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Review: Tanchjim Space Lite Dongle DAC/Amp

Disclaimer: I would like to formally thank Tanchjim for graciously providing us with the Space Lite for review. I am not affiliated with Tanchjim, and the views shared below reflect my honest thoughts surrounding the product.

Pros:

  • Fuss-free, pocketable frame for grab-and-go use
  • Good build quality with adequate strain relief on both male and female ends
  • Clear and neutral tonality with minimal colouration
  • Virtually no hiss

Cons:

  • Not device agnostic, with a fixed USB-C connector
  • No LED indicator to differentiate between file-types
  • No independent stepped volume control
  • Not the strongest power output for harder-to-drive headphones and IEMs

Introduction

Tanchjim has proven itself worthy as the main-stays in the bloated Chi-Fi space. Every day, the Chi-fi zeitgeist appears content with churning out new releases every few days! We live in exciting times as this hobby gains traction in mainstream circles. Viva la chi-fi!

To the uninitiated, Tanchjim is a progressive portable audio company with a strict focus on exemplary performance at a modest price. Don’t forget their signature techno-futuristic aesthetic. And with each upcoming release, the titular brand’s cult-of-personality is on full display, with a loyal following patiently waiting for the release of their latest IEM iteration, the Kara.

Concurrently, Tanchjim has set its sights on unexplored lands to conquer: the DAC/amp space. Today, we are reviewing their attempt at dethroning the iconic Apple DAC/amp dongle, the Space Lite.

Borrowing its namesake from the hyper-competitive “Space” (which we reviewed fairly recently), its pricier predecessor, the Lite is a no-frills sibling that strips amplification to its rudiments. There’s no balanced connection to be found here, nor is there Apple device compatibility. What the consumer is left with is a straightforward dongle boasting a plug-and-play feature set.

Priced at $44.99, the Tanchjim Space Lite is undeniably a competitively priced product. Whether or not it performs up to standard is what I am setting out to discover in today’s review.

The Tanchjim Space Lite is available at Tanchjim’s official online website.

Technology

Credit: Tanchjim

The Tanchjim Space Lite utilises a Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC chipset, capable of decoding 32-Bit/768kHz and PCM DSD256 signals. With a THD of 0.0003% and 126dB of dynamic range, the Space Lite boasts an ultra-clean and hiss-free noise floor for distraction-free listening.

Moreover, the Tanchjim Space Lite can drive a maximum of 96mW into a 32ohm mechanical load: an impressive feat given its diminutive dimensions and slender profile.

Unboxing

The Tanchjim Space Lite was not shipped to me in its original packaging. As such, we are opting to leave this section blank.

Design and Build Quality

Credit: Tanchjim

As far as design goes, the Space Lite doesn’t buck the “Apple dongle trend”. In essence, the Space Lite solely features a silver-plated crystal copper cable, with CNC-machined aluminium hardware on both the USB-C and 3.5mm unbalanced ends. Visually, it follows the Tanchjim playbook down to a T, with a svelte and sleek profile.

Next to the 3.5mm unbalanced end, the protruding aluminium chassis has a pentalobe screw holding its shelf-shaped circuit board in place. Portability-wise, the Space Lite is a pocketable companion for all listening intents and purposes, save for balanced headphones and IEMs.

Because of its full-metal jacket exterior and thick shielding, each component feels durable and robust, inspiring confidence in its longevity for the years to come. As a grab-and-go device, I have zero qualms about how well the Tanchjim Space Lite would hold up in day-to-day usage. From top to bottom, the Space Lite punches above its durability class with flying colours.

Usage

Like its older “Space” sibling, the Space Lite is a driverless, plug-and-play device compatible with my Windows 10-powered laptop and Android-powered Samsung Galaxy S21. Volume settings depend on the source’s settings, for the Space Lite does not have an independently stepped volume control.

While I personally don’t use DSD files in my testing environment, there is no LED indicator with corresponding colours to reflect the type of file, lossy or lossless, being played back on the Space Lite. Nevertheless, this is not a dealbreaker in most listening sessions.

Onto the next page for the rest of the review…

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Kevin Goh

Kevin Goh

Raised in Southeast Asia’s largest portable-audio market, Kevin’s interest in high-end audio has grown alongside it as the industry flourishes. His pursuit of “perfect sound” began in the heydays of Jaben in Singapore at the age of just 10 years old. Kevin believes that we live in a golden age of readily accessible, quality audio.

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