In this xDuoo MT-602 review, I’m taking a look at this $99 tube amplifier. The MT-602 comes with 2x 6J1 tubes pre-installed and works as both a headphone amplifier and a preamp.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided by xDuoo for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Small form factor
Detailed, transparent sound
Some background noise with sensitive IEMs
Rated Power: 1300 mW @ 32 Ohm Headphones Impedance: 16 – 600 Ohm Gain: + 15 dB S/N: 115 dB Dimensions: 12 * 7.8 * 4 cm Weight: 380 g
Packaging & Accessories
The xDuoo MT-602 comes in a quality cardboard box. The box is adorned with an xDuoo logo pattern and has a line illustration of the device on the front. Inside the box, the amplifier is seated securely in a foam insert. In addition, we find a user manual, power brick and power cable.
xDuoo MT-602’s design looks familiar as it is similar to the MT-604 model that I reviewed recently. Its chassis is built from the same excellent matte grey aluminium that feels thick and robust to the touch. There are perforated sections of the top and both sides of the unit to help dissipate heat, as we saw with the MT-604.
On the front panel, the bright red volume adds a modern touch but manages to do so without looking garish or flashy. I really appreciate the appearance of this current MT product line. Here is where you’ll also find the power switch plus the 6.35mm and 3.5mm single-ended headphone outputs. Lastly, to the right of the volume knob is a 3.5mm auxiliary input as well. This makes it really easy to connect a smartphone or DAP as a music source.
On the rear panel, there are RCA auxiliary inputs and RCA auxiliary outputs. The variable-level auxiliary output is for using the MT-602 as a preamp so you can connect it to a power amplifier or a pair of active speakers. Finally, there is also a 12V DC power input where you plug in the included power cable.
Tubes and Internals
The MT-602 uses a pair of the same 6J1 tubes that we saw in the MT-604. That means that for anyone interested in tube-rolling there are many alternative tubes available for testing. Changing the type of tube can alter the character of the amplifier’s sound.
In the case of the MT-602 the tubes act as a preamp to the solid-state buffer stage. This gives you the analogue sound character of the tubes along with the more robust power delivery of solid-state transistors.
The MT-602 is also equipped with a built-in mute circuit that prevents those loud pops from occurring when you power on the device. The only downside of this is that you need to wait about 20 seconds after turning on the device before you can hear any sound. But I think this is a great feature and I’m glad to see it included in this budget amp.
When it comes to output power, the MT-602 can push up to 1300mW which is sufficient to drive most headphones out there. It’s got more than enough juice to power all of my headphones with ease.
This amp is a good match for headphones and harder to drive earphones. If you’re using very sensitive IEMs with the 602 there is some audible background noise so it might not be the best option if that’s what you primarily listen to. I think the MT-602 is better suited for headphones such as the Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro, Hifiman Sundara, Sivga Phoenix etc. It’s also great for more demanding IEMs like the Tin Hifi P1.
Setup: During testing, I was using the new TOPPING D10 Balanced DAC which was connected to my Windows 10 PC via USB as the source. I used the Hifiman Sundara, Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro and Meze 99 Classics for headphone tests. For IEM testing, I used the oBravo Venus, Moondrop Aria and Tin Hifi T2 Evo.
I will add that the MT-602 can be susceptible to EMF (Electromagnetic Interference). So you need to keep your smartphone 30+ cm away from the amp or you might hear interference from time to time.
As mentioned previously, there are quite a large number of alternative tubes available for the MT-602. However, all of my testing was done with the amp in its default configuration using the standard 6J1 tubes.
Just like the MT-604, the MT-602 has a clean, transparent sound. It’s detailed and clear and thanks to the solid-state buffer, transient speeds are good too. There’s just a hint of underlying earthiness and analogue flavour coming through from the tubes.
Notes are slightly rounder but there’s no discernible loss of texture. String instruments such as cellos gain a bit of extra body and fullness. Vocals become sweeter but are still nuanced and articulate. Everything has some extra subtle richness, including the treble which takes on a sense of extra airiness. However, the treble is still resolving and crisp.
The soundstage is expanded, making it sound bigger and more spacious, especially in terms of depth. Despite the extra warmth, the MT-602 still has a good grasp on layering and stereo imaging. Overall, I find this amp has a similar character to its MT-604 sibling albeit with a slightly less organic flavour.
I love what xDuoo is doing with this line of amps and the xDuoo MT-602 is no exception. Its compact form factor and build quality make it a handsome and unintrusive addition to any desktop. Its RCA line-out also makes it perfect to pair with desktop speakers so it’s even more versatile than the 604. Long story short, devices like the MT-602 make quality tube amplification more accessible than ever before. If you’ve been considering an inexpensive tube amp, this is a great place to start.