Astell&Kern AK XB10 review

More and more manufacturers of mobile devices are abandoning 2.5 and 3.5 mm headphone jacks, forcing high quality audio enthusiasts to look for another way to connect wired headsets. Astell & Kern presented its solution in the form of the XB10 model.

Astell & Kern XB10 Portable Amplifier and DAC not only connects wired headphones via Bluetooth, but also supports advanced technologies like aptX HD.

Accessories & Packaging

XB10 DAC is Packed in a small cylindrical box. It comes with a black microUSB charging cable and a microscopic user’s guide the size of a matchbox. At the bottom of the box, there is a small clip that attaches to the back, so you can use it to attach the gadget to shirts, jeans pockets, etc.


The Astell & Kern XB10 looks like a hockey puck with a futuristic design. On the one hand, there are jagged edges in the shape of a cross, on the other, the designation of the Astell & Kern brand. The amplifier is so small that it can be lost in the pocket of your backpack. It is very lightweight, but made of hard plastic that seems durable like aluminum. The edges at the top are separated by four switches: the volume down and volume up buttons are located on the right, the Bluetooth connection buttons, the pause/play buttons are on the left.

On the side of the bevel, there is: a button for skipping tunes, a microUSB port for charging, an LED indicator for power and pairing, a small hole for the microphone. There are also two audio outputs – a balanced 2.5 mm jack and an unbalanced 3.5 mm jack.

The XB10 buttons may accidentally touch. To prevent this from happening, there is a lock switch that disables all controls. It’s hard to understand the settings due to the instructions that are too finely written. The Astell & Kern XB10 battery will last about 5 hours – normal for everyday use, but not enough for long trips or flights.

The connection is quick and easy. It is enough to turn on the DAC and press the pairing button. When the LED starts flashing, find the XB10 in the menu of Bluetooth devices on your equipment and select it, that’s all. The amplifier quickly connects to previously paired devices when power is turned on.


After the sound quality produced by Astell & Kern XB10, it is difficult to return to music from a smartphone without a DAC, both with a wired and wireless connection. XB10 seriously improves the sound of all music genres on any smartphone, including the iPhone. The greatest effect will be achieved if the playback device supports aptX for example, Moto X Pure Edition. Percussion instruments, vocals, bass: everything sounds perfect and does not interfere with other musical elements.

There is no problem with the volume, a sound equivalent to the most powerful built-in amplifiers on most smartphones is output through the 3.5mm jack. An even more powerful signal is transmitted through the 2.5mm output. With a wireless connection, the amplifier works at a distance of up to 10 meters.


There are many Bluetooth receivers for connecting wired headphones, but the Astell & Kern XB10 DAC amplifier takes sound quality to a new level. It will provide great sound for any source that supports Bluetooth.

The gadget is also not cheap, $189 (special offer now $99), Creative SoundBlaster E3 and Audio Technica PHA50 offer similar characteristics 2 times cheaper (however, given the special offer for $99 now it is a real competitor). Astell & Kern is known for the reliability and quality of audio devices. The XB10 is made of plastic, not aluminum, but that doesn’t spoil it at all. With proper handling, the equipment will last for many years.


Model – AK XB10
Body Color – Black
Dimensions – 1.97 ”(50 mm) [W] x 1.97 ”(50 mm) [H] x 0.48 ”(12.3 mm) [D]
Weight – 0.81 oz (23 g)
Bluetooth Version – Bluetooth 4.1, Class2
Bluetooth Profile – A2DP (multi), AVRCP, HFP, HSP
Frequency Band – 2.4 – 2.4835 GHz ISM Band
Range – Maximum of 10 meters
Operating Temperature: -10°C ~ 45°C (23°F ~ 113°F)
Audio Codec – SBC, AAC, aptX™, aptX™ HD
Port – 2.5mm Balanced / 3.5mm Unbalanced
Output Level – 2.5mm Balanced : 1.8Vrms / 3.5mm Unbalanced : 0.9Vrms
Battery Type – 350mAh 3.7V lithium polymer rechargeable battery
Hours of Operation – Approximately 5 hours for music playing and phone calls
Standby Time – 300 hours
Charging Time – Approximately 2 hours
Charging Method – Micro USB 5Pin (charging 5V 2A)

Official site: