Astell&Kern XB10 is a Premium Bluetooth Receiver/High Definition Adapter. Put simply it turns any pair of headphones, or speaker, into a wireless design, but retains, and even boosts the sound quality. The Austell&Kern XB10 retails for £149.
Astell&Kern are a specialist audio manufacturer. Astell&Kern believe in the power of music and so strive to provide the original sound without distortion. Their portable and home audio products offer the exact presence with tiny details bit for bit, exactly as it was recorded
The XB10 is the first bluetooth receiver/adapter to support new Qualcomm aptX HD technology. This means it includes a 24bit, high-power DAC so that it transforms smartphone sound and at the same time drives headphones harder. It even supports high-quality balanced headphones
Key Features / Specifications
– Dimensions 50 mm x 50 mm x 12.3 mm
– Weight 23 g
– Bluetooth Version Bluetooth 4.1, Class2
– Bluetooth Profile A2DP (multi), AVRCP, HFP, HSP
– Frequency Band 2.4 – 2.4835 GHz ISM Band
– Range Maximum of 10 meters
– Operating Temperature – 10°C to 45°C
– Codec SBC, AAC, aptX™, aptX™ HD
– Port 2.5mm Balanced / 3.5mm Unbalanced
– Output Level 2.5mm Balanced : 1.8Vrms / 3.5mm Unbalanced : 0.9Vrms
– Battery Type 350mAh 3.7V lithium polymer rechargeable battery
– Approximately 5 hours for music playing and phone calls
– Standby Time Up to 300 hours
– Charging Time Approximately 2 hours
– Charging Method Micro USB 5Pin (charging 5V 2A)
So what is APT-X HD? Qualcomm® aptX™ HD audio ensures your Bluetooth® wireless enabled device can deliver High Definition (HD) audio. It preserves sound data through the audio transmission, resulting in a ‘better-than-CD’ listening experience.
With aptX HD, you can enjoy listening to your music at the highest audible quality when using a wireless device. APT-X HD is indistinguishable from high resolution audio. APT-X HD enables 24-bit music quality over a Bluetooth® wireless connection. To achieve the HD sound you need a compatible music player/phone as well as the XB10.
APT-X HD is found on several smartphones. In fact the LG G5 was one of the first to feature this tech. So what does the XB10 sound like and how well does it perform. Well I paired it to my iPhone 7 Plus, Huawei Mate 9 and my friends LG G5. I then plugged my Oppo PM-3 and Sennheiser HD598 headphones into the XB10. I would have loved to have tried a pair of balanced headphones with the XB10 as the sound was phenomenal using the XB10 on all 3 of the different players. The XB10 powered both headphones with such ease.
Apple iPhone 7 Plus – the XB10 has the Apple AAC codec and sounds terrific. This is such a good solution for using your existing wired headphones without wires.
Huawei Mate 9 – The Mate 9 has the standard APT-X and again sounded really good.
LG G5 – This has APT-X HD built in so transmitted 24 bit bluetooth sound to the XB10. Truly stunning and so good this is the end of wires!
So are there any negatives. Just one. Its range is limited to 10 metres, but in reality if using the APT-X HD you do need to keep the music player/phone nearby as the bandwidth used is much higher than standard bluetooth.
To really appreciate this dynamite piece of tech, you need to watch the video.
PS. Note this was not a review sample or loan unit.