XDuoo X20 - Reviews
Pros: Very solid build, great sound quality with near neutral signature, plenty of power, bi-directional bluetooth
Cons: no touch screen, no native streaming (requires phone), no LDAC or AAC support, not user serviceable.
disclaimer: The X20 was provided by Xduoo and Xtenik for the purpose of this review. I am a big fan of the X10Tii so seeing what Xduoo has done with the X20 which combines the components of the X10T with a headphone amplifier was certainly of interest to me when Steven offered the X20 for review. Many thanks to Xtenik for sending the unit for testing. To learn more about the X20, see Xduoo's website or Facebook Page. To purchase the X20, see Xtenik's website.



Unboxing / Packaging:

The X20 ships in an outer transport box with photo of the player on front and specs on reverse with a presentation box inside it. The outer box is fairly thin and tears easily while the inner packaging is much more robust. The inner box is a black lift-top style with a foam tray for the player, and all other items hidden underneath. The X20 ships with 3 screen protectors (1 installed and 2 spares), a soft leatheresque case, a charging cable, a 3.5mm male to male interconnect cable, a pack of rubber feet, and the warranty cards and manual. All you need to get going is a pair of headphones and a micro-sd card with your music on it.

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Build/Fit:

The X20 is all metal and glass and feels very solid in hand. The screen takes up roughly 2/3rds of the front with the remainder being anodized aluminum. The reverse is 3 pieces with a separate frame, top section, and main section. The upper section wraps from the back to the top with a single cutout for the USB-c port in it. The cutouts are precise with no slop and are tightly aligned to the ports they cover. Same goes for the bottom plate. The three ports in the lower plate are all tightly matched with no slop or play. Two small torx screws secure the bottom plate and are the only visible screws on the unit. Controls are down the sides of the player and are all metal buttons as well. Build quality is impressive and this is a player that should last well as long as reasonable care is taken.

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Internals:

At the heart of the X20 is the ESS9018K2m DAC chip which ESS classifies as a 2 channel mobile chip. This is a very popular chip in both portable and desktop application and has been used in the Topping Dx7, Oppo Ha-2, Daart Canary, etc. In portable application, the 9018K2m is often paired with the the ESS 9601 Headphone amplifier chip to complete the audio chain. In the case of the X20, Xduoo has instead decided to use the Texas Instruments Opa1612 chip to handle the amplification tasks. The Opa1612 is a bit more power hungry than the 9601 but has more impressive SNR and lower distortion. The combination provides decoding of PCM up to 32bit /384 kHz and DSD 64 and 128. There is no internal storage on the X20 instead a single Micro-SD card slot is provided and Xduoo lists it as compatible with cards up to and incuding 256gb. I used Sandisk and PNY 512gb cards as well as a 400gb Sandisk branded card without incident so the player is capable of reading at least some cards above the 256gb mentioned in the documentation. Several output options are provided with the X20 being capable of single ended (3.5 and line out port) or balanced (2.5 port) analog output, coaxial and usb digital output, and Bluetooth. The 3.5 single ended headphone output is rated at 210mW@32Ω while the balanced is listed at 300mW@32Ω. Line output is slightly below normal at 1.7V instead of the more typical 2.0V RMS.



Controls/UI:

Physical controls are fairly straight forward and are all buttons as the screen is not touch enabled. I prefer this as my large hands inevitably hit the wrong thing on small touch screens. Down the left side of the player, from top to bottom, we have the power button (in red) then volume+ and volume - buttons, a reset pinhole, and the micro-sd slot. Cards insert with the pins toward the front and printed face of the card toward the rear of the player. Down the right hand side, we have the options button, the back button, reverse/previous, Play/pause, and forward/next buttons. The leatherette case provided with the X20 is nice but does remove some of the tactile feel of the buttons and I think I prefer to use the player without the case for that reason.

Unlike a lot of DAPs on the current market, Xduoo has not gone the android route and instead uses a linux based operating system. The Operating system is definitely more minimalistic than a lot of it its current competitors, but offers snappy performance and is fairly easy to navigate once you've had a little time to familiarize yourself with it On the main screen, music is to the left, and options to the right. On the left, from top to bottom we have music browser (folders), then My Music (playlists), followed by Now Playing that is the full width of the bottom of the screen. On the right, from top to bottom, we are greeted with Music Settings, System Settings, and Bluetooth settings. Unlike the left that can be described in a couple words, the menu options on the right all open sub-menus that expand on the functionality. I'll attempt to hit the highlights of the UI here but recommend the X20 Users guide provided by Xduoo for a more complete reference to UI functions. Those familiar with other Xduoo players can likely skip this section as little is different from previous offerings.



Connectivity:

Coax/Line-out:

The X20 is quite versatile with options to use Analog line out, coaxial output, and usb output as well as Bluetooth. Starting with the Line out/Coaxial, the same port is used for both, but the port is not auto-sensing so must be configured in the Music Settings before use. Under music settings, the first option that must be looked at is the Output Selections option. If The selection shows the circle/arrow symbol, the port is in line-out mode. If the value shows SP it is set for Coaxial. When using the line out, a second option needs to be configured as well. Immediately below the Output Selections Option is the Line Out Volume option. When turned on, volume controls on the X20 are active and the line-out is variable. When turned off, the line-out is a fixed full volume output.


When in Coaxial mode, the line out volume option has no impact on output, but another setting comes into play. The DSD Output mode setting gives the option of DOP (DSD64 only) or D2P that allows DSD conversion of higher rate files to PCM for output.


USB:

USB is also an option for both input and output. Instead of Music Settings, this time we will need to go to System settings and then are presented with USB Mode. When configured for USB, this allows the player to operate as strictly a transport to another DAC and will allow direct export of DSD128 in DOP mode (Coax was limited to 64) and PCM up to 32/384.

In addition to use as a USB transport, the X20 can also read USB hard drives and memory sticks using a USB OTG cable to connect them. This allows external storage to be used beyond the single micro-sd card slot of the player itself. To use an external drive, Set the USB mode to USB and then go to the Music settings Menu and choose OTG to see your selections.

The other setting for USB is DAC mode. In this mode a USB-C cable from PC, Tablet, or Phone is needed and the X20 becomes a dac/amp connected to the other source. Windows does recognize the X20 but limits it to 16/48 unless you load the Xduoo driver. Once loaded, the X20 supports up to 32bit/384kHz in Windows 10.



Bluetooth:

Bluetooth follows the same model we have seen thus far with multiple configuration options available. The most commonly used will likely be configuring a Bluetooth headphone or earphone for use with the X20 as player. To do so, open the Bluetooth Settings, Turn on Bluetooth and then select Bluetooth Scanning to begin the pairing process. Once the name of the headphone is visible on screen, select it and choose connect. Enabling the High Quality Setting turns on AptX LL. Once paired, devices should automatically reconnect when in range. The X20 can store at least 8 different devices in memory based on my testing.


Another Bluetooth Option is to use the X20 as a bluetooth DAC to wired headphones. This allows you to stream from a tablet or phone and then use the X20 as a DAC/amp for wired headphones that are hard enough to drive they don't work well directly from a phone. It also allows you to preserve your phone battery. To use the X20 as a Bluetooth DAC, first turn it on and make sure HibyLink is disabled. Then on your phone or tablet scan for devices and pair with the X20. Since the Phone will be seen as a source device, the X20 will assume DAC/Amp mode without having to tell it anything additional.

The final option is HibyLink. This allows you to install the hiby app on your phone or tablet and then manage the X20 via your phone or tablet once setup. If you were using the X20 with an external USB hard drive and line-out to a stereo amplifier for a inexpensive room setup, Hiby Link would come in handy to control the X20 without having to pick it up each time to do so.



Battery Life:

The X20 sports a 2400 mAh battery that delivers roughly 7.5 hours of usable life (maybe a bit more if you listen at low volume using single ended output). This is respectable but not class leading battery life. Charge time will depend on the charger used but when paired with a charger capable of 2.1 A output, the X20 takes roughly 2 hours to fully charge from exhausted. If there is a Caveat here, it is that the battery is not user interchangeable as the X20 has no user serviceable parts and disassembly is a quite complicated process.



Sound Quality:

I found the X20 well extended on both ends with good speed of both attack and decay. This produced a very clean, detailed sound but not an entirely transparent one. The x20 does seem to have a very slight push to the upper-mids/lower-treble that pushes vocals to the front. The push is not enough to make female vocals harsh, but is not dead linear either. I like the lift, but others may not so know that it is there if only mildly. At the top end, treble is well extended but not pushed forward enough to become sibilant as I had not trouble with stridency or sibilance unless the track had it to start with. Stage is well shaped with good dimensions, although this is very tough to attribute to the dap. Perhaps the best way to say it is the X20 does nothing to take away from the stage and earphones present their full capability as a result. Overall the X20 comes off as near neutral and pairs well with all but the brightest of earphones as that slight upper-mid push can become a bit over-stated on extremely bright signatures.



Comparisons:

The x20 hovers around the 200USD price point which has gotten to be an extremely popular spot in the market. Recent releases at that price include the Hiby R3 Pro, Shanling M2x, Fiio M9, Hidizs AP200 and even the Activo CT10 has recently come down to within striking distance for 11.11 and black Friday sales (230 USD). So how does the X20 stack up?

One place the x20 wins is in durability. While others may show more finesse in their builds, the X20 retains a more industrial look and heavier gauge metal in the shell. Of the group, the X20 is the only one I can say without doubt will survive a fall (save it hitting precisely on the screen). All are roughly the same size and shape so no points to any of them to separate any one from the pack.

Another place the x20 out-does a lot of its competition is in output power with the single ended output of the x20 matching the balanced on the R3pro, and outclassing the M2x and M9 by nearly as big a margin and the AP200 by an even larger one. The Activo is much lower powered and doesn't offer balanced output.

The UI is quick and easy to navigate, but simple and lacks some functions compared to others as search by entered text is not an option as it is on the android based models. Some will find the UI on the X20 to be great as it handles the primary functions with a few clicks and can be used in pocket (without the case) as all functions are button based. Others will prefer the touch screen of the competitors as it makes navigation more rapid, but at the expense of having to have the player out of your pocket to do so.

Probably the biggest downside to the x20 is the lack of built in streaming. Admittedly, one can stream from a phone or tablet to the x20, but many of its competitors now offer this function without the need to tether to another device for wifi.



Thoughts / Conclusions:

The x20 is an interesting DAP that provides great sound for the price but lags behind what some others are offering at the price point. In many ways the x20 is a combination of the X10T and the X3ii circuitry into a single unit. The Single ended output specs are nearly identical to the X3ii while the USB output functionality is clearly borrowed from the X10Tii. The addition of hiby link and bi-directional Bluetooth is a plus, but the limit of 4.1 rather than 5.0 implementation means the X20 lacks AptX HD, LDAC, and AAC that some of its competitors offer as well. Some will lament the lack of touch screen while others (myself included) prefer physical buttons for use in pocket without needing line of sight to the player. The fact that hte case obscures those buttons is a disappointment as it was near impossible to tell by feel where reverse/play/forward were with the cover on. Without the cover, finding the proper button by feel is very simple. I think those looking for a dap to play their music collection who are not interested in streaming, the X20 represents very good value and may be the best option short of spending a good bit more on something like the DTR1. What it does, it does extremely well, it is just less of a Swiss army knife than some of its competitors.
Pros: + Build quality is excellen,t this is a tank
+ 2Way Bluetooth
+ Lots of driving power
+ Neutral to slightly cold sound that pairs well with warm headphones
Cons: - Physical buttons only may be a bit awkward at first
- Lack of Android and Streaming
- Battery Life similar to other DAPs in this price range, but could still be better.
RED Magic - xDuoo X20 DAP Review



xDuoo X20 is a Player created by xDuoo and sold by Xtenik, with the software designed by Hiby. It has no touch screen, and instead relies on physical buttons, but this has been something a lot of folks wanted, and it has Hiby Link and other awesome features that will make it quite the attractive option, priced at 250 USD. Like always, I'll be puttin it against other similarly priced, and this time even more expensive DAPs.




Introduction

xDuoo is a very reliable company from China, but they don't offer service directly, instead their products being sold and serviced by X-Tenik, one of the best shops to work with, when you need great support and a nice offering of products, all at good prices. xDuoo products are quite reliable in terms of build quality, they have good design, and usually good firmware, as they are programmed by Hiby, one of the strongest firmware providers from China. With XTenik, you're sure to have an awesome audio experience, along with good support.


It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with xDuoo or XTENIK, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by xDuoo or XTENIK or anyone else. I'd like to thank XTENIK for providing the sample for the review. The sample was provided along with XTENIK's request for an honest and unbiased review. This review reflects my personal experience with xDuoo X20. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in xDuoo X20 find their next music companion.



Product Link (no affiliate links)


https://www.xtenik.com/product/xduoo-x20-audio-player/



About me


https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/p/about.html



Packaging


First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:













It is nice to see a product that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, but which still comes in a beautiful package, and X20 surely delivers nicely, coming not only in a beautiful box, but also being accompanied by a large number of very handy accessories and extras.


Inside the package you can find the Player, a leather cover case, a USB Cable, and a Coaxial cable, for pairing X20 with an external DAC/AMP.

Considering the fact that X20 also has a Line Out, and both a Single Ended and a Balanced output, the package is quite awesome and surely is up to the price of X20.



What to look in when purchasing a midrange DAP


https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/p/what-to-lookl.html



Technical Specifications






Build Quality/Aesthetics/UI/Firmware

Starting with the build quality, you can totally tell that this is a solid device. Even more than that, this is a device made to last even a zombie apocalypse, there are no touch screen inputs, and the whole device is made of metal, and a bit heavy. All buttons for navigation and controlling X20 are found on the sides of the DAP, so you can pocket it quite safely without risking a button getting pressed by accident. There is a reset button, and a microSD slot on the left side of the DAP, with all of the navigation buttons being on the right side.

On the bottom, you can find a USB Type-C port, which I think it very awesome, as microUSB is becoming more and more rare, and even for a more affordable DAP, having Type-C is a bonus.








X20 sports some awesome features that work flawlessly, like the Two-Way Bluetooth connection, and the USB DAC feature, so you're surely going to find a lot of usage scenarios for this one, and I was able to use it with Hiby Link, making it a very powerful bluetooth receiver that I was able to simply pocket while using my smartphone to control it.

You can check my Youtube video for more details about X20 and how you can use it.

There are some things to consider though, and to be quite honest, it takes a while to get used to controlling it, as after having a touch-screen device, or many other touch screen based devices for so long, getting used to using only buttons can take a while, especially since they are all on the side. This being said, after taking it outside once, I got the hang of it, as the interface itself is quite intuitive, and pretty solid.

I experienced zero issues and zero crashes with X20, and I find it to be a very stable Player, Hiby having done their usually good job when designing the firmware for it. You even have gapless playback, which I know some of you wanted quite a lot with previous DAPs.



As far as the support for microSD cards goes, I used it successfully with a 256 GB MicroSD card, everything works flawlessly, the DAP itself is very snappy and quick, there are no lags and no issues when using it. When connecting X20 to a smartphone you can have the best of both worlds, you get both the amazing sound of X20, and the control of a smartphone, and I'm quite happy that now the entire Hiby Link / Hiby Remote is stable and reliable.

Overall, this is how a golden DAP looks and feels like at 250 USD, and it will be a sweet treat if you are looking for something full of features, but which doesn't rely on a touch screen to work.



Sound Quality


When it comes to the sound of X20, it is as amazing as the overall firmware and build quality is. The sound is very dynamic, a touch forward, but with excellent width to its soundstage, the depth of the soundstage is about average, and the thing that impressed me the most is that, like with the XD10 Poke, I feel that X20 is a touch cold.



If other reviewers found it to be a touch warm, I will respect them, and the tuning may be slightly different between the RED and the Black color of X20, I can only say that my unit in particular has a bit of a cold tinge to its sound, the treble is expressed really nicely, but the bass is very linear. This is quite evident if you come from a DAP that is smoother, like FiiO X5-3, or one that is warmer, like Shanling M2s. The overall speed of the sound is outstanding for this price point, and the overall clarity and detail are also very good. The sound tends to be a touch forward in general.

The bass is very linear, and also very quick, and I am impressed by the overall response of a DAP that is in this price range. The speed of the bass, and overall resolution is easily comparable to DAPs in the 400 USD price range, like the Opus #1s, although #1s is a touch warmer in general, where X20 is very neutral and precise with its sound. You can totally listen to technical death metal using X20 and have a very upbeat experience, especially if you like your music quick and impactful. The bass is sufficient to deliver impact and depth with hard to drive headphones, like HIFIMAN Sundara.

The midrange is very linear, clear and crisp, a touch forward at times, with a soundstage that is good in width and average in depth. The beauty of the treble is that the very linear nature means that you can very easily pair X20 with warmer headphones or warmer IEMs, like Brainwavz Alara, or Beyerdynamic Xelento, and you'll have a more balanced experience, since those can be quite warm and smooth usually. The resolution of X20 is quite outstanding and I'm able to enjoy complex music, and even large symphonies without feeling like I'm using a DAP that is only 250 USD.

The treble is sparkly, and very well extended, and this is quite welcome, especially when you come from something that is overly smooth, or when you're pairing it with headphones or IEMs that are overly smooth. Even with HIFIMAN Sundara, I am able to appreciate the fact that although the treble has very good extension and sparkle, it is never harsh nor grainy, which is rather rare for DAPs in this price range.


The overall sound has good to excellent dynamics, and the DAP doesn't feel like anything is holding it back. Even when using the Bluetooth connection to stream music from your smartphone, you are getting rather excellent results, and although using the bluetooth cuts a bit on the overall detail, it doesn't cut much on the dynamics of X20.



Portable Usage


I love the portability of X20. Something that I have to mention is that X20 is very portable. This is because it is extremely well built, it is a solid, one piece device, with a thick glass panel over its display, you can push, you can step on it, it won't break. You can throw X20 in a backpack, and use your smartphone to stream music to it, and you won't be bothered by X20.

The battery life of about 8 hours, which is pretty much what I got with it, is very fair, and in line with other DAPs in this price range.




The driving power of X20 is enough even for very demanding headphones, like HIFIMAN Sundara, so you aren't locked to using it only with IEMs, which is rather different from most 250 USD DAPs, which have less power, and are more aimed for a fully portable usage only with IEMs.

You get almost no hiss, or none that is significant enough for me to talk about, even with pretty sensitive IEMs, so you can safely use X20 with IEMs like Campfire Atlas if you want to, without having to worry that you'll run into issues.

Overall, this is a golden DAP in terms of portability, as long as you were looking for a DAP without a touch screen, although otherwise you can still use Hiby Link from your smartphone to control it.



Select Pairings

Since X20 is slightly cold and has a lot of driving power, you can pair with anything that is smooth or warm. You can always pair it with both headphones and IEMs, and you don't have to worry much about the power requirements of a headphone, as X20 has quite a lot of driving power. For the comparison part of this review, I have chosen Brainwavz Alara, Ultrasone Signature DXP, and Acoustune HS1650CU.

xDuoo X20 + Brainwavz Alara - I have chosen Brainwavz Alara because it is an awesome headphone, with great comfort, and a deep, powerful sound. The reason why it pairs so well with X20, is because X20 has both enough power to drive them well, but X20 also has a slightly colder signature, which pairs nicely and counters Alara's usually warm and smooth signature, leading to a more balanced and snappy overall sound. You get all the detail you could desire, but you also get a quicker, more punchy sound, that's still very deep and clean. You don't even need to max out the volume on X20 to drive Alara, and it still has enough headroom, indicating a very well designed amplification stage.


xDuoo X20 + Ultrasone Signature DXP - Ultrasone Signature DXP is another headphone that pairs beautifully with X20, and this is for a different reason than why Alara pairs with it so well. DXP is not quite as warm nor as smooth as Alara, but DXP really is a very detailed and resolving closed back headphone with quite a lot of bass. I love the pairing because the quick and linear bass of X20, and its more sparkly treble compliments the DXP's bass-heavy signature, leading to a more neutral overall sound, that's even more snappy than DXP originally was. Furthermore, DXP feels like it has taken steroids when it comes to its punchy and impact, and X20 gives it beautiful dynamics, making this pairing very engaging and fun to listen to.

xDuoo X20 + Acoustune HS1650CU - Acoustune HS1650CU is an excellent example of a beautiful IEM, that already had a very amazing and natural sound, but which pairs really well with X20. HS1650CU is very natural, very easy to drive, and very comfortable, but its sound always felt a bit on the slightly smooth and slightly warm side, and adding X20 to the mix speeds up HS1650CU, builds up on its already excellent resolution, and makes the pairing sound like HS1650CU is even more open and clear sounding than it is with most DAPs, making me fall in love even more with the little Japanese Jewel that HS1650CU is.



Comparisons

For the comparisons part of this review, I had to take into account both the price point of X20, which is a friendly 250 USD, but also the fact that it doesn't have a touch screen, so the main competitors for X20 are Opus #1s, FiiO M9, and iBasso DX120. All of those have a different feature set, and all of them are from slightly different price points, but they all make very interesting comparisons for X20.



xDuoo X20 vs Opus #1s - Let's start with something a bit more difficult, #1s is quite a bit more expensive than X20, and actually has a bit more driving power. #1s also has a touch screen, which X20 doesn't and #1s has two microSD slots, which X20 doesn't. On the other hand, X20 has a few interesting features, like its 2-way bluetooth, and X20 can be used with your smartphone, and be left in a backpack. When it comes to actually driving headphones, the two DAPs feel very similar in terms of driving power, although #1s has a bit more juice, unless you're using something like the Audeze LCD-MX4, you're unlikely to notice, and with something like Brainwavz Alara, you're not maxing out the volume on either anyways. The sound is quite different, the width of the soundstage feels similar between the two, and so does the depth. On the other hand, the overall sound is warmer on #1s, more quick on X20, and more snappy on X20. The treble is more sparkly on X20, and has a more airy feeling to it, although the midrange feels colder on X20 as well. This makes the pairings part interesting, because if you already have a warm and smooth IEM, or headphone, you're likely to want X20 more, while if you already have a colder and brighter headphone, #1s will compliment them more.


xDuoo X20 vs iBasso DX120 - DX120 from iBasso is close in terms of pricing to X20, but they are very different devices, with DX120 being a pretty basic DAP, but which sports a touch screen, while X20 has a few more features, but sports full physical buttons for its interface. Another thing you may notice is that DX120 is a bit more sleek and sexy in terms of its physical design, X20 looking more bulky. When it comes to their driving power, X20 has a bit more driving power than DX120, and with Sundara, you can go a bit louder with more control with X20. This being said, you're unlikely to want to max out on the headroom on either with something like Alara. The sound is quite different between the two, DX120 is more warm, more creamy, although it has a similar soundstage width and depth to X20. On the other hand, X20 feels colder, more analytical and a touch more revealing when directly compared to DX120. If you're sporting more warm and smooth IEMs or headphones, and if you want to make them more neutral, you should get X20, while if you are already happy with your headphones or IEMs, DX120 isn't especially warm, and it won't color them much in any direction, being a good pairing for almost any IEM or headphone, regardless whether they are warm or bright.

xDuoo X20 vs FiiO M9 - FiiO M9 is quite an interesting competitor because it is in the same price range, and features some interesting stuff as well, including support for apps like spotify and Tidal. M9 is even more interesting, because it has a touch screen, and it has a pretty good battery life, it also has USB DAC features, and has a USB Audio Output feature. The place where M9 falls short of X20 is in its actual audio output, M9 has considerably less driving power, and is mainly designed to drive IEMs, and X20, despite still having a slightly colder overall tonality when compared to M9, feels more powerful, more dynamic, and more detailed. This doesn't make M9 bad, but if you plan on using headphones, X20 is a better option, while M9 still makes one amazing DAP if you're using IEMs, especially when it comes to having access to a long list of apps, Wifi, Streaming, and other bells and whistles and even I find more and more useful lately. FiiO is also working on a FiiO Link feature, similar to Hiby Link, so M9 surely won't fall behind when it comes to its features, but when it comes to driving full sized headphones, X20 surely feels more punchy, more controlled and more dynamic, having a larger headroom.



Value and Conclusion


Now that the value part of this review is up, I think that the opinion is quite unanimous, X20 makes an excellent overall value, being not only feature-packed, but also having enough driving power, a solid build quality, and all the stuff you could desire from a DAP at this price point, even coming with a beautiful case. The only thing that could ever make you not desire one, is if you wanted an Android or a touch-screen based DAP, as X20 does not rely on an Android software, and it doesn't have a touch-screen either.





Strting with the build quality, X20 is one of the most solid DAPs you can find on the market at this point. This is inherent to the way it was designed, as it wasn't meant to be as slim or as small as possible, instead being a touch heavy and being made of metal, with a solid build. This being said, it still manages to be quite ergonomic, although going from a fully touch-screen based DAP to a button-based one can be a bit tricky at first. You do get used to using the buttons-only interface quickly though, and you have a lot of features to help you, like Hiby Link and being able to use a two-way Bluetooth module inside X20.

With enough driving power to drive even a very demanding headphone like HIFIMAN Sundara, and with almost zero hiss, X20 will surely pair nicely with pretty much anything you can throw at it, although it pairs best with warmer and smoother IEMs and headphones. This being said, it will be able to power those for almost 8 hours of continuous music playback, and even more, you will get this play time even at loud volumes and on high gain, which I think it quite important.

You have both a Balanced output, and a normal, 3.5mm Single Ended output on X20, and even more, you have a Line Out / Coaxial Output, so you can always pair X20 with an external Amplifier, or use it as a transport. Combined with the fact that you can use Hiby link with X20, this thing surely is like a swiss army knife.


Now, the sound, it is very good for its price point, very clear, crisp, sharp, and well defined. Although a touch cold, it is never dull nor harsh, and it is pretty much grain-free, instead being quite dynamic and punchy. Indeed, X20 can power enough punch even for hard-to-drive headphones, and its overall sound is fast, resolving and actually a bit better than the price point would have otherwise predicted.



At the end of the day, if you're looking for a very solid, very well built Player, that has a ton of features, and a very vivid and punchy sound, and which has only physical buttons and doesn't rely on a touch screen, you should totally consider xDuuo x20 as your next music companion.



Product Link (no affiliate links)


https://www.xtenik.com/product/xduoo-x20-audio-player/



Full Playlist used for this review


While we listened to considerably more songs than those named in this playlist, those are excellent for identifying certain aspects of the sound, like PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you're searching for new most, most of them being rather catchy.



Tidal Playlist


https://tidal.com/playlist/64555551-ec3c-4279-ae44-248fdfcf6c4b



Song List


Bats - Gamma Ray Burst: Second Date
Eskimo Callboy - Frances
Incubus - Summer Romance
Electric Six - Dager! High Voltage
Kishida Cult - High School Of The Dead
Dimmu Borgir - Dimmu Borgir
Breaking Benjamin - I Will Not Bow
Thousand Foot Krutch - The Flame In All Of Us
Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
Infected Mushroom - Song Pong
Attack Attack - Kissed A Girl
Doctor P - Bulletproof
Maximum The Hormone - Rock n Roll Chainsaw
Rob Zombie - Werewolf, Baby!
Escape The Fate - Gorgeous Nightmare
SOAD - Chop Suey
Ken Ashcorp - Absolute Territory
Machinae Supremacy - Need For Steve
Ozzy Osbourne - I Don't Wanna Stop
Crow'sclaw - Loudness War
Eminem - Rap God
Stromae - Humain À L'eau
Sonata Arctica - My Selene
Justin Timberlake - Sexy Back
Metallica - Fuel
Veil Of Maya - Unbreakable
Masa Works - Golden Japang
REOL - Luvoratorrrrry
Dope - Addiction
Korn - Word Up!
Papa Roach - ... To be Loved
Fever The Ghost - Source
Fall Out Boy - Immortals
Green Day - Know The Enemy
Mindless Self Indulgence - London Bridge
A static Lullaby - Toxic
Royal Republic - Addictive
Astronautalis - The River, The Woods
We Came As Romans - My Love
Skillet - What I Believe
Man With A Mission - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Yasuda Rei - Mirror
Mojo Juju - Must Be Desire
Falling Up - Falling In Love
Manafest - Retro Love
Rodrigo Y Grabriela - Paris
Zomboy - Lights Out
Muse - Resistance
T.A.T.U & Rammstein - Mosaku
Grey Daze - Anything, Anything
Katy Perry - Who Am I Living For
Maroon 5 - Lucky Strike
Machinae Supremacy - Killer Instinct
Pendulum - Propane Nightmares
Sirenia - Lithium And A Lover
Saving Abel - Addicted
Hollywood Undead - Levitate
The Offspring - Special Delivery
Escape The Fate - Smooth
Samsara Blues Experiment - One With The Universe
Dope - Rebel Yell
Crazy Town - Butterfly
Silverstein - My Heroine


I hope my review is helpful to you!

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Contact me!











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Pros: Detailed, Extension, Functionalities
Cons: Lack of Touch Screen
Introduction

Xduoo is a Chinese company that specializes in digital analogue converters (DACs), digital audio players (DAPs) and amplifiers. They have a lineup that consists of the X2, X3, X10 and X10T. Recently, they have released the Nano D3 and X20. The X20 is currently the flagship DAP from Xduoo. I would like to thank Xduoo and Penon for the review unit of X20. At the moment, you can purchase the X20 from https://penonaudio.com/xduoo-x20 .



Specifications

Headphone output: 3.5mm

  • Output power: 210mW (32Ω/THD +N<0.0015%)
  • Frequency response: 20Hz~20kHz (±0.15dB)
  • Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR): ≥114dB
  • Resolution: >75dB
  • Distortion + noise: 0.0015%@1kHz (32Ω@1kHz)
Balanced headphone output: 2.5mm

  • Line output: 300mW (32Ω/THD +N<0.0015%)
  • Frequency response: 20Hz~20kHz (±0.15dB)
  • Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR): ≥116dB
  • Resolution: >112dB
  • Distortion + noise: 0.0015%@1kHz (32Ω@1kHz)
Line out

  • Line output level: 1.7Vrms (10KΩ@1kHz)
  • Frequency response: 20Hz~20kHz(±0.15dB)
  • Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR): ≥114dB
  • Resolution: >108dB (10KΩ@1kHz)
  • Distortion + noise: 0.0012@1kHz (10KΩ)
Others

  • Built-in 2400mAh rechargeable lithium polymer battery
  • Battery life: 8 hours (3.5mm headphone output)
  • About 7 hours (balanced headphone output)
  • Charging time: < 3 hours (DC5V 2A)
  • < 6 hours (DC5V 500MA)
  • Size: 110*56*16.6mm
  • Weight: 138g
Unboxing & Accessories

The X20 comes in a black package inside a white protective box that sports the model name, image of the X20, brand name and some specifications. At the back of the box, there are product introduction, specifications and the package contents. The black package has the brand name printed on the front. After opening the package, there are the X20, screen protectors, user manual, USB Type C cable, warranty card and 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable.





DAP Build & Design

The X20 has a rectangular design and it is black in color. On the front, there are no buttons and the brand name is printed at the bottom right. At the top of the X20, there is the USB Type C charging port. At the left side, there are the switch on/off button in red color, volume up/down buttons (there is a dot on the volume up button), reset button and micro sd slot. At the right side, there are previous, play/pause, next buttons (there is a dot on the play/pause button), back and options buttons. At the bottom of the X20, there are line out / coaxial, 3.5mm standard headphone output jack and 2.5mm TRRS balanced headphone output jack. The back of the X20 shows the model name.













Functionalities

The Xduoo X20 has 10 sections of EQ and 18 kinds of sound effects and can be used as a standalone digital analogue converter (DAC). It supports line out and coaxial outputs. In addition, it utilizes bluetooth 4.1 bi-directional transmission that supports the latest Apt-X bluetooth protocol. With the HiBy link, the X20 can be controlled through the mobile phone and there is convenience of wireless.



Sound Analysis

Lows

The X20 has a moderate amount of sub-bass quantity with excellent extension. The sub-bass reproduction has a strong tightness and demonstrates an authority in its control. The bass decay is quick with agility shown. The speed improves the overall bass impact. In addition, the bass texture is expressed smoothly. Each bass note is articulated with a good combination of speed and precision. The punch elevates the engagement level of the sound. The mid-bass has a moderate amount of body and it is able to deliver its slam in an agile manner. The bass definition is clear and refined.

Mids

The midrange on the X20 has excellent details retrieval and it commands a high standard of transparency. The body does not have the quantity for a thick and lush midrange. Instead, it is presented in a clean manner. The lower mids has a moderate amount of quantity which can tackle male vocals well and the presentation is good without sounding dry or hollow. The upper mids on the X20 has nice forwardness that helps to enhance the female vocals performance with a higher level of intimacy and they do not come across as shouty. The liveliness creates an energetic listen with a crystal-clear expression.

Highs

The treble has fantastic extension without sibilance and harshness. The approach the treble operates on is slightly brighter. It presents itself in a lively manner while being competent at exhibiting its flair for details. The amount of air rendered is great and there is sparkle present to inject excitement into the overall sound. The definition on the treble is presented clearly and it has a moderate amount of body. There is good clarity shown and the crisp gives a nice bite.

Soundstage

The soundstage expands in a natural manner and it has a good width magnitude that is able to give an open feeling. The spaciousness helps to tackle busier tracks without any congestion happening. The depth offers an effective amount of space but still maintains intimacy. Positioning of vocals and instruments is precise and there is good separation. The soundstage presents itself in an immense manner.



Comparisons

Xduoo X20 vs Cowon Plenue D

The X20 has more sub-bass quantity than the Plenue D and the sub-bass reproduction takes on a fuller approach. The extension on the X20 has a greater magnitude. The X20 is able to create an impactful presentation which delivers a great punch. Each bass note on the X20 is articulated with extra precision and definition. The bass texture on both is rendered smoothly while the bass decay is slightly quicker on the X20 and improves the overall pace and engagement level. The mid-bass on both has similar body but the slam of the X20 is expressed with a cleaner hit. The Plenue D has additional warmth which aids in the musicality. The midrange of the X20 is slightly more transparent than the Plenue D and the details retrieval is quite similar. The lower mids on both has similar body and presentation of male vocals is nice without sounding dry. The upper mids on both has good forwardness but Plenue D has the edge in the control to portray a smooth female vocals presentation. The X20 presents vocals with extra clarity. The treble on the X20 is extended slightly better and it is competent at details retrieval. The amount of air rendered on both is similar but there is more crisp and sparkle with the X20. The Plenue D takes on a smoother approach. Lastly, in terms of soundstage, the Plenue D expands more naturally while X20 has a slight edge for the width magnitude. The depth of the Plenue D is more closed in.


Xduoo X20 vs Shanling M2S


The M2S has more sub-bass quantity than the X20 but the X20 excels in its extension with a deeper stretch. The sub-bass reproduction on the X20 has a strong tightness and the control helps to showcase its authority. The M2S carries additional warmth. The mid-bass of the M2S has slightly more quantity than the X20 which helps to give a weighted feeling. The bass texture on the M2S is smoother while the bass decay of the X20 is quicker and presentation takes on an agile nature. Each bass note on the X20 is articulated with a stronger and cleaner hit. There is nice musicality offered from the M2S Precision for both is rather similar. The lower mids on the M2S has slightly more body and male vocals benefit from it with a fuller presentation. The upper mids on the M2S has greater forwardness which helps to boost female vocals and giving it a clear defined expression. The midrange on the X20 commands a higher level of transparency and clarity while the M2S operates on a warm and full approach. The X20 is slightly brighter with better definition. The treble on the X20 is more extended with a greater amount of air rendered. There is an airier presentation on the X20. In terms of soundstage, the M2S expands in a more natural manner and has a closed in depth. The X20 excels with a greater width magnitude.


Xduoo X20 vs Xduoo X10

The X10 has slightly more sub-bass quantity than the X20 and the X20 extends better. The bass texture on the X10 is rendered more smoothly than then X20 while the X20 excels in its bass decay with agility. There is more punch from the X20 which provides a stronger impact. The mid-bass on the X10 has extra body and the delivery of the slam is not as tight as the X20. Each bass note on the X20 is articulated with accuracy. Bass performance on the X20 has a higher engagement level. The midrange of the X20 commands better details retrieval and it is more transparent. On the other hand, X10 has more body. The lower mids of the X10 has more quantity than the X20 and it accentuates the thickness. The upper mids on the X20 has a bit extra forwardness which helps to liven up female vocals. The treble on the X20 is extended better than the X10 with crisp and sparkle present. The amount of air rendered on the X20 is slightly more while X10 has additional body. X20 is able to express it in a cleaner manner. In terms of soundstage, the X10 expands in a natural manner. The X20 has an advantage for both the width and depth.

Conclusion

The X20 has a detailed yet clean sound which is able to deliver punchy bass, transparent midrange and extended treble. There is nice crisp and sparkle to inject excitement into the sound. Moreover, with bluetooth 4.1 bi-directional transmission and the HiBy link, there is an added convenience. There is a solid construction of its housing. The X20 is Xduoo’s latest flagship player and it excels in a spectacular manner.



For more reviews, visit https://audio123blog.wordpress.com/ .
Pros: Excellent linear sound, incredible clarity and details, clean fowards mids, no sibilance or agressive sharpness, good imaging, LOT of features, great construction, good battery, USB DAC, great value, very portable, no UI issue
Cons: Impossible to change battery, lot of butons and options that can be confusing at begining
XDUOO X20 REVIEW:

SOUND: 9/10
CONSTRUCTION: 8.5/10
UI: 8/10
VALUE: 9/10

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INTRO:


Today DAP world is an hypertrophied one, especially in chinese brand where competition is ferocious and new models came out near every month. Brand like Fiio, Shanling, Ibasso or Hifiman create at least one new models every year and Xduoo is no exception to that, especially since the end of 2017 where they lauch two new model, one entry level call the D3 and one mid level call the X20, wich I follow the release with great attention and will review today.

The Xduoo X20 is the more serious DAP created by this company, as much for his sound than for his numerous features that include Bi-directional Bluetooth, USB or OTG DAC, Hiby Link and 2.5mm Balanced output. This time Xduoo go ambitious and deliver a mature product that even if not android based feel like an All-in one device that have lot of versatility for different audio need. With all the today hifi music players offering, this type of DAP for 240$ make the X20 very competitive to say the least, and all that using a faultless DAC chip from Sabre, the well known ESS9018K2M : an audio decoder respected among audiophile for its clear, detailed sound rendering with completly black background noise.

To say i’m a Xduoo fan is an understatement, but it do not mean i’m a groupie either, because in fact I respect this company because I have high attempt and hope about there tremendous potential. As a owner (and collector) of all there DAP since the very first one Xduoo X1, I can say this company evolve greatly from there begining, and even if they still have a cult following for there greatest player, the Xduoo X3, the X20 is a big upgrade and feel the very first high end DAP even if the X10 was the first attempt in this league.

Let’s see what the X20 have to offer and if it’s really a phenomenal value as its low price suggest for such a multi tasks quality audio device.


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INFO & SPECS :


Xduoo X20 ESS9018 DSD256 Portable Lossless Music Player with Balanced Output &Wireless Control

Description

Professional DAC chip, High reduction, high resolution, large sound stage

The professional DAC ESS9018 K2M chip is used to make the music signal highly reducible and high resolution. The sound stage is broader, enjoying the extraordinary experience brought by the well tuning, and feeling the true sound of the master tape quality music.

Dual oscillator , Accurate signal transmission ,Delicate tone

The independent double active ultra-low phase noise crystal oscillator is set as the clock source, and the jitter is reduced. Let music signal more accurate, do not appear signal distortions caused by timbre deviation.

Native DSD256, PCM384kHz/32bit,The full support of the mainstream music format

Native DSD256, IOS & DFF & DSF format, maximum support DSD256, let enjoying the beautiful music into the golden age, feel the original and most true recording. Support the mainstream audio format, no longer waste precious time for the music format transformation.

APE, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, ALAC, AAC, MP3, OGG, WMA

Design of reference level analog circuit

The benchmark level electronic components

Full balanced output, powerful to drive all kinds of earplugs

The 4-way LPF circuit, 6-way amp circuit, 4 balanced output, 2 single ended output, each drive current maximum output of 140MA greatly increase the output power, high quality music playback, broader soundstage, more accurate positioning, more details, more delicate sound, music is rich and colorful, natural and true.

Seek outstanding performance, regardless of the cost

With the widely praised super low distortion, ultra low noise OPA1612 benchmark operational amplifier chip, the atmosphere and details of the music are presented as real as the presence of the concert hall.

Effective reduction of distortion and back ground noise

In order to make the low noise and noise is not in the power supply circuit with high power conversion circuit, converted into power after the increase of LDO +/- low pressure to optimize the power regulator, to separate decoding chip, low-pass filter, amp power supply, further reducing the output distortion and noise so that the background music is more pure.

Bi-directional, Bluetooth transmission

Bluetooth digital turntable and Bluetooth DAC

Bluetooth 4.1 Bi-directional transmission, support the latest Apt-X Bluetooth protocol, can be used as a source of Bluetooth emission nondestructive digital signal connected with the Bluetooth headset, connect with car audio speakers and tuned to digital turntable, can also be used as a mobile phone’s Bluetooth broadcast DAC, meet lossless audio transmission quest, good sound follows you everywhere.

Hiby Link, save the annoyance of “taking out all the time”

There’s only one cell phone in your hand

Open the Hiby Link function, and X20 will be decoking Hiby through Bluetooth, you can control X20 through mobile phone to play songs, browse songs, adjust volume, search songs, file management and other functions, the realization of wireless connection without taking out the player to complete all operations, enjoy the convenience of wireless.

Bluetooth digital turntable

Car play mode, driving with more fun

The car play mode, by connecting with the car audio, enables X20 to follow the start of the car to start, play the music and follow the car to shut down automatically, so that your cat can also be HIFI, like a walking concert hall, enjoying the good music at any time.

Both lines and coaxial, support DOP and D2P

X20 also supports LO line output function and coaxial output function, taking into account the external amp amplifier only supports PCM decoding or signal but does not support DSD decoding, DOP and D2P two support in the design, the external expansion is compatible with no pressure.

Bi-directional USB & Type-C

Player but also DAC

The USB interface is no longer as a single use of data transmission or charging port, connected to the computer can be used as an external USB DAC decoding amp, let the computer turn into a large capacity HIGI player, even if the trip, travel can still enjoy the wonderful music.

USB: Connect with computer as a USB DAC, and the highest support for PCM 32bit/384kHz asynchronous decoding and DSD256 decoding.

Support USB OTG to read and play U disk music files;

Support USB AUDIO output functions, support DOP, D2P output, and connect with a decoder as a digital turntable.

10 sections of EQ and 18 kinds of sound effects, feel the charm of different sound effects

Choose your own sound effect based on your own preferences

In addition to the common set of regular sound effects, in addition to 10 custom EQ for your careful adjustment, ten sections of professional equalizer is used for bringing more melodious voice, so as to alleviate the lack of response on the earphone, make the music more balanced, signer’s voice is no longer covered by the background music.

Aeronautical aluminum CNC processing

From vision to touching, whole new griping experience

Using precision CNC processing, forming while body in one piece, using sand blasting technology on the surface, both texture and hand feel, The weight us moderate, the good grip and the good look shows a perfect, the good grip and the good look shows a perfect definition of the fashion and technology.

Specification

Headphone output: 3.5mm

Output power: 210mW (32Ω/THD +N<0.0015%)

Frequency response: 20Hz~20kHz (±0.15dB)

Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR): ≥114dB

Resolution: >75dB

Distortion + noise: 0.0015%@1kHz (32Ω@1kHz)

Balanced headphone output: 2.5mm

Line output: 300mW (32Ω/THD +N<0.0015%)

Frequency response: 20Hz~20kHz (±0.15dB)

Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR): ≥116dB

Resolution: >112dB

Distortion + noise: 0.0015%@1kHz (32Ω@1kHz)

Line out

Line output level: 1.7Vrms (10KΩ@1kHz)

Frequency response: 20Hz~20kHz(±0.15dB)

Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR): ≥114dB

Resolution: >108dB (10KΩ@1kHz)

Distortion + noise: 0.0012@1kHz (10KΩ)

Other parameters

Built-in 2400mAh rechargeable lithium polymer battery

Battery life: 8 hours (3.5mm headphone output)

About 7 hours (balanced headphone output)

Charging time: < 3 hours (DC5V 2A)

< 6 hours (DC5V 500MA)

Size: 110*56*16.6mm

Weight: 138g

Package

Xduoo X20



CONSTRUCTION, DESIGN & ACCESSORIES :

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Unboxing was quite a pleasant experience because once you open the nice black box your in for some little surprise. This time you do not just have a DAP and USB cable, but a very beautifull and practical leather protective case of great quality as well as a AUX cable of real high quality too, better in fact that 2 I already own and cost 10$ each. The leather case as seen in pictures is a really nice plus that I wish more DAP company will offer, because being obligate to buy one can be costy or bordersome, other DAP I own that include protective case was Ibasso DX90 and Fiio X3, but both was quite ugly being made of silicone, even if they do the job it wasn’t esthetic like it is with the X20.

As well, little details, with new Xduoo products the protective screen is already install, wich I find a relieve as i’m quite clumsy with this.

One thing to note is that the USB cable is type C, wich mean you can connect it in both sens so it facilitate blind connection to the device, its good and practical but as it’s the only one cable of this type that I own I already feel nervous to lost it, comparatively to plenty of extra microUSB cable I own.

OTG cable is for Iphone, so it would have been nice to have a OTG converter for Android device as well, but its not a big deal as you can easily find one for little money.

All in all, in term of accessories included it’s the more generous package I have from all 15 DAP I try ranging from 20$ to 400$.

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Now the construction. I’ve never been disapointed by Xduoo products construction as they always put great effort in this aspect, all there DAP without any exception have a solid metal body that feel very reassuring for consumer that look for durable music player. The X20 have a sober design made of black allumnium in one piece, it have some weight that promise solidity but isn’t heavy at all and its suprisingly small too for all the butons and features it have. The screen take must space of front panel that do not have any butons on it, all of them being at both side : 5 at the right and 3 at the left. Butons being very small it can be a little touchy to press them trough your pocket and it take me more time to get use to it. At the begining I was even pressing the screen instinctively because interface was looking quite intuitive for that, but nope, its not a touch screen, but even if I know it I think it would have done a great interface and permit to have less butons. Design of side butons help to diminush accidental pressing, but not when you try to change tracks of turn the volume. At the right side it have too one micro SD slot, and yeah, two would have been better but using a 128G card I’m not really obsess by number of slots. Finally, all audio connection but USB is at the down buttom of device : double Line out-coaxial, SE audio out and 2.5mm true balanced out.

One little detail, cause i’m quite perfectionist, is that the reset hole at left side isn’t accessible with protective case, and it isn’t an easy job to take of the X20 from this case, wich is good, but I just tell that if anybody have to use the reset buton so he will be prepare for a little adrenaline rush. (never have to use it anyway!)

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Last details that i’m obsess about (and don’t undestand other people aren’t) is to know if, like with the all other Xduoo DAP, the battery is easily changeable and just need a electro screwdriver to open the device fastly. Well, I was thinking it will be the case as it just have 2 screws like the X10, unfortunately it did not open the body like I was thinking and even if I try to take off the upper USB cover, I became nervous about breaking something so I stop and couldn’t open properly. This is a drawback to me, but perhaps it will change if I can know how to open it. For me this is an important factor to be able to replace the battery by ourself once its dead, like I will do in no long with my X3, as there no battery that will survive more than 2 years and i’m not the kind to send a DAP for repair and even less to throw it in garbage like our light headed consumerist society want, I’m anachronistical but stubborn about this long durability DIY philosophy, and wish more people will think this way so ecological impact of our way of living will be less irresponsable. But well, even DAP that sell for 700 or 1000 or 4000$ don’t give a damn about this life span aspect, so, I guess I should not blame Xduoo for a one time error, because unlike my Faudio FA1, there some screw to begin the opening.



INTERFACE & FEATURES :

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So, how can you make interface ultra intuitive with that much features in a DAP? You cannot without the help of a touchscreen is my honnest answer, wich explain why I try to press it intuitively on this 6 options rectangle on menu screen. But don’t take me wrong, with not in a UI disaster here, because you will not have the need to change between Bluetooth features as well as DAP output every 5 minutes. Still there ALOT of option, including gain output and lineout output type to choose in music setting, wich can be a little confusing at first to say the least.

First thing to know its : if you hold back buton it will always take you to interface Menu, secondly if you press Option buton from interface menu it will open Music setting, these two menu shortcuts are very important to navigate fastly.

Now, the features : there alot of them. Especially in term of bluetooth connectivity and different sound source option like OTG DAC for phone or USB for computer, as if it wasn’t enough there the very usefull Hiby link too.

Bluetooth work well, it connect fast and sound good with the portable bluetooth device I use as well as my BT speakers, signal is stable but will not go more than about 10 meter and like with any other BT source I use, it will not pass trough wall and obstacle so yeah, BT have it’s limit I guess, for Hiby link tough, this isn’t a problem as the connected audio source still is the X20. In open space, BT is really practical and I tend to use it quite more often than with my smarthphone.

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Hiby link is quite a nice feature, especially for people that plan to connect the X20 to their sound system. Having all our music on display on a touchscreen and choosing track to play on another DAP source give a new freedom to the user and I must say I became fastly addict to this new way of using my speakers because the pairing with ESS9018k2m dac of X20 is just delicious.

To connect the X20 with your phone, you just need to download Hiby music player app and use setting to open both hiby link connection.

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2.5mm BALANCED OUTPUT vs PHONE OUT :

As I have 2 pair of Zhiyin Z5000, I compare both using Balanced out and Phone out. Firstly, I can confirm there real sound improvment, especially in clarity and articulation of sound, with some music like Pop or electronic it is barely bearable, for me the revelation happen with Helene Grimaud solo piano album, because Z5000 aren’t the best for piano (I was thinking) as the note was not tigh and feel bloated with decay, now using the balanced cable note have a great precise impact and a more natural decay, it really is a big improvment. In term of volume, strangely you gain 1 or 2db but not much, its more about sound pressure, as if music was push with greater precision and separation, just slightly. Soundstage expend a little as well and background became even more black, especially with IEM that tend to have background hiss. All in all, sound improvment is perhaps small, and it will surely depend of IEM you use, but some audiophile are ready to pay lot of money for little sound improvment and here I confirm that Balanced Out isn’t snake oil.

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Line OUT-Coaxial OUT:

Line out is very clean and volume is block to maximum output, depending of amp you use it will expend soundstage and change soundsignature, I tend to use amping with more than 60ohm headphones.

USB DAC :

This work like a charm and as it use Xmos usb converter it really is an excellent DAC. I like the fact you can use volume control as well as balanced out for the DAC, and it write the audio rate on the player as well. I think one or 2 times I encounter click in the background, but it was exceptional and not like first version of Ibasso DX90 window DAC that always do it. Sound is the same than when used as a DAP.


OVERALL SOUND IMPRESSIONS :

The Xduoo X20 have a very balanced sound, making one of the most neutral DAP I‘ve ever heard, it’s neither bass centric or mid centric, and feel very linear even if it have sharp mids and highs. I would decribe the sound as clear and organic, detailed but never harsh, with excellent dynamic extension but not a very airy sound presentation. It sound fowards and energic but never grainy or trebly, soundstage is wide but deepness is average, imaging is excellent even if the instrument do not feel extremely thick or impactfull. This DAP take full advantage of your IEM and will not color the sound, so you can change soundsignature easily, a bassy IEM will still sound bassy but more controlled, while an analytical one will be extremely resolved but not harsh or cold sounding. For me, it’s the perfect all-arounder in term of compatibility and audiophile trustability, perhaps some DAP are more entertaining sounding but to the cost of being picky about pairing. Bass is punchy but can go deep to, mids are a little fowards but more because of an extra clarity in this FR, highs have more brilliance than brightness and is the sharper frequencies as it should be.

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DAP COMPARAISONS :

XDUOO X20 (240$) VS IBASSO DX90 (360$) :

Begining with construction, both offer a sturdy black alluminium body and weight about the same, DX90 being a little lighter. DX90 is larger but less tall than X20, both fit easily in a pocket and are very portable, I prefer the butons design of DX90 because it have 3 butons at the front that can be press trough the pocket to pause or change track without being prompt to undesired pressing, with the X20, butons are all at right and left side and it can be confusing to blindly change track because butons are small and you can easily press wrong one. For audio out, X20 and DX90 have both line out and coaxial out but the X20 have a balanced out as well, wich is a big plus. DX90 have a touch screen that is usefull for fast navigation, wich I find the X20 lacking because of his numerous features.

Battery life is about 6-8H with DX90 while its 8-10H with X20, but DX90 have a swapping back cover and changeable battery, wich make him win for autonomy if you have 2 batteries or more, this is an exceptional concept that unfortunately no other DAP ever use so X20 isn’t an exception, that’s all. About DAC, but use the same Sabre ES9018k2m, but DX90 have 2 of them, one for each channel, while chanel are independtly separate by amping section for the X20.

BASS :

Both have a similarly clear bass presentation with great transparency and extension, but DX90 have a little more body and impact in sub region as well as it move more air around it. X20 is a little tigher tough and feel more linear with rest of audio spectrum, while DX90 mix with transparence over mid and highs. Kick have slightly more impact and body than X20 as well, due to a little better layering, but X20 is more textured and neutral sounding. X20 have a faster tigher presentation, while DX90 have a larger more airier presentation that stole a little clarity because of a different layering type wich have more deepness but more air to move too.

MIDS :

Another time, very similar, but I feel here the X20 have vocal presentation a little more fowards, were DX90 have a little extra warmth in low-mid wich give more body to male vocal but can feel inapropriate for some female signers. As well, higher mids have more sibilance with DX90, wich can make hissing some signer. Where the DX90 stand appart is in term of instrument separation, wich make the mid more separated from other instrumental, this surely is a proof that dual DAC can achieve better imaging than single one, but what its strange is that X20 do not feel congested or lacking air, and its brilliance is more musical and permissive than DX90 that can be shrilling or too sharp in upper mids. X20 is organic sounding and present the sound in a fowards manner, where the DX90 feel more colored and a mix of warmed bass and peaky mids and highs.

HIGHS :

Both this DAP are very detailed and will easily show you details of music you perhaps never hear, X20 show it on a linear presentation while DX90 is more a curved W soundsignature wich permit to have more air between Frequencies range. X20 have great brillance and highs sparkle that rarely or never create any sibilant, it feel more a part of whole music while DX90 highs can feel more clinical or artificial depending of pairing. As the X20 sound more neutral, it give a more realistic sound that benifit overall resolution to deliver a very agile musicality that DX90 present in a more colored way were the bass and very textured mids and highs interfer with each other with more imprevisibility than the X20.

All in all, I feel Xduoo X20 is a more accurate and balanced DAP, with perhaps a smaller soundstage but overall more trustable sound presentation that give him more versatility for pairing, but not more airy presence or fun factor. DX90 have more dynamic punch and bass impact, but it can be problematic sometime, as well, amping of DX90 is a little higher but the gain switch can create distortion with time.



X20 VS Faudio FA1 (240$) :

Now, this is two very different world here, in all aspect really, begining with the DAC chip used wich is the flagship AK4497EQ for the FA1. For the construction X20 win everywhere, it’s smaller, lighter, have better construction for butons and better resolution for screen, have real line out and real balanced out where the FA1 is a 2in1 line out and a TRRS 3.5mm balanced out. Butons feel clunky with FA1 and smooth with X20, as well, it reall is more a portable player than the FA1. Battery life is about the same, but it take more time to charge the FA1. About features, another time, all win for the X20, because FA1 feel very anemic in this department, he do not have any gain mode but at least have a workable EQ, but its 5 bands where the X20 have an excellent 10 bands EQ. As well, X20 have dual transmission Bluetooth and Hiby Link, where the FA1 have a remote control that can be as usefull (but less versatile) for playing music on a soundsystem. X20 have gain for DSD, FA1 have none. But, FA1 have 32G internal memory, wich isn’t a small plus because X20 have zero of it, so we really pay for that and the incredible flagship DAC, but this DAC have some issues like you will see.

SOUND :

BASS always been quite spectacular with AK DAC, even the AK4490 have an emphasize on bass thicness, roundness and extension, the AK4497EQ push this bass enthusiasm even further in resolution and overall rendering, making it just so enthrilling that the X20 bass feel very thin compared to it and I say that even if I use the Hifiman RE-2000 with both. Bass of X20 is very tigh and do not stole the show of other instrument, with the FA1 whole sound feel more beefier and impactfull, but to the cost of lacking some air and feeling music is saturated with chunky sound, where the X20 feel perhaps more lighter and laid back but in a good easy going way. With the FA1 your in front of the stage and the subwoofer is dangerously near you, while with X20 your not in the crownd but above it and you hear bass extension without having to deal with the heavy soundwave it push. Sometime, bass with FA1 can feel overly grainy, and it lack transparency compared to X20.

MIDS this time are quite similar, with a little extra details on the FA1 but the problem with FA1 is that it can have background click noise wich for solo vocal will ruin enjoyment, so, wathever how good the resolution is, when it occur I prefer the trustability of Xduoo X20 in term of black background. X20 do a great job with a little push in mids that give them extra presence and have more transparency and better clearer decay than FA1 wich is a shame because potential for near perfection is incredible with the FA1. Layering is better with FA1, but very different too, it feel more digital than the X20 and this is surely due to over sampling of AK4497EQ dac that crave for ultimate sound info to the cost of stoling some naturalness. So, X20 is perhaps more laidback in term of texture and details, but it never sound incorrect like it can happen with FA1.

HIGHS are extremely extended with the FA1, but lack some sparkle compared to the X20, details and microdetails are show without any wow effect with the FA1, they are exposed as if it was normal, wich it isn’t at all. With the X20, clarity is so clean that details are more dynamic and impactfull, perhaps they have less deepness, but soundstage feel wider and imaging is more articulate too. Highs have more decay too with X20, wich make them more realist.

Another time, even if I adore the FA1, I find the device have too much imperfection to be a better choice than X20, and even if a little more powerfull for amping, the overall sound is more mature and articulate with the X20. FA1 feel like a prototype while Xduoo X20 feel like a serious finish product.



X20 VS Xduoo X10 (130$) :

Both this DAP offer great construction, but the X10 have a fragile scrolling well that do not have a very usefull purpose. They are about same weight, both have no internal memory, but only the X10 have 2 microSD slot. Battery is about 6-8H for X10 and 8-10H for X20. In term of features, X10 have a gain switch and that’s about it, no EQ or Bluetooth like the X20. Overall interface is more intuitive with the X20 even if it is not the final words in term of UI. Scrolling wheel of X10 is just cumbersome and I try to use it the less possible. In term of DAC, the X10 use the AK4490, wich isn’t similar to the AK4497EQ of Faudio FA1, more warm and analog sounding that the ultra digital AK4497EQ.

SOUND :

BASS of X20 is tigher and better rounded, it have more impact and texture, the X10 bass is light and have a sub emphasize that make it warmer and less well articulate. X20 feel punchy and fast while X10 feel sometime too slow and uncontroled, but not in a disastrous manner, its just overall more smooth.

MIDS have a little more presence with X10, but they are less detailed and can hide the highs because of a lack of transparency. I consider the X10 as mid centric, wich is very usefull for V shaped IEM even if the sub can be too much, so another time the X10 is more pairing dependant than versatile and well balanced X20. X20 have more resolution than X10 at every level, and do not lack in vocal presence wich are fowards but not invasive, they stay in the middle without yealing for attention, violin, piano and guitar all sound more natural and realist on X20 and have better separation. Vocal are never drown and are ultra clear and will sound good with any IEM, while the X10 will surely sound too mid centric with mid centric IEM. You have more texture, details and control with the X20, the X10 have just a little more body and wider but less deep soundstage.

HIGHS are a little roll off with the X10, wich isn’t the case fo X20 that have a more extended dynamic range. You have more micro details, brilliance and highs sparkle with X20 and it never feel sibilant or too harsh, wich is very impressive. X10 highs are mroe about micro details push, but not in a linear full resolute manner, as well, layering is more about a frontal presentation than a deep one, with the X20 you can dig for details, with the X10 you have an entertaining presentation that feel very colored and flowing from one ears to another in a wider soundstage, but it feel more superficial too.

Yep, X20 is from another league in term of sound perfomance, its like comparing a TOTL Ipod with Wolfson DAC against a serious audiophile DAP, while X10 sure is entertaining it’s just not as serious and revealing as the X20….but hey, we pay double of price for this and I think it was the goal of Xduoo to make a big upgrade from X10!

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SOME PAIRING :


With CAMPFIRE AUDIO POLARIS :

Instrument separation is just phenomenal and big Polaris soundstage help to give more deepness to X20 sound, as well, the bass don’t feel too invasive like with Ibasso DX90, it is ultra tigh and accurate. High of Polaris can feel sharp sometime but less so with the X20 because of a sweet brilliance that do not feel too peaky. Vocal are very clear too, but not expended alot, still, I feel this pairing is extremely accurate and exciting.


With TAKSTAR PRO82 :

The Takstar being quite a neutral Headphone it pair with the X20 like a monitor headphone, it became ultra resolved and linear, with extreme clarity and very good instrument separation. Strangely, the vocal became more present as if the extra clarity help them to shine more, so it underline the fact that X20 have a little push fowards in mid region that really complet the neutral-U shape soundsignature of PRO82. With other DAP I lower volume cause this headphone feel a little too bright, but not with the X20, it have a very dynamic and fast sound with extreme details and clarity help to give more air to PRO82 soundstage without making sibilant.

With HIFIMAN RE-800 :

Listening classical or signer with Re800 and X20 is a real joy cause of the intimate presentation of this IEM and great details and clarity of X20 that do not make any background hissing and keep treble at a smooth level. RE-800 do less good with complex electronic, and will sound better with instrumental, folk or jazz, it feel a little bass weak in mid low region, but have good clean sub extension and body. Separation and soundstage is improve with X20 because of great clarity without a sharpness that could have make too bright the RE-800. For jazz and classical this is near end game pairing really.


With HIFIMAN RE-2000 :

Yes, there you go : supreme all-arounder JOY! Soundstage is just immense and 3D like with the X20 and instrument separation is ultra clear and sparkly with spot on positioning. As the Re-2000 have a beefy bass presentation it really improve X20 linear soundsignature to give it more musicality and warmth, this time any music style will sound excellent as if the topology driver W soundsignature extract all the best of the DAC potential and give extra separation and air. Vocal that feel sometime just a little recessed with other DAP like FA1 or DX90 became very present and textured, full bodied and immersive. For the highs, that are pushed in mid high region, details became more analytical, sometime a little sharp but never to the point of being too trebly, this is miracle pairing here and I must admit it perhaps confirm the theory that you need to invest more in IEM or headphone than DAP….and the X20 is very a great value for having a trustable audio source that will not color your earphones but make give them all they need to sound the best of their potential.


With Zhiyin Z5000 :


The Z5000 are my favorite sub 50$ budget chifi iem, it have a very addictive syrupy and organic U shaped soundsignature with incredible soundstage and bass impact that do not bloat mids as well as sparkly high with fowards microdetails, saying they pair well with the X20 is an understatement. The fact it have a big sub bass really help to give dynamic punch into a clear soundstage, that even if a little warm, have excellent imaging and very good details retrieval. The mids with the X20 gain more texture and clarity and became more fowards wich even if still bassy, make the Z5000 more calibrate in term of overall musicalit. With the DX90 the bass can be near boomy, but not with X20, it is tigher and very thick, but win in transparency because the mids are more fowards. It still is a warmish IEM, but a very detailed and energic one.


With KZ ZS6 :


My attempt was low about this pairing and finally i’m overwhelmed about how ZS6 and X20 sound good togheter. Don’t really know what happen, as it’s still an agressive soundsignature but in a less sharp way, the soundstage and layering is so clean and full of details that it became near too much info for the ears, even if yes, some recording still sounded too textured and fowards, with neutrality of X20 it became way more musical and you can enjoy a 3d panoramic sound presentation that really take full benifit of 4 drivers the ZS6 have. Thick punchy bass of ZS6 give lot of energy to sound and mid bass emphasise give more air to overall sound, wich would have not been possible with too much sub. With the DX90, the ZS6 wasn’t even possible to use, but the X20 do magic to ZS6, healing its splashiness with cymbals and taming sibilance with vocal, but not completly its bright towards dry sound signature, even if the organic liquid sound of X20 really help to give a musical shoot to ultra analytical ZS6 soundsignature. Now, I can enjoy ZS6, wich I wasn’t thinking it would be possible at all.

CONCLUSION:

In all honesty this is by far the best DAP from Xduoo company and it stand appart not just in term of numerous features but sound perfection too. Only serious drawback is about the non changeable battery. Here, Xduoo surpass themself in term of sound rendering, using full potential of their sabre DAC to deliver a masterclass in term of audiophile neutrality that even if very linear, feel as a reference DAP for all type of earphones or headphones. The small size make it ultra portable, still, it can have enough power to amp properly 64ohm headphones on the go, as well, it have gapless and an incredible 10 bands EQ. The balanced output is ultra clean and very usefull. It's really hard to beleive there that much features without any bugs issue, but it is, and the battery life for once feel humble with 8H statement as I can have more than this and I listen to high volume all the time. I think more than ever Xduoo company became serious and are ready to go in higher class in term of DAP market, this little X20 is a great value for people that search a DAP that will not color there IEM but push there soundsignature potential to the best. I was a fan of Xduoo company, now i'm a believer and will follow closely all new DAP they will produce.

EDIT: The Xduoo X20 can be found at lowest price here (225$ with code: GBCE). This is not affiliated link or wathever, just sharing where to find X20 at lowest price:
https://www.gearbest.com/mp3-mp4-players/pp_1631890.html

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jithu215
jithu215
I ordered fa1 and macaw gt600s after i saw your review of both.but now i am wondering if i made a wrong choice with fa1.Is fa1 a downgrade comparing to x20 purely based on sound quality?
Matpar
Matpar
Hi, just a quick question: is the USB-C to Coax implemented also on this DAP, like it is on the X10? tnx
S
Sjpeackel
How did u manage to open it after removing the 2screws .slide it or bent it!?
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