Review: xDuoo Nano D3
The Nano D3, one of the last audio players from xDuoo. With a RKNanoD chip from Rockchip (and thus the model name), it goes back to the more compact design for best portable use, close to what the first X2 model was like. Keeping the a good quality screen like the X10 model, a much easier and simple interface, and while it skips some cool features it compensates with the best battery performance among all the xDuoo players products up to date. Solid build quality too with good sound quality for something priced just around the $80.
Nano D3 page
(msrp): $80. Or $75 (and sometimes lower) from Gearbest
Like all the xDuoo products, the Nano D3 arrives in a simple cardboard box; soft outer box and more solid inner box, and thanks to the small player design the box is also smaller and lighter (and easier to overlook by customs).
Inside you’ll find the Nano player itself and a small white box beneath with a manual, extra screen protector and USB-to-MicroUSB cable.
Design and Interface
While the Nano D3 takes the name of the chip inside, it also is ‘nano’ with its compact and most portable design. It goes back to the X2 small design, but just a bit larger and pays off with more comfortable interface, better color screen and overall build quality. The whole body is made of thick CNC aluminum material, very well finished and smooth to the touch without any sharp ends. The buttons both on the front panel and right side are well assembled with no rattling sound, and they of the same CNC material too.
The buttons layout and all the connection ports are well distributed. On the upper side there are the MicroSD slot and the MicroUSB port.
The Nano D3 only supports one micro card, unlike the X3 and X10 which had 2 slots, probably trying to save in space; not a major disadvantage, as it is the first player from the company that has an inner storage of 8GB.
On the lower side, there are the two output options, headphone jack and LineOut, both for normal or mic’ 3.5mm plugs, and do accept TRRS balanced plugs (despite not having a real balanced output).
Note on the LineOut port: while it’s meant to be used for extra amplification, it doesn’t function as with the X3 or X10 that simply set the volume to the max 100 step. Instead, the D3 keeps the same current volume and needs to be adjusted manually, but drops a large amount of dB in the volume level. It takes around half the volume down that using fairly easy to drive sets like the Monk Plus/Lite (64/40ohms) or some less sensitive IEMs the volume can reach the 100 range and still sound safe enough. However, the volume does not go down back to the ‘Phone’ level, so you’d take care when plugging the headphones back to that port as it gets really loud.
On the right side are 3 common buttons, power button that acts for screen on/off too and volume, and also the ‘reset’ slot.
On the front panel are 4 more buttons for playback and navigation. In the middle there’s the play/pause/enter larger button, a back button on the left that also works to return to the main screen when held for a few seconds and back to the playing screen, and the up/down for both navigation through menus and music playback.
The screen occupies around 60~70% of the front panel and it is actually of fairly good quality for a small 2” display. Very similar to the X10, and for half or less of the price it has good resolution, depth, color and brightness. The brightness level is fixed, but has a wide angle view.
Battery is rated up to 20hrs of continuous use. I cannot confirm the exact time, but it certainly reaches at least the 15hrs, which is a record time for any xDuoo and good enough for many small players. Charging time does take close to the stated 3hrs.
I won’t be covering the whole navigation and system options on the Nano D3, mainly because the included manual is very well written and despite the language barrier it explains in details each of the menus and different options. On the main screen there 6 tiles for the common music, folder and different music and system settings.
I will still say the D3 player is the easiest and most logic to use of all the xDuoo devices and also among the so random Chinese players. The X10 was a high step over the X3, and I find this one even much comfortable to use. It drops the unnecessary wheel of the X10 and while is missing the hold option that even the X3 had, it is possible to lock the whole player when screen off. On the settings options it is possible to set up the screen off usage, locking all, partial or none of the buttons. The screen returns to the same screen it was left and not to the playback.
The buttons are not easily pressed, and do require just a tiny bit strength to respond. Not a real deal.
However, not everything is positive on the Nano D3. The system response is rather slow both on the buttons and when navigating from the different menus. The player sometimes also skips the very first seconds on each track; an issue that was present on the X3 as well, and does not want to be fixed by the xDuoo team for whatever reason. Moreover, the CUE support possible but is not as smooth as with the X3 (see the manual). The system is fairly stable, but did suffer from some crashes when updating the files list. And, needless to say that the firmware update is not well taken care of by the xDuoo team side.
Best way to describe the sound out of the Nano D3 should be linear, a bit flat, and mostly colorless. For the small size it is quite a powerful device for the more portable earphones/headphones sets and able to drive even 150ohm earbuds like the VE or TY Hi-Z options to a very good degree. From warm or bass focused up to more treble and detailed earphone sets, the player doesn’t seem to emphasize any certain part, but it doesn’t try to improve a certain area either.
Extension on both ends is limited. There’s not much depth on the low bass, and with a rather neutral response there isn’t much rumble either. Speed is average, but fairly good for the price. The lack of warmth means there’s a clean transition from the upper bass to the midrange, though with the limited dynamics range there isn’t much separation from sub to mid bass. For instance, it pairs well with the Falcon-C, if having a very slight extra emphasis on the mid-bass, but it gets too congested with the much bassier Kaleido hybrid; not because it adds quantity but because not being able to separate among much the low frequencies.
The mids are pretty neutral and linear. Not as transparent as with the X3 but they sound a bit more forward, musical and fuller than the thin/leaner X3. The X10 was more colored and warmer, while the D3 is ‘safer’ and moderated in tonality. The midrange gets a rather smooth response with a little bit sparkle on the upper mids where female singers can sound a bit more sibilant from brighter earphones. For example with the Tin Audio T2, Falcon-C or GR07 the mids have good presence and body, but a bit raw texture and lacking emotion.
The instrument separation is decent without much air or large stage dimensions. Resolution is decent too, and good for its sub $100 tag. There is some extra sparkle on the highs and they do not sound as synthetic as could be expected; in fact, the D3 sounds much natural and well controlled than other similar or lower prices players, like the Clip Sport, IQQ C16, Nintaus X10, and a couple of Benjie options., and the overall control is quite good actually.
The player doesn’t have a best synergy with very sensitive IEMs as it may have too much power even at lower volumes and lose in control and accuracy, and there’s also some noise and hiss. Adding some impedance can help here.
Overall, the xDuoo Nano D3 is a very nice and comfortable player for best portable use. Despite some complains on the slow system response and certain bugs or missing features, it has a quite good sound quality and worth a try at the $80 or possible lower price.