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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Latest reviews

MundoHiFiOz

100+ Head-Fier
TempoTec Sonata e44 REVIEW
Pros: Sound at the level of DAPs
Great sounding midrange
Beautiful design
output power
It can be used with most headphones and earphones
Cons: Hiss with sensitive iems (4.4mm output)
Intimate soundstage
About me:
Music lover and earphone enthusiast, most of my previous reviews are in spanish.

Disclaimer: TempoTec graciously sent me the Sonata E44.

Gear used:
Final B3, A4000, Sonorous 3, Ath R70x

About Tempotec:
TempoTec is a company based in China conformed by a group of experts in the pursuit of "the best sound quality". You can find more here: https://www.tempotec.net/pages/about-tempotec

Specifications:

DAC: DUAL CS43131
SNR: 130dB
THD + N: 115dB
Output level: 4VRMS
Output power:175mW / 32ohm
Frequency: 0-40KHZ / + - 0.5 DB
Crosstalk: -27dB
Support: 32Bit PCM / 384kHz DSD256 (native) DSD128 (DOP)
Support: HW VOLUME CONTROL
Support: PC, MAC and Android, Compatible with W7, W8, W10 and ASIO driver

Packaging and accessories:

The Sonata e44 ($89) is one of the newest dongle dac/amp from tempotec, it comes in a basic packaging with no colorful or striking designs, it seems that TempoTec focuses completely on delivering products that speak by themselves and that stand out by their sound performance. Inside of the box we will find a USB type C to type A adapter, a Hi-Res sticker, a plastic protector and a 4.4mm male to 3.5mm female adapter.

Unlike previous products from TempoTec, we won't find a transport case in the accessories. The current accessory set is good enough, it has all the necessary items and i wouldnt like to see an increase on price just for having more extras.

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Design:

Just like the previous version, the e44 has a beautiful and stylish aluminum finish. The device feels solid and has a small size that makes it very portable and easy to carry everywhere. In the front and back faces it has a mirror-like finish that is very easy to scratch so I recommend you to use the plastic protections of the accessory set.

One thing I didn't like in the Sonata e35´s design was that it looked cheap in that coffee golden colour, in this case the e44 looks completely different just by changing the main color. I really liked this combination of black tonalities that makes it look elegant and sober.

The non removable cables are attached to the main unit, they feel resistant but just like all products of the same style, we don't know how much the cable is going to last. These cables have on one end the type C connection and on the other end we will find the balanced 4.4mm output. In the central part of the e44 there are 2 buttons that allow the volume control and thanks to the 32 step volume, the changes are good enough to reach comfortable levels of volume.

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Daily use:

The Sonata e44 doesn't need special software to operate, just plug and play. In terms of heat control, this device keeps cold and it doesn't reach high temperatures but it does like energy and will drain your smartphone's battery faster than regular dongle dacs specially when using high impedance headphones. At the same time I find that the e44 has better performance by using it with computers, the bass gets tighter and the stage increases while it has more power for high impedance headphones.

One thing that I liked was that no matter if I use low or high impedance headphones, the e44 delivers a solid execution in all cases. Please note that hiss/noise appears with high sensitivity iems using the 4.4mm output.

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Sound

It's well known that most entry level DAPs are being surpassed in sound quality by these little devices like the sonata e44, in this case the e44 can easily match and triumph in some aspects when compared side by side to hiby r5 and shanling m3x. Before making a detailed comparison, let's start with the sound description of the sonata dac/amp.

The e44 has a neutral sound reproduction with high coherency and delivering a natural tonality. Since the first time I tried this dac / amp I noted how good and balanced the sound was. Nothing was above the rest, everything sounded rich and my final b3 sounded the best it could.

Bass
Being a neutral sounding device gives the bass a full extension, with no added weight nor fake accentuations. Bass is fast, has a good level of detail and when it's time to hit hard it will do it but do not expect a very punchy low end specially using the 3.5mm adapter. One point to notice is that the e44 has the best performance without any adapter on it and in this case the bass sounds fuller and with better dynamics using the 4.4mm output.

Mids:
Here is where the e44 shows it's better capabilities by delivering a natural clean midrange with an excellent balance between the musical and analytical side. It doesn't add much coloration to the sound and the only thing i note is that the midrange sounds have more weight on it sounding fuller and richer specially vocals.

In terms of soundstage i find it lacking specially using the 3.5mm adapter. Compared to daps or desktop amps the soundstage was one step below in both width and depth. On the other hand the imaging has good precision, instrumental separation is above average compared to similarly priced dongle dacs and last, the transitions have good speed reflected in songs like Design your universe pt 6 from Epica, a band that specializes in fast transitions and vocals.

Highs:
Treble has good clarity, once again it has a neutral representation so it won't add more coloration to this part of the sound. With bright sounding earphones like Final A4000, the e44 is able to control the very energetic highs achieving a satisfying pairing that won't sound aggressive nor lose the essence of sound of the a4000.


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Pairings:

Final B3 (3.5mm-4.4mm): The final audio B3 is a neutral-bright sounding IEM with great clarity and excellent vocal performance. Using the e44 i experienced a very detailed treble, good layering and it never sounded thin or aggressive in highs thanks to a very well controlled and neutral treble performance of the sonata dac/amp.
Pros: vocals sound clean and rich, bass is tight and very detailed, treble has good extension and without any sibilance on it.
Cons: With pop, rap or electronic music, bass is very light and doesn't hit hard. This shows how true and honest the e44 is because it doesn't add more emphasis or extra bass boost.

Final Sonorous 3 (3.5mm): The smooth V shaped sound signature of the final headphones is well represented, i can feel the vocals very close to me, female vocals are very enjoyable to listen to while the rest of the instruments keep back. These headphones require a good source to sound decent and the e44 delivers what they need so that's why this pairing has become my daily use equipment.
Pros: excellent female vocal performance, deep layered bass,
Cons: small stage and sometimes it can sound dry

ATH R70x: The 470 ohm impedance of this headphone might be too much for the e44 but thanks to the 4VRMS of the balanced output I achieved an excellent performance from this headphone. It is still far from desktop amps like Zen Can or Asgard 3 but the dynamism, instrumental separation, the note weight and imaging were not lacking and the results are more than good enough for a dongle dac.
Pros: Good dynamics, natural soundstage, smooth and well defined treble.
Cons: -


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Comparisons:

Hiby R5 (3.5mm output): The hiby DAP has a warmer, softer and laid back sound when compared to the e44. One big difference is in the treble region, the r5 has an average extension and a very polite treble so it will be more forgiving with bad recordings but at the same time lacks all the detail that the e44 delivers. Bass also has more presence in the r5, it has a mid bass emphasis that delivers extra rumble and last, the midrange has better clarity and is more resolving in the e44.

Shanling M3X (3.5mm output): The unbalanced output of the M3X is one of the worst that I have listened to, especially when the double dac is deactivated. It has an unnatural treble, mids have poor resolution and it's not hard to see that I prefer the e44 by a large margin. When using the 4,4mm output of the M3X the sound improves a lot: mids have better resolution, treble gets softer without losing detail and the coherency appears.

If we compare the 4.4mm headphone outputs of the daps to the e44 there are not big differences. First, the hiby dap is still sounding warmer and sweeter while the m3x has better treble performance by sounding softer and with lots of detail when compared to the e44. The biggest difference is once you use full size headphones that require more amplification: the r5 is way better than the e44 in this aspect while the shanling dap is just a bit better than the sonata dac/amp.

Zen dac: Due to the popularity of the zen dac i decided to compare both. The first thing I noticed was the warm and soft sound that the zen dac delivers compared to a more linear and transparent sound of the e44. A clear advantage of the zen dac over the e44 is how the soundstage is presented. In the Zen dac the stage has a 3D effect on it with great air between instruments meanwhile the e44´s stage has a more intimate representation. On the other hand, the e44 sounds more natural, has a better treble extension and a more realistic bass.


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Conclusions

Every time I tried a new dongle dac/amp it was hard to distinguish between it and the rest of competitors, the performance was close and so was the sound between them. In this case the e44 has achieved a solid performance that clearly differs from the rest so i'm happy to give it 5 stars.
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cqtek

500+ Head-Fier
Formula 44
Pros: Excellent sound, with a lot of clarity, separation, cleanness, openness and three-dimensionality.
- Technically it is also outstanding.
- Compact and complete design.
- Quality of construction, cable and connectors.
- Very good price/performance ratio.
-It's compatible with SE 3.5mm headphones, thanks to an adapter that comes as default.
Cons: Volume steps too wide.
- No case like the BHD model.
- Does not work well with the USB ports of my PC.
Introduction

The balanced pair from Tempotec's new Sonata E series could not be missing. And following the trend, the output is 4.4mm, much more robust than the smaller 2.5mm. This is the first highlight of Tempotec's new model, which is called, of course, the Sonata E44. Aesthetically, it is the same as the E35, only the connector size is different. Internally, it is also the same, because it uses the same Dual DAC CS43131. But its balanced circuitry improves the SNR, THD+N, output level and crosstalk specifications. But what about the sound? These and other issues will be addressed in the following review.

Tempotec Sonata E44 01_r.jpgTempotec Sonata E44 02_r.jpg

Disclaimer

Tempotec, offered me this model, in exchange for writing an honest review. I want to make it clear that all my opinions written in this review have not been conditioned by this fact, nor will I ever write anything that I do not really think or feel here. I will only write about my personal opinion in relation to the revised product.

Tempotec Sonata E44 03_r.jpg

Specifications

  • DAC: DUAL CS43131
  • SNR: 130dB
  • THD+N: 115dB
  • Output level: 4VRMS
  • Output power: 175 mW/32ohm
  • Frequency: 0-40KHZ /+-0.5dB
  • Crosstalk: -127dB
  • Support: 32Bit PCM/384kHz DSD256 (native) DSD128(DOP)
  • Support: HW volume control
  • Support: PC MAC and Android
  • W7, W8, W10 and ASIO driver support
  • http://www.tempotec.com.cn//download/SONATA_HD_DRIVER.zip

Tempotec Sonata E44 04_r.jpg

Packaging

The external presentation of the E44 is the same as that of the E35. The only difference is a couple of stickers on the back of the box, just to indicate which model it is. The box is white. Its dimensions are 127x100x35mm. On the main side you can see a drawing of the edges of the E44. On the back side there is only the brand, the model, the website, the e-mail address, several QR and an EAN13. But after removing the outer cardboard, the complete black box can be seen again. It opens up like a box and inside you can see the E44, the USB Type-C to USB classic adapter, a 4.4mm balanced male to 3.5mm SE female adapter and some Hi-Res logos stickered inside a thick foam moulding. Underneath, there's little else. The complete contents are:

  • Tempotec Sonata E44.
  • USB Type-C female to USB male adapter.
  • Adapter 4.4mm balanced male to 3.5mm SE female.
  • Gold Hi-Res AUDIO logo sticker.
  • 1 back cover.
  • 1 front side protector.
  • 1 wet wipe.
  • 1 dry wipe.

The device already comes with protective plastics, but a replacement is appreciated. The two-stage cleaning kit (wet wipe and dry wipe) is also appreciated. However, a carrying case, like the Sonata BHD, is missing. As for the E35, the contents are almost the same, except for the BAL to SE adapter cable.

Tempotec Sonata E44 05_r.jpg

Construction and Design

The new E44 has the same external construction as the E35, except that it uses a different cable. In general, it is not a simple tablet and the connectors are not integrated into it either. Instead, an 8-strand silver-plated monocrystalline copper cable runs from each end, which is attached to the USB Type-C connector on one side and the 4.4mm BAL connector on the other. Each connector is gold-plated. The USB male connector sleeve is the same colour as the body and is oval in shape. The headphone output connector sleeve starts out as a cylinder that turns into a rather bulky hexagon. It also has the same colour as the body. On this occasion it is only available in black. The dimensions of each component are:

  • Global 200mm.
  • USB connector 22.5mm.
  • 4.4mm BAL connector 31mm.
  • Centre pickup 54mm.
  • USB cable 48mm.
  • Headphone output cable 49mm.

The sum total of the parts is greater than the overall size, because the connections are located in an innermost groove of the housing.
Each connection point of the cable to the central pickup or any connector is protected by a translucent white plastic sleeve.
The central module is constructed of an aluminium housing, on the faces of which a black, glazed surface is mounted. The edges of the housing are not sharp-edged, but bevelled, even at the corners. On the rear side are the model name, the words "HIGH QUALITY USB DAC&HPA" and the logos of the regulations it complies with. On the top side, the glazed part has a longitudinal groove, where the volume control is located. This is a single button, which operates in rocker mode. At the bottom of this face, you can read "Tempotec". The weight is very light and is worth about 15 grams.
The design is the same as its sibling E35 and I note the reversal of the trend towards fixed cable connectors, the rocker button used for volume control, the thick, hexagonal design of the headphone output connector sleeve. This time, however, there is no choice of colour, only black.
Finally, the fact that the connectors are wired together can in principle ensure better connection quality, as the fixed cables are of apparently good quality and the soldering should be up to standard. This design loses the smaller size of the initial idea, but offers more flexibility and avoids losing accessories. I guess everyone will have their own thoughts on whether this design is an advantage or a disadvantage.

Tempotec Sonata E44 06_r.jpgTempotec Sonata E44 07_r.jpg

Connectivity

The Sonata E44 has a USB Type-C connection, which limits it to Android, PC and DAPS compatible systems. Connected to a Windows PC it is Plug&Play, being compatible with version 10 without the need for additional drivers. For previous versions such as 8 or 7, it will be necessary to use the ASIO driver. However, the use of this driver is also recommended for Windows 10.
When connected to an Android device, it is advisable to activate the "OTG" and "USB debugging mode" options.
Finally, compatible DAPS, such as the Tempotec V1/V1-A itself and others like the HiBy R3 Pro, will recognise it without any problems and can be used without restrictions.

Tempotec Sonata E44 08_r.jpgTempotec Sonata E44 09_r.jpg

Operativity

The E44 has 32 volume steps. As usual with powerful systems, the volume steps are usually relatively large. Using a PC, a DAP or even a smartphone, the volume can be additionally controlled by the source device itself. This is one way to improve its accuracy. However, I think it would be better to have a larger number of volume steps available.
On the other hand, the operation is not very mysterious, apart from the fact that it seems to remember the volume position.
As an accessory, the E44 comes with a 4.4mm balanced male to 3.5mm SE female adapter cable. With it the device is compatible with IEMS SE 3.5mm. But it seems that the sound quality is not as good as when used balanced, without this accessory cable. I think it is very useful for many occasions to keep this compatibility, something that adds a more complete value to this device.

Tempotec Sonata E44 10_r.jpg

Measures

The measurements were made at maximum volume, at which the waveforms were free of visible distortion. FLAC files of 96000 Hz, 24 Bits, with pure frequencies of gain 1, generated with Audacity software, have been used.
It appears that the power measurements are lower than specified. The current delivery ceiling is 60mA. It seems that the device has been designed to be able to connect to headphones with medium/high impedances, although the output impedance is very very low and the signal is not altered.

No load

The measured no-load voltage exceeds 4V RMS, providing a clean, clipping-free signal.

E44 No Load.jpg

15 Ω

The signal offered is not so clean and seems to have some noise. This is something that has surprised me and I have used different USB sockets, even voltage filters, without any visible improvement in the signal. Another surprising thing is that the balanced output does not offer 1V at 15Ω, staying at 0.9V. This means a current of almost 60mA and a power of 53mW.

E44 015.jpg

33 Ω

With this load, the noise seen previously is less and the signal is cleaner. The voltage achieved has increased quite a lot, reaching 1.85V. The measured current is 56mA and the power is 100mW, far from the specified 175mW.

E44 033.jpg

100 Ω

The signal is getting cleaner and the voltage continues to rise, as expected. But for 100Ω it still doesn't reach 4V RMS and stays at 3.3V. This means a current of 33 mA and a power of 110mW.

E44 100.jpg

200 Ω

With this load connected, the promised 4V RMS is almost reached, the current is almost 20mA and the power is 76mW.

E44 200.jpg

Frequency Response

From the measurements, the frequency response appears very flat for all loads tested.

Sound

If the E35 gave the impression of a wall of sound, with a powerful and seamless low end, the E44 doesn't lose that character, it even adds more refinement. But above all, it adds more clarity, a sense of openness and three-dimensionality. It is these characteristics that stand out most in the sound of this new E44. It seems that, at last, we are faced with the benefits of a purer balanced sound, in which its more technical virtues are already coming to the fore. In this way, the E44 adds a more analytical appearance to its neutral and natural profile, although it loses that certain analogue feel in favour of a more ethereal and expansive look. To all this must also be added a greater amount of light and separation, as well as a point of excitation in the upper zone. All this gives it that more analytical, airy and detached profile. The background is still very dark, even darker if possible, making clear that greater capacity for dynamics, separation and space between notes. The level of detail and micromatices is pushed to the limit, extracting great results from the connected headphones. In this way, it is difficult to think that you can get more out of a device in this price range. Firstly, because this good feeling is apparent at first glance, as soon as decent headphones are plugged in. Secondly, because the difference is palpable. My ears even notice it at the first touch, which amplifies the sense of surprise after testing this product.
Turning to a more concrete description of the sound, focusing on each band, the low end contains power and expansiveness. There is a good degree of forcefulness and depth. But, above all, the technical properties of the range stand out: definition, control, containment, dryness in the stroke and a quick fade. All of this is aided by a great sense of space that facilitates the creation of planes, provides an excellent sense of depth and expands the bass range.
The central range is presented with utmost clarity, present and exposed. There is no symptom of dullness, cloudiness or distancing. All the elements are there when they appear, there is no need to look for them or be attentive to them, they just bloom with naturalness, strength and splendour. In this way listening becomes easier and more pleasurable, just enjoy and relax. By this I mean that the sound of the mids is clean and detailed, with a natural, subtly bright timbre, providing a transparent, deep, detached and airy sonority. Everything sounds correct and spacious, from acoustic compositions, with vocals and few instruments, to much more saturated and complex recordings. All the details will be there, as well as all the micro-matices, as if they could be played.
The treble, despite the E44's subtly analytical profile, does not sound overexposed. In this respect, it is true that their timbre is bright, with very good definition, sparkle and slightly crisp, without losing naturalness, but just enough to provide that quick flash and sparkle, which disappears with immediacy and without a trace. The sensation of air is evident in all ranges and that is something that enhances the separation and decongestion of the sound. All this, together with the great dynamics of the sound, enhances the scene, recreating it in a vaporous and ethereal, but well-defined way, without smoothness but without harshness, with that analytical capacity that remains intact. The soundstage has many components, a good surrounding image, with plenty of depth and remarkable height, thanks to the air and the vapour. The ethereal feel is easy to recognise, but without the scene getting out of one's head, keeping the details in check, in place, to be perceived and enjoyed.
That said, the sound is hard to beat and little can be asked of it for a lover of analytical sound, apart from nothing sounding harsh or unreal. And this Sonata E44 has none of that, but rather a naturalness with great definition and resolving power.

Tempotec Sonata E44 11_r.jpgTempotec Sonata E44 12_r.jpg

Comparisons

Hidizs S9 Pro (for balanced output)


The first thing to note is that the Hidizs S9 Pro is more powerful, delivering 90mA versus 60mA and this is also noticeable with high impedance headphones. Form and construction aside, I'll move on to sound considerations, based on the balanced output of both devices. The first difference is the greater clarity and sense of openness offered by the E44. A flatter and less vivid sound, somewhat darker in some segments, is observed in the S9 Pro, where the treble is slightly sharper and more unpleasant. The brighter sound of the E44 does not imply that it is harsher, on the contrary, the greater dynamics, separation and even, why not say it, fidelity in the high notes, make it more enjoyable, especially at medium/high volumes. The result is a bigger and more volatile soundstage in the E44, where details don't escape. With the S9 Pro I get the feeling that something is missing, as if something good is left inside. With the E44 this is not the case, because its timbre is richer and more pleasant, also more coherent, in the upper mids and first treble, this difference is clearly perceptible.
In the bass range, the S9 Pro seems to offer more punch and energy, especially in the sub-bass. The punch feels more powerful and immediate, with a quicker decay and a slightly more noticeable texture. On the E44 it is subtly smoother, slightly more rounded. Although I must confess that these differences are very small, as a bass-lover I would lean towards the S9 Pro.
For the mid-range, however, I prefer the E44 for its closer, more obvious, wider and more separated sound. The S9 Pro draws vocals a bit more muffled, less dynamic and with less detail. In complex musical passages, with many instruments, the better separation and definition of the E44 offers better fidelity and technical ability in reproduction, offering less congestion and getting out of this kind of more complicated situations.
In the treble, despite the slightly brighter feel of the E44, it also shows more control and the flare disappears sooner. This denotes more control, and the lesser afterglow gives it a less fatiguing and shrill sound. Not that the S9 Pro is like that, shrill, but its brightness is a bit sharper, as if individually, the first treble rises with more emphasis and its notes are more energetic.
Finally and back to the beginning, the scene is more spacious, airy and three-dimensional in the E44. Image recreation and positioning is also more accurate, thanks to the depth and greater sense of separation. Improved accuracy and high definition contribute to a better result in this area on the E44.

Tempotec Sonata E44 13_r.jpgTempotec Sonata E44 14_r.jpg

Conclusion

I could say that the Tempotec Sonata E44 has the excellent balanced sound I was looking for in this price range and end the conclusion here. There are always some buts, though: a lower power output than specified and a not-so-clean relationship with my PC's USBs. This makes it not a completely perfect device. But its sound is really great, I haven't tried such a good balanced output in the 100€ range. And that's it, isn't that enough?

Tempotec Sonata E44 15_r.jpgTempotec Sonata E44 16_r.jpg

Earphones and Sources Used During Analysis

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro
  • Tempotec Variations V1-A
  • Rose QT9 MK2
  • Smabat M0
  • Smabat M2s Pro
  • Ikko OH1s
  • Ikko OH10
  • NF Audio NM2+
  • Kbear Robin
  • NiceHCK Lofty
  • NS Audio NS5 MKII Extra Bass

Tempotec Sonata E44 17_r.jpg

Ratings

  • Construction and Design: 92
  • Packaging and Accessories: 75
  • Connectivity: 90
  • Operability: 85
  • Sound: 95
  • Quality/Price: 95

Tempotec Sonata E44 18_r.jpg

Purchase Link

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005002723420122.html

Tempotec Sonata E44 19_r.jpg

You can read the full review in Spanish here:

https://hiendportable.com/2021/08/28/tempotec-sonata-e44-review/

Tempotec Sonata E44 20_r.jpg
Last edited:
cqtek
cqtek
Don't worry, there is none in your question.
The oscilloscope I have is this one:

https://es.aliexpress.com/item/4000042530861.html

I think there are better and newer options now. To make the measurements you need something like that, a few good fixed resistors, suitable connectors and pure tones that can be created with an application like Audacity. After that, via Foobar2k you get the rest.

Cheers.
kadinh
kadinh
Thanks for your review. After reading and researching, I'm going to send back my S9 Pro and get the E44.
Dionietzscheus
Dionietzscheus
I got the E44 today and I definitely prefer its energetic and lively sound signature over the W2, which I had for some time now. For approx $100 in my country, this dongle is an absolute no-brainer if you prefer a reference but fun portable dac amp. For reference, before W2, I had EM Sparrow, Lotoo PAW S1. E44 is tiny but pretty powerful, drives my Meze 99 Classics (32 ohm) and HD600 (300 ohm) with authority, gusto and elan. I am using 4.4 balanced upgraded cables. Only caveat: if you want that power and dynamics, get a good 4.4 cable.
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