In this review, I’m looking at the xDuoo XD05 Bal portable DAC and headphone amplifier. The XD05 Bal features dual ES9038Q2M DAC chips, Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX and LDAC codecs and gobs of output power. It supports up to PCM 32bit/768kHz and DSD512. It’s priced at $429.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided by xDuoo for an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
xDuoo XD05 Bal Review
Considering its powerful performance, it's hard to fault the XD05 Bal, especially at this price.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again here: xDuoo does some of the best accessory bundles in the game. Just look at what comes in the box.
1* USB-C to USB-C long cable
1* USB-C to USB-A adapter
1* micro-USB to USB-C short cable
1* USB-C to USB-C short cable
1* USB-C to Lightning short cable
1* mini-XLR to mini-XLR cable
1* 6.35mm to 3.5mm jack adapter
10*silicone rubber feet
The xDuoo XD05 Bal is fully balanced from the digital to the analogue circuit – as the name would suggest. It’s a portable unit that can be used on the go or as a complete desktop DAC/amp setup.
With 1000mW of output power, the XD05 will drive all but the most demanding headphones. While not as powerful as some desktop devices, 1000mW is a lot of drive to have in your pocket.
The dual ES9038Q2M DAC chips can handle pretty much any sample rate, supporting up to 32-bit/768kHz and DSD512. XD05 has a variety of input methods to choose from, such as balanced AES, coaxial, optical, USB and Bluetooth.
XD05 Bal makes no compromises when it comes to Bluetooth connectivity. It supports SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX-LL, aptX-HD and LDAC.
The XD05 Bal is designed to make it easy to swap out the opamps by yourself. So, if you want to throw in some SparkOS or Texas Instruments opamps, for example, the process is made simple.
There are multiple digital filters to choose from, Boost mode and dual gain settings available as well to further customize the sound.
Lastly, the XD05 Bal gives you the choice to run on either battery or an external power supply. Using external power gives you maximum power when you’re at your desktop. The internal battery can be used when you’re mobile or if you just want super clean DC power.
For anyone who owns any recent xDuoo products, the design of the XD05 Bal will likely look familiar. The XD05 Bal chassis sports xDuoo’s signature anodized grey finish and the volume barrel is a vibrant red.
We find the 6.35mm and 4.4mm headphone outputs on the front panel. In addition, there is a power switch, BOOST switch and Gain mode switch. Then, of course, there’s the OLED display. The display shows useful information including the selected input mode, current Bluetooth codec, sample rate, filter setting and battery level.
Around the back panel are the auxiliary, USB, coaxial/optical, AES inputs, USB power input and external/battery power select switch.
There are 3 buttons on the left side of the unit: the Bluetooth pairing/playback button, the digital filter select button and the input select button. The buttons are flush with the surface which helps to avoid accidental presses. However, I would prefer if they weren’t opposite the volume barrel because that’s where your fingers naturally rest when adjusting the volume and I have pressed them by accident a few times.
Speaking of the volume barrel, it’s located on the right side of the unit. It’s flush with the surface and has a good amount of resistance so it’s near impossible to change the volume by accident; this is especially useful when carrying the XD05 Bal in your pocket.
Battery Life & Bluetooth
The battery life will vary depending on the usage. It will give you around 9 hours of Bluetooth playback, 15 hours using the coaxial/optical input and up to 24 hours when using the auxiliary input.
I’ve heard some people complaining about the XD05 Bal’s Bluetooth connectivity but I haven’t had any problems with it. Admittedly, I’ve only used it with my iPhone and AAC is less finicky than aptX-HD or LDAC (probably due to the lower sample rate). Either way, it has worked flawlessly for me and in addition, the quality of the Bluetooth audio is in a word, awesome. It doesn’t sound as good as a wired connection, but it sounds great nonetheless.
Having had experience with xDuoo products in the past such as the Poke and Poke II, I had some idea of what to expect from the XD05 Bal. However, that didn’t quite prepare me for the experience I’ve had with this DAC/amp. The xDuoo house sound is present and accounted for but the level of engagement and fidelity offered by the XD05 Bal is on another level.
So how would I describe the xDuoo house sound? Muscular and robust yet nuanced and agile. Furthermore, xDuoo devices (in my experience) tend to sound neutral but never clinically dry or analytical.
XD05 Bal has good end-to-end extension and fullness. Not only that but it sounds energetic; I’d go as far as to say it sounds enthusiastic about pumping out your music. However, that’s not to say it can’t be nuanced or serene. It’s a master of dynamics and adapts itself perfectly to the music every time.
Bass notes are concise but full-bodied. The low end is tight and controlled. It has good speed combined with power. It’s not boosted in quantity but never sounds anaemic or reserved. Moreover, it’s punchy and layered. I hooked up the Hifiman Sundara to the xDuoo and fired up Wheel’s “Tyrant” and was immediately rewarded with a rich and textured yet super clean bass guitar. The kick drum sounds vigorous but compact without any hint of looseness.
The midrange is presented exquisitely. It can be light and airy or it can be chesty and sonorous. It’s a perfect blend of technical performance and musicality, rich in both detail and emotion.
Vocals are engaging, rich and vibrant but always articulate. Playing through Daniel Cavanagh’s “Oceans of Time”, both Daniel and Anneke’s voices are expressive and nuanced. From the warmth of the male vocals to the pristine clarity of the female voice, the xDuoo masterfully portrays the piece’s delicate vulnerability and heartfelt anguish.
There are two words that come to mind when I think of the XD05 Bal’s treble: extension and naturalness. The highs are precise and accurate in timbre, neither muted nor paraded but simply present. Even with brighter IEMs like the Letshuoer S12, there’s no sharpness or any signs of Sabre glare.
Soundstage and Technicalities
I find the staging to be neither expansive nor cramped but neutral in position. What is apparent is the quality of the image and the placement of vocals and instruments. Instruments have a fullness and density that gives them a lifelike and physical quality. It’s not a floaty sound but a tangible earthy one that comes from an accomplished neutral tuning.
Lastly, the XD05 Bal has a palpable sense of rhythm, made possible by its natural and organic presentation. It’s a dynamic, realistic and musical sound created within a framework of transparency mixed with vibrancy.
xDuoo XD05 Bal Verdict
The xDuoo XD05 Bal is more than just a portable DAC and headphone amplifier. It’s extremely versatile not only because of the multiple digital inputs but by the level of customization it offers with its digital filters and swappable opamps.
You can run it off the mains power or go mobile and use the built-in battery. Either way, you’ve got loads of power at your disposal plus a highly technical yet realistic and organic sound. Considering all it offers, the XD05 Bal stands out as one of the best in its class and at a lower price point than many of its contemporaries. This one earns a solid recommendation.
Weight: 0.29 KG
Product Size: 137.52.2 cm
Gain: +6/15 DB
Screen: 0.91 inch OLED
Power Supply: 3.8V / 5000mAh
6.5 Phone Out Parameters
Output Power 1000mW （32Ω load）
THD+N 0.0015 %@ 1KHZ
4.4 phone output parameters
Output Power 1000mW （32Ω load）
THD+N 0.0009 %@ 1KHZ
S/N ≥117 DB
Bluetooth Format AAC, SBC, aptx, aptx LL, aptx HD, LDAC
Charging Time About 5 hours ( 5V/2A)
Applicable OS Win 7/8/10, Linux, Mac OS X, IOS, Android System