Xduoo TA-10 Tube Amp ( Roundup Review)

Xduoo TA-10 tube amp is a high-end DAC/amp from community favorite xDuoo, the TA-10 features the flagship AKM AK4490 DAC and a classic 12AU7 tube. Its variety of interfaces make it incredibly versatile and include two sets of auxiliary inputs, a USB input, an SPDIF out, and an RCA out. 

  • Classic tube12AU7
  • 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

Article Review

Headfonia Review

Design and build Quality

Casing

Out of the box, I was surprised to see how well the xDuoo TA-10 was built. Everything fits perfectly, no gaps, no misplaced input/output holes and they neatly hide the screws onto the back panel or the lower panel.

The xDuoo TA-10 looks like one continuous piece of aluminium, nicely painted in matte black. You really have to come up close to see the tricks: the big rectangular block at the back, hiding the capacitors, is not a different part of the chassis. Yet, the blend is so tight that you won’t be able to put a piece of paper between the two parts, that’s great craftsmanship for sure.

xduoo-ta-10-headfonia-14

(Image Credit: Headfonia) 

In my opinion, the xDuoo TA-10 looks and feels outstanding, I saw pictures where the amp was black/violet-tinted, but in real life it’s just pure black all over. The matte finish of the paint magnifies the soft touch of the anodized aluminum, compared to classic brushed aluminum, it really makes a difference.

It’s a small amp, almost half the size of what I expected when I received the box. Sure, xDuoo says its footprint is the same as an A5 paper, but knowing and seeing are two completely different things. The xDuoo TA-10 is 14.8cm wide, 21cm long and 10cm tall, feet included, so you should not have any issue to find a place for it, on you desktop.

Layout

On top of the xDuoo TA-10, you have the vacuum tube port. Working as a preamplifier, this 12AU7 tube is surrounded by four vent-holes and, if you want, can be protected by a small magnetic arch. I don’t know if it’s really effective, but I find it pretty cool and above all, non intrusive. I owned a few sets of Primaluna amplifiers back in the day and the tubes were covered by a massive metal cover – safety should not mean it has to be ugly.

Soundnews.net

Sound Performance

1. Soundstage

What a pleasant surprise. Soundstage size it the first thing that hits you.

I am mainly listening on nice solid-state amps and frankly none of them excel at soundstage size and scale.

TA-10 really opens up the stage in a very interesting manner.

I knew my Sennheiser HD660S and my Quad ERA-1 headphones can produce greater stage on few select headphone amps but I really didn’t expect as much improvement in this area.

Soundstage just decompressed, HD660S are not upfront and intimate anymore, but much more open wide and grand sounding.

Having a much wider soundstage especially on the left to right space you get more open space between the notes to really appreciate them individually.

The decay of the notes is as expected a bit longer, but who cares when you have so much time to appreciate those small micro-details and tiny dynamic swings.

xDuoo-ta-10-soundnews

(Image Credit: Soundnews) 

2. Depth & Imaging

A direct effect of the bigger stage is the improved depth and imaging.

The small TA-10 images like crazy in a very 3D way even with that stock tube, I only can imagine what a TAD or a Mullard tube can accomplish.

Listening to live recordings I can easier see and walk through my recordings. Everything is not happening inside your head but around your body somehow and in a very 3D manner.

The rock tunes of late I am listening are quite up-front sounding with my go-to solid state amps but with TA-10 it’s like my headphones got upgraded to the next level soundstage and depth wise.

Head-fi Review ( Want to learn the comparison?)

COMPARAISONS :

VS Xduoo XD-05:

xduoo-xd-05-vs-xduoo-ta10

(Image Credit: NymPHONOmaniac on Head-fi)

USB DAC comparaisons between Xduoo XD-05 (stock OPamp) and Xduoo TA-10 (stock tube).

For this test I use both DAC-AMP pluged in same laptop and playing same track, and I compare use same headphones and earphones wich are Hifiman HE-300, vintage (but excellent) Pioneer SL-120, TY HE150 earbud and Final Audio E4000 iem.

So let’s begin by saying that even if both this DAC-AMP use the AK4490 dac it do not sound the same at ALL. The XD-05 is more energic, fowards and punchy sounding than the more airy, clear, soft and vast sounding TA-10.

SOUNDSTAGE is drastically wider, deeper and more around your head with the TA-10, this is really the first thing that hit me, XD-05 sound like a thick tapestry of sound compared to it.

BASS is more coloured with the XD-05 and have a beefier more punchy presentation, but it is less textured and controled than the TA-10 that have a more linear and neutral approach. SUB is especially pushed fowards and rumbly with the XD-05, wich can create distortion with already bassy headphones or earphones, the TA-10 is more about rich natural timbre, it have more details and grip in the low and separation between sub and mid bass is better and faster.

MID RANGE of TA-10 is cleaner, richer and more fowards, its as well better separated from bass wich give a less warmed presentation than XD-05. TA-10 with is vast soundstage offer mroe air between instrument, and the imaging in mid range is more realist and less ‘’in-your-face’’ than XD-05. Overall sound presentation is again more refined and mature with the TA-10.

TREBLE of both these DAC-AMP equiped with the rather smooth sounding AK4490 dac chip, wich is described as ‘’velvet sounding’’ by its Asahi Kasei microdevice constructor, so the treble tend toward a lushness and naturality instead of brigth or analytical approach. Both DAC-AMP have about same level of details in upper region, but not the same quality in timbre and attack-decay.

TA-10 have slightly richer timbre thus we can heard more details due to better layering of soundstage. Treble is better controled and more neutral than the XD-05, wich can struggle to deal with over crownded music that need fast attack and good treble grip.

Secondly, the power output of XD-05 is rated at 500mw for 32ohm while TA-10 is rater 2000mw for 32ohm. To be honnest, i can’t say it sound 4 times louder, perhaps 2 times wich is already enormous.

What I can say tough its that it do not struggle to push headphones at high volume compared to XD-05 where the gain tend to create distortion and a shouty out of control presentation.

The TA-10 do not struggle at all to drive properly the 150ohm TY HE150 earbuds, and soundstage expend and have a mid centric approach compared to more foward presentation of XD-05 that have more mid bass presence and energy but less good imaging and brighter more saturated vocal, where the TA-10 sound more open and natural with perhaps less treble extension.

Here, the HE-150 sound perfectly loud as I love at 78 volume rate, I need to use high gain with the XD-05 and turn volume at 3 quarter turn, as well, if i push volume extra loud just to test distortion rate, XD-05 will create unbearable level of distortion to the HE-150 while it look i can go up to 90 with the TA-10 without any distortion, wich proove 2 things : the HE150 can handle high level of clean power without exploding in pieces and the TA-10 deliver very clean amping.

Thephonograph.net

Operation & Control

The xDuoo TA-10 has a straightforward and extremely easy to operate design with a single physical knob that is also a button.

This knob is found on the right corner of the front panel. By turning the knob, it works as a volume adjustment control with a clockwise rotation to increase volume and counterclockwise to reduce it.

The knob gently rotates with stepped clicks that give a tactile but silent feedback on each movement – each step can increment or lower the volume with 1 step precision through out the 95 volume levels available.

The volume knob can also be pressed to change the input of the amp – from USB to AUX2 and AUX1.

The front panel switched turn on/off the bass boost of the xDuoo TA-10 and the gain (low/high), while the rear one works a switch between the USB audio modes (UAC 1.0 and UAC 2.0)

The operation and control of the xDuoo TA-10 is quite simple and has no learning curve involved. Any user will get the xDuoo TA-10 working right out-of-the-box without issues.

How to power the xDuoo TA-10:

The xDuoo TA-10 gets powered by connecting it to a standard 100/240V AC wall power outlet (the power cable is included) and turning it on through the switch placed on the back panel.

If the unit is wanted to be used as an USB DAC/Amp, it is needed to connect it to a computer through the USB connection but it is first needed to install the corresponding driver (included with package as a CD or downloadable from the brand’s website) – driver is only needed for Windows users; Mac users can use it without a driver.

Nosolohd ( Spanish Forum) 

El sonido de este equipo era fabuloso, con ese cuerpo extra que le dan las válvulas y que tanto me gusta, pero no conseguí que tuviera un fondo limpio y siempre se colaba algún ruidito que me impedía disfrutar de la música en plenitud, así que lo vendí y me pasé al estado sólido, con la combinación que uso actualmente, un Rega Audio MK II como amplificador de auriculares, y un iFi iDSD nano como DAC y los Sennheiser HD 650 como mis auriculares de escritorio preferidos.

Lo tengo conectado a un iMac con un cable USB, y aquí podéis ver la pareja a la derecha. Y a la izquierda el nuevo xDuoo TA-10, que como veis está junto a un router y un teléfono inalámbrico, que pueden facilitar que se capte algún ruido. Eso me preocupaba, pero como os digo no se ha colado nada y he podido hacer pruebas comparativas con ambos conjuntos fácilmente.

No me importa repetirme, pero lo diré una vez más: los Sennheiser HD 650 son unos auriculares fabulosos, y mejoran enormemente con una buena amplificación. La combinación con este xDuoo TA-10 es excelente, y al precio que tienen ambos, puedes tener un equipo de mucha calidad por un precio contenido. 

xduoo-ta-10-nosolohd

(Image Credit: DeBilbao on Nosolohd) 

Para mis pruebas he vuelto a escuchar el Higher de Patricia Barber, pero he añadido un álbum de Anouar Brahem titulado “The Astounding Eyes of Rita”, que es una auténtica delicia. Este tipo de álbumes, exquisitamente grabados, son los que merece la pena escuchar con un equipo de auriculares, ya que te permiten sumergirte en la música y sentir las distintas capas de instrumentos según se van incorporando a la melodía.

Como reproductor sigo fiel a Audirvana Plus en su versión 1.5, es el que más me gusta por su sonido. Conectar el TA-10 no puede ser más sencillo ya que solo hace falta conectarlo al puerto USB del ordenador con el cable USB que viene incluido. Como podéis ver, tiene dos entradas digitales (USB y SPDIF) y dos entradas auxiliares y una salida analógica, así que lo podéis usar como previo perfectamente. 

Audiosciencereview ( Want to know the testing data? ) 

DAC Audio Measurements

Given the line outs, I started my testing just measuring the DAC portion independent of the headphone amplifier:

xDuoo TA-10 DAC and Headphone Amplifier Audio Measurements (1)

(Image Credit: audiosciencereview)

Wow, what do we have here?

Surely this can’t be going through the tube with its excellent THD+N and hence SINAD (signal over noise and distortion). The TA-10 easily lands in the second tier of all DACs tested, credit going to the good implementation of AKM AK4490 DAC chip:

 
Best Audio DACs Reviewed 2019

(Image Credit: audiosciencereview)

Output level is a bit low though at 1.7 volts. Which they had juiced this up a bit more to meet our nominal requirement of 2 volts.

Orderly measurements follow in other tests such as frequency response:

xDuoo TA-10 DAC and Headphone Amplifier Frequency Response Audio Measurements

(Image Credit: audiosciencereview)

And jitter: 

xDuoo TA-10 DAC and Headphone Amplifier jitter Audio Measurements

(Image Credit: audiosciencereview)

Youtube

English 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=am4COZWk1mE ( Who doesn’t know Z Review? )
 
 
 
Thailand
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGHeNQ2M-Fk 

FAQ

Note: All the questions and answer are collecting from Head-fi, or other forums, not answering by Xtenik.( It is just for people to learn TA-10 more easily and conveniently, so we add this part).

Is Xduoo TA-10 a full balanced amp ?

It is NOT fully balanced. It’s phase-shifted at the output stage so it can handle long cable runs, but it is NOT end-to-end balanced.

This only has a single DAC and amplification circuit.

If you are looking for an end-to-end balanced tube amp, please check Xduoo TA-20.

Is it worth to buy Xduoo TA-10 ?

It’s totally worth the buy, ESPECIALLY if you’re looking for a Modi/Magni alternative that can tube-roll and has a 4-pin XLR

This is a very rare and powerful amp/dac with a selection of awesome tubes.

It definitely is not as robotic as a regular amp, it’s almost organic.

How is the sound of TA-10?

It is MORE than enough power to shatter my eardrums through LCD-2’s and XLR-recabled HD598’s.

It’s more powerful than a NFB 11 in low gain but maybe 80-85% when it’s in high gain. So it’s loud and the SQ is also comparable. 

I usually gravitate to the Mullard but the Mazda and Sylvania (warm,bassy) are fun which still have good clear labelling on the tube which I doubt were used and actual NOS. The RCA and EH are also alright.

Power wise it’s louder than an NFB.11 in low gain and maybe 80% in high gain. It gets a T60RP to distorted levels at the top end. My TH-610 seems to pair really well with it too.

So much power and functions out of such a little thing.  Any distortion with that much gain?

It depends on the tube some have more distortion but the NOS Mullard I have in is pretty clear and velvet like. I actually have a solid state Fetron tube replacement from the 70’s which is very clear but I always find myself throwing a tube back into the mix.

To answer your question, actually no not much if any distortion at all it remains pretty clear. You really have to be within 10-15% of maxing out to get say a T60RP itself to physically shake. Generally it’s a very smooth and controlled unit. With the Mullard it’s smoother to listen to than my NFB.11.

What cans have you tried with this thingy besides the T60RP? For those output impedance proly is not of an issue cuz those are likely resistive. Any dynamic cans? 

It appears to scale with whatever is used, I have my TH-610’s and it’s a beautiful pairing even more so thna the T50/60. It softens up the bass a little and reduces harshness but still has great detail and imaging. I think the SQ is ahead of my NFB.11, The NFB might have more grunt but it’s a bit more robotic, this has a more velvet like sound signature.

Everything is effortless and nothing is overdone, If that makes sense. Generally any decent tube sounds good in it and each one adds a little flavor.

Note: I also have the cheaper TA-01 and whist good the difference in sq is very apparent after a few minutes of listening.