29 Jul xDuoo MT602 Tube headphone amplifier – Review.
Tube amplifiers are very popular nowadays, but some people still prefer solid state amplifiers for their overall larger dynamics, speed, precise positioning an airiness, xDuoo is quite established and known manufacturer making tube amplifiers for already some time but those are around two, three hundred dollars and much more, xDuoo MT602 is a member of the new even more affordable product line from this brand, it’s a hybrid tube amplifier which tries to combine the advantages of both worlds, tube and solid state, so let’s see how it performs for an amplifier just under one hundred dollars which might surprise you even if you prefer solid state or “classic tube”.
xDuoo MT602 sounds great for its price, the softness on the top and warmth makes it perfect for long listening sessions.
What is in the box
Let me just quickly mention what you will get in the box if you decide to purchase this amplifier.
Inside of the box of xDuoo MT602 you will find a warranty card, user manual in both Chinese and English. Quite interestingly nice very thick foam protection panels from both top and bottom side, which is nice to see. The headphone amp itself and underneath of it there is a paper box with a power supply in it which is rated with the output of 12V 2A, quite long power cable and a quarter inch headphone adapter .
Design and build quality
The design a of xDuoo MT602 reminds me quite a bit a design of Shiit Audio products probably the design inspiration comes from there, but what matters is that the overall build quality feels really solid and well engineered, the aluminum case is thick and looks well crafted, that “raw” design look even more enhances that stick old school style classic on/off switch which quite resists and you quite have to give it a pull to switch it on or off. The case has nice details with the logo engraved on the top with the two small tubes in it. The red volume knob looks and feels nice and is supper smooth, but I wish the actual volume indicator line was white or more enhanced as it’s quite difficult to see and in the night it’s not visible at all. The tubes light up red which matches then with the color of the volume knob, the actual illumination is not too strong or distracting, not even in the night as it’s more dived in than out.
Overall the amp is very compact, like almost a half of the size of the previous amplifier I tested, the Loxjie P20. The width is 12cm, the height is 4 cm and depth is 7.8cm
What is nice about this xDuoo MT 602 is that it can be used also as a pre-amp in your system as it features RCA outputs on the back, the amount of the output is controlled via the volume knob. Besides the main RCA input this amp features also 3.5mm jack input on the front panel so you can connect for example some portable player or phone into it if you would like to do so. However the signal goes to both outputs the RCAs and headphones outputs so the preamp output isn’t disconnected when you plug in your headphones and also there is no switch between the inputs, so same there, you need to connect only those you will be using and disconnect those you won’t.
On the front panel you have the option to connect your headphones via quarter inch or 3.5mm jack.
Now let’s talk about the overall internal design architecture. This amplifier is a hybrid amplifier. How it’s designed here is that the tube amplifier circuit is used for the preamp of the signal and the second transistor class A amplifier circuit (buffer) takes care of the amplification of the output then.
This amplifier uses 6J1 tubes for the preamp, which are replaceable indeed if you would like to try some different ones.
This is where xDuoo MT602 shines in this price category. I can tell you this amplifier can drive most of the headphones on the market with ease. It’s very powerful. The output power is 1300mW in 32 ohms. With my HD600 which are 300 ohms and not easy to drive I could not pass over 9-10 o’clock on the volume without feeling like it’s just simply too loud. Incredible power from such a small amplifier.
In regards to other specs, signal to noise ratio is 115dB and THD+N is less or equal to 0.1% (1KHz & 32 ohms). Gain +15dB.
By the way this amp I mean top of the case gets pretty warm but nothing too concerning as I didn’t notice that it would keep increases the temperatures, seemed stable even during this summer here.
So how does xDuoo MT602 sounds and how it compares for example to Loxjie p20 I reviewed recently and is in the same price range?
Well this amplifier definitely sounds tuby, I mean more tuby than the p20 which is tube hybrid too but in comparison it sounds a bit more as a solid state amp. I was surprised how quite often I was going back to this one (mt602) more and more than I thought I would as this amp is great for long listening sessions and it’s really nicely soft on vocals, warmer sounding, very easy to listen to. Switching from this one to Loxjie p20, balanced it felt almost too overwhelmingly distracting first couple of seconds with overall more depth and width and details in particular songs, it doesn’t mean that this amp doesn’t have good details for its price, not at all it does have a good detail but the more airy full balanced output of the p20 brings more preciseness in the instruments separation and positioning. Fairly comparing it to Loxjie p20 in unbalanced output this amp is better. Besides what I mentioned. P20 surprisingly feels now like overall lacks low-end in comparison with this xDuoo. From the hybrid unbalanced amps this is so far my favorite and I highly recommend it, so if you don’t have a DAC with balanced output and headphones with balanced cable instead of Loxjie p20 this amp would be great option for under 100 dollars.
Pairing and Conclusion
So what is my conclusion about xDuoo MT 602 , well as I mentioned in regards to the most important part, which is sound, this amp sounds really great so if you are looking for a easy to listen to, soft, warmer sounding amp this one in the price just bellow 100 US Dollars is a good choice. When it comes to headphones pairing the best choice would be brighter or clinical, flat sounding headphones which will sound the best with this amp as it will soften up the highs and brings up a bit the low end and warmth.
I just wish it had better indicated volume and maybe switches between the inputs and outputs. Also this amp has some real power so even if you purchase later more power hungry headphones this one will not have problem to drive almost anything .
One more thing to mention there is a relay which is designed after the switching on of the amp to delay the signal to the headphones to avoid a pop noise which could damage them, and I have to say the delay is quite long then I am used to.
If you decide to purchase this amp links to check the current pricing and to the place I got it from and recommend are below.