Budget Hi-Res Audio Player Review: The Xduoo X10
It seems like ages since I reviewed the Xduoo X3. That little DAP had to be one of the best bang for buck audio players of the past few years. Now things have gotten a little pricier and Xduoo has released the X10. This new audio player, on paper, seems to offer budget audiophiles a lot of value for money.
In fact, Xduoo have managed to cram a lot of quality components inside the industrial looking body. It may not have all the bells and whistles of those high priced Astell & Kern DAP's but what does the Xduoo X10 have to offer?
Quality on the inside
The Xduoo X10 has a lot going for it when you look at the spec sheet and it is using a lot of componentry as well as offering a lot of features that we find on far more expensive hi-res music players.
Some Highlights from the spec sheet include:
- Multiple gain modes
- More premium design vs X3
- dual MicroSD slots
- Line & Headphone Out (Individual)
- AK4490 DAC unit
- Dedicated lock buttons
Xduoo X10 vs previous generations eg Xduoo X3
The Xduoo X3 gained a lot of praise throughout the portable audio community thanks to its clear sound ample power, simple functionality and cheap price. The X10 retains a lot of those charms but feels like a completely new direction for Xduoo. The design is far more premium both in looks, feel and operation.
Menus are far more intuitive to navigate with the click wheel input system. This is a different player all together aimed at taking out some of the mid-fi competition rather than targeting the entry level segment of the market.
Build Quality and Design
The styling of the X10 still has that industrial looking charm that their previous players had. It's no beauty, its definetly industrial and functional, but, it is far nicer than the X3 and X2.
The build is also great with the majority of the case and buttons being constructed out of solid metal. It feels capable of taking a lot of abuse and feels very nice in the hand.
The front of the player has 2 very noticeable additions, first, there is the relatively large 2-inch screen (not touch screen) and the large click-wheel dial. Both of these make a world of difference when it comes to increasing the ease of use on this player.
- Right side: Reset, Volume +/-, 2x Micro SD Card Slots
- Left side: Lock Switch
- Top: Micro USB port, Power Button
- Bottom: Line out Jack, Headphone Jack, High/Low Gain Switch
- Front: 4 Dedicated function buttons, 1 Large click-wheel with central select button
The larger screen is a welcome addition but it isn't of particularly high quality. A more pixel dense screen would definitely improve legibility but at the same time add to the final cost.
Despite not being anywhere near high resolution I found this screen to have good contrast which made it easy to read, even in moderate sunlight. The menu system was responsive enough in relation to the touch wheel, it's not iPod smooth but still good for quick navigation.
Scrolling had the slightest lag but despite the OS's limited skillset, the user interface gets the job done and leaves you wanting for little. It isn't based on Android but it feels stable with the latest firmware installed. Everything is fairly intuitive and easy to reach within a few clicks.
Scanning was good and it picked up on new tracks about on a par with my far pricier DAP's. I couldn't detect any missed tracks despite my own woeful skill at ID tagging and labeling.
You get the option to browse files by the usual track, artist, genre and album settings but I still like that you can just do a simple folder browse.
You get 2 choices of settings accessible from the home screen. The first covers all your playback and music settings (sorry, not gapless and EQ is included). The second controls the device specific functions like screen brightness and timeout etc.
Both aren't overly complicated, they are intuitive to use but only offer limited customization of the X10 operating system and sound.
Battery life was about par for the course. I found myself getting a touch over 9 hours when playing back a mix of mainly Flac files and some 320kbps MP3's.
Of course, this may vary depending on your headphones, gain and screen on time but users can easily get 1-2 days of average playback times before a recharge is necessary.
For the price, the Xduoo X10 is a beast when it comes to file support. The use of the AK4490 DAC chip allows for some DSD support as well as other audiophile standards such as WAV, ALAC AIFF, FLAC, APE & much more.
This support for lossless is one of the biggest selling points and the inclusion of dual MicroSD slots allows you to carry a lot of these tracks which are typically larger in file size than standard low res MP3s.
Do you want proof that just shoving a quality DAC into something doesn't necessarily make it sound good? The Xduoo X10 helps make the perfect example. I'm talking about in comparison with the Fiio X5 3rd Generation.
The Fiio X5 actually has 2 of the same DAC units that sits inside the X10. For a $400+ music player sounds pretty bad, heck side by side I prefer the X10 by some margin on sound alone.
The Xduoo X10, punches way above its weight and competes against much more expensive DAP's like the AKJr from Astell & Kern and is looking to take on Cayin and Shanlings mid tier offerings
The sound is energetic and mostly flat in its tuning. Being someone who would rather have their source components be flat in their response and as close to neutral as possible means I instantly bonded with the X10. It allowed me to pick up my earphones based on the way they are tuned and not trying to overthink how well they will sound when paired. My Campfire Jupiter sounds like the Jupiter. My Shure SE846 sounds like the Shure SE846 etc. etc.
Transparency and detail retrieval are excellent and comparable with other DAP's I have heard around the $300 mark and even upwards of that. What it lacks in features it more than makes up for in sound.
What's not to like?
If you find the perfect audio player please tell me because as of yet I have still to find it. Almost everything has a drawback somewhere down the line and to think a budget focussed High Res audio player is going to be perfect is a fallacy right from the beginning.
The Xduoo X10 provides great hardware and excellent sound at a killer price but there are a few concessions it makes to the more expensive audio players.
The biggest drawback is the lack of gapless playback support. Some albums just sound better when played straight through and the Xduoo as of yet does not support gapless functionality. Another down point is that on long tracks you won't be able to resume from the last played point, it will jump back to the start.
Next up there are no user tuneable EQ settings (I never use this anyway as I prefer the type of flat sound the Xduoo produces) but for some, it may be a troublesome omission. Finally, I did find that album art was a bit sporadic.
All of these points, however, are, in my opinion, far outweighed by the many advantages the X10 offers end users. Again, really killer sound, solid build, DSD playback and optional gain settings at this price is just nuts.
Conclusion: Xduoo X10 Review
Every time a new budget DAP comes out I am more and more impressed by the limits being pushed by these manufacturers. They are by no means perfect but the reality is that these DAP's now would like some of the most advanced players did just a few years back.
Yes gapless playback would be appreciated and a lack of EQ will not please some but it's a great sounding little player and great for anyone that wants a dedicated DAP without destroying the bank balance.
Thanks go out to Gearbest for sending the unit in for review. This article is not sponsored the player is now free for collection. They have given me this link to buy the Xduoo X10 and the code XD5121 should bring the price down further.
I am not a Gearbest affiliate so I make no profit, I have used them for flashlight and other electrical purchases in the past and the service has been excellent and trouble free. I also appreciate that they gave me free license to write whatever I wanted about the X10 which is the reason why I accepted the submission. Good stuff, Happy listening.