Hidizs XO MQA Dongle DAC Review

Dual ESS SABRE ES9219C DAC chips and RGB lights on both sides, meet Hidizs’ new XO MQA Dongle DAC, or as I call it the Gamer DAC. Not just because of the RGB thingy but also because the X and O recall the buttons on many gamepads.

The front of the XO MQA dongle has a unique X-shaped button for independent control of the RGB LED lights. You can turn off the RGB lights of course, or choose from 15+ patterns with a simple click on the X button.

There is also a second O-shaped button on the XO MQA dongle for the filter mode switch. No need to update the firmware or use an APP on your phone, just one button gets you 2 different sound styles. The light of the O-shaped button of the XO MQA dongle also shows the sampling rate of the track.

A third button would have been very nice for playing, stopping, and skipping tracks, but sadly we don’t have it.

The XO MQA dongle uses a high-density aluminum alloy shell, which is integrally formed with a typical 5-axis CNC process. For the first time, the etched technology is used on both sides of the XO. With Hidizs initials – “H” as the design element, the micron-level complex, and meticulous metal processing is carried out. Etch a number of “H”, end to end, in the shape of a net hollow. The XO’s built-in RGB LED light tubes, and the light changes and staggers, scattered from the countless “H”.

The XO MQA dongle is only the size of a USB stick and weighs only 11 grams. Contains two outputs, 3.5mm unbalanced and 2.5mm balanced.

The output power is strong but not excessive, the XO perfectly balances sound quality and battery life. The single-ended port has 78mW+78mW@32Ω and the balanced port has 195mW+195mW@32Ω of output power.

What’s in the box

Specs

  • MQA 16X
  • ESS SABRE ES9219C * 2
  • 32bit/384kHz PCM, DSD256, +121dB DNR, -114dB THD+N
  • Stylish RGB LED Light – Hidizs Patented Innovation
  • Physical Button for Filter Switch
  • Single-ended 3.5mm + Balanced 2.5mm
  • Sampling Rate Indicator Light
  • HiBy Music APP
  • Hi-Res Audio & MQA certified
  • Price: $89 ( Presale 12.15-12.21 )$99 (after 12.21)

I would like to thank Hidizs for providing me with the review sample of Hidizs XO MQA dongle DAC. And for the laser engraving of my blog on it. Amazing gesture!

Sound

The portable USB DAC-AMP market is crawling with products every day and more of them are being released by companies. The rivalry is harsher than ever and this is always great for the consumers.

The Hidizs XO is a very competitive and impressive product that offers a rich, and balanced sound signature with adequate balance throughout the spectrum. It sounds clean, open, spacious, and detailed. In many ways, it reminds me of Hidizs AP80 Pro-X. The XO offers a similar tonal balance, transparency, and resolution.

The XO does a great job of reflecting the signatures of the IEMs you pair it with, without overly saturating or manipulating their signatures. The XO features good tonal balance and comes with a neutral, balanced signature with no emphasis on any region. It is a capable DAC with a surprisingly good technical foundation.

Lows

The XO is capable of delivering impactful yet agile bass. The sub and mid-bass quantities are great. It can easily extend and reach when the track asks for it. It does not feel like it is lacking in body and shapes its response well according to the track’s requirements.

Pairing it with an equally capable in-ear monitor gets you a tight, fast bass with a great slam and that’s quite good at any price point.

The extension is nice, but don’t expect class-A grade sub-rumble performance out of a super-portable device. Overall, the bass has adequate presence, carries a good amount of detail, and feels fast enough to feel dynamic. 

Mids

The midrange is clean, resolving, and articulate. The note-weight is medium-rare and pairing the XO with highly analytical IEMs hurt its tonal balance but for everything else, it offers a wonderful midrange recipe. The transition from bass to mids is smooth. The vocals feel articulate, clean, and natural. The stringed instruments do not lack body and their timbre feels great for a DAC that is around $100. 

The upper mids are controlled yet expansive and they carry a good amount of detail also. The presentation feels airy and spacious partly due to the well-done tuning of this region. Hi-hats and cymbals never sound dull or too harsh as they carry a good amount of excitement while staying away from the sibilance. 

Highs

The XO’s treble reproduction is impressive, just like its midrange. The treble tonality is good and the extension is controlled. The XO offers a clean, extended and controlled treble. It is not overdone, or it is not boosted to impose a false sense of resolution, it is rather well done and it does not feel aggressive or lacking in any way.

The bite is there when the track asks for it, and so is the extension. The treble sounds resolving, clean and dynamic. It boosts the perceived sense of articulacy. This section feels almost identical, tonally, to AP80 Pro-X. Both of the devices have really energetic, detailed yet natural treble responses.

Stage

Soundstage-wise, the XO plays in a similar lane as AP80 Pro-X. It is capable of accurately projecting the positioning of the instruments and vocals. The imaging and layering are great, especially in this price range. There is a good amount of air between the instruments and the sense of depth is great. 

Sum-Up

From a technical point, the XO is one of the best USB DACs that I’ve heard in 2022. It offers a great tonal balance, great clarity, and a spacious and airy presentation on top of these. The most impressive side of the XO is its tonal performance, no doubt. It feels coherent, and linear across the frequency spectrum. No overlapping, no dips, no peaks, no saturation. Do you know what would make the Hidizs XO a perfect audio gear? A spectrum analyzer with RGB LEDs instead of random light patterns. Too much? Maybe someday 🙂