Pioneer XDP-30R

WI-FI-capable, portable hi-res audio player with balanced output

You may be wondering if a portable audio player is still useful in times of well-equipped smartphones. Pioneer answers that question with the XDP-30R, which focuses on providing the best possible sound quality.

Mobile or stationary, this player can play audio files from both the 16GB internal memory and two Micro SD cards, up to 200GB each. The XDP-30R can also access online streaming services, such as Deezer, TuneIn and Tidal, via Wi-Fi.

A Compact Solution for Sound Lovers

Pioneer recognizes the potential of the XDP-30R as a compact solution for sound enthusiasts and addresses the needs of audiophiles by supporting compatibility with uncompressed PCM files up to 192 kHz / 32 bit and DSD playback (5.6 / 2.8 MHz, also via USB by DoP). Specs include two high-quality Sabre DA converters, type ES9018C2M, with associated output amplifiers, ES9601K and separate clocking for the sampling rates of 44.1 and 48 kHz, with a fast signal processor upsampling for lower resolution files (MP3, AIF, WAV, FLAC, ALAC, AAX). High-resolution streaming in the MQA format is to be supported in due course.

The XDP-30R comes with a conventional 3.5mm jack and an additional balanced audio output that takes advantage of Japan’s established four-pin 2.5mm format. Here, the plus and minus phases of both stereo channels are routed via separate wires, which improves the channel separation and reduces sensitivity to interference. The supplied SE-CH5BL-K in-ear headphones (see below) are also found on this jack.

The player works with a volume limitation and adjustment for low-impedance headphones. By menu setting, it can also be operated with line level and can thus address high-impedance headphones with volume control or a hi-fi system with a fixed output level. It is also possible to pair the player via Bluetooth with appropriate speakers or headphones (A2DP / AVRCP, SBC codec). Other special features: There are two symmetrical modes, BTL (Bridge-Tied Load) with more powerful drive power and ACG (Active Control Ground) with improved channel separation. An adjustment of the filtering after the DA stage in three stages can also be performed. Additionally, you can shape the sound with a deactivatable 10-band equalizer.

Usage Controls

The lightweight, black compact housing is partly made of aluminium and is equally robust and decorative. In addition to the on/off switch and the handy volume control, there are options for start/stop and skipping, as well as a circuit breaker. A further operation is straightforward via a touchscreen but when compared to current smartphones not quite as efficient, due to the display resolution of 320 x 240 pixels. In particular, finding specific titles in large libraries can’t be done as quickly.

Via Bluetooth, the player can immediately connect to an Android smartphone (Google Pixel 2 XL) and communicate reliably with the free Pioneer app “Duo Remote”, which allows you to control your playlists without the need to control the actual player. However, the app does not handle more than track control and the display of some device information. Unfortunately, the iOS app counterpart did not work in the test. Similarly, a (Bluetooth) pairing with iOS, macOS or Windows was simply unsuccessful. The player can be charged via the included USB cable, which also serves as a means to transfer data to the device. Playback time of up to 15 hours is promised. In addition, users can take advantage of the free Onkyo X-DAP Link software for data transfer; it lets you create playlists on PC and Mac, access an existing iTunes library and back up your data.

Sound Quality

Sound wise, the XDP-30R plays at a high level and is clearly superior to a smartphone in terms of sound and converter quality, format compatibility and connectivity. Listeners are rewarded by a clean and transparent stereo image, a fast response, catchy instrument and voice mapping and clean dynamics. Instead of the multi-functionality of a smartphone, everything here is all about high-quality audio sound reproduction in mobile (or stationary) use.

In addition to the transducer quality, of course, the headset (or speaker) is responsible for the sound. In the process, the powerful headphone amplifier fully exploits its power through the variable adaptation to different output devices.

Included: Pioneer SE-CH5BL-K

The Pioneer XDP-30R is supplied with SE-CH5BL-K in-ear headphones. These are connected via a 1.2 m cable with a gold-plated angle plug. It uses the aforementioned symmetrical 2.5-mm connector and is otherwise completely straightforward. The plug format makes the handset an isolated solution for the XDP-30R, which is a bit unsatisfactory from the consumer’s point of view.

The plugs are designed as angled in-ear fittings, which can be passed over the ear and thus provide strain relief, reduction of structure-borne noise and a secure fit. The earphones are well made but do not hold up against the more expensive SE-CH9T, which scores points for the aluminium housing and interchangeable cable. The coiled double cable makes a strong impression, however, but knots quite easily.

Headphone Quality

The SE-CH9T scored top marks with convincing sound. Their smaller counterpart, the SE-CH5BL-K, delivered free of charge with the XDP-30R, now rivals them. Providing the right earplugs from a choice of three sizes, the 9.7mm rear ventilation drivers provide a broadband frequency spectrum that ranges from deep bass to high-end and scores with balance and high definition. The basses are tightly reproduced, the treble transparent, open and fast, but never disturbingly hard. The centres are also even. This results in a balanced sound with stable positioning in the stereo panorama and space, but also good traceability of sound movements. Accordingly, the SE-CH5BL-K is a remarkable addition that compliments almost any genre, from classical or jazz to metal or rock. Similarly, they work well for both intimate and soft audio to loud and punchy. The only thing that makes a difference is that the fit—the earplugs must fit properly as otherwise the sound will fall apart.

Ulf Kaiser
3 years ago by Ulf Kaiser
  • Rating: 4
  • Sound
  • Handling
  • Price/Quality
  • Function

With the XDP-30R, Pioneer caters to music lovers who appreciate high sound quality. In fact, this player allows one of the best listening experiences around due, in part, to the included symmetrical SE-CH5BL-K, though it offers superior quality with most other high-quality headphones. For just under 400 euros, you get a product with a clear focus: amazing music reproduction!

Technical specifications

  • Ear couplingsee "Special features"

What's in the box

  • In-ear headphones Pioneer SE-CH5BL-K
  • 3 pairs of ear tips
  • USB charging cable
  • Carrying pouch

Special features

  • Technical specifications Player:

    • DSP with 32 Bit
    • two balanced modes: Bridge-Tied Load (BTL) and Active Control Ground (ACG)
    • balanced audio output via 2.5 mm jack (headphone / line)
    • two clocks for 44.1 and 48 kHz
    • 10-band EQ with 6 presets and 3 custom presets
    • Volume adjustment (Low / Normal / High)
    • Output: 75 mW + 75 mW (unbalanced 32 Ohm), 150 mW + 150 mW (BTL mode, 32 Ohm)
    • Total Harmonic Distortion: 0,006%
    • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: > 115 dB
    • Supported impedances: 16 - 300 Ohm unbalanced, 32 - 600 Ohms (BTL mode)

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