Maktar Spectra X2 Review

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Today, we are reviewing the newest DAC from Maktra, the Maktar Spectra X2, available for $199.

 

Disclaimer: True to source sent us a sample, free of charge, in exchange for our honest opinion.

About NextDrive/Maktar

Designed by NextDriver, produced by Maktar.

If the name Maktar doesn’t ring a bell to you, don’t worry, I was the same. On the other hand, NextDrive sounded much more familiar to me, and for good reason: we previously reviewed the Spectra and Spectra X, two superb dongle-DAC made for Android/PC and Mac users.

 

 

And so, for the Spectra X2 – the DAC we are about to cover – NextDrive partnered with Maktar to “take advantage of their extensive manufacturing and design prowess with Apple peripherals”, or to put it more simply: ensure that the new X2 gets the holy MFi certification.

The Spectra Series

As usual, we are going to take a quick tour of NextDrive range’s. And, for once, this will be a real quick tour, as the brand only released… 3 products at the time of writing.

NextDrive Spectra

The NextDrive Spectra is a dongle-sized DAC/Amp, made for computers and smartphones. It’s well-built with a beautiful aluminum, tube-shaped, case and a classic USB-A port/3.5mm output. Inside, you can find the classic ES9018Q2C from Sabre, able to decode 32 bits / 384 kHz PCM files and drive medium to high impedance headphones.

Nathan reviewed that model a few years ago, so here is an excerpt: 

“The NextDrive Spectra is a 129$ Plug & Play that’s an ergonomic miracle for otherwise poorly-accessible ports. It is trivially easy to use. It kicks out sound on the level with devices many, many times its price.[…] Apart from its reliance on the boring NextDrive logo, it is pretty much perfect. Well done.”

Review: nextDrive Spectra – Vector! Spectre!

NextDrive Spectra X

Like the name suggests, the NextDrive Spectra X is an updated version of the first Spectra. Same design, same DAC, but better sound thanks to various optimizations across the PCB and the addition of various features. Not a big upgrade on paper, but a real upgrade whatsoever.

Again, Nathan had the chance to review it:

As you know, Spectra blew my mind. Great benchmarks, low noise floor, super loud, and basically all the performance of a mid or high-end DAP but for a fraction of the price, size, and complication. If you get the right plug, it even works with your favourite smartphone. X is the same, but everything is slightly better. I only wish it had a hardware attenuator built in. NextDrive, you’ve hit it out of the ball park. So on to the Recommended gear list it goes!”

Review: NextDrive Spectra X – Dynamic

Maktar Spectra X2

And now, NextDrive, or Maktar, is releasing the Spectra X2, which is both an upgrade, and a variant of the previous X1. It gets a better DAC, the same aluminum case, but ditch the USB-A plug, for a Lightning port. 

I know, you’d have expected USB-C here, but remember that Apple KEPT the 8-pin port, even if the iPad or MacBook switched for USB-C long ago. So yeah, the Spectra X2 will definitely find its own niche, as long as sound follows.

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So let’s see, if the new Spectra X2 remains on the recommendation list, as did the Spectra X.

The review continues on Page Two, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.

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A nerdy guy with a passion for audio and gadgets, he likes to combine his DAC and his swiss knife. Even after more than 10 years of experience, Nanotechnos still collects all gear he gets, even his first MPMAN MP3 player. He likes spreadsheets, technical specs and all this amazing(ly boring) numbers. But most of all, he loves music: electro, classical, dubstep, Debussy : the daily playlist.

2 Comments

  • Reply March 16, 2021

    Franz

    Thank you for the review, Nanotechnos. Very helpful in my process of buying a tiny DAC for my iPhone.

    A note on output power. The Spectra X outputs 49mW at 32 Ohms. Why does the Spectra X2 output only 15mW? Could be the new Sabre chip, but that seems too large a difference to be the result of moving to a very similar chip. So I went to the Japanese Maktar site and, lo and behold, it says the X2 outputs 49mW at 32 Ohms. I’ve written to them and we’ll see if they reply. Meanwhile, mine is arriving in two days.

  • Reply March 23, 2021

    Franz

    Update: Maktar Japan got back to me. They have corrected their web page: the X2 outputs only 15mW. Why does it output less than 1/3 of the Spectra X? They didn’t say.

    I have had my unit now for almost a week and I can report that it definitely creates a better soundstage than an iPhone SE (1st generation). It is also a bit louder and definitely goes deeper into the bass (without smearing or booming). I do like it, but for $200 I really wanted more output, even though that would drain my phone battery faster. The Spectra X2 drives my Etymotic ER4SR IEMs adequately and my HifiMan Sundara headphones barely, but I am going to need a more powerful amp for the latter. Perhaps my old phone is unusually weak, but Nathan’s desire for a hardware attenuator bears no relationship to my experience. But again, this little DAC is still a lovely piece of kit.

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