XDUOO XD-10 POKE: Powerfull Do-it-All DAC-AMP

XDUOO XD-10 POKE REVIEW:

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SOUND: 8/10
CONSTRUCTION: 9/10
DESIGN: 9/10
ACCESSORIES: 8.5/10
VALUE: 7/10

THE PLUS:

  • Clean, smooth and transparent sound
  • Powerfull AMP for its size
  • Bass gain and High gain
  • Compatible with everything you can think off
  • Great construction

THE SO-SO:

  • Not the most exciting sound due to soft attack-decay
  • Little pricey for a portable amp

Yes, Xduoo take an important part of my audiophile life. There not one day I don’t use a Xduoo product. Some have always an army knife in their pocket, me it’s the Xduoo X3 that is always there even when I do surviving in the forest. Okay, perhaps I should buy an army knife too in ncase I encounter a bear, but who know if he’s not an audiophile and again if its not my Xduoo X3 that will save my life?

I have the Xduoo X20 and Xduoo XD-05 that I use everyday too. Xduoo X1 is for earbuds enjoyment. Xduoo XP-2 bluetooth receiver dac-amp is for transforming my LG G6 phone into a listenable device. And I have a hybrid tube amp too call the TA-10, this one I use it for more demanding headphones or earbuds.

Xduoo love AKM dac as they use the AK4490 in lot of their DAP and DAC-AMP. Personally, I think that you need great implementation to make shine this digital audio decoder that is overused right now and tend to constraint diversity of soundsignature on audio market. The AK4490 dac is used in Xduoo XD-05, Xduoo X3ii and X-10, Xduoo TA-10 and other dac-amp like the one i will review today call teh Xduoo XD-10 POKE.

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‘’Music is the perfect expression of the soul’’ is the sentence full of philosophical wisdom that is write on the small POKE. Did this sentence is a promise for a very emotive musicality that the POKE will deliver? Again, with the ‘’velvet sounding’’ AKM dac, I’m not sure it is but one thing certain is that this portable DAC-AMP will transform your phone into a more soulfull and expressive musical device.

AT 250$, the POKE is priced at same price than the bigger (and less portable) Xduoo XD-05 wich I adore and use everyday. It sure have less features like non changeable Opamp or no coaxial output or 2 gain switch instead of 3 gain, but this is really minimal and for its size it’s near as powerfull as it’s bigger brother. Like the XD-05, POKE have amp gain and bass gain switch, aux input and output, sound filters and well, perhaps even the same amping output stated at 250mw+250mw @32ohm while the XD-05 is stated 500mw @32ohm. This and the fact battery life certainly make the POKE as the best choice for portable purpose and I think this is exactly the goal of this device, to solve the fact we can’t put the XD-05 in our pocket.

Yes, this DAC-AMP look like a very promising portable power house, let’s see in this review if it worth to invest in this All-in-one little marvel.

You can buy the POKE from the very trustworthy store Xtenik

Disclaimer: I wanna thank Xtenik Audio for sending me this review sample in exchange of my honnest review. With this store, I can keep my full independance of mind, wich is the way I want to write review.

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INFO & SPECS:

Main Features:
● Uses AMK AK4490 8-core processing chip to support native DSD, DXD, and PCM signals, supporting mainstream audio formats

● Full-featured portable decoding amp machine, sound quality to HIFI fidelity

● 0.91 inch OLED screen display, all aluminum alloy colorful shell, high-end texture

● Standard USB audio cable, compatible with Sony ZX series, A series walkman player

● Standard USB interface, compatible with Windows, Mac OS system, support iOS, Android mobile device, also supports HiFi player, CD player link

DAC

AKM AK4490

Output power

250mW + 250mW @ 32ohm

SNR

112dB @ 1kHz (Line out)

Supported sampling rate

32bit 384kHz

Frequency response

20Hz – 20kHz (+/- 0.5dB)

Gain

0dB / +6dB

Distortion

0.0025% @ 1kHz (Headphone amp)

Signal to noise ratio

112dB @ 1KHz (LINE OUT)

Inputs

USB-A
3.5mm Headphone Jack

Output

3.5mm Headphone Jack

Charging time

≤ 3 hours (fast charge 1A) ≤6 hours (slow charging 500MA)

Autonomy

SPDIF : >= 8h
Line input : >= 20h

Dimensions

101mm x 55mm x 16mm

Weight

130g


ACCESSORIES, CONSTRUCTION & DESIGN:

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UNBOXING is one of the more unique in Xduoo family and I think it target a younger crownd because of the darn cool graphic presentation. This make you smile, wich is a good start for opening a product (Oh Yean!). You open the box like a book and the manual too act like a book as its glued into the box, so, you turn the page untile you finally discover the beautifull POKE Dac-Amp. Under the POKE their a very generous amount of accessories to be sure you will not lack any cable type to connect the device on any type of phone, laptop or DAP. As well, their a silicone sticker to hold the POKE on your device.
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CONSTRUCTION as always with any Xduoo products is flawless and well built. Everything is metal, including all butons and the 2 audio port. To me, it look like a miniaturized Xduoo XD-05, wich for once is really thinked for proper portability. Every switch and butons feel sturdy and do the reassuring click we expect from quality product. All in all, the POKE feel sturdy and carefully built.

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DESIGN is simple and intuitive, you will not struggle using this product as its plug and play and every control is at both side so you can control it blindly in your pocket. At one side their volume control and Filter butons, the right side have 4 switch, one for power on-off, one for USB or AUX input, one for bass gain and one for low-high gain. The little screen show you all info, including filet mode you choose, input mode, volume, gain, battery rate and files quality. To note that like the Xduoo XD-05 it isn’t the brightest screen wich can be problematic under bright sun, but to me its not big issue as you just have to make shadow with your hand to see info properly.

FEATURES
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USB DAC as said is plug and play with any phone or laptop, it work with Android, mac, IOS, but for Window 10 you will surely need to install Xmos driver as I do. It take 1 minute to do and work perfectly after installation.

Back AUX port is either for using the POKE as an AMP or pure DAC mode with line out. Again, its plug and play after you select the mode you want.

BASS GAIN work really good, and offer same lower mid bass gain than Xduoo XD-05 wich I like a lot as it do not make distort my iem or earbuds like some other gain we can had wich cheaper device. This give extra roundness and punch, but I only use it when needed as it add some warmth to (its logical). This is not boomy basshead bass gain, it is well controled and calibrated.

GAIN is quite powerfull with its 6db output, this make the POKE one of the most powerfull single ended DAC-AMP I use. For its size, its really a powerhouse and would drive properly most headphones, earbuds and iem under 300ohm. Unlike bad hig gain that can had distortion or grainyness to the sound, i found this one quite clear and smooth sounding.

BATTERY LIFE is quite great and way better than bigger Xduoo XD-05 wich I find it to be an issue with its average 4H lifespan. With the POKE we really get around 6-8H when used as DAC-AMP, as I use it mostly with high gain, I get about 7H wich is very impressive. Used as an AMP it can go up to 15H easily.

AMP is clean but add warmth to overall sound of audio source. It have a tube amp feel to it, wich I found with most Xduoo amp with the exception of….TA-10 wich I found more clear with blacker noise floor (!).

SOUND IMPRESSIONS:
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If you like how the Xduoo XD-05 sound with its stock Opamp, you will be in comfortable territory with the POKE wich use same AK4490 dac chip and have an overall very similar sound, perhaps a little flatter and more organic sounding and even more detailed in upper range.

To be honnest, i’m not the biggest fan of AK4490eq decoder so i was worry when I plug this into my laptop, but this expecation anxiety go off at the very first seconds I heard how transparent, organic, well balanced and beautifully detailed sound the POKE. The earphones I plug into this little marvel was (and still is) the Final Audio B3, wich is a sharp sounding dual balanced armature high end iem. The pairing was perfect, level of clarity help to extract as much details as the POKE can give in an effortless and natural way. Playing COLIBRIA from Nicola Cruz ‘’Prender el Alma’’ album was a sumptuous audio contentment where liquid sound take its full meaning.

IMAGING is one of the talent of the POKE, instrument separation have an holographic feel to it in a panoramic way with addition of transparent layers instead of sharp clarity.

BASS isn’t pumped up, wich is quite a wise choice due to the fact you can pump it up with bass gain. It’s a well defined and flat sounding lower end without any emphasis on low or mid bass, its transparent and quite fast, smooth with good body but not particular pushing in texture rendering, here its all about good separation and natural weight.

MIDS range feel a little fowarded due to excellent clarity and separation, its slightly intimate in the sens vocal keep their centered spot. We aren’t in super lush and thick terrioty here, more in transparent accuracy that help for layers of sound to have a natural flow. Its smooth, tonaly right, but without a push in timbre to make instrument sound closer to you. Still, mid range have plenty of details but not throw to you in incisive way, its innoffensive and lack a little weight and attack in body but this make it for a laid back sound presentation.

TREBLE is liquid and harmless, it have a little extra presence in upper high that add brilliance to metallitc instrument or percussions but do not add extra sparkle or decay. Far from being analytical or cold sounding, the POKE let the details flow gently to the cost of loosing some accuracy and grip. Percussions sound sometime far away in the background, especially in 8-10khz frequencies range. This type of treble make it for a versatile listening that will make harsher recording sound more musical.

TIMBRE is on the thin side, wich come with the transparence it have too, you will not have the textures of instrument put fowards neither a vocal that sound particularly full in presence.

ATTACK-DECAY is perhaps the only real drawback of the POKE, its very soft and lack punch to make it for a more energic and lively presentation, opting instead for a flat and smooth sound approach.

PAIRING :
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With FINAL AUDIO B3 :

Being a dual balanced armature with a rather impressive level of clarity, this pairing do god with smooth sound of the POKE and help to extrack more details, dynamic and impact. As well, the high gain permit to drive the B3 properly. Unlike with sharper sounding DAP like the Ibasso DX90, the B3 became a little darker in presentation and less precise in higher range, what the POKE do is helping the mid range to sound mroe natural and vocal to sound wider and less grainy.
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With KZ ZS10PRO :
ZS10 are pretty intense earphones with foward thumping bass and W soundsignature but rather rough timbre. With the POKE, this pairing is utterly delicious, the bass became tamed a bit wich is a plus due to overly agressive mid bass attack, as well, the vocal timbre became more natural and enjoyable. Strangely tough, imaging became less lively due to softer overall attack, anyhow, this benifit percussions that can be splashy with a brighter audio source. Treble being softed, ZS10 PRO feel less detailed but overall more balanced and natural sounding.

With MEZE 99 NEO :

Something that make NEO falling from my subjective perfection is how the bass is too emphased and rumbly in lower mid bass, well, hourray, the POKE solve that and now my head do not shake when big beat begin, as well, it help vocal to have more presence. This little details is really a game changer making this pairing extremely addictive. Sure, there drawback too, as it do not help rather warm treble to extract more details and offer better accuracy. Imaging in another hand is improved with more transparence in layering. All in all, it might be my favorite pairing to date with the easy to drive NEO.


COMPARAISONS :

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WITH RADSONE ES100 (100$) :

For the price, let’s be clear, ES100 is unbeatable in term of overall value, but the POKE do not say its last word here because even if he do not have a balanced output or Bluetooth dac-amp features, it can be use as standalone amp and its more powerfull than the ES100. Construction of the POKE is from another league too, and physical switch for high gain is more practical than having to use the Radsone app for gain.

In term of sound, even if both score a dac from same AK company, the dual AK4375a offer a more dynamic and energic sound than the smoother sounding POKE. BASS of ES100 have more detailed timbre and faster attack but less roundness to it, especially in sub section. MIDS is more fowards with ES100 but lack naturalness of the POKE, wich make it more realist and wider sounding but to the cost of having a less accurate instrument separation. TREBLE is more emphased with the ES100, but again, less refined in its presentation than smoother sounding POKE.

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WITH XDUOO XD-05 (200$) :

The Xduoo XD-05 score the very same dac than POKE but have a changeable Opamp architecture and 3 gain switch. Wich make him more powerfull too. For this comparaison I use stock Opamp.

Both construction is irreprochable, but I think the overall lifespan will be higher with the XD-05 due to the fact we can change the battery (DIY way) once it stop to work. The volume control is a whell wich I prefer. But in term of portability the XD-05 is just good to throw in you bag for stationary use, while the POKE can be easily use on the go.

SOUND is pretty similar in term of soft tonality but have notable diference in weight and attack from the XD-05, this benifit for a more spacious imaging where the POKE feel intimate in comparaison. BASS is more emphased with XD-05 too and feel more coloured than flater POKE presentation. MID range is slightly more recessed with XD-05, making the POKE very interesting for lover of vocal and mid centric presentation. TREBLE is more emphased with XD-05 and crave more micro details making it particularly fun to listen compared to flatter and smoother POKE.

CONCLUSION :

Xduoo rarely disappoint me when it come to quality of product they make. The POKE is no exception with its excellent construction, good battery life, diversify features and connectivity possibilites as well as overall good and transparent enjoyable sound.

Sure, the price isn’t the most competitive at 250$, especially if you only care about the sound, nowadays we can find cheaper alternative with both single and balanced output and longer battery life and that even in Xduoo family. Nonetheless, the quality of craftmanship of the Poke and plenty of accessories it include can justify higher price tag, to some extend, as I think 150-200$ would be a more rational price for what we get. But who am I to decide how a product should be priced?

If you search for a device that is as good as stand alone amp than OTG or USB DAC-AMP, offer plenty of features rarely found in sub-200$ DAC-AMP like high gain, bass boost and sound filters, I think the the Xduoo POKE can worth a try. Especially if you can test it to know if its sound flavor benifit the headphones and iems you have.

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