PROS: powerful output to drive high impedance earbuds and headphones, neutral sound with a natural tonality, 2.5mm/3.5mm/4.4.mm ports, Line Out, bridge charging, solid build, price.
CONS: Not as compact as other dongles, not intended for sensitive or low impedance IEMs.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
Manufacturer website: Venture Electronics.
I already accepted that my ears are not earbuds friendly. A common plastic earbuds shell fits in but feels uncomfortable. Once I add a foam cover, the comfort level improves, but they no longer stay secure in my ears. VE Sun, reviewed year and a half ago, was an exception in both the fit and the tuning. Furthermore, I’m not a big fan of full-size headphones, especially open back. Plus, there are occasions when I don’t want to stick anything in my ears, just want to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sound. That’s when VE Sun comes into play, but its 180ohm impedance could be a burden to many sources, especially a slew of the latest dongles which I often use as usb dac connected to my laptop.
You are probably noticing where I’m going with this, and can understand my curiosity when Wild Lee, the man behind VE (Venture Electronics), announced the release of Megatron, a $50 USB dac/amp “dongle” that was designed to drive with ease any demanding high impedance earbuds and headphones. And if that wasn’t enough, Lee surprised me with two more goodies, their latest Asura 3.0FE and Monk SM (Slim Metal) earbuds, featuring all new slim and slick PK style metal shells. I spent about a month using Megatron and these earbuds, and today would like to share my thoughts about it.
I jokingly called Megatron a Mega-dongle because with dimensions of 110mm x 76mm x 22mm and the weight of 156g it’s obviously in a different category, more like a portable dac/amp. Can you carry it around with your smartphone? I guess you could, but it will not be as compact as other usb-thumb size dongles I compared Megatron to in this review. But from its fundamental functional perspective, I would still consider it a “dongle” because this portable USB dac/amp doesn’t have a built-in battery.
On the outside, the design looks rather minimalistic. A rectangular aluminum chassis with slightly curved sides. On the front you have a small pinhole for a status LED that turns green in dac/amp mode and blue in LO mode. Then, you have 3.5mm SE TRS headphone jack, and 4.4mm BAL TRRRS and 2.5mm BAL TRRS jacks, covering all the popular headphone outputs. On the back you have usb-c charging port, usb-c data port, 3.5mm Line Out, and a toggle switch to select between dac/amp and LO modes.
Obviously, the big question going to be, why charging port when there is no battery inside the module? Megatron implements a bridge charging. Let’s say you are using Megatron with your Smartphone connected to usb-c port. You can’t charge your phone while using its usb-c port, but you can connect external 5V charger to a charge port of Megatron so it can also provide juice to your phone. And the same with a laptop if you have Thunderbolt usb-c port used for data and charging. Connect Megatron data port to your laptop and external 20V PD charger to Megatron charge port, and you can use your laptop as a source while charging it at the same time which is very convenient!
Under the hood, you got ES9018k2m DAC which supports up to 24bit/96kHz, according to Megatron spec. Also, there is no MQA support. The DAC is coupled with Class AB amp to produce a high-power output with SE 3.5mm at 2.4V and BAL 2.5/4.4mm at 4.9V. Line Out 3.5mm output is at 0.95V.
As far as accessories go, my review unit arrived with a high quality short usb-c to usb-c OTG cable, usb-A adapter, and a set of rubber-feet round stickers. The cable build quality was excellent and connectors had a tight fit with Megatron and my smartphone socket. Actually, Lee included 3 different length OTG cables, a short 6” cable, another longer 20” cable, and 32” long cable. I would suggest selling these cables as a separate accessory since many high-end dongles come with cheap lower quality short OTG cables and people always looking for a reliable replacement.
Btw, I also verified Megatron with iPod Touch using lightning to usb-c OTG cable. Thus can confirm that Megatron is compatible with both Android and Apple devices.