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Aune X1S 32Bit/384KHz DSD DAC Headphone Amplifier

  1. narco dacunzolo
    Written by narco dacunzolo
    Published Apr 15, 2018
    Pros - natural and clean sound, good soundstage and layering, output power, build quality
    Cons - for some people can sound a bit sterile and not too much engaging


    Today i am going to review the new released Aune desktop DAC/AMP: the X1s 10th Anniversary Edition.

    This is our first Aune product we review, so would like to share a quick introduction to this company:

    “Aune (Wuhan AO LAI ER Technology Co.ltd )company is one of China's first dedicated high-quality digital audio company , it is a development and manufacture of integrated enterprise, with high-end design team unity , excellent operational management team. Full of scientific and technological innovation mission , we are constantly exploring different solutions in the high -quality digital audio field . We are not only the first launched mastering digital audio player in China , launched its supporting 32bit/192kHz advanced decoder and peripheral products , but also supporting the development of personal computers around the traditional audio equipment , developed a high -quality USB decoder and the traditional CD turntable .

    In addition to the innovation of R & D , from operations to customer service, from product manufacturing to the user manual , every detail , Aune pursue excellence. We firmly believe that the "pursuit of perfection" is endless . Meanwhile , Aune company's HIFIDIY.NET as the sound field to focus on portal - since 2004 to become the largest Chinese audio site and community , with nearly 1,00,00,00 members. It is the foundation of Aune brand rooted , making Aune brand has extensive influence in the Chinese community , received numerous accolades.

    AUNE HISTORY: “aune ”is the brand of the largest Chinese audio technology community HIFIDIY.NET (2004-2014) ,which had ten years of histroy In the past ten years ,we have accumulated a large number of excellent designs. High performance and high quality is aune’s pursuit.

    With the new x1 model, Aune wanted to create a simple, easy to use and affordable audio product.

    X1s 10th Anniversary Edition is the sixth generation of X1.It is a special version to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the launch of X1. X1 series is a multi-function decoding headphone amplifier which is designed for desktop PC, HIFI and small audio system

    X1s 10th Anniversary Edition uses ESS 9018K2M chip (with three filter modes), support for 32bit / 384K and DSD128 master class audio playback, with the next generation of decoding capabilities.

    This unit was sent me as a sample unit, I am not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions will be only my own. Would like to thanks Aune Audio team for sending me this unit giving me the opportunity to test this product.

    PRICE: 229 EURO

    OFFICIAL SITE : http://mall.auneaudio.com/

    FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/Aune-Audio-145864592691406/?ref=br_rs

    PACKAGING: X1s package is quite simple, but well refined and with a good premium feeling. In the black box you will find: the x1s DAC/AMP, Power adapter & cableUSB cable, USB drive with user manual AND 6.35 mm adapter. Build quality is very good for this price range and Aune team made a great job here, giving for sure a premium product with its aluminium chassis( this model was created in conjunction with the European Industrial Design team, featuring an innovative five-sided screw-less design, a minimalist arc of beauty, a blend of technology and art).

    In this review I will focus more in the sound quality and synergy with some headphones and IEMs as requested by my readers, cause there a lot of articles that explains quite well its functionalities. Most of the time I used it jus connected in USB mode to my laptop with flac (16,24 bit) and DSD files and for sure it is a well upgrade in sound quality over the internal chip of my Samsung R580 model.



    The initial configuration was easy: just plugged the USB port and Windows downloaded the drivers in few seconds. If you will have some drivers problems, you can easily download their latest version from their official site.

    Hope they will make a x1 version compatible with the iPhone too, but from what I know, you can connect your Android device to this 10th model.

    SOUND: sound is very good for this price range and for sure will be a good upgrade over the internal chip of most laptops over there. Sound signature of this DAC/AMP is quite neutral and revealing with a touch of treble emphasis that will help a lot with warm headphones and IEMs. Bass is quite neutral with good impact, but if you are a bass-head this is not the audio product for you. Sub bass response is quite strong and fast with good impact and decay. Voices are well reproduced, but are more on the clean and natural side than the organic and fuller one. Treble response is a bit emphasized, giving you good definition and airy sound. The new x1s has a natural and clean approach to the music, never sounding too congested or bloated. Dynamic is very good for this price range( obviously can’t compete with premium DAC/AMP over there, but considering its low official price this product makes his great job).

    The headphone output power is rated at 200mW @ 300Ω and 560mW @ 32Ω, so is quite good and never had problems with most of the headphones I tested with.

    Soundstage is good, but not great, but overall it will give you a high level layering and instrument separation. If you are looking for an “over ear sound experience” this is not a good choice for you. The x1 has a more intimate reproduction, but still, with good separation between voices and instruments in the scene. Soundstage is coherent and is able to reproduce a good amount of air and space between instruments.

    Many readers asked me to test this DAC/AMP with some cans and IEMs i already reviewed, so here we are:

    perfect 1.jpg


    MITCHELL & JOHNSON MJ2: I found this pairing very good. This closed can with electrostatz technology with the x1s has a clean and refined sound. Highs are extremely extended with great definition and details, but never resulting fatiguing or harsh. Voices are well reproduced with excellent realism and detail( voices sound just natural and clean, so do not expect a warm and organic reproduction). Bass response is a bit shy, with a natural and fast sub bass response, so if you are looking for a great and fun bass, most probably this will not a great combo for you.

    Dynamic is good with good rhythm and tempo. Soundstage is coherent with good amount of air between instruments and with a good layering.

    MEZE 99 NEO/CLASSIC: I found a correct reproduction here, but Meze headphones really shine with amore organic sound. With the x1s, the overall performance is quite clean, but lacks the analogical and organic typical sound of Meze cans. Soundstage is quite big, with a good “over the ear” experience.

    AKG K702: the overall sound is clear and analytical, with good excellent voice timbre and tonally. Bass is shy, but well refined and articulated. Highs are a bit thin and, sometimes, can result a bit harsh and fatiguing. Overall, this Aune can drive quite well this headphone, but I truly suggest to use a tube amplifier with AKGk702.



    UNIQUE MELODY ME.1: with this planar IEM, combo is very good: soundstage is big and wide, with the right amount of bass and trebles. X1 can easily drive this IEM( me.1 is a bit hard to drive out of standard DAPs or smartphones, so I truly suggest you to buy a good AMP for this planar IEM).

    AROMA AUDIO YAO( 12 BA): the overall sound is very natural with great realism and definition for the voices. X1 helps Yao to have more sparkles on top end and so an airier sound. With its low impedance I found some hiss problems and lack in dynamic range. Nothing you can’t solve with the iFi IEMatch dongle.

    If you want to use custom and multi balanced IEMs with the x1s, I truly suggest you to buy this dongle to help with hiss problems and to recover full dynamic range.

    INEARZ EUPHORIA CUSTOM FIT(6BA): this combo will give you a full natural sound with very wide soundstage and instrument separation. X1s helps this IEM to have more sparkle on top end and a better treble extension. Due to natural sound signature of this IEM, this combo could result a bit boring for some people. I never notices any hiss issues with this combo.

    HEIR AUDIO 10: this is a great combo: bass is strong with great impact and decay, voices are never veiled or lacking details. Treble response is more clean with an airier sound. Soundstage is quite wide with excellent layering. I found some hiss problems her, nothing you can’t solve with the iFi dongle.

    CONCLUSION: Overall this new x1s sounds very good for its price range and for sure will be a huge upgrade over the internal chips of most of the laptops over there. Aune created a classy and well built product with a nicely natural and detailed sound( obviously you can find better and fuller sounding DAC/AMP over there, but here the overall performance/price ratio makes this new x1s a clear winner.

    PROS: natural and clean sound, good soundstage and layering, output power, build quality

    CONS: for some people can sound a bit sterile and not too much engaging

    DAC CHIP: ESS 9018K2M chip (with three filter modes), support for 32bit / 384K and DSD128 master class audio playback, with the next generation of decoding capabilities.

    Headphone out power: @300Ω 200 mW (0.1% @ 1 KHz 0dB)
    1. Darksoul
      If I'm on the market for a high powered balanced DAC/AMP combo. Where would my cash be better spent? On the Aune X1S/X7S combo or on the multibit Jotunheim?
      Darksoul, Aug 26, 2018
  2. crabdog
    10th Anniversary Edition - 6th generation is here!
    Written by crabdog
    Published Jan 26, 2018
    Pros - Build and aesthetics
    Connectivity options
    Great sound
    Cons - Huge power brick


    Aune is the high-quality HiFi brand of AO LAI ER Technology Co.ltd which was founded in 2004. In the past, they have created some iconic digital audio products. One of the most enduring is the X1s DAC/headphone amplifier. The X1s has been through several iterations over the ten years since the first model was released. While it has retained its familiar physical characteristics, with each generation, the company has continued to refine its appearance and internals and strengthened its identity. To celebrate a decade since the first release, Aune has released the 6th generation of their DAC/headphone amplifier and that's what we're looking at today. Meet the Aune X1s 10th Anniversary Edition.

    Here's what the company has to say about it:

    Aune X1s 10th Anniversary Edition is a special edition commemorating 10 years of the X1 series. Now in its 6th generation, the X1 series is a multi-functional DAC/headphone amplifier developed for PC HiFi and small audio systems. The X1s uses the Sabre ES9018K2M chip which has 3 filter modes and supports 32bit/384k and DSD128. The decoding capability is simply outstanding.

    Disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. I am not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions here are my own, based on my experience with the product. The X1s 10th Anniversary Edition is listed at $249 at the time of writing. You can get it from the official Aune store.


    Package and accessories
    The Aune X1s comes with a basic unboxing experience. It starts off with a heavy-duty black box that is unadorned except for the single Aune logo on the front.

    On the inside, you'll find the X1s DAC nestled in a soft, black foam. There's also a thick sheet of the same foam covering the goods so everything should be well protected during postage/transit.

    So what exactly is in the box?
    • Aune X1s 10th Anniversary Edition DAC/headphone amplifier
    • Power adapter & cable
    • USB cable
    • USB drive with user manual and drivers
    • 6.35 mm adapter
    So there are just the basic necessities inside but really what more could you need? As far as unboxings go there's not a lot to get excited about but of course, it's the actual device and the sound that really matter. The included USB cable is robust and high quality, with gold-plated connectors.

    Build & functionality
    Now onto the device itself. The Aune X1s has an aluminium chassis with a matte black finish (unless you get the silver one). It's a sleek looking piece with concave sides and a convex top. The resulting curves keep the Aune X1s from being another boring, black box and I think it looks great.

    The dimensions are W145 mm x L171 mm x H45 mm which is a nice size to fit on a small to a medium desk. On the underside are 4 silicone feet that protect the surface the DAC is sitting on and they also have a very good grip which prevents it from sliding about.

    On the front panel is the input select/filter mode button. To the right of the button are 4 LED indicators, showing which input is selected. In the middle is a gold-plated 6.35 mm headphone jack. I would have liked to see an additional 3.5 mm jack here - something I always miss after having it on the Audinst HUD-MX2. Lastly, on the right side is the volume pot. The pot is quite large and has very smooth tracking, with enough resistance to enable precise adjustments.


    The rear panel hosts all the input and output options and has a nice, tidy layout with easy to read labels. Here you'll also find the only air vents, sitting above and below the power socket. It's worth noting that during use the Aune X1s never gets hot but only slightly warm and that's always reassuring. Right so let's take a gander at what makes up the back panel (from Left to Right):
    • 5-pin power socket
    • L & R Audio In RCA
    • L & R Audio Out RCA
    • Coaxial In & Coaxial Out
    • Optical In
    • Power On/Off switch
    • USB In


    Just like the previous generation, the Aune X1s 10th Anniversary Edition supports up to 32bit/384k and DSD128. Powering the conversion is a Sabre ES9018K2M DAC chip. The headphone output power is rated at 200mW @ 300Ω and 560mW @ 32Ω.

    The Sabre ES9018K2M DAC has 3 different filter modes: 1. Fast roll-off 2. Slow roll-off 3. Minimum phase. There's very little difference between the filters but for testing, I stuck with the fast roll-off. Aune says that the X1S has ultra-low noise and ultra-low distortion and I won't argue with that since I heard neither. Another feature is the low jitter from the high-performance USB interface.

    Something you might be interested in knowing is that when using the line out the headphone jack is still active. It would be nice to have a dedicated switch to change between the two (like the JDS Labs The Element) or automatically disable the headphone jack when the line output is selected.

    The X1s has a fixed level line out so it can only be used with powered monitors or as a preamp i.e. when using the line out you have no control over the volume. Also, there was some channel imbalance at very low volume when I was testing sensitive IEMs but to be fair, it only happened at levels below what I would normally listen to, even during quiet listening.


    Setup (Windows)
    It has been a long time coming but Microsoft has finally made some improvements to Windows support for external DACs. After plugging in the X1s via USB, Windows proceeded to install drivers for the device and in just a few seconds it was up and running. However, I would suggest that you manually install the XMOS drivers to unlock the full functionality of the DAC.

    Although there was a USB drive included in the package with the drivers preloaded on it, the one I received had errors and the driver file was corrupted. Not a problem. I hopped over to the Aune website and downloaded the driver there (which happened to be a more recent version) and a couple of minutes later had the driver installed.

    Setup (Shinrico D3S)
    This couldn't have been any easier. I connected the X1s via the optical in and was good to go - well with headphones at least. To test with my speakers I used the RCA line out and plugged into my FX Audio E1002A amplifier, which is connected to my ELAC Debut B6 monitors. Sweet sounds ensued.

    Testing was done using my PC and MusicBee via USB-in and the Shinrico D3S via optical-in. All music was served as lossless flac files. The Aune X1s sounds neutral and transparent to my ears with a great sense of rhythm and dynamics.


    Acoustic Research AR-H1
    The X1s is a great pairing for the H1 and highlighted it's strong points. Levels were around 10-12 o'clock on the pot with this headphone. Bass is solid and punchy with that well-defined planar edge. Treble is crisp, almost clinically clean and clear without any edginess. The X1s provided excellent instrument separation and a wide soundstage.

    Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro
    This was another good match that brought to life that classic Beyer bass that has wonderful, tidy control and strong impact. At 250 ohm these require a bit more power but the X1s handled them with ease, leaving plenty of extra play available on the volume dial. The sound from this pairing was detailed with a wide soundstage.

    Meze 99 Classics
    For some reason, the 99 Classics didn't fare as well with this combination. The sound was a little muddy with a bloated and overpowering bass. This might be caused by the output impedance of the X1s but I can't be sure. The website doesn't specify what the output impedance is but if I remember correctly it was 10Ω in previous iterations.

    I did notice, however, that the midrange and vocals were rich and vibrant. The soundstage was fairly narrow but it had a nice amount of depth.

    DUNU DK-3001
    At just 13Ω the DK-3001 didn't have any problems at all with the X1s. I couldn't detect any hissing or background noise. The sound is full-bodied with excellent detail and separation. Treble extension is stellar and the soundstage wide.

    Audinst HUD-MX2 ($228 USD)
    Compared to the X1s, the HUD-MX2 has a little more fullness in the bass and lower midrange and vocals are a touch more forward. There's a smoothness to the HUD-MX2 in contrast to the X1s which is more transparent and slightly more resolving. Soundstage is a touch wider on the X1s, giving it a larger, airier sound and more energy.

    One thing I really like about the HUD-MX2 is the dual headphone jacks, one 3.5 mm and one 6.35 mm. I wish more headphone amplifiers had this feature because it just makes it so much more convenient when switching between headphones or IEMs. I'd love to see this added on a future generation of the Aune X1s.

    Topping DX7 ($399 USD)
    The DX7 and X1s share a very similar sound. That's hardly surprising since they both use the ES9018K2M chip. Where the X1s is transparent, the DX7 is even more so, though its extra neutrality is only noticeable when doing a direct A/B comparison. The X1s presents vocals ever so slightly more forward. The DX7 also seems to have more depth in its soundstage and overall separation is superior. Topping's unit also offers a balanced XLR headphone output and OLED display but of course, it's roughly double the price of the Aune X1s.


    The Aune X1s performs really well for its modest asking price. Its sound is clear, transparent and on par with some of the more expensive DACs out there. It's all wrapped up in a gorgeous chassis that thankfully moves away from the common, straight-edged boxes that are so prevalent. The curved top and sides give it a prestigious appearance that is only exemplified when you feel how solid the build quality is.

    Other standout points are the high bit-rate and DSD support plus the generous input and output options that adorn the rear panel. Anyone looking for a DAC/amp combo for their desktop should definitely take a look at this one. It's one of the best options available at this price point and I would gladly dedicate a space for it on my desktop.

    *This review was originally posted on my blog at Prime Audio. Hop on over to see more like this.
  3. Dizzily
    Great starter headphone DAC/Amp
    Written by Dizzily
    Published Aug 9, 2016
    Pros - Great sound, multiple inputs, good build quality, dead-silent background
    Cons - No switch for outputs, 10-ohm output impedance a bit high for low-impedance headphones, RCA outputs are volume-fixed, power brick
    A short review:
    This sounds a *touch* better than a Dragonfly Red, significantly better than a Galaxy S6, and *much* better than my Dell XPS 13 (2013 model). 
    You also get USB, optical, and coax inputs, a quality aluminum build, and a nice, big, smooth volume knob.
    The biggest downside is that the output impedance is 10 ohms. Given that to minimise changes to the frequency response from your headphones, you should be using an output impedance less than 1/8 of your headphone's impedance, this means that the Aune X1s is best suited to headphones with an impedance of between 80 ohms and 300 ohms. (Why 300 ohms? Because the Aune X1s really isn't powerful enough to drive 600 ohm headphones properly.) That being said, I couldn't hear any changes in frequency response on my 32-ohm headphones between this and the Dragonfly Red.
    Despite that criticism, I don't care. It still rates as the best DAC I own.
      trellus likes this.
  4. kevingzw
    Hi-Fidelity Sound that doesn't break the bank
    Written by kevingzw
    Published Mar 29, 2016
    Pros - Value for Money, Beautifully Packaged, Superb Build and Finish, Multiple Accessories, Dynamic and Reference sound, Ample Power
    Cons - Giant Powerbrick
    The hunt for a All in One Amp/Dac
    I didn't know much about Amplifiers or DACS (I used to focus solely on IEM's). But after purchasing a pair of ZMF Vibro's online, I soon realized that my bite-sized Audio Engine D1 Amplifier/Dac wouldn't have enough juice to really let these headphones sing. Sure, the DAC on board was fairly decent. It offered sufficient detail and added more depth and control to the low end. But the standard OPamp was barely serviceable. I decided to scour through various Hi-Fi Stores in Singapore, hoping to find an Amplifier/DAC combo with sufficient power to push my Vibros to the limit. Instead of giving into the standard Schitt Stack hype train, I decided to take a new approach and try out a completely foreign brand to me.
    That brand is called Aune (Ao Lai Er Science and Technology). After reading the more than positive reviews on Head-fi, the Aune X1S looked like a strong contender in the mid-fi market, some even claiming that it blew the glorified "Schitt Stack" out of the water. I didn't want to make an "excessive" purchase. So I got the Aune X1S based solely on the word of my fellow head-fi'ers (and my brother).
    (Do take note that Schitt products in Singapore are fairly expensive and the Aune X1s was sold at a more accessible price)
    The Company's Background:
    The company, Aune (Ao Lai Er Science and Technology) hails all the way from Wuhan, China. Founded in the year 2004, they specialize in the manufacture/R and D of Amplifiers, Digital Audio Players and several Proprietary Technologies (according to their website). They've created a fair amount of audio products such as the Aune X1, X1 Pro, X1S and the reputable T1 Tube Amplifier. Through mere observation, I can tell that Aune prides itself on its pragmatic approach when it comes to manufacturing products. All of their products boast an industrial finish, placing extensive focus on the sound quality and less emphasis on product aesthetics. Most importantly, their products are priced far below their competitors to undercut the market, offering no-frill products at an attractive price point. 
    As a result, there is small following of passionate head-fi'ers that truly believe in Aune and its capabilities as a subversive Hi-Fi Company.
    Packaging and Accessories:
    Make no mistake. If you were given the Aune X1s BNIB (Brand new in box) without any context whatsoever, you'd think it were a pair of luxury brand shoes. The entire box looks as if it came out of a Salvatore Ferragamo outlet. Aune definitely did not skimp on the packaging. Props to Aune for making the consumer feel cared for, despite the mid-tier pricing. The interior of the box is heavily cushioned with foam fittings, putting the X1S out of harm's way. Rubber caps are also a nice touch, protecting the inputs on the backside of the X1S.
    Right out of the box, we have:
    1 X Instruction Manual
    1 X USB Driver Installation
    1 X Gold Plated Cable
    1 X Power Brick Adapter
    1 X 1/4 Inch Jack
    1 X Aune X1s Amplifier/DAC
    Aune definitely lavished on the consumer. We are spoiled with all the necessities required to plug and play the X1s in less than 5 minutes. Setup is as easy as pie. The XMOS Driver installations are all included in the USB Driver provided alongside the instruction manual. As long as you follow the foolproof step by step guide, you'll be set to go in no time. Do take note that your mileage may vary on Linux operating systems.
    Build Quality:
    The anodized aluminium chassis has a nice brushed finish to it, with a large rectangular profile. The breadth of its corners are beveled inwards, forming U-shaped depressions that provide us with the choice of positioning the X1s flat or on its side. On the front of the unit, there's a well machined aluminium volume knob that feels smooth and click free. There are 3 selections of inputs (USB, Optical, Coax, Line in) on the front to choose from. The connectors (as stated earlier on) are located on the backside of the X1S, alongside the charging port.
    Overall, I have no qualms about it's build quality apart from the large profile of the power brick. The large power brick
    with a short terminated wall socket plug feels almost archaic and immobile.
    The Aune X1s' controls are pretty self explanatory. There's a switch at the back to turn the X1S on. The front button allows us to quickly switch inputs on the fly. The machined knob controls the volume. The various inputs and outputs are located at the backside. The only things to take note of are the 3 switchable filters that the X1S has to offer. To change the digital filters, just hold onto the same front button (to control the inputs) down until the light changes from green to red. Let go of the switch once the red light flickers through the correct filter configuration. The filter configuration is listed below:
    When the red light reaches the USB Input: Fast Roll Off (Fast decay on the bass)
    When the red light reaches the Opt Input: Slow Roll Off (Thicker Low End Section)
    When the red light reaches the Coax Input: Minimum Phase (Supposed Crossfeed like sound? Not too sure)
    Sound Quality:
    Equipment Used:
    ZMF Vibro (50 Ohms)
    FLC 8S (11 Ohms)
    Alpha and Delta 01 (9 Ohms)
    Software Used:
    Foobar2000 V.1.3.6
    After various tests with my IEM's (FLC 8S, Alpha and Delta 01), it is safe to say that the X1S has no perceivable noise floor. It is dead silent. With an output impedance of 10 ohms, I wasn't surprised by that fact at all. 
    Power Output:
    1550 mW @ 16 Ohms
    1220 mW @ 32 Ohms
    200 mW @ 300 Ohms
    100 mW @ 600 Ohms
    Dynamic range and power output was not an issue on the X1S (being captain obvious here). The FLC 8S and Alpha and Delta 01's warranted the shifting of the volume knob to the 8 o' clock position for a suffiicient listening volume. On the much beefier ZMF Vibros, the knob had to be shifted pass the 12 o' clock position. All of my IEMs/Headphones were sufficiently driven, even the more demanding Vibros.
    But the main question still stands: How do they sound? As an Amplifier/DAC combo, they offer a pristine sound and full dynamic control over all my iems/headphones. Listening to Iggy Pop's No Fun was a testament to how a poor recording could be given new life. The X1S offered a much more rigid and tightly sprung sound, adding ample detail on the mids and highs without sacrificing a speedy low end. The fast bass felt natural and realistic. Do take note that the highs and mids are not sibilant but they have enough body and sparkle to warrant their "pristine sound" praise. 
    The left/right channel soundstage and imaging is an outstanding success. The power of the X1s really gives us more headroom, with an airy 3-Dimensional Soundstage and Instrument Separation that requires little to no focus. 
    Please take note that I can't review the X1S as a standalone Amplifier or DAC. I do not own any other amplifiers/dacs to stack with. My sincere apologies.
    Powerful Value
    I can't recommend them enough. For what they offer at this price point, the X1S flourishes and has easily exceeded all of my expectations. I don't see myself changing my Amplifier/Dac till my Aune X1S goes south. Stand aside Schitt, there is a new contender here to stay!
      trellus likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. sgtbilko
      I got mine back in December and cannot agree more with your review. Amazing bit of kit that handles any of my cans with ease. sound separation and accuracy is pretty stunning for the price of this dac.
      sgtbilko, Apr 7, 2016
    3. blmcycle
      I have had mine for just under a week.  People seem to have differing experiences with higher impedance phones.  I use 250 ohm Beyer 880 and 770 premiums.  The level of different albums varies.  I was worried at first that it would not drive my Beyers, but I am getting more comfortable with this unit - or maybe it is getting more comfortable with me.  There is a sort of synergy between the DAC and amp in the X1s that produces an engaging and detailed sound.
      blmcycle, Apr 8, 2016
    4. blmcycle
      I am still on the fence about whether the X1s can drive my Beyer 880s (250 ohm) effectively.  The X1s fits perfectly in my home office set up and I dug out an old pair of HD555s today that it handles with no problem.  Adaptability may win over power.
      blmcycle, Apr 11, 2016
  5. pila405
    Great product for any price - perfectly neutral and transparent
    Written by pila405
    Published Dec 21, 2015
    Pros - Perfect sound (will explain why saying perfect isn't an exaggeration), Beautiful, Great construction quality, Stays cool, Good customer service
    Cons - None. It doesn't even get warm.
    This review isn't going to be long, for there is not much to say - the product is perfect in the sense that it can play every available audio file and does that without any distortion (completely inaudible THD\IMD - less than 0.0004%, according to their own tests), without any noise (at max volume, even with IEMs, assuming you use ASIO so you don't have to hear the 'hiss' noise the OS produces - and it does). The output signal is completely neutral - which, as I see it, is the maximum one can ask for.
     All of this you get in a gorgeous, well constructed aluminum package in either silver or black. The only ugly part is the power adapter, which is just a plastic block, though it doesn't bother me at all because I don't see it (under\behind the desk), and the cost is where this thing outshines its competitors, the MSRP is 250$, much lower than anything that I came across which comes close to this.
    It really is a bargain and I highly recommend the product. Even the LED is in perfect brightness,not too bright so it lights up your room when you want to listen in the dark, but not so dim you can't see it.
      VintageFlanker likes this.
  6. peareye
    AUNE X1S DSD DAC Headphone Amp Another Bargain Arrives!
    Written by peareye
    Published Nov 8, 2015
    Pros - Value, Clear, Deep & Wide Presentation, Power, Build Quality, Inputs, DSD
    Cons - Absolutely none at this price!

              Headphones Used: Denon D5000, MM400
              Iems Used: Final Audio Design Heaven V, VIII
                  I am a simple reviewer: more interested in the sound  than the spec.s This is the first Aune product I have listened to though I have
              done my fair share of reading about it (like the rest of us).
                 The AUNE X1S arrived in a fairly large box surrounded in 2” black styrofoam. Accessories included a usb cable, an adapter for smaller
              iem size connectors and a large separate power supply. I received a black version. They are also available in silver. They both look good!
                I used the Aune directly from my MacBook Pro USB out through a basic software music player called “Cog”.
            Cog will play mp3s all the way up to flac. I am just going to focus on several songs for impressions:
                                Hotel California (live)                Eagles
                                Better than Nothing                  Maria Mena
                                Giv Me Luv                               Alcatraz
                                Clare de Lune                          Debussey
                                Love On The Rocks                 The Darkness
                The opening 2 minutes of Hotel California began with the guitar on the right side of the soundstage. I could hear where the guitar notes
             originated from but also that the notes filled the whole right side of the soundstage.The background was quiet allowing me to pay attention
             to the strings, the notes and the harmonics. This was easy and entertaining to follow! I definitely heard more details when the drums (bongo?)
             started. The drums were full, deep and controlled. The soundstage was very wide from left to right with plenty of separation between the instruments.
             I had no problems following whatever I choose to.
                Listening to Maria Mena was a treat. Her voice took center stage complimented by acoustic guitar. Everything was clear and detailed but
             emotional (not analytical)…just the way a sad song is supposed to be!
                Clare de Lune again filled the soundstage. The background was quiet enough to notice a good front to back soundstage. It was clear enough
            to distinguish harps and oboes without confusing them for other instruments.
                For fun, playing tunes by The Darkness or electronic music by Alcatraz showed me that the Aune can have fun when It wants to. Lots of bass depth
            and rhythm and toe-tappin’
                The Denon  headphones I used were great for rock and electronica while the iems by Final Design Audio excelled with vocal, acoustics and classical.
            i have no hesitation In using either phones or buds with this amp. It provides way more power than I will ever use, even with full size headphones
            like the Denons.
                The volume pot is of high quality and has a smooth and slow progression when changing the volume. No sudden volume surges! It has just the
            right amount of resistance to give it a weighty fill that gives the impression of something costing significantly more.
                Some people have mentioned that the power wart is too big. Personally, I appreciate it, having had some very high end preamps that all had
            separate power supplies. It usually means a quieter background and less outside interference.
                In finishing my review, I found the quality of construction and performance surprisingly good BUT I never thought that it could be achieved at this
            price point! Who doesn't love a bargain?
             The AUNE X1S is a KEEPER!!!


      Anwer likes this.
    1. hakushondaimao
      Nice one, @peareye. I'm also not that bothered by the size of the power brick, and agree that it probably results in cleaner power supply.
      hakushondaimao, Nov 8, 2015
    2. peareye
      I am okay with the power wart if the sound is improved also....congrats on the prize too!
      peareye, Nov 9, 2015
  7. chowmein83
    Great DAC/amp combo that packs a lot of value
    Written by chowmein83
    Published Oct 27, 2015
    Pros - Build quality, sound quality, lots of features, flawless driver operation
    Cons - Channel volume imbalance at low levels, only one gain setting, some filters mess with imaging
    Table of Contents
    • Introduction
    • Build Quality and Ergonomics
    • General Usage
    [*]Sound Quality
    • Comparisons to other audio gear
    [*]For whom is this good for? [*]Conclusion  
    (Before I even begin with the introduction, I want to warn the reader that my review is somewhat lengthy. So I have included a table of contents above which you can click on to jump to whichever section you want. I’ll also include a tl;dr summary at the beginning of each major section.)
    Tl;dr: Aune lent me the unit for my honest opinion, and a bit of background about myself.
    Before I begin my review, I would like to thank the team at Aune for letting me try out their X1s for five business days (about a week). Aune has not paid me whatsoever in the making of this review and has only asked for my honest opinion.
    A little bit about me so you know where I’m coming from: I consider myself to be a relatively inexperienced audiophile, having only taken this hobby seriously for the past 2 or 3 years. I actually began to take an interest in my headphone system with the purchase of a FiiO E7, which was already a significant step up from the onboard computer audio that I was previously listening to. The next logical upgrade from there was the FiiO E17, which I bought and appreciated but soon found it a bit lacking in sound quality after I was exposed to different headphones and audio equipment. For the next year or two, I began to steadily upgrade my desktop audio gear and headphones, the full of list of which you can see in my profile. One of those upgrades along the way was the original Aune T1, so I do have previous experience with Aune equipment.
    A bit more about me: I tend to like a neutral sound signature, perhaps with a bit of warmth. But if one were to ask me to pick between a very warm or a very bright sound signature, I’d go towards the brighter one. I actually like full-sized headphones more than I do IEMs, but I do cover how well the Aune X1s does with both in this review. As for what kind of music I listen to, I like a large variety including rock, pop, jazz, classical and orchestral, J-Pop and J-Rock, and C-Pop.
    With all of that out of the way, let’s jump into the actual review.
    Build Quality, Ergonomics, and General Usage
    Tl;dr: The Aune X1s feels great all-around, really has no ergonomic problems and has lots of features that make it handy. Filter selection is not immediately intuitive but is still easily done. Windows and Android compatibility is flawless. It doesn’t get hot at all.
    Build Quality and Ergonomics
    Overall, the Aune X1s is built really well – it’s built solidly and the materials used feel premium to the touch.
    There are no big gaps anywhere in the construction, the buttons and switches all are nice to touch and have a satisfying click and tactile feedback, and the volume knob especially feels great to move (continuing in the tradition of the equally excellent volume knob of the Aune T1). It’s big, easy to grab, and has just the right amount of resistance so that it doesn’t feel cheap but it’s easy enough to move in order to dial in very fine volume adjustments.
    The LED lights on the front of the unit are bright enough so that one can easily notice them, and at least in my experience with the X1s they also aren’t so bright as to bathe your entirely dark room with light. Others have mentioned about the low-contrast text on the unit which makes it harder to see. I agree, but in my case I don’t really care about it so much because I’m not really looking at that text during most of the time that I am using the X1s.
    The power switch for the X1s is on the back. It’s not hard to find (even by feel) and is easy to toggle. Personally, I prefer power switches on the front of the unit because they’re more convenient. But I don’t think the rear power switch is going to be headache for anybody regardless of their preferences or if they are already used to a rear power switch or not.
    The metal material that is used for the body of the X1s is also really nice. Honestly, I don’t really think that the Aune X1s looks or feels any worse in the metal body and the overall build quality compared to much my more expensive NuForce UDH-100.
    About the huge power block with the X1s – it is kind of a pain, and may actually be a hindrance to some setups, but I would imagine for many people once you get it set up and out of the way it shouldn’t be much of a problem. For anybody that owns the original Aune T1, this won’t be a problem, as the power block on the X1s is only slightly larger than that of the T1.
    General Usage
    In general, the Aune X1s is really easy and convenient to use.
    Setting which filter to use for me wasn’t that difficult – at least once I got used to it. Basically, what you have to do is to hold down the input selection button until the color of the light turns orange. Keep holding down the button until the light moves to the corresponding position/filter that you want. As soon as the light goes to the desired filter, let go of the button and the light should both turn green and return back to whatever input you were using. The orange light in the “USB” position should signify that the “fast” filter is currently chosen, if in the “OPT” position it should signify the “slow” filter, and the “COAX” position should signify the “minimum phase” filter. It may not be the most obvious thing to do, but once you get the hang of it, it really isn’t that difficult.
    I also really like how the X1s can be used in a variety of ways, making it very useful. Besides using the DAC and headphone amp together, each can be used separately on its own. This is especially important to me because I can’t even use the headphone amp built into my more expensive NuForce UDH-100 on its own, which I’ve wanted to hook up to other sources. Besides those functions, the X1s also offers optical and coaxial inputs to take care of your digital connection needs. Even though I didn’t test this function, what’s really interesting is that the X1s can also be used essentially as a USB-to-coaxial converter, which makes it useful if you’re trying to hook up your PC to something like an older DAC that doesn’t have USB inputs. Having all of these features really bumps up the Aune’s value proposition.
    The Windows driver is flawless – this is having tested it on Windows 7, 8.1, and 10. During the course of my evaluation, it simply never failed on me – not even once. This is actually better than most other drivers for audio gear, where at least on one occasion I would notice some kind of glitch, even if small and minor. It’s also easy to install (no having to disable driver signature verification like with the FiiO driver), and even DSD setup is relatively painless because Aune has included all of the necessary files (at least for foobar2000) and instructions within the USB memory stick that also contains the manual.
    Android USB OTG compatibility is also pretty much flawless. Audio over USB OTG pretty much just worked after I plugged the X1s in, at least when testing with the HTC One M7 (on Android 5.0.2), Sony Xperia Z Ultra (on Android 5.0.2), the Sony Xperia T (on Android 4.3), and the Sony Xperia T2 Ultra (on Android 5.1.1).
    One thing that I noted about the Aune X1s is that it never really got even warm. It was always cold, or at most, room temperature to the touch. This was the case no matter what type of headphone I plugged into the unit – whether it be the Etymotic ER4S IEM, the Sennheiser HD700, or even the power-hungry Hifiman HE1000. This is not really a pro nor a con, but it was just something that I thought I would mention.
    Sound Quality
    Tl;dr: Overall has pretty good sound, except for how I think all of the filters except for the “fast”one mess with the imaging, and how there is channel volume imbalance at lower volumes. It’s a solid upgrade from the Aune T1 in terms of sound, and while it doesn’t quite match up to my more expensive NuForce UDH-100, it still sounds not half-bad. Overall, it’s a great value if looking at sound quality.
    Headphones tested with: Klipsch Image X10, Etymotic ER4PT (with P-to-S converter), Sennheiser HD598, Sennheiser HD700, Fostex T50RP (self-modded), Hifiman HE-400i and HE1000.
    Now to the juicy part of this review. How does the Aune X1s sound?
    Overall, I find the X1s has to have a mostly neutral sound signature that leans slightly towards the bright side. This allows it to pair well with warmer sounding headphones. For example, I liked how the X1s made both my modded Fostex T50RP (which I deliberately tuned to be warmer) and my Klipsch Image X10 to have slightly less emphasis on the bass so as to make vocals and treble stand out a bit more, but still gave it lots of good sounding and hard-hitting bass. It also paired well with the slightly warm HE-400i and the HE1000, making them a bit brighter than what I am normally used to but still sounded great. With the ER4PT in both its PT and S incarnations, the pairing with the X1s sounded a bit bright but never sibilant or really fatiguing. With the HD700, it did sound a bit close to what I would call tiring and did sound a bit sibilant. But I actually consider myself to be a bit more treble tolerant than others, so I could see how the pairing the X1s with something like the HD700 could be problematic for some.
    The sound from the X1s is very punchy, dynamic and lively. Bass comes through very distinctly, cleanly, and as very hard-hitting on pretty much all of the headphones that I tried, which gives music that quality that makes you want to dance to it. This is no doubt at least partly due to the great amp, which I found to drive all of my headphones very well with no real hints of graininess that is characteristic of not being powerful enough (even the HE1000 didn’t sound very underpowered when paired with the X1s).
    Soundstage on the X1s is a highlight. It’s very wide, and with decent depth. Overall, the soundstage is very 3D in shape, and really helps headphones with great soundstage such as the HD598, HD700, and even the HE1000 to shine.
    The X1s also has pretty good separation and layering (separating between instruments in terms of how far away they sound from you). Vocals and other instruments in the mix are well-defined, coherent, and not mashed together even in the most complicated pieces of music.
    I found the different selectable filters on the X1s for the most part to sound the same, to the point where I’m not sure if most of the differences that I perceived were really just placebo. However, one thing that I did notice between the filters is that anything other than the “fast” filter really messed up the imaging. With the “slow” and “minimum phase” filters, I found that I could no longer really pinpoint where certain instruments were in the mix, and that instruments sounded diffuse throughout the entire soundstage. But with the “fast” filter, imaging improved greatly, and was pretty good though I wouldn’t say that it was pinpoint accurate.
    One of the things that I didn’t like about the X1s so much is the one gain setting that it offers. For most people, I would imagine that they are going to be able to use only about 2/3 of the volume knob’s range, unless they have something like 600 ohm headphones or the Hifiman HE-6. With the HD700 and HE-400i, I’ve only set the volume knob to be at about 10-11 o’clock. Even with the HE1000 I’ve only cranked it up to the 12 o’clock position, at most at the 1 o’clock position. With IEMs, most of the time the volume knob is below the 9 o’clock position, like around 7 or 8 o’clock. Only with the 100 ohm ER4S have I set the volume at the 9 o’clock position. At least I can’t hear hiss or humming even with my 25 ohm ER4PT, with the music paused and even at max volume.
    I actually wouldn’t have minded the one gain setting so much since the volume knob allows for very fine adjustments of volume, if it weren’t for the fact that at least with my unit, there was some pretty bad volume imbalance between the left and right channels at lower volumes. It’s quite obvious that the right channel is louder than the left channel when the volume knob is below the 9 o’clock position. Vocals and all instruments just get shifted to the right in this situation, and everything sounds off in in terms of positioning. This is mostly a problem for IEMs and sensitive full-sized headphones (like the HD598, though if you are willing to accept louder listening volumes then this isn’t an issue), for which you are likely to put the volume knob at a low enough position for this to happen. I suppose one could get around this by lowering the volume of the music through software on your computer or phone (and thus being able to turn up the volume knob on the Aune), but that is something I prefer not to do if I have an analog volume knob like on the X1s.
    Comparisons to Other Audio Gear
    All comparisons here were done under volume-matching with a C-weighted SPL meter.
    Vs. the Aune T1 mk1
    Before I go on with the rest of the comparison, I must note that I have put an Amperex Orange Globe tube (which I consider an upgrade) in my Aune T1 and am not using the stock tube.
    Overall, the Aune X1s and the T1 when both are used as a DAC/amp combo have really similar sound signatures. I’m guessing this is probably the Aune house sound.
    The DAC sections: I compared the DACs of the Aune X1s and the T1 using the X1s’ headphone amp. Here, the ES9018 implementation of the X1s is made to sound like a more refined version of the PCM1793 chip in the Aune T1. The X1s’ DAC is not only more airy, but also harder-hitting and presents deeper bass than in the T1. Notes are also less raspy, smoother, and better separated on the X1s. However, soundstage width and depth, as well as imaging ability, are about the same on both DACs. Overall, the X1s’ is simply clearer and more transparent than on the T1.
    The amp sections: To compare the headphone amps in the X1s and the T1, I utilized the X1s’ DAC. For the most part, in terms of overall sound signature both amps are really similar, but the X1s’ amp sounds a bit warmer due to being able to convey more solid bass. Actually, that is one of the obvious things one will notice when comparing the two amps – the bass on the X1s’ amp is simply more coherent, tight, and hard-hitting than on the T1’s amp. Soundstage width between the two amps are about the same, though there is slightly more depth on the X1s. The Aune X1s’ amp is also a tiny bit airier, and has somewhat better separation of instruments (it’s a bit subtle, but appreciable) too. Overall, like with the DAC section, the X1s’ amp is more transparent, detailed (less hazy notes), and clearer.
    If you compare the X1s and the T1 both as amp/DAC combos, the somewhat subtle differences between the DAC and amp sections of the two add up. With the X1s, you get smoother yet more detailed notes, more airy notes that allow stringed instruments to more clearly vibrate through the air, a deeper soundstage, better separation, more precise imaging, and bass that is harder-hitting, deeper, and yet more controlled. All of these add up to allow the X1s to obviously set itself apart from its sibling, and make it truly an upgrade from the T1.
    Vs. the NuForce UDH-100
    Yes, I know I’m crazy for comparing the X1s (MSRP $300) to my much more expensive UDH-100 (discontinued, but had a MSRP of $650). However, the X1s is the only product I’ve reviewed that upon first listen that I would even consider to compare against the NuForce, which is saying something. Here, I’m going to be trying to give a picture of how well the X1s does for its price and how good of a value it is, rather than trying to nitpick about its sound quality deficiencies in the face of much more expensive competition.
    The DAC sections: To me, the DACs in both have a somewhat similar overall sound signature. However, the AKM 4390 implementation in the UDH-100 is appreciably warmer, making it slightly warm of neutral as opposed to the slightly brighter than neutral ES9018 implementation of the X1s. Soundstage on the X1s actually doesn’t fare all that badly against the UDH-100 – the more expensive gear has a deeper soundstage, but width between the two is the same. However, the UDH-100 is simply more detailed and transparent. Even though vocals are more forward on the X1s, the vocals on the UDH-100 are simply more vivid. The UDH-100 also has the more textured and nuanced bass, though that isn’t to say that the X1s’ bass sounds bad in comparison. There is also noticeably less treble glare on the UDH-100 than on the X1s, though my words make it sound worse than it really is.
    The amp sections: Overall, the UDH-100’s built-in amp is better than the one in the X1s. No surprises there. The soundstage width between the two amps is similar, but there is greater depth in the UDH-10. Also, the UDH-100 simply has better separation – while the X1s is no slouch here, the UDH-100 simply doesn’t blend instruments together as much. The UDH-100’s amp also provides better imaging. Also, the UDH-100 simply provides more punch in terms of bass and in dynamic range (like in classical and orchestral music), especially with planar magnetic headphones (but the difference isn’t as big with dynamic headphones).
    When you combine the differences in the amp and DAC sections (especially the DAC section, which I found to have a greater difference compared to the amp sections) when listening to both as DAC/amp combos, it becomes pretty clear that the UDH-100 is obviously at least one step up (if not more) than the X1s. However, considering that the Aune goes for less than half of the UDH-100 when comparing MSRP prices, has much more features (the UDH-100 only has USB input and RCA output), and doesn’t even sound all that bad next to the more expensive unit, the X1s is a pretty dang good deal.
    For whom is this good for?
    Tl;dr: The Aune X1s should be considered by anybody looking for a good, decently priced amp/DAC combo that is above the lowest entry level (including Aune T1 owners).
    In my opinion, anybody who is looking for a good amp/DAC combo beyond the entry level Aune T1, O2/ODAC and the Schiit Magni/Modi combo should probably take a look at the Aune X1s. Not only does it sound better than that level of equipment to me, it also contains lots of features (lots of inputs and outputs) that make it a good value. Like with all other amp/DAC combos, I probably wouldn’t recommend it if one is just looking for a good DAC or a good amp (because one probably wouldn't want to be saddled with something they don't need if it costs more money). Well, I actually think that the DAC is good enough for one to still keep using even if upgrading to a different amp, but I don’t think that the X1s headphone amp is especially good (though that does not mean I think it is bad). Also, for anybody who already owns an Aune T1, the X1s is a logical upgrade. Not only are they getting the same excellent build quality from Aune, they are also getting a lot more features in terms of inputs and outputs and getting noticeably better sound quality for not that much more money (less than $100 difference if the street prices that I’ve seen for the X1s are anything to go by).
    Overall, the X1s is an excellent value. For $300 MSRP, you’re getting something that looks and feels great, sounds good, works well (easy setup and no driver issues) and is really useful as a piece of audio gear (good amp, good DAC, able to even do USB-to-coaxial conversion, etc.).
    The only major complaints I have come from the implementation of the amp. While adjusting the volume is easy and precise on the X1s, I don’t really like how there is only one fixed level of gain that is too loud of IEMS, and the left and right channel volume imbalance at lower volume levels where IEMs and other sensitive full-sized headphones will be used at.
    So I rate the X1s at 4.5 stars out of 5. As it is, it’s already something that I very much recommend.
    Thanks for reading my review of the Aune X1s!
      money4me247 and hakushondaimao like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Peter West
      After my "highly recommended" review I bought the X1S as I liked it so much. Did the same thing when I finished evaluating the Aune B1 with my LCD-Xs.  The X1S is in my secondary setup streaming TIDAL out of my MacBook Pro (USB or optical) into HD-439s modded or Fostex T50RPs. The only issue I discovered is the X1S doesn't work with the Apple AirPlay streaming system. That's disappointing but if you're not using AirPlay this is a very nice unit for the price.
      Peter West, Oct 28, 2015
    3. volly
      I liked this review very much, has a good balance of personal opinions and is easy to read. Aune has a very interesting Dac/Amp, if only they could knock your socks off in the amp section?!
      volly, Oct 28, 2015
    4. snellemin
      I did a head to head test with my Ibasso Sidewinder and X1S.  Used the 400i headphone and found the Ibasso besting X1S when fed through the USB, by a small margin.    I used the line out of the Ibasso and fed it through the X1S RCA input and the sound changed enough that it was my preferred sound, between the Ibasso and X1S headphone out.
      snellemin, Oct 28, 2015
  8. Army-Firedawg
    The small dac with a dragon inside
    Written by Army-Firedawg
    Published Oct 24, 2015
    Pros - Amazing sound, beautifully built, various inputs, very transparent
    Cons - Other than a ridiculously large converter box, none
        I must first start this review by giving a huge thank you to @Auneaudio for selecting me to be one of the participants in their selection of reviewers for the X1s. This. believe it or not, is my very first experience with a designated D.A.C. other than what comes in my phone & computer so I was flabbergasted when I was selected from all who applied so again Aune, thank you for the opportunity.
    The Opening Experience
        For those who are familiar with my reviews know that I’m quite critical of the opening experience of a product, why? Because to me, it represents a company introducing itself to a new or returning customer. Will they reach out a firm handshake showing they truly care about the product and the consumer whose business they wish to earn? Or do they just cheaply and quickly wrap up a product so they can get your money and that’s all they’re concerned about?
        In the case with the Aune X1s, there was a very firm and appreciative handshake given. The packaging before you even open it is striking, but also very professional looking and gave me complete confidence that what I was about to experience is meant for true audio enthusiasts and not a gimmick. The wording is very simplified and doesn’t present any unnecessary clutter, which is something I’ve grown to respect; for to me this says “we’ll let the product speak for itself, we’ve no need to clutter the box with useless graphs and misrepresented numbers . Just experience what we’ve created yourself.”
        Upon opening the package you’re then greeted with a perfect presentation of the Aune X1s placed in precisely cut out foam to protect the all aluminum dac/amp. Next to it lies the ridiculously large converter box (I think it’s called) that’s about half the size of the dac itself. Finally under that lies the really cool looking usb thumbstick, which is the instruction manual and drivers (for us windows users [seriously Microsoft, my PHONE doesn’t require drivers, come on!]),
        To the fullest degree I am extremely satisfied with my handshake that Aune presented me with. Not only is this my first experience with an Aune product, as I mentioned earlier, this is my first experience with a designated amp/dac as well. So a first experience that leaves me craving more, and definitely a memorable one.
        20151023_231213_HDR.jpg     20151023_231348_HDR.jpg
            Finally there’s the product itself. The Aune X1s is an all aluminum frame that’s lusciously smooth with the only sharp spots being the corners and where the faceplate connect. There also exists a nice weight to it as well as I list it up and examine. Not overly heavy but enough to feel confidence in its construction. The volume button is smooth and very responsive as is the single button on the front that toggles the input selection. On the back you have  plethora input and output nodes to allow one to connect the X1s to virtually anything with ease.
        The only downside I can think of with the X1s (other than the massive converter box) is the rounded shape at the top. Absolutely not a large downside, in fact it’s very circumstantial too. But an issue I’ve found with its rounded top is if you like to stack your amp on top of your dac. This of course poses little to no problem if you’ve a solid state, but if you’re like myself with a tube amp this impractical. However when I placed my Project Horizon 3 on top it sat rather nicely because the feet on my amp compensated for the bow of the X1s so in my case there was no issue but still those should take note of the possibility.

        It wouldn’t let me copy & paste from the website so please follow the link below if you would like exact specifications.
        This is the aspect I was most nervous about for every one of my good friends on here talk about a new dac they have and how the difference is absolutely amazing. I never doubted this but haven’t been presented with the ability to try a dac myself until now so in terms of both audio improvement and coloration, how did the Aune X1s effect the sound of my headphones?
    The answer to this is, awe striking. Now I’m not going to lie I was thinking the increase would be similar to that of buying an aftermarket cable. Definitely a notable gain but nothing to rant and shout about especially since this goes for ¾ of what my Bowers & Wilkins P7 and ⅗ what my Sennheiser HD650 goes for (which were my headphones used for review). So I was thinking that there’s no way that this would make that large of a difference in my experience but oh how I was completely and unanimously mistaken.
    I got actual chill bumps when I listened to my first track, which believe it or not was a YouTube video, “[FLASHMOB] Pirates of the Caribbean” by Rhapsody Philharmonic. This song by itself is beautiful on my P7’s and the Cello’s sound magnificent as are the string reverbs easily audible. But once I listened to it immediately again with the Aune X1s it was so life like I was actually somewhat confused and disoriented as to where sounds are coming from. I was LOVING it! The level of surrealism and transparency was amazing, everything just increased in quality and refinement. The notes were so silky smooth in their changing from highs to mids to lows, and what more is that the X1s didn’t alter the sound signature I love so much on the P7’s.
    One can blame it on my inexperience with designated DACs, but I honestly haven’t been able to find a single negative at all with the audio quality bestowed by the X1s. I can happily justify the $249 MSRP to any audio enthusiast regardless of their budget. It may take some saving up to for some but I’m amazed by the immediate and drastic increase the X1s presented. Now, again to disclaimed I’m not completely sure all dacs at this price point will give the same experience, but I can at least say with sternness that the Aune X1s darn sure does.
        To sum up the Aune X1s, it’s freaking amazing. From craftsmanship, to style, to functionality, to audio gain. It performs well above and beyond what I expected to for this price range and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to either upgrade their current setup or are looking for their first one. It looks beautiful and is built just as elegantly while presenting a voice that softly sings you into an auditory bliss without you even realising what’s come over you.
    Till next time my friends, make sure you check out my Unboxing video here, and my review video here!

    1. View previous replies...
    2. davidmthekidd
      Would this dac/amp out perform the Schiit stack magni/modi?
      davidmthekidd, Dec 15, 2015
    3. Army-Firedawg
      Really wish comments on this would notify me, but I can't give any insight for as this moment I've yet to hear any Schiit product. But I'm attending the Carolina Canfest 5 where a generous number of Schiit products are available.
      Army-Firedawg, Feb 19, 2016
    4. Army-Firedawg
      @davidmthekidd After hearing them at Carolina CanFest, I will say that I think the Aune sounded better than the STOCK magni/modi 2. However any upgraded version was better than the Aune. 
      Army-Firedawg, Aug 19, 2016
  9. yage
    Engaging desktop headphone amp / DAC with exceptional build quality
    Written by yage
    Published Oct 16, 2015
    Pros - Warm, forgiving sound signature (with minimum phase filter enabled), flexible inputs / outputs
    Cons - Doesn't function as a preamp, power brick cord too short
    First off, thanks to Aune Audio for letting me participate in the North America tour of the X1S desktop headphone amp / DAC.
    Admittedly, I've never heard of Aune Audio before I saw the thread announcing the new X1S. That's not surprising, though - head-fi seems to be exploding at an exponential pace from all corners of the globe. The good thing is that getting into quality audio has never been easier. In a recent SoundStage Access editorial1, Mr. Wetzel lamented that the ultra high-end seems to be the ever increasing focus at shows these days. Luckily for the rest of us, there are plenty of companies out there that can see the forest for the trees and give budding audiophiles the chance to experience high-fidelity sound at sane prices.
    The headphone amp / DAC under review here is a Swiss Army knife of sorts - it supports nearly every sample rate / bit depth combination on the market today, claims to drive virtually any headphone in existence, and can accept multiple digital inputs as well as output a line-level signal for a connection to a home stereo system or outboard headphone amp. The figurative cherry on top comes in the form of different digital filter options. This would be a tall order for several separate components to execute successfully, not to mention a single one with a value-conscious price target. I think, though, that the folks at Aune have largely hit all the right notes with the X1S.
    The X1S is about the size of a small book, though more squarish in proportions. The convex top is a touch of class to what would otherwise be a utilitarian black box. The scooped out sides fit the fingertips neatly, allowing for easy placement on the desktop. The sturdy thick steel shell is fronted by an equally thick front panel with a sensibly arranged bevy of controls and a 1/4 inch headphone output jack. The flush mounted input button also does double duty as the digital filter selector switch. The metal volume knob has a very smooth action and exudes quality.
    The back panel is mounted flush to the outer casing, with everything held in place by two long screws. Here we have a laundry list of inputs and outputs - a USB 2.0 type B input jack, optical and coaxial (S/PDIF) digital inputs (and output!), unbalanced analog audio input, and unbalanced line level output. A small rocker switch turns the unit on and off. Curiously, the X1S uses an outboard power supply with a custom umbilical connection. Small red plastic caps are supplied to cover off unused inputs - a nice touch.
    Overall, the build quality is superb and marred only by one major flaw - the short length of the cable from the power brick to the back of the X1S. With the X1S on top of the desk, the power brick is left to dangle a few inches off the ground. This was somewhat surprising given the thought and attention paid to the design of the X1S itself.
    Rounding out the package is a 3.5 mm to 1/4 inch adapter and a USB cable with gold plated connectors. Software drivers and user's manual were supplied on small USB memory stick.
    Note that the USB connection must be used for the X1S to play the widest variety of sample rates, bit depths, and formats. S/PDIF and optical inputs are bandwidth limited to a maximum of 24 bit / 192 kHz PCM data only. DSD128 is the top end for DSD playback.
    I usually use a Linux system for computer-based audio. In this context, the X1S is strictly plug-and-play, so long as your kernel has the USB audio module compiled and installed. The Aune identified itself as 'X1S USB DAC'. For Windows-based machines, you'll need to install the supplied drivers for the DAC to function correctly.
    The dual-mode input / digital filter selector button is fairly straightforward to use. A quick push scrolls through the various inputs and the selected input is indicated by a lit green LED. Holding down the button changes the LED color to red and cycles through the different digital filters: linear phase, slow roll-off, and minimum phase. Simply let go of the button when you reach the filter you want. Switching digital filters during playback is supported, though there is an audible mute and delay if you do. The X1S is smart enough to remember your input and digital filter choices should you need to power it down.
    One minor gripe is the lack of a sample rate indicator during playback - this can make it difficult to know if you've set up your entire playback chain correctly.
    First a caveat - though I do own a fair amount of SACDs, I do not have any DSD files on hand, so my impressions will be strictly limited to the reproduction of PCM-based audio.
    Eager to put the X1S through its paces, I powered it up and connected it to my computer. The power-on default seems to be the USB input with the linear digital filter enabled so I left it at that. I then plugged in my Etymotic ER-4Ses, started VLC, and cued up "1234" from Leslie Feist's third album The Reminder (Cherrytree/Interscope Records, B0008819-02). To say that I was underwhelmed, is a bit of a, well, understatement. The sound lacked life and rhythmic drive. Fortunately, there were still two other digital filters in the stable.
    I switched in the slow roll-off filter and played the same track. I heard a subtle improvement - vocals seemed to be more clearly defined. Coltrane's sax and Kenny Drew's accompaniment on the piano started to come alive. However, the low end still seemed to lack a little impact and the upper midrange / treble still sounded a touch aggressive.
    With the minimum phase filter enabled I felt that the X1S was finally firing on all cylinders. Bass had some heft now and vocals were more fleshed out. The overall sonic signature became more vibrant and saturated. This is the filter I used for the rest of my review period.
    If I needed to summarize the overall sonic characteristic of the X1S in a few words it would be this: warm and smooth. This was evident across the board on all the genres of music I listened to. Vocals were full bodied without excessive sibilance. Feist's voice on "1234" sounded less ethereal or 'wispy' and more immediate. Bass had good weight and definition. The picked guitar and plucked banjo had a pleasing combination of tone from the strings as well as the instrument body. Matt Berninger's baritone on "Pink Rabbits" from The National's Trouble Will Find Me (4AD, CAD3315CD), was equally satisfying. Drums on both tracks possessed equal parts attack and impact. The Aune also proved adept at reproducing sweeping scale and emotion as evidenced during the final movement of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 (Chesky, CD 2, ripped to WAV). The X1S delivered an organic coherency between Earl Wild's virtuosity on the keyboard and the London Royal Philharmonic. Strings flowed effortlessly and the piano had a pleasing bloom around the notes.
    And yet some of those same strengths seemed to ultimately hold the X1S back. Atlhough Trane's tenor sax, Fuller's trombone, and Morgan's trumpet let loose with a burnished, brassy glow on "I'm Old Fashioned" from a hi-res copy of Blue Train (HDtracks, 24 bit / 192 kHz AIFF), the Aune seemed to gloss over the microdynamics - those little intonations and complex overtones that make the performance more expressive and engaging. I also felt that the Aune lacked that last bit of airiness that conveys the sense of performance in a three dimensional space, opting to focus on delivering midrange bloom instead. That last point, I must concede, could be an artifact of my digital filter choice.
    These really are tiny nits that I'm picking given the value that the X1S offers. The Aune gets the big picture right. It produces a satisfying sound that is a boon to more modern recordings while doing justice to those albums that were well-engineered.
    The reference I use nowadays for computer-based hi-fi is a Meridian Explorer 2 coupled with the AudioQuest JitterBug. When compared directly to the X1S, the Explorer 2 sounds a little more neutral to my ears. Both have good tonal saturation but the Explorer 2 has the edge in the fine detail and spatial resolution department and a bit more rhythmic drive. Yet the Explorer's cooler palette can prove to be a bit fatiguing on modern rock and pop during long listening sessions. The AudioQuest DragonFly v1.2 (with JitterBug, natch) on the other hand, follows somewhat in the same sonic vein as the X1S. However, the DragonFly tends to sound soft on top and here I feel the X1S pulls ahead with its more even tonal balance and slightly better detail retrieval. I also tried using the JitterBug in concert with the X1S, but I didn't hear an improvement.
    Companies like Aune make it easy and hard for the present-day audio enthusiast. Easy because clearly the X1S is a well-built and great sounding piece of kit. Hard because you'll be searching high and low for a justification to spend more money on something else given the features and sound quality the X1S has to offer. I think it's needless for me to say that I'll be paying closer attention to Aune from now on.
    Associated Equipment
    Headphones - Etymotic ER-4S, NAD Viso HP50
    Loudspeakers - Vandersteen 3A Signature
    Amplification - Ayre AX-5 Twenty, CI Audio VHP-1 / VAC-1, AudioQuest DragonFly v1.2, Meridian Explorer 2
    Sources - AudioQuest DragonFly v1.2, Ayre C-5xeMP, Meridian Explorer 2
    Cables - Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval 8 speaker cable, Analysis Plus Copper Oval-In and Pro Oval Studio interconnects, Blue Jeans LC-1 and MSA-1 mini-RCA interconnects
    Power / Tweaks - Bryston BIT-15, AudioQuest JitterBug
    1. http://soundstageaccess.com/index.php/feature-articles/675-i-ll-keep-you-just-a-minute
  10. nmatheis
    Aune X1S: Great Entry-Level Desktop DAC/Amp
    Written by nmatheis
    Published Oct 16, 2015
    Pros - Clean, detailed sound that works well with warm HP & IEM. Lots of inputs. Nice size. Nice, big, smooth volume pot. Looks great.
    Cons - Made my neutral to bright cans overly bright for my taste. Large power adapter. Low-contrast text.
    I was chosen to review the Aune X1S as part of a review tour sponsored by Aune. I am in no way affiliated with Aune, and this is my honest opinion of the X1S. I would like to thank Aune for giving me the chance to test drive the X1S, and I hope my thoughts prove useful for fellow Head-Fi members as well as for Aune.


    Ok, so why review the Aune X1S?  I'm pretty familiar with portable gear but have little experience with desktop gear. I previously reviewed the Aune B1 and was impressed with the sound quality, which was clear and detailed with a nice soundstage. When I saw the tour opportunity for the X1S, I thought it would be a great opportunity to become more familiar with desktop gear and see if my general thoughts on the B1 carried over to the X1S. 


    I'm a 43 year old father who loves music.  While I listen mostly to electronic and metal these days, I do listen to a wide variety of music - from electronic (Autechre, Boards of Canada) to modern/minimalist composition (John Cage, Philip Glass) to alternative rock (Flaming Lips, Radiohead) to jazz (John Coltrane and Miles Davis) to metal (Behemoth, King Diamond) to classic rock (Eagles, Rush).  
    As mentioned above, I'm primarily a portable audio enthusiast. My portable music journey started with the venerable Sony Cassette Walkman and then progressed to portable CD players, minidisc recorders (still have my Sharp DR7), and finally on to DAPs like the Rio Karma, iRiver IHP-1xx, iPod 5.5, iPhones, and the newer crop of DAPs from Fiio and iBasso. 
    Being a portable audio enthusiast, I typically listen with IEMs but am enjoying listening with full-size headphones more and more and tend to like u-shaped sound signatures, although I break out v-shaped IEM & HP from time to time for fun.
    As with a lot of people my age, I've got some hearing issues.  I've got mild tinnitus and suffer from allergies, which can affect hearing in my right ear.  I'll admit it, I'm not blessed with a pair of golden ears.  That said, I've been listening to portable gear for a long time and feel confident in assessing audio gear - just wanted to be transparent up front. 
    Please refer to this LINK for official specs.
    I really appreciate minimalist packaging, and that's exactly what you get from Aune. Packaging is highly reminiscent of the B1. A simple black & white box with just enough text to let you know that yes, indeed you do have an Aune X1S. Nice!
    Neatly packed inside the box are the amp, USB cable, power adapter, 1/4" adapter, and the manual on a small, classy USB key. Really, that's it. I love Aune's approach to packaging and wish more audio manufacturers would do this! Please!!!
    The X1S comes in either silver or black anodized aluminum.  The tour X1S I received was the silver model, although I would've preferred the black model for a reason I'll go over below.
    Here's the X1S's front.From left to right, it's got an input button, input indicators, a 1/4" headphone jack, and the volume knob. The input button obviously switches between the various inputs, but it also switches between the DAC's different filters. I've given these a listen on other DACs and will be completely honest that with my gear and ears, I'm not hearing a big enough difference to think it's anything but placebo effect for me. So, I'll refrain from commenting on these. The input indicators function just like you'd expect. The volume knob is a treat. It's a great size, turns very smoothly, and includes a marking to indicate the current volume setting. I mentioned that it's a nice size. This is important to me, as it allowed me to really fine-tune the volume with not only headphones but also IEM. 
    So I mentioned above that I would've preferred the black X1S. Why? Well, the silver X1S's text is quite low contrast. The text is nicely visible in the picture I took, but under normal lighting it's much harder to read. Contrast that with the black X1S's high contrast white text, which would be highly visible under a wider range of lighting conditions. My other niggle here is that despite loving the nice large, smooth volume knob, it really would benefit from the volume setting line having a bit of high contrast paint to make it visible under dim lighting conditions. Okay, enough complaining, let's get on with the rest of the review.
    Here's the back of the X1S.
    So, what do we have here? From left to right, we've got vent holes, power input, line in, line out, coax out, optical in, USB in, and the power switch. I think you've got enough inputs and outputs here to satisfy the budding audiophile, but to be completely honest, I was only interested in using the USB in and the headphone jack. I'd like to again compliment Aune for making the text readable when looking at the X1S straight on and from above. The upside down text was a nice touch!
    I'd just like to emphasize that I thought the X1S is quite attractive and well-laid out. My minor niggle about low contrast text would be easily solved by purchasing the black X1S and carefully painting a white line in the volume knob's indicator. 
    I’m a Mac user, so for me the X1S was plug n play. I opened up the Audio MIDI Setup panel to set the maximum 384/32 output to find it was already configured. Basically, all I had to do was plug the X1S in, option click on the volume icon in my menubar, and choose the X1S. So easy!
    I’m the first to admit that describing sound isn’t an easy thing to do, so I’ll try to describe this as clearly and concisely as possible without waxing eloquent about subtle nuances that only the highly-trained ear will hear.  If you’re looking for that, there are other reviews that meet your needs.  I used a wide variety of gear with the X1S, from earbuds to IEM to headphones. Some of them were very easy to drive. Some were harder. And I also found an answer to the question I posed above, namely - how does the X1S sound relative to the B1 (to the best of my memory)...
    I tested the X1S with the 300 Ohm VE Zen earbuds. I remember this being a magical experience with the Aune B1, and it was no different here. If anything, it was better. As soon as I plugged in and got some music going, I was immediately grooving on the music - bopping my head, tapping my toes, and having a great time getting lost in the music. It really doesn't get much better than that. With the X1S VE Zen struck a great balance between lushness and technicality. Bass was tight, mids were lush, and highs were crisp and detailed. Soundstage was good but not amazing, but I think that was a limitation of the VE Zen more than the X1S based upon listening to other gear. This might be controversial, but for me this was absolutely the best pairing. Fantastic synergy!
    I tested the X1S with the Torque t096z tune-able IEM I also had in for testing. I used the blue and green tuning "valves" (nozzles, really).
    1. The blue valve gives a downward-sloping sound signature, with great bass response, warm mids, and smooth highs. In contrast to listening on my DAPs, bass tightened up considerably, the midrange was left alone, there was a bit more sparkle up top, and soundstage opened up quite a bit. I found this was a good pairing for nice, long listening sessions where you were reading and didn't need to fully engage with the music.
    2. The green valve is a reverse checkmark type sound signature. The listening experience was similar to that with the blue valve, but it allowed the X1S's detail extraction to shine through a bit more. Still nice to relax to, but you can also hear details pop out that make you engage more. I didn't try the brighter tunings, as I'd already figured out at this point that it was a road I didn't want to travel.


    I tested the X1S with several pairs of headphones I had laying around and found I definitely preferred some more than others. 
    1. AKG K553 was a pairing I just couldn't take. At all. Sounded thin, lacking bass, cold mids, and piercing treble. Pretty much the same experience I had with K553 + B1. K553 might be up for sale soon.
    2. HiFiMan HE400S sounded okay but honestly not that different than out of my DAPs. If anything, it was a bit on the bright side for me here so I didn't pursue it much.
    3. HiFiMan HE400 was a different story, audibly benefitting from the extra power with tighter, well-controlled bass and added emphasis on the upper mids and lower treble. This again presented a problem for me, as to my ears it accentuated the HE400's treble peaks making the mids fade away more than usual. So, I ended up leaving my HE400 by the wayside, as well.
    4. Philips L1 just couldn't keep up with the X1S. If anything, they suffered from it, with the X1S pointing out just how rolled off the top end was. Was hoping things might open up in the upper mids and treble, but there was just no hope. I think these are going up for sale soon!
    5. SoundMagic HP200 were pretty good, although any improvements were minor. Bass sounded just a tad tighter and the upper end didn't get too of control, which I was honestly afraid might happen with these.
    So what were my conclusions about the X1S? Well, first and foremost the X1S reminded me of a leveled-up B1. I could definitely hear a family resemblance. Hearing that, I quickly remembered my favorite pairing with the B1 - my VE Zen - and they didn't disappoint! I also really enjoyed the Torque t096z with the X1S. I plugged them in on a whim, and they sounded really good - much better than I expected, in fact. It was a pleasant surprise. So, those were the pleasant surprises. What else? Well, I found that I either didn't get good synergy with my full-size headphones or they simply lacked the capacity to scale with the X1S. The X1S made me reevaluate what headphones I want to keep and helped me make the decision to put a couple up for sale soon.
    If I were looking for a pair of headphones to synergize with the X1S, based on my listening I'd go with a warm sound signature with a smooth upper end. This isn't the type of sound signature I typically go for, but as long as the headphone scale well I found this worked really well. It allows the X1S's detail retrieval to shine through without making the sound overly bright. That's just me. I'll remind you that  I listen to a lot of electronic and metal, music with extremes - so your mileage may vary.
    Driving Power
    The X1S had absolutely no problem powering anything I threw at it, and I was even able to use my Mac's volume control + the X1S's volume control to fine tune the volume when using sensitive IEM.
    Channel Imbalance
    Nothing jumped out at me even at very quiet listening level with sensitive IEM, which usually allows me to detect imbalance quickly.
    Nope. Nada. Even with sensitive IEM. I am 43 years old, however, so if you're younger with bat-like hearing your mileage may vary!
    I really enjoyed having he opportunity to review the X1S. It was a great learning experience for me, not only with desktop gear, which is new for me - but also in really testing out how far my earbud, IEM, and headphone collection can scale. When I found gear that scaled and synergized well with the X1S, it was a fantastic listening experience. For me, the VE Zen epitomized this. I was blown away by this combination and would encourage other to test it out. On the other side of the coin, I found that many of my headphones were quite simply a poor fit with the X1S to my ears. This is nothing against the X1S. In fact, I'm happy the X1S pointed this out to me.
    I really appreciated the X1S's great design. I'm a sucker for simple design with clean lines, and the X1S's sleek anodized aluminum case pushed a lot of buttons for me there. However, the silver X1S's low contrast text was a let down. I'd encourage Aune to use higher contrast markings with the next iteration. For now, I'd encourage those of you looking to purchase the X1S to strongly consider the black X1S with its high contrast white text. If I were to get really finicky, I suppose I'd ask for a low gain option. But for my use case, I could always use a combination of computer volume + X1S volume controls to make fine-tuning the volume easier.
    I'll leave you with one more picture, my favorite combination of the X1S + VE Zen...

    Thanks again to Aune for giving me the opportunity to give review the X1S. I had a lot of fun, and it introduced me to a new facet of this hobby that I'm sure I'll have a lot of fun exploring in the future!
    1. RedJohn456
      Awesome review!
      RedJohn456, Oct 16, 2015