xDuoo Link2

DAC Chip: ESS Sabre ES9118EC (Single)
PCM 32bit-384khz DSD256, SNR: -110db, Power: 150mW 32Ω, 3.5mm SE (Microphone: NO), Female USB-C, 21g Aluminum Chassis


LISTENING EQUIPMENT USED IMPARTED HUGE INFLUENCE TO SOUND IMPRESSIONS & RATING


💚PROS

  • Crisp and clean neutral flat timbre with uncolored tonality
  • Smooth, polished dynamics, full bodied with airy presentation
  • Great grade Micro and Macro details handling, great transparency
  • Balanced Mids with smooth textures and definition, natural toned Male/Female vocals
  • Crisp and smooth Treble decays with great extensions
  • Commanding Mid-Bass, tightly controlled, fast with crisp decays.
  • Deep Sub-Bass seismic response with smooth decays.
  • Crisp and vivid guitars, piano, percussions (chimes, bells) and drums and taps
  • Properly sized soundstage width with good depth and placement
  • Great holographic spatial imaging with succinct placement/layers
  • Amazing speed and dexterity on complex passages and transients
  • Super clean background, zero floor noises
  • Clean layers and well-defined separation lines
  • Drives Magnetic Planars at 65/100 volume, great fidelity.
  • Very forgiving on Lo-Fi and lower quality sources (despite being transparent)
  • iOS Compatible

💔CONS

  • Volume adjuster not independent, directly adjust the host instead.
  • Not as powerful as the top 3 5 stars performers
  • No user selectable gain mode
  • The build is on the larger side comparable to Lotoo PAW S1

VERDICT

xDuoo Link2. What I am hearing is a DAC/Amp that sounds somewhere between the Lotoo PAW S1 and HiBy FC3. This Link2 is the middle ground between the two. It has the smoothness, which is more at home to AKM, and technical competency which is closer to FC3 style. With the wealth of options, we have today, selecting a dongle can be quite a headache and I can personally attest that if I am to compare between this Link2 and Hidizs S9 or Shanling UA2, it will no longer the question of which one offer the best sound quality. It boils down to preference of pairing synergy, features and sound signature. Yet again precisely the Link2 will provide the option between S9 and UA2. Can’t go wrong with any three of those. Link2 exhibited all the top-notch quality that is easy to appreciate.

The biggest X factor to choose Link2 would be the rich feature it provides. The Bass boost option is very useful and probably the only one in the market now with such option. Toggling on the Bass Boost, it does not sound artificial at all and will work wonders on natively thin sounding IEMs or perhaps even emulating the Harman Curve for some. Similarly, the Soundstage toggle will provide realistic change that is not out of place – the presentation takes a step back and immediately the layers are audibly spaced out better. But if you prefer intimacy then just keep the toggle off. Not forgetting that there’s the play and pause button beside the volume adjusters, all these features does really help in real life usage. My only gripe, the volume adjustment should have been independent from the host volume like the Tempotec Sonata BHD or HiBy FC3, but hey I am nitpicking here.

PS: Stellar flexibility between iOS and Android/PC with just an easy swap of the included cables

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ ($109.00)

Best Pairing: Anything below 250Ω or above 94db sensitivity.

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