XI Audio Broadway & Broadway S Review

XI Audio Broadway & Broadway S

Today we review the XI Audio Broadway and Broadway S amplifiers. Battery powered desktop amplifiers which sell for $2,299 USD and $1,599 USD. Let’s find out how they perform.

 

Disclaimer: The XI Audio Broadway & Broadway S amplifiers were supplied free of charge. I only had to pay the import fees and customs when they arrived at my doorstep. XI Audio is not affiliated with Headfonia in any way and not a site advertiser. The Broadway S and Broadway will remain XI Audio’s property and can be asked back at any time. Many thanks for the generosity and opportunity!

About XI Audio:

XI Audio, or Eleven Audio, is a relatively young Taiwanese brand that makes primarily headphone amplifiers and DACs. The company is run by a familiar face of our scene, namely Michael Xiao, who has been heavily involved with Lotoo before he started his own journey.

XI Audio’s product range might be small, but they definitely produce statement and outside the box products. The team around Michael Xiao introduced themselves with the Formula S amplifier, which was made specifically as the best pairing for the Abyss AB-1266 headphones. A headphone I rate very highly for its sound. Sadly I don’t have it anymore to play around, but the Diana range of headphones is with me and we will take a look later how the XI Audio x Abyss system performs.

Apart from the Formula S amplifier, XI Audio offers a resistor ladder R2R DAC with their SagraDAC, but also battery powered transportable desktop amplifiers. Which we will look at today.

About Broadway:

The Broadway is XI Audio’s higher powered amplifier of the Broadway range. It delivers 1.5W into 32 Ohms, which might not be as high as what other amps offer, but it’s still enough to get the HiFiMAN Susvara to blasting volumes.

It uses a set of four 18650 Li-Ion batteries, which gives the Broadway a run-time of approximately six hours. The design of the amplifier allows for it to be used while charging. It will use battery power until it reaches a certain power-level before the Broadway starts charging them again. So you will run on clean power for the majority of time when you have it connected to the power outlet of your house.

The Broadway is a fully balanced, discrete, Class A headphone amplifier. There is no single ended RCA input on it. So you have to use XLR at all times, as it is meant to be used fully balanced. Its rated Signal to Noise Ratio is 130dB.

On the front you have a 4-Pin XLR and a 4.4mm Pentaconn output for your headphones. On the right hand side the volume potentiometer is seated. Unlike any other amplifier I’ve laid my eyes on, this one starts at 11 o’clock. Which of course is a hint at their brand name. The Broadway has an output impedance of below 0.1 ohms.

The Broadway has two gain stages – high and low. It can be bought for 2,299 USD from XI Audio’s global retail partners.

XI Audio Broadway & Broadway S

XI Audio Broadway & Broadway S

About Broadway S:

The Broadway S is essentially a trickled down Broadway for easier to drive headphones and In Ear Monitors. It comes packed with 800mW into 16 Ohms. Unlike the Broadway it is a single ended only amplifier. On the rear you get one set of RCA inputs, output wise you get a 4-Pin XLR and 6.35mm single ended headphone outs.

You can use the same 18650 Li-Ion batteries with the Broadway S. The S has a longer battery run-time than the Broadway. You get around eleven hours on a single charge. Of course, you can also have the amplifier connected to the power outlet and enjoy the same auto-powering function of the Broadway. The Broadway S has an output impedance of below 0.1 ohms.

The Broadway S also has two gain stages for easy to drive headphones and sensitive IEMs and is available for 1,599 USD.

It continues after the jump!

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A daytime code monkey with a passion for audio and his kids, Linus tends to look at gear with a technical approach, trying to understand why certain things sound the way they do. When there is no music around, Linus goes the extra mile and annoys the hell out of his colleagues with low level beatboxing.

    11 Comments

    • Reply June 2, 2020

      cfranchi

      Hello Linus,

      Given your review of FA-10, I have ordered it, given the price and the quality of it, I think I won’t regret my buy (it is to power Hifiman HE6-se).

      You said that Broadway S drives headphone with more authority and punch than FA-10 (that’s funny given the huge power difference) : is it true even for hard to drive headphone like Susvara ?

      Thank you

      • Reply June 2, 2020

        Linus

        Hi Cfranchi,

        thanks for your comment.
        I am very sure you won’t regret buying the FA-10. It’s a fantastic amplifier.
        As for your question. The Broadway S won’t power the Susvara to its fullest. The comparison was more in regards to easier to drive headphones.

        You’re safe with the FA-10. No worries. 🙂

        Hope that helps.

    • Reply June 2, 2020

      cfranchi

      Thx, of course I was wrong, I didn’t talk about Broadway S but about its big brother the Broadway.

    • Reply June 3, 2020

      Guy Lamaar

      Battery powered, transportable desktop amp? How about a Bakoon HPA-01? Sits between the 2 Broadways in terms of power & price, but top of the tree in terms of build quality. How do they compare in terms of sound?

      • Reply June 4, 2020

        cfranchi

        Really don’t understand this notion of output current and output voltage. Amp power P = U*U / R = I*I * R : R is the headphone impedance and so U and I have fixes values for a given R.

    • Reply June 4, 2020

      John

      It would have been interesting to read how Broadway S copes with more sensitive full size headphones. Like something from Fostex, or Ananda, or maybe even Focal Stella?

      • Reply June 7, 2020

        Linus

        Hi John,

        thanks for your comment.
        I agree, but sadly I don’t have these headphones in my inventory. My collection of headphones concentrates on harder to drive right headphones. If I ever get the chance to audition easier to drive headphones with the Broadway S I will let you know how they play together.
        Again, thanks for your feedback. 🙂

        Cheers

    • Reply June 7, 2020

      Linus

      Hi Guy Lamaar,

      you’re right about the Bakoon. Didn’t think about that one. Also haven’t had the chance to listen to it ever. I’m not sure if I even saw it in person, so I can’t compare them. Sorry.

      Cheers

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