I have reviewed the Xduoo before, but I didn’t really like their DAC/Amp box last time thus I rarely contacted them afterward, but it is when Headfi suddenly famed their X3 and X2 DAP and that indeed reignite my interest again.
Xduoo X3 (109 USD in Aliexpress)
Xduoo X3 is packed with lots of useful feature that even some of the more expensive DAP overlook, for example the dual MicroSD card slot that is super convenience, I don’t know why so many manufacturer choose to neglect this feature. You might think that dual Micro SD card slot is nothing to shout about, how about a 110USD DAP that can play DSD64 files and high resolution files up to 24bit 192kHz lossless files, including Flac, Wav, APE, AIFF files format? You got most of the files format covered, yes, you still miss the ISO and DSD128 (and higher) supported but for 110USD what can I expected? For the price to feature wise, X3 is just no-brainer.
X3 is packed with lots of feature so you are worrying that it might be built cheaply? Luckily this is not the case, honestly I think the regular perception of Chinese manufacturers’ build quality need to change, as I found that most of the Chinese manufacturer build tough and durable product at cheap price tag, the finishing quality is catching up too. The X3, in meantime is very well built and felt really solid in hand, when you shake it you will hear some noise from the keypad but it is tough, so no worry here, the X3 felt like a solid blok in hand and the ‘CD’ pattern on the body enhanced the look too. Ergonomic wise is very good, button layout is making sense and you don’t need a certificate to operate it, even at night time. The battery life is reasonable good at approximately 8 hours of play time.
The ‘HD’ OLED screen is beautiful and friendly to eyes, but it is not that clear to operate under bright sun (content on screen is not easily visible), the screen is rather small at 1.3 inch but when in use in rality I never think that it is too small, not that I will watch video on my DAP too, so no problem here.
Line out work like how it should work, just plug in the regular 3.5mm line out cable and X3 will automatically switch to line out mode (No volume adjustment). This is good when you want to use it as source with DAC feature and use an external amplifier. Me myself don’t like the idea of external amplifier as the internal amplifier of X3 is powerful enough even for my 250 ohm Beyerdynamic T90.
User interface is straight forward and simple to understand. The only complain for me here is that when you access the ‘Folder’, CUE. Files can’t directly read there, you need to manually access ‘CUE’ which is rather inconvenience as audiophiles often play CUE files.
Other than the CUE issues I don’t have any complaint, oh wait, I really wish to have EQ option, it is strange that X3 doesn’t have an ‘EQ’ option, at least it should have ‘bass boost’ feature, I understand why Xduoo is not making one and from what I know about Xduoo, they won’t be making one, they have made themselves clear that this is a budget audiophile DAP.
I am testing Xduoo X3 mainly with Vsonic GR07, First Harmonic IEB6, Creative Aurvana Live! And Thinksound Rain 2, in high gain mode.
The hype in the headfi is true, X3’s audio quality is indeed very good.
First thing that came into my mind when I first listen to X3 is how spacious the sound is, it is an open presentation that many will like, as opposed to most of the budget DAP that has a closed in sound, X3 has a laid back, smooth and clean sound presentation. The low gain mode, is even more laid back, spacious and softer than the high gain mode, but the high gain mode and has better sound shape and sound more clear/upfront, I prefer high gain mode and will review it under this mode.
X3 is neutral sounding and quite balance too, the midrange is clear and sounded full, detail level is good, but the lower end is not thick and enough for my liking, for jazz album like 24bit 192kHz ‘Strange Fruit’, the bass guitar string can be heard clearly but don’t have enough authority, that is why I will prefer if there is some ‘audiophile bass boost’ feature/EQ. However the bass is not lacking, it has good detail and presentation. The sound signature is largely spacious and clear, a sound that is very easy on ear.
Xduoo X3 is a no brainer for 110USD, it is the best budget DAP that I have ever tried. It is a high resolution player at budget level without the tag. If you are looking for a insanely reasonable price DAP with good audio quality, look no further, Xduoo X3 is it and I promise.