Disclaimer: the xDuoo TA-26 was sent to us, free of charge, by the brand, in exchange for our honest opinion. You can find it directly on their website at around $319.
EDIT: Revision ongoing
Based in Shenzhen, China, xDuoo is now a well-established Chi-Fi representative. Like many brands, they first began as an ODM manufacturer, before producing from themselves. And, as it turned out, that was the right decision, leading to a full range of acclaimed amps, DAC, and even quirky devices like portable streamers.
We previously reviewed the xDuoo XD-05 BAL, a complete portable DAC-Amp, which replaced the previous XD-05 Plus. But, before that, we also reviewed their full set of tube-headphone-amplifiers: the TA-10 (DAC/AMP), the TA-20 (full-tube amplifier), and the TA-30 (DAC/AMP)
And today, we have the chance to review the new xDuoo TA-26, a tube amplifier that sits just under the TA-30, but above the TA-20.
If the X-Series from xDuoo is entirely made of portable devices, the T-Series only hold big gear, like headphones amplifiers. As usual, let’s take a quick tour of the brand catalog.
The xDuoo TA-10 is a Tube Headphone Amplifier + USB DAC. As the first step in xDuoo’s desktop world, you don’t get multiple tubes, as in the TA-20 or TA-30, but just one classic 12AU7, combined with an A-Class circuit and a classic (and now rare) AK4490 DAC from AKM.
Nowadays, a new xDuoo TA-10R is also available with a red-coated case, better DAC (AK4493), and more digital inputs. If slightly more expensive, this remains a lot more affordable than I’d expect.
Here is a quote from our review:
The xDuoo TA-10 is a great amp if you need power in a small form factor. Combined with hard-to-drive headphones or high-impedance cans, the amp never fails his duty and gave it all, at all times. This is not a clean amp like The Element (my reference in this price range) but it sounds much more musical, especially on planar headphones.
The xDuoo TA-20 is a tube headphone amplifier. Compared to the TA-10, you lose the AKM DAC and XMOS chipset, but gain a “pure balanced analog flavor” per se. To do so, the brand added a second 12AU7 tube, one for each channel, and kept the same – exceptionally – well-built chassis.
Sold just over $350, you have to connect a balanced DAC through the XLR inputs to fully enjoy this amp. A quick quote from our review :
A great amp […] that can drive virtually any headphone you like, or want, with a sound stage much wider than its transistor competitors. True, it’s not a full Tube amp, but that’s also what makes the TA-20 affordable (and compact).
Like the TA-10, the xDuoo TA-30 is a Tube Headphone Amplifier + USB DAC. But, if the TA-20 shares the same footprint, the TA-30 really looks like a bigger sibling. Topped with three tubes – Two ECC82 for process the audio a plus one 5Z3P tube for high-voltage rectification – the TA30 also gets a better DAC, the Sabre ES9038Q2M.
It’s a great DAC/AMP, one I still use up to this day, and it’s still fairly affordable for a top-of-the-line amp (around $700). Here is a quote from our review:
The xDuoo TA-30 is the best DAC-AMP of the brand, to no-one’s surprise. It’s insanely powerful, supports almost every source, and will be a great all-rounder device for anyone in need of a tube-headphone amplifier + USB DAC.
Finally, you have the new xDuoo TA-26, a newcomer that looks like the TA-30, but costs three times less. To do so, the brand completely ditched the digital-to-analog circuit and focused on headphone amplification. Enough to replace the old TA-10, available for the same price? Let’s find out!
The review continues on Page Two, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.
Page 2: Design & Build Quality
Page 3: Comfort & Specifications