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

Average User Rating:
4.3125/5,
  1. Zelda
    4.0/5,
    "Xduoo X3 - An affordable entry HIFI Player"
    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

    Raketen and B9Scrambler like this.
  2. pinoyman
    4.5/5,
    "XDUOO x3. cheap but hifi "
    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.
     
     
     
     
     
     
  3. FUYU
    3.5/5,
    "Time to Rock! - The XDuoo X3"
    Pros - Rockbox; Feature-Rich; Sound-Quality; Value
    Cons - Screen-Brightness; Battery; Small quirks


    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




    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.









    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.



    • 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.







    • 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.



    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.



    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.
    B9Scrambler and Light - Man like this.
  4. David Thomson
    4.0/5,
    "Sturdy and superb sound quality"
    Pros - Sound Quality and Capacity
    Cons - Random Play Facilities very poor, display far too dim
    I've owned this for about 6 months when I bought it direct from China. As a 68 year old it took me back to a time when I used to go to live concerts. But there were hidden costs involved. Firstly the 200gbyte micro sd cards (yes it does take this size, not only 128 gbytes) and then I felt compelled to upgrade my Sony XBA H1's to Sony XBA H3's at a cost of £250. It's so worth it, easily mastering everything from opera to rock music with a freshness, open soundstage and clarity with no element of distortion - unless it was present in the original recordings - Sorry Rolling Stones but the recording quality of much of your music was absolute crap.
     
    I have now got 6,000 radio plays at 128 mp3 stereo standard on one card and my complete collection of 250+ CDs twice at 320 stereo mp3s on the other. Why twice, because I really do like random play, and the XDUOO 3 is really bad at this, so I re-recorded all my music a second time, separating them into 14 different files which I then feed into the random play facilities.Even now it can play the same track twice in the same listening session - the random play facility is really bad.
     
    The second bad feature is that the display - OLED apparently. It is so dim I have to set up the play facilities in a dark corner before I go out, it just isn't realistic to make any changes in daylight - cloudy or not. In truth the control keys could also be far better.
     
    Despite these moans I still whole-heartedly would recommend this product, based on its excellent sound reproduction, but this isn't the one to go to if the playback facilities are important to you.
     
    I'm now hoping for, and trying to find a firmware upgrade which will address at least some of the issues.
    taffy2207 likes this.
  5. Nymphonomaniac
    5.0/5,
    "An INCREDIBLE DAP for the price. Must HAVE!"
    Pros - Excellent sound, clean and precise, good instruments separation, Warm and inviting sounding, 2 microSD slot, metal construction, VERY small, LINE OUT
    Cons - Battery life if you listen at high volume like me, microsd can be hard to insert, body is easy to scratch
    Xduoo X3 review :





    After two months of daily use, the Xduoo X3 give me already enough pleasure to make me want to share my enthusiast impressions about him to headfiers around the world. This player is a little miracle at his price and permit to new comer in hifi world to enjoy audiophile quality at a very accessible price. It is a revolution in itself as no other music player in this price category have this type of DAC chip that the X3 hide in his sleek body : the famous Cirrus Logic CS4938. Being able to install this chip and OPA1612 and LMH6643 amps in a device that small is a tour de force from Xduoo, and most important of all : making it sound really good. Since the first day I use this DAP i'm constantly blown away by it's excellent sound, I say this as an happy owner of Ibasso Dx90 and Dx80 (that have same DAC chips as X3). Simply put, this music player have a sound quality of 250-500$ range DAP and can be compare to them without feeling inferiority complexe. I'm not hysterical when i'm writing this, just plain objective about SOUND quality wich is what I focus in my reviews for ranking.




    CONSTRUCTION & DESIGN :

    This DAP is smaller than what I think wich is very impressive for the power it deliver. It is about the same size than the Sony NWE music player series, but thicker, with a beautifull all metal construction and the weight that come with it (when I made research for the Sony DAP I was laughing out loud about bad sound reviews as the price of this cheap DAP are 10$ less than the X3). The construction is admirable, the brushed metal body is very solid and you feel you have a quality product in your hand, something precious and promising. Screen is very little tough and the information can be hard to read in big sunlight. One thing to know about the metal cosntruction is that even if it's solid, it is easy to scratch and for now, it is hard to find an appropriate protective case as the one they sold let expose the scrachable surface. Perhaps the black version isn't as easily scrachable than the uncolored version but i'm not sure, so if you are an esthetic freak you will became paranoid with this device. Anyway, as i'm all about sound and life durability, this did not really bother me, I try to protect the X3 as I could but after one week it was already full of little scratch. On the right side fo X3 body you have 2 microSD slot, on the left the Lock switch and at the low side you have one Headphone out and one (precious) Line out, both look of excellent quality. About the MicroSD slot, first time I receive it I was thinking it was defective because I wasn't able to stick it in the player. Don't panic and take a big breathe : you need a really little tool or very long nail to be able to install it correctly because it most go DEEP in the X3 body (I use a pencil tip for this).









    FIRMWARE :
    I'm not very critical about firmware, if it does well his job and don,t crash or interfer with sound quality I will not complaint. The X3 have a rather minimalist navigation menu based on folders, it is not the more user friendly firmware and can be annoying when you want to go back to the main folder because it will sometime go back to the main menu when you press back button. Anyway, you can install ROCKBOX for better firmware, but be aware it do not support SACD. I did not have sound problem or serious crash with this firmware so my impression is neutral (i'm use to chinese firmware). You don't have equalizer with X3, but have 2 DAC sound filter (Sharp, Slow roll off) and 2 gain mode (0db or 6db extra amping). All in all, the UI is easy to understand and okay for me.


    Specifications


    1. SoC: Ingenic JZ4760B
    2. DAC: Cirrus Logic CS4398
    3. Amplifiers: 2 x OPA1612 + LMH6643
    4. Output power: 250 mW @ 32Ω
    5. Line out level: 1,5 VRMS
    6. Frequency range: 20 Hz ~ 20 kHz (±0.5 dB)
    7. Total harmonic distortion + noise: 0,002%
    8. The ratio signal/noise ratio: 112 dB
    9. Recommended load impedance: 8Ω – 150Ω
    10. Support for lossless formats: APE, FLAC, AIFF, WAV, ALAC
    11. Supported resolutions: up to 24 bit, 192 KHz
    12. Support lossy formats: MP3, OGG, ACC, WMA
    13. DSD support: DFF format (DSF promised later)
    14. Built-in memory: no
    15. External storage: 2 x MicroSD up to 128 GB
    16. Battery: 3.7 V, 1500 mAh
    17. Working time on single charge: about 8 hours
    18. Charging time: <2 hours (charger for 2)
    19. Screen: the 1.3″, OLED
    20. Dimensions: 105,5 mm × 45 mm × 14 mm
    21. Weight: 100 g

    Earphones : LZ-02A, Superlux HD381, Letv Reverse, Tennmak Dulcimer, Westone custom ES2
    Headphones : Koss Portapro, Grado Sr325i, Edifier HD815
    DAP for comparaisons : Ibasso Dx80 (same CS4398 DACx2), Ibasso Dx90 (ESS Sabre 9018 DAC) and ONN X5 HiRes player (50$ DAP comparable to Fiio X1)



    Xduoo X3 is a winner all the way, it's very difficul to be objectively critical with him because of his price that do not reflect the sound quality we can have out of his marvellous Cyrus DAC. When I compare it to the Ibasso Dx80, I feel both have the same sound signature and if you compare their sound from their line out you will be hard to find any difference. It perform especially well with bright earphones because the overall soundsignature of the DAC section is on warm side with a little roll of in the highs.The first major difference is the amping, Dx80 have a 3600 mAh while the X3 have a 1500mAh, the fact that the Dx80 have more than 2 time the power output make him more appropriate for 32Ohm to 150 Ohm headphones comparatively to the X3 that give the best with 16Ohm earphones, it give more weight to bass and air to soundstage and instruments separation, wich make you think X3 is veiled when it's not. Use the right earphones and miracles WILL happen, some easy to drive headphones can sound good with it too, like the Koss Portapro but with the Grado Sr325i it's another story, yes, it will drive them enough to enjoy music at high volume if you use High gain but it will not sound right and will feel anemic in his normaly wide soundsignature. But X3 engineer think about this and include a very usefull and trustable Line out with the player, wich can give you endless soundsignature possibilies, for me, Line out is having 2 DAP instead of one and expense the value of his usability. Really, this player have everything to became a CULT device!

    LOWS :
    The X3 dig deep in the lows but with some more demanding earphones or headphones it will need an external amp to make the best out of his hifi DAC. Bass is vast and kind of airy, sub bass is a little push fowards wich make it sound a little less clear and detailed than the Ibasso DX90 bass, it have good impact too and decay but is far from being overly colored like the Ipod or Sony bass. We feel it more than the Dx90 and have a fuller, more round and musical sound instead of a seriously analytical one. The bass is as foward as the mediums frequencies wich can interfer with instruments separation clarity sometime. This little bass hump help bass shy earphones like the LZ-02A to sound more energic and fuller and really show what they are capable of. Without external amp the X3 lows can struggle to dig deeper, but it only happen if the earphones have low sound pressure or big amping needing. However X3 have plenty of power for average earphones and can drive pretty well 32Ohm headphones too.

    MIDS :
    The medium frequencies are more foward than with the Ibasso Dx90. We got the same sounsignature that the Ibasso Dx80 with a little less air between instruments and impact in bass region (DX80 have 2 Cirrus DAC). We never struggle to find the vocal with X3, wathever earphones you use, they are warm and present and in the front seat, bass can beautifully embrace them depending of the music, the dynamic and cleanesss is incredible for this price. Comparatively to the DX90 mids are less analytical and cold sounding, more musical and forgiving. No harsh peak with it, just liquid, organic feel, it flow with the music effortlessly. You got plenty of details too, but this is not ultra textured sound, more a easy listening type of sound that do not cause fatigue and is very inviting for repeated listening session. The earphones you use will modify for the best or the worst this soundsignature, with V shaped like the Tennmak Dulcimer it will help to render a more fuller sound by giving them more mids.

    HIGHS :
    Yes we got LOT of details with the Xduoo X3 but it isn't an analytical or artificial sounding DAP at all. The highs are smooth as well as the treble. Perhaps I will have love more teeth and sparkle to the treble, but as we never have to struggle to find details in music I get to really enjoy this natural sounding presentation. I can close my eyes and get drown in music with this player, it do not keep me on alert like a cat that can hear up to 65Khz frequencies. The music flow, instruments take their place in sound space beautifully, micro details are still here but not pushed in front, cymbals decay in the air naturally without never sounding too harsh. The miracle with this player is to be able to produce the perfect All-arounder Hifi sound.

    CONCLUSION & Further impressions :



    It isn't easy to write about specific frequencies range of a DAP as the earphones you use will have a big impact on the soundsignature. What I can say is that the Xduoo X3 sound extremelly good and will even please somebody demanding that own 500$ DAP or an Hifi Homesystem. Myself I have own and heard 10 different Dap ranging from 20 to 500$, I prefer the Xduoo over the Fiio X3, ONN X5 and even the Fiio X5 (from what I remember). Sometime I prefer it to the Ibasso DX90 even if it stay as my favorite DAP for revealing listening. If I try to search for cons I will say the Battery life will not last long with High gain if you listen like me at high volume (or use hard to drive earphones that need more volume), myself I rarely have more than 6 hours of playing time. The UI isn't very intuitive but do the job and is stable. Micro SD are fastly read and I never encounter problem with my 2 64g card that I do not format. About MicroSd, inserting it is another problem, this isn't the type of player you can change card on the go as it need or (extremly) long nail or a little object to push it right (I was thinking my Xduoo was defect first day I receive it because of this). Metal body is prompt to scratch without a protective case.

    I conclude that this is the best Hifi player you can get for 100$ right now, NOTHING can beat it and you must go in the 500$ range or even more to benifit a better sound and amping capacity. As we can't have ultra portability and a BIG battery, I advice to buy this player if you want to use it ONLY with earphones and use a portable external amp for headphone of over 32 Ohm, tough their some exception if your headphones have high sound pressure. If you plan to use it with you headphones collection without any amping I think you will be deceive and think it sound shallow, wich isn't the case at all. For me, Xduoo X3 is a game changer that open door to anybody that want to take a step in audiophile world, if this player existed 5 years ago, I will be more rich right now and wouldn't have spent this much money to find the perfect players by making numberous mistakes (Colorfly C3, Fiio X3, Hifiman 600).

    XDUOO X3 is a MUST BUY for ANY music lover in need of an all-in one portable solution or second ultra-portable DAP.
    Can't be more enthusiast about a music player than this!!!!
    Dsnuts, BloodyPenguin and B9Scrambler like this.
  6. MandoBear
    4.5/5,
    "A real revelation in sound quality - incredible value at this price-point."
    Pros - Superb sound quality - detailed stereo imaging, great realism and a really believable presentation of the music. Incredibly engrossing to listen to.
    Cons - A few rough edges on the user interface, and a playback pitch error of about 0.8% slow on 44.1kHz files whch you may or may not be able to hear.
    A little about me...
    I'm 52 and live in the UK. I've been into audio since my teens. I built my first stereo amp when I was 16, and I know one end of a soldering iron from the other, and mostly I remember to pick it up at the end the lead comes out of... My last project was upgrading the capacitors and resistors in my Quad 33 pre-amp. I usde to play the cello but gave it up when I was about 15. I missed the feel and sound of playing an instrument, and so taught myself to play the mandolin when I was 18 and supposedly studying for my exams. Music has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. Playing an instrument helps remind me what real, live instruments can sound like, and what the experience of music is about.
     
    My musical tastes are eclectic, from classical (Bach on period instruments, Tallis and Victoria renaissance choral, Vaughan Williams and Holst full orchestral) through all kinds of folk and rock (Dylan, Robert Plant, Nick Cave, Richard Hawley, Jackie Leven) and out the other end to dance and techno and wold-beats (Daft Punk, Orbital, Afro Celt Sound System). For me, good audio equipment is all about it getting out of the way and letting me listen to the music.
     
    My purchase of the xDuoo X3 wasn't really one of those planned things... No really, it wasn't...
    I'd been having a conversation with a workmate about his aging iPod Classic - he'd been asking me whether he'd be able to port all his AAC iTunes files and playlists to another (non-Apple) device, and I'd said "Sure, but I'll check around for you..." and so I started investigating DAPs on the net, for him, of course... Fatal!
     
    Before long, I'd discovered that there was a whole world of DAPs out there – many with intriguing-sounding Chinese names, and some for very reasonable prices. As a long-term Sony Hi-MD user (and therefore dependent on the continued operation of the legacy SonicStage software on my PC – still works under Win-10) I'd been considering alternative portable listening sources, but never been prompted to actually look before. I soon discovered that the xDuoo X3 was generating quite a bit of interest, offering sound quality well above what you might expect for the price. There were some good deals out there from some of the Chinese sellers - I bought mine from TomTop – and it arrived within a week.
     
    Packaging is nice and simple – a printed cardboard sleve outer box with an illustration of the player and a description on the reverse. Inside this is a strong, black board box with xDuoo printed in silver on the front. The player was inside this, held by die-cut foam, along with instructions in English and Chinese, a decent micro-USB cable, and a couple of screen protectors. The battery was partially charged – as all decent Li-ion batteries should be.
     
    I already had a range of MP3 and WMA files (at various bit-rates) on my PC, but given the twin micro-SD slots on the X3 with a total capacity of (nominally) 256GB, I'd already decided to rip a lot of music to FLAC using Exact Audio Copy. Once I'd loaded up a 4GB card with all my lossy format files, and put a load of FLAC files onto a 64GB card, I was ready to roll...
     
    Well almost... The screen protectors on the X3 have come in for a bit of criticism, and I think I know why. I put one on, and it really didn't want to stick too well, but I noticed that the "outer" face felt a bit tacky – lightbulb moment – the numbered tabs on the protective peel-off sheets had been applied wrongly. I carefully removed the screen protector and rinsed it under the tap, and then replaced it the "wrong" way round – and it has stayed stuck pretty well. OK, perhaps one of those little quirks of a slightly un-developed product. More on that later.
     
    Apoligies for any dust in the photos - the black finish shows up every little bit...

     
    Headphone and line-out sockets are very solid, and lettering is crisp and clean.

     
     
    I did also have a couple of instances of the X3 locking up – turned out it was due to a particular micro-SD card it didn't like. It has not locked up since – in about a month of pretty intensive use.
     
    I plugged in my headphones (Musical Fidelity EB33 – were what I had on me at the time), and, wow – the headphone socket was very stiff, but solid feeling. It's still quite stiff, but feels just as solid as on day one. I switched on the player (long press on the power button), qucikly navigated to a folder (album) selected a track, and pressed the large round PLAY button...
     
    ...a BIG smile crept across my face... this was good, this was very good... The sound quality was easily as good as my Sony MZ-RH1 which, until then, had been my "gold standard" of listening quality – a device which I've had for some years and I know and really enjoy its sound quality. I could instantly tell that the xDuoo was right up there. Pretty good for something which had only cost me a shade over 50 quid...
     
    I've since spent well over 50 hours listening to all kinds of music on the xDuoo, and it continues to impress. The sound quality is just really solid, and really believable. To talk about bass, mid-range and treble is a bit artificial – they should all work together to give a convincing whole, and on the X3 they do. However, since that is how one generally breaks down audio performance into manageable sections, I'll do that. The bass is secure, solid and articulate – it has control, there is texture and definition, and good "slam" in those passages which have it – it also reaches down very deep, into the sub-sub-bass where you can feel it tickling your eardrums more than actually hear it – but it doesn't dominate or overwhelm – except where it does in the original recording.
     
    The mid-range is clean and clear – vocals and percussion sound really easy and natural. Perhaps when a recording gets a bit busy (with lots of different vocal lines, for example) there can be a slight veiling of detail, but I'm being really picky. I have a recording of intense and hectic mandolin playing – Into the Cauldron, by Chris Thile and Mike Marshall – and the X3 renders it beautifully. The mandolin lines are so easy to separate and place in the sound-stage, every note is clear, the woody timbre of the instruments is so convincing. Granted, it's a great recording, but mandolins are all about mid-range and treble, and the X3 makes them come to life.
     
    Which brings me nicely onto the treble... much as the mid-range here for me. Sweet and very clear most of the time, and combining well with the mids to give the music breath and space. And that's the thing about the X3, there's just so much space and detail in the music – real, believable resolution of detail. In one recording of Jackie Leven playing guitar on "Forbidden Songs of the Dying West" there's a point where I could swear I hear Jackie's shirt buttons just brushing against the back of his guitar, and his chair giving a little creak – hair-tingling details! Just occasionally I think details get a little lost (as with the mids), but it's really not a big thing, and it never gets offensive or causes strain.  It's more like I find my attention starts to drift ever so slightly, whereas normally this player just draws me in, and draws me in...
     
    One other thing about the sound - as far as I'm concerned, the background noise is effectively absent; black silence.  On older, analogue recordings, you can sometimes hear the background hiss of the recording tape.   It's like going out on a clear night, miles from street lights and looking up at the stars - you see so much more because the background sky is so dark.
     
    This is a player I can listen to for hours – and I often do.
     
    I haven't said much about the build of the player, but it's a quality item – the case is CNC machined from solid aluminium – and it feels really good and solid in the hands. The legends and writing on the case are all cleanly laser-etched: very clear and durable. The buttons are all crisp and positive – and their seemingly odd layout makes really good sense: each button can be readily identified in the dark, or in a pocket. Operation is easy. The player will confidently drive all of my headphones – from IEMs to full-sized over-ear phones like my Sennheiser HD598 and have power to spare. The battery comfortably gives me over a couple of days' worth of average listening, at work and at home.
     
    Build is simple - and solid.

     

     
    This is how the track name scrolls across when you use a long shutter speed on your camera..!

     
    However, the player is not perfect and may not suit everyone. The user interface is basic – that suits me fine, but it may not please those used to colour displays, album art, and the ability to sort by genre or what the artist ate for lunch on the day of the recording.  The display is spartan - clear, simple, but no album art or anything like that.  Brightness is easily adjustable in the menu.  I can easily navigate to a folder (which is how I store my album tracks: 1 folder = 1 album), pick a track and press PLAY and I'm good to go, but it doesn't support M3U playlists or the like. It does support CUE files – though I've not gone into that. And neither, at the moment, does it support gapless playback – there's a pause of perhaps half a second between tracks. More troublesome though, is the cutting off of the first fraction of a second of some tracks (those without any lead-in), and this is a bit annoying. It needs to be fixed with a firmware revision.  With the current firmware (version 1.1) there is also no equaliser function.  I'll say that again: there is no equaliser function.  Of any kind.  It doesn't trouble me: I thought it might, but it doesn't.  It just means that you need to exercise a bit more care in your choice of headphones.
     
    The other issue, which is now well-documented is that the player has a pitch error of about 0.75% or 0.8% when playing files sampled at 44.1kHz – i.e. ALL CD-derived files. The files play ever so slightly slow. Files at higher sample-rates aren't affected. This may or may not be fixable with a firmware revision; it's not clear yet. Is this the end of the world? That depends on how pitch sensitive you are. I haven't done direct A:B comparisons, but in normal listening, I don't detect it. Some others say they do hear it, some only hear it sometimes – I respect their views. I don't hear it and therefore don't find it troublesome. One remedy, is to convert 44.1kHz files to 48kHz sample rate and then they'll play true, though re-sampling may or may not introduce audible artifacts. How this wasn't picked up in product testing and development, we'll probaly never know. It's a quirk – annoying or not depending on your sensitivity. Although I don't pick it up, I still wish it wasn't there, and I hope it can be fixed in a firmware revision.
     
    Despite this issue, I still find the X3 a really enjoyable player to own and listen to. The fact that it only cost me a shade over (UK) £50 is remarkable – though prices have gone up a bit more recently. For me, it has served as a perfect introduction to modern DAPs and lossless audio. Despite the flaws metnioned above, it serves my needs and my listening requirements very well, and I hope to be listening to it for a long while.
    Bob A (SD), Ramada and Sharshar like this.
  7. charleski
    4.5/5,
    "A just-the-basics player that does those basics right"
    Pros - Yes, Jimmy, you *can* take 3 complete Ring cycles with you. Deep soundstage and authoritative bass. Full high-res support
    Cons - Look elsewhere for bells and whistles. Death to screen protectors!
    For a few years now the Sansa Clip+ and ClipZip have been the goto DAPs for audiophiles on a budget. But times change, and Sansa no longer sells either of these, having moved on to new models based on a different chip that isn’t getting such rave reviews (though you can still find retailers with old stock if you hunt around).
     
    Luckily, the past couple of years have seen the rise of Chinese makers who design and manufacture their own DAPs, some at very attractive prices. xDuoo received a lot of attention for its X2 model priced around the same as the Sansa Clips. Though it suffers from a few quirks (critically, no support for aac), its sound quality has received considerable praise. Their latest model is the X3, which costs around twice as much but introduces significant improvements. How does it compare to the aging Clip? More importantly, if you already have a Sansa Clip, does it represent an upgrade worth spending money on?
     
    Two slots, Baby!
    We might as well start with the headline, knock-it-out-the-park homerun advantage the X3 brings: dual microSD slots. If you spend a lot of money on music and want it all in one convenient place, then the 119GB offered by a 128GB card just doesn’t cut it. You can spend a lot of money on a larger 200GB card, but that only gives you an extra 64GB of actual space. There are other players with dual slots, but they cost around three times as much as the X3. You can futz around swapping cards in and out, but that means finding a place to store your extra cards and hoping you don’t lose the tiny things. Two card slots gives you 240GB of hassle-free space using cards that are now fairly cheap.
     
    Of course, the X3 brings other significant improvements to the table. While the Sansa Clips rely on the DAC and amplifier built into their single-chip system, the X3 uses Cirrus Logics’ CS4398 DAC hooked up to a set of TI amplifier chips. This provides full high-resolution file support (24bit/192kHz) and the amplification needed to handle a far wider range of headphones than the Clip on its own. xDuoo’s specification of 250mW into 32Ω is perhaps a little optimistic - the X2 claimed similar specs, but X2 measurements show a more reasonable, but still respectable, 37mW into 32Ω, four times what the Clip can produce. Importantly, it can handle all the major music formats, AAC, MP3, FLAC, APE, ALAC, OGG and WMA (and WAV for the masochists), as well as DSD64 in DFF format. Some have reported problems with DSD playback, but I was able to play DSD64 samples from this page without any hassle.
     
    The Interface
    The Clip does have a trump card to play, though, and that’s support for Rockbox. This gives it a highly configurable user interface and advanced features like a full 10-band parametric equaliser, replay-gain and crossfeed. The X3’s UI is incredibly spartan in comparison, with no support for browsing by tag at all. It supports cue sheets for custom playlists, but the main mode consists of simply browsing through the file structure, though it does allow the songs in a folder to be set on repeat (one/all) or random shuffle. Luckily foobar2k makes it fairly simple to set up a folder and filename structure on your cards that matches your preferred method of accessing your music. The X3 will also present a long list of all the song files present on the device, though it’s hard to imagine what use this serves. There’s no equaliser or tone controls of any sort, and only two settings, one to switch to a +6dB high gain mode and one to toggle the slope of the CS4398’s interpolation filter (which should be kept to fast rolloff).  There’s no support for album artwork, and never will be as the screen is monochrome. The firmware is upgradeable (reviewed on V1.0) and xDuoo are said to be working on bringing some form of tone control, though this won’t be a full parametric equaliser. Hopefully they’ll also implement gapless playback, which is currently missing.
     
    There can be a frustrating lag while navigating the folders if there are a large number of items to read from the card. Clearly the X3 is building the directory listing fresh from the card each time and doesn’t cache it. The Clip exhibits a slightly worse lag on navigating the tag database in Rockbox, which is a result of its poky processor. Annoyingly, adding or deleting files over USB will cause the X3 to rebuild its list of songs when the player is unplugged, even if ‘Auto-update’ is turned off. This can take some time when you have a lot of files. The X3 remembers the track you’re playing when you turn it off and then back on, but the position within the track is lost and it starts playing from the start, whereas Rockbox allows you to resume  from the exact position you stopped. This would be an issue for those listening to audiobooks or podcasts, but isn’t much of a burden for music.
     
    The USB 2.0 interface is solid and trouble-free, the device is recognised instantly as mass storage and files transferred as swiftly as the USB speed allows. This is in stark contrast to the defective USB implementation offered by Rockbox on the Clip, where getting your computer to recognise it is a lottery (this is a pure software issue, as there are no such problems with the Clip on stock firmware).
     
    In general, the X3’s software is perfectly stable, with no crashes or glitches. xDuoo clearly spent their time on making sure they had a solid and thoroughly-tested firmware build for the release rather than on adding features, and this was a wise choice. Holding down the Prev or Next buttons allows you to scroll through a track, but otherwise the simplicity of the interface means there are no complicated ‘hold this button, press that one’ contortions needed as in Rockbox. Buttons can be locked by a switch on the left side.
     
    Build
    The ClipZip is sitting on a Topping NX1. While the clip on its own is smaller, the entire package is about the same size as the X3. In case there's any doubt, I hate screen protectors.
     
    The X3 certainly wins in terms of build quality, having a solid, aluminium case with an attractive radially-brushed finish to the front and 45° chamfers on the back to make it comfortable to hold. The buttons are large, firm and wobble-free and far easier to operate than the Clip’s. It’s a handsome device, sadly let down by the film that’s required  to protect the delicate covering of the OLED display. As the photo shows, getting all the bubbles out after applying it was beyond my ability. The screen protector is an unwelcome throw-back to the years before toughened glass, but at this price it’s hard to complain.
     
    The 4-line display is quite clear, but not very bright, and is even harder to read in sunlight than the Clip’s. The decreased contrast caused by the screen protector doesn’t help here either.
    As would be expected given its larger size, the X3’s battery will comfortably keep going through many days of use, though I haven’t attempted a formal capacity test.
     
    Fuzzy handheld shot without flash to show the size of the screens. The X3's display area is actually about half that of the glass cover, but characters are large enough to be clearly legible.
     
    The X3 has a dedicated line-out port, which is switched and turns off the headphone-out when you plug it in. This convenience obviously saves power, but also means you can’t run two sets of headphones without some form of splitter. The jacks themselves are reassuringly solid without any wobble and provide a far more positive connection than the lightweight jack on the Clip.
     
    The Sound
    Now to the sound, which is the whole point. Headphones used were the Etymotic ER4S, and for comparison I used my ClipZip running the latest version of Rockbox and feeding a Topping NX1 amplifier (as the Clip doesn’t really have enough grunt to power the ER4S on its own). All EQ and tone controls were set flat and all other processing like crossfeed was turned off. I matched levels using a pink noise file with one earpiece shoved up against a microphone and think I got them fairly close, at least within a couple of dB of each other.
     
    Obviously, all the comparison was done sighted, and is thus merely a matter of opinion. Nothing should be taken as gospel, but then I hope readers of this forum are smart enough to realise that applies to all opinions formed from subjective and uncontrolled tests. I like to think of myself as an audio sceptic: there should be minimal differences between gear that’s been well-specified and designed, especially when it comes to electronics. But like any kid with a new toy I’m biased, and definitely wanted the new toy to be better than the old one. I feel fairly sure my findings would survive a proper double-blind test, but without the facilities to perform one (i.e. an assistant with a lot of patience) that doesn’t mean much.
     
    The first thing that was noticeable on playing Beach House’s Lazuli was that the X3 has a weight and authority to its bass that the Clip/NX1 simply can’t provide. The kick drum came in with a solidity I could never achieve by fiddling with tone controls. I must admit I’ve been guilty of goosing up the bass on the Clip with the ER4s, which are tuned to be flat. But I didn’t feel the slightest need for a base lift on the X3.
     
    The second impression was a feeling of space, and most importantly depth that was missing with the Clip. The easiest analogy is the difference between watching a film and watching a play from the rear stalls. The instruments were layered back-to-front and, probably as a consequence, there was a far greater feeling of separation between them.
     
    Moving on to Suzuki’s rendition of the Bach BWV161 Cantata showed some improvement at the top-end as well, with none of the slight glare the Clip lends to the tenor’s high notes. The sense of spatial precision and depth was felt here as well, and on the alto recitativ the concluding four notes of recorder and organ drop into space with an impressive clarity.
     
    The opening movement of John Butt’s recording of the first Brandenburg Concerto is a riotous festival compared to other interpretations. On the Clip the riot becomes a little chaotic at times,  but the X3 keeps things far better controlled, letting the rambunctious oboes huff and puff without trampling on the other instruments. Again, the solidity of the bass allowed the continuo to anchor the whole piece as it should, whereas the Clip allowed things to fly away a bit.
     
    No listening session is complete without a visit to Laughin’ Len. Leonard Cohen’s Tower of Song has a fairly simple scoring, and the difference between the X3 and Clip was much less obvious than with the other tracks. There was perhaps a touch more clarity to the catarrh in his gravelly ‘born with the gift of a golden voice’, and the backing singers were more clearly in the back rather than washing over the lead vocals. But I would probably be hard-pressed to distinguish them on a double-blind test.
     
    The Clip is certainly very good, which is a testimony to the AMS AS3525 chip it uses. But the X3 is a clear improvement, especially in terms of the three dimensional sound stage it can produce. There is a far more precise feel to the instruments, and the bass has an authority the Clip cannot match.
     
    Final Remarks
    In conclusion, the X3 is a worthwhile upgrade simply for the extra space it offers those with large music collections. But you’ll experience a definite improvement in sound as well. Obviously at this price some corners had to be cut, and the interface is extremely spartan to those used to the flexibility of Rockbox. But it’s functional and, most importantly, stable. xDuoo are working on the next version and I hope they enable gapless playback. Storing the exact track position when turning it off would also be a useful addition.
    xDuoo has very little in the way of distribution in the West, but can be bought from PenonAudio or various sellers on Aliexpress (where it was going for as little as £61 in the recent sale).
    zzffnn, H20Fidelity, peter123 and 3 others like this.
  8. H20Fidelity
    4.5/5,
    "Possibly the best budget audiophile player for 2015"
    Pros - Sound, features, price to performance, soundstage, spaciousness, stable firmware.
    Cons - Button layout takes some adjusting.
    XDuoo are a company known for a variety of portable audio products. I've seen portable dac/amps, stand alone desktop amps and quite a wide range of audio products from them floating around the internet. The Chinese based company seem to thrive on offering value for money. It was only about 8 months ago we saw their previous MP3 player launch called XDuoo X2, the matchbox size player won many hearts and popularity on Head-fi forums. Fast forward to today we're greeted by their newer (bigger brother) XDuoo X3 audiophile player.
     
    The newer XDuoo X3 takes everything the previous model had then ups the ante, from using a well known Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC Chip, packing dual micro sd cards slots for a total 256gb storage, 24 bit support and competent user interface, XDuoo push the boundaries what's on offer between the $100 - $150 price range in portable audio players. I've seen quite a few budget players release in my time here though none quite as fitted out as XDuoo's X3 for the asking price.
     

     
     
     
     
    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

    Support music format:

     
    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

     
     
    Packaging / Presentation:
     
     

     
     
    The more I look at XDuoo X3's packaging and contents I keep asking myself how, how they managed to release the player so cheap. It arrives in a laminated cardboard box with the outer sleeve well-labeled containing information about the specifications including all the file format support information and description on what XDuoo were aiming to achieve with their product. Once you remove the outer sleeve you're greeted by another black box which contains the player and underneath your accessories. You can see the presentation has been thought out and they haven't gone cheap on any of the retail appearance or presentation.
     
     
    The description rear of the box from XDuoo:
     
     
     

     
     
    Accessories:
     
    Once inside the black cardboard box there's another smaller box which contains the accessories under the player.
     
     
    These include:
     
    1. Warranty Card
    2. Screen protector
    3. USB Data / Charge cable
    4. User Manual 
     

     
     
     
    It should be noted when your XDuoo X3 arrives it has a safety screen protector already applied. This isn't a real screen protector simply something applied during manufacturing process to protect the 1.3-inch display getting scratched. Sometimes people become confused because their player looks like it arrived with the screen scratched however you simply need to peel this off before applying the provided (and real) screen protector.
     
     
     
    Build:
     
    The entire casing of XDuoo X3 is made from metal back to front, the only plastic pieces found on the unit are the buttons and  screen cover. The entire player weighs just 100 grams with a length of around 10cm and 1cm thick. It's quite light, easy to handle with one hand and the entire casing could handle a drop or two, there's something about holding XDuoo X3 which makes you feel like its a solid product, one which isn't going to fall apart in a hurry. People often describe XDuoo X3 as the 'TV remote control' look alike, and I agree.
     
     
    When moving around the player you have the dual micro sd card slots running down the right-hand side, above those your volume buttons, on the opposite side you have a lock switch which is very handy for using the player on the go or in your pocket. Many new players today have a button press sequence for locking their players however I really like the solid button on the outer casing which easily locks XDuoo X3  with a quick 'flick'.
     
     
     
     

     
     

     
     
    Moving onto the bottom of the player you have your headphone out and line out jacks beside each other, if I recall correctly these are a new style of jack used on Chinese players and the same jack I found on my iBasso DX90 and iBasso DX80. They're quite strong, provide a firm 'click' when inserting your headphones and apparently are durable for a very long time. XDuoo also used the same jacks on their previous X2 model. Overall they're long-lasting and good for the extensive haul. On top of the player there's your micro USB port for charging and data transfer. its quite simple, XDuoo X3 connects to your laptop or PC and the two sd cards show up as removable storage.
     
     
     
     

     
     
     

     
     
    Now for that crazy looking button layout. On first glance you really have to say to yourself "what were XDuoo thinking" with the circle and triangle button scheme, then you ask yourself why on earth they've placed the buttons in the positions they have. I can tell you from using the player almost a month the button layout just works, especially works one handed. Before long you're navigating the player without looking and the layout almost works as 'braille', you simply understand where your fingers are and what you're doing by touch. Its also excellent for sliding easily in/out your pocket, the remote control look alike design just works.
     
    The buttons are:
     
    1. Power
    2. ESC (back button)
    3. Menu
    4. Prev
    5. Next
    6. Play/Pause
     

     
     
     
    Looking closely at the triangle buttons they've even had the edges smoothed off so they won't chip or stab your fingers.
     
     

     
     
     
     
    User Interface and settings:
     
     
    When switching XDuoo X3 on you're greeted by the home screen menu which looks like this below, you navigate sideways and select your entry.
     
    You have 6 entries to select from:
     
    1. Now Playing
    2. All Songs
    3. Cue
    4. Folder
    5. Favourite
    6. Setting 
     

     
     

     
     
     
    Then you have the now playing screen. This shows a readout of your track number, total tracks, bit rate, time duration, the track name, volume level, battery bar and everything you need to experience. Again, for a $110 player its really been kitted out in 'audiophile' style.
     
     

     
     
     
    There are a ton of settings to adjust:
     
    1. Language
    2. Update Media Lib
    3. Auto Update Media Lib
    4. Screen Brightness
    5. Screen timeout duration
    6. Auto Power off
    7. Sleep timer
    8. Reset all settings
    9. System Information
    10. Upgrade (for firmware updates)
     

     
     
     
    Music settings:
     
     
    1. Play Mode (Order, Repeat All, Repeat One, Random)
    2. DAC Filter (Slow roll-off, Fast roll-off)
    3. Gain (High, Low)
    4. Add to favourites
    5. Song information
     
     

     
     
     
     
    Overall the user interface is kitted out with everything you require, its not often a player comes in at $110 with this many in player settings, the only other company I'm aware of is FiiO with their X1 model. End of the day I have everything I need to use XDuoo X3 smoothly, from the button layout, the settings, the competent now playing screen, XDuoo tick all the boxes. The main thing about XDuoo X3's user interface is it just works, not only does it function correctly its basically completely stable on its first firmware, a great achievement to have the player running so smoothly.
     
     
     
    Sound Quality:
     
    IEM / Headphone used: Fidue A83, Grado 325e
     
    Files: 16/44 FLAC
     
     
    If I was to describe XDuoo X3's sound in a few words I would say, spacious, airy, and technically sound. The unit to my ears is basically neutral, the mid-range has a nice amount of clarity which makes the player sound 'very clear' and unveiled, it reminds me a little of my old Studio V in that detail comes out effortlessly or without any strain on the volume. The bass response is full yet a little rounded which can sound 'slightly'  soft at times though overall I don't hear any roll-off and the low end is rather tight. When you move up the treble its well extended staying present in a track. Some have described it as sounding a little artificial, I personally don't hear this myself.
     
    Areas like soundstage are quite wide, more so than my iBasso DX90, this is one of XDuoo X3's real attractions, its ability to sound spacious giving instruments room to image and place themselves around the stage. Instrument separation is also component however I have heard stronger. Overall the player really has its own specific sound, one you can't describe exactly without hearing it. It doesn't sound like an iBasso player, nore a FiiO player, nore Apple iPod, it sounds unique to XDuoo.
     
    I've had no problems driving some 70ohm headphones and my Grado 325e, I do however recommend using XDuoo X3 in high gain full-time, if there's one thing I need to mention its that low gain mode can sound a little soft or under-powered, this is great for very sensitive earphones though even with my 11ohm Fidue A83 I feel high gain simply sounds more dynamic, fuller, and the detail really comes out. Usually, I wouldn't suggest using high gain unless you truly need more power, but with XDuoo X3 I simply think it sounds like the player it should be in high gain mode.
     
     
    Amping / line out:
     

     
     
     
    I've tried connecting my Tralucent DacAmp One to XDuoo X3's line-out, I can confidently say I was impressed at the performance, I won't say XDuoo needs an amp for most applications, however, you can certainly flavour the sound by adding one into the mix, the difference was noticeable to a degree I may use one sometimes at home if I want to spice things up. One thing about the line out is once you connect XDuoo X3 to a competent amp like the Tralucent above you basically have a storage powerhouse rig with anything from 256gb total storage. This alone is hard to come by for $110. Using the player purely as a 'semi transport' to feed amps with those dual card slots is really admirable to me.
     
     
    Conclusion:
     
    There's not much to pick out on XDuoo X3, it offers an excellent amount of features, great sound, the firmware is basically stable from launch. Its simply a well thought out, planned and executed budget audiophile player. A few years ago we were dealing with players like Colorfly C3 for $100, while they sounded great they were often abandoned on early firmware far, far from stable. One thing you need to admire with XDuoo is their dedication to completing the job, even if they intend on adding more features later to the firmware, what they've succeeded with already speaks for itself. I'd easily recommend XDuoo X3 to anyone looking for sound on a budget and even beyond, whether they simply want to use the player from line out taking advantage of the dual micro sd card slots or using it as their everyday pocket MP3 player. I would go as far to say XDuoo X3 could be my favourite entry level audiophile player of 2015.
     
     
    I'd like to thank XDuoo for sending the sample and congratulate them on a wonderful job!
    Raketen, Lichtje, nick n and 12 others like this.