Three full months shy from the site’s 1st music player realview, we are finally seeing another finally gracing our site. This time by xDuoo, a company whose mantra is “Confident, Responsible, Stable and humble” which leaves me guessing if they’re talking about their products or their employees.
xDuoo first gained traction in the audiophile market with their widely used xDuoo x3 entry level DAP which if placed next to an iPod shuffle and Nano at the time, blows competition away and a makes Sansa clip and fuse owners want to upgrade. It was so hot that time that it slug it out against FiiO with their x1 offering. Fast forward and now we have the xDuoo x3ii, a sandblasted piece of CNC aluminum alloy coated in matte black which diverges from the former x3’s silver and glossy black finishes. Spec’d out with the AK4490 DAC chip and the Texas Instruments OPA1652+LMH6643 AMP chips, support for 256gb TF card expansion, Bidirectional Bluetooth 4.0, USB DAC function, Hiby Link function, Car mode, 10 EQ sections and 18 Sound effect options supporting DSF, DFF and DSD up to DSD128 as well as DXD, FLAC, APE, WAV, ALAC, AIFF up to 32Bit/384KHz while not leaving behind MP3, AAC, WMA formats. The xDuoo x3ii also supports CUE, M3U and M3U8 files as well as album art and track lyrics display.
The xDuoo x3ii is currently priced at $120 which you can get yourself a pair off DD Audio’s Aliexpress site. The x3ii price places it right on the upper entry level music players such as FiiO x1ii, Hidizs AP60ii and the Zishan DSD which is a far cry from the x3’s slugging it out with at least 2-3 competitors at that time, with the new features being added on the x3ii, will be able to hold its ground after the dust settles? Let’s find out.
Specifications and Packaging
xDuoo x3ii Spec sheet:
- Display: 2.4inch IPS with 7H hardness
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz (±0.15dB)
- Output Power: 210mW (32Ohm/THD + N<0.0015%)
- Crosstalk: >75dB (32Ohm@1kHz)
- S/N: ≥114dB
- Battery: 3.7V/2000mAh
- Charging Time: <3H quick charge, <5H slow charge
- Estimated Battery life: 13H
- Weight: 112g
- Size: 102.5×51.5×14.9mm
The xDuoo x3ii comes in a simple cardboard box with a more durable glossy black container inside which has enough cushion to protect the x3ii while still being stored and shipped. The accessory set included in the package features 2 scree protectors, 2 lineout/headphone out rubber protector plugs, 4pcs 3M silicon feet, Type C charging/data cable and a 3.5-3.5 interconnect cable. The lineout/headphone out rubber protector is a nice addition which most music players don’t give although notably missing is a free protective case which would really be nice.
Build quality, User Interface and Handling
The xDuoo x3ii is a 2 piece design with the backside being held together by 4 allen screws and all buttons fitting nicely with no noticeable rattling sound when shaken. All buttons rest on the front underneath the display and on the left portion leaving nothing on the right portion as well as the top sides. All buttons are in black with white markings with the volume up having a raised pin and the power button being red. Connection outputs are situated on the lower portion with enough gaps with each other giving no issues when all 3 ports are used. The only real weird aspect is the forward/backward/next/previous buttons being pointed up and down although at 112g, the x3ii is easily pocketable and fits nicely in the hand like your old Nokia phones.
The User Interface is indeed way better than the x3, it now has color, RGB y’all and thankfully uses a dark theme since I personally hate white themes except on my desktop rig. Navigation is straightforward and easy to use with zero learning curves as all options are labelled correctly and no weird layouts. I didn’t find it hard to be back with button controls since this doesn’t have a touch screen which other music players are. Cycling through the numerous music files using the forward/backward/next/previous buttons is smooth and no lags.
There 6 main UI categories being Music Browser, My Music, Now Playing, Music Settings, System Settings and Bluetooth Settings. It houses all the expected sub-categories with notable options such as OTG support, Gain setting(High and Low), Digital Filter(Sharp and Slow Decay), Breakpoint Play, Gapless Playback, Fixed and Default Volume, USB DAC mode, Car Mode and Hiby Link. Those are the sub categories which I did find worthy of tinkering on like a side quest mission gameplay for audiophiles since we don’t do EQ around these parts of the world although you can but be discreet since EQ Nazi enforcers are sensitive to such behaviors.
I have mainly used the x3ii for a full month as my sole DAP and experienced not one hiccup, restart, lag or audio cutting out. The weight was perfect for everyday use and doesn’t feel like carrying a lot and fits on almost all empty spaces my jeans, denims, bag and work table offers. Button positioning are great and one handed use is awesome. One thing I would have wanted is a damn protective case since the metal build makes me nervous when going up and down the stairs or any sort of activity where I use the x3ii without eye contact, a sense of protection is always welcome. This is a DAP were getting a case is a big MUST.
Connectivity and Stability
The xDuoo x3ii starts up by greeting you with a “Welcome” and goes straight to the point. The SE output is reinforced by a gold plated jack as well as the Lineout. The SE output fits snugly and doesn’t shake one tiny bit as well as the Lineout when connected with an external AMP such as the Ibasso Dzero Mk2. Speaking of AMPs, the x3ii ergonomically sits well with most portable AMPs such as the Walnut V2s, xDuoo XQ-20 and XD10 and the Ibasso Dzero Mk2. Its USB DAC function via my MSI GF62 8RE (i5-8th Gen/1060) and Acer Aspire F 15 (i5-7th Gen/950m) using Foobar2000 v1.4 performs well too with no delays when cycling through my whole music library of about 200gb of mixed file formats although the x3ii displays and outputs 32Khz/24Bit by default, just make sure to set the x3ii on DAC mode via System settings. The USB mode did well too for managing your x3ii SDc card library, type C clearly does have its perks.
Bluetooth connectivity is at 4.0 which at the price point of $120 is a very good choice since it targets the wireless market IEM which mostly features BT4.0 and lower since BT 5.0 with its 48MBps(x2 4.0) speed and 985ft (x4 4.0) perks needs appropriate hardware changes since 5.0 features won’t run on 4.0 IEMs and HPs, synergy even in wireless is still a thing to note although it would have been great to see 5.0 specially due to its lower power requirement.
Connecting the x3ii via BT to the Brainwavz BLU-300 is a perfect fit with its 4.1 support, there were no cut-offs when the x3ii is in my backpack or jean pockets when travelling and when running and doing light exercises as well. Moving around a 25sqm room also did great with no cut-offs except when moving to another room with a concrete wall, cut-offs were then observed. Volume controls were separate on both the IEM and the DAP which makes for volume adjustment very versatile. It is great to know that the x3ii with all its new features, modest they might be, works well and is reliable.
Sound Quality and Battery Life
The xDuoo x3ii features a 2000mAh battery with quick charge capability, not that 3 hours for 2000mAh passes as quick charge in Q4 2018. I have loaded a 128gb card on the x3ii with a mixture of MP3, FLAC and DSD and playtime reached around 8-10 hours at 25-40/100 volume and toggle 3 brightness. It easily lasts me a full week with 3-4 30 minute bursts of usage on weekdays and lasts me the weekends at 3-5 hours usage both on a Saturday and Sunday with occasional BT usage of an hour/day.
Now to the part we all usually scrolled to directly, the sound. The x3ii is damn smooth and soft sounding, like modern NBA soft. The AK4490 on the x3ii is implemented to the best of its ability making the overall sound to be presented as a flat frequency response with minor touches on the low end and highs. The overall low end of the x3ii is of low impact, diffused and lingering bass and sub bass. The overall midrange sound has a slight laid back presentation. The highs being its smoothest spectrum presentation, no peaks and non-fatiguing and also kind of boring. I have really enjoyed using the x3ii as one of my reference review DAPs with its overall lacking yet identified flat sound.
It is with great emphasis for an entry level music player to pack a lot of useful features, solid build quality and reliable connectivity while being priced as low as possible. The xDuoo x3ii, despite being entry level showcases almost all the must haves an entry level DAP needs with a few added novelty such as lineout/headphone out rubber protectors. I have always advocated of going flat for your source and letting your IEMs and HPs do the heavy lifting of satisfying your sound signature preferences and the xDuoo x3ii does that really well and despite not having a protective case, it surely did held its ground when the realview dust settled.