The xDuoo XD-05 Plus is a mobile DAC/Amp that can work separately as each option and provides 1W of pure power through the headphone output. It is priced at 289$.
Sound quality for the price
The bigger portable DACs are losing a little interest compared to the small Bluetooth DACs. But still, the regular-sized devices without a big screen or BT connections offer the highest value, and it isn’t otherwise this time. The xDuoo keeps its place high in all rankings for a reason, and by reading the following paragraphs, you’ll know why.
Inside the well-designed box with an outline drawing at the front and the sides, you’ll be able to find a lot of useful accessories and, of course, the XD-05 Plus itself.
The whole list of accessories inside:
- Spare screws (you may ask why do you need them, I’ll explain that later)
- Ten rubber feet
- 6,3 jack adapter of excellent quality, with low impedance, compared to cheap ones
- One long USB-A to USB-C cable,
- One short USB-C to USB-C cable,
- Second short cable, but this time it is USB-C to USB micro,
- The warranty card
- A small rubber pad used to use the XD-05 with the phone as a sandwich.
That’s an enjoyable set of accessories, but I wish there would be one extra USB-A to USB-C cable for stationary usage. Luckily, the battery is excellent, so you don’t have to charge it often.
The handcrafting also stands at the highest level. It’s a pretty heavy DAC, especially for the mobile one, but the weight isn’t such a big problem thanks to the accessories. The whole device is made of metal, painted with powder coating in this space gray-ish color.
Talking about the front, you’ll find there the 6,3 jack output, three switches, and the potentiometer.
The last thing is the screen where you can check the battery status, selected mode, sampling rate, and filter. It is placed pretty deep, so it looks insanely beautiful in real. Between the outside and the screen stays a thick piece of glass.
At the rear part, you can find the AUX in/out, USB-in, USB charging port (both USB-C, lovely), and digital input.
Finally, on the left side, you can find three buttons. The first one is a simple input. The second one, SRC, works only for digital input, and it is there for resampling, 48, 96, and the 192KHz. The third one stands there for filters. PCM1 is “Sharp Roll-off,” PCM2 is “Slow Roll-off,” PCM3 is “Short Delay Sharp,” and PCM4 works as “Short Delay Slow.”
All attached accessories are of excellent quality. Short cables look similar to those made by FiiO, but these that come with xDuoo are relatively stiffer. Rubber feet are significant, with strong glue. They can easily hold the DAC at the set position.
The rubber band is sticky, so it gets dirty pretty fast, but you can wash it under running water, and it will keep its functionality.
Functionality & Battery Life
The list of functionalities isn’t the longest one, but almost all the necessary things are there.
Beginning with the front of XD-05 Plus. There are free switches, the first one is named “boost.” It provides extra power through the headphone output if the standard wouldn’t be enough for you. I checked this using IEMs, and well, it scared me a little. The second one is a bass boost. It works as well as the one in iFi iDSD Signature, so that’s a solid point. It doesn’t only boost subbass but also makes the texture better and makes the midrange a little warmer. The third one is a three-grade gain.
The potentiometer launches the device and works linearly in the fundamental frequency without a problem.
The next important thing is the fact that you can swap the OPAMPs to change the sound quality and the signature. That’s why there are separate screws in the box. They are tiny, so if you’re not into DIY in the electronic world, you might not have proper stuff and lose some of them.
The screen doesn’t have brightness settings, but it is readable in daylight and doesn’t irritate at night. This color reminds me of old Technics that my father had when I was a child. I think many of you had something with the screen like that for your own.
Battery life is another excellent part. The producer promises 40 hours of work as an amplifier and 13 hours as a DAC/AMP. In mixed mode, I achieved about 20 hours on mid gain. The only thing I’m missing is the auto-ff function. You have to remember to switch off the device.
Oh, I’d like to mention the wireless connection that’s possible to have by buying an extended module, the xDuoo 05BL Pro, that provides BT 5.0 and LDAC. After buying, the only thing you have to do is pin that to the rear part and select the source. You can get one for 69,99$.
The xDuoo XD-05 Plus has a sound signature that isn’t the most popular. It is similar to the RHA DACAMP L1. Warm, with delicate treble and narrow soundstage. It matches excellently with all the bright headphones but also doesn’t ruin the warmer ones.
Most of the time, I was using the Bqeyz Spring 2, a neutral-bright earphone with cruelly fast bass that doesn’t get to the front. The XD-05 Plus frees the bass. Now, the Spring 2 is a little beast that can strike hard and rumble with subbass, providing a lot of fun.
Unfortunately, if you do own sensitive IEMs, you can have a problem. The XD-05 Plus has a slight hiss and background noise with higher volume levels. On low gain, it isn’t the problem, mostly if you do listen quietly. The noise rises with volume.
I’ll do two paragraphs in the sound description. The first one will be standard-length, and the next will be shorter, describing the xDuoo XD-05 Plus when it works only as a DAC, enjoy! I decided not to do a separate paragraph for the Amplifier function because it sounds very similar to the XD-05 as a DAC/AMP.
The bass is one of the most powerful basses I’ve heard at this price. It’s a swift punch, that rises quickly but linearly, being very smooth at that part. Don’t think that the bass is slow, it surely can strike unexpected to show the more technical way. The smoothness is very delicate when it comes to the texture because XD-05 can roar and it does it often. I can easily hear the bass guitar strings when they’re shaking, but not every single bounce. It’s truly great, but I wouldn’t match it with FiiO FH3 for example, unless you have the FiiO LC-C cable. With the LC-C, feel free to match those.
As far as I know, you can fix that little unruliness by changing the OPAMPs, but I hadn’t a chance to do this. If I get some, I’ll update this part, so for now – to be continued…
The midrange is relatively neutral, with natural smoothness. Male or female vocals aren’t offensive or pushed to the front. They stand in the same lane but can fade through each other. Dave Gahan doesn’t have the most potent vocal with the Bqeyz Spring 2, but he sounds excellent with the Campfire Audio Vega 2020. The vocal gains a lot of body with that earphone, but using any brighter headphones ends with too delicate low mids. Female vocals have a more fulfilled body. Katy Perry’s voice is thicker, with the possibility to drench the listener, on both earphones.
Dynamic is decent, it isn’t like jumping on the trampoline, but it definitely can let you feel the music and start a solo party at home. When I started listening to alternative polish music, I couldn’t stop singing. Thank God I was home alone. My family would kick me out of the house if they heard that.
The treble, as mentioned before, is the most delicate part. It’s very soft, but detail reproduction is outstanding, even if the highs are not set in the first place. There’s no chance of any sibilances, harshness, or slicing your ears — just a pleasant and calm presentation, similar to most of the tube amps. If you do know DACAMP L1, try to remind that with the treble set at -1, that sounds very similar to XD-05, which is more classy and has better details and texture.
The soundstage is an eternal problem for portable DACs. The only one that shocked me is the EarMen TR-Amp.
With XD-05 Plus, everything is placed near the head, slightly moved to the front. The distances are slightly changing, but it isn’t a big difference. Height is constant, but the width is trying to imply something to the front and backward, so with AKG K702 or Craft Ears Four it can run away a little, but still, it is a dog on the leash. In gaming, that was problematic too, determining the direction isn’t the easiest. As a good thing, I can tell you about the separation. That’s wonderful. Nothing sounds like a one, massive sound.
As a DAC
The xDuoo XD-05 isn’t mainly the stationary DAC, but if there’s a possibility to use it in only DAC mode, why shouldn’t I try?
XD-05 Plus used as a DAC shows a more neutral playstyle, without such an offensive bass, but it keeps its advantages. The midrange with tube amps gets amazing, the thickness of vocals is wonderful also with the bright headphones, not only the bassy ones. The texture is still here, the treble isn’t such delicate anymore. Still, it isn’t the FiiO Q5S level in the technicality of treble.
Also, the soundstage is better with other AMPs, but it still doesn’t shine. Matched with other amplifiers it is way easier to hear the sound from all around.
The xDuoo XD-05 Plus is an excellent portable DAC/Amp with a warm sound signature, outstanding detail reproduction, build quality and battery. The build quality, design, and a lot of driving power make it a fantastic choice for everyone looking for a portable DAC/AMP. It’s a well-thought device from top to bottom, and it surely deserves all the attention it has gotten in the past few months.
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
- Headphones – Philips Fidelio X2HR, Audeze LCD-3, Bqeyz Spring 2, Craft Ears Four, Hifiman HE400i 2020, AKG K702, Campfire Audio Vega, Audeze LCD-3
- Sources– SMSL M300+SP200, Chord Mojo, iFi iDSD Neo, Topping DX3 Pro, EarMen TR-Amp, iDSD Signature, Topping D50s, FiiO Q5S, DACAMP L1