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Xduoo XD-05 Plus

Rating:
4.25/5,
  1. NymPHONOmaniac
    Improving Greatness!
    Written by NymPHONOmaniac
    Published Nov 6, 2019 at 12:55 PM
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Extremely powerfull for its size, Nice coherent sound with thick timbre and warm clarity, Can play DSD256 and PCM up to 32/384khz in usb mod, Upsamplig mode with Digital in, Good battery life, 3 gain switch, bass gain switch, stable versatile USB connection, USB-C in, Generous accessories, Price Value
    Cons - Imaging would benifit from clearest background, still need to use another usb port for charging (would be nice to charge when pluged from USB in), BOOST mode scare me, even if we get lot of accessories it would have been nice to hae digital cables too.
    XDUOO XD-05 PLUS REVIEW :

    P1040488.JPG

    SOUND: 8.5/10
    AMPING: 9/10
    CONSTRUCTION: 8.5/10
    DESIGN: 8/10
    FEATURES: 9/10
    VALUE: 8.5/10


    I’ve been waiting for this, unconsciously, I wish Xduoo make another similar but better XD-05 model.

    Why?

    Because the first one was near perfect and I enjoy it intensely daily for more than 3 years.

    Until now.

    The PLUS crualy stole its place with its better battery life, more accurate sound, more versatile connectivity and most of all….2 time more powerfull audio output.

    I don’t know how Xduoo achieve to put as much power in this little semi-portable DAC-AMP, but they did and its a power beast that can honnestly drive demanding 300ohm earbuds or headphones as well as higher impendance one when on high gain. I underline this because sometime audio company state that an amp with lower than 500mW output can drive 600ohm headphones, wich is a lie. Near anything can ‘’drive’’ non properly high impendance headphones, but the goal of an amplifier is to drive them properly and effortlessly so you don’t need to push volume to maximum to get loud sound, wich again, do not mean great sound.

    The XDUOO XD-05PLUS is not just about power tough, the AKM AK4493EQ dac in it is a very capable one that deliver near reference sound with a refined timbre as well as great imaging and clarity. Again, in term of total harmonic distortion, the PLUS beat the XD-05 with a blacker noise floor. The use of USB-C make it more versatile for hooking on any device too.

    So, let’s see in this review if this marvelous DAC-AMP worth the little 50$ more investment over its slightly cheaper little brother.

    The XD-05PLUS can be buy for 260$ from XTENIK HERE

    DISCLAIMER: I wanna thanks Xtenik for sending me this review sample free of charge, as well as thanking them for their patience. Unlike some other seller that try to put pressure on me to get positive review, Xtenik let me full freedom of toughs and i will not get punish if i write my honnest toughs. This is a relieve because I can collaborate with this great honnest store without being afraid of getting punish so thanks for that too Xtenik!!


    SPECS :


    Specification

    Size: 139 x 75.2 x 22.8mm

    Weight: 276g

    Compliant OS: Window XP/7/8/10, Mac OSX, IOS, Android system

    Output power: 1000mW(32Ωload)

    Frequency response

    AMP:10Hz-100kHz(±0.5dB)

    USB/SPDIF: 20Hz-20kHz(±0.5dB)

    Sampling rate support

    USB: PCM: 16-32Bit/44.1-384kHz

    DSD: DOP/NATIVE mode, DSD64-256(1Bit/2.8M-11.2M)

    DXD: 24-32Bit/352.8k-384kHz

    OPT/COA: PCM: 16-24Bit/44.1-192kHz

    DSD: 1Bit/2.82mKz(DOP)

    THD+N

    USB IN/SPDIF IN: 0.0016%@1kHz

    AUX IN: 0.0009%@1kHz

    S/N: 117dB

    Crosstalk: ≥75dB

    Battery: 3.8V/5000mAh

    Battery life: ≥13H(USB IN), ≥21H(SPDIF IN), ≥40H(AUX IN)


    ACCESSORIES, CONSTRUCTION & DESIGN:

    P1040483.JPG P1040482.JPG P1040485.JPG P1040487.JPG

    UNBOXING
    is very similar to the one of old XD-05 but it have a new boxd esign that make it moreappealing and perhaps suggest a new direction from Xduoo. What impress is the good number of accessories included so you will not need to buy extra cable or material, everything is takein charge. You have 3 cable, one micro-C to micro C, one micro usb to micro C and one micro C to USB. The Xduoo cable are thinked for easy hooking, and of great quality. As well, you have a neoprene sticker to stick you DAP on the XD-05PLUS, or to use as you want because its a very practical accessories. You have rubber feet wich is a most if you dont want to scracth the metal body. You have extra screws, wich can be usefull if like me you open the DAC-AMP a lot to change Opamp (and loose screws time to time). You have a 6.3 to 3.5mm jack and instruction manual and warranty card.

    P1040495.JPG P1040497.JPG P1040494.JPG P1040489.JPG

    CONSTRUCTION is exact same than old XD-05 if we talk about the alloy body, but it differ in some aspect in term of features for the switch and butons. It’s a very durable and sturdy construction, not the most appealing for they eye and the screen isn’t the brightess one in bright environment, but its compact and well built, with an all metal construction,and nice quality volume knob. The real difference is inside, were construction seriously differ from old XD-05 as you can see in this pictures.

    P1040506.JPG P1040504.JPG

    DESIGN was a little rethinked due to the adding of BOOST option. I can’t say I prefer it, but this is surely due to the fact I was use to XD-05 interface. Now, you have to use buton to change the input modes were it was a useless Display buton on old XD-05. I think they choose to put the BOOST switch in front so you do not press it by error wich can lead to serious ear or earphones damage. All in all, interface is intuitive and well done.

    POWER OUTPUT is just crazy for its size and will easily drive near everything up to 600ohm, this time, its not a joke: the 1000mW per channel amping power is really muscular and most of all stable too, so no distortion or hissing due to ackward amping here wich the old XD-05 can do at high gain.

    P1040499.JPG

    USB connection is excellent and a work and play. I try it on allmy laptop and table as well as my phone and it all work without flaw or any clicking noise or disconnection issue. Even the pricier TA-10 do not have an as good USB signal stability and would cut off time to time.

    BATTERY LIFE is seriously improved, wich is a relieve cause it was one of biggest drawback of basic XD-05, not I can have up to 12H of play time. Charging time is okay and take about 2H to fully charge.


    FEATURES:

    AUDIO IN/OUT is for using the XD-05 as a standalone amplifier or as standalone DAC (line out), you can use normal input from your DAP or DAC line out, I do not suggest using it directly from power out of DAPor PHONE because it will higher harmonic distortion, even if its subtle it not suggested. Using this with my Ibasso DX90 line out, sound is clean and free of any hissing or unwanted electrostatic noise. It work as it should as well as audio out, wich is clean and will gain coloration from the other amp you use with it. There no limit to audio file quality with audio in because it amplify the stock signal.

    DIGITAL IN is for pluging coaxial or optical cable, whats interesting is that you can resample audio signal, to my ears, this can sometime improve sound by extracting more textures nuance but it can affect the background by making it more saturated too cause overall sound became slightly thicker. You use SRC buton for this, upsampling up to 192kHz (SRC192).

    BOOST switch is a feature I do not use a lot, due to the fact I do not own very high impendance headphones (I will perhaps update this section once I receive the Hifiman Sundara). This features is to use carefully, because its for high impendance headphones, not iem as I discover by making explode the drivers of my Nicehck NX7.

    BASS switch is for bass gain, or more likely mid bass gain as it do give more slam to midbass, not so much for sub bass. I like this features for U shape or not enough bassy earphones or headphones. With right pairing it can give very interesting result, making punch thicker and more weighty, to the cost of warming lower mid range a little more sometime. But unlike other bass boost I try, it do not create distortion or ackward unbalanced sound. Anyway, I think its the very same bass boost than XD-05 so if you don’t like it with the first model, you will not use it more with this one.

    GAIN switch is very usefull and have same 6db/9db/15db gain than basic model but with more power to back it up. As well, its very clean and more stable than basic model wich can cause hissing sometime at high gain.

    FILTER side buton is for SOUND FILTERS. Its an interesting features, it have 4 of it. To be honnest, I do not hear serious difference and never use this option.

    INPUT buton is to select between USB in, AUX in/out, coaxial in and optical in.

    CHANGEABLE Opamp is a very nice feature wich I use ALOT with the Basic model, now it have been improve so you can use dual Opamp. I try it with various Opamp and it work perfectly, but as my collection is rather small I still prefer using either stock Opamp or the Burson V5i wich is my favorite. With basic model, I encounter issue at high gain with the V5i, I’m relieve to say that now it work perfecly and will not go in ‘’Protect’’ mode at high gain.

    SOUND:

    P1040498.JPG


    I was afraid to not like the sound of XD-05+ due to my bad experience with the disapointing Zishan T1 DAP that use dual AK4493. As we know, implementation is more important than DAC chip and Xduoo sure implement perfectly the dac with its excellent clocking and latest Xmos usb receiver. My first impressions was: man, it sound seriously better than basic XD-05 model, especially in term of imaging and neutrality. From all DAP and DAC-AMP using AK dac, this is the more refined one I heard to date. Its natural, refined, revealing, slightly warm in timbre and very transparent. Its like supreme neutrality with extra muscle and mellow timbre.

    SOUNDSTAGE is more dependant to amping output, wich suddenly open up your high impendance headphones or low sensitivity earphones, this give extra head room, tallnest and deepnest, but really, the DAC have very little to do with soundstage.

    IMAGING in other hand, benefit from DAC and Amping quality, I will not lie by saying the AK4493 is the clearest DAC out there, but it really is good for instrument separation wich have good space between them. Layering have good transparence too even if timbre is thick.

    CLARITY is good, not End Game great….i’m still obsess to find supreme clarity, wich for now only my Ibasso DX90 deliver but without an as high power output than XD-05+. Definition have some warmnest too it and while you can hear lot of microdetails, its not super crisp. This is due to thick sound presentation that can stole air between instruments.

    BASS
    have good body and average separation, its not pumped up and have smooth timbre. Its thick, warmish and not particularly fast or tigh. Definition of sub bass line can sometime lack transparency for my taste. It have more about weight than punch, so its better for aggressive V shape headphones-iem than mellow U shape ones. Texture is pure ‘’velvety’’ AKM signature, its lush, gently textured, like a cute curly puppy (hum, yeah).

    MID RANGE
    is were the lush AKM sound please me the most, even if I would prefer some extra presence, the mids are very appealing and a big step above the AK4490 DAC used in basic model. Vocal are super clear and well define, with just enough thickness to give extra body. Its neither organic or bright, and offer a good resolution with smooth natural timbre. Dynamic isn’t the snapiest but have weighty impact wich benefit piano more than violin.

    TREBLE feel less flat than bass and mids, with extra push to extract more micro details from the thick sometime opaque mix of sounds. This give extra sparkle to highs, and its were I feel the attack is the more energic. The XD-05PLUS is quite revealing with its treble, especially in 10-15khz region. Percussions are very easy to hear, as well as some type of instrument texture. All this do not tend to make the sound unbalanced, just more lively.


    EXTRA IMPRESSIONS WITH BURSON V5i Dual OPAMP:
    P1040507.JPG


    If I adore the XD-05 basic model, its because of this excellent high end Opamp wich really inject new life in whole sound. Improvment is even WAY better with the PLUS cause strangely I cannot use high gain with basic model as it would always go in protect mode, as well, background noise was higher than with stock TI OP1612 opamp.

    To simplify, it really improve EVERYTHING!

    SOUNDSTAGE feel it extend in both widness and deepnest due to a more airy presentation and probably better amping stability with lower harmonic disortion.

    IMAGING gain in separation distance and layering is way clearer, in fact, this is surely the biggest improvement and it was already good with stock Opamp.
    CLARITY gain in definition too, timbre is fuller, with better texture and rounder presentation.
    BASS is more bodie and impactfull, the slam have more weight and authority and yet better control as well. Now, the separation between sub bass and mid bass is more agile and faster.
    MIDRANGE became thicker, slightly more forwards, with more bodied vocal that feel wider and more transparent...man, its as much transparent than thick and lush, wich really improve whole imaging from 1khz to 8khz.
    TREBLE is now less aggressive and more sparkly, while it was sharper with OP1612. It make the whole sound more balanced with natural decay to highs attack.

    All in all, the improvement in sound is seriously intense with the V5i upgrade and transform a good DAC-AMP into an excellent one.

    PAIRING :
    P1040503.JPG

    With DITA FIDELITY(midgain, mid volume) :

    These TOTL single dynamic earphones aren’t as easy to drive as they look and benifit good amping as well as a not too bright, cold or agressive DAC-AMP. Here come the XD-05PLUS, wich perfectly complement the energic vivid mid centric soundsignature of FIDELITY. Everything sound natural, transparent but gain in thickness and smoothness. Bass is still slightly recessed but mkore bodied and due to powerfull amping, it tend to dig lower in extension. IMAGING is as clear but with wider layering that gain transparence and extra deepness compared to less powerfull DAP like the Xdoo X20 that tend to make the mid range colder and sharper. MID RANGE sound effortless and natural, vocal gain in presence and female signer tend to sound lusher. Piano notes are weighty, more organic than with less powerfull DAP. This do not mean treble became rolled off, quite the contrary, its more sparkly and present while being less harsh and shouty.


    With MEZE RAI PENTA (Low gain, low volume):

    These are easy to drive iem, and quite sensible in fact, when paired with too powerfull amp or DAP, bass can go crazy and loose control. No problem with bass here, its full bodied, have fast controled slam and gain in texture. SOUNDSTAGE expend notably, both in widnest and deepnest, wich affect positively IMAGING too. BASS control is fabulous, with warm but textured tone, fast pace and great transparence that do not bleed on lower mids. The overall sound is mellow, muscular, natural and never peaky. MID RANGE is still slightly recessed, but better centered and cleaner. TREBLE isn’t pushed more fowards, wich keep its liquid cripsness without affection slight V shape tuning balance. AK4493 DAC being slightly warm, thick but with a neutral linear revealing dynamic, it complement the PENTA like tigh glove, without changing much to overall technicalies with the exception of timbre and attack, wich gain in thickness, transparence and weight.

    With TINHIFI P1 (High gain, mid volume) :

    These Planar earphones are notoriously hard to drive, but for the XD-05+ it’s a child play. In fact, it’s the only DAC-AMP I own that can drive them effortlessly. SOUNDSTAGE gain in widness and deepness, as well as IMAGING became clearer and sharper in attack without loosing its addictive transparence. BASS became more bodied and compared with less powerfull dap, it do not sound as dry and recessed. MID RANGE sound more coherent and spacy, and vocal have extra presence added. TREBLE too sound more balanced and on line with rest of spectrum. Too my ears, this pairing give extra liveliness to musicality as well a more attack and weight to instrument. Yep, the P1 needed this DAC-AMP to achieve a better transient response.

    With ISK HF2010 (mid-gain, mid volume) :

    SO, these are 60ohm impendance with low 95db sensitivity open back headphones that benifit from good amping and man, the PLUS sure make them shine like no other DAC-AMP do! SOUNDSTAGE is quite gigantic and airy now, way bigger than pluged direcly into my powerfull Ibasso DX90. IMAGING is where the magic happen, it wasnt bad before but now it just dont understand how accurate it is….imean, its 40$ (bargain) headphones and i can pin point every instrument easily and they are out of my head and have lot of space between them. Delicious. BASS is very controled, but as the PLUS isnt a sub bass champion the roll off sub still is shy, but the mid bass kick gain in control, weight and impact making it very W shape now. MIDS that are slightly recessed gain in presence and clarity, but again, its only vocal that feel less fowards than all other instruments. TREBLE is more detailed, and the HF2010 became more lively and energic.

    COMPARAISONS :

    VS XDUOO XD-05 (210$) :
    P1040502.JPG

    Okay, this is the real battle here and let’s be clear, even if the XD-05 is suppose to be 2 times less powerfull than the PLUS, its not night and day difference….until you push the sound to Maximum...wich will only occur with 300 or 600ohm headphones i don’t have. So, yeah, the difference is translate in stability of gain mostly even if YES the PLUS is way more powerfull. An example is that the XD-05 will sometime go in protect mode at high gain with some Opamp, as if it struggle too much to deliver power, while the PLUS will never do that.
    Battery life is way better with the PLUS, near the double in fact, i never get more than 6H with the XD-05 while I get 10-12H with the PLUS.
    CONSTRUCTION is the very same, nothing to say here appart from different butons placement.

    CONNECTIVITY is more versatile with USB C than particular USB of XD-05.
    Now, for the SOUND, again, its not night and day as it use similar DAC from same AKM company. AK4493 is an upgraded AK4490 and yes, its shown in how the sound is more nuanced.
    IMAGING is improved slightly, especially with the space between instrument and more transparent layering. Here, the XD-05 was more opaque and coloured while the PLUS is more neutral and refined.
    TIMBRE is softer and thicker with XD-05, while the PLUS have more texture.
    BASS is more controled with the PLUS, we have slightly more mid bass, but this is due to softed mid bass presentation of XD-05.
    MIDS are more articulate and resolved with the PLUS, while the XD-05 are warmer and less detailed.
    TREBLE is very similar, but slightly sharper with the PLUS.

    All in all, the PLUS upgraded about everything possible from old model, delivering more stable and powerfull amping output as well as more refined, balanced and articulate sound.

    VS XDUOO TA-10 (290$) :

    P1040501.JPG


    This amp is great, and pricier….but certainly not portable because its not battery powered and weight 1.5kg.
    Sure it win in term of (deskop) construction as well as numerous connectivity that include XLR output.

    It win too in term of power output, wich is 2000mW against the impressive 1000mW of the PLUS.
    But did it win in term of sound rendering with its AK4490 dac against the more refined AK4493? Well, Yes and No….perhaps if i change the tube as I change the Opamp it will, but, hum, okay, let’s compare them with both stock configuration then.
    SOUNDSTAGE is sure bigger with the more powerfull TA-10, as well IMAGING gain spacial freedom because of this out of your holographic presentation. Forme its where the sword hit against PLUS wich have notable less deepnest and airy in spaciality.
    BASS is thicker and a little less well controled with the PLUS, TA-10 have more transparent in sub bass wich give better articulation and more natural extension.
    MID RANGE is again more detailed and refined with the TA-10, especially in imaging and accuracy, wich make vocal more centered and clearer. Its really about transparence here, wich some will confuse with thinnest, texture is smoother little dryer than PLUS too.
    TREBLE is more extended with the PLUS and deliver more microdetails, mellow tube flavor tend to stole some treble so its nothing surprising, still, loer treble tend to be more revealing with the TA-10.

    All in all, for plain deskop use I would choose the more powerfull TA-10 for its incredible soundstage and more transparent and refined sound, but the XD-05PLUS win in versatility of use, as well for its bass and gain switch and easy portability.


    CONCLUSION :

    P1040495.JPG


    Yes, XDUOO done it right with the new XD-05PLUS version and upgraded everything that we can dream off without changing the small size of the device.

    We couldn’t ask for more, I mean we got 2 times more output power, near 2 times more battery life, a more refined, neutral and detailed sound as well as the possibility to play with dual Opamp wich I can’t wait to explore further.

    With this very capable DAC-AMP, I feel XDUOO is back on the track for ultra competitive audio product in term of overall value.

    If you are searching for an all-in-one DAC-AMP solution that you wish to carry around at work, school or even in your car or public transport, i’m pretty confident the XD-05PLUS will surpass your need in term of amping power, battery life and most of all sound. I suggest you to upgrade Opamp to get the best of it, for me my end game Opamp is the Burson V5i, but who know what it would be for you!

    images

    1. P1040507.JPG
    2. P1040505.JPG
    3. P1040503.JPG
    4. P1040502.JPG
    5. P1040501.JPG
    6. P1040496.JPG
      trellus and Cat Music like this.
  2. Wiljen
    XDuoo XD-05 Plus - The new generation arrives!
    Written by Wiljen
    Published Sep 15, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Improves on an already great product, allows easy swapping of op-amps and exposes filters.
    Cons - Noise floor is not as black as it could be, no Bluetooth without an add-on, No MQA support.
    Disclaimer: The XD-05+ was provided by Xtenik for this review at my request. I have owned the XD-05 for several years now and think it may well be the best product Xduoo has released to date. As such, when Steven told me the XD-05+ had become available, I was anxious to review it and requested that he send me a unit for review. I do not have a financial interest in Xtenik or in Xduoo. Should you want more information or to purchase an XD-05+, give Xtenik a try.



    Unboxing / Accessories:

    I normally try not to imbalance the importance (or lack thereof) of the packaging by having a ton of photos of it, but this is just a cool box. The outer packing has the line drawing of the XD-05+ (the Plus) that wraps around the box in blue and gray. The box rear has all the spec information in a well organized and easy to read layout. Remove the outer box, and the inner box has the line drawing again, but this time in satin black in contrast to the flat black finish of the rest of the box. Again, the graphic wraps around the box and gives the box a very distinct look. Lifting the cover of the box reveals the unit in a foam surround with all other accessories hidden in a box underneath it. The kit has two usb interconnects (micro to C, and C to C), a USB-C to USB-A cable for computer connection or charging, a neoprene pad to place between phone and the XD-05+, extra screws, feet, and a 6.3 to 3.5mm jack adapter. A fairly complete manual and a warranty card round out the package.

    Xduoo-XD-05Plus-box-front.JPG Xduoo-XD-05Plus-box-rear.JPG Xduoo-XD-05Plus-box-left.JPG Xduoo-XD-05Plus-box-right.JPG Xduoo-XD-05Plus-inner-box.JPG Xduoo-XD-05Plus-inner-right.JPG Xduoo-XD-05Plus-inner-left.JPG Xduoo-XD-05Plus-contents.JPG Xduoo-XD-05Plus-kit.JPG




    Build:

    Those familiar with the previous generation unit will recognize the form factor of the Plus immediately. Other than its silver exterior, the externals of the unit have not changed much. The entire unit is metal cased, with thick face plates. The biggest external difference other than color is the Logo and position of it as the original had two lines of text near the rear of the unit, while the Plus has a logo and model name a bit to the right of center and a bit further forward. The front face plate remain the same from the previous generation as does the volume control. The front face still has the three switches on the front, but the input funtion from the original is now the boost function of the Plus with the input switch being moved to the side. The rear face plate is a bit remodeled with the auxiliary and digital 3.5mm inputs remaining in the same position, but gone is the USB-A input and the Micro-USB charge port, replaced with a pair of USB-C ports for charging and input respectively. Buttons on the Side, are now input in place of display, SRC, and filter (More on those later).

    Xduoo-XD-05Plus-bottom.JPG Xduoo-XD-05Plus-top.JPG Xduoo-XD-05Plus-left-side.JPG Xduoo-XD-05Plus-right-side.JPG Xduoo-XD-05Plus-front.JPG Xduoo-XD-05Plus-back.JPG



    Internals:

    Those familiar with the XD-05 will be most interested in what changed and the answers are a lot more apparent on the inside than on the exterior of the unit. Starting from the inputs, the USB duties are now handled by the Xu208 which allows for PCM up to 32/384 and Native DSD256 support. Optical and coaxial inputs are still limited to 24/192 if one can realistically call that a limit. DAC duties are now handled by the AKM4493EQ in place of the 4490 used in the previous generation. Not all of the features of the chip are usable as the input limits it below its 32/768 PCM maximum and DSD 22.4 mhz max. Clocking is handled by two oscillators at 22 and 24 Mhz respectively. One plus is DSD64 is now supported over coax input unlike the original.



    The Op-amp is still seated in a Dip-8 socket to allow for easy swaps, but now the socket is designed to allow use of either One Dual op-amp or two Single Op-amps. TI OPA1612. I did my listening with the stock op-amp (still OPA1612) and then promptly swapped in a pair of Muses03 and later a single Burson V5i to see what impact they had on sound quality.

    Xduoo-XD-05Plus-inside-bottom.JPG Xduoo-XD-05Plus-inside-top.JPG Xduoo-XD-05Plus-op-amp.JPG IMG_0930.JPG IMG_0931.JPG IMG_0932-1.JPG



    Power:

    Power is provided by two 5000 mAh lithium polymer cells stacked in the center of the unit. Battery life is listed at >13 hours for USB input, >21 hours for Coaxial input, and >40 hours if bypassing the dac portion and only using the amp section of the unit. I had no trouble getting over 12 hours on USB and 18 on Optical so find the provided numbers to be believable and not overly optimistic as they often are.



    Controls:

    All controls are either on the front of the unit or down the side nearest the headphone jack. On the front are three switches for boost, bass, and gain. Boost is listed as an increased thrust switch which isn't a particularly useful definition. More accurately, boost is the Impedance matching switch with the off position for headphones at or below 150Ω and the on position for things exceeding that same value. For the other two switches, differences are readily seen on FR so, I have paired the XD-05+ to my measurement laptop and then to a Brainwavz B400. The FR graphs below show the output of the unit with and without the bass switch engaged to show what frequencies are pushed forward or pulled down. Likewise, I did the same for gain to show the amount of gain applied by each setting. The initial measurement is deliberately low to allow headroom for the high gain in the later as no adjustment to volume was made in order to maintain a valid comparison.


    Xduoo-XD-05Plus-front.JPG
    Xduoo-XD-05Plus-buttons.JPG

    Buttons on the side of the unit allow the user to select input type, src, and filter. Input type gives the options for USB, Coax, Optical, or Auxiliary in. On the display, these are shown in the lower left to indicate which input is in use. The Src button only works with Coaxial/Optical input and allows the user to select to force resampling to 48,96, or 192kHz. Settings are displayed on the left of the screen above the Coaxial or Optical indicator and will show SRC48, SRC96, or SRC192 respectively. If none of those is shown, resampling is off. The last of the buttons is filter and this one is a bit more involved. For PCM, 4 possible settings are available and are listed on the lower right under the charge indicator. PCM1 is Sharp roll-off, PCM2 is Slow Roll-off, PCM3 is short delay Sharp, and PCM4 is short delay Slow. When using DSD, it is a bit more complex with 2 settings. Setting DSD1 will result in 39kHz for DSD64 files, 78kHz for DSD128, and 156kHz for DSD256. DSD2 will result in 76kHz for DSD64 files, 152kHz for DSD128, and 304kHz for DSD256. There is also an undocumented function that by holding all three side buttons in brings up the menu to default the unit. Once that menu is activated, input allows for selection of yes or no, and filter acts as the enter/return key. Choosing no and hitting enter will return the unit to normal operational mode.

    Bass Settings.jpg

    Gain Settings.jpg


    Sound:


    Bass: Without the bass switch active, the bass has good slam and rumble without being overly assertive or bloated. With the bass boost enabled, bass below 400Hz does get considerably more forward but at the cost of quality. Bass boost is rarely something that performs well and unfortunately the bass boost on the Plus carries all the hallmarks of stereotypical bass boosts. The best thing about the Plus with nearly a full watt of power available to it, the low end is more potent and more dynamic than its predecessor and with all but the most demanding headphones, the Plus has the ability to drive them to full capability.

    Mids: The Plus does a good job of presenting the mids without coloration as it does not seem to elevate the upper-mids or attempt to push vocals to the front. If anything, vocals could use a bit more thickness than they are presented with. This is not to say they are overly lean, just that the sound is not as full as it could be. I did find this improved when going to the Muses03 op-amps so this may be more of function of the op-amp in play than the device itself. The Plus does a good job with vocals as they are well rendered without the grain that comes through on some other amplifiers in this price range.

    Treble: Here again, the Plus does a good job of presenting what is there without introducing its own slant on it. Treble is well extended with good energy, but not pushed forward or exaggerated. I did find that the difference in mid and high gain seems to alter the signature more at the bottom and makes the treble seem a bit recessed by comparison to lower gain settings. This is not to say the treble is recessed but the gain applied seems to be from 1kHz down when moving from mid to high gain and effectively becomes a form of low-end boost.



    Output Power:

    The XD-05+ is not lacking in power either. Specs show a full 1 Watt output power into a 32Ω load. I found it had no trouble powering things like the Fostex T50rp or He560 to levels above those safe for average listening. Noise floor is fairly low on low gain, but some sensitive iems will still have some hiss as the XD-05+ is really not designed with ultra-sensitive iems as its target audience. I found that something like the ie-match could be used in conjunction with the XD-05+ and sensitive iems to reduce noise floor to inaudible levels.



    Bluetooth:

    The unit does not support Bluetooth by itself, but does have an add-on, the 05BL that adds this functionality. I have an 05BL that I had previously used with the original XD-05 so transferred it to the Plus to test out its compatibility. The unit works well but looks a little less at home as the matte silver Plus stands in contrast to the polished black 05BL. My biggest complaint on the Bluetooth unit is the fact that it obstructs the input ports so must be removed in order to charge the unit, and with having a separate battery for the Bluetooth module, it has to be charged independently as well. My take away is while the Bluetooth add-on works well, the XD-05 Plus is really at its best with full sized wired headphones and those looking for a Bluetooth solution can likely find more user friendly solutions for the same spend (even in Xduoo's product line - see XQ23 or XQ25).



    Comparisons:

    I have attempted to compare other similar devices in the market. These are all within a $100 of each other and all are DAC/Amp combinations although feature sets will vary.

    Fiio Q5 $299 list + $159 list for AM5 module

    (At time of this writing Fiio has updated the Q5 with the Q5s which comes with the AM3e module as opposed to the Q5 with the Am3a - Hopefully we will have a review sample of it to put through it's paces one day soon).

    The Q5 uses dual AK4490 chips compared to the Pluses single 4493 and both support 32/384 PCM. DSD support to 256 is also built into the Q5 so both stay within striking distance of each other on that front. The Q5 does package Bluetooth into the base device for those who want it and offers interchangeable amplifier modules to suit the users choice of headphones. That is the good news, the bad news is, in order to equal the output power of the Plus, you'll need the AM5 amplifier which adds another $150-200 to the cost depending on where you get it, and then expect battery life on the Q5 to be considerably diminished as the AM5 draws considerably more power than the default AM3A that comes packaged with the Q5. The AM3a does support balanced output and is better suited to high sensitivity iems than the Plus as its noise floor is a bit lower. Realistically, the Q5 does its best work with iems while the Plus is more targeted to full sized cans. You can force either of them into the others lane, but neither is able to show off its full capability by doing so.

    iFi xDSD $399 list

    The xDSD is iFi's swiss army knife of an audio device and offers a ton of features in a very small package. Size is about two-thirds that of the Plus but weight is more closely matched. The xDSD has the capability to play higher resolution files (768kHz PCM and DSD512) than the Plus for those that have sources in those ranges and also supports MQA. The plus exposes more of the filters where the X offers only two. Bass Boost is better on the x while the Plus offers the ability to selectively resample coax or optical input. The X fires back by including Bluetooth in the base unit rather than requiring an add-on. Battery life favors the Plus with the xDSD falling to about 2/3 the runtime of the Plus before needing a recharge. Both offer great sound, but the Plus brings a bit more potency for those running hard to drive cans. Both units score enough points that calling a winner is tough, for those wanting more battery life and a bit more power the Plus will get the call, for those with MQA, the xDSD is perhaps a better option.

    Sony PHA1A $300 list

    This really isnt a fair fight and does a lot to show the age of the Sony device. The PHA1A was great when introduced but now the WM8790 is starting to show its age. The PHA1A only supports USB input, and tops out at 24/192 with no DSD support. The Amplifier in the PHA1A is an LME49860 design and while fairly potent struggles to come near the Plus in overall output power. Topping off the hits, battery life on the PHA1a is a mere 6 hours compared to the Plus. Sony is due to release a refreshed line-up soon, maybe that model will have the features to compete on a more even footing.

    Chord Mojo $500 list

    At double the price, it is hard to call the Mojo a direct competitor, but with it's overwhelming popularity, I would be remiss not to include it. That extra money, gets a 32/768 USB or coaxial input while the optical on Mojo is actually more limited than the Plus (96/24). Mojo's battery life is considerably less at 8 hours and many including myself have had issues with the Mojo getting outright hot while charging, (especially while charging during use). Output power on Mojo is about 3/4 of the Plus so its noise floor is lower, but its not quite as capable with heavy cans. The fact that Mojo splits its output between two 3.5mm outputs also calls into question how much of that output is really available to either jack if both are in use. One of the big upsides to Mojo is that rather than using a dedicated DAC, it uses a microprocessor (Xilinx Artix 7) thus can be re-programmed to support newer standards rather than being hardware limited. With the current firmware, DSD playback is limited to the same options as the Plus, but in theory could be improved upon with a flash update. Both are aluminum shelled with the Mojo being a bit more artistic while the controls on the Plus are a bit more easily understood and the display makes more sense than the Mojo's colored buttons arrangement. Mojo is starting to show its age with micro-USB ports instead of USB-C. Having been several years since release, it is possible that a Mojo2 could be on the horizon, but to date no announcement has been made that I am aware of.



    Conclusion:

    I am going to start my conclusion by reminding the user that I said at the outset that I thought the XD-05 was probably the best product Xduoo has released. The good news is the XD-05 Plus does nothing to change my mind. It retains all of the things that made the original model a hit and adds some welcome new options. The ability to swap op-amps was nice on the original but the plus opens the door to using either a double to two singles without having to use adapters that are too tall for the case to close. Tonality is good as it neither tries to add anything nor does it particularly detract from any single element. The option of USB-C, coax, optical, or analog input makes it a truly versatile travel companion, and the nearly full Watt output power makes it capable of replacing many desktop rigs. The downside is bass boost is still clunky and best avoided, and bluetooth functionality is added by an external module rather than being baked in as is now pretty common. The XD-05 Plus is a great device with a lot of capability, not a perfect one for every use case. I can live with that, my bet is you probably can too.

    images

    1. Xduoo-XD-05Plus-feature.JPG
    1. misteral201103
      Nice review, thanks for the insights. Such a shame there's no balanced in and out. Loved my XD05 when I was using it!
      misteral201103, Sep 16, 2019
      Cat Music likes this.
    2. Cat Music
      Between the Xduuo XD-05 + and the MOJO, which one is better in sound quality?
      Cat Music, Oct 15, 2019
    3. Wiljen
      Very close between the XD-05+ and Mojo on sound quality, but I'd give a slight edge to the XD-05+ when combined with the burson V5i op-amp or the Muses02.
      Wiljen, Nov 1, 2019
      Cat Music likes this.