The xDuoo Poke II is a portable DAC & amplifier. It has dual CS43198 DAC chips and supports up to PCM 32Bit/384KHZ, DSD256 and MQA rendering. It’s priced at $390 USD.
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.
xDuoo Poke II
Package and Accessories
xDuoo usually includes a great accessory bundle and it’s the same with the Poke II. The box is blue in colour and has a vibrant youthful design. Here’s what you’ll find inside the package.
- xDuoo Poke II
- USB charging cable
- USB C to USB C cable
- USB C to lightning cable
- USB C to USB A adapter
- Silicone stacking pad
Like the original Poke, the xDuoo Poke II has an aluminium chassis with a matte blue finish. This time around, however, the Poke II has glass on the top and rear sides. The Poke has an OLED display that shows useful information such as current sample rate, battery level, volume level, gain mode and tone settings.
On the top of the unit is a 3.5mm headphone output, 4.4mm headphone output plus gain, filter and input select buttons. A short press on the gain button switches from HIGH to LOW but a long press plays the next song. Likewise, do a short press on the filter button to set the filter (FAST or SLOW) and a long press to play the previous song.
The bottom panel hosts 2 USB ports, one for data and the other for charging. Here we also find a switch to select either UAC2.0 or UAC1.0 USB modes.
Down the left side of the Poke II are the power on/off, volume up, volume down, EQ and Bluetooth/answer call buttons. When using Bluetooth input, the Bluetooth key acts as a play/pause and answer call button.
My only real gripe with the layout of the Poke II is the position of the input select button. It’s easy to press it by accident when the device is in your pocket. This is especially frustrating when you’re listening to music via Bluetooth because if you press the button the BT disconnects and interrupts playback. I much prefer the select switch on the original Poke to this new button. You can actually lock all the buttons with a long press of the Input button but then, of course, you’re locked out from the controls until the buttons are unlocked.
Dual CS43198 DACs reside inside the Poke II’s chassis and support up to PCM32Bit/384KHZ, DSD256 and MQA rendering. With 340mW @ 32Ω from the 3.5mm output and 700mW @ 32Ω from the 4.4mm output, the Poke II can easily tackle just about any headphone you throw at it.
The Poke II has Bluetooth 5.0 and supports AAC and SBC as well as high-res wireless codecs including aptX HD and LDAC. A built-in microphone means you can even make phone calls (when in Bluetooth mode).
The 4000mAh battery provides a playback time of >12 hours in Bluetooth mode and >8 hours in USB mode. In addition, the Poke II can be used as a power bank to charge phones or other devices in an emergency.
You can choose between low and high gain modes to best suit sensitive earphones or more demanding headphones. There are also 2 digital filter modes that you can select using the filter button on top of the device.
The xDuoo Poke II’s sound is highly customizable. Not only are there 3 EQ modes (game, movie, pop) but you can also adjust the bass and treble ±10dB. That gives you a lot of control over your sound and I’m sure a lot of people will love that feature.
Connecting the Poke II is easy. You can either plug it into a phone, laptop or computer via USB or connect via Bluetooth. It even works with Nintendo Switch, PlayStation and Xbox.
As soon as you power it on, the relevant info appears on the display and shows you the selected input method and whether or not it’s paired with a source. The Bluetooth key can be used to play and pause music (Bluetooth mode only) and a long press on the gain and filter buttons plays the next or previous song respectively.
Volume can be adjusted with a single click or by holding the button down. As an added bonus, the volume controls are discrete and work separately from the source’s volume.
Using the Poke II as an external USB soundcard is easy. Just plug in the device using the included cable and you’re good to go. The Poke works natively with Windows 10 and iOS and doesn’t require additional driver installation.
I tested the xDuoo Poke II with a variety of headphones and earphones including the Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro, HIFIMAN Sundara, Moondrop Chu, Tripowin Olina and LZ A7.
The unit has more than enough power to push every headphone in my collection. The noise floor is inaudible to my ears, even with sensitive IEMs. Using the 4.4mm balanced output, the sound gains even more clarity and spaciousness but the 3.5mm mm single-ended output is no slouch either.
As I expected (and hoped) the Poke II inherits Xduoo’s house sound: it’s vibrant, dynamic and punchy. The Poke II is expressive and showcases the signature xDuoo muscularity in its presentation.
Paired with a high-fidelity IEM like the LZ A7, the Poke II’s dynamic range and attention to detail are apparent. Playing through Lucid Planet’s “Requiem”, the Poke II takes you on an emotional ride through the song’s vulnerable beginning, the rhythmic breakdowns and the thrashing defiant climax.
The soundstage is large but well structured and the instrument separation is superb (especially from the balanced output). I love the note density and the sense of immediacy it delivers: the transients are crisp and the treble precise. Furthermore, the layering that comes out of this thing will make you think you’re listening to a full-fledged desktop unit.
In addition to its vivid, robust default sound, the xDuoo Poke II lets you customize the sound to suit your own tastes. The 2 filter modes and 3 EQ presets are just the beginning. There are also the discrete bass and treble tone controls that allow you to adjust each up to plus or minus 10dB.
Poke II is able to capture the essence of Anathema’s “The Optimist” with panache. This is another song with good dynamic range that highlights the xDuoo’s sense of rhythm and expression. The instruments are layered and the soundstage is wide and airy. Meaty drums, rich vocals and precise treble notes are spaciously laid out for the listener’s pleasure.
The xDuoo Poke II is a welcome update of the original. It adds a fully balanced 4.4mm output, improved audio quality and a lot more output power. It’s compatible with a wide variety of sources and equally viable for both desktop and portable use. Throw in MQA support and Hi-Res wireless audio codecs and it’s easy to see why I’m loving this device. If only the input button was still a switch and there were dedicated next/previous song buttons it would be near perfect. Well, we can always hope for a Poke 3!
- PCM decoding: up to 32-Bit/384kHz
- DSD: Upto DSD256 (natively/DoP)
- Bluetooth version: 5.0
- Bluetooth Codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, APTX LL, APTX HD, LDAC
- Bass boost: ±10dB
- Treble boost: ±10dB
- Gain: 0/6dB
- Frequency response range: 20Hz-20kHz
- Battery Capacity: 4000mAh
- Playback time: USB In ≥8H/ BT In ≥12H
- Dimensions: 12x6x1.5cm
- Weight: 0.2kg
- Output power: up to 340mW @ 32Ω (3.5mm output) / up to 700mW @ 32Ω (4.4mm output)
- THD+N: 0.0015%@1kHz
- SNR: 113dB
- Cross talk: ≥77dB
- Output power: up to 700mW @ 32Ω
- THD+N: 0.0019%@1kHz
- SNR: 119dB
- Cross talk: ≥106dB