Have you ever felt like your computer or home Hi-Fi setup was stuck in the past? Do you wish your system had Bluetooth connectivity? Well, just plug in the xDuoo XQ50 via coaxial, aux or optical and your wired system is now good to go with wireless streaming music from your smartphone, tablet, or any Bluetooth source. It’s that simple. But does it sound any good? Let’s take a closer look.
This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Auxillary, Coaxial and Optical outputs
Easy to setup, consistent connectivity
16/48kHz max sampling rate
Blue LED keeps flashing unless connected to a Bluetooth device
Requires USB power to function
Package and Accessories
xDuoo’s recent products all seem to come in practical, no-nonsense packaging and it’s the same with the XQ50. The unbleached cardboard box comes wrapped in a white cardboard sleeve which has a clear image of the unit on the front. Inside, the XQ50 is seated in a protective foam insert, along with a USB Type-C cable and a screw-in Bluetooth antenna.
Build Quality and Functionality
There’s nothing fancy about the design of the XQ50 – it’s basically just a small, black box. But it’s nicely built and has an unassuming, low-key appearance that makes it disappear next to whatever system you plug it into.
It has a brick-shaped aluminium chassis with a matte black finish that is smooth to the touch. It’s very lightweight and can practically fit in the palm of your hand.
On the front panel are the power button and 2 LED indicators. The first LED is blue and shows Bluetooth status. Next to it is a green LED that lights up when the unit is receiving an HD Bluetooth signal.
At times I wanted to take a hammer to the unit because unless it is connected to a wireless source the blue LED blinks rapidly and constantly. Quite frankly, it is incredibly annoying and I felt the need to cover the LED or turn the unit away so I couldn’t see it blinking nonstop.
Around on the back panel are the USB Type-C port, Bluetooth antenna mount plus the auxiliary, coaxial and optical outputs. So there are some good output options there making it easy to connect to your DAC or amplifier.
The XQ50 utilizes Qualcomm’s QCC3008 Bluetooth chip which supports Bluetooth 5.0 and aptX for high-quality audio playback. In charge of digital-to-analogue conversion is an ES9018K2M chip for high S/N and very low distortion.
The XQ50’s digital interface is a Cirrus Logic CS8406 which can send out up to 192kHz to its optical and coaxial outputs and enables you to send data to an external DAC.
Another feature of the XQ50 is the ability to operate as a USB DAC by connecting it directly to your computer. This seems logical since the unit is powered via its USB Type-C port. However, it is limited to 16bit 44kHz which is a little underwhelming.
For power, I had the XQ50 plugged into my computer via USB. I used auxiliary out to the Feliks Audio Echo to test the onboard DAC. To test the digital interface, I used optical out to the Singxer SDA-2.
Bluetooth sources used for testing included my Android smartphone, the Shanling M5s and FiiO M6.
After plugging the XQ50 into my PC it was recognized immediately and ready to go without needing any additional driver installation. There are no switches or settings to mess around with – this is a pure plug and play device.
Using the onboard DAC the XQ50 has a transparent, uncoloured sound. It has an energetic and upfront presentation but one that lacks body and nuance. Listening with my Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro headphones, the bass didn’t punch the way that I’m used to and the sound lacked fullness. In comparison, the iFi Nano iOne feels more complete: equally energetic but warmer with greater dynamic range.
Once I switched to the XQ50’s optical output and fed that to the Singxer SDA-2 things sounded much better. The SDA-2 filled out the sound and the DT990 Pro’s bass response was back to normal. Additionally, the sound was more spacious and imbued with more subtlety and warmth.
So while it can work as a standalone DAC, I found the XQ50 worked better as a Bluetooth receiver and transport but it’s nice to have both options.
Since Bluetooth has become such a large part of many modern audiophile’s toolkits, devices like the xDuoo XQ50 can be an easy and affordable workaround to get your system back in the game. It’s very simple to set up and use, it’s nicely built and it’s extremely affordable. So if you’re looking for a way to cut the wires and modernize your system without spending a heap of cash the XQ50 is a very viable solution.