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Pioneer XDP-100R review

Tom Morgan
26 Dec 2015
Pioneer XDP-100R - lead image
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
500
inc VAT

Page 2 of 2Sound quality and Conclusion

Superb sound quality and room for expansion too, but the XDP-100R is undeniably expensive

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Specifications

Speakers: 1, RMS power output: N/A, Dock connector: None, Networking: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (aptX), Dimensions: 127x76x12mm, Weight: 181g, Streaming formats: Bluetooth, Spotify Connect

SOUND QUALITY

Clearly Pioneer has created a competent media player, but it would all be rather redundant if sound quality wasn’t up to scratch; it has to outperform a smartphone, at the very least. The built-in speaker might be a handy addition, and is loud enough to watch YouTube videos without reaching for a pair of headphones, but it can’t do justice to MP3s, let alone FLAC and DSD files.

The XDP-100R supports 24bit/192kHz and DSD128 playback, but regardless of what you feed it, tracks have a delightfully neutral presentation. It avoids sounding harsh, without dulling more vibrant and energetic tracks, and manages to keep acoustic tracks and quieter songs sounding lifelike. There are numerous EQ pre-sets available through Pioneer’s Music app, but they have a rather minor effect on the mix and are best left switched off.

Pioneer XDP-100R - three quarters

Headphones between 16 and 300 ohms are supported, and the XDP-100r has an incredible 160 steps of volume adjustment, but realistically music is inaudible at anything below 75 – almost defeating the object of having such a wide adjustment range in the first place. It could still produce surprisingly deep bass from a pair of notoriously flat Shure SE425s though.

It was easy to hear the subtler notes and instrument noises of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours when playing 24bit FLAC files, but the XDP-100r does a good job of cleaning up MP3s as well. The MQA compression algorithm will eventually be supported too, in a forthcoming firmware update. This is something akin to ‘musical origami’, in that the higher frequencies, which are typically lost when encoding audio as an MP3, are instead folded into the available frequency range. Compatible players can ‘expand’ the file to get the full quality, but you’ll still be able to listen to the basic version on a non-compatible player.

Wireless playback is also supported. There’s no NFC for easy pairing, but aptX Bluetooth ensures audio quality doesn’t take a hit. You also get 802.11ac Wi-Fi, which ensures you’ll get the fastest possible downloads on a compatible wireless network.

Pioneer XDP-100R - headphones sold separately

CONCLUSION

The XDP-100R sounds fantastic with the right pair of headphones and a high resolution FLAC or DSD file, and the upscaling system does wonders with MP3s too. It’s the most up-to-date Android-powered media player around, with Google Play for downloading extra apps and the hardware to play most games smoothly too. It’s also cheaper than its biggest rival, the £800+ Sony ZX2 Walkman. That has a lower resolution screen, slower hardware and an older version of Android to boot.

Of course, dedicated media players aren’t for everyone. Unless you have a library of FLAC and DSD files, a serious pair of headphones and a desire to listen on the move, your smartphone will usually suffice for MP3s. If you demand quality, however, and don’t mind paying for it, the XDP-100R is a great alternative to smartphone listening.

Hardware
Speakers1
RMS power outputN/A
Audio inputsNone
Audio outputs3.5mm stereo
Dock connectorNone
USB portmicroUSB
Memory card support2x microSD
NetworkingWi-Fi, Bluetooth (aptX)
NFCNo
App supportAndroid 5.0.1
Battery capacityNot stated
Dimensions127x76x12mm
Weight181g
Streaming
Streaming formatsBluetooth, Spotify Connect
Supported serversUPnP, SMB
Audio formatsMQA, FLAC, OGG, MP3, DSD
Internet streaming servicesSpotify, Tidal, Onkyo Music,

Page 2 of 2Sound quality and Conclusion

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