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  1. Johnny Mac
    xDuoo X3ii Realview.
    Written by Johnny Mac
    Published Dec 8, 2018 at 9:11 AM
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Stability, Ease of Use, Flat sound, Great Price:performance.
    Cons - No case included, Flat sound.
    [​IMG]
    Three full months shy from the site’s 1st music player realview, we are finally seeing another finally gracing our site. This time by xDuoo, a company whose mantra is “Confident, Responsible, Stable and humble” which leaves me guessing if they’re talking about their products or their employees.

    xDuoo first gained traction in the audiophile market with their widely used xDuoo x3 entry level DAP which if placed next to an iPod shuffle and Nano at the time, blows competition away and a makes Sansa clip and fuse owners want to upgrade. It was so hot that time that it slug it out against FiiO with their x1 offering. Fast forward and now we have the xDuoo x3ii, a sandblasted piece of CNC aluminum alloy coated in matte black which diverges from the former x3’s silver and glossy black finishes. Spec’d out with the AK4490 DAC chip and the Texas Instruments OPA1652+LMH6643 AMP chips, support for 256gb TF card expansion, Bidirectional Bluetooth 4.0, USB DAC function, Hiby Link function, Car mode, 10 EQ sections and 18 Sound effect options supporting DSF, DFF and DSD up to DSD128 as well as DXD, FLAC, APE, WAV, ALAC, AIFF up to 32Bit/384KHz while not leaving behind MP3, AAC, WMA formats. The xDuoo x3ii also supports CUE, M3U and M3U8 files as well as album art and track lyrics display.

    The xDuoo x3ii is currently priced at $120 which you can get yourself a pair off DD Audio’s Aliexpress site. The x3ii price places it right on the upper entry level music players such as FiiO x1ii, Hidizs AP60ii and the Zishan DSD which is a far cry from the x3’s slugging it out with at least 2-3 competitors at that time, with the new features being added on the x3ii, will be able to hold its ground after the dust settles? Let’s find out.

    Specifications and Packaging
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    [​IMG]

    xDuoo x3ii Spec sheet:
    • Display: 2.4inch IPS with 7H hardness
    • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz (±0.15dB)
    • Output Power: 210mW (32Ohm/THD + N<0.0015%)
    • Crosstalk: >75dB (32Ohm@1kHz)
    • S/N: ≥114dB
    • Battery: 3.7V/2000mAh
    • Charging Time: <3H quick charge, <5H slow charge
    • Estimated Battery life: 13H
    • Weight: 112g
    • Size: 102.5x51.5x14.9mm
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The xDuoo x3ii comes in a simple cardboard box with a more durable glossy black container inside which has enough cushion to protect the x3ii while still being stored and shipped. The accessory set included in the package features 2 scree protectors, 2 lineout/headphone out rubber protector plugs, 4pcs 3M silicon feet, Type C charging/data cable and a 3.5-3.5 interconnect cable. The lineout/headphone out rubber protector is a nice addition which most music players don’t give although notably missing is a free protective case which would really be nice.

    Build quality, User Interface and Handling
    [​IMG]
    The xDuoo x3ii is a 2 piece design with the backside being held together by 4 allen screws and all buttons fitting nicely with no noticeable rattling sound when shaken. All buttons rest on the front underneath the display and on the left portion leaving nothing on the right portion as well as the top sides. All buttons are in black with white markings with the volume up having a raised pin and the power button being red. Connection outputs are situated on the lower portion with enough gaps with each other giving no issues when all 3 ports are used. The only real weird aspect is the forward/backward/next/previous buttons being pointed up and down although at 112g, the x3ii is easily pocketable and fits nicely in the hand like your old Nokia phones.
    [​IMG]
    The User Interface is indeed way better than the x3, it now has color, RGB y’all and thankfully uses a dark theme since I personally hate white themes except on my desktop rig. Navigation is straightforward and easy to use with zero learning curves as all options are labelled correctly and no weird layouts. I didn’t find it hard to be back with button controls since this doesn’t have a touch screen which other music players are. Cycling through the numerous music files using the forward/backward/next/previous buttons is smooth and no lags.

    There 6 main UI categories being Music Browser, My Music, Now Playing, Music Settings, System Settings and Bluetooth Settings. It houses all the expected sub-categories with notable options such as OTG support, Gain setting(High and Low), Digital Filter(Sharp and Slow Decay), Breakpoint Play, Gapless Playback, Fixed and Default Volume, USB DAC mode, Car Mode and Hiby Link. Those are the sub categories which I did find worthy of tinkering on like a side quest mission gameplay for audiophiles since we don’t do EQ around these parts of the world although you can but be discreet since EQ Nazi enforcers are sensitive to such behaviors.

    I have mainly used the x3ii for a full month as my sole DAP and experienced not one hiccup, restart, lag or audio cutting out. The weight was perfect for everyday use and doesn’t feel like carrying a lot and fits on almost all empty spaces my jeans, denims, bag and work table offers. Button positioning are great and one handed use is awesome. One thing I would have wanted is a damn protective case since the metal build makes me nervous when going up and down the stairs or any sort of activity where I use the x3ii without eye contact, a sense of protection is always welcome. This is a DAP were getting a case is a big MUST.

    Connectivity and Stability
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    The xDuoo x3ii starts up by greeting you with a “Welcome” and goes straight to the point. The SE output is reinforced by a gold plated jack as well as the Lineout. The SE output fits snugly and doesn’t shake one tiny bit as well as the Lineout when connected with an external AMP such as the Ibasso Dzero Mk2. Speaking of AMPs, the x3ii ergonomically sits well with most portable AMPs such as the Walnut V2s, xDuoo XQ-20 and XD10 and the Ibasso Dzero Mk2. Its USB DAC function via my MSI GF62 8RE (i5-8th Gen/1060) and Acer Aspire F 15 (i5-7th Gen/950m) using Foobar2000 v1.4 performs well too with no delays when cycling through my whole music library of about 200gb of mixed file formats although the x3ii displays and outputs 32Khz/24Bit by default, just make sure to set the x3ii on DAC mode via System settings. The USB mode did well too for managing your x3ii SDc card library, type C clearly does have its perks.
    [​IMG]
    Bluetooth connectivity is at 4.0 which at the price point of $120 is a very good choice since it targets the wireless market IEM which mostly features BT4.0 and lower since BT 5.0 with its 48MBps(x2 4.0) speed and 985ft (x4 4.0) perks needs appropriate hardware changes since 5.0 features won’t run on 4.0 IEMs and HPs, synergy even in wireless is still a thing to note although it would have been great to see 5.0 specially due to its lower power requirement.

    Connecting the x3ii via BT to the Brainwavz BLU-300 is a perfect fit with its 4.1 support, there were no cut-offs when the x3ii is in my backpack or jean pockets when travelling and when running and doing light exercises as well. Moving around a 25sqm room also did great with no cut-offs except when moving to another room with a concrete wall, cut-offs were then observed. Volume controls were separate on both the IEM and the DAP which makes for volume adjustment very versatile. It is great to know that the x3ii with all its new features, modest they might be, works well and is reliable.

    Sound Quality and Battery Life
    The xDuoo x3ii features a 2000mAh battery with quick charge capability, not that 3 hours for 2000mAh passes as quick charge in Q4 2018. I have loaded a 128gb card on the x3ii with a mixture of MP3, FLAC and DSD and playtime reached around 8-10 hours at 25-40/100 volume and toggle 3 brightness. It easily lasts me a full week with 3-4 30 minute bursts of usage on weekdays and lasts me the weekends at 3-5 hours usage both on a Saturday and Sunday with occasional BT usage of an hour/day.

    Now to the part we all usually scrolled to directly, the sound. The x3ii is damn smooth and soft sounding, like modern NBA soft. The AK4490 on the x3ii is implemented to the best of its ability making the overall sound to be presented as a flat frequency response with minor touches on the low end and highs. The overall low end of the x3ii is of low impact, diffused and lingering bass and sub bass. The overall midrange sound has a slight laid back presentation. The highs being its smoothest spectrum presentation, no peaks and non-fatiguing and also kind of boring. I have really enjoyed using the x3ii as one of my reference review DAPs with its overall lacking yet identified flat sound.

    Conclusion
    It is with great emphasis for an entry level music player to pack a lot of useful features, solid build quality and reliable connectivity while being priced as low as possible. The xDuoo x3ii, despite being entry level showcases almost all the must haves an entry level DAP needs with a few added novelty such as lineout/headphone out rubber protectors. I have always advocated of going flat for your source and letting your IEMs and HPs do the heavy lifting of satisfying your sound signature preferences and the xDuoo x3ii does that really well and despite not having a protective case, it surely did held its ground when the realview dust settled.
      trellus likes this.
  2. cqtek
    New is better
    Written by cqtek
    Published Dec 2, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Number of features (Bluetooth, DAC, Hiby Link, Line Output, Bidirectional USB, etc.). It is a very versatile product.
    - Size and weight, in line with its predecessor.
    - Screen size.
    - Initial firmware with just a few faults.
    - Gapless from the beginning.
    - Battery life.
    - Power.
    - Great sound.
    - A firmware with Rockbox is now available.
    Cons - The layout of the buttons is original but not too ergonomic.
    - Shortage of accessories, not even a case comes.
    The new DAP xDuoo, the second version of the successful X3, is a very useful multi-functional player:
    • USB DAC.
    • Bidirectional Bluetooth 4.0, aptX protocol support.
    • DSD128.
    • Bidirectional USB port, device supports OTG, USB Audio output function, DOP, D2P output mode.
    • DAC AK4490.
    • IPS Screen 2,4”.
    • It can be controlled remotely by using the buttons on the earphone.
    • 10 bands equalizer.
    • SD until 256MB.
    • Line Ouput.
    • Car Mode.
    • Hiby Link.
    • 13 hours long life battery.
    • OpAmp used OPA1652+LMH6643.
    2018-11-14_19-44-49_.jpg

    Disclaimer:

    I bought this DAP at the end of July 2018 at the Penon Audio store. I want to clarify that I did not receive any kind of discount. My purchase and product review is completely voluntary and honest.

    Purchase link:

    https://penonaudio.com/xduoo-x3ii.html

    Leatherette Case:

    https://penonaudio.com/xduoo-x3ii-leatherette-case.html

    Specifications:
    • Dimensions (Height, Width, Thick):102.5mm x 51.5mm x 14.9mm.
    • Weight: 112gr.
    • Lithium battery 3.7/2000mAh.
    • Output power: 220mW (32?/THD + N<0.0025%)
    • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz (±0.5dB)
    • S/N: = 108dB
    • Crosstalk: =75dB (32?@1kHz)
    • Charging time: <3H (Quick charge 5V/2A) <5H (Slow charge 5V/500mA)

    Measurements (Maximum taken at 1KHz Rated voltage):

    • 2.72V no-load
    • 2.67V 32 Ohms
    • 2.70V 100 Ohms
    • Output impedance at 100 Ohms: 0.74 Ohms (1kHz)
    • Output impedance at 32 Ohms: 0.6 Ohms (1kHz)
    2018-11-14_19-35-45_.jpg 2018-11-14_19-36-28_.jpg

    Packaging:
    The packaging of the DAP is quite compact, it is only slightly larger than the player itself. The outer box is made of cardboard, decorated with the player's image on the front and with the specifications and features on the back. Inside is another box, quite robust and black. After removing the cover, you can access the DAP, wrapped in a white semi-translucent bag. The screen is protected by a plastic protector. Once the DAP is removed, two openings can be accessed to insert the fingers and remove the packaging. Underneath this is the USB charging cable, whose connector is USB type C, a 3.5mm male/male Jack cable, 5 adhesive tears of transparent plastic, two protectors of the 3.5mm Jack connections, another screen protector, the English/Chinese instruction manual and the warranty card.
    The packaging is fair and simple.

    2018-11-14_19-37-16_.jpg 2018-11-14_19-39-34_.jpg 2018-11-14_19-39-59_.jpg 2018-11-14_19-41-28_.jpg

    Design, construction and other features:

    The outer casing is made of aluminium alloy. All corners are rounded and the touch is pleasant. The shape and size of the X3II is reminiscent of the previous model, narrow and elongated. Otherwise it looks nothing like it. The 2.4" IPS screen is the main protagonist of the new look of the DAP. At the bottom there are 5 buttons, with a somewhat strange distribution, two small ones on the left for the "return" and "menu" functions. A central one for "play/pause" and two small ones on the right for "rewind" and "forward". On the left side there are three buttons, the top, in red, is the "off / on / lock", below it there are two buttons of the same size, but in color of the case, for the volume. On this side is the SD card slot. On the opposite side there is nothing. On the underside, say, at the base, is the charge/USB connector, the line output and the headphone output, both 3.5mm. On the back side comes the brand but not the X3II model.

    2018-11-14_19-41-58_.jpg 2018-11-14_19-42-08_.jpg 2018-11-14_19-42-22_.jpg 2018-11-14_19-42-31_.jpg 2018-11-14_19-43-00_.jpg 2018-11-14_19-43-14_.jpg

    Battery

    From my tests the battery seems to comply with the 13h specified. The control of the battery is very reliable and I have not noticed any jumps or anomalous notifications.

    Playback

    Gapless, yes, since the first firmware version. After turning on the playback continues from the point at which it was turned off, with the volume at which it was, but in paused mode. After pressing "Play" the sound starts with a fairly fast "Fade in".
    There are no clicks between songs, neither at the start of any song, nor after pressing buttons.

    Volume Control

    The volume is controlled by two side buttons and goes from 0 to 100. The maximum volume is configurable. It has low and high gain. The volume control with 100 steps is very precise and it is always possible to adjust it to the desired point.

    Interface and usage:

    The menu is somewhat curious, has an initial mosaic with 6 "buttons", are as follows:
    • Music Browser
    • Music Settings
    • System Settings
    • My Music
    • Bluetooth Settings
    • Music Playing
    Pantallas xDuoo X3II.jpg

    Pressing inside each button will access each menu:

    As you can see, it has many options and features, it is not the subject of the following review to explain them all. It must be said that the operation is impeccable, there are no delays after pressing the keys. Everything works as it should, even being the first version of firmware.

    I was able to test the Bluetooth with the car, the connection was fast. The reproduction was free of cuts and fluid. You can select the option "High Quality" to use the best playback quality via Bluetooth.

    Sound and particular impressions

    I'll start, like other times, talking about the output impedance. As it could not be otherwise in a player of this category, is inferior to 1Ω.

    The frequency response is quite flat from 20 to 10kHz, thereafter decays to 20Khz at a value below 2%. According to the specifications the frequency response is 20Hz to 20kHz ±0.5dB..

    The profile of the new X3II is similar to its predecessor, quite neutral throughout the range, with good level of detail and separation, pulling to the analytical side. It's a different sound to the Fiio I've heard (X1I, X1II, X3II, X5III) and this has been the reason for me to buy it: to run away from that somewhat dark and duller profile. I had the opportunity to try the xDuoo X3 a long time ago and its sound captivated me from the first listening, the sensation of clarity and openness, which I did not find in the Fiio, is what most caught my attention. After trying the DAC AK4490 in the Zishan Z3, I wanted the new xDuoo X3II to sound different from it, in the line of its predecessor, so I risked buying it. And it has been a success, everything I was looking for 100€ is there, even better.

    The bass is very deep, slightly emphasized but never colored, not a warm DAP like the Fiio X3III, but seeks neutrality rather than warmth. This does not mean that the bass have a special point. Always under control, the X3II offers the necessary power in this segment when required, but with very good precision, detail and a remarkable resolution. Thanks to these qualities, the xDuoo is able to represent this range, from the deepest sub-bass to the lightest bass drum, with remarkable separation, something that is not within the reach of many DAPs.

    The mids are reproduced under the same premises as the lower zone, where neutrality and openness again stand out, as well as the ability to extract details. The level of transparency and separation continues to stand out in this phase, without the precision of the mids meaning excess brilliance. The control and smoothness are still there to calm any wheezing. I insist that it is not a warm player and those looking for this kind of signature will have to buy something else. But it's not that it has a totally aseptic sound either, because the detail is displayed accurately but smoothly.

    Trebles feel the same way, very slightly softened in the frequency curve but equally extensive. The maximums are delicate and subtle, clearly perceptible but free of any hardness.

    But, in my opinion, the strong point of this DAP is the amplitude of the sound. In my quest to widen the stage, I go up small steps with every € I spend. And I'm sure I'll make it. And that's where I enjoy the most, with the separation, clarity, transparency, cleanliness and naturalness of the remarkable scene of this DAP.

    Comparisons

    xDuoo X3II vs xDuoo X3I

    2018-11-14_19-46-36_.jpg

    The sound of both have a very similar profile, but is the qualitative leap to sound level between them very big? Not really. The differences exist: the old version has a brighter sound, but also harder, treble is a little sharper, a little out of control. While in the new version they sound softer, less hurtful, more pleasant to my ears. Bass also differ, the sub-bass extends more, there is some emphasis on them, more depth and definition. Bass in the old version are drier, it doesn't feel like they go down so much giving a slight trimming sensation, although perhaps they have more of a presence in the middle bass. As for mids, the thing is very equal, I only find some incidence in the voices of the old version, due to that greater brightness it has. Globally it could be said that the new version is a little warmer than the old one.

    In terms of scene the new version is better, although not for long. There is also more clarity, more space, more air and separation. The sound in the old version is more compact and tight.

    xDuoo X3II vs Shanling M0

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    The M0 is one of the DAPs to beat. For its price, size, performance and power, it is a tough rival. In terms of size you can not compete with it. In addition to having a touch screen, good battery life, has a unique power, reaching up to 1.4V output. The profile of the M0 is reminiscent of the first xDuoo X3, but is more refined and softer. And although I think they have many similarities, the sound of the M0 is also an evolution on this first X3.

    With respect to the new X3II, the M0 has the most present treble, most marked, while the xDuoo X3II has the deepest bass. In the M0 it seems that the bass is somewhat displaced, brighter, the sub-bass does not descend so much.

    In terms of separation and scene the X3II is somewhat better, the details are perceived more separated, somewhat sharper. I find the X3II more precise. The scene is bigger in the X3II, as there is more air between the details, you perceive more three-dimensionality in the image. The sound is also wider in the X3II.

    In terms of scene and instrumental recreation, as well as separation, I prefer the new xDuoo because I find it richer in details.

    In general, differences in sound are based on subtle details in each other's sound profile. But the xDuoo X3II fits more into my personal preferences.

    In the same way that the M0 gains in size and touch screen, the X3II gains in power, almost doubling the M0, which is a barbarity.

    It is clear that both are excellent DAPs for their price range, the choice of one or the other will only depend on our preferences, as neither of them will be disappointed, if we assume the price they are worth.

    2018-11-14_19-48-39_.jpg

    Conclusion

    The new iteration of xDuoo's X3 is not only a step forward from the original wonder that was its predecessor, but it is a fully-fledged evolution that adapts to new technologies, adding a large handful of features capable of competing without any fear with the rest of the segment's DAPs. But in addition they are allowed to extend quality in the sound, advancing in the same sonorous signature, adding even more power and better duration of the battery. And all this at a round price, around 100€, a psychological barrier that, for many, already represents a serious expense for a dedicated DAP.

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    Ratings

    • Construction 90%
    • Comfort 80%
    • Accessories 60%
    • Sound 90%
    • Quality/Price 100%
      Nobrain, bidn, usuario74 and 8 others like this.