xDuoo TA-20 Balanced Headphone Amp

xDuoo TA-20 Balanced Headphone Amp

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Product Description
A powerful balanced tube headphone amp with a variety of interfaces, the xDuoo TA-20 brings classic analog flavor to your audio setup. It features a durable aluminum alloy shell designed with anti-inference in mind, and has a small footprint—about the size of a sheet of A5 paper—to save space on your desk Read More
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All of our reviews are from verified customers.
4.6
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93%
would recommend to a friend
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Chingis
5
Jul 7, 2021
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Good enough, i guess
I got it with the Austrailien plug, but it didn't mind me because i anyway live in Europe, so i had to get another plug anyways. At first i was really conviced but putting my 1990's in i wasn't that impressed, swapped the tubes, for 50 Bucks, because i don't want to spend all my money at the moment :D The main reason i got it was because i wanted to enjoy listening to the 1990's again. Thought the tubes will bring an extra warm to it. But it still sounds better with the 58x they're really good and the Argons too. Who knows maybe the dac is the problem, but i'm not ready at the moment to spend a lot of money. Currently i own the grace balanced dac When i plugged in the singel ended the right canel didn't work, but it may because i swapped the right tube while it was still on, so maybe that's on me. The balanced still works like a charm. Wanted to connect to my 789, to make some kind of amp stack i guess but it won't work now. Good enough, but not for the price
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Would not recommend to a friend.
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sentarius101
0
Apr 17, 2021
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Good until you use balanced. Broke my IEM's.
The device sounded good and worked very well while I used its Single-Ended output. But when I used its balanced output, there was a lot of hiss in the right channel that persisted through music playback, and damaged the right earbud of my IEM permanently, twice. Obviously, even if it sounded fantastic, if it damages your audio equipment I cannot recommend this to anyone. I do not know how common this issue is. Would you risk it? The tubes mine came with were JJ ECC82's stock. As I said, it sounded good, pronouncing the mids a bit more than my Asgard 3, but also warm with a good amount of bass, comparable to the Asgard. Did not run too hot, built well and easy to use. There is a problem with the volume knob, being digital instead of analogue if you turn it too fast it skips volume levels and actually changes slower than a slower turn of the knob.
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Would not recommend to a friend.
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Pipenh
3
Jun 19, 2021
Your earphones weren't balanced were they. If u plug unbalanced into balanced the second audio side doesn't have anywhere to go and it can damage the source and the earbuds
james.roberts
11
Jun 20, 2021
What iem did you use?
DrEas
54
Apr 12, 2021
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xDuoo TA-20 - What I'd hoped for. Warm. Clear. Better than expected.
My main headphone system is the Topping A90 & D90 MQA (connected with balanced XLR) I have custom length aftermarket Hart cables (https://hartaudiocables.com/ love these folks and they have great service and I've read of many happy customers who buy https://periaptcables.com/ ) balanced cables. My open back headphones are 1) Sennheiser HD 6XX with optional fenestrated lamb skin headphone pads and 2) Focal Exel (both purchased from Drop). I also have a couple of pairs of balanced IEMs but rarely use on this setup. As you've likely read, many listeners enjoy pairing a tube amp with the Sennheisers. I am no audio expert. I am a learner, curious and read a lot about the differences / benefits(?) / pros & cons of a tube amp. One main criteria for me was to have XLR balanced cables and balanced headphone cables (I prefer 4 pin XLR or 4.4mm pentacon connections). You may be happy with RCA unbalanced connections - and that's great - but balanced connections are non-negotiable for me, a decision I made long ago. My main stereo system, amp, streamer, CD transport... are all balanced. I point this out because this narrows the field of choices if you want balanced. After reading several articles, watching a few YouTube reviews learning about balanced tube amps in general, I decided to add a tube amp to my system. Of course Zeos' review of the xDuoo TA-20 is - as always - entertaining and worth your time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbi5XVjhyLw&t=347s He also has some incidental reviews of the xDuoo line of tube amps you may want to watch. So, I decided at this price point to put my toe in the water and buy a tube amp. So, how does it sound? The soundstage feels big, yet focused. Immediately I noticed the ambiguously described "warmer" tones. And yes, it also seems a bit "slower" in a good way. Along the endless discussion of bass response in headphones, tubes are supposed to provide a smoother bass. This is evident in the TA-20 and a delightful experience. I highly recommend you read audiofool's article on tubes and xDuoo amps. It may be more than you want or you may be far more knowledgeable than me. Since this is new territory and I've read this article (and many others) several times. He discusses the xDuoo TA-20 https://audiofool.reviews/tube-rolling-the-xduoo-ta-01b-ta-10-and-ta-20-12au7-amps/ Audiofool offers incredible help understanding tubes in general, "tube rolling", and in particular makes recommendations for several different xDuoo amps, including the TA-20. The TA-20 is quieter than I anticipated. From reading about tube amps, some report they may / can produce a bit of noise. Perhaps my hearing isn't as good as others, but the xDuoo TA-20 is as quiet as my Topping set. I've found you have to run it at high 50's to 60 to get good volume output (granted, these numbers 100% subjective) but when paired with the Senn HD 6XX, that range is good.
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I've not yet started "tube rolling" but that will be my next toe in the water depending on how much money I want to spend. Digression: If you are like me and lost at times with audiophile terms, I found a very helpful glossary of terms https://www.moon-audio.com/audiophile-terms-guide ) that may be worth your time. I humbly offer a lot of the lingo used in the audiophile world is highly subjective. Finally, I greatly appreciate Drop in general. They try to offer great products at a discounted rate but my minor complaints: 1) in an online shopping universe of "next day air" or "2 day prime" kinds of shipping, you need a mindset of waiting for DROP's products. 2) DROP could up their game in email response time. Excuses related to Covid-19 or being too busy fall short and reflect poorly on DROPs employees and consumer relationships. ("The dog ate my homework".) In sum, shipping speed, updates, and email response time can be fixed by good leadership. ;-) Happy listening!
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Would recommend to a friend.
DrEas
54
Jun 24, 2021
I think you'll love it.
Yager
5
Jul 24, 2021
I have the 10, and love it!! So I just bought the 20 to pair with my soncoz balanced dac. I honestly like the sound of the built in dac better than when hooked up to the soncoz. The former is warmer and more musical while the later still has the dynamics, it pulled the warmth out completely. Still very engaging but I will be disconnecting the soncoz and just using the 10 as it was made to be used. Hope you enjoy your purchase guys!
M1ch63l
10
Apr 1, 2021
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Item came exactly as described. Had the correct power cord. Currently hooked up to a btr5. Enjoying the heck out of this amp. Drop is taking all my money!
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Would recommend to a friend.
pshanks01
68
Mar 27, 2021
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Sounds nice with NOS tubes
After reading many reviews of this rig I made sure to have some NOS 12AU7's ready to go before it was delivered. It was a good move, because the stock OEM Chinese tubes resulted in an unimpressive performance. I have Sylvania long plates, RCA clear tops and Brimars that I rotate through. They all sound great. My headphones are the ubiquitous Senn HD6xx, and I replaced the cable with an balanced cord from Sennheiser. My only complaint about the TA-20 is also a common one - I wish there was a brightness control on the volume display. But it's a relatively minor thing. I'm happy with this setup and I can happily listen for hours at a time.
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Would recommend to a friend.
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DrEas
54
Jun 26, 2021
Where did you purchase the NOS 12AU7 tubes? Thanks.
pshanks01
68
Jun 26, 2021
The RCA and Sylvania tubes were on eBay. The Brimars were on Tube World Express.
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Pleasantly surprised
This amp far exceeds its price as long as you tube roll. No, this will not beat the higher end balanced tube amps out there but there is no better amp for this price. I was skeptical but now pleasantly surprised each time I listen to this amp.
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Would recommend to a friend.
Razor74
48
Feb 17, 2021
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Exactly what you want from a tube amp
I am simply in love with this amp, it is exactly what you want from a tube amp. It adds that silky smooth tone that any of us that grew up in the 70's and early 80's loved so much before solid state amps became the main stay in technology. If you have planar's that like that warm tube sound then I would strongly advise you to purchase this amp asap. My Thieaudio Phantoms absolutely love's them, so much so that I almost added the 5th star to there review. There is a pleasurable distortion that adds that bold warmth to instruments like the sax that I love d as a kid listening to my father's quadrophonic stereo ( I know I'm telling my age now) for those that have never heard of quad receivers look it up, properly set up they were awsome, the predecessor to surround sound. Back to the TA-20, it is not as precise and clear as the THX AAA 789 but it is not supposed to be. The soul purpose of a tube amp is to give you distortion and warmth but in a controlled way. Now this is not ment for every type of music or every type of vocal, but when you find the right combination it's magical. IE- A star is born, JP Cooper, Adele, Boney James, Ledisi. All of these sound amazing as well as many others. I can't wait to try tube rolling, not that I think it needs it I love the sound as it is, but I love to tinker. Teamed with a good dac and used with the balanced connection this little unit is worth every penny.
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Would recommend to a friend.
Razor74
48
Apr 13, 2021
Yes I am running multiple balanced amps, and it works perfectly no more swapping cables, just turn the dial to the appropriate position and you are good to go. I use Ethereal Balanced Cables MHZ-XLR. They are very well made and good clean sound. But you can find comparable cables on line pretty cheap.
DrEas
54
Apr 13, 2021
Thanks!
MastroiTek
14
Jan 21, 2021
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I'm not an audiophile but I enjoy music and audio gears. First Impressions: The amp sound good with my 660s, but it seems to be something wrong with it. I have to bring the volume between 65 and 75 for a loud listening volume, I'm currently using RCA IN and single ended OUT and I will try balanced out in the near future. For now I give it 3 stars because despite the nice sound it has some power output problems even though (for my understanding) this unit should be able to output 2W though both single ended and balanced out. Warranty: As far as I knew Drop does not give any warranty, but in the box with the amp came a warranty card which states that the product has 1y warranty from the day of purchase. I contacted (on date 06.02.2021) xDuoo to know more about it. Quick note: Compared to my O2 this amp picks up a TON of noise if the source is not clean (get a DAC if possible). In case you intend to run it straight from a pc (not recommended) make sure that the audio cables are separated from the usual net of wires behind the pc. Update 1: With a bit of research I found out that it is normal to have the volume between 55-75, the range should remain the same with pretty much any headphone used. After 50h of listening I can say that I indeed really like the sound paired with the 660s but I CAN'T say the same for the 4XX, planar magnetic headphones normally don't really get along with tube amps and in my opinion this is no exeption, but this depends on personal taste. Update 2: I changed my evaluation of the amp to 4 stars because I'm now running balanced OUT (still RCA IN) and the "power delivery problem" is in the past, now setting the volume at 55 is more than enough to get a loud listening experience, over 55-60 could probably be dangerous. I now also feed the amp with balanced in from a SMSL SH-8, with this config (running balanced in and out) I can't hear background noise until I turn up the volume to 87 (and no music running). Honestly anything over 65 gets too loud and even at that volume I would not recomand listening to music for more than 10-15min. Last Update: I contacted xDuoo a second time but like before I got no reply, I'm gonna assume the device has no warranty.
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Would recommend to a friend.
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LyKosa
0
Jun 22, 2021
i'd highly recommend running balanced input if at all possible. i'd been running mine via RCA too, but i got a topping D30 pro + A30 pro stack today, initially plugged the TA20 in via RCA as my TRS to XLR cables haven't arrived yet, but out of curiosity i unplugged the A30 and ran XLR straight into the TA20. Big difference, not in volume, but soundstage width and detail improved significantly, even when running on the single ended output.
MastroiTek
14
Jul 16, 2021
Thx for the advice. I would like to run balanced with them but right now I don't feel like spending more money in audio equipment. But I think I will try to do a DIY balanced cable, hoping to get better results than my first try haha
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xxicrimsonixx
17
Jan 5, 2021
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Great little amp, fantastic tubiness, despite being a hybrid.
I can't really speak for the stock tubes, I swapped to some JJ ECC 802S with gold pins. Took maybe 20-30 to really burn in to a point where the tubiness that we all love came much more present and in one's face. Highly recommended as either an entry into tubes, or even just as a compliment to your SS amp.
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Would recommend to a friend.
coreypine
81
Dec 31, 2020
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Makes my music sound more fun
Upon my first listen ... well I just noticed this big smile on my face. My music was more alive and fun and engaging than on my solid-state setup. More punch across the full dynamics. I really enjoy the sound. This is my first quality tube amp and I'm so glad I bought this. Easy to just plug and play. My setup: Drop SDAC Balanced DAC output into TA-20 using XLR input. Headphones: Focal Elex, DT 177X, Hifiman Ananda, Hifiman 400i. Balanced cables for all. All files are FLAC formatted. My solid-state DAC/Amp is the Monoprice AAA THX fully balanced, which is clean, uncolored with good power. I love it. Now, I fully understand the difference between "Warm" and "Neutral" or "Analytical". I bought additional tubes and look forward to rolling them to hear the difference from the stock tubes. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Update Feb 2021 - 2 months since the initial review. Ok, Not sure if my initial impression was correct. I do find the TA-20 a very enjoyable amp, clean and powerful but over time I came to feel that I wasn't hearing that much of a difference from my THX AAA solid state. Now since my initial review, I have sold the Ananda and the DT177X headphones. I've acquired the Hifiman Arya and also the Moondrop Blessing 2 IEM. I have many IEMs but until now, I've only listened to them using my Astell & Kern DAP. So, the reason for this update: 1) I TUBE ROLLED! After using the stock tubes, I inserted a pair of "Vintage RCA 12AU7A Platinum Grade Clear Top Preamp - Matched Pair = 6189 5814" and my Focal Elex have really come alive! They are now so much more musical than previously on the TA-20 and certainly more so than the THX AAA. This sound is exactly what I was searching for when I bought the tube amp (which I didn't get with the stock tubes). Oh man, the Elex is now so good for the price. 2) With regards to the Arya paired with the TA-20 and new tubes, I'm not sure this works very well. My initial feeling is the Arya sound better with the solid-state AAA amp. I have to spend much more time here. But my trade of the Ananda & the DT177x for the Arya is a winner; the Arya (paired with the THX AAA) is worth the money IMO. 3) I've started listening to my two favorite IEMs on my desktop setup. The Blessing 2 (tip rolled with the Spinfit CP 100 which adds bass but keeps balance and tonality) sounds fantastic on my DAP and the THX AAA but not as much on the TA-20. The Massdrop Plus sound fantastic on the AAA and Astell & Kern but maybe even better, more musical, on the TA-20. I think this makes sense as the Massdrop Plus is a very good FUN and detailed iem vs analytical. So, I've come to understand how a simple change of tubes can really make a difference and to a degree, how different headphones and IEMs sound using different setups. I just ordered and await my next tubes: GE Millitary 12AU7 / 6189W from Upscale Audio.com.
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Would recommend to a friend.
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Mete
0
Jan 25, 2021
Does it have balanced output for Hifiman Sundara?
coreypine
81
Jan 25, 2021
yes
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