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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. Saoshyant
    Plus for the cost of the XB10, a new stereo for the car with BT built in most likely would be cheaper.
    chaturanga likes this.
  2. ballog
  3. rade363
    How is the XB10 compared to the Creative SoundBlaster E3/E5?

    I am using iPhone 7 with Apple Music AAC -> lightning to 3.5 mm jack adapter -> Westone W30/Creative Aurvana Live! and I've already tried the XB10 and was completely satisfied with its sound. Some time later I found out the existence of SoundBlaster E3/E5, but have not tried any of them yet.
    E3 is almost twice cheaper than XB10, while E5 costs the same as XB10.
    Both the E3/E5 have two output 3.5 mm jacks, which is great for me, because sometimes I listen music with my girlfriend using the 3.5 mm jack splitter and the sound quality is quite horrible that way.
    Moreover, the E3/E5 can be used as desktop USB DAC, which gives me an alternative source of music at my job.

    Thank you in advance for any feedback.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2017
  4. Ynot1
    AAC, APTX, APTX HD, APTX LL, etc...

    Shouldn't the question be who makes all the chips? Because there is only one bluetooth chip maker that suppprts APTX and AAC.
  5. Ynot1
    Hearing uses ear drums and sensors that many like me don't understand, but like muscles can be made bigger and stronger through practice called exercise, headfi members know we humans are adaptive and practice makes perfect, need I say more.
    bidn likes this.
  6. rade363
    I've tried the Creative Sound Blaster E3 several days ago. While listening to the default 256 kbps AAC, I could not find at least any sound quality downgrade compared to the lightning -> 3.5mm jack.
    Unfortunately, I had no time to compare the E3 with the XB10, because the store was getting closed, however I am still going to compare these cute devices face-to-face soon.

    So here are my pros and cons about each of these devices.

    Creative Sound Blaster E3
    + 2 output 3.5 mm outputs, 1 3.5 mm input
    + USB DAC/amp
    + Larger battery (up to 8 hours)
    + Cheaper
    - Battery is not displayed in iOS status bar (bluetooth connection icon)
    - Bluetooth 2.1
    - Bulkier, heavier - 44g

    Astell&Kern AK XB10
    + Battery is displayed in iOS status bar in the (bluetooth connection icon)
    + Bluetooth 4.1 class 2
    + Lighter, smaller - 23g
    - 1x unbalanced 3.5mm output, 1x balanced 2.5 output
    - no USB DAC/amp capabilities
    - smaller battery (up to 5 hours)
    - pricier

    The only thing that disappoints me on paper is that the E3 has Bluetooth 2.1 only, while the XB10 has the 4.1 class 2.

    Probably a stupid question - is it possible to use both outputs on the AK XB10 at the same time?
    trellus likes this.
  7. Micha
    This evening I just received my XB10 which I ordered from the UK and the first initial impression is just .... WOW !

    I paired it with my Galaxy S8 Plus (playing Tidal), using the balanced out with my JH Rosies and actually to my ears it is way way better in SQ than going direct from the headphone jack of my S8 Plus.
    To be honest for bluetooth ... unbelievable ... you see gentleman I am really excited (even though my impressions are only the very first after it arrived 2 hours before).

    Well done A&K :k701smile:
    DannyBai likes this.
  8. slackerpo
    are you using aptx?
  9. roddin
    Nope, it doesn't work with both 3.5mm and 2.5mm plugged in.
    rade363 likes this.
  10. roddin
    qualcomn powered phones comes equipped with aptX and will automatically activate when paired with the xb-10. not sure about the exynos powered phones though
  11. rade363
    Thank you! I couldn't find this information anywhere.

    Meanwhile, I had a chance to compare the Sound Blaster E3 and AK XB10 face-to-face several weeks ago. At first I could certainly hear that XB10 had a wider sound stage and the overall sound quality seemed to be better, I was really impressed to be honest. However, a bit later I had figured out how to set up an approximate volume level on both devices and I could not tell any huge differences between them anymore. Either the quality of selected AAC tracks was low, or my ears were unable to tell any difference after a long listening session.

    In my area, the XB10 costs twice the price of E3 ($~212 vs $~110), so I guess I am going to select the cheaper one. I totally love the usability, aesthetics and sound quality of XB10, but at the same time I need the functionality of E3. If I had some more savings, I would probably get both of them for different use cases. If only the XB10 had two outputs able to work at the same time, it would be a totally different story.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2017
    trellus likes this.
  12. Micha
    Yes, the Exynos S8 is using AptX as far as I know
    roddin likes this.
  13. Ynot1
    I think samsung and the company who owns aptx have some arrangements, so I don't believe the aptx is a different thing.
  14. roddin
    all things considered, the XB-10 is a great bluetooth amp/dac. i can forget about using bulky 'portable' amps and enjoy music on the go easily.
  15. Sythrix
    I have tried and tried and I cannot for the life of me find anywhere a mention of output impedance... which is pretty important on a device that has a balanced output, as it's usually higher, even if the initial is low.

    Does anyone know? Did Google and I just completely miss it somewhere? I would be grateful to anyone who could direct me to the answer.
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