EarMen takes on iFi with Colibri, a balanced, portable DAC for your headphones

EarMen Colibri portable headphone DAC/amp
(Image credit: EarMen)

Portable audio specialist EarMen has unveiled a new balanced, battery powered little device boasting big performance. The Colibri is billed as a premium audiophile, pocket-friendly USB DAC, preamp and headphone amp that will "give you a listening experience like no other". 

However, plenty of the features here are not too dissimilar those iFi's winning range of portable headphone amp/DACs deliver, including a fully balanced 4.4mm output in addition to the more traditional 3.5mm unbalanced jack, MQA support, super lower noise circuitry, gold-plated PCB design, an Extra Bass option and an onboard battery for fully portable use. 

EarMen Colibri

(Image credit: EarMen)

EarMen tells us that Colibri has a full set of buttons on its side, thus offering complete audio control while on the go. The product is also entirely manufactured in Europe. Its body is a full aluminium block milled on a CnC machine, promising supreme durability – and it is beautified on both sides with a glass surface.

At the heart of the EarMen Colibri is the flagship ESS ES9281 Pro DAC. Regular readers will know that the ESS Sabre Pro series is intended for the hi-res enthusiast and supports PCM files up to 32bit/384kHz, DSD64, DSD128 and MQA.

In short, Colibri wants to be your all-in-one portable hi-res DAC solution.

The EarMen Colibri will be available for £289 / AU$500 (which is roughly $390, where sold).


See our pick of the best DACs 2022: USB, portable and desktop digital-to-analogue converters

Read our recent iFi hip-dac 2 review

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Becky has been a full-time staff writer at What Hi-Fi? since March 2019. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, she freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 20-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance is of course tethered to a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo, This is Cabaret and The Stage. When not writing, she dances, spins in the air, drinks coffee, watches football or surfs in Cornwall with her other half – a football writer whose talent knows no bounds.