Design and build Quality
Like the TA-10, the xDuoo TA-20 gives a solid impression right off the bat. The case is made of black, anodised aluminium, assembled with Swiss-like precision, or close anyway. There is no gap, every port has its own hole to fit, even the front screen doesn’t look or feel cheap.
The matte-black finish is superb, even if sometimes your hands and fingers leave greasy marks. It’s the only flaw I could come with, as I own devices double or triple the price that do not look as cool as this little TA-20.
I’d love to say that there are no visible screws on the xDuuo TA-20, but that’s not true. There is four of them at the back of the amp, perfectly blending with the general I/O, and another set of five that hold the XLR and RCA line in/out.
Honestly, it’s hard to say bad things about this amp, as it gives so much more than you expect from the price. Sure, that’s what chi-if promises, but not always what brands delivers. Needless to say, xDuoo nailed it with its TA-10 and TA-20 : excellent craftsmanship on and on.
It’s a smaller amp that you might expect. Sure, xDuoo says its footprint is the same as an A5 paper, but knowing and seeing are two completely different things. The xDuoo TA-20 is 12cm wide, 23cm long and 10,5cm tall, feet included. So you should not have any issue finding a spot for it on your desktop.
Let’s take a look at the layout.
This is where the differences begin to appear. Where the TA-10 supports digital and analog I/O, the xDuoo TA-20 sticks strictly to analog.
This is mostly due to the fact that the TA-20 doesn’t come with a DAC. To make amends, xDuoo exchanged the digital inputs/outputs for a set of XLR plugs, so you can connect your balanced DAC to the amplifier.
The back panel comes with :
- 4x RCA port (aux in), so you can connect two DACs at the same time and switch on-the-go
- 2x RCA port (line out), giving you the opportunity to connect another amp without the hassle of unplugging/plugging the whole thing
- 2x XLR port, to get a fully balanced baby !
The front panel is the same we found on the xDuoo TA-10 :
- 1x XLR 4-Pin, to connect a balanced headphone
- 1x Jack 6,35mm, to connect an unbalanced headphone
- 1x dual-digit LCD screen that displays the volume level
- 1x multi-control volume scroll-wheel, used for source selection and volume control
On top of the xDuoo TA-20, you have the two vacuum tube ports. Working as a preamplifier, this dual set of 12AU7 tubes is surrounded by four vent-holes and protected by a small magnetic arch. I don’t know if it’s really effective, but I find it pretty cool and above all, non intrusive. I owned a few sets of Primaluna amps back in the time and the tubes were covered by a massive metal cover : safety should not mean ugly.
Like the TA-10, the set of XLR 4-Pin + Jack 6,35mm leave no room for interpretation : this amp is made for big cans. Some would argue that xDuoo should have put a 4.4mm Pentaconn port, but I’m not one of them. Almost all of my headphones are still bundled with XLR and 6.35mm jacks, so thank you xDuoo !
Let’s check the bundle now, shall we ?
Inside the box
The xDuoo TA-20 bundle is like the TA-10 one, D-I-R-E :
- 1x Power cord
- some papers and a CD driver
And that’s it… not even a Jack 3.5mm-> 6.35mm or a XLR cable. Nada !
I admit that some brands overflowed their products with accessories, but I still believe there is a balance between “too-much” and “nothing”.
Sorry for the rant, let’s turn on the amp now.
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