Over the past decade, gadgets for high-quality music playback have changed dramatically. If earlier the audio equipment rack could occupy half the room, today most people get by with a smartphone in their pocket and miniature headphones. The progress is enormous, but the burnt-out audiophiles do not stop talking about some special “tube sound”. In their opinion, amplifiers from the past had a characteristic atmospheric sound, which is now almost lost.
Especially for such fans, manufacturers have established the production of amplifiers operating on electronic tubes. We tested one of these devices in order to personally feel the magic of lamp sound or to make sure that this is only nostalgia for the past, fueled by manufacturers advertising promises.
Accessories & Packaging
xDuoo TA-10 comes in a large cardboard box that is completely devoid of any design frills. Dense yellow cardboard, minimal labels, impressive size and weight-you can immediately see that we are looking at a serious product.
In the box was xDuoo TA-10, a power cord, a cable for connecting to a computer, an adapter for headphones, disk with driver and instructions. A special frame was separately packed, which serves to protect the lamp from accidental damage.
The xDuoo TA-10 case is made of high-quality black metal. All surfaces are perfectly smooth, no roughness and no burrs. The model is stationary, so they did not save on materials. The sides of the device are quite thick and do not bend even with strong pressure.
On the front panel there is a volume control, combined with an input switch. It moves smoothly and gently, and when pressed, a quiet click of the relay is heard. Also in front there is a linear jack and an XLR input for connecting headphones. The latter uses a balanced connection, which is mainly used in professional audio equipment.
The focus is on the electronic lamp. It is located outside, which makes it easy to replace it with any other, and also gives an unusual appearance to the amplifier. During operation, the glass bulb emits a flickering faint light, which looks very cool at night.
The sides of the xDuoo TA-10 are completely empty. But on the back panel there is a real crowd: here is the connector for the power cable, above it is the power button, and on the left are three groups of sockets for connecting external sources.
In general, the appearance of the xDuoo TA-10 inspires respect for its rigor and solidity. The device pleases with high-quality materials, good assembly and the presence of all the necessary interfaces for use in both domestic and professional purposes.
Thanks to the numerous connectors, two modes of use are possible. If you apply a signal to the line input, then the xDuoo TA-10 will only work as an amplifier. And if you connect the device using the supplied cable to the computer’s USB output, it will completely replace its sound card. In this case, the xDuoo TA-10 will take on the role of both a digital-to-analog converter and an amplifier.
DAC of the device is implemented on the AK4490 chip. The 12AU7 lamp is responsible for amplification, as well as transistors working in class A. Fans of customization can easily replace the default lamp with something more perfect and discover a huge field for experiments with sound.
The XDuoo TA-10 uses a digital USB input on the XMOS chip to connect to a computer. The device supports PCM signal resolution up to 32 bit / 384 kHz, as well as DSD up to DSD256. The built-in amplifier is able to work with headphones with a resistance of up to 600 ohms. There is both balanced output and linear.
To test the sound quality, we connected the device to both a stationary computer and a laptop. Music files in the FLAC format of various artists and genres were played. For listening we used HifiMan HE400i.
Even after a quick acquaintance, it became clear that the sound of this tube amplifier is very different from its semiconductor competitors. The first thing that strikes is the breadth and depth of the soundstage, where each note has its own place. Music is not heard inside your head, as usually happens when using headphones, but around and even sometimes as if in the distance. The TA-10 proves that the stories about branded tube sound really have a real foundation.
The device has a good response to the lower spectrum and can easily reproduce even the lowest notes. Due to the high output power, the bass turns out to be dense at any volume level, while the mid frequencies are not muffled.
But the upper frequencies, in our opinion, would not hurt to add speed and sharpness. Many listeners may not like their too soft and even enveloping sound, which is not very suitable for playing aggressive music genres. However, perhaps this is the indescribable peculiarity of the tube sound, which his admirers talk so much about,
xDuoo company gained its popularity primarily due to the release of high-quality portable devices: players, amplifiers, DAC. However, as the TA-10 example shows, this manufacturer also copes well with stationary equipment.
xDuoo TA-10 has a stylish, simple design, high-quality filling and sound that no smartphone can give out. The ability to quickly replace an electronic lamp opens up a wide field of experiment for audiophiles.
The approximate price of xDuoo TA-10 on Amazon is $290.
- Classic tube 12AU7
- Top level XMOS 8-core chip (XSA-U8A-64)
- AKM flagship DAC AK4490
- USB/coaxial digital interface
- A class Transistor expansion
- USB OTG
- Dual clock system
- Combination of tube and transistor
- Japanese ELNA SILMC capacitors
- Shell made from aluminum
- Magnetic tube guardrail
- Power supply: AC 100–240V
- Supported OS: Windows (requires drivers), Mac
- Sample rate: SB input
- PCM: 16–32 bit/44.1–384 kHz
- DSD: DSD64–DSD256 (1bit/2.8M–11.2M)
- DXD: 24–32 bit/352.8–384 kHz
- Output power: Phone: 2,000 mW (at 32 ohms); XLR: 2,000 mW (at 32 ohms)
- Frequency response: 10 Hz–100 kHz(+/- 1 dB)
- Gain: +18 dB
- Distortion: ≤ 0.01% (1 kHz, 32-ohm load)
- Suitable headphone impedance: 8–600 ohms
- Size: 9.1 x 4.7 x 4.1 in (23 x 12 x 10.5 cm)
- Weight: 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg)
- USB input
- Two sets of AUX inputs
- SPDIF output
- AUX output
Official site: https://www.xduoo.net/