XDuoo X3 DSD 24Bit / 192KHz CS4398 Chip Lossless Music Player

General Information

XDuoo X3 is a portable audiophile player packed at the seams with features, settings and file format support.
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Pros: Sound Quality: detail, transparency, air, separation; Build quality; Very portable; 2 micro SD slots; Good synergy; Solid firmware
Cons: Battery; Buttons layout; OLED screen is useless under the sun; Prone to scratches
REVIEW – Xduoo X3: An affordable entry HIFI Player

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Product page and specifications Xduoo X3



Price: ~$100; available from Gearbest

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Design & Interface:

The Xduoo X3 arrives in a simple hassle free box and just includes a USB-microUSB cable and a two screen films.

The X3 player itself is very well built. The whole body is made of thick aluminum, well assembled, smoothly finished and without any sharp ends. While the metal material is solid enough it is still prone to scratches, mostly on the back panel, so a carrying case is recommended.

The buttons are made of thick plastic, and each one has its own label. While the buttons layout is not the smartest among portable players it is still very intuitive for a Chinese one. Most of the controls are placed on the front panel: the Power (also used for screen off), Home/Back, Play/Pause/Accept, and Left and Right buttons which are used for Previous/Rewind and Next/Forward or Up and Down when navigating through menus. The small button in the middle brings up different options depending on the screen. On the right side the volume controls, and lock switch on the left side. At the bottom there’re the two 3.5mm outputs for headphone plugs and lineout, and the reset. And lastly the micro-USB port at the upper part. The X3 has not internal memory, but in exchange it features 2 micro SD slots, placed on the right side below the volume controls.

The screen is an OLED type (green/black) of 1.3” size. Nothing fancy and very simple, displaying just the needed info during playback. On menu screens it allows just 4 rows. At the main screen there 6 options than can be navigated with the left and right buttons: ‘Playing’, ‘All songs’, ‘CUE’, ‘Folder’, ‘Favorite’ and ‘Setting’. The Cue option is interesting as it list all the CUE files available, which I find very useful when playing a whole CD tracks together.
The screen brightness can be adjusted on the setting options, however it’s still useless under the sun; probably the main complain on the X3.

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Battery, Firmware:

The rated 8 hours seems accurate enough, but mainly when more sensitive earphones were used. Otherwise, the battery indicator drops much faster, regardless the 0 or +6db gain setup. Probably the weakest point on the X3 considering that other competitors can run for at least 12 hrs. or more.
The X3 I got runs on the last v1.1 firmware version, and it seems it hasn’t been updated since 2015. Anyway it is stable enough, no crashes so far and with a quick response. If anything, it may take a few seconds to start up.

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Volume, Power, Gain:

The volume steps go up to 100. The X3 can be setup to 2 gain modes, 0db and +6db. In terms of volume steps, the 0db gain asks for like 20 steps more to match the +6db gain. Even though, it’s not just for gaining some extra volume levels as with many headphones the +6db mode showed also a gain in terms of sheer power, forwardness and better dynamics. It can be more effortless and slightly more aggressive too. On the other hand, with various low impedance IEMs like the hybrids from Dunu, there were no real differences and personally I preferred the low gain option as the volume change is smoother/slower for those sensitive pairs.


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Sound impressions


The Xduoo X3 brings a very well balanced sound presentation, making it a good all-rounder portable player that shows a very nice synergy with any kind of headphones, from more warmer/bassier to more analytical, detail oriented ones. The main strength of the X3 lies in its transparent, accurate and clean sound. The uncolored signature doesn’t add more body or thickness to the bass, however, the control is great and easily noticed in the lower frequencies giving a tighter and more effortless bass response with better speed and accuracy.
The midrange tends to be slightly more forward, very clear with a more natural timbre. It brings better texture to vocals and backgrounds and higher separation to instruments. It makes a good match to some v-shaped earphones leveling up the overall balance and avoiding the extra attack from the upper bass region. There’s just a slight more forwardness at the upper midrange and lower treble that might result more aggressive, and in occasions accentuate some sibilance if the headphones or track allows. Apart from that, the treble is well controlled and less fatiguing but far from being laid-back. The presentation is spacious and well rounded, with a more 3D effect and well layered without having very large stage dimensions, and yet being very open and airy.



Line Out/Amplification:

The X3 has more than enough power for things up to 150ohm, like the VE Asura or PK1 earbuds, or the SM E80s in-ear (64ohm) and Senn HD25 (70ohm), driving them to a fairly good level without missing in dynamics or extension, and without showing any distortion at higher volumes. However, for the more demanding gears like the HD600/650 or Zen 2, the extra amplification is really recommended.
The transparency on the Xduoo X3 plays very well for any amplifier adding no color to the sound. Synergy results were very good with both Topping NX5 and also the Fireye HDB. However, as the Lineout is set to full volume, the battery drops much faster when using an amplifier, so not my best choice for on the go use.







Summary


Pros:
  • Sound Quality: detail, transparency, air, separation
  • Build quality
  • Very portable
  • 2 micro SD slots
  • Good synergy
  • Solid firmware



Cons:
  • Battery
  • Buttons layout
  • OLED screen is useless under the sun
  • Prone to scratches

Pros: entry level dap with a hifi sound
Cons: Screen, batt life, dust magnet
Xduuo x3
Credit to: brian ganchua for lending me his unit for the purpose of this review
 
Pros
Basic and straightforward menu
2 MMC slots
Clean sounding 
Black background 
Spacious soundstage
Detailed sound
Best dap in its price bracket, even beyond its asking price
Bold color and discreet looks
Line out
Lightweight
Desirable daily beater dap 
Cheapest ticket to introduce you to hifi
Simple UI that works
 
Cons
Old style led screen
Not colored, no coverart
Aluminum front and sides, but back and buttons is made of plastic.
The design of the facia is dust magnet
No music or library organizer
 
 
 
 
The Xduuo X3 is very popular as a budgetfi dap here in our country. One of the reason why FITEAR also manages to rebrand it for its company as their main choice.
 
It has a hint of pitch black background. It retains musicality without loosing details from being too thick on mids. The sound reminds me of the famous dac amp - MOJO. Less the push, less the micro details and midbass. They share similarities in warmth.
 
Ill start this review with the use of my TG334 by FITEAR as my reference iem.
 
The lows is detailed, fast and accurate but less the fun factor and midbass you hear from MOJO.  Never boomy nor loose no matter what genre. It compliments well with the rest of the frequency.
 
The midrange is articulate and open. This is the big picture in the signature. There is no feeling youre too close or too narrow.  moves freely to its space. Its lush and never thick. With the right amount of smoothness to like it easily. 
 
Treble part has a right amount of sparkle in it. To bring out life to instruments and vocals. Not extended though. Its like playing safe, to stay away from harshness. I can say its well controlled for fatigue free-long listening sessions.
 
My hunch is the tamed treble may be the culprit to some micro detail's veil.
 
The separation is excellent for its price. Soundstage is wide and spacious. Its one thing you will notice. But not too much 3d-like like the ADR. More spacious than that of AIGO's.  
 
There are times when im having a doubt if what im testing here is from an iem, that terribly good!
 
My only gripe, personally, is its push and attack. Its a little on the soft side. (Add the +6db option to remedy softness) It lacks that powerful amp section which is present in the AIGO 105. You will have to increase the volume to get the perfect push, that thing you enjoy in the music.
 
UPDATE:
I was informed by mr. bryan ganchua about this:
 
Theres a hidden option on the option button when playing back music, theres a +6db additional for the volume. I was trully became more impressed when i pushed play WHAT CAN I DO song by THE CORRS. I was blown away!  It brings out that lossed pushed and impact i wanted to hear. Those i felt lacking just pop out of thr blue. It felt like this one has been a new level of XDUOO i once reviewed in the previous days. 
 
Adding that +6db will give you more balanced treble and bass. It will increase impact, push and attack. That softness will diminish instantly.
 
Compared to my usb dac amp, ADR, the sound is less thicker but more cleaner, a more on micro details, same black background and more 3d. More open sounding, instruments shine on their own right. I can hear the ADR is more spacious than XDUOO. But thats not to say the XDUOO is bad, its really competitive as a good dap.
 
When i changed iem, from FITEAR to INEAR Stagediver SD2S, the signature compensates a little in the treble area. It gives more life than what ive experience in TG334. However, i still feel that softness in the attacks. (This softness is gone with the additional +6db option)
 
UI is straighforward and basic, not confusing to use like the AIGO 105, no delay in UI. Its polished and very easy to use.
 
No library organizer. You will have to browse by folder. No artists, songs, or album browsing.
 
Two MMC slots! Yay!
 
This is your cheapest ticket to HIFI. It will  provide you good sound, good build and useful, functioning UI. 
 
The Xduuo x3 is smooth, warm and clean sounding dap. 
 
I just wish they provided a more powerful amp for this so that the push and attack in music is more present and not softly presented. (Add +6db option to remedy the softness)
 
But aside from it, ill consider buying myself one. Its one of the best daps ive heard next to AUNE M2S. It may not be as organic and as natural to the level of AUNE M2S, but smoothness is similar to the MOJO's.
 
The FITEAR TG334 and XDUOO combo provided good synergy. Its like you can touch the music, its organic and natural at the same time, I loved the outcome. That good timbre! Ugh! 
 
The XDUOO has more PROS than CONS. It has proved to be a good instrument to enjoy your music better.
 
Excellent details without being too clinical, couple that with spacious soundstage and good lows. And paint it with the smoothness of midrange and behave treble, thats what the XDUUO X3 is capable and is all about.
 
What i experienced with the XDUOO is really something memorable, it is something to write about. I never thought such dap existed for its price. Id definitely recommed it to anyone, Audiophiles or Newbies alike. This kind of sig is what i personally prefer, its more worthy than its asking price. Its really a pleasure trying it, I really enjoyed my time with it.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mac90000
Mac90000
Rockbox transforms this device into a different machine. The sound is amazing after setting up Rockbox. Huge bass, clarity and volume.
 
There are no timing or playback issues using Rockbox. Upsamples Mp3 quality, this causes a delay, but it is worth the short wait.
You can turn off upsampling. Listened for hours on end. 
 
I thought my Sansa Fuze V2 was good, the Xduoo X3 reveals far more detail.
Mac90000
Mac90000
Forgot to mention that the stock firmware subdues the personality of this player.
F
FunkeXMix
I really like how different the sound is when you switch between Rockbox and Default firmware. For me the default one is better for my best headphones FLC8n. Rockbox is better for less good headphones due to more sound tweaking settings to get a better sound.
Extensions is lacking though in both firmwares, it's not handled with finesse even using the slow roll off filter. But this complaint is only in regards to very binural music like Ambient. It handles all other genres well except Ambient.
Pros: Rockbox; Feature-Rich; Sound-Quality; Value
Cons: Screen-Brightness; Battery; Small quirks
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About me:

My name is Noel aka. FUYU, I'm 19 years old and a avid lover for everything technical.
While everything subjective, I like to explain in more rational enclosure with graphs and technical prowess. I care about facts and facts only, meaning no fancy 300$ cables and value by price-to perfomance.

Preamble:

As you might know, I am always looking for the best bang for the buck. Until a while ago, my Smartphone (a Galaxy S3) was my daily driver for almost anything. Although, anything is relative in this case. I really only used it for making calls and listening to Music. Logically, I decided to invest into an DAP for some more flexibility. I was looking for a player which fulfilled following criteria:
1.: It must have decent modding capabilities. (Screen, Battery, UI)
2.: Battery should be atleast decent.
3.: It must take one or two hits to the ground.
4.: Reasonable Pricing.
Luckily, after just 5 minutes of search I found my unicorn. The XDuoo X3. A 100$ DAP with some of the best set of features in its class. Dual-Micro SD Slots, a OLED screen, 10 hour battery time, a great DAC unit. But obviously I was not entirely sold. I never buy into hype (*cough* ZhiYin QT5 *cough*), so I read the threads about some possible short-comings, which (to take it away) are quite a few.
However opting for the smaller brother X2 meant the lack of a second MicroSD-Slot and/or inferior sound-quality. All the other alternatives were around 50+$ more expensive, so I just took the leap and bought it off Aliexpress.

Enter XDuoo X3

Official Threads:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/782912/xduoo-x3-dsd-24bit-192khz-cs4398-chip-lossless-music-player
http://www.head-fi.org/t/803844/rockbox-xduoo-x3

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Specs:

Power: 1500MAH 3.7V lithium polymer battery.
Processor: the king is smart chip JZ4760B
Operating System: LINUX
DAC chip: Cirrus Logic CS4398
Amplifier chip: one per channel rail-to-rail high-efficiency amplifier chip

Card support: maximum support two 128G TF / Micro SD Cards

Output power: 250mW (32Ω load)
Line out Output level: 1.5Vrms

Supported Formats:

DSD: DSD64
APE: 24bit / 192khz
FLAC: 24bit / 192khz
WAV: 24bit / 192khz
APPLE Lossless: 24bit / 192khz
CUE
WMA, MP3, AAC, ALAC, OGG

Frequency response: 20Hz ~ 20KHz (± 0.5dB)
Gain: + 6dB
Distortion: 0.001% (1KHz)
SNR: 110dB
Adapter Headphone Impedance: 8Ω ~ 300Ω

Battery Life time:> 10H
Charging time: <2H
Volume: 105.5 * 45 * 14mm
Weight: 100g
Color: Black, Silver, Gold

Build and Accessories:

The X3 is build out of an aluminium casing from top to bottom. Although the buttons are made out of plastic, overall build quality is excellent. Due to the small form-factor of around 10cmx4.5cmx1.4cm it is small enough to not get in the way. Accounting for the weight of only 100g plus sturdy build makes it an great DAP for on the run or in the gym. However it does generate some heat when running or charging, albeit it is only a small increase without further implication for user or player.

I.O. is plenty. We got 9 buttons, which are all distinctive from each other and easy to identify. Pressing each button creates a decent clicking response, which in my 3 months of usage hasn't deteriorated.
Moving to the top of device shows a Micro-USB port. Standard affair. Moving to the bottom reveals a 3.5mm (1/8'') input and line-out. Another mandatory affair. On the left is the Locking Slide, which does click quite audible and is satisfying to use, but annoying for anyone else within a 3 meter radius. The right side rocks the volume buttons, the Micro-SD card slots and a reset pin in case the X3 needs a hard-reset. Overall a solid package and everything I need. Great.

Accessories are a bit on the low side, however. Included are only a USB-Cable, a rather disappointing screenprotector and a manual. Futhermore third-party accessories are almost non-existant. Besides a little leather-pouch (which looks terrible), nothing else has been released thus far. Disappointing but somewhat expected considering the price-point.

The biggest downfall in terms of Hardware is the Screen and the Battery. While the X3 uses a OLED display (Which turns off #000000/black pixels entirely, in theory saving battery), it is lackluster. I actually like the low resolution, as I don't care about Album art. HOWEVER, it uses a terrible front-panel which dims the screen too much. Even in moderate sunlight the screen becomes unreadable.
There are DIY solutions to this problem, but the bright blue does cause quite a bit of strain for your eyes (why is there no option for changing the screen-colour?). Another gripe is the disappointing battery-management. With a 300x240p screen and a 1500mA capacity, run-time is only around 6 1/2h with moderate screen-on time. A far cry from the advertised 10h. I feel that these two quirks are holding the X3 off quite a bit.

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User Interface:

(Note: I will only talk about Rockbox in this segment, as the default Firmware is quite frankly sub-par compared to Rockbox)

Installing Rockbox is fast and easy to do:

1) Download the bootloader (update-to-rockbox-xxx.zip) and rockbox system’s archives (rockbox-full-xxx.zip)

2) Rename update-to-rockbox-xxx.zip to update.zip and write to the root of the micro SD-card without unpacking.

3) Unpack rockbox-full-xxx.zip to the root of the micro SD-card. System folder .rockbox must be placed at the root of this memory card.
On Windows: (mSDCARD):/.rockbox
On Linux/Unix: /media/(mSDCARD)/.rockbox (Hidden files are disabled with some File-Manager; enable with CTRL-H)
Card must be formatted to FAT16 or FAT32 beforehand. Filesystems ExFAT, NTFS, EXT3/4 are not supported!

4) Install the SD-Card to the X3 slot number 1

5) Update your player. To do this, in the menu "Setting" select "Upgrade"

6) Profit

(One has to note that this is an unofficial port of Rockbox made by XVortex, hence there are some issues with stability)

After installing Rockbox you are greeted with a huge choice of options:


  • Files

    Your file-manager for the most part. You access the SD-Card Storage from the Files options. Also your Playlists are saved here.

  • Database

    Sorts your files via. flags. Has most relevant information displayed here.

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  • Resume Playback
  • Settings

    What I really enjoy about Rockbox is the extensive ability to customize your layout. Furthermore it has all relevant settings for altering sound-properties.

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  • Playlist Catalogue
  • Plugins
  • System
  • Shortcuts

Thanks to the extensive libary of themes, custom fonts and icons making the U.I. your own is almost a necessity. There is no wasted space, everything is readable and information is plenty. Key-Mapping is sadly not possible, but the layout and most options are only 2 clicks away. For instance while playing a track you can access all options via. long pressing the PLAY/PAUSE. Killing the track via. short-clicking POWER is useful, though you have to either wait for the screen to auto-dim or use the lock slider for deactivating the screen.

The biggest strengh of the Xduoo X3 is the overall fluidity and speed, in which you can navigate. There is almost no lag to speak of. Even little things like fast-forward and rewinding are smartly done, with longer holds accelerating the process and decelerating when you reach the start/end of the track. In case you don't like this extra convience, disabling such controls via. the .cfg file is always an option and encouraged. Rockbox is vast.

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Sound Impressions:

Drivability is quite good. As for someone who is exclusively using IEM, I have not encountered any issue with lacking volume. I have tested the X3 with my slightly modded T50rp and got moderately good results. It does sound under-powered, although volume is enough for most. What is more important to me is hiss, which often but not is somewhat apparant. Especially compared to the Soundaware M1Pro, hiss is notable when plugging in the earphone, although mostly disappears after music is playing. I recommend turning on High-Gain for all instances. Unless you want to drive something like a Hifiman HE-6 or similar, extra amping is not required.

Sound-Quality is certainly a improvement over my Phone. While the S3 is no slouch in terms of sound, the X3 does give my collection a certainly needed extra punch. There is not much coloration added with the X3. It sounds neutral, spacious and thanks to the extensive EQ settings of Rockbox can be tuned to your liking. While the aforementioned Soundaware M1Pro (750$) does add slightly more extra to the sound, difference is quite minimal. Maybe around 5%, which to me is almost negliable. Plus it leaves me with 650$ extra.

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Conclusion:

Overall, the X3 is quite amazing. It does have a vast array of options and while it has various quirks holding it down, it never really bothered me too much. I do believe that Rockbox is the X3s saving grace. Without it you might want to consider something else. However all small things aside, the Xduoo X3 is one of the best options in the 100$ DAP realm.
FUYU
FUYU
This is pretty much a dilemma. Either I take a good UI with disappointing battery or I take a lackluster UI with decent battery.
ashkoy
ashkoy
A review should reflect one's view over the device 'as it is'... unless tittled "Modified XYZ finally shines"...
FUYU
FUYU
"I do believe that Rockbox is the X3s saving grace"

I could adjust the rating to 3.5 stars, but I don't feel thats fair. Also I stated in my Preamble on what my primary concerns were. I based this review upon these four points.

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