xDuoo Link 2 USB DAC Quick Review: Smoothly Detailed
Well, it’s 2020 and most of the smartphone manufacturers have ditched the 3.5mm headphone jack in the latest smartphones. With this, the demand for USB Type-C DAC/AMP dongles has increased drastically over the past few months. They are actually very easy to carry around too. We get high-quality music output with our phone only. iBasso and xDuoo have been producing some powerful dongles DAC/AMPs like the iBasso DC01, DC02, xDuoo Link, and more. Last month xDuoo launched its latest Type-C DAC/AMP dongle, the xDuoo Link 2. Equipped with a powerful ES9118EC DAC chip and a powerful output power rating of up to 150mW the Link 2 surely looked interesting to me. So I grabbed a unit for myself, and now after a few days of usage, I am gonna share my thoughts with you all.
xDuoo is a well-known China-based brand specializing in manufacturing high-fidelity audio gears. Their products like xDuoo Link, xDuoo TA-30, xDuoo XD-05, and many more are praised heavily among the audiophiles. Check out their product catalog here.
Features of xDuoo Link 2:-
>Heavy 150mW output power.
>Low Noise Floor.
>Bass Boost Switch.
>Soundstage Enhancement Switch.
The xDuoo Link 2 comes in a small rectangular packaging in a blueish tone. It has a Link 2 branding designer text with a product image on the front along with the Hi-Res certification logo. As the packaging is opened you get a direct glimpse at your Link 2 sitting firmly inside the packaging. Below this we get the user guide, Warranty Card, One USB Type-C to Type-A plug, One Type-C to Apple Lightning Cable, One Type-C to Type-C cable, and One-piece magic glue to stick it with the source device.
The xDuoo Link 2 comes with all the necessary accessories in the box. Whether you wanna connect it to a Type-C phone or an iPhone, the Link 2 comes with the appropriate connector in the box.
>xDuoo Link 2 USB DAC/AMP.
>USB Type-C connector cable
>Apple lightning connector cable.
>USB Type-A connector.
>Quick start guide.
The xDuoo Link 2 has a rich premium build quality. It is made with aluminum alloy material using the CNC machining process. The device looks really good, it is very small and lightweight too. The device has smooth edges with Bass Boost and Soundstage Enhancement Switches on the right side. It has a 3.5mm headphone output port on the top, a USB Type-C connector port at the bottom, and volume and media control keys on the front. The device is so lightweight that it doesn’t even feel in hand I just read its just around 20 grams in weight.
Driving Power and Battery Consumption:-
The xDuoo Link 2 has an output power rating of about 150mW @ 32 Ohms of load. I have tested the device with my iPhone XR, Huawei P30 Pro using the appropriate connectors in the box. It powers my iBasso SR2 open-back headphones with ease, I never had to go above the half volume levels on my phone. I have also tested it with the Kinera Nanna and the pair sounded blissful. The Link 2 carries more than enough juice to be used with demanding headphones on the go. Even with HD6xx(300 Ohms), I was getting loud enough output with deep bass slams and an open stage at about full volume. So I guess the Link 2 can power headphones with up to 300 Ohms impedance. That’s really good for its size and price.
Earlier high-fidelity USB Type-C DAC/AMP eat up heavily on the phone batteries. This is not the case with Link 2 though. During my testing, the Link 2 drained about 9-10% of battery in 2-2.5 hours of continuous playback through my P30 Pro with iBasso SR2 at half volume.
Usually, the USB dongles with high power output show some background noise, but this is not the case with Link 2 here. The output is very rich, free from any kind of background noise, or electrical distortion. It shows a crisp instrument detailing with some sparkle in the treble portion. The availability of Bass and Soundstage enhancement switches is not a gimmick. The bass switch enhances the lower end, feels like putting a gain bump on it providing powerful deep thumps with amazing sub-bass rumble. The Soundstage enhancement switch opens the staging a bit more. It feels like it adds some extra power resulting in a wider stage representation.
Tracks/Albums tested for this review:-
>Hell Freeze Over, Eagles.
>Random Access Memories, Daft Punk.
>Bad Guy, Billie Eilish.
>O, Damien Rice.
>Wonder Women Theme, Tina Guo.
>Dance Monkey, Tones & I.
>Stadium Arcadium, Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
The lower end shows a quick decay and good oomphs complementing the other segments of the frequency range. They have natural bass thumps with a rich texture to them. The Sub-Bass portion shows an amazing quantity of rumble with a deep impact. The bass boost switch does wonders with my Kinera Nanna improving over its already quality bass to a high impactful response with better thumps and powerful rumble. Billie Eilish, Daft Punk sounded wonderful where the thumps complemented the vocals and never felt overpowering.
The Mids segment is more on the natural side with deeply detailed vocals full of emotions and brilliant acoustic details. Live recordings, unplugged recordings sounded amazing. The output shows the good quality of airiness on the stage between the instruments. Vocals felt natural, no coloration of any kind adding to the rich output through the Link 2.
The output with the Link 2 is a bit on the bright side, it produces brilliant instrument details with a bit of sparkle in the treble portion. But there is no harshness or sibilance of any kind in different musical instruments or high-pitched vocals. The output feels transparent and soothing to the ears producing good micro details in my music. The Violin in Wonder Women theme by Tina Guo sounds wonderful, with no harshness, no sibilance, just smooth detailing.
The Link 2 produces a crisp output with a wonderful wide soundstage with good depth and height. Switching on the soundstage enhancement switch produces an even wider stage representation. I personally feel like switching it on provides some extra juice of power to the headphones/earphones improving their stage. Before getting the Link 2 I was thinking of it as a gimmick but it surely improves the sound stage and adds a feeling of airiness to it.
Overall I can say the Link 2 delivers what it promises and out beats DAPs of around double its price range with ease. It has amazing output power that carries enough juice to power our demanding headphones with ease. It is a well-finished product enriched with many features and improves drastically over the smartphone sound output. If you are in the market looking for an entry-level DAP or a USB DAC/AMP dongle, I would recommend you to try out the Link 2 first. It is available at approx 100$, check out more details here.