I have always been a fan of companies like Xduoo. They make music players for people seeking a higher level of sound quality and they don’t charge an arm and a leg for it. Today we have the Xduoo X3ii in for review and it is one of the companies entry level DAP’s (Digital Audio Player). However, despite its budget friendly price tag it offers a lot of features and components you are likely to find on far more expensive music players.
Features and Hardware
The spec sheet on the Xduoo X3ii is quite lengthy so we will just list it here to begin and then discuss them further in the relevant section this review. I guess before you get into reading the full article it would be nice to know what the X3ii can offer you.
2.4inch IPS screen (Non touch)
AK4490 DAC Chip
10 band custom EQ (Plus Presets)
Supports DSF, DFF, ISO, Suffix DSD audio format, up to DSD128
Supports DXD, FLAC, APE, WAV, ALAC, AIFF up to 32Bit / 384KHz
256G TF card support
Bluetooth with APTX support
Aluminium construction with physical button controls (no touchscreen)
13 hour battery life (Claimed and tested as accurate)
113g weight (112g claimed)
Packaging and Accessories
The outer packaging for the X3ii is nothing fancy but it gets the job done. The sleeve looks good and has plenty of information about the player written on the back in both English and Chinese. Open the outer sleeve and you are greeted with a more premium presentation style box. Its still very simple but given how cheap this player is I was surprised to get something so nice.
Inside the player sits on top in a foam insert that has been cut to size and the accessories are all hidden away underneath and out of sight.
Most DAP’s don’t come with many accessories but Xduoo have thrown in a few useful items that I think other companies (even expensive ones) should include.
Whats in the box?:
1x USB-C Charging cable
1x 3.5mm male to male Aux cable
A set of stick on rubber feet
Pin plugs for jack points
3x screen protectors (2 in box and 1 pre installed)
These package inclusions show that Xduoo have really thought about how people might use their systems. Its a low cost solution but the inclusion of the rubber feet that will keep the player from getting scratched on hard surfaces and the pins will stop dust getting into the jack points. Simple and well though out, some welcome inclusions.
The only thing missing from the package is a protective carry case. At this price its impossible to be mad at such an omission and I suspect there will soon be aftermarket cases made available for the Xduoo X3 ii in the future.
The Xduoo X3ii features an all metal body and as a result it is a very sturdy unit. It inspires a lot of confidence in its long term durability. Despite the solid construction this is still quite a light DAP coming in at just 113 grams on our scales so it is no problem to carry around as a second device and dedicated music player.
The buttons feel very good with a nice tactile click to them and decent amount of travel. I will say however they are quite loud to operate so if you are digging around in the menus it can be quite distracting for those around you. The X3 II has gained me a few sideways glances from my partner in bed at night when she is trying to sleep.
Whilst the unit is robust both the body and the screen will be prone to scratching over time so if a case is available i would pick one up. The screen seems to be either very hard plastic or mineral glass and this will mark up badly if you have anything else in your pocket so make sure you use those included screen protectors.
The design is also something that I have come to enjoy. Despite being a little thick in the pocket the player feels very good in the hand. The buttons are all very well placed for my hands and i found the unit very easy to operate one handed.
Here is what is where:
Top - Nothing
Bottom - USB-C charging/data port, line out port, 3.5mm headphone out
Left - Power/Screen Lock button, Volume up and down (independent and not rocker style)
Right - Nothing
Back - Lots of text
Front - Led status light, 2.5 inch IPS screen, Operational controls ( Skip forward/back, Play/Pause, Home, Return)
The internals feature a AK4490 DAC which is a well proven and well regarded unit among the audio community. i will go more into some of the sonic properties in the sound section of this review. The amp section is provided by Texas instruments with the OPA1652 and LMH6643 that provide enough power to drive almost any headphone to sufficient volume.
Its a fairly intuitive design and the only thing i found strand was the placement of the track skip buttons which are located on the front of the device on the right hand side rather than back on the left and forward on the right as you find on most players. Its not the most logical setup but after a few hours you get used to operating the unit in this way.
The software is very simple, intuitive and fairly surprisingly feature rich for something being sold at this price point. The home menu is split into 6 sections that offer you a quick way to get where you want to be withing the system. I found it fast and easy to use and whilst it is not visually impressive or to the standard of premium players it gets the job done and I have yet to find and bugs, glitches or crashes.
Music Browser - The option to select music by folder structure and scan for new files on your TF card
My Music - The standard way to browse your music as organised into sections like Artist, Genre, Album etc. I found that all mus music was picked up by the system and well organised but the scrolling in the artists tag with 128gb of music on was painfully slow. To the point that it is almost useless. They really need to introduce some sort of accelerated scrolling on the device
Music Settings - This is the area of most interest to audio enthusiasts and the X3ii offers significant options for tweaking playback and sound. There is a high/low gain switch, 10 band EQ and gapless playback to name a few.
System Settings - Where you can control aspects like screen brightness, timeout and keylock modes. One very cool feature here is the toggle to engage car mode where you can connect the player to your car audio system via the USB outlet and control your music playback from your headset or steering controls.
Bluetooth Settings - A real bonus of this player is that it comes with Bluetooth 4.0 and supports streaming via APTX codec. Not a lot of players in this price range offer such functionality so its great to see its inclusion.
Now Playing- The now playing menu is basic but highly functional. It features support for lyrics and album artwork and at the bottom of the screen has track position, artist and track names. From this menu if you press the menu button it will bring up some quick controls for playback mode, favorite, delete and gain settings. One thing you might find odd is that the text bounces back and forth left to right as opposed to scrolling in an infinite loop but this is intentional as it gives support for languages that are read from right and left.
Well the part I’m sure you have all been waiting for was how the Xduoo X3 ii sound. The good news is that it is an excellent sounding player for the price and honestly it punches way above its weight.
The presentation is fairly flat and detailed but it does have a softer tone on the highs and a slight elevation of the lows. Despite this there is not much going on in the way of coloration and the X3ii keeps things fairly neutral. The unit works very well with a range of earphones thanks to the ability to switch the gain settings and good lord can this thing get loud. I had the setting of around 16 on the volume grid with it going all the way up to 100.
The only earphones that provided any issue for me was my $1500 Campfire Audio Solaris and that presented itself with a very slight hiss on both gain settings.
Detail retrieval is very good and when paired with a good set of headphones or earphones this little player positively sings. You get that feeling of more detail being drawn out than a lot of cheaper players do and honestly the step up to things upwards of $200 draws very little benefit sonicaly.
The 10 band EQ was excellent if you were looking to fine tune the sound but some of the other effects were more of a gimmick than truly functional.
If you are looking for something transparent and with a lot of detail then this or the Hidzis AP60 will be my recommendation for around $100 right now.
Xduoo have another great little high res music player on their hands and with the inclusion of Bluetooth and some clever hardware choices I can happily recommend it to anyone who doesn’t want to break the bank yet still wants a stand alone device for playing music. Its powerful, well made and has a simple to use interface that is only let down by the poor screen and slow scrolling speed. However, for the money this is light years ahead of what we had on offer just a few short years ago. Recommend.
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