#donglemadness Yannick’s Edition

CX-PRO : The LONG Journey of the cheap dongle that could (feat. ZOOAUX)

#donglemadness #donglejourney #dapFTW It’s raining outside. I’m bored so I wanted to know how far CX-PRO stretches in sound quality… thx to Andy’s donglemadness pack, I was able to put a huge load of dongles against it like a Mortal Kombat tower so to speak for good humor and entertainment.

Turns out it reaches super far actually!

Some notes/discoveries on the dongles

  • Most fancy dongles really tried to push frequencies to “impress” me but in the end did a poor job of staging or controlling those enhancements except a few (sonata hd pro fw3.0 and zooaux).
  • I focused on cxpro’s biggest strength (coherency) and its biggest weakness (soundstage)
  • As such when a dongle kept it coherent, but beat the cxpro on soundstage, then it would win. Then if it expanded its frequency coverage and explored other technicalities, it would pull ahead.
  • One should NEVER EVER be impressed by DAC-Chips or SPECS or NUMBERS alone. Implementation/tuning matters more than ever.
  • Dongles in the end are all about harnessing that little power draw and choosing a compromise to present to the ears. The best compromise is often the most safe one instead of extravagant.

On the CXPro

  • CXPro sounds amazing, it’s perhaps the best BUDGET gateway to portable sound quality yet…
  • The stepup isn’t an expensive dongle for me but either the humble ZOOAUX or a DAP like the Shanling Q1 (as a huge upgrade) or even better the Sony A55 (as a super super huge upgrade).
  • No I didn’t listen to the W2 and I probably won’t… lol

TL;DR Winners and losers

  • CXpro handily beat apple, samsung, cspro, jm04pro, jm20, nillkin, atom2, X1, meizu pro, dc03, link2 (in all forms), eida 9030D, lotoo paw s1 (EFX none), ak pee51
  • CXpro is slightly superior to jsaux, jm04pro, ja04
  • CXpro drawed against Hiby R3pro Saber
  • CXpro got beaten by Sonata HD Pro FW3.0, lotoo paw S1 (EFX Headphone) and ZOOAUX (read in the end)
  • CXpro got smashed by Shanling Q1, Sony A55 MrWalkman FE50v2 Plus, Apogee Groove, REGA-Atomamp+


  • Using an AB Switcher I would relisten to parts of 1 song back and forth and write my notes.
  • Just used 1 song and 1 iem to go through all this so take it with a grain of salt. Pairing could be the cause of some of the dongles losing to others.
  • I’ll eventually use another IEM to recheck but my ears are burned now
  • Computer to sources to switcher to iem.

Test song

Test IEM

  • HzSound Heart Mirror stock.

Moving forward

  • Will share this on Andy EF‘s AudioVault
  • Might do a similar journey with another IEM with the sHDproFW3.0 again
  • Will try various firmware on e1da to get it to sound great
  • Will try various tuning setups on Paw S1….
  • Will pack all this donglemadness bag and let someone else have all the fun of comparing them


cx pro v apple : cxpro wins

  • cxpro has slightly larger soundstage, better depth, better separation
  • cxpro vocals have more richness, more physicality on the notes.
  • cxpro bass extension is superior.
  • apple is more vocal forward but lacks the nuance of cxpro. Ends up a little shouty in the upper mids.
  • imaging is similar.

cx pro vs samsung : cxpro wins

  • Bass impact more strong on samsung, bass drive is quite enthusiastic
  • Vocals feel more dry on samsung but better separated but a little sibilant though.
  • Stage collapses quick on samsung though because it’s being bothered by the bass.
  • cxpro still leads on control and technicalities.

cxpro vs Jcally jm04pro : leaning cxpro, but jm04pro is great still

  • cxpro continues its superbly authoritative sound
  • jm04pro voices have more presence will better silkiness, no shout. We are far from samsung apple here.
  • cxpro still less congested and more layered because decay speed is faster than jm04pro while still being realistic.
  • If you enjoy vocals more than overall sound, jm04pro is a great choice.

cxpro vs cspro : cxpro wins

  • cspro bass forward but very veily
  • cspro recessed mids and treble
  • cspro foggy imaging
  • cspro stage doesn’t hold much
  • cxpro still leading in all aspects

cxpro vs Jcally ja04 : cxpro wins, but ja04 not bad!

  • ja04 has quite good timbre
  • cxpro has similar timbre but the technicalities take it above ja04 this time.

cxpro vs nillkin : cxpro wins, but nillkin not bad!

  • Voice feels a little weightless and recessed.
  • Most notes feel unuanced… but
  • nillkin still has great timbre.
  • Going back to cxpro, it’s pretty clear that cxpro is competing again at another level of sound and refinement.

cxpro vs meizu pro : cxpro wins, but soundstage weakness is revealed!

  • Meizu pro easily twice as powerful (more headroom….)
  • Meizu pro soundstage feels slightly bigger, bass extends deeper.
  • Meizu pro soundstage fails to image as good as cxpro though, quite a blur, quite slow
  • Cxpro still blasts past it despite the smaller stage, note weight, mids nuance.
  • We are starting to see where cxpro can improve but meizu pro wasn’t able to beat cxpro where it counts.

cxpro vs audirect atom2 : cxpro wins

  • great bass impact earlier on
  • however, note edge is uncontrolled and fatiguing
  • decay is too fast too.
  • mids forward like apple dongle which leads to some shoutiness in the upper mids.
  • already narrower stage collapses quick in busy segments as treble and upper mids pile up.
  • I don’t like it.

cxpro vs Tempotec sonata HD pro fw3.0: sonata HD pro fw3.0 wins

  • great soundstage better than cxpro
  • depth is on equal footing or better.
  • sense of scale and height is felt.
  • superb pace and rhythm
  • bass has deeper impact and is just as refined as the mids
  • Mids are similar, cxpro mids might be bit more forward.
  • treble more extended and controlled.
  • CX pro timbre and staging abilities are surpassed by HD pro fw3.0
  • sHDpro fw3.0 wins

cxpro vs Jcally jm20 : cxpro easily wins.

  • bass feels forward
  • mids are veiled or rolled off on the upper mids
  • distorsion feel strong and blurries the whole timbre
  • thx Bennet Kelly
  • I don’t like it lol

cxpro vs jsaux : cxpro wins by the skin of its butt cheeks.

  • similar sound both are quite neck and neck
  • jsaux mids might get more bothered by the bass but
  • cxpro mids might win because they are simply more controlled.
  • consider jsaux as a good alternative for cxpro when cxpro goes out of print… eventually….

cxpro vs X1: cxpro wins.

  • narrow narrow soundstage
  • vocals are fine
  • dynamics are great though but the sound feels quite stacked
  • layering feels unuanced and bland
  • might have been a great dongle early in donglemadness but cxpro is the true gem here.

cxpro vs ibasso dc03 : cxpro wins.

  • ibasso has some muscular thicc bass
  • stage still narrow for some reason
  • mids recessed and shaken by the bass, frustratingly.
  • layering is poor, cxpro stages better than dc03.
  • imaging is poor and incoherent, bass feels disjointed from mids
  • bass heavy dongle… nothing like cxpro there.
  • I don’t like it

cxpro vs xduoo link2 (soundstageOFF/bass OFF): cxpro wins

  • lots of power
  • narrower stage than cxpro
  • great bass impact, better than dc03
  • mids recessed again, they have no shape or nuanced.
  • like ibasso, bass is disjointed
  • cxpro wins

cxpro vs xduoo link2 (soundstageON/bassOFF): cxpro wins

  • lots of power
  • narrower stage than cxpro
  • great bass impact, better than dc03
  • mids enjoy better separation
  • poor imaging like ibasso bass still disjointed but at least the mids are here
  • cxpro wins

cxpro vs xduoo link2 (soundstageOFF/bassON): cxpro wins

  • lots of power
  • narrower stage than cxpro
  • dat bass ouffff, if you think hm lacks bass this one turn it into bass head territory lol
  • mids get a little grainy due to such bass power.
  • treble is barely there… just exists.
  • cxpro wins

cxpro vs xduoo link2 (soundstageON/bassON): cxpro wins

  • lots of power
  • that annoying bass lol
  • vocals where are you?!
  • this dongle sounds way too warm to get anything out of it now lol what a mess
  • cx pro wins, going back to it feels like an “aaaahhhhhhh that’s better” feeling after being brutalized by the link2

e1da 9038D : cxpro wins

  • strong attack and decay
  • narrower soundstage still arrggggggggg
  • mids are as present but are again layered behind the bass!!!!
  • treble again just exists without not giving anything.
  • cxpro has better soundstage, depth than e1da!!! what the….
  • e1da will return once I figure out how to flash the right firmware on it.

cx pro vs lotoo paw s1 EFX None: cxpro wins

  • bass forward sound covering the mids again?!”!!!”!/DA/”!$!”/”!@±£@£21
  • mids not bad, not cxpro-mids
  • we finally have treble extension that deliver interesting textures during simple times
  • layers flatten up during busy section 
  • soundstage still similar to cxpro, the difference is that cxpro doesn’t try fancy layering like paw s1 and therefore maintains cohesion during busy section. paw s1 throw things at you with a punch (albeit more refined than previous I guess?) and lets your brain figure it out.
  • cxpro wins

cx pro vs lotoo paw s1 EFX Headphone: lotoo paw s1 EFX Headphone wins with reservations.

  • Ohhhhhhhhh finally we have another good fight
  • soundstage gets larger
  • layering is finally felt
  • great imaging!
  • technicalities are superiors.
  • bass finally gets more tamed, mids become similar in richness, treble could get annoyingly fatiguing
  • there’s this annoying uncontrolled clarity floating in the upper mids-treble area…
  • I’ll give the win to lotoo but I still prefer cxpro

cxpro vs ak pee51: cx pro wins

  • narrow bass soundstage why are you still dead center?!
  • bass on top of vocals grrrrr.
  • vocals quite rich though, I love them vocals.
  • if you could just move that bass somewhere else I’d appreciate.
  • no annoying treble glare though, I’m loving this pee51 more than paw S1 in that sense.
  • cxpro still better soundstage WTF perhaps because I like the tuning better of the bass and the rest of the field. It’s just right. AK exagerates madly.

cxpro vs hiby r3pro saber: draw, cxpro dry, r3prosaber wet and warm.

  • r3pro saber is great and gentle
  • hiby has great smooth tonality there… mellow though.
  • hiby might lack some edge
  • hiby might lack some details over cxpro
  • hiby timbre is more organic and articulate than cxpro
  • hiby soundstage also feels narrow but depth and layering is better.
  • hiby so darn chill that sound! I’m falling in love with my r3pro saber again.
  • cxpro sounds more dry in comparison, leading to fatigue faster than r3pro saber.
  • cxpro more technical, r3prosaber more musical… hiby feels like it’s a big thick piece moving as a single block, cxpro is more separated. I can’t decide which one I like better.
  • A good reason to own a DAP 
  • a draw

cxpro vs shanling q1 : A Q1 dominating win, a DAP triumph.

  • immediately, there’s layering and depth advantage on the shanling
  • Q1 continue a dominating run: conquers soundstage, quite larger than cxpro.
  • Q1 has the larger soundstage of sHDpFW3.0 but images and layers it better.
  • Great clear weighty physical mids, well separated.
  • There’s presence of holographics and sounds I have yet to hear on other sources so far in the Journey.
  • The physicality of the sound is unmatched, you can almost touch it.
  • Dynamics through the roof and that unfatiguing control!! woah!
  • Head moving sound.
  • Still one of my fav sources for a reason.
  • There’s even some height there.
  • I can go on 4ever lol

cxpro vs sony a55 mrWalkman FE50v2 Plus : A55 just goes and wins

  • Holographic AF
  • Elements of sound feel like they have direction and you can follow them across the stage.
  • Huge soundstage
  • mids rich AF and lush AF
  • Organic sound with great technicality (yes you’ve heard it many times but this one is real AF)
  • Timbre is 2nd to none, I’m debating between this guy and the groove now lol both are similar level.
  • I’ll give depth layering to the groove… wait this is supposed to be the cxpro comparison… cxwho?
  • cxpro in comparison sounds dry, bass-shy, narrow, amateur. (it’s still great but no DAP)

cxpro vs apogee groove : Groove wins, groove smash

  • Unfair fight, groove draws a shitton more power than cxpro
  • Groove is simply a huge step above cxpro right from the first minute.
  • layers upon layers, depth upon depth, endless
  • dynamics unforced and refined over that of Q1
  • so much space for every element, no congestions, class leading separation.
  • everything sounds full and controlled, nothing overdone
  • cxpro had no chance there, going from cxpro to that feels like music “came alive”, makes cxpro sound upper mid forward and narrow. yeeshh…

cxpro vs rega-atomamp+ : cxpro lost, surprised?

  • Musically technical
  • Highest staging abilities of what’s on the table
  • Best timbre of what’s on the table
  • Yes better than groove, better than a55…
  • I’m not surprised though, the DAC was insanely expensive and the amp+ is as musically transparent as they come.


cxpro vs zooaux : Zooaux wins

  • cxpro feels dry and congested in comparison to Zooaux’s exquisite musicality.
  • cxpro soundstage smaller, zooaux stage is quite larger. It plays at another level.
  • cxpro might have more clarity because notes don’t have as much weight as the Zooaux
  • Zooaux has drastically better noteweight and articulation.
  • Some may criticise zooaux’s bass resolution, but I’m fine with it, it’s quite supportive.
  • Zooaux bass hits just right without taking over any other areas of the FR.
  • Zooaux has superb horizontal imaging in that large soundstage.
  • There are hints of depth drawing but Zooaux is avoiding that technical trap that could make it collapse.
  • Zooaux reminds me a lot of my Walkman A55 (If you guys want a piece of that, get Zooaux lol then buy the Walkman if you like it!)
  • I think I prefer this Zooaux to my Hiby R3Pro Saber (a full post will be dedicated to Zooaux)
  • Zooaux is has group leading potential in this donglemadness pack.

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