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Zorloo ZuperDAC

Rating:
4.33333/5,
  • The computer / phone compatible DAC form Zorloo.

Recent Reviews

  1. peter123
    A nice surprise from Zorloo
    Written by peter123
    Published Oct 23, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Sound quality, build quality, value for money
    Cons - Battery drain, not the most neutral signature
    This is a review of the Zorloo ZuperDAC DAC/amp combo.
     
    IMG_4387.jpg IMG_4384.jpg
     
    IMG_4386.jpg IMG_4388.jpg
     
     
    The Zorloo ZuperDAC was sendt to me for free from Zorloo in exchange for my honest review of it. I’d like to say THANK YOU to Zorloo for letting me check it out.
     
    Zorloo seems to have sold a lot more than expected of the ZuperDAC since it has been out of stock for quite some time now. It’s my understanding that the retail price of the ZuperDAC is $79 but since it’s not available anywhere right now I haven’t been able to confirm it. According to the Zorloo website the ZuperDAC should soon be available from there again so if you’re looking for one there’s still hope:
     
    http://www.zorloo.com/zuperdac
     
    I’m not in any way affiliated with Zorloo.
     
    About me:
    I’m a 44 year old music and sound lover that changed my focus from speakers to headphones and IEM’s about five years ago. At that time I realized that it wasn’t realistic for me to have all the different setups that I wanted and still house a family of four children and a wife so my interest turned first to full sized headphones and later also IEM’s.
     
    My preferences are towards full sized open headphones and I believe that also says something about what kind of sound signature I prefer (large soundstage in all directions, balanced and organic sound).
     
    My music preferences are pretty much all over the place (only excluding classical music, jazz and really heavy metal). My all-time favorite band is Depeche Mode although I also listen to a lot of grunge/indie, singer/songwriter/acoustical stuff as well as the typical top 40 music.
     
    I do not use EQ, ever.
     
    I’m a sucker for value for money on most things in life Head-Fi related stuff is no exception.
     
    I tend to value function over form within reasonable limits.
     
     
    Built and accessories:
    The Zorloo ZuperDAC is a combined adaptive USB DAC and headphone amplifier designed to be used with computers, laptops and some Android devices.
     
    As far as I understand it comes in two flavors: silver or gold colored.
     
    The external build of the ZuperDAC seems simple but also durable. There’s actually not too much to say about these thumbnail sized devices but the ZuperDAC chassis is made of aluminum and it features one USB A male connector and  a 3.5mm headphone output. Under the hood is the pretty common and highly regarded ESS Sabre ES9018K2M DAC chips combined with the ES9601 headphone amplifier section also from Sabre.
     
    The retail package is also plain and simple but does still give a nice presentation. There’s no accessories whatsoever included and to be completely honest that’s ok for the intended usage since pretty much everyone has plenty of USB cables lying around at home these days. Maybe Zorloo could have included an USB OTG cable but at this price point I’m not complaining.
     
    IMG_4393.jpg IMG_4394.jpg
     
    Compatibility:
    The ZuperDAC supports Mac and Windows. It also works pretty well with Android devices. It runs fine with the third party app USB Audio Player Pro (UAPP) without any external power from my LG G3 phone and several other devices I’ve tried it with. ZuperDAC draws quite a bit of power when connected to a phone or tablet and although its power drain is still less than the likes of DACport Slim and GO720 it will still be enough to make it an issue when used this way.
     
    The ZuperDAC support sample rates up to 24bit/192kHz.
     
    Not surprisingly, given its size, the ZuperDAC is not super powerful.  That being said it still packs enough power to push my Hifiman HE400i’s beyond what I found to be comfortable listening levels and also making them sound very good when doing so. It does run quite hot when pushed hard.
     
    The specs:
    1. Sabre ES9018k2m DAC chip and SABRE9601 headphone driver
    2. Accepts up to 192kHz input files @24 bit.
    3. Volume controlled by computer vol +/- keys
    4. 115dB SNR 
    5. 0.003% THD
    6. Outputs 30mW @ 32Ohm load
    7. Output impedance 4.7Ohm
    8. Output level 1VRMS
    9. Power usage: 70 mA
    10. Dimensions:46 x 23 x 10 mm
    11. Weight 16g
     
    Sound:
    I’ve used the ZuperDAC quite a lot during the last couple of weeks and it has played for well over 100 hours.  
     
    I’ve combined it with my LG G3 phone, Sony Xperia Z3Compact and two laptops running Windows 7 and it has worked very well with all combinations.
     
    Demo list:
    Mark Knopfler – Sailing to Philadelphia
    Røyksopp (Feat.Susanne Sundfør) – Save Me
    Ane Brun – These Days
    Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana
    Metallica – Die Die My Darling
    The Peter Malick Group – Immigrant
    Eva Cassidy – Songbird
    Thomas Dybdahl – A Lovestory
    Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why
    Celldweller – Unshakeable
    Jack Johnson – Better Together
    Seinabo Sey – Younger (Kygo remix)
    Dire Straits- So Far Away
    Bjørk - Moon
    Lupe Fiasco - Deliver
    Morrissey – Earth Is the Loneliest Planet
     
    I’ve got to be honest and admit that I find it pretty difficult to describe the sound from DAC’s. To me the sound of headphones and IEM’s are easier to describe than that of amplifiers and DAC’s. Because of this I’ll do a brief description of the overall sound from the ZuperDAC and then compare it to a couple of other DAC/amp to highlight the difference and similarities to them.
     
    Listening to the ZuperDAC without comparing it to others it has got a full and rich sound without feeling muddy or losing control. Sub-bass reaches low and the mid bass has a nice drive too it. I find it to be a bit on the warm side with a lush and full midrange and full, smooth highs that roll off a bit earlier than I ideally would prefer but also help to make the overall sound soft and smooth. Dynamics are very good and music has a great drive to it when listening with the ZuperDAC as source. Soundstage width is great as is depth and it has a good separation as well. It’s also delivers a fair amount of transparency. All of this together makes for an effortless presentation that’s very easy to enjoy and doesn’t bring any listening fatigue whatsoever.
     
    I find the ZuperDAC to pair very well with every pair of headphones and IEM’s I’ve tried it with bur particularly good with brighter tilted ones.
     
    Comparison:
    Please note that the comments in the comparison section are not in absolute terms but in comparison between subject A and B. This means (as an example) that if subject A is found to be brighter than subject B it does not necessarily mean that subject A is bright sounding in absolute terms. I hope this makes sense.
     
    I this comparison both DAC/amp combos where fed by different Android devices both running USB Audio Player Pro (UAPP) with the exact same settings and I was listening through my Philips Fidelio X2’s.
     
    I used a splitter/switch box to easily switch between the two units being compared and a simple Android app to volume match them.
     
    Spoiler alert: people expecting huge differences between the objects compared here are going to be disappointed. The differences between DAC/amps within the same price range are usually not very big in my experience. The differences described below are definitely there to my ears but I wouldn’t call them big while other with a different way to describe things could call them huge because as always in here your miles may vary and most probably will.
     
    IMG_4382.jpg
     
    HiFime Sabre9018 USB DAC ($79) vs Zorloo ZuperDAC
    These both use the Sabre 9018 chip but I’ve compared enough DAC’s with the same chip before to know that the chip is very a small part of the equation and despite using the same chips set two units can sound vastly different.
    Compared to the ZuperDAC the HiFime has very similar bass impact and quality. It does however have better clarity and treble extension. The ZuperDAC is darker sounding and that combined with the rolled off treble gives it a more laidback and relaxed presentation.   
     
    They both have one 3.5mm headphone output but the HiFime has a combined headphone out and optical out.
     
    The ZuperDAC get much hotter than the HiFime while power is quite similar in both.
     
    None of them have a physical volume button.
     
    In my opinion both of these drain battery too fast to be ideal to pair with Android devices without the use of an external battery.
     
    Both are very quiet (little background hiss).
     
    The ZuperDAC supports up to 24bit/192kHz while the HiFime only support up to 24bit/96kHz.
     
    SHOZY Lancea (originally $179 now $99) vs Zorloo ZuperDAC:
    The SHOZY Lancea and the ZuperDAC sounds really similar. They both have a slight raise in the mid bass department and the treble rolls off a bit more early than I’d describe as natural on both, maybe even slightly earlier on the ZuperDAC but the difference is very subtle. The Lancea has ever so slightly tighter bass across the whole lower spectrum. The ZuperDAC is a touch darker while the Lancea has an equally small amount of more energy in the upper midrange presentation making it sound slightly crispier but apart from this they’re very similar. The combination of the rolled off treble and lack of energy once again makes the ZuperDAC the most relaxed of the two.
     
    The Lancea is smaller that the ZuperDAC, maybe about half of its size and is connected to the source through a female micro USB port.
     
    Both have a single 3,5mm output but that acts as a line out function when maxing out the volume.
     
    The ZuperDAC get a good deal warmer while they both offer a similar amount of power.  
     
    The Lance is very well suited to be paired with Android devices due to its lesser power demands and high compatibility with such devices while the battery drain from the ZuperDAC makes an external battery mandatory with it in my opinion.
     
    Both are very quiet (little background hiss).
     
    The Lancea supports up to 20bit/48kHz sample rate while the ZuperDAC supports up to 24bit/192kHz.
     
    CEntrance DACport Slim ($99) vs Zorloo ZuperDAC:
    Compred to the ZuperDAC the Slim has a bit better textured bass and also a touch less bass presence. The clarity is better, in comparison it’s like the Zuperdac has a bit of vail in the presentation while the Slim is crystal clear with a bit more aisr between instruments. This makes the overall sound of the ZuperDAC more laid back and relaxed, apart from this the overall tonality of both unit are quite similar.
     
    The Slim, while still a small unit, is still quite a bit bigger than the ZuperDAC (I’d say about three times bigger) and is connected to the source through a female micro USB port as opposed to the USB A port used on the ZuperDAC.
     
    Both have a single 3,5mm output and both offers a line out function when maxing out the volume. The Slim has a physical volume control and a gain switch while the ZuperDAC doesn’t have any physical controls.
     
    The Slim runs a bit hotter than the ZuperDAC but it also offers a lot more power.
     
    None of these are very well suited to pair with Android devices due to their power draw but the ZuperDAC still works better with this kind of set up.
     
    Both are very quiet (little background hiss) but the Slim has some while the ZuperDAC doesn’t have any that I could detect.
     
    They both supports up to 24bit/192kHz sample rate.
     
    Summary:
    The Zorloo ZuperDAC is a great little device. It may not have the most neutral sound but it still deliver a highly enjoyable and non-fatiguing presentation that works great with all the headphones and IEM’s I’ve tried it with.
     
    It works with laptops, tablets and smart phones which makes it highly versatile and combined with the excellent build quality and very compact size it’s a great device to use in pretty much any setting such as home, in the office or when travelling.  
     
    I really hope that Zorloo continues to bring us more great sounding surprises in the future.
     
    IMG_4392.jpg
      luxuryluke, joamlt22, crabdog and 4 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Rammoshe
      Nice review!
      Rammoshe, Oct 30, 2016
    3. nick n
      Still using mine very day here. Great unit.
      nick n, Oct 31, 2016
    4. shagrasniper
      thank you for your reviews
      i recently purchased a hifime sabre 9018 (just like yours), and it sounded much better than my exynos s7e headphone jack when connected to a hifiman he400S, using the free onkyo hf player which automatically up samples sound to 96k ppm .
      wondering how would it compare against a phone like the LG V20 ?!!!
      shagrasniper, Nov 12, 2016
  2. Pastapipo
    Zorloo Zuperdac vs Audioquest Dragonfly Black
    Written by Pastapipo
    Published Aug 9, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - A detailled, layered and natural sound in a $79 package.
    Cons - Battery drainage in mobile use.

    Zorloo Zuperdac vs Audioquest Dragonfly Black
     
    The battle of the budget USB DACs
     
    IMG_20160809_204347.jpg
     
     
    TL;DR; Both are excellent and sound quite similar. The Dragonfly Black is a bit warmer and intimate, while the Zuperdac keeps things neutral and wide with a bit more detail and layering.
    Zuperdac wins on sheer audio quality, the Dragonfly Black is a better smartphone companion.
     
    Specifications:
     
                                    Zorloo Zuperdac                       Audioquest Dragonfly Black
     
    - Resolution               Up to 24-bit / 192 kHz            Up to 24-bit / 96 kHz
    - Output                     30mW                                     1.2V
    - DAC-Chip                ESS Sabre ES9018K2M        ESS Sabre ES9010
     
     
     
    Gear and music:
    The A/B-ing was done using the Shure SRH840, Vivo XE800 and Zero Audio Tenore. My music collection mainly consists of 16-bit / 44.1khz flac files and Spotify Extreme.
     
     
    Introduction and price.
    Both the Dragonfly Black (v1.5) and the Zuperdac play ball in the sub $100 USB-DAC league. Both have the same thumb stick form factor and are therefore natural rivals.
    Audioquests Dragonfly Black can be bought from many retailers for $99 while Zorloo asks a modest $74 + $5 shipping for their offering.
     
    Round 1: In this budget segment every penny counts, so the Zuperdac takes an early lead here.
     
    IMG_20160809_150326.jpg
    Audioquest Dragonfly Black on the left, Zorloo Zuperdac to the right. 
     
     
    Fit and finish.
    The Dragonfly definitely enjoyed a bit more love on the aesthetics side. It comes with a well-documented box and a leather carrying pouch. The Dragonfly itself is covered in a soft touch coating over a full metal body. A nice little touch is the colour changing dragonfly logo. Depending on the sample rate of the music played, the subtle led changes colour: green for 44.1kHz, blue for 48kHz, amber for 88.2kHz, and magenta for 96kHz. In the meantime, the Zorloo Zuperdac has cut some corners here. The device comes in a little foam filled box with nothing more than a small user manual. In this price range I am all for focussing your money where it matters most (sound). However, a protective cap for the USB port would have been nice for a product intended for portable use. The chassis is likewise made of metal, but this time without a soft touch finish. There’s a tiny light next to the headphone jack which tells you if the device is in operation.
     
    Round 2: Both devices are built like a tank and will probably take some abuse. The soft touch finish and the subtle logo light of the Dragonfly gives it a more premium look.
     
    IMG_20160809_202454.jpg
    Small and simple.
     
     
    IMG_20160809_082233.jpg
    Tiny power LED.
     
     
    IMG_20160809_202613.jpg
    The Dragonfly comes with a small leather carrying pouch.
     
    IMG_20160809_150415.jpg
    The soft touch finish of the Dragonfly next to the Zuperdacs aluminium housing.
     
     
    Features
    The Dragonfly limits output to 96khz/24bits while the Zuperdac goes all the way up to 192khz/24bits. The Dragonfly is plug and play, the Zuperdac requires you to download a driver from their website. I suspect the need to install a driver is the price you pay for 192khz support. While installing a driver is hardly rocket science, I like Audioquests approach here. These budget DACs are usually not intended to be used with summit-fi gear where anything over 96khz could make a difference. The majority of people will probably use these DACs to listen to streaming services or CD-rips with some portable headphones/IEMs. To use the Hi-Fi capabilities of both devices, you'll need software like Fubar2000 (Windows), Fidelia (Mac OSX), Onkyo HF player (Android/iOS) or USB Audio Player (Android). 
     
    The “Analogue volume control” on the Dragonfly is a two-edged sword; on one hand, the volume scales perfectly with every volume slider step in window. On the other hand, when using sensitive IEMs, the volume may still be too high at the lowest volume setting. The volume of the Zuperdac only rises every 4 points in the Windows volume slider, but do start at a far lower volume level. Both power my IEMs and headphones to ear-deafening volumes. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you which one is more powerful since they both max out the volume of my modest equipment.
     
    Screenshot2016-08-0915.19.02.png
    1% might still be too loud for sensitive IEMs.
     
    I love the fact that they are both natively supported by Android; buy a cheap Android phone, connect the DAC via a OTG cable and you’ll have your own little budget DAP. As battery life concerns, the Dragonfly takes the crown here. The Zuperdac gets a little warm after a while, indicating some energy loss in the form of heat. To get an impression of the battery consumption, I listened to the same 16bit/44.1khz flac album with a fully charged smartphone in airplane mode.
     
    Smartphone headphone jack: From 100% to 95% in 40:56 minutes.
    Dragonfly: From 100% to 95% in 40:56 minutes.
    Zuperdac: From 100% to 92% in 40:56 minutes.
     
    Probably not the most reliable test, but it gives you a rough estimation of the battery usage.
     
    Round 3: Both are easy to use and do what they promise. Hats off to the efficiency of the Dragonfly when combined to a smartphone.
     
    IMG_20160727_0940351.jpg
    Xiaomi OTG cable, Dragonfly black and Vivo XE800.
     
     
    Sound:
    Now, this is where it gets interesting. Both offer a very similar, balanced sound and are a huge step up from my smartphones & laptops on-board headphone jack. The DACs produce music whereas my phone, tablet & laptop produce sound. With these devices, music is more dynamic, detailed and clear, they really do ‘unveil’ the music.
     
    Treble: The Zuperdac has a fantastic neutral sound to it. Highs are extended beautifully without sounding piercing or coloured. Cymbals in jazz and rock are spot on and very satisfying. The highs of the Dragonfly are somewhat smoother, but not to a degree where they get coloured. They’ve got a likewise great extension to them and hold their own during a full range drum solo. Quantity wise they seem to be on the same level.
     
    Mids: Very engaging and lively on both DACs, this is where I noticed the biggest difference to my smartphone’s stock sound. Once you get used to the dynamic sound of these DACs, you don’t want to return to the boring sound of your laptop. The soundstage of the Zuperdac is wider and airier, while the Dragonfly is more intimate. This may give the sense of a fuller midrange in the Dragonfly, but I don’t think this is actually the case. Voices are as powerful and engaging on both DACs. It does however seem that the midrange of the Zuperdac is a bit more layered compared to the Dragonfly. Likewise, guitars and drums have a bit more detail and resolution to them.
     
    Bass: There is a noticeable bass accentuation in the Dragonfly, but it’s very well done. No bloating of any kind, just a little more oomph to the sound. The Zuperdac keeps things true to source here. Both are very capable in playing some bass pumping tracks when asked to. It comes down to preference and synergy when deciding which one suits you best.
     
    Round 4: The Zuperdac takes the lead here with a wider soundstage and a more layered sound. Although differences are small, they are noticeable after some extensive listening.  
     
    Compared to the Audioquest Dragonfly 1.0: The Zuperdac offers a more detailed and layered sound compared to the Dragonfly 1.0. The Dragonfly Black is a bit more detailed and bassy compared to the smoother Dragonfly 1.0. Also, the Dragonfly 1.0 is not suitable for mobile use due to its power consumption. The Dragonfly 1.0 is by no means a slouch and offers a clear and balanced sound. Still a great gateway DAC when you see the low prices for which used Dragonfly 1.0s can be picked up these days.     
     
    Conclusion:
    Both the Zorloo Zuperdac and the Audioquest Dragonfly Black offer a serious step up from the on-board laptop/smartphone sound. The Dragonfly looks and feels great and is very considerate with your phones battery. The Zuperdac has a wider soundstage, sounds more natural, layered and detailed compared to the more intimate, bassy and smoothened sound of the Dragonfly Black. These differences are small and the headphones/IEMs used obviously have a much larger effect on the sound. Either way, if you are still listening to music through your on-board headphone jack, you are going to love these.
     
     
     
    Disclamer:
    Both devices were bought with my own money. I’m not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned. Impressions and opinions are personal so YMMV. Comments and corrections are welcome.
      luxuryluke, Gajin200, ghostz and 2 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Leonccyiu
      Thanks for this review, I am looking for a DAC like this as my cambridge audio dacmagic xs requires a cable, weighs 100g compared to roughly 20g for both of these and is too thirsty.
       
      Did you test 24/192 on the Zorloo and compare 24/96 on both of them? Is there any sample rate indicator on the Zorloo?
       
      Thanks
      Leonccyiu, Sep 22, 2016
    3. Pastapipo
      Hey Leon,
       
      There is unfortunately no sample rate indicator on the Zorloo unit itself.
       
      And yes, I got some test tracks from http://www.2l.no/hires/index.html and played the same track in 192khz & 96khz with the Zorloo Zuperdac.
      I could not hear any difference at all, maybe due to the limit my ears, headphones, DAC or gullibility :wink:
      The same story for the Dragonfly Black, no clear audible difference between 96khz/24bits and 44khz/16bits. 
       
      The improved soundquality of the ZorlooZuperdac over the Dragonfly Black however, is even noticable in Youtube videos.
      At this price point, I would not worry about CD-Quality vs Hi-res vs even Higher-res. It all sounds good, I believe the limit at this price point is not the resolution of the music file, but the quality of the headphones and DAC. Getting better headphones, or dac/Amp will make a far more impressive upgrade than getting hi-res files.
       
      Just my thoughts, hope it helps :)
      Pastapipo, Sep 22, 2016
    4. aznguyen316
      Thanks for this!  Looking at Zorloo on Massdrop.  APpreciate this a ton.
      aznguyen316, Feb 20, 2017
  3. Zelda
    It's Zmall, it's Zpacious, it's ZuperDAC
    Written by Zelda
    Published May 3, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Ultra small and portable; well built; SQ for the price
    Cons - No accessories; USB connection; limited synergy; no volume control
    Websitezorloo.com

     

    zdac1.jpg

     
     

    Product details and Specs: LINK

     

    MSRP$74

     

    To read more about the original project, you may check here

     

     

    Inside the box you'll find just the small DAC unit and short guide. No cables or drivers are included.

     

    zdac2.jpg

     
     

    Compatibility:

     

    The Zuper DAC was mainly tested with a Windows 7 PC. The extra software drivers are needed, and while it connects to a normal USB port it may take a few plug/unplug tries for to the DAC to be recognized by the system, and after that there's still need to switch to the device. A bit annoying.

     

    zdac3.jpg

     
     

     

    Build & Design:

     

    The whole ZuperDAC (ZDac) housing is made of thick aluminum and while being a really small and lightweight device it feels very sturdy. The size is quite comfortable, very similar to a regular DiskOnKey device, which makes it ultra portable and pocket friendly. The only thing that'd be missing is a cover for the USB connection.

     

    zdac4.jpg

     
     

     

    Power, Hiss:

     

    Being a very small device, its power is rather limited. While the ZDAC can drive more sensible/lower impedance gears to a more than needed volume, it won't be able to bring more demanding stuff to their best. It can get loud enough with just raising the volume up, but will start to distort things and lack in dynamics. The good thing is that hiss was nonexistence even with the most sensible IEMs.

     

    Synergy:

     

    After trying practically every type and form of ear/headphones (from IEMs to  full-size over-ear cans), the better and more noticeable results were with earbuds and on-ear portable headphones (both closed and open-back). While overall signature was different, IEMs showed very little improvement, and full-size cans, like the SM HP200 couldn't show their real strengths through the ZDAC. On the other hand, sets such as the FA 004 and 006 or even the R-Lite showed very impressive results. The VE Asura and Hifiman Compact earbuds with their 150ohm impedance sounded quite good, even though they didn't reach their fullest.

     

     

    Sound impressions:

     

     

    The ZuperDAC has a pretty versatile signature that makes it a strong and potential upgrade to the regular computer sound card or Smartphone 'stock' amp section. While the results depend mainly on a good synergy, when well paired the overall sound presentation is quite impressive and engaging.

     

    Starting from the bass, it is probably the first characteristic to notice, not for just the quantity but for its immersive nature. It's nicely enhanced, with stronger impact and higher and more refined quality. While it can get a touch boomy with warmer/darker ear/headphones when compared to higher-end devices, it also gives a nicer and more convincing sense of warmth and richness that isn't at the expense of the clarity (and probably the opposite). While the sound cannot be called better balanced, the bass is still tighter and has a slightly more natural character. The extra bass makes itself well present  across the whole range and still manages to remain refined and detailed at the bottom limit, which is deeper and shows a better attack and decay, and more realistic speed without overly thickening the lower bass notes. All-in-all the bass is very enjoyable and easy to like.

     

    With the forward and well weighted low end, the midrange would hardly be perceived as thin, but still keeps some more distance from the listener. Unlike the bass, the mids and highs have a very similar linear response, and are offered in a more laid back way with a very relaxed overall tonality. There's no specific boost on the whole midrange. Clarity is quite improved and separation is definitely worth mentioning as the sense of space brings forward a more coherent positioning of things. While it is not exactly impressive as the low-end, the mids still maintain an impressive level of detail, though leaner but arguably more realistic in note presentation. Tonally, it's quite on the neutral, or slightly towards the warmer side, still having no real coloration and maybe just a more dry touch on it. Even with the detail being far from aggressive or forward, the level of texture and layering are very good, combining smoothness and extra refinement for a fatigue free listening experience with nicer fullness and dynamics. Bass bleed could be perceived with certain earphones, but without reaching to an annoying level. Extra micro detail is easily noticed but still loses next to more analytical sources.

     

    Similarly, the treble is neither harsh nor sibilant even at the moderate volumes. Even more aggressive sets are smoothed down a bit, but without lacking their extra brightness. With most sets this small DAC will show a good balance between being "lively" and "smooth". While the highs are fairly well-extended and remain crispy and detailed, quantity-wise they won't fit the treble fans needs which will probably prefer a higher emphasis on the upper registers.

     

    The presentation is another strength of the Zuper DAC as it maintains a pretty good sense of depth and width, sounding very dynamic, engaging, and very competent for an entry level device. The soundstage is wide and spacious; not a 3D-ish spherical form, but more likely a thin oval shape if anything, losing a bit in terms of height. It is worth noting that the ZDAC tends to position things a bit farther away than they should, missing some sense of realism. Even though, instrumental separation and layering are still excellent and anything but congested. Imaging is decent and dynamic range is fairly good, just not as impressive. Neither not exactly effortless nor really transparent to the source as it tends to add a certain coloration.

     

                       

    Conclusion & Value:

     

    All-in-all, the ZuperDAC is a well achieved little, very little device and definitely a good option to consider as an entry Amp/Dac. Sound quality is very well rounded and easy and fun to listen. It has certain limitations in terms of synergy and power to take in count, and some changes could be made in the design to get a 5 Star rating; maybe a volume control knob, different connections than regular USB, and the inclusion of a cable or adapter. But, as it is the ZuperDAC already provides a good value for money for the asking price as an enjoyable and good sounding product.

     

    Lastly, I'd like to thank Zorloo for lending me the unit for the review.

      nick n likes this.
    1. Sp12er3
      HOw does it compare with more mainstream, entry Lvl DAC? a bit hard to conjure up impression due to lack of direct comparison... I get it that it actually color the music quite a bit?
      Sp12er3, May 5, 2016
    2. gjohnst4
      For the money, I also liked this device. I have been using mine through either a Samsung S3 and LG G3, OTG, DAC, Dunu Titan or Earsonics SM3.
      Both gain soundstage and micro detail. The effect is not dramatic, but noticeable.
      gjohnst4, May 5, 2016
    3. Zelda
      Photos added.
      Zelda, May 22, 2016
  4. JayceOoi
    Must have portable Hi-Fi USB DAC for smartphone & tablet
    Written by JayceOoi
    Published Jan 6, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Spacious soundstage & imaging, Super clarity and transparent, Great details retrieval, Multiple platform support
    Cons - Consume a bit mobile devices’ battery life, Where is my USB plug cap?
    Zorloo-ZuperDAC_01.jpg

    Introduction
    Not satisfy with your current devices’ audio quality? I have a solution for you. Yes, try out Zorloo ZuperDAC. It is a portable Hi-Fi USB DAC that can transform your existing PC, Mac, Android, iPhone and Raspberry Pi into a Hi-Fi music system. What makes ZuperDAC special? It is powered by the famous ESS Sabre ES9018K2M DAC which can be found in many high end digital audio players. And equipped with ESS Sabre ES9601 headphone amplifier too. Has USB Audio Class 2 compatibility and support up to 192kHz and 24-bit high resolution audio. Sound good? Read on to find out…

    Features

    1. Portable Hi-Fi Music, Anytime, Anywhere
    2. Great Sound in a Small Package
    3. Support All Major PC and Mobile Phone Operating System
    4. Powered by ESS Sabre ES9018K2M DAC & ES9601 Amp

    Zorloo-ZuperDAC_02.jpg

    Package Content & Design
    Zorloo ZuperDAC comes with a nice and small packaging. Yes, it is really a small box just like ZuperDAC itself. After opened the package, you can see ZuperDAC well protected with hard foam. And there is a quick start guide included as well. That’s all. ZuperDAC measures just 46mm (L) x 23mm (W) x 10mm (H) which excluding USB connector. And weights 20g only. Yup, just like your USB thumb drive. Super easy to carry it around and use it wherever you want. Besides, it has matte aluminum casing for the best physical and interference protection. And rest assures that the build quality is top north. You can find the Zorloo logo in front to the USB DAC. And male USB plug on top. Finally, there are 3.5mm headphone jack and small LED status light at bottom. The LED light will turn red when powered on and green when ready to use. By the way, there are 2 colours to choose from – gold and silver. The only thing that disappoints me – USB plug cap is not included.

    Zorloo-ZuperDAC_03.jpg

    Zorloo-ZuperDAC_04.jpg

    Zorloo-ZuperDAC_05.jpg

    Specifications

    1. AudioDAC: ESS Sabre ES9018K2M
    2. Headphone Amplifier: ESS Sabre ES9601
    3. USB Audio: Class 2
    4. Max Sampling Freq: 192 kHz
    5. Max Bit Depth: 24 bit
    6. Output Level: 1Vrms
    7. Max Output Power: 25 mW + 25 mW
    8. SNR: 115dB
    9. THD: 0.003%
    10. Channel Separation: 60 dB

    Installation & Usage
    It is fairly easy to use Zorloo ZuperDAC. Just plug it in any USB port and you are done. Yes, this is for devices with built-in USB Audio Class 2 support like Mac OS X, Ubuntu LTS and Raspberry Pi. You need to install Zorloo provided USB Class 2 driver on Windows 7, 8 and 10 devices. Android and iOS devices will need extra cable like USB OTG cable and Lightning to USB Camera adapter (older 30-pin Camera Connection Kit (CCK) is working as well). iOS 7 and Android 5.0 onward support USB DAC natively. You will be able to start using ZuperDAC right after plugged it in with your iPhone or iPad. Same apply to Android devices with OTG support. All the applications like YouTube, stock music player will output sound through ZuperDAC then. However, it provides CD sound quality only. You will need to install 3rd party applications like Onkyo HF Player, USB Audio Player Pro, Hiby Music Player in order to get high resolution audio playback up to 24bit resolution / 192KHz sampling. And Foobar2000 for Windows PC and Fidelia for Mac OS X.

    For your info, ZuperDAC consumes around 115mA per hour. Therefore, your mobile devices battery life will shorter when using it. You can always counter it by using external power source through Y cable. No such issue on desktop which use AC power though. Will it overheat? Not at all. Thanks to aluminum casing helps to disperse heat fast. So you can feel it warms up a little bit after used for awhile.

    Zorloo-ZuperDAC_06.jpg

    ZuperDAC is working great on all my devices. Windows 10 notebook and tablet are working fine just the way it should be. Android smartphones like Galaxy S4, Note 3, Redmi 2 with Android 4.x work well too with OTG cable through USB Audio Player Pro. Same apply to Nexus 7 tablet. Too bad that all my Android devices still did not get Android 5.0 Lollipop update (my bad), so can’t test Android built-in USB DAC function. iOS devices like iPhone 4 and iPad 3 are working instantly after connected with CCK. Yup, just plug and play will do. By the way, there is no hardware volume control on ZuperDAC. Therefore, you need to use software to control it. Volume control on Windows work like normal PC sound card but could use some fine-grained on adjustment steps. A bit jumpy sometime. Volume adjustment works very precisely on iOS and Android though.

    Sound Quality
    Wow… The very thing that I noticed about Zorloo ZuperDAC is its spacious soundstage. Yes, that’s the first thing I always test. And ZuperDAC passes with flying colours. It manages to makes all my headphones to have even wider and deeper soundstage from my current sources. Yup, sound separation and layering are great as well thanks to spacious soundstage. Therefore, you get better instruments’ placement in classical music like orchestra too. Arcason by Candido Camero and Oh by Dave Matthews surely performs nicer here. In addition, they are precise, clean and crisp on the treble. Analytical and it’s a great details retrieval even on normal CD sound quality that we usually hear. Even better when on 192kHz and 24-bit hi-res music. You might hear something that you usually don’t. Yes, my Nexus 7 can’t even play those FLAC files at all.

    Oh, here are the headphones and in-ear monitor that I use to test – Brainwavz HM5, Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones and DUNU Titan 1 in-ear earphones. ZuperDAC is able to drive all of them easily with 64 ohms impedance as the highest. It has more than enough power to output most consumer level headphones out there. Just don’t expect this tiny little guy can drive headphones with extremely high impedance.

    Zorloo-ZuperDAC_08.jpg

    Overall, ZuperDAC has neutral with slightly relaxing bass sound signature. Super clarity and transparent. No hiss at all with my IEM (which I can hear with my desktop PC). Highs are clear and airy. In addition, well-articulated and analytical too. For mids, it is playing very well here. All the instruments and vocal can be heard clearly even in the complex scene. You will notice vocals for both male and female sound better and nicer when listen carefully. For example, Girls’ Generation’s Lion Heart MV. They are much more lively and smoother, just the way it should be. Lows are fast and full. But it is a little bit gentle here. So you will get a slightly softer bass on songs like Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, Beat It and Black or White. No worry, it is certainly not a deal breaker here. And it is a plus on headphones with too much bass.

    Advantages

    1. Spacious soundstage & imaging
    2. Super clarity and transparent
    3. Great details retrieval
    4. Multiple platform support
    5. Ultra portable and lightweight
    6. Decent build quality

    Limitations

    1. Consume a bit mobile devices’ battery life
    2. Where is my USB plug cap?

    Zorloo-ZuperDAC_07.jpg

    Conclusion
    All in all, Zorloo ZuperDAC will definitely upgrade your mobile devices’ sound quality (desktop too). It has spacious soundstage with great sound separation and layering. Added with super clarity and transparent. Truly your portable Hi-Fi music for anytime and anywhere. Interested? Head to Zorloo Website for more information. And get yours there too.

    Author's Note: The original review can be found at my blog - Zorloo ZuperDAC USB DAC Review @ JayceOoi.com
      nick n likes this.
    1. waynes world
      Great review! I am really enjoying my ZuperDAC out of my laptop and Samsung S5. You have a fairly short OTG cable. Do you know where you got it from? Also, what is the blue gizmo - is that a jitter reducer? Do you recommend one? I see that the ZuperDAC's 9018K2M chip has a "Time Domain Jitter Eliminator", so I'm wondering if a further jutter reducing gizmo would be beneficial. Thanks!
      waynes world, Mar 30, 2016
    2. heavyarms
      @waynes world  I believe the blue gizmo you're pointing out is just a  USB voltage and current meter. 
      heavyarms, Jan 13, 2017
  5. HiFiChris
    A relatively inexpensive Sabre-based DAC with excellent treble.
    Written by HiFiChris
    Published Dec 20, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - analytical, crisp and super fast treble w/o sounding artificial, no hiss, status LED
    Cons - ~ 6.6 Ohms output impedance, bass could be a tad more arid (though it isn't soft by any means)
    Preamble:

    Zorloo, a new Chinese audio company, has recently materialised their first two products with the help of crowdfunding, namely the World’s First Digital In-Ears called Z:Ero (which I have reviewed recently, too) as well as the portable DAC/Amp named ZuperDAC (http://www.zorloo.com/#!zuperdac/ci25), on which I will get my hands today.
    The small and relatively inexpensive audio converter backs on valuable audio chips by the renowned company ESS Sabre and uses an enclosure that is entirely made of aluminium.
    In my review, you will find out how well the Sabre chips have been implemented and how the company’s first commercial DAC design performs.

    Before I go on, I also want to thank Andy Ho, the head behind Zorloo, for sending me a sample in exchange for my honest opinion.


    Technical Specifications:

    Price: $74
    DAC: ESS Sabre ES9018K2M
    Amp: ESS Sabre ES9601
    Max. Resolution & Sampling Rate: 24 Bit, 192 kHz
    Max. Output Power: 25 mW + 25 mW
    Max. Output Level: 1 Vrms
    SNR: 115 dB
    THD: 0.003%
    Channel Separation: 60 dB
    Colour: silver or gold


    Delivery Content:

    The USB DAC arrives in a small black cardboard box that features a large picture of the DAC on the front. The sides state the maximum sampling rate as well as bit depth; the rear shows the serial number.
    Besides the ZuperDAC itself, inside is also a nice quick-start guide that contains the technical specifications as well.
     

    IMG_0911.jpg   IMG_0912.jpg
    IMG_0913.jpg   IMG_0914.jpg
    IMG_0915.jpg   IMG_0916.jpg

     
     

    Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

    The DAC is small, silver-coloured and features a Zorloo logo on the top.
    The enclosure is entirely made of aluminium and therefore seems, not much surprisingly, very sturdy.
    The front features the 3.5 headphone jack as well as a small LED; on the rear is the male USB plug.

    Simple, plain and functional.
     

    IMG_0917.jpg   IMG_0918.jpg
    IMG_0919.jpg   IMG_0920.jpg

     
     

    Features, Connectors:

    The DAC is able to play Hi-Res files up to 24 bit/192 kHz.
    With a power of 25 mW per channel, the ZuperDAC is obviously not the strongest (/loudest) DAC/Amp combination on the market, but in return offers a really nice adjustment range for sensitive IEMs and can therefore convince low-level-listeners like me.
    Even with less easy to drive full-sized headphones, it can still play more than loud enough (for me), but “blasting out your brain” won’t be possible.

    Next to the headphone output is a small LED that is located behind a tiny hole and first shines red upon connection but turns green as soon as the DAC is ready to use, which I find very handy.
    Another positive thing is that the LED doesn’t shine too bright.

    Use with a PC:

    With a (Windows) computer, one has to download and install the audio drivers from Zorloo’s website prior to get the DAC working, but that works relatively easy and fast. Once that’s done, the ZuperDAC can be selected in the system settings and is ready to be used.

    The volume is very conveniently adjusted with the Windows sound mixer (the thing in the lower right corner) and also allows for more or less low listening levels. Adjustment steps from one percent to the next are good enough, but could be a tad more fine-grained for my tastes.

    Use with iOS Devices:

    With the help of Apple’s CCK, the ZuperDAC can be easily connected to iOS devices such as iPhones and is ready for operation right from the start.
    Volume adjustment works very precisely, fine-grained and seamlessly.

    Use with Android Devices:

    As with for most USB-DACs, the Android device has to support USB Audio Out to ensure native application. Though, alternative apps like “USB Audio Player Pro” allow you to use the DAC with most other devices that actually wouldn’t be compatible.


    Sound:

    The ZuperDAC was used with my PC (Windows 7, Foobar 2k) as well as iPhone 4 (CCK); the music was mainly stored in lossless files.
    For testing, I used a wide variety of my in-ears and full-sized headphones.

    Frequency Response, Output Impedance:

    Unloaded and with headphones that have a flat impedance response (about all dynamic in-ears), ZuperDAC’s frequency response is commendably flat:

    NL.jpg


    Especially headphones with a non-linear impedance response (and therefore all multi-BA in-ears) require a source device with an as low as possible output impedance, best clearly below one Ohm.
    That’s where the ZuperDAC struggles a bit:

    Triple.Fi10.jpg
     

    Like you can read from the graph (and it can be definitely heard as well), there is a peak-to-peak deviation of about 4.3 dB with my load-reference, the Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10. With this, the output impedance can be calculated and what I get for the ZuperDAC is a little below 7 Ohms – for in-ears that have a capricious impedance response (about all multi-driver in-ears), this is obviously somewhat too much.

    For evaluating ZuperDAC’s further strengths without having to connect a low-impedance amplifier to it, I mainly used the Sennheiser IE 800 as IEM for the evaluation, as it has got a flat impedance response and therefore doesn’t get influenced by the ZuperDAC’s high output impedance.

    Hiss:

    I am a very hiss-sensitive person – with the FiiO X3 (first generation), iPhone 4 as well as Astell & Kern AK120, I hear some hiss with sensitive in-ears and the iBasso DX80 has a bit too much hiss for me at moderate to low listening levels.
    The ZuperDAC is practically hiss-free, even with the Shure SE846 or Ostry KC06A (the latter is especially ideal for spotting hiss, as it has got a dynamic driver with a flat impedance response that doesn’t care about the output impedance), which are two of my most hiss-prone in-ears. Very nice.

    Though, that isn’t entirely true: with empty audio files, hiss slowly starts getting audible from 40% on, when being connected to the PC (which is by the way only audible with sensitive in-ears, as they are the only ones to reveal hiss at this volume setting which is by the way really darn loud and not healthy for one’s ears anymore), but the ZuperDAC remains hiss-free with the iPhone all over the whole adjustment range.
    This is a really good and commendable hiss-performance and excellent to see.

    Resolution, Precision, Soundstage:

    Now to the more subjective part of my review. My opinion and experience regarding the sound signature of source devices and amplifiers goes like this: there is an existing audible difference between various devices, but it shouldn’t be overrated – as the basic character of a headphone won’t be completely changed (if the circuit follows a clean design philosophy), but sometimes rather “shaped” a bit and is rather subtle in many cases.
    Let’s go on with my subjective impressions which were taken down with adjusted levels but not blinded:

    I don’t want to rest for too long with the general sound description (as the differences are also very small when the levels are correctly adjusted):
    ZuperDAC’s sound is what I’d consider as being, typically for Sabre, precise, clean, with a really high clarity and an analytical neutrality.
    Like with most Sabre implementations, sound is crisp; treble is very well differentiated, extremely fast as well as clean and at least for the high frequencies, ZuperDAC’s implementation is probably my favourite among the other Sabre-based gear I have.
    In my ears, the soundstage is averagely wide and deep, but with a decent control even with complex tracks with large ensembles.

    Let’s continue with quick comparisons to two other Sabre-based DACs, namely the HiFime 9018d as well as LH Labs Geek Out IEM 100.

    The Geek Out is a wonderful product with a really decent and rather gentle Sabre-sound that is very precise and spacious (although the soundstage is rather narrow), with a really good layering and dry, fast bass.
    ZuperDAC’s resolution is no worse by any means (I don’t really like using the term “resolution” when talking about DACs or amplifiers anyway, as detail retrieval usually turns out to be quite similar with adjusted levels, but there are other things that “form” the sound and make it appear better or worse), but the Geek Out has got the more open, more precise soundstage with the better and finer layering and generally seems to have the better instrument placement in the imaginary room. In terms of soundstage width, both DACs are about on-par, but the Geek Out has got the deeper layering.
    In the treble department, ZuperDAC is more analytical, faster, appears a tad more detailed and is in general one of the crispest and fastest Sabre implementations, but without sounding artificial.
    A mini-weakness of the ZuperDAC is that the bass isn’t as fast and dry as the Geek Out’s. Though, there is no such thing as DACs and amps with a really slow bass in my opinion, but some (like for example the Sansa Clip +) are just not as fast as others.
    Some words about hiss: with extremely sensitive in-ears, there is some (rather gentle) hiss with the Geek Out, the ZuperDAC however has the completely black (hiss-free) background.

    Regarding sonic qualities, both the ZuperDAC as well as HiFime 9018d are very close, but I see one as being superior by a tad in the treble department and the other in the bass.
    Both soundstages are about similarly precise, though the HiFime generates the wider stage; both are identical in terms of spatial depth.
    Here again, the ZuperDAC’s treble is its particularly outstanding positive highlight, with an enormous speed, sparkle, splashiness and a crisp as well as precise presentation that is however never artificial.
    Just as in comparison with the Geek Out, 9018d’s bass is a bit more arid than the ZuperDAC’s (whose bass is about comparable to the first generation’s FiiO X3 regarding speed/aridness).
    Whereas the HiFime has distinct hiss with sensitive in-ears, the ZuperDAC is virtually hiss-free.


    Conclusion:

    Zorloo’s ZuperDAP is a really [z]upper first work of the new Chinese audio company and backs on the renowned Sabre sound (of which I am a big fan as well), with a neutral timbre and analytical touch as well as a fast, crisp and detailed treble.
    The price for the overall package is really fair and the sound is about flawless and high resolving, and most conveniently, there is virtually no hiss even with extremely sensitive in-ears.
    For perfection, there are still a few things missing, and so the output impedance is a bit too high with somewhat below 7 Ohms (as suggested by ESS, Zorloo soldered in resistors in order to create a short protection circuit), the bass could be a tiny bit faster and with 25 mW per channel, the power might probably be a bit too little for people that prefer listening to music at really high levels (not a con for me as somebody who is a low-level listener).

    All in all, the ZuperDAC scores really good 4.3 out of 5 stars and I am really looking forward to see and hear what audio products the company is going to release in the future.
      nick n and peter123 like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. utchone
      Ok.
      Any suggestions on what to get for the peak power, good quality listening and affordability? Thank again.
      utchone, Feb 14, 2017
    3. HiFiChris
      I think anything with 2+ V output will be a safe bet for most users. The Objective O2 + ODAC combo would be a good suggestion. For a smaller all-in-one solution, I'd take a look at the LH Labs or Dragonfly models (I don't know what the dragonflies have in terms of voltage output, but it should be stated in the specs on their website).
      HiFiChris, Feb 14, 2017
    4. Jimster480
      Wow this thing looks like an awesome value! I wonder why more people don't have it.
      Jimster480, Mar 20, 2017
  6. mark2410
    Zorloo ZuperDAC Quick Review by mark2410
    Written by mark2410
    Published Dec 1, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Looks nice. Sounds fabulously dynamic. Great detail retrieval.
    Cons - Phone battery destroying. Can’t do sedate melancholic convincingly.
    Zorloo ZuperDAC Quick Review
     
    Thanks to Zorloo for the sample. 
     
    Full review here http://www.head-fi.org/t/789656/zorloo-zuperdac-review-by-mark2410
     
    Brief:  Itty bity party time.
     
    Price:  US$79 or about £52 shipped anywhere in the world.
     
    Specifications:  AudoDAC ES9018K2M, Amplifier ES9601, USB Audio Class 2, Max Sampling Freq 192kHz, Max Bit Depth 24 bit, Output Level 1Vrms, Max Output Power 2SmW+2SmW, SNR 115dB, THD 0.003%, Channel Specification 60dB.
     
    Accessories: None.  Unless you want to count the guide booklet.
     
    Aesthetics:  Apple esq aluminium minimalism.  Clean, elegant and functional.
     
    Build:  Nice, very neat.
     
    Power:  It was happy to power anything, especially when running off a computer.  Off the phone I felt it lacked a bit but other than the bass losing a sliver it did impressively well.  It even ran the big HD600’s pretty well.   Though be warned it just eats battery, your phone just gets demolished.
     
    Sound:  WWWWWWWWWWW.  There is an overall pretty level sound but it’s a highly dynamic one.  Its loves exuberance and agility.  Flying back and forth like lightning it’s a joyful, playful sound.  So much energy and enthusiasm comes forth that while super engaging, it’s a little exhausting.  Grown up me knows that this is a styling choice, neither a good thing nor a bad thing in the way crisps are not “better” than chocolate, they are different things.  The ZuperDAC is a an excitable little beast, it’s so dynamic and enthusiastic about everything.  It’s wonderful, it truly is a joyous little box of wonder and it’s just so much fun to play with.  The inverse of this however means that it finds it hard to sit still and playback the slow, lingering or melancholic music you may ask of it.  It’s too cheerful and filled with sprightly joy.  Detail wise it’s excellent, with its very open and air nature everything is clearly put before you, very open, very clear, over clear.  As I listen the Tori Amos’s “Winter” I can tell the Zuper wants to pull ahead and drive the song faster.  It should be lingering, slightly sad with a darkness overhanging it and its just not.  The Zuper is a beautifully joyous little monster but it struggles a bit to do slow and sad.  It really is just so much fun, packed with joy, detail, and enthusiasm in a teeny little package.  Oh and in comparison to what your phone HP out can do, it’ll blow them away.  Squeeeeee, so much fun!!!
     
    Value:  Its got an ESS Sabre ES9018K2M in it as the DAC chip.  I believe that the same chip that gets used in the HM-901, DX-90 and HA-2.  They are all VERY considerably more expensive things.  It great that you can happily use it from your phone or computer and get as high res audio out as you like.  Its maybe not so well suited to slow, soft and warm music but it a big step up from your phone or laptops HP out. 
     
    Pro’s:  Looks nice.  Sounds fabulously dynamic.  Great detail retrieval.
     
    Con’s:  Phone battery destroying. Can’t do sedate melancholic convincingly.

     
      nick n likes this.

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