XDUOO X20 REVIEW:
Today DAP world is an hypertrophied one, especially in chinese brand where competition is ferocious and new models came out near every month. Brand like Fiio, Shanling, Ibasso or Hifiman create at least one new models every year and Xduoo is no exception to that, especially since the end of 2017 where they lauch two new model, one entry level call the D3 and one mid level call the X20, wich I follow the release with great attention and will review today.
The Xduoo X20 is the more serious DAP created by this company, as much for his sound than for his numerous features that include Bi-directional Bluetooth, USB or OTG DAC, Hiby Link and 2.5mm Balanced output. This time Xduoo go ambitious and deliver a mature product that even if not android based feel like an All-in one device that have lot of versatility for different audio need. With all the today hifi music players offering, this type of DAP for 240$ make the X20 very competitive to say the least, and all that using a faultless DAC chip from Sabre, the well known ESS9018K2M : an audio decoder respected among audiophile for its clear, detailed sound rendering with completly black background noise.
To say i’m a Xduoo fan is an understatement, but it do not mean i’m a groupie either, because in fact I respect this company because I have high attempt and hope about there tremendous potential. As a owner (and collector) of all there DAP since the very first one Xduoo X1, I can say this company evolve greatly from there begining, and even if they still have a cult following for there greatest player, the Xduoo X3, the X20 is a big upgrade and feel the very first high end DAP even if the X10 was the first attempt in this league.
Let’s see what the X20 have to offer and if it’s really a phenomenal value as its low price suggest for such a multi tasks quality audio device.
INFO & SPECS :
Xduoo X20 ESS9018 DSD256 Portable Lossless Music Player with Balanced Output &Wireless Control
Professional DAC chip, High reduction, high resolution, large sound stage
The professional DAC ESS9018 K2M chip is used to make the music signal highly reducible and high resolution. The sound stage is broader, enjoying the extraordinary experience brought by the well tuning, and feeling the true sound of the master tape quality music.
Dual oscillator , Accurate signal transmission ,Delicate tone
The independent double active ultra-low phase noise crystal oscillator is set as the clock source, and the jitter is reduced. Let music signal more accurate, do not appear signal distortions caused by timbre deviation.
Native DSD256, PCM384kHz/32bit,The full support of the mainstream music format
Native DSD256, IOS & DFF & DSF format, maximum support DSD256, let enjoying the beautiful music into the golden age, feel the original and most true recording. Support the mainstream audio format, no longer waste precious time for the music format transformation.
APE, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, ALAC, AAC, MP3, OGG, WMA
Design of reference level analog circuit
The benchmark level electronic components
Full balanced output, powerful to drive all kinds of earplugs
The 4-way LPF circuit, 6-way amp circuit, 4 balanced output, 2 single ended output, each drive current maximum output of 140MA greatly increase the output power, high quality music playback, broader soundstage, more accurate positioning, more details, more delicate sound, music is rich and colorful, natural and true.
Seek outstanding performance, regardless of the cost
With the widely praised super low distortion, ultra low noise OPA1612 benchmark operational amplifier chip, the atmosphere and details of the music are presented as real as the presence of the concert hall.
Effective reduction of distortion and back ground noise
In order to make the low noise and noise is not in the power supply circuit with high power conversion circuit, converted into power after the increase of LDO +/- low pressure to optimize the power regulator, to separate decoding chip, low-pass filter, amp power supply, further reducing the output distortion and noise so that the background music is more pure.
Bi-directional, Bluetooth transmission
Bluetooth digital turntable and Bluetooth DAC
Bluetooth 4.1 Bi-directional transmission, support the latest Apt-X Bluetooth protocol, can be used as a source of Bluetooth emission nondestructive digital signal connected with the Bluetooth headset, connect with car audio speakers and tuned to digital turntable, can also be used as a mobile phone’s Bluetooth broadcast DAC, meet lossless audio transmission quest, good sound follows you everywhere.
Hiby Link, save the annoyance of “taking out all the time”
There’s only one cell phone in your hand
Open the Hiby Link function, and X20 will be decoking Hiby through Bluetooth, you can control X20 through mobile phone to play songs, browse songs, adjust volume, search songs, file management and other functions, the realization of wireless connection without taking out the player to complete all operations, enjoy the convenience of wireless.
Bluetooth digital turntable
Car play mode, driving with more fun
The car play mode, by connecting with the car audio, enables X20 to follow the start of the car to start, play the music and follow the car to shut down automatically, so that your cat can also be HIFI, like a walking concert hall, enjoying the good music at any time.
Both lines and coaxial, support DOP and D2P
X20 also supports LO line output function and coaxial output function, taking into account the external amp amplifier only supports PCM decoding or signal but does not support DSD decoding, DOP and D2P two support in the design, the external expansion is compatible with no pressure.
Bi-directional USB & Type-C
Player but also DAC
The USB interface is no longer as a single use of data transmission or charging port, connected to the computer can be used as an external USB DAC decoding amp, let the computer turn into a large capacity HIGI player, even if the trip, travel can still enjoy the wonderful music.
USB: Connect with computer as a USB DAC, and the highest support for PCM 32bit/384kHz asynchronous decoding and DSD256 decoding.
Support USB OTG to read and play U disk music files;
Support USB AUDIO output functions, support DOP, D2P output, and connect with a decoder as a digital turntable.
10 sections of EQ and 18 kinds of sound effects, feel the charm of different sound effects
Choose your own sound effect based on your own preferences
In addition to the common set of regular sound effects, in addition to 10 custom EQ for your careful adjustment, ten sections of professional equalizer is used for bringing more melodious voice, so as to alleviate the lack of response on the earphone, make the music more balanced, signer’s voice is no longer covered by the background music.
Aeronautical aluminum CNC processing
From vision to touching, whole new griping experience
Using precision CNC processing, forming while body in one piece, using sand blasting technology on the surface, both texture and hand feel, The weight us moderate, the good grip and the good look shows a perfect, the good grip and the good look shows a perfect definition of the fashion and technology.
Headphone output: 3.5mm
Output power: 210mW (32Ω/THD +N<0.0015%)
Frequency response: 20Hz~20kHz (±0.15dB)
Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR): ≥114dB
Distortion + noise: 0.0015%@1kHz (32Ω@1kHz)
Balanced headphone output: 2.5mm
Line output: 300mW (32Ω/THD +N<0.0015%)
Frequency response: 20Hz~20kHz (±0.15dB)
Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR): ≥116dB
Distortion + noise: 0.0015%@1kHz (32Ω@1kHz)
Line output level: 1.7Vrms (10KΩ@1kHz)
Frequency response: 20Hz~20kHz(±0.15dB)
Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR): ≥114dB
Resolution: >108dB (10KΩ@1kHz)
Distortion + noise: 0.0012@1kHz (10KΩ)
Built-in 2400mAh rechargeable lithium polymer battery
Battery life: 8 hours (3.5mm headphone output)
About 7 hours (balanced headphone output)
Charging time: < 3 hours (DC5V 2A)
< 6 hours (DC5V 500MA)
CONSTRUCTION, DESIGN & ACCESSORIES :
Unboxing was quite a pleasant experience because once you open the nice black box your in for some little surprise. This time you do not just have a DAP and USB cable, but a very beautifull and practical leather protective case of great quality as well as a AUX cable of real high quality too, better in fact that 2 I already own and cost 10$ each. The leather case as seen in pictures is a really nice plus that I wish more DAP company will offer, because being obligate to buy one can be costy or bordersome, other DAP I own that include protective case was Ibasso DX90 and Fiio X3, but both was quite ugly being made of silicone, even if they do the job it wasn’t esthetic like it is with the X20.
As well, little details, with new Xduoo products the protective screen is already install, wich I find a relieve as i’m quite clumsy with this.
One thing to note is that the USB cable is type C, wich mean you can connect it in both sens so it facilitate blind connection to the device, its good and practical but as it’s the only one cable of this type that I own I already feel nervous to lost it, comparatively to plenty of extra microUSB cable I own.
OTG cable is for Iphone, so it would have been nice to have a OTG converter for Android device as well, but its not a big deal as you can easily find one for little money.
All in all, in term of accessories included it’s the more generous package I have from all 15 DAP I try ranging from 20$ to 400$.
Now the construction. I’ve never been disapointed by Xduoo products construction as they always put great effort in this aspect, all there DAP without any exception have a solid metal body that feel very reassuring for consumer that look for durable music player. The X20 have a sober design made of black allumnium in one piece, it have some weight that promise solidity but isn’t heavy at all and its suprisingly small too for all the butons and features it have. The screen take must space of front panel that do not have any butons on it, all of them being at both side : 5 at the right and 3 at the left. Butons being very small it can be a little touchy to press them trough your pocket and it take me more time to get use to it. At the begining I was even pressing the screen instinctively because interface was looking quite intuitive for that, but nope, its not a touch screen, but even if I know it I think it would have done a great interface and permit to have less butons. Design of side butons help to diminush accidental pressing, but not when you try to change tracks of turn the volume. At the right side it have too one micro SD slot, and yeah, two would have been better but using a 128G card I’m not really obsess by number of slots. Finally, all audio connection but USB is at the down buttom of device : double Line out-coaxial, SE audio out and 2.5mm true balanced out.
One little detail, cause i’m quite perfectionist, is that the reset hole at left side isn’t accessible with protective case, and it isn’t an easy job to take of the X20 from this case, wich is good, but I just tell that if anybody have to use the reset buton so he will be prepare for a little adrenaline rush. (never have to use it anyway!)
Last details that i’m obsess about (and don’t undestand other people aren’t) is to know if, like with the all other Xduoo DAP, the battery is easily changeable and just need a electro screwdriver to open the device fastly. Well, I was thinking it will be the case as it just have 2 screws like the X10, unfortunately it did not open the body like I was thinking and even if I try to take off the upper USB cover, I became nervous about breaking something so I stop and couldn’t open properly. This is a drawback to me, but perhaps it will change if I can know how to open it. For me this is an important factor to be able to replace the battery by ourself once its dead, like I will do in no long with my X3, as there no battery that will survive more than 2 years and i’m not the kind to send a DAP for repair and even less to throw it in garbage like our light headed consumerist society want, I’m anachronistical but stubborn about this long durability DIY philosophy, and wish more people will think this way so ecological impact of our way of living will be less irresponsable. But well, even DAP that sell for 700 or 1000 or 4000$ don’t give a damn about this life span aspect, so, I guess I should not blame Xduoo for a one time error, because unlike my Faudio FA1, there some screw to begin the opening.
INTERFACE & FEATURES :
So, how can you make interface ultra intuitive with that much features in a DAP? You cannot without the help of a touchscreen is my honnest answer, wich explain why I try to press it intuitively on this 6 options rectangle on menu screen. But don’t take me wrong, with not in a UI disaster here, because you will not have the need to change between Bluetooth features as well as DAP output every 5 minutes. Still there ALOT of option, including gain output and lineout output type to choose in music setting, wich can be a little confusing at first to say the least.
First thing to know its : if you hold back buton it will always take you to interface Menu, secondly if you press Option buton from interface menu it will open Music setting, these two menu shortcuts are very important to navigate fastly.
Now, the features : there alot of them. Especially in term of bluetooth connectivity and different sound source option like OTG DAC for phone or USB for computer, as if it wasn’t enough there the very usefull Hiby link too.
Bluetooth work well, it connect fast and sound good with the portable bluetooth device I use as well as my BT speakers, signal is stable but will not go more than about 10 meter and like with any other BT source I use, it will not pass trough wall and obstacle so yeah, BT have it’s limit I guess, for Hiby link tough, this isn’t a problem as the connected audio source still is the X20. In open space, BT is really practical and I tend to use it quite more often than with my smarthphone.
Hiby link is quite a nice feature, especially for people that plan to connect the X20 to their sound system. Having all our music on display on a touchscreen and choosing track to play on another DAP source give a new freedom to the user and I must say I became fastly addict to this new way of using my speakers because the pairing with ESS9018k2m dac of X20 is just delicious.
To connect the X20 with your phone, you just need to download Hiby music player app and use setting to open both hiby link connection.
2.5mm BALANCED OUTPUT vs PHONE OUT :
As I have 2 pair of Zhiyin Z5000, I compare both using Balanced out and Phone out. Firstly, I can confirm there real sound improvment, especially in clarity and articulation of sound, with some music like Pop or electronic it is barely bearable, for me the revelation happen with Helene Grimaud solo piano album, because Z5000 aren’t the best for piano (I was thinking) as the note was not tigh and feel bloated with decay, now using the balanced cable note have a great precise impact and a more natural decay, it really is a big improvment. In term of volume, strangely you gain 1 or 2db but not much, its more about sound pressure, as if music was push with greater precision and separation, just slightly. Soundstage expend a little as well and background became even more black, especially with IEM that tend to have background hiss. All in all, sound improvment is perhaps small, and it will surely depend of IEM you use, but some audiophile are ready to pay lot of money for little sound improvment and here I confirm that Balanced Out isn’t snake oil.
Line OUT-Coaxial OUT:
Line out is very clean and volume is block to maximum output, depending of amp you use it will expend soundstage and change soundsignature, I tend to use amping with more than 60ohm headphones.
USB DAC :
This work like a charm and as it use Xmos usb converter it really is an excellent DAC. I like the fact you can use volume control as well as balanced out for the DAC, and it write the audio rate on the player as well. I think one or 2 times I encounter click in the background, but it was exceptional and not like first version of Ibasso DX90 window DAC that always do it. Sound is the same than when used as a DAP.
OVERALL SOUND IMPRESSIONS :
The Xduoo X20 have a very balanced sound, making one of the most neutral DAP I‘ve ever heard, it’s neither bass centric or mid centric, and feel very linear even if it have sharp mids and highs. I would decribe the sound as clear and organic, detailed but never harsh, with excellent dynamic extension but not a very airy sound presentation. It sound fowards and energic but never grainy or trebly, soundstage is wide but deepness is average, imaging is excellent even if the instrument do not feel extremely thick or impactfull. This DAP take full advantage of your IEM and will not color the sound, so you can change soundsignature easily, a bassy IEM will still sound bassy but more controlled, while an analytical one will be extremely resolved but not harsh or cold sounding. For me, it’s the perfect all-arounder in term of compatibility and audiophile trustability, perhaps some DAP are more entertaining sounding but to the cost of being picky about pairing. Bass is punchy but can go deep to, mids are a little fowards but more because of an extra clarity in this FR, highs have more brilliance than brightness and is the sharper frequencies as it should be.
DAP COMPARAISONS :
XDUOO X20 (240$) VS IBASSO DX90 (360$) :
Begining with construction, both offer a sturdy black alluminium body and weight about the same, DX90 being a little lighter. DX90 is larger but less tall than X20, both fit easily in a pocket and are very portable, I prefer the butons design of DX90 because it have 3 butons at the front that can be press trough the pocket to pause or change track without being prompt to undesired pressing, with the X20, butons are all at right and left side and it can be confusing to blindly change track because butons are small and you can easily press wrong one. For audio out, X20 and DX90 have both line out and coaxial out but the X20 have a balanced out as well, wich is a big plus. DX90 have a touch screen that is usefull for fast navigation, wich I find the X20 lacking because of his numerous features.
Battery life is about 6-8H with DX90 while its 8-10H with X20, but DX90 have a swapping back cover and changeable battery, wich make him win for autonomy if you have 2 batteries or more, this is an exceptional concept that unfortunately no other DAP ever use so X20 isn’t an exception, that’s all. About DAC, but use the same Sabre ES9018k2m, but DX90 have 2 of them, one for each channel, while chanel are independtly separate by amping section for the X20.
Both have a similarly clear bass presentation with great transparency and extension, but DX90 have a little more body and impact in sub region as well as it move more air around it. X20 is a little tigher tough and feel more linear with rest of audio spectrum, while DX90 mix with transparence over mid and highs. Kick have slightly more impact and body than X20 as well, due to a little better layering, but X20 is more textured and neutral sounding. X20 have a faster tigher presentation, while DX90 have a larger more airier presentation that stole a little clarity because of a different layering type wich have more deepness but more air to move too.
Another time, very similar, but I feel here the X20 have vocal presentation a little more fowards, were DX90 have a little extra warmth in low-mid wich give more body to male vocal but can feel inapropriate for some female signers. As well, higher mids have more sibilance with DX90, wich can make hissing some signer. Where the DX90 stand appart is in term of instrument separation, wich make the mid more separated from other instrumental, this surely is a proof that dual DAC can achieve better imaging than single one, but what its strange is that X20 do not feel congested or lacking air, and its brilliance is more musical and permissive than DX90 that can be shrilling or too sharp in upper mids. X20 is organic sounding and present the sound in a fowards manner, where the DX90 feel more colored and a mix of warmed bass and peaky mids and highs.
Both this DAP are very detailed and will easily show you details of music you perhaps never hear, X20 show it on a linear presentation while DX90 is more a curved W soundsignature wich permit to have more air between Frequencies range. X20 have great brillance and highs sparkle that rarely or never create any sibilant, it feel more a part of whole music while DX90 highs can feel more clinical or artificial depending of pairing. As the X20 sound more neutral, it give a more realistic sound that benifit overall resolution to deliver a very agile musicality that DX90 present in a more colored way were the bass and very textured mids and highs interfer with each other with more imprevisibility than the X20.
All in all, I feel Xduoo X20 is a more accurate and balanced DAP, with perhaps a smaller soundstage but overall more trustable sound presentation that give him more versatility for pairing, but not more airy presence or fun factor. DX90 have more dynamic punch and bass impact, but it can be problematic sometime, as well, amping of DX90 is a little higher but the gain switch can create distortion with time.
X20 VS Faudio FA1 (240$) :
Now, this is two very different world here, in all aspect really, begining with the DAC chip used wich is the flagship AK4497EQ for the FA1. For the construction X20 win everywhere, it’s smaller, lighter, have better construction for butons and better resolution for screen, have real line out and real balanced out where the FA1 is a 2in1 line out and a TRRS 3.5mm balanced out. Butons feel clunky with FA1 and smooth with X20, as well, it reall is more a portable player than the FA1. Battery life is about the same, but it take more time to charge the FA1. About features, another time, all win for the X20, because FA1 feel very anemic in this department, he do not have any gain mode but at least have a workable EQ, but its 5 bands where the X20 have an excellent 10 bands EQ. As well, X20 have dual transmission Bluetooth and Hiby Link, where the FA1 have a remote control that can be as usefull (but less versatile) for playing music on a soundsystem. X20 have gain for DSD, FA1 have none. But, FA1 have 32G internal memory, wich isn’t a small plus because X20 have zero of it, so we really pay for that and the incredible flagship DAC, but this DAC have some issues like you will see.
BASS always been quite spectacular with AK DAC, even the AK4490 have an emphasize on bass thicness, roundness and extension, the AK4497EQ push this bass enthusiasm even further in resolution and overall rendering, making it just so enthrilling that the X20 bass feel very thin compared to it and I say that even if I use the Hifiman RE-2000 with both. Bass of X20 is very tigh and do not stole the show of other instrument, with the FA1 whole sound feel more beefier and impactfull, but to the cost of lacking some air and feeling music is saturated with chunky sound, where the X20 feel perhaps more lighter and laid back but in a good easy going way. With the FA1 your in front of the stage and the subwoofer is dangerously near you, while with X20 your not in the crownd but above it and you hear bass extension without having to deal with the heavy soundwave it push. Sometime, bass with FA1 can feel overly grainy, and it lack transparency compared to X20.
MIDS this time are quite similar, with a little extra details on the FA1 but the problem with FA1 is that it can have background click noise wich for solo vocal will ruin enjoyment, so, wathever how good the resolution is, when it occur I prefer the trustability of Xduoo X20 in term of black background. X20 do a great job with a little push in mids that give them extra presence and have more transparency and better clearer decay than FA1 wich is a shame because potential for near perfection is incredible with the FA1. Layering is better with FA1, but very different too, it feel more digital than the X20 and this is surely due to over sampling of AK4497EQ dac that crave for ultimate sound info to the cost of stoling some naturalness. So, X20 is perhaps more laidback in term of texture and details, but it never sound incorrect like it can happen with FA1.
HIGHS are extremely extended with the FA1, but lack some sparkle compared to the X20, details and microdetails are show without any wow effect with the FA1, they are exposed as if it was normal, wich it isn’t at all. With the X20, clarity is so clean that details are more dynamic and impactfull, perhaps they have less deepness, but soundstage feel wider and imaging is more articulate too. Highs have more decay too with X20, wich make them more realist.
Another time, even if I adore the FA1, I find the device have too much imperfection to be a better choice than X20, and even if a little more powerfull for amping, the overall sound is more mature and articulate with the X20. FA1 feel like a prototype while Xduoo X20 feel like a serious finish product.
X20 VS Xduoo X10 (130$) :
Both this DAP offer great construction, but the X10 have a fragile scrolling well that do not have a very usefull purpose. They are about same weight, both have no internal memory, but only the X10 have 2 microSD slot. Battery is about 6-8H for X10 and 8-10H for X20. In term of features, X10 have a gain switch and that’s about it, no EQ or Bluetooth like the X20. Overall interface is more intuitive with the X20 even if it is not the final words in term of UI. Scrolling wheel of X10 is just cumbersome and I try to use it the less possible. In term of DAC, the X10 use the AK4490, wich isn’t similar to the AK4497EQ of Faudio FA1, more warm and analog sounding that the ultra digital AK4497EQ.
BASS of X20 is tigher and better rounded, it have more impact and texture, the X10 bass is light and have a sub emphasize that make it warmer and less well articulate. X20 feel punchy and fast while X10 feel sometime too slow and uncontroled, but not in a disastrous manner, its just overall more smooth.
MIDS have a little more presence with X10, but they are less detailed and can hide the highs because of a lack of transparency. I consider the X10 as mid centric, wich is very usefull for V shaped IEM even if the sub can be too much, so another time the X10 is more pairing dependant than versatile and well balanced X20. X20 have more resolution than X10 at every level, and do not lack in vocal presence wich are fowards but not invasive, they stay in the middle without yealing for attention, violin, piano and guitar all sound more natural and realist on X20 and have better separation. Vocal are never drown and are ultra clear and will sound good with any IEM, while the X10 will surely sound too mid centric with mid centric IEM. You have more texture, details and control with the X20, the X10 have just a little more body and wider but less deep soundstage.
HIGHS are a little roll off with the X10, wich isn’t the case fo X20 that have a more extended dynamic range. You have more micro details, brilliance and highs sparkle with X20 and it never feel sibilant or too harsh, wich is very impressive. X10 highs are mroe about micro details push, but not in a linear full resolute manner, as well, layering is more about a frontal presentation than a deep one, with the X20 you can dig for details, with the X10 you have an entertaining presentation that feel very colored and flowing from one ears to another in a wider soundstage, but it feel more superficial too.
Yep, X20 is from another league in term of sound perfomance, its like comparing a TOTL Ipod with Wolfson DAC against a serious audiophile DAP, while X10 sure is entertaining it’s just not as serious and revealing as the X20….but hey, we pay double of price for this and I think it was the goal of Xduoo to make a big upgrade from X10!
SOME PAIRING :
With CAMPFIRE AUDIO POLARIS :
Instrument separation is just phenomenal and big Polaris soundstage help to give more deepness to X20 sound, as well, the bass don’t feel too invasive like with Ibasso DX90, it is ultra tigh and accurate. High of Polaris can feel sharp sometime but less so with the X20 because of a sweet brilliance that do not feel too peaky. Vocal are very clear too, but not expended alot, still, I feel this pairing is extremely accurate and exciting.
With TAKSTAR PRO82 :
The Takstar being quite a neutral Headphone it pair with the X20 like a monitor headphone, it became ultra resolved and linear, with extreme clarity and very good instrument separation. Strangely, the vocal became more present as if the extra clarity help them to shine more, so it underline the fact that X20 have a little push fowards in mid region that really complet the neutral-U shape soundsignature of PRO82. With other DAP I lower volume cause this headphone feel a little too bright, but not with the X20, it have a very dynamic and fast sound with extreme details and clarity help to give more air to PRO82 soundstage without making sibilant.
With HIFIMAN RE-800 :
Listening classical or signer with Re800 and X20 is a real joy cause of the intimate presentation of this IEM and great details and clarity of X20 that do not make any background hissing and keep treble at a smooth level. RE-800 do less good with complex electronic, and will sound better with instrumental, folk or jazz, it feel a little bass weak in mid low region, but have good clean sub extension and body. Separation and soundstage is improve with X20 because of great clarity without a sharpness that could have make too bright the RE-800. For jazz and classical this is near end game pairing really.
With HIFIMAN RE-2000 :
Yes, there you go : supreme all-arounder JOY! Soundstage is just immense and 3D like with the X20 and instrument separation is ultra clear and sparkly with spot on positioning. As the Re-2000 have a beefy bass presentation it really improve X20 linear soundsignature to give it more musicality and warmth, this time any music style will sound excellent as if the topology driver W soundsignature extract all the best of the DAC potential and give extra separation and air. Vocal that feel sometime just a little recessed with other DAP like FA1 or DX90 became very present and textured, full bodied and immersive. For the highs, that are pushed in mid high region, details became more analytical, sometime a little sharp but never to the point of being too trebly, this is miracle pairing here and I must admit it perhaps confirm the theory that you need to invest more in IEM or headphone than DAP….and the X20 is very a great value for having a trustable audio source that will not color your earphones but make give them all they need to sound the best of their potential.
With Zhiyin Z5000 :
The Z5000 are my favorite sub 50$ budget chifi iem, it have a very addictive syrupy and organic U shaped soundsignature with incredible soundstage and bass impact that do not bloat mids as well as sparkly high with fowards microdetails, saying they pair well with the X20 is an understatement. The fact it have a big sub bass really help to give dynamic punch into a clear soundstage, that even if a little warm, have excellent imaging and very good details retrieval. The mids with the X20 gain more texture and clarity and became more fowards wich even if still bassy, make the Z5000 more calibrate in term of overall musicalit. With the DX90 the bass can be near boomy, but not with X20, it is tigher and very thick, but win in transparency because the mids are more fowards. It still is a warmish IEM, but a very detailed and energic one.
With KZ ZS6 :
My attempt was low about this pairing and finally i’m overwhelmed about how ZS6 and X20 sound good togheter. Don’t really know what happen, as it’s still an agressive soundsignature but in a less sharp way, the soundstage and layering is so clean and full of details that it became near too much info for the ears, even if yes, some recording still sounded too textured and fowards, with neutrality of X20 it became way more musical and you can enjoy a 3d panoramic sound presentation that really take full benifit of 4 drivers the ZS6 have. Thick punchy bass of ZS6 give lot of energy to sound and mid bass emphasise give more air to overall sound, wich would have not been possible with too much sub. With the DX90, the ZS6 wasn’t even possible to use, but the X20 do magic to ZS6, healing its splashiness with cymbals and taming sibilance with vocal, but not completly its bright towards dry sound signature, even if the organic liquid sound of X20 really help to give a musical shoot to ultra analytical ZS6 soundsignature. Now, I can enjoy ZS6, wich I wasn’t thinking it would be possible at all.
In all honesty this is by far the best DAP from Xduoo company and it stand appart not just in term of numerous features but sound perfection too. Only serious drawback is about the non changeable battery. Here, Xduoo surpass themself in term of sound rendering, using full potential of their sabre DAC to deliver a masterclass in term of audiophile neutrality that even if very linear, feel as a reference DAP for all type of earphones or headphones. The small size make it ultra portable, still, it can have enough power to amp properly 64ohm headphones on the go, as well, it have gapless and an incredible 10 bands EQ. The balanced output is ultra clean and very usefull. It’s really hard to beleive there that much features without any bugs issue, but it is, and the battery life for once feel humble with 8H statement as I can have more than this and I listen to high volume all the time. I think more than ever Xduoo company became serious and are ready to go in higher class in term of DAP market, this little X20 is a great value for people that search a DAP that will not color there IEM but push there soundsignature potential to the best. I was a fan of Xduoo company, now i’m a believer and will follow closely all new DAP they will produce.