Review Date: 26 February 2022
DAC Chip: ESS Sabre ES9018K2M
Casing Material: 6060 aluminum
Sampling Rate/Bit: 192K/32Bit (for WIN system without driver)
Output Level: Single-ended 2Vrms, Balanced 4Vrms
Output Power: Single-ended: 250mW (16ohm)/125mW (32ohm)/26mW (150ohm)
Balanced Output：270mW(16ohm)/500mW(32ohm)/106mW (150ohm)/53mW (300ohm)
SNR: Single-ended: 110dB; Balanced 115dB
Frequency Response: 15Hz-45kHz
Power Supply: ±5.5V + LDO to ±4.8V
DAC Supply: LDO3
Output: 3.5mm Single Ended & 4.4mm Balanced
Product dimension: 60mm24mm11.5mm
Product weight: 18.58g
Accessories: TYPE-C to USB cable/TYPE-C cable/warranty card/user manual
- Etymotic ER4SR (Single BA, 45 Ohm, 96db Sensitivity)
- TRN VX Pro (8 BA + 1DD Hybrid, 22 Ohm, 106db Sensitivity)
- TIN HiFi T3+ (Single DD, 32 Ohm, 105db Sensitivity)
- Kinera Idun Golden (3BA + 1DD Hybrid, 32 Ohm, 112db Sensitivity)
- Windows 10, Foobar 2000 (USB 3.0 Power)
- LG V50 ThinQ (UAPP USB Exclusive Mode, Bitperfect)
- Sony Xperia X Compact (UAPP USB Exclusive Mode, Bitperfect)
- HiBy Music Player App (USB Exclusive Mode)
LISTENING EQUIPMENT USED IMPARTED HUGE INFLUENCE TO SOUND IMPRESSIONS & RATING
ACMEE Magic Sound VI, The variant that I received is an ESS Sabre unit. I wanted the AKM version and specifically made my order based on that. Alas, when it arrived, I was rather unpleasantly surprised to see ES9018K2M being identified by Windows USB Audio driver. Oh well. Let’s see how this one sounds like then.
* From what I have learned, ACMEE Magic Sound VI comes in two variant. AKM4493EQ and ESS9018KA2. The AKM version supposedly the first 100 unit released.
Build, Functions, Usability
Magic Sound IV comes in very distinctive anodized Aqua aluminum chassis. It is very simple and practical. With just one indicator for PCM resolution on one side, and completely blank (with just engraved decals) on one side. Quite robust and probably will survive well for rugged daily abuse.
On one end, there’s a female USB C which makes it possible to use any USB C to C or C to A (both cables provided). A common practice nowadays. The other end, again a common thing now, with one 3.5mm Single Ended phone out and a Pentaconn 4.4mm BAL port.
Two things that’s bothering me a lot about this Magic Sound IV, first the battery endurance to the host. It only scored 3 hours of continuous play on my Sony Xperia X Compact (Android 8, 2700 mAH Battery, UAPP USB Exclusive Mode, driving TRN VX Pro). That’s officially the worst score of any dongles I have tested so far. With the majority of the Dongles in my collection scoring the average of 5-6 hours under exact same loads. Second, it runs hotter as well, especially when run directly attached to my laptop. All these suggested poor implementation of power delivery within the unit.
Being an ESS Sabre DAC unit, Magic Sound IV sounds like a typical ESS dongle. Bright, dry and lean especially when paired with partners that are already neutral/natural like Etymotic ER4SR, Kinera Idun Golden and Shure KSE1500.
Dynamics appeared clean and crisp. Solid attack with fast transients. However this also means it has tendency to sound edgy with peaky passages as would most natively tuned ESS DAC would sound like – the Pinna Glare of ESS Sabre evident. While not exactly sibilant or glaringly bright like some other ESS Dongles I have tested last year, it does exhibit some granular edges. Lacking smoothness with over emphasis on crisp presentation. The timbre decidedly digital sounding, non-organic.
Dynamic range is commendable. I can hear good extensions on both end of the frequencies with Treble exhibiting micro details and Sub-Bass having audible presence. Mids and vocals appeared normal and uncolored. The one that’s lacking was the depth and density of note weight. Overall dynamics theme, generally lean, dry and mildly bright.
The saving grace for this Magic Sound IV, pairing it with warmer sounding partners. Something like TIN HiFi T3+ or CCA CA16 Pro. These two IEMs are already organic in their native signature and the dryness of Magic Sound IV output being offset, resulting in something a bit more satisfying to listen to.
Technically, Magic Sound IV is average at best. Soundstage and imaging being normal. Spatial positioning appeared good as well with proper placement to instill holographic staging. It has ample speed and resolution to handle even busy tracks.
Officially Magic Sound IV is the weakest 4 Vrms rated Dongle I have tried so far. With my 45 Ohm, 96db Etymotic ER4SR it already sounded meek and thin. I have to crank the volume over 60% to get proper listening loudness (I am a low volume listener type). All this running on 4.4mm BAL port with HiBy Music Player USB Exclusive Mode.
The uninspiring experience with ER4SR totally discouraged me from testing the Magic Sound IV on anything more demanding. As such I opted NOT to test it with Beyerdynamic DT880 600 Ohm, Fostex T40RP MK3 or the duo of VE high impedance earbuds.
Magic Sound IV is seemingly meant to pair with anything not exceeding 32 Ohm or lower than 100db of sensitivity – and something natively warmer too.
ACMEE Magic Sound IV. Suffice to say, the overall experience is underwhelming. For the price asked, Magic Sound IV is no better than a $5 JCally JM08 or JA21. I would probably be less critical if the form factor of Magic Sound IV is an ultra compact with matching price to it. Not forgetting how terrible the battery endurance to the host and the heat emitted when used on PC. I don’t normally say this, but this time I make an exception – spend that money on something else.
- Good solid build
- Clean sound
- Above average technicalities
- Dry, lean timbre and tonality, lacking organic touch
- Underwhelmingly weak for a 4 Vrms rated dongle
- Drains the battery host heavily, the worst I have observed so far
- Gets really hot especially when used on PCs
- No volume adjusters
Best Pairing: Natively warm sounding partners, non power demanding IEMs
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