The affordable "Audiophile" DAP for IEMs (updated 9/24/2013)

A Review On: iBasso DX50 DAP

iBasso DX50 DAP

See all 8 reviews
Review Details:
Audio Quality
Battery Life
Design
User Interface
Value
Purchased on:
Price paid: $260.00
thegunner100
Posted · Updated · 41238 Views · 9 Comments

Pros: Clean, clear, neutral sound with IEMs. Very good line-out performance. Feels absolutely solid in my hands, and not bulky or heavy at all. Price.

Cons: UI and interface bugs. Many features need to be implemented. Hissing with sensitve iems.

iBasso DX50 with my Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors (UERM)


 

Quote:

Main features:
- Bit Perfect, Support up to 24Bit/192kHz
- WM8740 24Bit DAC Chip
- Built-in 9V Voltage Swing Headphone AMP
- 2.4" IPS Screen(320*240) with Capacitive Touch Screen, Bonded by OCA
- Up to 24Bit/192kHz Mini Coaxial Output
- 3.5mm Headphone Output, and Line Out
- Three Physical buttons (Rewind, Play/pauses, Forward) on The Top Panel.
- 256-Steps Digital Volume Control
- 8GB Onboard Flash
- Support SDXC and SDHC MicroSD card, up to 2TB
- 3-Setting Gain Switch
- Audio Formats Supported: APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, AAC, ALAC, OGG, MP3
- User Replaceable Battery(Compatible With S**sung S3), 14hours Play Time.

Specifications:
Line out:
Frequency Response: 20Hz~20KHz +/-0.2dB
S/N: -109dB +/-3dB
THD+N: 0.003%
Output Level: 1.5V rms (1kHz 0dB)

Headphne out:
Frequency Response: 20Hz~20KHz +/-1dB
THD+N: 0.004% (32ohm load)
Output Level: 1.2V(Low gain), 1.7V(Mid gain), 3.1V(High Gain)
S/N: -103dB +/-3dB(Low gain), -106dB +/-3dB(Mid gain), -108dB +/-3dB(High Gain) (32ohm Load)
Output Impedance: <0.5ohm

Battery Life: 14hours
Battery Charge Time: 3hours with AC adapter, 5.5hours with PC USB port
Case dimension: 2.52W x 3.98L x 0.67H (inch)
64W x 100L x 17H (mm)
Weight: 146g or 5.15oz

 

Build Quality - 5/5


For a $260 dap, the dx50 is built very nicely. Even though it is made out of mostly plastic and a little bit of metal, it is very sturdy. It is the perfect weight and size for my hands, and is not bulky at all. Only minor gripe that I have with it that there is some slight creaking between my power button and hold switch. Others have reported that the playback buttons were off in tactility, but I have no experience that problem with my dx50.

 

In case anyone was wondering, the dx50 is a perfect fit into the pelican 1010 case along with my UERMs. To get it out though, I have to wiggle the box a little to shake it out, but that is better than the dx50 being loose inside the case.

 

Features - 4.5/5


The dx50 utilizes a touchscreen interface for most of its operations. The touchscreen is responsive, though sometimes a bit too sensitive.

 

On the player itself, there are 3 playback buttons at the center (previous, pause/play, and forward). On the left side of the player there is a power/screen button, and a lock switch. To the right side there are the volume up and down buttons. On top, there is a mini-coax out (for use with external dacs), a microsd card slot, and a microusb slot for charging or OTG usage with external storage. On the bottom there are the headphone-out, line-out (for external amps), and 3 gain switches. The buttons are well placed and easy to use; no problems there.

 

The dx50 also has a removable battery, which many people will find useful for longer travels. The battery compartment can be accessed by just sliding the back cover off. The battery life lasts long enough for me to go a week without having to charge it. I use it ocassionally while walking to class and on the bus/train when i commute.

 

 

 

UI/Bugs - 3.5/5, firmware 1.16


The dx50's interface is generally pretty nice looking and easy, with the exception of inconsistent fonts and kerning. I would have liked to see the playback buttons removed from the playing screen. The album art is displayed very sharply, like a high res image resized to fit onto a small screen.

 

Using my 64gb class 10 sandisk, 16gb filled, the scan time for the card only takes a few minutes. However, it doesn't always scan all of my folders. I would ocasionally have to manually search through the folders to add the misssing tracks to the database. Not a huge deal, but I hope this will be fixed in a future firmware

 

As of firmware 1.16 the issue with the apostrophes have been fixed. There are still many bugs though. There are times where the volume would repeated increase until it locked at 255 and required a reset to fix. I have also experienced my touchscreen being disabled, which I had to do a factory reset for. Once in a while the dx50 would freeze up if i accidentally tried to do too many things at once, like changing the volume while skipping to the next track while changing the current playback time.

 

I would love to have the interface go from artist -> albums -> tracks, but currently it goes from artist -> tracks. As of 1.16, the tracks are ordered by the album names and track #s, so that's a good fix for now.

 

Gapless playback works, but I would have liked for it to work a little better. There are options for "close" (off), 5 sec and 10 sec for gapless playback. Both 5 and 10 work, but there seems to be no difference between the two.

 

I'm not sure if this was intentional or not, but the volume of the line-out can be controller by the dx50. I would have preferred no volume control for the line-out rather than the variable, as I have to reset it if i wanted to use my IEMs.

 

Sound Quality - 5/5, firmware 1.16


The dx50's internal amp and dac makes it sound fairly neutral, with a slight treble emphasis. What you get is a spacious, clear sound that will complement many IEMs. The internal amp powers IEMs very nicely, but will not work well with high impedance headphones such as the hd600.

 

UERM - The dx50 and UERMs make a great pairing for a portable setup. The treble is only a little bright imo, and is not harsh or fatiguing at all. Bass and mid response is good, with nice impact. It has much better detail, imaging, and soundstage than my sansa fuze + arrow 4g. When using line-out to my uha6s, I notice a nice improvement but nothing too significant with my UERMs. I find that the UERMs work best in mid-gain mode. There is quite a bit of hiss on low-gain and surprisingly high-gain has the least hiss out of them all but CPU noise can be heard. One thing to note is that if I have my UERMs on during powerup, there is a loud pop when the amp/volume gets turned on. iBasso should place a mute on the amp until everything is loaded up imo. 

 

HD600 - The dx50 does not have enough power to drive the hd600s. As a result, the soundstage is cramped and everything sounds closed in and mushed together. But once I use the line-out to my uha6s, everything becomes clean once again and sounds pretty good. But again, this is a portable DAP that's meant for IEM usage. If you want something that can power full sized headphones, look towards the dx100.

 

Vsonic Gr07 - Spacious, slightly warm sound. The treble can be a little harsh at times, but can be EQ'd. The gr07 makes for a nice budget combo with the dx50. There is no noticeable hiss with the gr07s thankfully.

 

 

Summary/overall - 4.5/5


Overall, there are many things that need to be worked out through future firmware releases. As it currently stands, the dx50 is fairly functional for everyday use. I like to just keep it on "All Music" with random order because there is no true playlist support yet, and it is annoying to navigate through the artists and albums. If you're looking for a neutral DAP to use with IEMs, then the dx50 is great contender at its price point; but do wait for more mature firmware.

 

Thanks for reading, and I hope to update this review once more firmware versions are out. Any questions, post in the comments below or PM me.

9 Comments:

Excellent impressions/review! I liked it.
It is perfect, if fault is improved.
Specification is attractive.
 It is perfect, if fault is improved.
Specification is attractive.
Great job! My longer review is here if anybody is interested:
http://www.head-fi.org/products/ibasso-dx50-dap/reviews/9609
If it is a DAP for IEM why "Does not have enough power to drive hd600s"
Good point, but I can wish, can't I? :) 
You write that write that the DX50 can't drive full-size headphones. What about those with seemingly moderate requirements, such as my Shure SRH840? (I do plan to buy higher-end headphones eventually.) I have limited dexterity and coordination, so IEMs aren't a practical option for me, and I don't want a dedicated headphone amp.
I have the srh940 on loan and it sounds fine straight out of the dx50. No external amp "required".