Today we’re checking out the XDuoo Nano D3.
After some great experiences with the XDuoo X3, I was looking forward to the Nano D3. Small in size with better battery life and a more modern UI. What could go wrong? Read on…
Thanks to Penon Audio for arranging and providing a sample of the Nano D3 for review. The thoughts within this review are my own and do not represent Penon, XDuoo, or any other entity. No financial incentive was provided.
At the time of this review the Nano D3 could be purchased for 79.00 USD: https://penonaudio.com/xduoo-nano-d3.html
What I’m looking for:
When it comes to portable amps and DAPS I take a pretty casual approach. If you’re looking for an in-depth look at this thing with measurement graphs going over THD, sine waves, etc. you’ll want to look elsewhere. None of that matters to me, nor do the components inside that make the device tick. All I really care about is ease of use, how well it can drive my headphones and earphones, and if they still sound good to me plugged into it. Great battery life is a bonus. This review will be mainly my subjective experiences with the Nano D3 and how it has served me over the last few months.
**Note that the battery is actually 950mAh, not 900 as shown in the image, and on the packaging for that matter. I opened mine up to check after finding out the Auglamour GR-1’s battery was smaller than advertised.**
Packaging and Accessories:
The front of the Nano D3’s packaging contains an image of the device and some features set on top of a blurred out image of a woman wearing headphones. On the rear is an extensive list of features and specifications along with some contact information for XDuoo.
Inside is a dense black cardboard box emblazoned with the XDuoo branding. Lifting the lid sees the Nano D3 securely set within a foam insert. Underneath is a which cardboard box containing the accessories. In all you get:
- Nano D3
- Screen protector x2
- Micro USB cable
- Warranty card
- Insturction manual
Overall a barren kit, but this is a budget player so I’m not expecting XDuoo to bundle in a ton of stuff. That they even bothered including some screen protectors is greatly appreciated.
The Nano D3’s shell and buttons are constructed out of CNC machined aluminum. Fit and finish is quite good with all the ports lining up properly, and the back plate fitting with only a slight gap to one side, not large enough to squeeze a finger nail in. It feels durable enough, being metal and all, but squeezing the sizes and pushing on the back you can see and feel the flex. I’m sure it’ll hold up fine to abuse, but it lacks the same sense of quality that you get from other players like the XDuoo X3, F.Audio S1, and even the plastic HiFiMan MegaMini. Labeling seems to be lazer etched into the aluminum which is great because you won’t have to worry about it rubbing off over time. The screen is vibrant and clear, and quite bright. Really bright actually. You can’t adjust it. Enjoy blinding yourself and everyone around you should you choose to use it at night.
At 20 hours the Nano D3’s 950 mAh battery life is pretty good, though 3 hours of charging is a little long when the F.Audio S1 charge in 2-2.5 hours despite a 1,300 mAh battery. As long as you’re not a power user, you should be good to charge the Nano D3 once a week as the standby time also seems pretty decent. It is at the very least miles better than what you from a device like the Walnut V2S which has an abysmally short standby.
Using the Nano D3:
The firmware out of the box is hilariously laggy, taking about a second to register any button press. Upgrading the v1.3, while it worked, shortened that delay significantly, though it was still slightly laggy and plenty unresponsive. You need to really hammer on the buttons to get them to register a press, even though you’re getting audible feedback via a satisfying “snick”.
The menu layouts, minus the annoying grid-based home layout that you can only cycle through left to right, are logical and clear. Some features like screen brightness and gapless playback are missing, but in general you’ve got everything you’ll want and need in a budget DAP.
How does it sound. Meh? I found it to be a fairly lean sounding player with lots of roll off in the bass. Treble is nicely extended and quite detailed, though that’s partly due to the thin note presentation. Mids are again nice and clear but are a touch bright and tend to exaggerate sibilance. Not a device you want to be pairing with bright earphones or headphones, like the Echobox Finder X1 or HiFiMan HE-350. Sound stage is good though. The lean presentation allows for lots of air between instruments and effects. Pair it with an earphone that already had good staging and you’re in for a treat.
It also has plenty of driving power, able to push somewhat demanding earphones like the Havi B3 Pro I and II, and the KEF M200 to listening volumes without much hassle. For headphones like the thinksound On2 and Campfire Audio Cascade, I found an amp was beneficial adding a little more umph to the presentation and improving bass control.
Bugs and Quirks:
Messing around with the EQ, I found that if you maxed it out in either direction, it would reset to 0 despite showing at +6. Not a huge concern because I found the effect it had on the overall sound was surprisingly minimal. The various presets which I find terrible on any device that has them, no exception here, are going to be more useful I suspect.
Changing between songs resulted in a massive and unsettling pop. That seems to have gone away over time and instead you’re just left with an annoying background hiss. Lovely.
After updating to the most recent firmware found on Xduoo’s site, v1.3, I ran into a pretty nasty bug. Turn on the player and you’ll see the screen light up, but no picture. If you plug in a pair of headphones you’ll hear music playing and you can navigate the menus (hopefully you’ve got them memorized…), but you can’t see jack. So yeah, it’s been relegated to essentially a featureless, screenless player that cycles through whatever is on the SD card in shuffle.
I’m sure there are more but the device was pretty much useless following the update to v1.3 so my notes and testing ended there.
Nope. Not a fan. I like the looks and the build (mostly) and the mid-range and up is quality stuff, as it the sound stage, but the bass roll off really saps all power from the presentation. The laggy UI and unresponsive buttons make interacting with the Nano D3 an exercise in patience, of which I have little when it comes to electronics. The screen looks great but the lack of adjustable brightness is a pretty silly oversight. Lastly, don’t update to firmware v1.3 unless you want to risk watching your snazzy player become virtually unusable. Mind you even before that it wasn’t a particularly nice device to interact with anyway.
Thanks for stopping by.