Pros: Weighty and lively sound
Cons: Nothing for the price ($170)
Loxjie D30 is your typical DAC and headphone amplifier combination, but it has few aces up its sleeve, and that makes it a very interesting device. If this is your first time hearing about Loxjie brand, don’t worry, it’s because they’re fairly new on the market. What I can tell you from my previous experience with it, they make some of the best bang for the buck offerings you’re ever going to find. At least, that was true last time I tested their more affordable model D10, but let’s see if it still holds true with D30.
Build, Connectivity, and Features
Loxjie D30 is an all-metal, neat-looking device. It’s definitely not one of those small DACs that can fit in your palm, but it isn’t a particularly chunky one either. With its 269 x 233 mm footprint, I’d simply call it decently sized, yet still desktop friendly.
On the back of D30, we find three different digital inputs: USB, coaxial, and optical one. But that’s not all since there’s a Bluetooth antenna too for those of you putting the comfort before the absolute fidelity. Next, there’s a set of analog RCA outputs that can be used in both fixed or variable level modes. Lastly, we see a big AC power connector, meaning that D30 is powered directly from the wall socket and not through some sort of AC/DC adapter. This also means that the whole power-supply section is located inside the unit and upgrading this one with a linear power supply is not an option.
On the front, we find a 6.35 mm headphone jack, a volume knob that also serves as a navigation wheel and a button, and a display. The display is of an LCD variety, it’s big and easily readable, and Loxjie will even let you choose between several UI colors. It’s a small trick that really made me happy since I’ll choose orange digits over the default blue ones any day. Aside from that, you can thinker with several digital filters and everything is easily accessible via small remote control.
Hooked into my room system, Loxjie D30 really surprised me with its big and punchy sound. The bassline is voluminous, slightly on the warm side but packing some very decent energy and punch. The midrange is clean and informative, backed with just enough of that mid-bass warmth to make it sound rich and palpable. Because of that, both male and female vocals sound lush and present. Moving to the highest register, D30 shows it has very good extension, and it’s able to dig a very respectable amount of details and air from the recording.
The soundstage is wide and spacious, with a somewhat modest depth. Instruments are well separated, and while D30 is not the absolute champion of pinpointing every single thing in the soundstage, you’re only going to notice it in comparison with slightly more expensive gear.
When we start talking about dynamics, that’s where D30 really shines. It sounds lively, driven, and engaging. It can swing and slam like no DAC I ever heard at this price point can. Any type of music will reap benefits from this, but I feel that Pop and Rock fans would be especially happy with this kind of energetic presentation.
Talking about the tonality, everything mentioned in the previous section still stands. It’s a lush-sounding device with a warmer bassline and lively treble. The notes about wide and modestly deep soundstage are also true with headphones. The only difference worth mentioning is that the integrated headphone amplifier can’t fully repeat the dynamic presentation of the DAC section. Now, don’t get me wrong here, the head-amp in D30 is no slouch and it is driving my Hifiman HE4XX without any troubles. It’s just that a high-powered external amplification such as Topping L30 will produce even more slam and bass authority with power-hungry headphones. This is to be fully expected off-course and it’s not something that should bother you in any way. The in-built headphone amp is very good and more than suitable for most headphones out there.
iFi Zen DAC is smoother sounding and even warmer when it comes to the bassline. However, its midrange is more recessed, and the overall presentation is laid back. Loxjie D30 offers more details, more energetic sound, a much richer selection of inputs, and finally more powerful head-amp. If the slight price increase is not the problem, it’s a clear choice really.
Fiio K5 pro is another smooth and warm-sounding device with a laid-back presentation. To cut it short, except for the more powerful amp, there’s not much that K5 Pro can offer in this comparison. Loxjie D30’s DAC section is leaps and bounds over the K5 Pro’s, it is both more revealing and much more dynamically expressive. This still holds true with a headphone amp section, just to a somewhat lesser degree.
Topping E30 and L30 combo is a tough one to beat. As a DAC only, Loxjie D30 easily trumps E30 with a fuller and livelier presentation. Not even the addition of a really good linear power supply can help E30 to close this gap. On the other hand, L30 is clearly more potent and it will show that with most headphones. It lends more kick to the bass-line while providing tighter control at the same time. Loxjie D30 sounds a bit softer and less sure-footed in comparison. So it’s a DAC section win for Loxjie and an amplification potency win for Topping stack.
Khadas Tone 2 Pro out of the box sounds a little bit neater in the bass-line but not as open up top. D30 sounds more energetic and weightier too, but not as controlled with bass notes. It’s a tough call really, coming down to your own preference between neat and focused Tone 2 Pro vs warm and punchy D30. Things change if a linear power supply is added to Khadas. Now it livens up a bit and serves a darker background. With it, we get an increased soundstage depth and better instrument pin-pointing. In this arrangement, Tone 2 Pro really pulls ahead of D30 and becomes a DAC I’d rather use in my own system. But remember, adding a decent power supply further increases its price, so it’s more of a how far can you stretch your budget affair, cause both devices are great and possess their own set of strengths.
Some time ago, Loxjie D10 surprised me by sounding better than basically anything at that price point and at the time of its release. I recommended it repeatedly but many were put off by its quirky styling. Today, we have a slightly more expensive, but much more mature-looking D30. It offers better connectivity, remote control, and a big LCD display. But that’s not all as it sounds considerably better too, easily justifying its higher price. In fact, I’ll go as far as saying that I never heard a better-sounding DAC below two hundred dollars. Add to that a very good headphone stage and you’ll struggle to find as well-rounded package as Loxjie D30 is.