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Review: TempoTec Sonata E35 Portable DAC/Amp – Close, but No Cigar

The E35's glossy front panel.
The E35’s glossy front panel.

The Sonata E35 is a decent budget-friendly USB dongle, but it does have a few flaws.

Thank you to Linsoul for providing the Sonata E35 for review purposes.

The TempoTec Sonata E35 is the second portable DAC/amp I’ve ever reviewed, and the first budget model. TempoTec specializes in producing similar portable DAC/amp products with varying functionality.

Their lowest-end DAC/amp is the TempoTec Sonata HDII with a simple plug-and-play design. Their highest-end portable DAC/amp is the TempoTec Sonata E44, which is essentially a more powerful version of the E35 and has a 4.4mm TRRS balanced output.

The TempoTec E35 has a 3.5mm TRS output, and is considered one of TempoTec’s higher-end portable DAC/Amps.

Tempotec Sonata E35
Bottom Line

The TempoTec Sonata E35's design, functionality, and sound are a decent combination of form factor and value. I did run into a few problems, varying from fingerprint issues, hardware bypass with Tidal, unpackaging difficulties, and the USB-C sleeve dislocating. It’s a decent unit, with good build quality and great sound, well suited for multiple genres.

What We Like
  • High-quality sound
  • Decent design
  • Comes in two colors
  • Stays cool during usage
  • Great connectivity
What We Don't Like
  • No lightning cable adapter for Apple users
  • Unpackaging was a bit of a struggle
  • Fingerprint magnet
  • Bypass issues with Tidal
  • The E35’s USB-C sleeve comes off if yanked too hard (although can be reattached)

Company Overview

TempoTec was established by a team of competent audiophiles with 20 years of audio system development under their belts. Their multinational team is filled with experts that share a passion for analog audio. They listen to the feedback of their users and provide improvements through new products.

“So besides of the advanced digital audio processing technology, we also listen to the feedback of users and discover the potential needs, create new product with user-oriented, and share fine listening experience with music lovers… Technology and humanity, is the soul and goal of TempoTec.” – TempoTec
TempoTec appears to be connected to the Hidizs company and has several products that appear to be very similar to Hidizs models.
The glossy back panel of the TempoTec E35.
The glossy back panel of the TempoTec E35.

Technical Specifications

  • Form: Portable DAC/Amp
  • Frequency Response (Hz): 0kHZ – 40kHZ/+- 0.5DB
  • Removable Cable: N
  • Source Jack: 3.5mm TRS
  • Mic: N
  • Dimensions: 51mm x 185mm
  • Additional Features: Dual CS43131 DACs and hardware volume control
  • Audio Formats Supported: MP3/FLAC/WAV/PCM (Up to 32bit) / DSD (Up to 384kHz DSD256 (native) and DSD128 (DOP))
  • Output Power: 80 mW/32 Ohm and 2Vrms
  • Platforms/Software supported: PC, MAC, Android, iOS, Windows 7/8/8.1/10
  • Available Colors: Black and golden coffee

Packaging

The basic packaging of the E35.
The basic packaging of the E35.

The TempoTec Sonata E35 comes with only minimal and basic accessories.

The unpackaging was a bit of a struggle because the box’s sleeve was a snug fit against the box itself.

In the box

  • TempoTec Sonota E35
  • USB-C to USB-A adaptor
  • Two screen protectors
  • Two wipes (x1 dry and x1 wet)
  • A High-Res sticker
The E35 doesn’t come with a USB-C to Lightning cable adaptor

Cable

The two cables attached to the E35 are the cable for the 3.5mm TRS output and the USB-C plug. They are well designed, and I never encountered a connectivity issue. The E35’s cables are 4-core 6N single crystal copper wire, which TempoTec claims to provide extremely high transmission performance and better sound quality.

The E35 with the USB-C to USB-A adaptor.
The E35 with the USB-C to USB-A adaptor.

Design

The E35 has a simple plug-and-play design and is aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. The E35’s case build quality is great for its price, and the same can be said about the cables. It’s all solid and sturdy, so you won’t have to worry about using the E35 when walking outside or even running to catch the train during your commute.

The E35 has a metal housing with glass plates, with the brand name Tempotec on the front faceplate. The Sonata E35 name is printed in silver on the back. It comes in two colors, black and golden coffee, and IMO, the golden coffee color looks even better than black.

The E35’s buttons are tactile, and its design is simple yet good-looking.

The E35's glossy front panel.
The E35’s glossy front panel.

What I like most about the E35 are the sturdy twisted cables and the metal-reinforced connectors. These factors inspire confidence in the E35’s longevity. However, I do have a few issues with the E35’s design. For starters, the glass panels are fingerprint magnets, which means the E35 will need to be wiped clean from time to time.

The second issue is that the E35’s USB-C sleeve can dislocate when yanked hard. How did I encounter this issue? I disconnected the E35 to my HiBy R6 Pro, and that’s when the sleeve popped off. My heart sank for a moment, but I was able to push it back in place successfully.

The E35 has a 32-step volume scale, which isn’t marked on the device. The volume down button is just above the TempoTec logo, and the volume up button is closer to the 3.5mm cable.

The USB sleeve can come off when attempting to unplug it.
The USB sleeve can come off when attempting to unplug it.

Internals

Unfortunately, there isn’t much information on the E35’s internals, except that it uses dual CS43131 DAC chips.

E35’s Sound

The E35 has great sound quality for a budget portable DAC/amp.

After burning in the E35 for over 100 hours, there were no discernible differences with the E35’s sound. The E35 stays relatively cool most of the time with use, and I never encountered any connectivity issues. Great job TempoTec.

Unfortunately, the E35 can’t use USB bypass at all with Tidal. I tried, but Tidal kept freezing on my S20 5G.

Equipment used:

Bass

The bass depth and quantity are solid and slightly north of neutral. This presentation of the E35’s bass is clean with good control and precision. The bass pulse from “Hardwire” melts into the background and vibes with the vocals.

It’s almost like the E35 can meld both bass and mids together for added flavor. I wouldn’t go as far as to claim divine harmony, just friends who go well together.

Midrange

The mids have more of a neutral approach with a laid-back nature. The E35’s laidback mids make it easy to listen to “Shadowlord”. The haunting vocals in the background are smooth and chilling from the 3DT+E35 combo.

The E35 also provides clear mids and does well with fast tracks but can trip up a little during the fast passages of “Shadowlord”.

Treble

Good extension with a faint shimmer. It’s like the E35 threw a pinch of sparkles on the lower-end of the treble. There’s also a modest presence of air behind the treble extension. This is precisely why the 3DT’s soundstage has a bit more breathing room that allows tracks like “Black Diamond” to stretch.

What pleases me most about the 3DT+E35 combo is the pairing of the 3DT’s micro details and the E35’s smooth sound. They go together even better than the bass and vocals from “Hardwire”. The micro-details are easy to detect because they aren’t glossed over.

Three components. Together as one. All working together to form great sonic performance.
Three components. Together as one. All working together to form great sonic performance.

Where to Buy

Conclusion

In conclusion, the TempoTec Sonata E35’s design, functionality, and sound are a decent combination of form factor and value. I quite enjoyed my time listening to the E35 for the past several weeks. Still, I did run into a few problems, varying from fingerprint issues, hardware bypass with Tidal, unpackaging difficulties, and the USB-C sleeve dislocating.

If it weren’t for these issues, I would easily give the E35 a 4/5. As is, it’s a decent unit, with good build quality and great sound, well suited for multiple genres.

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