resolution. We are in tonality subjectivity for this case. Some will swear that BAL is better when in fact they find musicality more charming, thats all. Oh, and i check the SNR after this comparison….interesting isn’t it that E44 is better in that regard?



Even if it’s more than 6 months old, the E44 still is a very competitive dongle that stand it’s ground in the overwhelming dongles offering of today portable audio.
Tempotec implementation of dual CS43131 DAC is excellent here, delivering a natural cohesive tonality that is highly resolved yet highly musical too.
With it’s high power output, black noise floor, above average technical performance and affordable price, the E44 offer high sound value that is versatile in both power and tonality.

Tempotec haven’t finish to surprise us, so stay tuned for their upcoming mid-tier Android DAP too, it will use dual AK4493SE DAC and have alot of features. I mean ALOT!


PS: I want to thanks Tempotec for sending me this review sample. Though i’m a big fan of Tempotec since 4 years, it doesn’t bias my sound impressions and i’m not affiliated or compensate financially by this great audio company.

You can order the Tempotec E44 from their official store HERE
Or on Hifigo store HERE

For more honest reviews of diversify audio products, give a read to my No Borders Audiophile blog HERE.
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100+ Head-Fier
Tempotec Sonata E44 Sound Impression/Review
Pros: Clean and dynamic sound
Cons: Fingerprint magnet
Non detachable cable attached to the dongle limited the flexibility
Tempotec Sonata E44 Sound Impression/Review


Tempotec is a company known for producing affordable and high quality dongle dac/amp.
Compatibility is also not only limited to Android only but it also supports iOS, Windows and MacOS. Not to mention that some of the firmware is actually upgradable.

Today I have with me the Sonata E44 which sounds fairly impressive to my ears.

Specifications (Grabbed from Tempotec’s Aliexpress Store)
DAC: Dual CS43131
SNR: 130dB
THD+N: 115dB
Output Level: 4Vrms
Output Power: 175mw/32ohm
Frequency: 0-40Khz/+- 0.5dB
Crosstalk: -127dB
Decoding: PCM32bit 384Khz, DSD 256(Native), 128(DOP)
Additional Feature: HW Volume Control
Compatibility: Windows, MacOs, Android
Driver: Win7,8,10 & Asio Driver

Fairly standard packaging, a box containing the E44 itself, and also the addition of 4.4 Male to 3.5 Female adapter. Do take note that this adapter is meant to use with E44 only, i have not tested it on other dac/amp but theoretically, you shouldn’t as it will damage the dac/amp. I’m sure E44’s internal circuitry has been modified in order to support this.

IEM/Headphones Paired with E44
  • Unique Melody 2HT (4.4)
  • Audiosense AQ4 (4.4)
  • Sennheiser IE40 Pro (3.5)
  • Grado SR125X (3.5)
  • Dunu Titan S (4.4)
  • Effect Audio Axiom (4.4)
  • Tripowin Lea (3.5)
  • Thinksound in20

Sound Impression
Coming from Xduoo’s Link2Bal, despite both sporting the same Dual Dac config with the exact same DAC Chip, they don’t sound the same at all. I will be sharing my sound impression of E44 in point form, so it is easier to read instead of going through long lines of words:
  • Tonality wise, E44 sounds rather neutral with a slight tilt on the cold range if you are coming from a warm sounding DAC/Amp
  • Attack speed is very good on E44, Snappy and fast. Very clean sounding overall
  • The note weight is not as thick as i preferred, however, this is what makes it speedy in my opinion
  • I find that the Bass, Mids and Trebles are not boosted and it rendered the music as it is, this is important as it will not add any sort of coloration to your IEMs/Headphones, however, there are also a certain group of people who prefers the coloration (musicality), i for one don’t fixate on a certain preference, i am all about good implementation and that alone will enable me to enjoy the musics
  • Listening to Kenshi Yonezu’s Lemon via UM’s 2HT, the whole song is very engaging, vocal does not present as intimate nor recessed, it has got good texture to it, certainly not thin sounding, the treble rendition on 2HT via E44 is what i like the most, the definition or details via this pairing is superb(to my ears), the definition of the details in the upper range is highlighted, yet it is not fatiguing to listen to it nor it sounded harsh
  • Listening to MJ’s Dirty Diana via the same pairing (2HT+E44), coupled with 2HT’s big soundstage, the listening experience is very engaging as well. Very clean and not harsh sounding at all
  • Listening to live recording (Toto’s Africa), it is very vivid, as if the artist is performing in front of you, this is via Grado’s SR125X paired with E44. Grado is a little sensitive to source in my opinion, pair it with the wrong source and it will sound very harsh, and with the right one, it will sing!

Track List used during the listening session
  • Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Californication
  • Eric Clapton - Tears in Heaven Unplugged
  • Teresa Teng - The Moon Represents my Heart
  • The Weeknd - Gasoline
  • Billie Eilish - Your Power
  • Metallica - Master of Puppets
  • Sinne Eeg - We’ve Just Begun
  • Hans Zimmer - Why So Serious
  • Simon and Garfunkel - The Sound of Silence
  • Toto - Africa (Live)

Driving Power
I do not have any power hungry IEM/Headphone to really test the driving power of E44.
One thing to note is that it can easily drive anything in my collection which I already listed out earlier. I do need to crank the volume up a few more steps when i am using it with Grado SR125x, still not a major issue for E44, still powering it without any hiccups

Additional mention
  • The physical volume button is very welcoming as you can control the volume on the dongle itself without messing with the window’s or the application’s volume control
  • The cable on the dongle is fixed to type-c only, if you want to use it with an iOS device, you may need to purchase a separate adapter. The only gripe I have with the fixed cable is that it might break after some time or due to some accidents, having a fixed cable also means it lacks some flexibility. Not a deal breaker, but more like personal preference
  • Front and back is made of glass, fingerprint magnet, the decision to include protection film for both front and back is a very welcoming gesture

Final Thoughts
Tempotec E44 is an easy recommendation from me for someone who’s looking for a clean and dynamic sounding portable dongle dac/amp. The price performance ratio on this is fairly high in my opinion, while it is not a DAP killer, it does offer a step up from someone who’s been using mobile phone as their source, or even some seasoned audiophile who’s considering portability with good sonic performance, this is the one for them.

E44 is not for someone who likes warm and musical sound because E44 is not warm and musical, rather dynamic and clean sounding, slightly cold tonality. This is not a pro nor cons but more of a personal preference

If you are interested in grabbing a unit, head over to tempotec’s store to order one for yourself!
Tempotec E44

*Although I received this unit F.O.C from Tempotec, I am in no way influenced by Tempotec on my impressions nor do I gain any monetary benefit from Tempotec. All thoughts are of my own



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Review TempoTec Sonata E44: True winner
Pros: Uncolored, natural, with a true sense of realism, relaxing, very detailed and transparent sound; big soundstage; holographic image, great dynamics and separation; outstanding quality.
Cons: It does not have both 4.4 mm balanced and 3.5 mm outputs; all necessary cables are attached to the unit, which is rather a matter of personal choice.

The past few years we have a “big bang” in new In-Ear Monitors (IEMs), the vast majority of which are of good and quite a few of excellent quality; there are obviously different sound signatures for different tastes, but the quality of most of these IEMs is really good.

Good quality IEMs created a need for good quality Digital to Analog Converters (DACs). Now, if you want to have just one DAC on the go and at home, then you need a mobile or portable DAC, what we usually call a “dongle”; and it is true that in recent years dongles started popping up at a pace that is really hard to follow.

Here, I should point out that what we usually call DAC it actually is a DAC/AMP, namely, a device which, besides doing the conversion of a digital to an analog signal, it also has an amplifier section that allows this signal to be played through an IEM or a headphone even one of low sensitivity and/or high impedance.

We have actually reached a point where we have companies that deal exclusively with the manufacture of mobile DAC/AMPs. One such company is the TempoTec Corporation, originally formed by a group of audio experts from China, Taiwan, Korea and Germany, each having more than 20 years of experience in the development of audio systems. The purpose of this coalition was to create products which are friendly, affordable and of audiophile quality.

TempoTec has so far presented a number of great and affordable products, and one of their latest additions is Sonata E44.


Sonata E44 uses dual CS43131 chips; this is the flagship, and indeed a very mighty chip, of Cirrus Logic, which is used in some very good DAC/AMPs in the market. There is no additional information provided on the amplification part of the unit. Nonetheless, E44 has some very impressive specifications: The SNR is 130 dB, the THD+N 115 dB, the crosstalk -127 dB and the frequency response 0 Hz-40 kHz/±0.5 dB. Although there is no information given on the amplification of the unit, the output level is an impressive 4 Vrms and the output power 175 mW/32 Ω. This is obviously the result of the dual CS43131 chips and the fact that the unit has a 4.4 mm balanced output. The volume is controlled by a long button, having 32 steps, and this allows for a smooth adjustment of the volume level.

E44 volume control.png

The Sonata E44 is able to deliver PCM 32 bit / 384 kHz plus DSD 256 (native) and 128 (DOP) playback, which is more than what one needs from a portable DAC. It is compatible with MacOS, Windows (7,8,10 and USB ASIO driver) and Android (supports OTG function). It is USB powered through a type-C cable. The output is a stereo 4.4 mm balanced output. It is both interesting and quite unusual that the type-C and the 4.4 mm balanced cables are both incorporated into the unit i.e., they are part of it, and they are made of 8-core, single crystal copper silver-plated OCC (Ohno Continuous Cast) wires; for those that are not familiar, OCC is a casting process for copper or silver wire that draws a single crystal up to 125 meters in length, providing the least possible oxides and other impurities. Furthermore, a female type-C to a male USB-A adapter is also provided.

E44 cable.png

The housing of Sonata E44 is made of metal (I suspect CNC aluminum) and glass on the front and back plates. Although the unit itself is petit, its physical dimensions, including the cables, the type-C input and the 4.4 mm balanced output, are 185 mm x 21 mm x 7 mm, and its weight is 27.2 grams. One could certainly argue whether the attached cables to the unit is a practical choice. In the market, you find units with separate cables for the input or output, while you can also find units that have just one cable for the input attached (like in the iBasso DC series). There is no doubt that the attached cables cannot be lost, unless you loose the unit itself; on the other hand, you have to carry cables all the time with the unit, which make it bulkier. It is really a matter of personal choice.


In order to be able to use Sonata E44 with IEMs and headphones having a 3.5 mm plug, the unit comes, as a gift to the user, with a 4.4 mm male balanced to a 3.5 mm female cable adapter, which is really very versatile.

E44 adapter.png

What I can say without any hesitation is that the overall quality is outstanding; this could be expected from a unit having a tag price of well over $100.00, like many DAC/AMPs in the market today. What about if I tell you that E44’s MSRP is just $89.90, and many times you find it on sale for as low as $69.99? Amazing? You bet!


I use the word performance, because Sonata E44 has 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.

The main characteristic of E44’s sound is that it has a very nice tonal balance; balanced sound does not mean what some people view as or call neutral sound. 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 sounding product, and I very much doubt that they can actually do it even if they want to, given that the tuning is done by acoustic engineers according to what “they believe” that is neutral. Really neutral means no engagement and no musicality whatsoever, so maybe good for studio recording but not for listening to music. E44’s sound is completely uncolored, and at the same time natural, with a true sense of realism, relaxing and very detailed.

The bass is tight, with the right amount of sub- and mainly mid-bass, and very polite, so you will never feel that E44’s sound is even the slightest warm; in that sense, if someone wants to experience a kind of analogue and organic sound, then most likely he will be a bit disappointed.

The mids are very natural and relaxing, and both female and male vocals are very nicely presented. It is also interesting that through the 4.4 mm balanced output the vocals retain their natural and relaxing character, but they become slightly more intimate.

The tremble is extended but never hissing or harsh; so, one gets plenty of details, but I would not call the presentation euphonic, although in some cases one may get this impression.

Overall, the timbre is natural, realistic, full bodied and transparent. The soundstage is quite big, mainly in width, and in certain cases is also tall and extends in depth, while the image quite holographic.

The sound through both the 4.4 mm balanced and 3.5 mm outputs has the same character and is really great, as was already described. The difference between the two is that through the 4.4 mm balanced output the sound opens up and becomes more airy and detailed, although one may find it a little more crispy than one would actually like. On the other hand, this extra crispiness gives the impression of a taller stage.

The dynamics is really great given that the output level is an impressive 4 Vrms. E44 is a beast that can drive any IEM or headphone up to 600 Ω with ease and without any change in its sound signature. Furthermore, it is a very quiet unit, without any floor noise even with the most sensitive IEMs, which is quite of an advantage.

The sound testing of E44 was done with a variety of musical pieces from TIDAL, varying among the classical songs “The Look of Love” by Diana Krall, “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman, “Texas Sun” by Khruangbin and Leon Bridges and “I Want The World To Stop” by Belle & Sebastian, using a variety of IEMs and headphones. In all of them, E44’s performance was uncolored, natural, relaxing and transparent.

It is really amazing that E44 costs so little and offers so much; it would be a truly worthy addition to every computer, laptop or smartphone. The reproduction of the whole of the audio spectrum is very articulate and E44’s performance represents a big improvement over the usual one-dimensional output that comes out from a computer’s, laptop’s or smartphone’s DAC. It is undoubtedly one of the best implementations of a dual CS43131 chips design.


To iBasso DC04

Another DAC/AMP, using dual Cirrus Logic CS43131 chips and having a balanced 4.4 mm output, is the iBasso DC04; although it has been discontinued, one can still find it in certain vendors; its MSRP was $75.00, and it pretty much remains the same or a bit lower in some cases. The DC04 is a very powerful unit providing 195 mW at 32 Ω and 4 Vrms at 300 Ω. It also has a a low background noise of less than 0.9 uV (or 900 nano volts), an output impedance of 0.12 Ω and low total harmonic distortion rated at 0.00039% at 32 Ω and0.00032% at 300 Ω. A type-C plug is attached to the unit through a good quality cable, while an adapter converting the type-C plug into a full-size USB-A is provided. DC04 is able to deliver PCM 32 bit / 384 kHz plus DSD 256 (native) playback. However, it does not have a volume control. Like E44, the housing of DC04 is brushed aluminum; its length is 110 mm and its weight is 12.0 grams.

I have to admit that the sound of Sonata E44 and DC04 is very close to each other, although there are small differences; the sound of E44 is more relaxed, while that of DC04 is more revealing. Someone listening to E44 may get the impression that the tonality of E44 is somewhat warm in order to give this relaxed sound signature; it is not, and it actually gives plenty of information. It is that it does not have the crispiness of DC04. Other than that the soundstage of both units is about the same, although DC04 with its extended highs may give you the impression of a slightly taller stage; the image is holographic in both of them, and also excellent is the dynamics and separation. Both units can drive any IEM or headphone up to 600 Ω with ease and without any change in their sound signature.

So, if you want a relaxed performance, which is preferable for me, then you go with E44; if, on the other hand, you prefer a crispier performance, then you go with DC04. It is good to have choices!


Sonata E44 is a truly amazing unit. It has a sound that is uncolored, natural, with a true sense of realism, relaxing, very detailed, with a big soundstage, and great holographic image, dynamics and separation. On top of all this, its quality is outstanding.

What is even more amazing is E44’s price: At $89.90, it is a bargain; at $69.99, that you frequently find it, it is a steal.

E44 improves by a whole lot your computer’s, laptop’s or smartphone’s sound, and at $69.99 everybody should own one. Most highly recommended!

Reviewer’s note: The reviewer is grateful to TempoTec Corporation for sending him a sample of Sonata E44.
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