The Xduoo X-10 Poke is an interesting device and offers an alternative for those who don't want to splash out on an expensive stand-alone DAP. It offers a lot of versatility and can greatly improve most peoples portable audio setups in terms of functionality and fidelity. It has more than a few tricks up its sleeve and has a lot of benefits for those who want to use the Poke as an external amp or DAC unit. As a bonus it works with a wide range of devices such as tablets, smartphones, computers, and DAP's. There's no doubt in recent years with the rise of the portable DAP that external DAC and Amp units have been falling out of favor. However, there are a few brands on the market like Fiio, Ifi, and Chord who continue to help users harness all the features of their smartphone whilst managing the audio externally.
Packaging and Accessories
The packaging for the Xduoo X10 Poke is excellent. The could have easily gone the boring route, but instead, they went in the exact opposite direction and included some genuinely cool artwork and design elements. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves but know I was impressed with the packaging on this DAC unit.
Inside the box, there are a lot of accessories, and these give you many options on how you might potentially want to use the Poke. You have connectors for computers, apple devices, Sony DAPs's, Micro, and USB-C smartphones. They also include a charging cable; a 3.5mm male-to-male connector and a stick-on bumper pad which lets you stack your components without the need for rubber bands.
What is the Xduoo XD 10 Poke?
The Poke is an external DAC and Amp unit from c\Chinese budget audio brand Xduoo. Xduoo has built a solid reputation off the back of their excellent value for money music players. It's good to see them expanding their product line to this side of the market.
The Xduoo XD10 is a small yet solidly built external DAC/Amplifier offering many high-end specs for a price far lower than you find from western competitors.
Specs-wise this thing is pretty well stacked and offers a tonne of versatility for the end-user. It has an AMK AK4490 DAC unit with eight cores and support for DSD, DXD, and PCM formats as well as many of the more common well-known codecs like MP3, FLAC, OGG, etc. The amping side of things is handled by the well regarded OPA1622, which will have more than enough power to drive demanding audiophile headphones.
It is incredibly functional and can be paired with a number of transportable sources. These include both your smartphone and computer which is standard on most of these devices but what is interesting here is that Xduoo has also made the unit compatible with Sony Walkman players. They even include a connector cable in the box to do so. I'm not quite sure if this is something I would use the unit for, probably not, but its testament to Xduoo's attention to detail on how the end-user may wish to utilize the Poke.
On the hardware front, the Xduoo XD10 has lots of options for tweaking your playback experience. It has a number of hard switches letting you change settings without diving into cumbersome menu systems.
Build Quality and Design
The build quality, like with all the other Xduoo products, is excellent. Its a solid metal chassis with high-quality switching gear. It feels like a substantial chunk of metal in hand and will be able to take a beating and keep going.
The design is still the Xduoo industrial design used across the companies product line. It's more functional than it will ever be beautiful, but this does feel like a step above any of the previous products that I have reviewed from the company to date.
The bottom of the unit has some safety certifications in small print, and just above, there is a loud and proud Poke logo. The top is equally loud with a graffiti style text, in a large font, stating, "Music is the expression of the soul." Usually, I am put off by tacky stuff like this, but I will take it over the alternative of having another boring black box.
The front is where stuff starts to get exciting. On the left-hand side, you find a very robust and slightly recessed headphone out port in the standard 3.5mm form. To the right is the screen which despite being two-tone and sat behind a mirrored display is very clear when used indoors. It displays useful information such as mode, gain, format, bitrate, volume, and battery life, amongst others.
The left-hand side has three tactile buttons, which are metal and not plastic. These control the filter options as well as the volume up and down function. This feature was something I liked a lot as nothing beats having physical volume buttons that can be operated easily from within a pocket. Something that the Spectre X Dac sorely lacks.
On the right-hand side, 4 toggle switches allow you to power on/off the device, adjust gain, bass boost and change the input for the system from Aux to USB. These switches are excellent quality and have a nice tactile click to lock them in place and prevent accidental operation when on the go.
The back of the device has a recessed Aux in/out in 3.5mm form, a USB port for connecting input cables. Finally, there is the power port with which to charge it. The unit charges via micro USB, so this is a negative as almost everything else I own (Laptop, Phone, DAP) gets charged via USB-C.
The battery life question gets split into two different categories. Firstly if you are using the DAC in a digital configuration, you can expect a solid 14.5 hours of run time. However, switch to analog with the gain on low and volume at 70%, and you are looking at more like 9 hours. I would say this is about average for a product of this size and type. Unlike the small dongle style DAC units like the Cozoy TAKT and Spectre DAC X this doesn't draw power directly from your device and instead runs off its internal 3700mah battery.
The purpose of most portable DAC and Amp units is to offer sufficient codec support; provide sufficient power with which to drive your headphones and to sound as transparent as possible. In that sense, the Poke is a hit. It ticks all the boxes and adds minimal coloration to the source sound. Comparing against my top tier desktop DAC units.
The bass is punchy, tight and responsive and the midrange uncolored and packed with detail. The highs are crisp and extremely clear with no overemphasis sometimes found on Sabre DAC's. This is just a very clean and neutral sounding source device. As such the Poke is easy to pair with a headphone tuned to your preference. There is no need to worry too much about the synergy between the two devices.
Not one frequency takes prominence over another, and that's something I really like about the DAC. It works very well as a piece of analytical equipment, but then the filter and bass boost options allow it to become more fun. You can alter the sound on the fly for a less professional but probably more engaging listening experience.
For those of you coming from less transparent and neutral sources like the regular 3.5mm jack or adapter straight out your smartphone, this is going to be a big step up in fidelity. However, when doing so, some may pick up on the lack of bass. To put it more correctly what you are hearing is accurate bass without the overemphasis on that particular frequency that cheaper components often display.
In terms of soundstage, the Poke gives your headphones plenty of ability to breath, and I found that it displays good but not overly done levels of width and depth.
If you think I will waffle on about the nuances of the sound here your in the wrong place. Just know that the Poke sounds excellent and performs in the way a DAC and AMP should as I described above. What you want is a neutral presentation, and the Poke delivers that in spade. Let your earphones color or not color your sound but also know that the Poke has more than enough power to drive even some of the hungriest headphones on the market right now.
Conclusion Xduoo XD-10 Poke Review
The Xduoo Poke is an excellent piece of kit for the price. It's a product that I can highly recommend for those who are looking for a versatile alternative to an all in one DAP style player. One of the most significant advantages is the ability to interface the Poke with so many devices. Sony DAPs, iPhones, Ipads, computers, and android phones are all supported with ease.
In terms of sound is an excellent neutral-sounding source that has lots of power to drive stubborn earphones and headphones to the full potential.
Then if that wasn't already worth the price of admission, you have the excellent codec support, filter and gain switches and the ability to use the device digital or analog. It's feature-packed, and for the money, it's hard to think of something that matches it.