In this article we look at the EarMen ST-Amp DA/AMP, selling for €599.
Disclaimer: The EarMen ST-Amp was sent to us free of charge in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank EarMen for the possibility.
If EarMen doesn’t ring a bell yet, then the Serbian “Auris Audio” just might. In fact, if you’ve been following Headfonia you will know that we’re quite the Auris fans here. Their amps have won multiple of our awards, and models like the Euterpe, HA2-SF and Nirvana get praised all over the world.
A while ago Auris Audio decided to enter the portable market and to do so they came up with new brand name: EarMen. EarMen is registered in the US but all of their products are built and assembled in Europe to ensure the highest standards in production quality.
EarMen is all about delivering the best possible value for money and their new product line-up consists out of multiple models:
The EarMen Line-up
- The Donald DAC – A USB-DAC only with an RCA output to hook up to your dedicated amplifier
- The TR-Amp – A portable DAC/AMP solution
- The Eagle – A single ended USB DAC/AMP dongle and DragonFly Cobalt competitor.
- The Sparrow – A single ended and balanced USB DAC/AMP dongle.
- The Tradutto – An ultra-high resolution fully balanced compact DAC with advanced BT streaming capability.
- The Colibri – A dongle sized transportable DAC/AMP with volume control, lots of power and double outputs
- The Angel, a fully balanced portable DAC/AMP
- The CH-Amp – A mini sized fully balanced amplifier from the Tradutto range
- The Staccato, a streamer from the Tradutto range
- The ST-Amp, a compact desktop DAC/AMP with pre-out
We with this ST-Amp review have covered all of EarMen’s models. Let’s take a closer look at the all-in-one EarMen ST-Amp.
So far the EarMen ST-Amp is the last unit of the EarMen series. So far we haven’t heard any rumours of a new EarMen unit. Auris Audio has mostly been focusing on updating their desktop headphone amps, and they now use a completely new design with new materials. The newest unit under the Auris brand is the HA2-SE+ and we’ll be looking at that tube amplifier soon.
I have really been enjoying the EarMen gear, especially the full CH-Amp and Tradutto stack, which won our 2022 Best Stack award. Let’s hope excellent EarMen product will keep coming in the near future.
On to the ST-Amp, and we can immediately see that EarMen is still using funny names for their products. It’s a bit of fun but it also makes it easier to remember, so a win-win for everyone.
The ST-Amp is a small desktop sized but fully balanced DAC/AMP unit, that can be used as an AMP only should you prefer that. The ST-Amp delivers an output power up to 1.85W. There also is a pre-amp output, which you can use with your power amp in example. I often use it as a pre-amp for my speaker setup. According to EarMen, the amplifier is carefully made for headphones, so you cannot experience the unpleasant Pop and Click phenomena when turning it on or off.
The EarMen ST-Amp is a fully balanced amplifier, but EarMen is also using the same topology for the single ended signals. EarMen states that as a result the SE signal becomes balanced in a special way with almost no phase shift, additional noise or THD. The headphone outputs are powered by two TPA6120 opamps and combined with the balanced ALPS potentiometer, that contributes to an excellent experience.
EarMen especially advertises the impressive Dynamic Range (>126dB) and Ultra Low THD.
The DAC chip used in the ST-Amp is the ESS Sabre ES9280, which we have seen before in the EarMen Eagle. It’s a good but simple DAC chip, though it isn’t very often used. There’s no MQA support.
Inputs: RCA Single End Input & Balanced 4.4 mm Input
Outputs: SE 6.35mm & Balanced 4.4mm
Pre Outputs: RCA (SE output) & Balanced
Audio formats: DSD 64/128 DoP & DXD 384/352.5 kHz & PCM Up to 384 kHz
Dimensions: 170x30x150 mm / 6,69″ x 1,18″ x 5,90″
Weight: 1100 gr / 2,42lbs
Box & Accessories
The ST-Amp arrives in nice but simple box, as you can see in the pictures and video. It’s the typical kind of box that EarMen has been using for their desktop series.
The accessory list is short, as in, there are no accessories except for the user manual. The unit doesn’t come with anything, not even a power cable or IC. To me that’s ok as I have plenty, but do take this into account when you’re ordering this as your fist and only unit.
So yeah, there could be a little something extra.
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