xDuoo TA-10 Balanced Headphone DAC/Ampsearch

xDuoo TA-10 Balanced Headphone DAC/Amp

xDuoo TA-10 Balanced Headphone DAC/Amp

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I don't intend to necromance, but I think there is a fundamental misunderstand of the nature of what "balanced" means in this context, and I would love to correct it for future understanding for anyone who reads this should Massdrop re-drop this. "Balanced" means that it is outputting two signals 180 degrees out of phase. Instead of just two pins on your headset per channel, there are instead 3, 2 voltages and a dedicated ground path (in a 4-pin XLR setup, there are +/- pins for each speaker and a shared ground path whereas a single-ended output has a + for each speaker, but the - is wired to the ground, which is itself wired to the cable's Faraday shielding.) At the speaker, the voltages are re-phased so that any noise collected along the way gets "diffed" out. That's ALL "balanced" means. Now there are SEVERAL ways you can produce a "balanced" signal and several places where you can generate the 180-degree phase shift before transmitting it to the output stage in an effort to eventually transmit the most noise-free signal possible. In it simplest implementation, an input signal will get processed and then sent through the amplification circuit, which will then be passed to an output-phaser for balancing. This prevents any noise from the CABLE up to the headphones, and is generally just so you can use ultra-long cables. In its most complex implementation, a phaser will pump discrete input signals to two signal decoders (XMOS chips in a USB situation,) which will then pump that to two DACs, which will then pump THAT to two amplifiers, which will then be attached to individual channels on the output, essentially treating each channel as a discrete DAC+Monoblock, the rationale being that any noise from the DAC and Amp circuit, not just the cable, will be diff'd out as well when they're re-phased. This requires EXTREMELY precise clocks to prevent jitter and is usually exclusive to extremely high-end products. For the TA-10, I would hazard that they are balancing at the output stage (hence the single tube.) The TA-20 appears to move that balancing back to BEFORE amplification, as it does not have a DAC integrated. If you look at a more high-end product like, say, the Schiit Jotunheim, they have a picture of their DAC circuit, which has 2 AKM4490EQ chips on it but only one CM633A USB decoder, meaning its phased before the DAC. So Tl;dr: the TA-10 IS balanced, but at a different level of complexity.
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rpger9756
An excellent description of true balanced to two distinct audio signal paths and duo DACs to output/headphone. It think it would be cost prohibitive at $240 - $300 range. A Jotunheim would cost $500 with duo DACS but is solid state not tube. The OPPO HA-1 is true balanced class A audio signal to meet to a single ESS Sabre chip but costs $1200. Also not tube. The TEAC NT-503 is true balanced with dual toroidal transformers and duo AK4990 chips all the way to the outputs but costs $1000. Also not tube.
xDuo00 is a fun desktop tube DAC/AMP at an affordable price and believe me, you are getting the most for your money when you sum up the high quality parts. Unlike solid state, you are not stuck with the sound signature. Just roll the classic 12AU7 tube and it becomes a whole new DAC/AMP. I have found that the following 12AU7 in the order of my preference, sounds really good with this AMP. I've been using the Senheiser HD-6XX. 1)RCA 12AU7 Cleartop, 2) Mullard CV4003 3) Tung-Sol 12AU7 new reissue 4) JJ ECC82. The Tung-Sol offers the best bang for the buck without having to pay for NOS. Happy tube rolling. Please share your experience with this DAC/AMP.
junglewee
I've been rolling the Genalex Gold Lion tube and its pretty great. It doesn't have the same imaging and separation as the stock Shenzen mystery meat that the amp came with (which, while I may sound slightly slanderous, ACTUALLY has pretty good audio if you ignore the crazy microphonics,) but it has tremendous blending and sounds extremely musical. I listen mostly to classical music DSDs on my set of heavily modded HD598's via XLR. I'm thinking my next roll is going to be the Cleartop as it's one that just keeps popping up in conversation as "one to hear." The Jotunheim is probably the best deal you'll find on a fully-balanced headphone DAC/Amp, pretty much bar-none, tube or solid-state. If you want a full-balanced Headphone stack from Schiit that rolls tubes, you'd have to go with the $1700 Gungnir+Mjolnir stack (or Jotunheim+Mjolnir for $1350.) Suffice to say, my xDuoo is an extremely potent little box, bang-for-buck, and I'm very happy with it.
T50RP Argons sounds great with a NOS Mullard.
This company has serious quality issues, I have the xDuoo XD-05 and the DAC failed (or more specfically the USB connection to the DAC)
how does it compare with
Massdrop CTH + SDAC DAC/Amp
(https://www.massdrop.com/buy/58390)
Just got my TA-10. Wow. A match made in heaven for the Sennheiser HD-6XX with a balance XLR cable. It's eerily quiet and sooo silky smooth. The original tube was okay but lacked 3D and soundstage width. Mine was not microphonic at all. I replaced it with my Mullard CV4003 and it became airy and holographic in a big way. it's a warm and richly textured amp that brings out the subtle nuances in vocals. It exceeded my expectations. An incredible value for the price because there isn't anything in the market with 12AU7 tube, XLR headphone jack, AKM AK4490 DAC chip an XMOS USB input. I did not enjoy my Hifiman HE-400I as much as I did my HD-6XX through the XLR jack. It didn't have the same oomph I am used too listening through my OPPO HA-1. My AKG 7XX did sound excellent with this Amp.
junglewee
Will you ever sell it? I also have a DAC-X7 up for trade.
rslatara
Sorry. I got it for the XLR headphone jack and for 12au7 tube rolling. It's non fatiguing and functions quite well with my iMac. A good buy IMHO for the money.
Came with a Chinese power cord. Also, when it came, it had a major rattle. I'm an engineer and don't care about any sort of manufacturer coverage so popped it open. None of the screws have any blue loctite, so they had rattled out in shipping. Reseated them and it worked fine. Device rattles like a beast. Moving my headphone cord around causes a massive rattle, tapping on my desk is picked up, etc.

All that said, the AKM sounds good through my Senn HD598's, but I still prefer my Denon AVR-S920W receiver. Cleaner sound stage and better positional fidelity. Detail reproduction was still great and I plan on using this with my laptop whenever I can't jack into my Surround Receiver.
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I am also on head-fi and reddit.
PayPal ready and waiting. :)
Mine came with the wrong cable, too. No problem for me - I have a bunch of them hanging around - but Massdrop should have been attentive to that. Also, the very first thing you should do is get rid of the stock tube. It is highly microphonic and really is terrible. If you notice that, every time you tap the chassis or change the volume, you hear it in your headphones, the problem is the terrible no-name tube from China. For about $40 you ca get a Gold Lion on Amazon. Buy one while you are buying the correct power cable. Well worth the two-day wait.
Looseleafdude
(Pumping through some XLR-Recabled Sennheiser HD598's and referencing a DSD copy of a studio recording of Petrushka) I re-rolled from the Shenzen mystery meat to the Genalex Gold Lion tube. The Shenzen tube was highly microphonic, but had extremely good resolution and positional fidelity, similar to my FET-amplified HT receiver. The Genalex was much better "blended" and has a very pleasing sound, but didn't have the same clarity as the mystery meat. I am still rolling the Gold Lion because it is smoother overall, even if I sacrifice some of that crispness.
rpger9756
I agree with your observation about the crisper highs. I'm listening through the HiFiMan HE-500, which is pretty hot in the high end by themselves. The mellower Gold Lion puts it all in balance. So, depending on your cans, your mileage will surely vary!
Mine shipped with a power cable for China, and the little tube guard magnets are the wrong polarity, so it wants to jump out of the socket instead of attaching to it. Not impressed.
hexdreamer
I got one on ebay, was it yours? I had to drill a hole pop them out then used steel epoxy and sanded it down.

Sounds great though! :)
How does this compare to the Aune T1?
Look what the tube-fairy brought us!
Nice legs too...
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Coz u love it!
rslatara
Are you referring to the newspaper clipping?