Zorloo ZuperDAC-S Portable DAC/AMP Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zorloo ZuperDAC-S Review

Zuper Portable 

 

Zorloo is a Chinese Portable Audio Equipment Company that is specialized in products like Portable DAC’s and In-Ear monitors with Digital interface.

The Zorloo ZuperDAC-S is small HiFi USB DAC with dedicated volume buttons and 3.5mm headphone out which can be connected to devices like Smartphone’s (Lightning Cable not included in the Standard Edition), Tablets or PC’s/Laptops/MAC’s.

Zorloo Offical Webiste: https://www.zorloo.com/

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank Zorloo for providing me this sample for review purposes. I am not affiliated with Zorloo beyond this review and these words reflect my true, unaltered opinions about the product.

 

Price:

The Zorloo ZuperDAC-S is available for 79,00 USD under the following purchase link;

 

Purchase Link: https://www.zorloo.com/shop-zorloo

PS: There is also a Special Edition for 89,00 USD. The main difference is that package is including a Lightning Cable.   

 

 

Package and Accessories:

The device comes in small cardboard box which contains the following items;

  • 1 x Zorloo ZuperDAC-S
  • 1 x USB to Micro USB Cable
  • 1 x Micro USB to USB Type-C Cable
  • 1 x Micro USB to Micro USB Cable
  • 1 x User Manual

The Zorloo ZuperDAC-S is coming with 3 types of Micro USB cables that will help to connect it with a USB, Micro USB and USB Type C device.

A Micro USB to lightning cable is not included to the Standard Edition and if you want to connect the device to an IOS device (iPhone, iPad, etc) you need to purchase the Special Edition or you must buy it separately.

I have read some complains on Massdrop (now DROP) about quality issues of those cables, but didn’t faced any of this problems till now (Zorloo has maybe changed the cable supplier.)

My only complain about those cables could be come to the flexibility, because they are a bit too stiff.

 

 

Design and Build Quality:

The Zorloo ZuperDAC-S is a very small and compact portable Digital to Analog Converter with a dimension of 50mm x 15mm x 10mm that you can connect to your Mobile Phone, Tablet or Laptop/PC/MAC.

The chassis of the ZuperDAC-S is made of Aluminum with a stylish matted finish. You can choose between 3 different colors which are Red, Grey and Silver. My review unit came in Red and looks pretty nice in my opinion. The top and the bottom of the device is made of plastic in black.

On the top of the device are two physical buttons for volume up and volume down actions. The physical buttons are a bit stiff when you try to press for the volume up/down action, which is my only complain about the build quality of the device.

On the backside of the device is the Zorloo Branding Logo, a small led light indicator that lights up when you connect it to your device and some certificates (CE and FC).

At the bottom of the ZuperDAC-S is the Micro USB female connection.

On the top is the 3.5mm single ended headphone.

All in all, the general build quality of the ZuperDAC-S is pretty good for this price tag.

 

 

Specifications:

  • Digital Input Interface           : Micro USB
  • Analog Output                      : 3.5mm Single Ended
  • DAC                                       : ESS Sabre 9018
  • SNR                                       : 120dB
  • THD+N                                  : 0.0005%
  • Output Power                        : 32 mW + 32 mW
  • Output Impedance                : <2 ohm
  • Channel Separation               : 76dB
  • Frequency Response              : +/-0.007dBrA (20-40kHz)
  • Support Hi-Res audio            : up to 192kHz 24-bit
  • Dimension                             : 50mm x 15mm x 10mm
  • Weight                                   : 10 grams

 

 

 

Hardware/Software:

The Zorloo ZuperDAC-S is a small device with some interesting specs.

The ZuperDAC-S supports mainstream media software’s and is compatible with third party applications such as USB Audio Player Pro and supports sampling rates up to 24bit/192 kHz KHz.

 

a) ESS Digital to Analog Converter:

The ZuperDAC-S features the ES9018 SABRE HiFi SoC (System on a Chip), which is made by the company ESS Technology Inc. This HiFi type System-On-Chip (SoC) integrates the Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) and the headphone amplifier with an output switch.

The ES9118 HiFi SoC is supporting the ESS patented 32-bit HyperStream architecture to deliver up to 125 dB SNR and -112 dB Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise (THD+N). It also supports some of the popular high resolution and lossless audio formats including FLAC, ALAC, AIFF and WAV.

Source: http://www.esstech.com/index.php/en/products/sabre-digital-analog-converters/audiophile-dacs/classic-sabre-8-channel-dacs/es9018/

 

 

b) Supported Sampling Rates:

Support 16, 24 Bit 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192kHz

 

c) Connectivity:

The ZuperDAC-S supports the plug-and-play feature, which works with Android OS, IOS and Apple Computers (MAC), while you need to download and install a separate driver for Windows PC’s.

 

Driver Installation for Windows Devices:

  1. Please download ZuperDAC-S USB Audio Class 2 driver from our website (http://www.zorloo.com/download).
  2. Install the driver first before using ZuperDAC-S. (www.zorloo.com/tutorial
  3. Plug in ZuperDAC-S, at ‘Control panel -> Sound’, select ZuperDAC-S as the output audio device
  4. For high resolution audio support, you need to use music players like foobar2000, AIMP, Lilith, etc.

 

 

 d) Driving power & Hissing:

The output power of the Zorloo ZuperDAC-S is 2 x 32 mw @ 32ohms on paper according to Zorloo’s official specs, which is not very high, especially for power hungry Headphones like the HD600 or HD650. But the ZuperDAC-S is pairing pretty well with my full sized headphone the ATH-M50 and with some power hungry IEM’s like the Final Audio E4000.

ZuperDAC-S has a nice black background with low to none hissing which is a nice ability for a device in this price category.

 

 

 

Equipments used for this review:

  • DAC’s             : Zorloo ZuperDAC-S, Audirect Beam
  • USB Source   : Samsung Galaxy S9+, Dell 5521 Laptop
  • IEM’s              : TFZ Balance 1, Final Audio E4000
  • Earbuds         : Penon BS1 Official, Simphonio Dragon2+
  • Headphones  : Audio-Technica ATH-M50

 

 

Albums & tracks used for this review:

  • Leonard Cohen – You Want it Darker (Spotify)
  • Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (DSF) – Binaural Recording
  • Lorde – Team (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Tom Player – Resonace Theory “Album” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
  • First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining (Spotify)
  • London Grammar – Interlud (Live) (Flac 24bit/44kHz)
  • Laura Pergolizzi – Lost On You “Live at Harvard and Stone” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Minor Empire – BulbulumAltinKafeste (Spotify)
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
  • Opeth – Damnation (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)

 

 

The Sound (Bass, Midrange Treble):

The Zorloo ZuperDAC-S is a portable DAC/AMP with a quite neutral presentation which has a touch warmer than neutral tonality. The bass is pretty linear, while the midrange shows a very low coloration. Only the treble area has a small amount of boost which is a general signature of ESS Sabre DAC chips.

The subbass region of the ZuperDAC-S has an average depth and extension. It’s quite controlled and is showing a sufficient intensity and subbass rumble.

The midbass area of the Zorloo ZuperDAC-S has a touch more boost compared to the subbass, but stills pretty natural and is showing less coloration compared to other sources with the same DAC chip. The extension and speed of the midbass is quite good for a portable DAC/AMP in this price category and doesn’t showing any midbass hump thanks to the fairly neutral tuning.

The bass of the ZuperDAC-S is showing a pretty linear and close to natural presentation. This reference type of bass is neither little nor too much in quantity.

When it comes to the midrange of the Zorloo ZuperDAC-S I can say that it is showing a clean and transparent character. Both male and female vocals sounding quite realistic, while male vocals have an average depth and female vocals are fairly clear and transparent in presentation.

The upper midrange shows more emphasis compared to the lower midrange. This tuning makes the ZuperDAC-S fairly transparent and airy.

The treble range is showing slightly more boost compared to the rest of the sound spectrum.

The extension and level of detail is pretty good for a DAC/AMP in this price range. The lower treble (the presence) of the ZuperDAC-S sounds pretty controlled with no remarkable sibilance.

The upper treble range (the brilliance) of the ZuperDAC-S is showing an average airiness, good resolution with above average speed and extension.

 

Soundstage:

The Zorloo ZuperDAC-S has sufficient stage for a fairly precise instrument separation. There is a moderate quantity of air between instruments. The soundstage of the ZuperDAC-S has an average expansion, while it shows slightly more wideness than depth.

 

 

 

Comparison:

Zorloo ZuperDAC-S versus Audirect Beam:

The first noticeable difference between this DAC/AMP’s is the tonality. The Beam has a warmer tonality with noticeably more coloration.

The subbass region of the Audirect Beam has slightly more depth and extension, while the Zorloo ZuperDAC-S has less intensity but is a bit better in terms of control. The midbass of the ZupeDAC-S are showing less quantity and have a shorter decay. The ZuperDAC-S sounds a bit more detailed and have slightly better layering.

The midrange of the Audirect Beam is warmer in tonality and sounds more musical compared to the Zorloo ZuperDAC-S which has a more sterile character. Male vocals are more successful with the Audirect Beam which has the upper hand in terms of midrange depth, while the ZuperDAC-S sounds more realistic and transparent while listening to female vocals.

Instruments like bass guitar, the contrabass or viola sounding more musical with the Audirect Beam, while Violins or flutes are more successful with the Zorloo ZuperDAC-S.

The treble range of both devices is fairly detailed and is showing an above average extension. The treble range of the Zorloo ZuperDAC-S is slightly cleaner and transparent compared to the Audirect Beam and is showing a little bit more sparkle.

When it comes to soundstage performance, both have an above average soundstage wideness, while the Zorloo ZuperDAC-S has the slightly wider stage. The soundstage depth is for both devices on a moderate level.

 

 

Conclusion:

The Zorloo ZuperDAC-S is a small portable DAC/AMP with dedicated volume buttons which has a modern and minimalistic design language. The sound of the ZuperDAC-S is pretty neutral and detailed, while it shows a clean/hiss-free background which makes it to a ideal source for the use with sensitive IEM’s.

 

 

Pros and Cons:

  • + Clean Background and Neutral tuning
  • + Plug and Play capability with Android and IOS devices
  • + Hardware Volume Buttons

 

  • – No Native DSD Decoding
  • – Cables/Adapters are a bit stiff

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