-smooth open and transparent musicality
-single ended and balanced out
-more than decent power output (190mw)
-impressively wide open spatiality
-RGB lighting for those that find it cool
-sound rendering seem to target gamers (extra bass, decent imaging, openess)
-not most resolved nor cleanest sound
-not the last word in technicalities
-colored bass and darkened tonality
-softed attack edge and definition
-balanced out seem to have too high gain or impedance
AMPING VERSATILITY: 8.5/10
SOUND VALUE: 8/10
Hidizs is a chinese audio company that focus on portable audio, they have launch lot of DAC-AMP and earphones in the last years. Their S9pro dongle gain lot of praise, but today it’s their new comer, the XO that I wil review.
Price is not yet reveal, but should be under 100$, making this dongle enter most competitive portable dac-amp. The XO have a single ended 3.5mm output and balanced 2.5mm output. It use dual sabre ES9219 dac, promising good dynamic and channel separation. As well, it seem aimed for the gamers, since their unique RGB lighting effect that will WoW their eyes, but did the sound too is tuned for them? Let see in this review if audiophile should consider this dongle too!
SNR: SE:118db BAL:119db
Crosstalk: SE:76db BAL:118db
THD: SE:0.0015% BAL:0.0005%
Output Power: SE: 78mw@32ohm BAL 195mw@32ohm
PCM up to 32bit/384khz
The Hidizs XO have 2 botton and it’s not really for control, so no volume or pause-play option here.
Nope, the audacious choice is a bit, how say, head scratching.
The O button is there to select between 2 digital filter: Blue light for ”Linear phase fast roll-off filter” and Red light for ”hybrid fast-roll off”. To be honest the sound difference is barely noticeable, depending of IEM i use i can feel bit more openess with Blue mode, while bit more vocal presence and warmth with Red, but this is a bit ridiculous if you want my real opinion since I tend to select ”non over sampling filter” when I can, less their filter, cleaner is the sound.
And then, hum, the party light effect. Yep, the X button start eye catching light effect. But I don’t even know if we can stop it once started, which can be annoying to say the least. I mean, its beautiful and captivating for what it is, but i can’t find exact purpose of this. Hidizs sure choose to be different with these 2 unecessary button, even if their no doubt i will not be the only one to wish they have valuable purpose like just play-pause option, which is something lot of dongle are lacking.
In term of Construction, its not bad, not great. Body is light alluminium and feel semi-sturdy. The jacks are made of plastic. The USB-C connector is what I found concerning for durability since it feel a bit loose in the body. Both side have this light effect screen, its nice i guess.
Packaging might be beta version for me, but its minimalist. It come in a small black box and include one usb-c to usb-c basic cable and a usb-c to USB adapter. Nothing to write about here, yet its enough even if longer usb-c to USB cable would have been appreciated.
TONALITY isn’t what i would call completly neutral, since it sound a bit colored to me, especially in bass and treble part. I would call it sligthly U shape with hint of extra sub bass warmth and resonance, smooth open mids and airy treble with softed edge. Its an organic sounding dongle to my ears, detailed yet not bright or agressive, with a great sens of openess in spatiality and gently tamed upper mid to offer a safe musicality.
DYNAMIC isn’t the most hefty or vivid, yet doesn’t feel lacking to the point of being dull or overly lean. The bass has light boom to it, while mid range is delicate and airy and treble blossom instead of biting in energic attack.
As said, sub bass take the lead here and can inflict warmth on mid bass and blur kick drum. For ex, Kindera Idun Golden are more mid bass focus, yet become more sub bass proeminent with those, Ikko OH10 too gain in extra slam, not in an intense way and the result can be very pleasant in fact. Resolution is a bit darkened in the low end due to this and separation isn’t the cleanest.
Mids are to my ears leanest part of spectrum, thus the U shape qualification. Its impressively transparent too, soft in texture and it doesn’t boost loudness nor tend to extract unwanted instrument or vocal details that might inflict negatively on timbral balance. Its liquid mids, dense enough in timbre and easy to love. Laid back, musical and wide in layering. XO isn’t crisp nor analytical or cold, the presentation feel natural, softed in attack edge and innofensive.
Treble doesn’t jump at you nor create wow effect, it’s smooth with unforced sens of detailing. Lower treble is darkened and avoid abrasive texturing, which will inflict on attack bite so violin will lack a bit of authority as well as electric guitar. Yet, we have hint of extra brilliance and crispness on top, just enough to add air and openess. Texture is minimal here, percussions aren’t sharp in definition, you don’t get extra snap.
Spatiality is very wide, but not very deep as if sound layers are too close to each other without feeling compressed, just not clearly define due to romantic blured sustain-release. This still is highly rewarding since it did open lot of IEMs i try.
Imaging is impacted by this damped dynamic edge, while layering is decent, the definition isn’t sharp so it’s hard to precisely pin point instrument, in that regard the XO are a bit bellow average.
Technicalities are good, yet understated, as if an extra taming filter have been use to make the sound smoother and more laid back. Resolution is OK, but not super clean or crisp, this isn’t a dongle that wow us with secret micro details even if when we are active listener there lot of nuance in macro resolution to find, its when we try to capture all details of a single instrument that limit of resolution are evident. Noise floor is decent, and in fact this is the type of dongle that erase part of noise artefact of bad recording, this make it very versatile performance wise. Yet, i would say i feel the treble doesn’t fully extend up to 20khz. Even if we have either a 10khz or above extra slight boost to add openess.
All in all, i feel this dongle is tuned specificaly for gamers, this is due to extra bass resonance, sens of open imaging-layering and fatigue free tonality to preserve long listening fatigue or damage.
The XO deliver up to 195mw, i don’t know impedance output but its not the lowest I would say. While not bad, i dont consider amping section extremely clean nor very muscular in dynamic push, so IEM that lack some like the Moondrop Aria will not sound more lively with X0.
About impedance, the test with slightly sensitive Audiosense T800 result in extremely distorted bass in BAL mode, but i don’t encounter serious issue with single ended mode, perhaps slight micro distortion in attck edge there and there but this sound good in fact so this make the XO quite versatile for both sensitive and hard to drive IEM, just be sure not to use balanced mode which is surely stock at high gain.
The SUNDARA test impress me in term of bass rumble and density without any distortion at high volume, so ill say it pass it well even if mids seem more recessed and thin and highs are a bit overly softed, it does sound quite open but at the same time a bit distant. Yet, again, no distortion at full volume is very impressive, we got a more L shape bassy Sundara.
The Final Audio A8000 test pass OK, but don’t blow my mind since clarity is softed, darkened a bit, treble is less snappy and airy and overal sound is less clean. We don’t have lot of space between instrument and mid bass punch isn’t as weighty and well define. Upper mids are now smoother tough.
With Ikko OH10 the pairing is quite good, its warm the tonality a bit and make timbre smoother, but bass become warmer and more muddy. It does improve mids presence. Overall tonality become more organic which can boost sens of musicality, especially for classical music.
With Aria, it don’t pass the test, it sound overly lean since mid bass is already lacking so the XO don’t help in that regard. Sound quite lean and distant.
With Kinera Idun Golden it’s excellent pairing, as if they are mean to be togheter, since its already more about slight mid bass punch and textured presence it gain in sub bass presence. As well, soundstage feel wider and taller. Mids are fuller in timbre. Treble seem even a bit more airy and brilliant too, just a hint, but a needed one. Best pairing I try.
VS TEMPOTEC HD V (dual ES9219C-120mw)
OK, these are very similar sounding yet not tuned the same, the XO is more bassy and U shape, it have more boosted sub bass that make it more resonant in impact while HD V is more bright neutral with better define mid bass punch, more textured and well define kick drum for ex. XO is near 2 time more powerfull balanced way, as well, both single or bal way it sound more open and tall in spatiality. Vocal are more upfront with the HD V, making female vocal less recessed as if XO have softed its upper mids dynamic, this make mid range a bit more dark too, more distant. HD V seem a bit brighter because of this, more textured in timbre and edgy in definition, more neutral as a whole even if we have slight W shape tonal boost.
Level of micro details is a hint higher with the HD V, while timbre is more organic with XO and less prompt to problematic pairing with very bright IEM for ex. Again taking female vocal for ex, it have a more breathy presentation with XO. Treble is sharper and more sparkly with the HD V as if their extra brilliance to guitar. To note, XO due to its more liquid texture seem to have better transparency, which make me conclude soundstage wise its superior in all direction.
Attack sustain and release is better controled with the HD V, seem a bit warmed with the XO, treble is fuller sounding adding more crunch and snap to IEM you pair with too.
I would be tempted to say XO is an overall better value, but i’m not sure of it’s price and to be honest, i find the HD V more refined and better resolved, yet it doesn’t have balanced output. As said, these 2 sound near identical, but technical performance, dynamic impact and articulation as well as overall resolution is superior with HD V, so, if you want smoother more open sound with less edgy definition and hefty attack, go for XO because you will be able to drive more power hungry IEM and headphone in balanced output.
VS MOONDROP DAWN BAL (dual CS43131-230mw)
Ok, this might be my fav sub-100$ dongle and first thing that hit is how more open wide, tall and deep is spatiality even if XO is far from being bad in this department. After, it’s how cleaner and more detailed it sound, effortles way. The, timbre is more texture and attack is sharper. Dynamic is more vivid, crisp and airy with the Dawn too. X0 is smoother, hint darker. Bass is more punchy and less resonance, it have clearer-cleaner separation and more textured body and more bite for bass instrument. Note weight of mids is a bit heavier, faster too and more accurate in timing. Treble is notably more vivid and edgy in definition, perhaps a bit less organic in cohesion than XO. Timbre is smoother with XO too, more transparent and less brightish than Dawn. Overall tonality is more neutral to U shape against crisp W shape for the Dawn. Soundstage and imaging is superior with the Dawn, notably deeper and more holographic.
All in all, the Dawn Bal perhaps lack dual output, but in term of sound quality and performance, it’s from another league.
I don’t really know what to say about this exotic dongle since i feel i’m not the consumer they target, i mean, i just can’t understand the goal of the 2 bottons and while some people will find RGB light effect entertaining, i find it annoying….yes, I think i’m just too old for this dongle.
Yet, the sound is far from being bad, but the sub-100$ market is so fullfill with highly competitive offering, so it’s hard for me to conclude the sound value is high here. But the positive side is that their no other dongle offering RGB light effect and possibility to swap sound filter on the go, this is to be underline even if personaly i would prefer classic control buttons as said.
As well, i do enjoy the versatility of amping power, in the sense 3.5mm single ended sound cleaner and is lower in impedance, perfect for sensitive IEM, while balanced out is very powerfull and can drive demanding IEM or headphones without creating distortion. The fact it drive my Hifiman Sundara well enough merit applause here.
All in all, the XO isn’t a bad sounding dongle and its dual output make it a versatile device for those who enjoy bassy laid back musicality, with decent resolution, good transparency and open spatiality.
Recommended for gamers, cool youngsters, new audiophiles and dancers!
Disclaimer: This dongle was sent to me by Hidizs. I didn’t show the review prior to publishing nor have any incentitive to write a positive or embelished review. Thank you Hidizs for accepting honest reviewers that aren’t know to be hyper. Respect.
You can follow Hidizs XO launch here, the price is unknown for now but should be under 100$:
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