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Astell&Kern XB10 Extreme Bluetooth Adapter

Discussion in 'Portable Headphone Amps' started by gr8soundz, Sep 6, 2016.
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  1. gr8soundz
    AK XB10
    There are a few bluetooth adapters like this already on the market (like Noble's BTS) that allow use of wired headphones with a bluetooth connection but a few things about the XB10 stand out:
    1. Apt-X HD (24-bit/48Khz and, unlike regular bluetooth and non-HD apt-x, no downsampling to 16/44 before wireless transmission). Still not lossless and the wireless stream is still compressed but apt-x HD has almost double the data rate of standard bluetooth. Should be interesting to hear this with some apt-x HD headphones (once they become available).
    2. Balanced 2.5mm out (as well as 3.5mm unbalanced)
    3. Towards the end of the video below, they connect an HD800S (to the 2.5mm balanced out) and the audio coming from them is so loud they turned down the volume on the XB10. Specs show up to 1.8V rms from the balanced out so there is a little power here which explains the short 5hr max battery life.

    General Specifications

    1. Model
    2. Body Color
    3. Dimensions
    4. Weight
    5. Bluetooth Version
    6. Bluetooth Profile
    7. Frequency Band
    8. Range
    9. Operating Temperature

    1. AK XB10
    2. Black
    3. 1.97 ”(50 mm) [W] x 1.97 ”(50 mm) [H] x 0.48 ”(12.3 mm) [D]
    4. 0.81 oz (23 g)
    5. Bluetooth 4.1, Class2
    6. A2DP (multi), AVRCP, HFP, HSP
    7. 2.4 - 2.4835 GHz ISM Band
    8. Maximum of 10 meters
    9. -10°C ~ 45°C (23°F ~ 113°F)


    1. Codec
    2. Port
    3. Output Level

    1. SBC, AAC, aptX™, aptX™ HD
    2. 2.5mm Balanced / 3.5mm Unbalanced
    3. 2.5mm Balanced : 1.8Vrms / 3.5mm Unbalanced : 0.9Vrms


    1. Battery Type
    2. Hours of Operation
    3. Standby Time
    4. Charging Time
    5. Charging Method

    1. 350mAh 3.7V lithium polymer rechargeable battery
    2. Approximately 5 hours for music playing and phone calls
    3. Up to 300 hours
    4. Approximately 2 hours
    5. Micro USB 5Pin (charging 5V 2A)

  2. slackerpo
    yeah the verge just posted about it... go figure.

    it made me rethink my westone bluetooth cable buy... as this seems iems future proof, including aptx hd support (awesome).

    the balance output looks great, as it should be able to handle full size cans, and 0.9v unbalanced seems pretty legit for most iems.

    cant wait for the first review to hit the deck!
  3. tuxbass
    I need my AK320 do be able to do this.
    I always wanted to be able to use my phone to control the playback (Tidal Offline), feeding wirelessly into a DAC.

    Even if they made a stripped down version of this as a dongle that received music wirelessly from my Phone and connected to my AK320 - that would be a day 1 buy for me.
    I am surprised no one else has such a need or there is no such device already.
  4. LajostheHun
    For headphones there should be a direct connection, not a wired one between the receiver and the cans,otherwise what's the point.There are some of that on the market, but they are not very high quality.
  5. slackerpo

    that's your opinion.

    i totally need something like this.

    as it has evidently more output power than my cellphone, for better the driving experience of my iems
  6. cityle
    At that point I just want a Bluetooth cable. Already have a dongle with my AT-PHA50BT but now I want to be even freer and have have only a cable that runs behind my head instead of a dongle with a too long cable. Unfortunately, Westone only make their cable with MMCX connectors and apparently the Lear's one is horrible (still i,m thinking maybe about getting the westone one and change the connectors..).
  7. slackerpo


    even though i own a pair of um 30 pro, i'm afraid that the output power from the westone bluetooth cable wont come close to the output of the a&k. i wouldn't mind to have a the clip in the back as long as i'm properly amped.

    maybe the only way to truly find out is to get them both...

    what will you do with your AT-PHA50BT if you go for some of the options?
  8. cityle
    Gonna probably sell it as I wouldn't have any use for it
  9. k4syx
    OK I am definetely interested in this as I've always used this kind of dac/amp when on the move.
    I had tested and used:
    Samsung HS3000
    Samsung Link Level
    Elecom LBT-PAR500AV
    SoundBlaster E3
    Audio Technica AT-PHA50BT - and this is the one I am using now with my Sennheiser IE800
    All of them are Apt-X capable, I've never even bothered with devices with A2DP or SBC only. I am also using Sony BM10 for my bedroom rig.
    Anyway: I am very curious about the SQ of this new toy as my current audio technica device is the number one for me. I am also aware of the Noble Audio bluetooth dac/amp but all the reviews are mentioning bass rolloff.
    One of the local audio shops says that they will have XB10 soon for testing purposes so I'll try to compare it to my AT-PHA50BT
    (in case you'd be wondering the device list is ordered by sq, the first one being the worst (but still really ok) and the last one being the best sounding one.
    Sorry for my english - I haven't slept much last night as of the drives in my raid5 failed and I've spent past ~30 hours moving everything to new set of HDD's.
  10. slackerpo
    cant wait for your references
  11. agrosash

    This thread is so relevant to my interests :) I'm currently on an E3 but desperately want to try the Audio Technica — so hard to get one to ship to Germany. Might need to order it to my colleague in AZ to pick it up there in a couple weeks...
    EDIT: Oh and I'm getting some good hiss on the E3 with my UE18 Pro. Hoping for this to be better on the AT.
  12. k4syx
    @agrosash: use Amazon and just click and try on the sellers list to find one shipping to Europe. I've found two of them some time ago (I was buying another AT for my fiend two or three months ago).

    Also, take a look at ebay, you can get it from Japanese stores for the same price or maybe even little cheaper.

    For AT and Elecom with Sennheiser IE8i I had to use impedance adaptor (30 Ohm) to remove background hiss, as they are 16 Ohms AFAIR, IE800 are dead quiet and no additional resistance is needed (though they are 24 Ohms).

    I was thinking about writing detailed info about my adventures with all of them, but I've never found enough time :frowning2:
  13. haiku

    I contacted Alex An from AK, and he said the XB SQ is nowhere near the AK 3XX Daps. So think twice before you buy.... 
    Traveller likes this.
  14. gr8soundz
    Wouldn't expect it to be at the 300 / 320 / 380's level. Don't know yet what chips are in the XB10 but if it only has a Bluetooth DSP / Soc chip with a headphone amp then AK's full daps should definitely outperform it.
    However, I (and others) have noticed only subtle differences in sound quality between current dacs and daps no matter the price. A few could barely hear a difference between the AK Jr. and 380 so they all bought the Jr.
  15. slackerpo
    as long as it sounds anything like a ak100 im cool.
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