XDUOO XD-05 PLUS REVIEW :
THE PLUS (of the PLUS):
- Extremely powerfull for its size
- Lush coherent sound
- High gain and bass gain switch
- Changeable OPamp (including dual OPamp option)
- Battery life
- Price Value
- Imaging and clarity could improve from a blackest background
- Still cannot charge while playing (without the use of 2 usb cables)
NO BS (ENTHUSIASTICALLY) RECOMMENDED
I’ve been waiting for this, unconsciously, I wish Xduoo make another similar but better XD-05 model.Why?
Because the first one was near perfect and I enjoy it intensely daily for more than 3 years.
The PLUS crualy stole its place with its better battery life, more accurate sound, more versatile connectivity and most of all….2 time more powerfull audio output.
I don’t know how Xduoo achieve to put as much power in this little semi-portable DAC-AMP, but they did and its a power beast that can honnestly drive demanding 300ohm earbuds or headphones as well as higher impendance one when on high gain. I underline this because sometime audio company state that an amp with lower than 500mW output can drive 600ohm headphones, wich is a lie. Near anything can ‘’drive’’ non properly high impendance headphones, but the goal of an amplifier is to drive them properly and effortlessly so you don’t need to push volume to maximum to get loud sound, wich again, do not mean great sound.
The XDUOO XD-05PLUS is not just about power tough, the AKM AK4493EQ dac in it is a very capable one that deliver near reference sound with a refined timbre as well as great imaging and clarity. Again, in term of total harmonic distortion, the PLUS beat the XD-05 with a blacker noise floor. The use of USB-C make it more versatile for hooking on any device too.
So, let’s see in this review if this marvelous DAC-AMP worth the little 50$ more investment over its slightly cheaper little brother.
The XD-05PLUS can be buy for 260$ from XTENIK HERE
DISCLAIMER: I wanna thanks Xtenik for sending me this review sample free of charge, as well as thanking them for their patience. Unlike some other seller that try to put pressure on me to get positive review, Xtenik let me full freedom of toughs and i will not get punish if i write my honnest toughs. This is a relieve because I can collaborate with this great honnest store without being afraid of getting punish so thanks for that too Xtenik!!
Size: 139 x 75.2 x 22.8mm
Compliant OS: Window XP/7/8/10, Mac OSX, IOS, Android system
Output power: 1000mW(32Ωload)
Sampling rate support
USB: PCM: 16-32Bit/44.1-384kHz
DSD: DOP/NATIVE mode, DSD64-256(1Bit/2.8M-11.2M)
OPT/COA: PCM: 16-24Bit/44.1-192kHz
USB IN/SPDIF IN: 0.0016%@1kHz
AUX IN: 0.0009%@1kHz
Battery life: ≥13H(USB IN), ≥21H(SPDIF IN), ≥40H(AUX IN)
ACCESSORIES, CONSTRUCTION & DESIGN:
UNBOXING is very similar to the one of old XD-05 but it have a new boxd esign that make it moreappealing and perhaps suggest a new direction from Xduoo. What impress is the good number of accessories included so you will not need to buy extra cable or material, everything is takein charge. You have 3 cable, one micro-C to micro C, one micro usb to micro C and one micro C to USB. The Xduoo cable are thinked for easy hooking, and of great quality. As well, you have a neoprene sticker to stick you DAP on the XD-05PLUS, or to use as you want because its a very practical accessories. You have rubber feet wich is a most if you dont want to scracth the metal body. You have extra screws, wich can be usefull if like me you open the DAC-AMP a lot to change Opamp (and loose screws time to time). You have a 6.3 to 3.5mm jack and instruction manual and warranty card.
CONSTRUCTION is exact same than old XD-05 if we talk about the alloy body, but it differ in some aspect in term of features for the switch and butons. It’s a very durable and sturdy construction, not the most appealing for they eye and the screen isn’t the brightess one in bright environment, but its compact and well built, with an all metal construction,and nice quality volume knob. The real difference is inside, were construction seriously differ from old XD-05 as you can see in this pictures.
DESIGN was a little rethinked due to the adding of BOOST option. I can’t say I prefer it, but this is surely due to the fact I was use to XD-05 interface. Now, you have to use buton to change the input modes were it was a useless Display buton on old XD-05. I think they choose to put the BOOST switch in front so you do not press it by error wich can lead to serious ear or earphones damage. All in all, interface is intuitive and well done.
POWER OUTPUT is just crazy for its size and will easily drive near everything up to 600ohm, this time, its not a joke: the 1000mW per channel amping power is really muscular and most of all stable too, so no distortion or hissing due to ackward amping here wich the old XD-05 can do at high gain.
USB connection is excellent and a work and play. I try it on allmy laptop and table as well as my phone and it all work without flaw or any clicking noise or disconnection issue. Even the pricier TA-10 do not have an as good USB signal stability and would cut off time to time.
BATTERY LIFE is seriously improved, wich is a relieve cause it was one of biggest drawback of basic XD-05, not I can have up to 12H of play time. Charging time is okay and take about 2H to fully charge.
AUDIO IN/OUT is for using the XD-05 as a standalone amplifier or as standalone DAC (line out), you can use normal input from your DAP or DAC line out, I do not suggest using it directly from power out of DAPor PHONE because it will higher harmonic distortion, even if its subtle it not suggested. Using this with my Ibasso DX90 line out, sound is clean and free of any hissing or unwanted electrostatic noise. It work as it should as well as audio out, wich is clean and will gain coloration from the other amp you use with it. There no limit to audio file quality with audio in because it amplify the stock signal.
DIGITAL IN is for pluging coaxial or optical cable, whats interesting is that you can resample audio signal, to my ears, this can sometime improve sound by extracting more textures nuance but it can affect the background by making it more saturated too cause overall sound became slightly thicker. You use SRC buton for this, upsampling up to 192kHz (SRC192).
BOOST switch is a feature I do not use a lot, due to the fact I do not own very high impendance headphones (I will perhaps update this section once I receive the Hifiman Sundara). This features is to use carefully, because its for high impendance headphones, not iem as I discover by making explode the drivers of my Nicehck NX7.
BASS switch is for bass gain, or more likely mid bass gain as it do give more slam to midbass, not so much for sub bass. I like this features for U shape or not enough bassy earphones or headphones. With right pairing it can give very interesting result, making punch thicker and more weighty, to the cost of warming lower mid range a little more sometime. But unlike other bass boost I try, it do not create distortion or ackward unbalanced sound. Anyway, I think its the very same bass boost than XD-05 so if you don’t like it with the first model, you will not use it more with this one.
GAIN switch is very usefull and have same 6db/9db/15db gain than basic model but with more power to back it up. As well, its very clean and more stable than basic model wich can cause hissing sometime at high gain.
FILTER side buton is for SOUND FILTERS. Its an interesting features, it have 4 of it. To be honnest, I do not hear serious difference and never use this option.
INPUT buton is to select between USB in, AUX in/out, coaxial in and optical in.
CHANGEABLE Opamp is a very nice feature wich I use ALOT with the Basic model, now it have been improve so you can use dual Opamp. I try it with various Opamp and it work perfectly, but as my collection is rather small I still prefer using either stock Opamp or the Burson V5i wich is my favorite. With basic model, I encounter issue at high gain with the V5i, I’m relieve to say that now it work perfecly and will not go in ‘’Protect’’ mode at high gain.
I was afraid to not like the sound of XD-05+ due to my bad experience with the disapointing Zishan T1 DAP that use dual AK4493. As we know, implementation is more important than DAC chip and Xduoo sure implement perfectly the dac with its excellent clocking and latest Xmos usb receiver. My first impressions was: man, it sound seriously better than basic XD-05 model, especially in term of imaging and neutrality. From all DAP and DAC-AMP using AK dac, this is the more refined one I heard to date. Its natural, refined, revealing, slightly warm in timbre and very transparent. Its like supreme neutrality with extra muscle and mellow timbre.
SOUNDSTAGE is more dependant to amping output, wich suddenly open up your high impendance headphones or low sensitivity earphones, this give extra head room, tallnest and deepnest, but really, the DAC have very little to do with soundstage.
IMAGING in other hand, benefit from DAC and Amping quality, I will not lie by saying the AK4493 is the clearest DAC out there, but it really is good for instrument separation wich have good space between them. Layering have good transparence too even if timbre is thick.
CLARITY is good, not End Game great….i’m still obsess to find supreme clarity, wich for now only my Ibasso DX90 deliver but without an as high power output than XD-05+. Definition have some warmnest too it and while you can hear lot of microdetails, its not super crisp. This is due to thick sound presentation that can stole air between instruments.
BASS have good body and average separation, its not pumped up and have smooth timbre. Its thick, warmish and not particularly fast or tigh. Definition of sub bass line can sometime lack transparency for my taste. It have more about weight than punch, so its better for aggressive V shape headphones-iem than mellow U shape ones. Texture is pure ‘’velvety’’ AKM signature, its lush, gently textured, like a cute curly puppy (hum, yeah).
MID RANGE is were the lush AKM sound please me the most, even if I would prefer some extra presence, the mids are very appealing and a big step above the AK4490 DAC used in basic model. Vocal are super clear and well define, with just enough thickness to give extra body. Its neither organic or bright, and offer a good resolution with smooth natural timbre. Dynamic isn’t the snapiest but have weighty impact wich benefit piano more than violin.
TREBLE feel less flat than bass and mids, with extra push to extract more micro details from the thick sometime opaque mix of sounds. This give extra sparkle to highs, and its were I feel the attack is the more energic. The XD-05PLUS is quite revealing with its treble, especially in 10-15khz region. Percussions are very easy to hear, as well as some type of instrument texture. All this do not tend to make the sound unbalanced, just more lively.
If I adore the XD-05 basic model, its because of this excellent high end Opamp wich really inject new life in whole sound. Improvment is even WAY better with the PLUS cause strangely I cannot use high gain with basic model as it would always go in protect mode, as well, background noise was higher than with stock TI OP1612 opamp.
To simplify, it really improve EVERYTHING!
SOUNDSTAGE feel it extend in both widness and deepnest due to a more airy presentation and probably better amping stability with lower harmonic disortion.
IMAGING gain in separation distance and layering is way clearer, in fact, this is surely the biggest improvement and it was already good with stock Opamp.
CLARITY gain in definition too, timbre is fuller, with better texture and rounder presentation.
BASS is more bodie and impactfull, the slam have more weight and authority and yet better control as well. Now, the separation between sub bass and mid bass is more agile and faster.
MIDRANGE became thicker, slightly more forwards, with more bodied vocal that feel wider and more transparent…man, its as much transparent than thick and lush, wich really improve whole imaging from 1khz to 8khz.
TREBLE is now less aggressive and more sparkly, while it was sharper with OP1612. It make the whole sound more balanced with natural decay to highs attack.
All in all, the improvement in sound is seriously intense with the V5i upgrade and transform a good DAC-AMP into an excellent one.
With TINHIFI P1 (High gain, mid volume) :
These Planar earphones are notoriously hard to drive, but for the XD-05+ it’s a child play. In fact, it’s the only DAC-AMP I own that can drive them effortlessly. SOUNDSTAGE gain in widness and deepness, as well as IMAGING became clearer and sharper in attack without loosing its addictive transparence. BASS became more bodied and compared with less powerfull dap, it do not sound as dry and recessed. MID RANGE sound more coherent and spacy, and vocal have extra presence added. TREBLE too sound more balanced and on line with rest of spectrum. Too my ears, this pairing give extra liveliness to musicality as well a more attack and weight to instrument. Yep, the P1 needed this DAC-AMP to achieve a better transient response.
With DITA FIDELITY(midgain, mid volume) :
These TOTL single dynamic earphones aren’t as easy to drive as they look and benifit good amping as well as a not too bright, cold or agressive DAC-AMP. Here come the XD-05PLUS, wich perfectly complement the energic vivid mid centric soundsignature of FIDELITY. Everything sound natural, transparent but gain in thickness and smoothness. Bass is still slightly recessed but mkore bodied and due to powerfull amping, it tend to dig lower in extension. IMAGING is as clear but with wider layering that gain transparence and extra deepness compared to less powerfull DAP like the Xdoo X20 that tend to make the mid range colder and sharper. MID RANGE sound effortless and natural, vocal gain in presence and female signer tend to sound lusher. Piano notes are weighty, more organic than with less powerfull DAP. This do not mean treble became rolled off, quite the contrary, its more sparkly and present while being less harsh and shouty.
With MEZE RAI PENTA (Low gain, low volume):
These are easy to drive iem, and quite sensible in fact, when paired with too powerfull amp or DAP, bass can go crazy and loose control. No problem with bass here, its full bodied, have fast controled slam and gain in texture. SOUNDSTAGE expend notably, both in widnest and deepnest, wich affect positively IMAGING too. BASS control is fabulous, with warm but textured tone, fast pace and great transparence that do not bleed on lower mids. The overall sound is mellow, muscular, natural and never peaky. MID RANGE is still slightly recessed, but better centered and cleaner. TREBLE isn’t pushed more fowards, wich keep its liquid cripsness without affection slight V shape tuning balance. AK4493 DAC being slightly warm, thick but with a neutral linear revealing dynamic, it complement the PENTA like tigh glove, without changing much to overall technicalies with the exception of timbre and attack, wich gain in thickness, transparence and weight.
With ISK HF2010 (mid-gain, mid volume) :
SO, these are 60ohm impendance with low 95db sensitivity open back headphones that benifit from good amping and man, the PLUS sure make them shine like no other DAC-AMP do! SOUNDSTAGE is quite gigantic and airy now, way bigger than pluged direcly into my powerfull Ibasso DX90. IMAGING is where the magic happen, it wasnt bad before but now it just dont understand how accurate it is….imean, its 40$ (bargain) headphones and i can pin point every instrument easily and they are out of my head and have lot of space between them. Delicious. BASS is very controled, but as the PLUS isnt a sub bass champion the roll off sub still is shy, but the mid bass kick gain in control, weight and impact making it very W shape now. MIDS that are slightly recessed gain in presence and clarity, but again, its only vocal that feel less fowards than all other instruments. TREBLE is more detailed, and the HF2010 became more lively and energic.
Okay, this is the real battle here and let’s be clear, even if the XD-05 is suppose to be 2 times less powerfull than the PLUS, its not night and day difference….until you push the sound to Maximum…wich will only occur with 300 or 600ohm headphones i don’t have. So, yeah, the difference is translate in stability of gain mostly even if YES the PLUS is way more powerfull. An example is that the XD-05 will sometime go in protect mode at high gain with some Opamp, as if it struggle too much to deliver power, while the PLUS will never do that.
Battery life is way better with the PLUS, near the double in fact, i never get more than 6H with the XD-05 while I get 10-12H with the PLUS.
CONSTRUCTION is the very same, nothing to say here appart from different butons placement.
CONNECTIVITY is more versatile with USB C than particular USB of XD-05.
Now, for the SOUND, again, its not night and day as it use similar DAC from same AKM company. AK4493 is an upgraded AK4490 and yes, its shown in how the sound is more nuanced.
IMAGING is improved slightly, especially with the space between instrument and more transparent layering. Here, the XD-05 was more opaque and coloured while the PLUS is more neutral and refined.
TIMBRE is softer and thicker with XD-05, while the PLUS have more texture.
BASS is more controled with the PLUS, we have slightly more mid bass, but this is due to softed mid bass presentation of XD-05.
MIDS are more articulate and resolved with the PLUS, while the XD-05 are warmer and less detailed.
TREBLE is very similar, but slightly sharper with the PLUS.
All in all, the PLUS upgraded about everything possible from old model, delivering more stable and powerfull amping output as well as more refined, balanced and articulate sound.
VS XDUOO TA-10 (290$) :
This amp is great, and pricier….but certainly not portable because its not battery powered and weight 1.5kg.
Sure it win in term of (deskop) construction as well as numerous connectivity that include XLR output.
It win too in term of power output, wich is 2000mW against the impressive 1000mW of the PLUS.
But did it win in term of sound rendering with its AK4490 dac against the more refined AK4493? Well, Yes and No….perhaps if i change the tube as I change the Opamp it will, but, hum, okay, let’s compare them with both stock configuration then.
SOUNDSTAGE is sure bigger with the more powerfull TA-10, as well IMAGING gain spacial freedom because of this out of your holographic presentation. Forme its where the sword hit against PLUS wich have notable less deepnest and airy in spaciality.
BASS is thicker and a little less well controled with the PLUS, TA-10 have more transparent in sub bass wich give better articulation and more natural extension.
MID RANGE is again more detailed and refined with the TA-10, especially in imaging and accuracy, wich make vocal more centered and clearer. Its really about transparence here, wich some will confuse with thinnest, texture is smoother little dryer than PLUS too.
TREBLE is more extended with the PLUS and deliver more microdetails, mellow tube flavor tend to stole some treble so its nothing surprising, still, loer treble tend to be more revealing with the TA-10.
All in all, for plain deskop use I would choose the more powerfull TA-10 for its incredible soundstage and more transparent and refined sound, but the XD-05PLUS win in versatility of use, as well for its bass and gain switch and easy portability.
Yes, XDUOO done it right with the new XD-05PLUS version and upgraded everything that we can dream off without changing the small size of the device.
We couldn’t ask for more, I mean we got 2 times more output power, near 2 times more battery life, a more refined, neutral and detailed sound as well as the possibility to play with dual Opamp wich I can’t wait to explore further.
With this very capable DAC-AMP, I feel XDUOO is back on the track for ultra competitive audio product in term of overall value.
If you are searching for an all-in-one DAC-AMP solution that you wish to carry around at work, school or even in your car or public transport, i’m pretty confident the XD-05PLUS will surpass your need in term of amping power, battery life and most of all sound. I suggest you to upgrade Opamp to get the best of it, for me my end game Opamp is the Burson V5i, but who know what it would be for you!