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Xduoo TA-03S Tube DAC/Amp

Xduoo TA-03S Tube DAC/Amp

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Product Description
An update to the popular TA-03, the Xduoo TA-03S tube DAC/amp is loaded with audiophile-grade features that’ll take your music to a whole new level. Designed to fit perfectly on most desks, it comes with a high-performance XMOS U8 USB chip and dual CS4398 DAC chips Read More
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All of our reviews are from verified customers.
4.9
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Xudos
4
Oct 25, 2021
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Fantastic starter tube amp!
Bought this on a whim when I first saw it. I knew about the 12AU7 tubes and asumed this would probably be a clean tube amp. I was right! It adds a nice tube tonality and characteristics without killing the detail and technical performance of my headphones. I do not use the DAC much so no comment reguarding that part. For refrence I use matched Ulyanov 6c19p from 1969 and a new production Mullard 12AU7
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Would recommend to a friend.
phragmatic
6
Apr 17, 2021
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great first tube amp!
I never thought much of tube amps other than PUSA had a song called "Toob Amplifier," so when I saw this, I was taken aback, and decided to get it on a whim. It was the very item I had no idea I was missing from my music setup. 5/5. Would buy again.
Anon8
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Apr 15, 2021
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Awesome dac/tube amp. Sounds very nice to me although it's my first one. Bought an electro-harmonix 12au7 for a sound improvement the stock in comparison are pretty bad. Have a few other tubes coming in to try out; very good entry-way to tubes. I pair with the hd 6xx seems to be very good. Doesn't work on low impedence headphones -- just staticky.
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Would recommend to a friend.
apchouston
24
Mar 15, 2021
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Nice solid Amp wished it had additional inputs
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No frills amp that does the job well. Pairs well with the HD6XX and HE4XX. I'm quite happy with it.
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Loaded with Uljanovsk 6С19П-BP and JJ ECC802s tubes:
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Loaded with stock Chinese 6C19 and ElectroHarmonix 12AU7A tubes:
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Initial impressions (2020.12.20): Unboxing was about the norm. Everything is very securely packed in foam, and nothing appears to have been harmed in shipping from China to US to me. So, very good start there. As with all of the other xDuoo purchases I've made at Drop, the supplied power cord was not for US, appearing to be for Australia. Whatever, it uses a standard IEC and I purchased a load of medical grade cables from Monoprice during black Friday sales. I'd have knocked a star off, but cables are cheap and amp quality is all that matters. It comes with the standard Chinese manufactured Shuguang (Sino) tubes, no surprise there. I did not use the 12AU7 that arrived with it. I can't stand them, they're too mushy and don't have enough clean definition. As the amp arrived 3 weeks early, I did not have my preferred JJ ECC802s Gold Pin on hand, so I used one of the spare EH 12AU7 that I'd purchased a few years back for a project that never happened. While they tend to be a bit brighter than I like, it doesn't seem to be a terrible pairing on this amp. I've a factory box of Russian 6C19P on the way, but once again, amp arrived much earlier than expected. So, for the time being I'm making do with the stock Chinese 6C19J. My signal path is as follows: Roon -> Pi4 running Ropieee -> Airist R-2R DAC -> Yaqin CD3 buffer with upgraded caps and added bleeder resistors at input, output, and power supply -> xDuoo TA-03S Everything is still breaking in, so hasn't settled to the final sound, but I'm rather happy with what I'm hearing already. It is absolutely free of noise on all of the cans I've tried with it so far (HD58x, HD6xx, TR-70-250, T1.2), and just plain wonderful sounding. While some of this is just the lottery when it comes to tubes, a lot can be attributed to the circuit and build quality. I'm not even going to bother trying any of my cans with impedance lower than 150Ω. Just no point. None of my cans even came close to needing me to turn the volume knob past 10 o'clock before getting hearing damage loud. I ran my standard testing playlist against it with those four sets of cans with great success. Bass and sub-bass exactly where it should be. Very deep and extremely tight, easily reaching down to 10hz, with the knee being somewhere in the 15-20hz range. The mids seem to be a touch recessed, but not excessively. I'm not sure if that is because the tube combination or the circuit design itself, I'm likely to find out when the rest of my tubes arrive. Treble range is deliciously smooth and detailed. I'd say this is a very intimate amp, with touches of the expected tube holography. It is not a giant killer, but it is most definitely not garbage. Even without being broken in, I'd take it over my DarkVoice any day, especially seeing it doesn't require a single modification to make it great. Just like the DarkVoice, the chassis on this amp gets rather warm to the touch, and not from the tubes radiating heat. I'm guessing that most of the heat is coming from resistors on the cathode and power supply voltage regulators. The chassis itself seems to be designed to handle the heat load, with the left and right sides being heat sink style chunks of aluminum. I have not tried the DAC portion of the unit, nor am I likely to anytime soon. There is only so much desk space, and only the best amps in my collection get to live on my desk. If this one continues to sound great as the tubes break in, it quite likely will have a spot in my regularly used amp lineup for a while. Continued Impressions (2020.12.27): Still waiting on upgrade tubes to arrive, so I've been breaking in and spending a lot of time with the stock Chinese 6C19 power tubes and EH 12AU7 preamp, and am still loving the amp. It does absolutely wonderful things with my high Ω cans, and after about 90 hours on the unit I'm still finding the bass to be extremely deep and controlled, possibly more-so than when the amp first arrived. I've been noticing that while the Chinese 6C19 sound perfectly fine, they're incredibly microphonic, picking up mechanical vibration from a racked storage array, switch, and server on the same glass desk. It isn't in your face levels of noise, but clearly noticeable when no audio is playing as a light mechanical sound, sort of like hearing a fan brushing against a piece of paper a few rooms away. The noise goes away when I lift the unit from my desk (or when my array stops grinding and the server fans spin down), and intensifies when I add any other vibration sources to the desk. Hopefully the high vibration tolerance 6S19P-VR which arrive this week tame this. Worst case I have to add some dampers to the tubes and under the amp. Overall, it still absolutely worth the money and will likely continue to be my recommendation and go-to for OTL amplification. Continued Impressions (2020.12.30): Russian tubes are better than Chinese tubes. Out of the box the Russian 6С19П-BP absolutely blow the China 6C19 away. No vibration noise, slightly deeper bass. Much more happy. Now to break them in. Final (probably) thoughts (2021.02.14): I left this on my desk while swapping through all of my other tube amps for the past month and a half. I've been finding that it handles my high Ω cans better than all of my other tube amps, both pure and hybrid. With zero modifications (other than tube rolling) it is able to push my HD58x, HD6xx, TR-70-250, and T1.2 into producing some the the most pleasant punchy warm sounds they've made for me yet, and all without being bloated or muddy. Compared to the DarkVoice, the TA-03s sounds like what you get when you spend the time to fix the design flaws. Same levels of bass depth and punch, with that big boy linear triode sound. Cheaper tubes too, even if they are slightly harder to find. Both sound similar, but I'd absolutely stick with the TA-03s. Compared to the PA1502A (rocking Tungsram 6L6GA & JJ ECC802s) the TA-03s is the king of bass and lower mid-range, while the PA1502A is more detailed upper mid and treble. Intimate and forward versus the airy crisp detail of the PA1502A. The TA-03s works much better for bass and lower mid rich music and content. The PA1502A while absolutely not lacking in bottom end, tends to work better for music or content that requires extra detail in the upper ranges. Plus PA1502A is much more compatible with headphones and IEM. I'd stick my T1.2 on the TA-03s before the PA1502A any day, the rest of them it really depends on the content. Compared to the Monoprice Monolith the TA-03s is just more lush. While the Monolith DOES handle a much wider range of cans, the 6N3/5670 it uses in front of the 6AS7 tends to push it into the more analytical and cold territory. That is absolutely fine, but if I want impact, I'll go with the TA-03s. Compared to the ZDT Jr. the TA-03s has the edge with impact and bottom end. This is likely just the no-transformer vs transformer thing at the output. The ZDT does have a wider range of headphone support, but required digging for the somewhat rarefied 6FC7/ECC89 as most of the 6N24P I've tried sound like poop. Plus the TA-03s was just straight cheaper. Tonality wise the ZDT is more balanced, without the slant towards the bottom end typical in OTL with linear tubes. Personal flavor preference has me grabbing the TA-03s more than the ZDT for my high Ω cans. Compared to the CTH the TA-03s has more pressure and punch. The CTH is of course a hybrid, and sounds like it. I'd use the TA-03s over the CTH for high Ω cans, any day. The CTH shines in the way it treats the mid 32-150Ω range of cans, but it just doesn't have the impact that the TA-03s does on the bottom end. Compared to the TA-20 the TA-03s sounds more like a tube amp. The TA-20 is balanced, clean, and detailed, supporting pretty much every set of headphones I've thrown at it, but that solid state output means it doesn't have the same level of harmonics that the TA-03s does. Plus the TA-03s sounds better on cans that are bass shy like the T1.2. Compared to the Little Dot 1+ the TA-03s just sounds better. Even after rolling the tubes and opamp on the Dot, I don't find it getting much use. It isn't a bad hybrid, but the TA-03s just does higher Ω cans better, and most all of my other hybrids do lower Ω cans better and have less noise. Compared to the P20 the TA-03s sounds much more like a tube amp. The P20 is absolutely the best tube hybrid on the market in the sub $100 range, but it doesn't SOUND very tube like. The 6N3/5670 tubes it uses are cold and analytical, and the solid state output doesn't add any real sound flavor. The TA-03s handles high Ω cans better, with a huge amount of headroom left, whereas the P20 needs to be turned somewhere near the -20 range to get the same level of impact. I'd probably take the P20 over the TA-03s for gaming, and that is about it. So, overall I'm extremely pleased with the TA-03s. It won its spot on my desk. I consider it extremely good value for the price. If xDuoo came out with a balanced version, I'd buy it instantly. I've absolutely fallen in love with the 6C19P power tubes. If you've got high Ω cans, do yourself a favor and buy one. If you've only got low Ω cans, stay as far away as possible.
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Would recommend to a friend.
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BenEren
3
Jul 18, 2021
I need good amp to get high ohm cans so im waiting for a good one, now you say stay away if you have only low ohm ones. How do i break out of this, buy everything at once?
Pretty much, yeah. If you don't already have cans that work well with it you'd likely want to buy them at the same time. On the cheaper side, the HD58x and HD6xx both sound wonderful on the TA-03s. Especially so the HD6xx. You could also buy a hybrid amplifier that'll work with a wider range of headphones instead of an OTL. Something like the TA-20 or MT-602 from xDuoo, or something like the Schiit Vali should work on pretty much every set of headphones nicely. If you aren't looking specifically for OTL but do want a pure tube amp, you may have good luck with something like the APPJ PA1502A, a pure tube amp that has transformers at the output. I've used everything from IEM to 600Ω cans on mine with great success.
JonasO
197
Jul 3, 2020
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Sounds great, but shonky software
To get this to work with my computer, I had to install XMOS ASIO driver, which replaces the software that comes with the product. At no point did the supplied software ever work. however, when I managed to get it to work, I was pretty pleased. The sound is both warm and detailed, but not overly detailed which can be fatiguing. I find it best for music, but it easily handles games and movies. Also helps heat the room, those tubes get hot! would recommend.
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Would recommend to a friend.
Anthony_Shea
22
Jan 1, 2020
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Great Amp
It has preformed wonderfully, pushes everything I have at a good listening volume at quarter of the way . and I have some 250 Ohm headphones. It does get pretty warm, but if you live in a cooler climate that might be welcomed.
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Would recommend to a friend.
iucoen
129
Mar 19, 2021
Not sure what you mean. Just get any hybrid amp. What that means is there is a tube in the amp stage followed by a solid state amp to supply enough current to low impedance headphones. The TA-10/20/30 family are all hybrid amps.
Anthony_Shea
22
Mar 19, 2021
(T20RPmk3) Driver:   Regular Phase (or Orthodynamic) Impedance:   50 ohm ... The impedance is low, which means I am guessing they might be a little quiet if you use them with your phone. but you could. the higher the impedance, the more 'force' it takes to drive them. I am far from an authority on the matter, but higher impedance headphones tend to reproduce more accurately I adore my Fostex TR-X00 , but they dont benefit from this AMP and Possibly actually sound better on my lil xDuo TA-01. iirc TA-03s is a class A amp, which is also massive over kill for anything low impedance.
Aizen_Long
12
Apr 25, 2021
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A great entry for a full tube experience. Higher impedance headphones is recommended.
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Would recommend to a friend.
aladdin2020
16
Apr 29, 2020
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