xDuoo - new company making interesting portable DAC and amp units
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project86

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Stephen Guo of Custom-iem.com is probably best known as being the North American rep for Unique Melody. Looking closely, you'll notice that he also sells cables and custom IEMs from Beat Audio, another company based in China. Stephen speaking both languages means he can bridge the gap between Chinese companies and buyers who wouldn't otherwise have access to them. He's mentioned to me in the past that he wouldn't mind offering more products if the right stuff came along. 
 
It appears that time has come: xDuoo is a new company offering some interesting portable amps, some with built in DAC functionality, as well as a line of portable players and small desktop amps. Stephen will will be offering 3 models initially: the XP-1, the XD-01, and the UA-05. Let's take a look at them now.
 
XP-1
 

 
This unit will sell for roughly $300 shipped. It's a slim portable amp/DAC based around a pair of Wolfson WM8740 DAC chips in dual differential mode. Amp section uses two OPA627 opamps and offers adjustable gain (+3dB or +7dB) as well as a selectable bass boost. It has the typical aux input via 3.5mm jack as well as a USB input for DAC duty. The USB input uses a TI PCM2706 which is limited to 16-bit/48kHz, which is done for a reason: the XP-1 is meant to be paired with Android phones. So far it's been confirmed to work with the popular Samsung Galaxy S3 as well as the larger Galaxy Note II and also the HTC One X. xDuoo claims Android 4.0 or newer should work but there's no guarantee - I found out the hard way that my Meizu MX 4-core does not work. 
 
Not only does the XP-1 connect with phones as a DAC, but it can also charge the phone thanks to its large capacity battery. This function is activated with a switch so it is only used when needed. Nice.
 
 
XD-01
 

 
This is another portable DAC/amp unit with a different focus. It uses a single Wolfson WM8740 paired with a Cirrus Logic CS8422 asynchronous sample rate converter for 24-bit/192kHz upsampling, which can be turned off or on by a rear panel switch. It has coaxial and optical digital inputs that accept 24/192 signals, and a USB input that goes as high as 24/96 thanks for the TAS1020B receiver. Gain is still adjustable from +3 dB to +9 dB. Not much is said about the amp section on this unit. This looks slightly thicker than the XP-1 but still on the compact side overall. Price should be around $300 shipped.
 
 
UA-05
 

 
The UA-05 is the largest of the three models. It uses the same WM8740 DAC and TAS1020B for USB, but doesn't have any other digital inputs. The extra size is due to the unit having a far more powerful amp section than the others. It uses an unspecified dual opamp plus buffer stage with a max output of 800mW into a 32 ohm load. That's potent for a compact unit like this. Gain starts at +3dB but this time goes up to +17dB indicating this unit is ready to push some difficult headphones. The 1/4" headphone jack should make its intentions clear. Bass boost is also available. Price is not yet known.
 
I had a chance to demo a pre-production XP-1 and came away impressed. The size is perfect for carrying around along with a mid-sized phone, and it fit perfectly stacked on the Meizu MX 4-core. Unfortunately the Meizu doesn't seem to work in USB output mode, despite running Android 4.0, and I wasn't willing to flash a custom ROM to see if that worked. The XP-1 did work with my iPad via CCK.
 
The sound was very promising. The early unit I tried had a small problem with hiss which is supposedly fixed on the production model. But aside from that I heard excellent detail retrieval and very good dynamics. I ended up using it a lot with the V-MODA M80, and it did a wonderful job - hard hitting bass, smooth top end with good extension (limited only by the M80s slightly dark character). I later tried it with the Audio Technica AD2000 - not a headphone you would take with you on the go, but it sounded very controlled and fun. Some of my other portables didn't match well with the AD2K due to brightness and grain, but the XP-1 did a fine job. 
 
I was limited in the amount of time I could spend with the unit so I don't have a definitive opinion at this point. But again - it sounded very promising. With the hiss eliminated and a compatible Android phone this thing would be a very competitive in the $300 bracket. I'm hoping to later demo one of the other models or possibly the finalized XP-1 so I'll update when I can. 
 
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RAFA

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Have you seen the DAPs, that xDuoo has in plan. http://www.xduoo.com/xduoo/
 
That X3-B also has dual 8740 and quite a promising amp section. Probably it will take some time, till they release it. Sadly my T51 died, so this would be the replacement.
 
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ellis ip

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i will Think about to bought it but i already have a p4 not sure should i buy it
 
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Quote:
Have you seen the DAPs, that xDuoo has in plan. http://www.xduoo.com/xduoo/
 
That X3-B also has dual 8740 and quite a promising amp section. Probably it will take some time, till they release it. Sadly my T51 died, so this would be the replacement.
DAPs look very interesting indeed.
 
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DanBa

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Quote:
I found out the hard way that my Meizu MX 4-core does not work. 
 
 
As the Meizu MX 4-core supports the USB host feature and is powered by Android 4;X, it could likely interwork with some USB DAC using the USB Audio Recorder PRO app according to the eXtream Software Development web site:
https://play.google.com/store/search?q=usb+audio+recorder+pro
http://www.extreamsd.com/USBAudioRecorderPRO/
 
"Supported Android devices
In theory, all Android devices that meet the following requirements should work:
. Android 3.1 or higher (no root required!!)
. Device supports USB host mode"
 
The USB Audio Recorder PRO app includes its own USB audio function.
The eXtream Software Development solution does audio over the USB without using the USB audio implemented in the Linux kernel (i.e. no need to request Google / Android device manufacturers to implement standard USB audio on USB host-capable Android devices).
 
 


 
USB audio & Android
 
USB standard (audio, mass storage, etc.) driver supported on stock Galaxy S3 / Note2
"As long as the kernel on the Android device supported the USB standard driver of the hardware (mass storage, input, etc.), Android would be able to use it and therefore open up a new range of extra devices compatible with the system."
 
USB standard (audio, mass storage, etc.) driver not supported:
* Developing your USB standard (audio, etc.) driver at the kernel space
"However, there are many devices that have not been "compatible" from the beginning. For instance, let's say your common RFID reader. It most likely uses a USB-serial port and probably comes with a Linux or Windows driver as well as some software. Most Android tablets will come without the USB-serial driver for your RFID reader however.
Therefore, if you want to load your driver you will need to root your tablet, determine the version of your current kernel, find the kernel sources online, hope that everything compiles to have your driver ready and then load it onto your tablet. In the end, when you finally have your kernel driver running, you will be required to write C code as well as some JNI glue to communicate with your Activity or Service in Android.
All in all, this approach is not very straightforward.
 
* Writing your own USB "soft driver" at the user space
There is a very elegant solution to aforementioned problem.
It requires far less skills in hacking and porting than the mentioned approach. However, you will require some advanced knowledge in Android programming as well as some USB know-how.
You can write your own "soft driver" in Android. Since the USB Host API has been released, it is now possible to communicate with any USB device using the most commonly seen USB transfers (control, interrupt, bulk).
In the end, your result will be portable across all Android devices that have USB host enabled and have Android version 3.1+. Moreover, this solution does NOT require root access to the tablet or phone. It is currently the only viable solution that does not require the user to have any know-how of rooting/hacking the device and risk losing warranty in the process."
http://android.serverbox.ch/?p=549

 
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Stephen Guo

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I bought the USB Audio Recorder PRO app, but the problem is that it doesn't play when I turn off the screen, which is a problem, for me at least. 
 
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zeinharis

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Hmmm.. the UA-05 looks yummy

 
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DanBa

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Quote:
I bought the USB Audio Recorder PRO app, but the problem is that it doesn't play when I turn off the screen, which is a problem, for me at least. 
 
 
I think you should ask the developer of the USB Audio Recorder PRO to fix or avoid this issue.
 
By the way, there are ongoing discussions between the developer of the USB Audio Recorder PRO, aimed primarily at recording, and others legacy music player developers to allow a legacy music player interfacing with the USB Audio service provided by USB Audio Recorder PRO
http://www.head-fi.org/t/595071/android-phones-and-usb-dacs/1260#post_9015714
 
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Their DAPs do look intriguing but I'd like to know more about the OS - is it Android based? The screen would suggest yes unless they plan on some goofy proprietary OS (please don't). 
 
DanBa - your passion for USB audio over Android is appreciated. I know you probably feel like a broken record some times, but it really is helpful information. We are so close yet so far at the moment!
 
I can't get the USB Audio Recorder PRO app to work on my Meizu MX 4-core. It launches, and I can open a song, but it gets stuck on "pause" and won't play no matter what I do. I'm sure there's some silly thing I'm doing wrong somewhere but I can't for the life of me figure out what it is. 
 
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DanBa

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Weird!
 
The Meizu MX Quad is listed as one of the working Android devices:
http://www.extreamsd.com/USBAudioRecorderPRO/
 
 
May be, you should ask eXtream to perform some USB Audio Recorder PRO logging in order to know what is going on between your Meizu MX Quad and your USB DAC.
 
 

 
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project86

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I know - first I thought "what are the chances?" since it is a relatively small-time smartphone compared to the gazillion SG3s out there. Then I saw it listed (and specifically too, not just the original dual core MX) so I got all excited. But I just can't get it working 

 
If I have some time I'll keep messing with it and maybe contact them as well. I keep thinking I'm doing something wrong but I've tried everything. 
 
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victorcc

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I beta-tested the USB Audio Recorder PRO app with a Meizu MX 4-core and it worked fine with an ODAC, no problem at all. Did you try restarting the phone just in case the USB audio process was stuck or something like that?
 
Cheers
 
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project86

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Quote:
I beta-tested the USB Audio Recorder PRO app with a Meizu MX 4-core and it worked fine with an ODAC, no problem at all. Did you try restarting the phone just in case the USB audio process was stuck or something like that?
 
Cheers
 
I did but I'll monkey with it and try again. Good to know that you actually tested it and it's not just a mistake that the 4-core is on the list.
 
Do you recall if you did anything special with the SPDIF Out setting and the various USB settings? I feel like I've tried them all, but maybe I missed something. 
 
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All three is about similar price , in hk , around
$2100-2400 , about 270-308us
 
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Quote:
 
I did but I'll monkey with it and try again. Good to know that you actually tested it and it's not just a mistake that the 4-core is on the list.
 
Do you recall if you did anything special with the SPDIF Out setting and the various USB settings? I feel like I've tried them all, but maybe I missed something. 
 
I tried different things only because I could not make it work with an HRT Streamer II+, the ODAC worked like a charm the very first time. Anyway, my current settings just in case:
- SPDIF off
- USB Storage on
- USB debugging on
 
Ah, the only thing is that my MX is rooted, do not know if that might have something to do.
 
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