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Radsone EarStudio ES100

Discussion in 'Portable Headphone Amps' started by m4rkw, Dec 12, 2017.
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  1. cesdag
    Hi everybody, quick question. Is there any problem to use the 2x balanced mode for earbuds with fairly low impedance? I got the smabat (45ohm) and despite the low impedance they are quite hard to drive and they seem to like the extra voltage. Thanks
  2. Cevisi
    When its sounds better it is better but it will drain you baterry faster
    cesdag likes this.
  3. scottbrown5271
    I've had my ES100 for a few months now. I wanted to see if anyone had created a a good sounding bluetooth receiver and did some searching. The ES100 popped up so I bought it, hoping I wouldn't have to send it back... No way, I might even buy another for a spare!

    My HD700 has been on a shelf since the pads fell apart and the cable started falling apart as well (Way to go Sennheiser, it is a $1000 toy {$450 from Amazon in my case} rendered useless after a few years by shoddy materials), but the real reason they stayed on the shelf so long is that I ended up hating the sound signature. So I got to wondering if the ES100 balanced connection would be enough for these cans, and whether the DSP EQ sounded okay or not. I tend to be a purist and use analog EQ on my other systems that need it (expensive, hard to find, I can only afford diy). What the heck; I splurged and bought new fenestrated sheepskin pads from Dekoni, and a balanced ChiFi cable. Another 100 bucks down the black hole if this doesn't work out... Then I set up the EQ on the ES100 according to the tables from https://github.com/jaakkopasanen/AutoEq/tree/master/results/innerfidelity/sbaf-serious. A couple of minor tweaks from listening and all was pure bliss!

    Okay ES100 has pretty good power output. The power is enough for most music, and HD700 with EQ is now my favorite headphone when paired with ES100, I still hate it without EQ. My MEE P1 really sounds good with ES100, but nowhere near as revealing as the HD700, and way more "polite" if you will. The HD700 with EQ just reaches out and slaps you upside the head; it is a little too revealing for poorly recorded music.

    There was some discussion in this thread about whether ES100 put out more power in balanced mode and I think the consensus was, yeah, twice as much, and I agree if you are talking about voltage. However there wasn't much discussion about what that means in the real world. 1.1 volts at 32 ohms works out to about 40mw, and 2.2 volts at 32 ohms is about 150mw (DC calculations). Not a lot of power either way, and a surprisingly small difference in perceived volume either way as well. So planars, HD800's, etc., need not apply. I'm actually shocked at how well the HD700 does with such small amounts of power. Now I need to sort out a DSP solution so I can enjoy these cans on my other systems... probably Roon.
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
    Marco Angel and monsieurfromag3 like this.
  4. atticusGoldman
    Just got one and holy *** this thing is blowing my mind. Some people said they can hear a difference between bluetooth and wired I can hear none but maybe a slightly more power on tap through usb? That alone would be a amazing alone but on top of that the this seems to be one of the best sounding DACs I've owned to date. Then throw in the fact that the equalizer is the best 10 band digital equalizer I've seen so far (Viper 4 windows/android got nothin on this) and I'm having to go back and listen to all my headphones and music over again. It seems almost all the problems I had with some of my cans sound signature are now gone! Like seriously bass is elevated on all my cans that need it in addition to smoothing out the top end on cans with strident treble. Sure the clip is a little weak and the buttons could be laid out better but that's being super nit picky for a product that should only be described as an audio revolution. Bigger battery would be a true improvement even if they have to make it a little bigger. Also putting it in a metal housing would make the product feel as good to use as it sounds.

    I haven't bought into balanced cables yet, can't really justify it for mostly just more power, so I was a little worried the single ended out would be a little weak compared to my other DACs but nope! Plenty of power at least for my gear which is all fairly low impedance with the exception of the HD58x Jubilees at 150Ω but they are also fairly sensitive. Just got a pair of 600Ω Beyer's today. Haven't had a chance to try them with the ES100 yet. Through the phone definitely not enough headroom and very brittle sounding but honestly much better than I was expecting so I'm super excited to see how the earstudio (alone and with an amp added to the chain) will do with them.
  5. scottbrown5271
    I can hear the difference, at least compared to Modi Multibit and Magni 2 Uber. Most of that is probably the difference in the dacs and a LOT more power from Magni. OTOH, I don't hear any of the compression or transmission artifacts that I always heard with bluetooth before ES100. It really is a game changer. I can also hear a slight difference between usb and bluetooth with ES100, but only with direct A-B in real time. Otherwise I don't notice. The use cases that bluetooth open up are worth the difference, YMMV
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
    Dcell7 and monsieurfromag3 like this.
  6. LTDJ
    Depends which codes you listen over BT, LDAC allegedly sounds as good as wired. But to me the iPhone BT codec vs using as USB DAC with 48kbit on macOS, the difference is night and day.
    scottbrown5271 likes this.
  7. atticusGoldman
    Oh interesting, very interesting indeed. Yeah that makes sense going from the 48kbit wired connection to a not so good of a bluetooth codec. I've always been a fan of universal standards like USB but I'm having to walk that back a bit with audio. I was against optical DACs but I'm realizing now it will free up more USB ports on my PC and I don't have to worry about noise and USB drivers. Weee I'm evolving lol.
  8. scottbrown5271
    Oops, I forgot to mention that the rest of the protocols really kinda suck. My post should have been qualified "Only with LDAC."
  9. atticusGoldman
    Yeah I would't have touched a bluetooth deice otherwise. And I haven't messed around with the codec settings yet. I only have experience with small DAC/amps so far. Most of my cans aren't all that hard to drive so I've held off on a desktop amp. But I have a Garage 1217 Project Polaris on the way since I really want to try out some desktop DACs. I know people are always saying to focus mostly on the transducers but I honestly think I like playing with source equipment more. You either like the way a pair of headphones sound or you don't but a good source can make ALL of your stuff sound better. So far I like the sound of this guy the most. Maybe its a better implemented DAC but you would think it would be on par with other devices this small. All my other DACs use ESS Sabre chips so maybe I'm an AKM fan. Was going to get a Modi before I realized I probably need gain adjustment on the DAC for the amp I'm getting. So I'm going to pick up an Enog 2 when Geshelli Labs goes back into production. It will be interesting to compare the ES100 as just a DAC to the Enog 2 which also uses an AKM chip.
    monsieurfromag3 likes this.
  10. backdrifter
    Direct USB sounds much better to me than LDAC 990.
  11. atticusGoldman
    Seems like the USB input is now having problems. Sounds like crap and there's a ton of clicking and popping. Wow what a tease. Hopefully I can get a replacement and its just this unit. Factory reset didn't seem to do anything. So strange it was literally working all day drove home with it over bluetooth and then it was garbage. =(
  12. backdrifter
    Are you playing out of your phone? Are you using an app that is trying to use direct USB access? If so, that might be the explanation. Maybe try another app and see what happens.
  13. archdawg
    Has anyone compared the ES100 to the iBasso D14 or DX90?
  14. atticusGoldman
    It was on the PC. Tried usb on Android and it was fine. Got it working again but I have no clue what did it. Did the windows audio troubleshooter it said to disable audio effects but none were on then it declared the problem fixed and it started working normally again. My PC has Bluetooth on board in addition to my phone so I think it really doesn't like it when there's a USB source and two Bluetooth signals fighting for connection lol. Also I can definitely hear a difference between the PC Bluetooth and wired. So it would seem Bluetooth on desktops is still kind of an after thought even if you have a top end motherboard. Dang I guess I can't be cool and walk away from my PC with my headphones in and still playing XD.
  15. CactusPete23
    If you could add LDAC, or APTX-HD, Bluetooth to your desktop, you'd get much cleaner sound from the ES100 in wireless mode... Don't know if such an add-on is available for desktops or laptops. Know that ebay has ordinary APTx dongles that plugged into a USB Port... Wonder if they have same that can give APTX-HD? or LDAC?
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