xDuoo TA-26


500+ Head-Fier
Real Tube Glow, Real Tube Vibes
Pros: Very high power output, nice entry to tube sound, Good host for tube rolling, well done industrial look that doesn't look cheap.
Cons: IEMs hard to run due to power output, stock tubes rough, bright LED, Lacks the tube experience of higher end units.

I recently got back into checking tube amps out and I’ve also had the chance to hear other tube amp designs recently. When I did the xDuoo MT-604 a bit back, I was decently impressed but I found that a balanced only tube amp good for very specific use cases. The TA-26 has a more traditional and single ended design. The TA-26 comes in at $319 and is set up to use a 6sn7 pre amp tube and 6as7 power tube. Though 6n8p pre amp and 6n5p power tubes are what come stock.

Thanks to Apos Audio for hooking me up with a loaner unit to review. While I always appreciate stuff being sent in to test and review, It never affects the rating of my review.

The xDuoo TA-26 can be picked up from Apos Audio below

Gear used​

S.M.S.L. SU/SH-8S, Lotto PAW S1, DUNU EST 112, THIEAUDIO Clairvoyance, Moondrop Variations, ZMF Atrium, Sennheiser HD560S.

Looks and Feel​

The TA-26 is really well designed and comes in all metal casing with a matte grey finish. The paint looks really well applied and my unit has no sharp edges and every corner is rounded off. Overall the case of the TA-26 looks well done. The metal guard is a nice addition but I would’ve preferred a removable cage instead of the rails since It really only stops you from hitting the tubes from the sides. I still got close to touching the top of the tubes with cables when leaning over. The Tube placement is tucked in behind a bit of extra metal and the front rails. The red knob is a nice touch and gives it a slightly more energetic look. It also has a super bright LED that I’m not a fan of but I simply covered it with tape.

Accessories and unboxing​

Inside the box we get the main unit, two boxed up tubes and a power cable. Everything was well cushioned and it came in an oversized box. I think a smaller box would have worked fine, especially with foam to protect the unit and tubes. These come with generic tubes and a power cable so pretty much everything one would need to get going.

Power switch and volume knobs​

The power switch is on the front which I like since I usually have most units tucked away so reaching behind most of my desktop gear isn't easy to pull off. The volume knob is fairly smooth though it feels a bit too easy to turn. I’m an IEM person mostly so I’ll get into why that was a problem for me later on. I think this is a very good set up on the front!


These final impressions were done off the TA-26 attached to the SMSL SU-9 DAC via RCA. This will be what the TA-26 sounded like with all the headphones I used. This was also using a SED Winged C power tube and a standard Tung-Sol preamp tube. I’m doing the impressions this way to give the TA-26 its best shot as the stock tubes were meh to me. Things like headphone pairings, tube rolling and other source gear will produce different results and impressions vs what my ears hear on my specific gear.

I had higher expectations of this tube amp since it has a more traditional design. I was actually surprised that the TA-26 had a fairly nice “tube” sound signature to it. With the tubes I used, it has a pretty good fullness and warmth to the overall sound. The lows have a softer sound and while things like impact and slam don’t have as strong a presence like my desktop solid state stack, it has a very thick and full sound behind the lows. This is somewhat the same for the mids as well. The mids still retain a lot of their clarity but with a bit extra energy in the vocals very much like a solid state amp. The vocals are probably the least tube sounding part for me with my selected tubes. The vocals come in crisp and almost metallic sounding vs the smooth lows and treble. Speaking of treble, the treble is super warm and relaxed here as well. It does take the edge off most upper frequency sounds but still maintains most of the details. I liked the relaxed treble and I think this sound signature in general is a very good entry point for those looking to see what tube amps sound like.


There is a fuller sound from the TA-26 so this gives off the sense of a wider and deeper soundstage to my ears. This is exactly what I want from a set of tubes. To get a little extra something from the staging. Imaging was fine, a little murky at times to find details but I found myself “listening” more often than analyzing and I think this is gonna be the same experience for those who want to enjoy tubes.

Input and output​

On the back of the TA-26 we get RCA in and RCA pre outs. On the front we get a single quarter inch jack. I think this is fine for a standard tube amp.

Personal grips with the xDuoo TA-26​

I have two main complaints and one nitpick with the TA-26. The first being the bright LED on the front of the unit. I covered it with some tape but it's hard to enjoy the very pretty tube glow when you’re being blinded by a bright blue LED.

Second thing would be output volume/power. Most people are gonna use full size cans and not IEMS but even with the 150ohm Senn HD560S or 300ohm ZMF Atrium, I can’t hit 30% volume without wanting to die from how loud it gets. This makes IEM usage mostly useless due to the standard volume potentiometer imbalance from the first 15% of volume adjustment. I would have liked to see a lower output as I’m not sure what normal headphone would use the last 70% a volume. Even a switch on the back of the unit for a lower gain would have been nice. My solution to this was to use the volume output on my dac and setting the TA-26 to 40% volume to avoid the higher output impedance..

My nitpick would be the stock tubes. The tubes they include lack any detail, sound super neutral and feel dead overall. I didn’t get any of the tube sound I was initially seeking and I was very bummed on first listen. I did let the tubes pre heat for a solid two days on and off before testing the stock tubes. I have a hard time with this as most companies in the CHi-Fi scene are using probably the same stock tubes but for the price of the TA-26, it's better than no tubes at all. I would recommend spending $60-100 on a set of pre and power tubes assuming you can do some research in advance to not get ripped off since tubes are expensive in 2021/2022.

IEM pairing opinions​


Most people tend to avoid using IEMs with tube amps due to the fact that power output from tube amps can be too much for IEMs. While I didn’t have any IEMs that clipped or had issues, volume at lower levels produced imbalance from the potentiometer. After turning down output volume from the DAC, I figured I would test at least one IEM.

The EST 112 had a slightly warmer tone though it felt fairly soft sounding overall. The width however was fairly wide and there was a nice warm and sweet sound with a more relaxed upper mids. I wasn’t able to really find any IEMs I really liked with the TA-26 but I did have better luck with the full sized over ear headphones below.

Over ear pairings​

Sennheiser HD560S​

The 560S had a really nice warmth but with added width to the staging. The 560S comes in a little bright for my tastes but off the TA-26 with my selected tubes, this was really a nice combo with less sibilance up top. The bass has a softer hit but it has a deeper presentation. It has a nice thickness that makes it feel more powerful than it actually is. The mids still sound super clear with a slight loss to resolution. The vocals come in smooth but with a slight loss to the focus. It blends in more than it stands out which doesn’t happen when I listen to these from solid state amps. The treble is also toned down a bit and the edges are all rounded off in terms of detail retrieval. I still got a little sparkle up top, just with a little less decay. I liked this combo alot and I found a favorite amp to pair with my 560S.

ZMF Atrium​

The Atrium wasn’t an experience like the 560S with my testing. I believe the main reason is due to the tuning of the Atrium. The bass was different between solid state and the TA-26. The tube amp had less impact but the deeper bass notes had more quality to them. Specifically bass guitars were more noticeable with stronger focus vs my desktop solid state amp. Mids were mostly the same between both types of amps but the TA-26 has a more solid state clarity to it. The treble was a little more tame from the TA-26 but I would have preferred the mids to be calm as it made the Atrium sound like it had little in terms of treble response when paired with this specific tube amp.

Overall thoughts​

I really like the TA-26 overall but this is assuming one is willing to invest a little extra money to tube roll into something better than the cheap tubes they ship with. This is a good entry point for most people who want to experience tube amp sound on full size headphones or even active speakers. The TA-26 gets a full recommendation from me. I would definitely look at my gripes with the TA-26 to make sure that this tube amp is something that you can deal with. Thanks for reading!
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Reviewer at Sound Perfection Reviews
Formerly affiliated with HiFi Headphones
Excellent value, perfect step in to tubes on a budget
Pros: Excellent build quality
Great tube rolling capabilities
Price to performance is superb
Cons: Stock tubes hold it back
LED on the front is very bright
Firstly I would like to thank xDuoo for sending this sample for review.

*disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of writing a review, no incentive was given to write a favourable review. All opinions expressed are my own subjective findings

Gear Used:
JDS Labs Element II (DAC mode) > TA-26 (stock) > Mainly German Maestro GMP400 (alongside Audeze LCD-X and others)


Tech Specs:
Tubes - Preamplifier: 6N8P / Buffer: 6N5P
Input: 1x Stereo RCA
Outputs: 1x Jack 6.35mm headphone output + 1x Stereo RCA
Output power: 500mw @ 600/300Ω
Frequency response: 10Hz-30kHz (±0.5dB)
Gain: +16dB
SNR: 110dB
THD+N: ≤ 0.1% (1kHz)
Recommended headphone impedanc: 60-600Ω


Packaging, Build Quality and Accessories:
The TA-26 comes in a brown cardboard box, no fancy packaging but it is strong and sturdy helping keep the amp safe and secure during shipping. The amp is held neatly in place with foam inserts and all the accessories are tightly packaged to prevent damage - I really like how well packaged the amp was during shipping, even if it means there are no fancy graphics on the Xduoo box.

Build quality of the TA-26 is excellent, the metal chassis is solid and well finished, it's narrow footprint is welcome for desktop setups and the small metal rails help protect the tubes whilst still leaving them easy to swap out for those tube rollers out there. It's a modern yet industrial looking amp which I really like, the metal volume knob looks great and is smooth in its operation, the front on/off toggle switch has a nice positive click to it and the 6.3mm headphone output feels solid too. On the back you have RCA inputs and outputs so you can use the TA-26 as a pre-amp, along with the power cable input socket.

Accessory wise you get a power cable, that's it, but again whenever I'm reviewing a headphone amp that really is pretty much the only accessory needed, occasionally brands will throw in an RCA cable but that's something most of use have laying around anyway. No issues here, it's a desktop amp and doesn't need any fancy accessories.


The TA-26 is an OTL tube amp, this means it will pair best with higher impedance dynamic headphones and easier to drive planar headphones, they are not really suited to sensitive IEM's due to their output impedance and potential noise issues. The rated output of 500mW(300/600 Ohms) is quite impressive and should easily drive most high-impedance dynamic headphones.

The TA-26 uses a 6N8P tube for the pre-amp and 6N5P for the power tube - both of these are easy to find replacements for. The 6N5P can easily be substituted for a 6AS7G or 6080 tube of which there are plenty out there, whereas the 6N8P can be swapped out to a 6SN7 tube of which there are also plenty of options. This is good news for tube rollers out there, you can easily tune the sound to your personal preference by changing out the tubes on the TA-26.

Whilst I haven't opened my unit, you can see some of the PCB inside and it looks to be populated with good quality parts and uses high-temperature capacitors which is essential for an amp like this. There are pictures on the Xduoo product page too which show some of the internals.


The TA-26 is a powerful little OTL amp, using my German Maestro GMP400's I only need to have the volume at around 9 O'Clock to get normal listening levels out of it, and at these levels there is absolutely no background noise from the amp. I have to have music paused and turn it up over 12 O'Clock before any noise is noticed, which is great. The TA-26 isn't an overly warm tube amp, whilst it does impart a little bit of colour it doesn't take away from the headphones original signature too much which to me is the best trait of a good OTL amp.

The TA-26 has very low reaching bass, it adds a slight sense of warmth and body to the whole sound without sounding bloated, there is a little bloom in the low end but again it isn't over done and the sound is full yet tight and doesn't take away any of the finer detail.
The midrange comes across with great clarity and control, it is slightly forward in its presentation but still has good layering and power without sounding edgy or harsh. There is a sense of openness in the midrange making the TA-26 sound deeper than some flatter amps, but again without any too obvious colouring.
The treble is clear and well extended, this isn't an amp that is going to suddenly make harsh headphones listenable, but it does have a slight smoothing effect up top that, coupled with the slightly warmer bass, makes brighter leaning headphones a lot easier to listen to. But it also seems to work well with darker headphones like the HD650 - which just shine when use with tubes - for some reason they stop sounding dull and come alive with better dynamics and a much more open soundstage.

Even though the TA-26 is an OTL amp, it still has impressive layering - this does of course somewhat depend on what headphones you are using too but having an amp that is controlled yet with a hint of that tube warmth is great. If you are looking at this review, you should know a little about what you are looking for and if an OTL amp would be suitable for your system. The TA-26 doesn't have the most expansive soundstage out of the box, playing around with different tubes will likely help here, but it is an amp that has a slightly more direct delivery, it does so without sounding closed in though and there is still a good amount of width to the sound.


If you have a set of high impedance dynamic headphones and want to dip your foot in to the OTL world without spending a fortune, the TA-26 is somewhat of a steal at its price. It offers up a lot of what you would expect of an OTL amp, without costing much, you can tube-roll with ease and find some pairing that you enjoy and it is a brilliant piece of kit. Don't forget it also doubles up as a pre-amp, so should you want to impart some tube-goodness upon another system the TA-26 will allow you to do so. It's well built, has solid sound quality that is clean yet has a hint of that smoothness and fullness that many want from tubes, and is a joy to use - go grab one if you've been on the fence about tubes, you won't regret it with the right headphones.

Sound Perfection Rating: 8/10 (well built, and sounds excellent for the price, the stock tubes let it down but are easily replaceable)


Reviewer at Ear Fidelity
xDuoo TA-26
Pros: Gorgeous
Warm and engaging
Brilliant with dynamic headphones
Musical to the max
Something else in the age of SS amps
Fair price
Tube-rolling possibilities
Easy to use
Cons: Modern SS amps are superior when it comes to technicalities
Not the most detailed
Rather poor performance with high-demanding planars
Blue LED on the front


xDuoo is a company that is constantly making great devices at affordable prices. Most of their stationary amplifiers use tubes, whether it’s an all-tube design or hybrid. Today we’re looking at their TA-26, which is a high-powered tube amplifier with a preamplifier.
It is widely regarded as a DarkVoice 2.0, with the better build quality and components, which make for a better sound performance. While the Darkvoice is still one of the most popular tube amps after all these years, it’s no secret that it looks a little outdated and its technical performance is rather bad.


Here comes the TA-26, which looks simply spectacular and promises to provide great sound performance at a reasonable price. While all-tube amplifiers are more of a niche nowadays because of their lack of synergy with planar-magnetic headphones, there are still a lot of people using dynamic headphones like the Sennheiser HD650, 6xx, HD800, as well as Grado and Focal stuff. The TA-26 surely looks absolutely stunning and it’s something fresh, different than all the Topping’s and SMSL devices that have been dominating the market for the past few years, so it is definitely an exciting new thing to look into.


Let’s start with the packaging. The TA-26 comes in a basic cardboard box filled with foam inserts for additional protection. It is well-packed so the amplifier will be alright on its journey. Apart from a standard, black power cable you’re not getting any accessories, just like you would have expected.
There isn’t anything more to say, just basic packaging with little to no stuff included.

Design and Build Quality​


Okay, the xDuoo TA-26 looks absolutely marvelous. Ever since I saw it for the first time I wanted to put my hands on it.
After putting it out of the box you’ll notice one thing immediately – it is heavy. Even though the amplifier is not the biggest out there, it is very substantial feeling and has a heft to it. It feels very dense and well-put-together, with no rattle at all, just like you’re carrying a solid block of metal in your hands.
Now into the design. It looks very modern and elegant, with just a single color accent – the volume knob which is that metallic red color. Its dimensions are suitable for almost any desk and it’ll be a true decoration of any audio setup. I actually love the look of the thing so much, that I keep it on my desk even while it’s not plugged in, just to look at it.

The openings for the tubes are very large, and thanks to that you can easily see the guts of the amplifier when the tubes are not inserted. While I won’t be digging into that components too much, I must admit that everything looks tidy, well-made and the quality of the components is really high.
Inserting the tubes is as easy as it gets, which is a good thing if you plan to do some tube-rolling, which you definitely should do if you’ll buy that little guy.


The front panel has that red metallic volume knob which is a joy to use. It works smoothly and has some resistance to it, which makes changing the volume an enjoyable experience. It also protrudes enough to be easy to grab. Apart from the volume knob, you also have a 6.3mm jack output and a power switch, which is literally a switch. Perfect place for a power switch, after playing with my XI Audio Broadway S (which has a power switch on the back panel) for a while I really appreciate it. The only thing that I don’t like is that blue led indicating if the device is on. Way too bright, and xDuoo…you could have gone for a red one to match the volume knob, would be so much better.

On the back panel, you’ve got AUX IN and AUX OUT connectors, that’s it. AUX OUT, because the TA-26 can act as a preamplifier, which is a brilliant addition. Feel free to use it with any power amplifier for your stereo setup, it’ll add that sweetness and warmth to the sound. While a preamplifier without a remote control is not the best option out there, it’s still something.

The xDuoo TA-26 uses 6N8P tube for the pre-amp section and a 6N5P tube for buffer. They are both common tubes that have many substitutes, so you’ll be able to play with some NOS tubes without any problems. While the provided tubes are decent, I’d highly recommend going for some NOS US or Russian ones, as they’ll unleash the full potential of the amplifier.
What’s worth mentioning though, I’ve been using a Zaerix 6AS7G tube in this review, as the stock came in faulty, unfortunately. Luckily, they are very cheap and I had some laying around in my home.




Let’s get into the most important thing though, the sound quality. The xDuoo TA-26 is a tube amplifier and it clearly sounds like one. The overall signature is warm, lush, and romantic with that legendary tube harmonic distortion that is very pleasant to us humans.

The bass is saturated and physical, but not the fastest nor the hardest hitting at the same time. It follows the overall sound signature of the TA-26, which is very relaxed and romantic. It’s not a match for a good solid state amplifier, but it’s not meant to be. It is a completely different approach to the sound, something more vintage-sounding and definitely more forgiving.
The current market is really all about high-performance solid state amplifiers that measure so good that it actually started to be a battle for the best measurements instead of the best sound lately. While it definitely has its pros, mainly the fact that you’re getting the best value well…ever, it also has a huge con by making most amplifiers on the market sound almost identical.
Here comes the TA-26 which sounds different than all of them. While objectively it doesn’t perform on the same level as something like the Topping A30 Pro, which is similarly priced at $349, it has some different treats.
Having that in mind, the bass delivery from the TA-26 is quite different. It’s not as textured or accurate sounding, instead, it’s going for a more laid-back and physical type of experience. That kind of delivery is not ideal for electronic music, but when you’re listening to some acoustic recordings or anything with natural instruments, you’ll easily forget about its limitations. Bass guitars sound rich and pleasantly dirty, with great reverberation. It’s not an amplifier to pinpoint every single detail, but to enjoy the sound while listening to your favorite albums.

Tube amps are legendary for their midrange performance, and the TA-26 is no different here. It is an exceptional amplifier for vocals, making them sound very natural and captivating, while also being quite forgiving for bad masterings.
A good example is my favorite album that I found in 2021, called “Beneath The Skin” by Of Monsters And Men. This dark piece of art is focused mainly on the vocal, but unfortunately, the mastering of these leaves much to be desired. While listening to this album with the Susvara plugged into something like Topping A90 or Ferrum OOR makes me mad at the mastering engineer of this specific album, the TA-26 makes it far more enjoyable. Of course, I’m not using my Susvara with the TA-26, as it simply doesn’t drive them, not even close, but paired with the Sennheiser HD650 or our “Best Headphone 2021”, the Audeze LCD-X 2021 it does sing wonderfully.
Back to the album though. While it has some faster songs on it, my favorite is definitely the “Organs”, which is focused mainly on the female vocalist of the band, Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir. She has a wonderful voice and you can easily hear that this song is very personal to her, because she sings with such passion, that you can literally hear the pain in her voice. The xDuoo TA-26 unleashes the emotions with ease, adding that warmth and lushness to the sound that makes this kind of song shine. The TA-26 has a different approach to the midrange, just like with the bass. It does not focus on the technicalities. It’s not a microscope for the tiniest details, nor it is the most crispy or the fastest sounding. It makes the overall sound slightly gooey and soft, which is highly desirable in a tube amp.


The treble is also very reminiscent of a tube amplifier. It is soft, laid-back, and delicate, especially when compared to a modern solid state amplifier like the previously mentioned A30 Pro. It does yet again continue the overall theme of the sound – smooth and relaxed. It does wonders with female voices, making them easier to listen to for an extended amount of time, as well as making them quite mesmerizing. This part of the sound performance is probably the most extreme when comparing the TA-26 to a SS amp. Yes, it lacks sparkle, detail, and resolution when making an A/B comparison, but that’s not really surprising, as this thing measures so much worse than any Topping released in the last few years. In terms of the emotions though, it is yet again more captivating and pleasant to listen to. Because of its lack of that sparkle and absurd quantity of details you’ll find in the A30 Pro, it is yet again quite forgiving. Put on your Sennheiser HD650/HD6xx, plug them into the TA-26, and have fun, no matter what music you’re going to be listening to. This is the reason to buy this amplifier. What I also found is that the TA-26 is a brilliant amplifier to use with a turntable, as it’s slightly softening all these little cracks and noises, that would have been quite irritating with a well-measuring solid state amplifier. Trust me, I’ve done it and the TA-26 is actually standing on my analog rack right now, where it belongs.

The soundstage of the xDuoo TA-26 is pretty standard. It’s not the widest, not the deepest, and it doesn’t have the best imaging and separation in its price range. However, it feels natural and coherent enough to enjoy, giving you a good sense of space around your head.
Don’t expect anything spectacular, the TA-26 is definitely not about the best soundstage possible and it’s not the main dish here. I’m not saying it’s bad though, not at all. It is a good staging amplifier that does well with presenting you with a three-dimensional type of experience. This is actually a very good approach, as you want that sweet and soft sound to be near you, intimate and captivating.



I’ll keep this rather simple and straight to the point.
No, the TA-26 won’t drive your Susvara. It won’t unleash the full potential of your Final D8000 Pro as well. It is not supposed to though, it’s a $329 tube amplifier, it’s not made to do such things.
Pair it with the Sennheiser HD650 though, and you’re in for a treat. It does a brilliant job in making these headphones sing beautifully, and this is the sound that made the HD650 one of the best-selling hi-fi headphones in history. If you have any version of this legendary headphone, definitely get this amplifier, as you’re missing on what these babies can really do.
What really surprised me was how well does the TA-26 pair with the Audeze LCD-X 2021. It is a planar-magnetic headphone, which is not the best companion for an all-tube type of amplifier. Still, it doesn’t sound bloated, slow, and underpowered, definitely not. Actually, it sounds so good that this is THE setup when I’m listening to my turntable setup. It just sounds so romantic, rich, and quite detailed at the same time, that it makes that kind of listening very enjoyable. Not too accurate and detailed, but with lots of warmth and emotion.
As far as the source component goes, the TA-26 pairs well with many things. Just keep in mind that it definitely has its own character that will carry on with the sound no matter what. Don’t expect to plug it into a very detailed and bright-sounding DAC and get a solid state type of experience. It will soften it up and add that harmonic distortion, that’s just its trait. You’re either in for that, or this amplifier is simply not for you.



The xDuoo TA-26 is a pearl in the sea of all these well-measuring solid state amplifiers. No, it doesn’t sound as clean and detailed as most of the modern SS amplifiers, but it isn’t meant to. It is a very smooth, rich, and romantic type of experience that is either your goal or not. While it is not the best choice for the “one and only” amplifier for the beginning audiophile, it’s just a perfect buy for anybody that already has their state-of-the-art SS amplifier and feels like they need something more forgiving with its own soul. The TA-26 is a master of emotions, pair it carefully with a proper pair of headphones and you’ll be rewarded with a very captivating type of sound that’ll be hard not to love.


Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
  • Headphones – Hifiman Susvara, Final D8000 Pro, Audeze LCD-X 2021, Hifiman Deva, Hifiman Ananda, Hifiman HE1000se, Meze Elite, Sennheiser HD650
  • Sources– Topping D90se + A90, Ferrum OOR, EarMen Tradutto, Musician Aquarius, Musician Pegasus, JDSLabs Atom DAC+/AMP+, Cayin N3Pro, Pro-Ject Debut Carbon PRO + iFi Zen Phono, Topping A30 Pro

The xDuoo TA-26 was kindly provided to be reviewed by Apos Audio. All thoughts and opinions are my own, and this review wasn’t influenced by anybody.​

Nice enough review…..
did you do any comparison listen against any of the Woo offerings?
Did you do any actual side-by-side vs the DV?
Would be curious as to such comparison impressions.
What whould be better for TA 26 - Audeze LCD-2 or Monolith M1570 ??
Nice review, helped me made the decision whether to purchase one. Now I have one and I am wondering one thing and no one gave me an answer so far: does every TA-26 suffer from the transformer audibly humming? The amp itself is amazing, no buzzing, no hum from the tubes when not doing anything, but this transformer is driving me mad with its hum. Already contacted my seller and Xduoo and I hope they will send me a replacement.