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D7 Sidewinder....Initial impressions

post #1 of 664
Thread Starter 
Today I received my D7, a very welcome Christmas gift to myself! I was unsure of whether to place this post in the portable amp thread or the portable source thread. As the D7 does contain a headphone amplfier, I chose to place it here in the portable amp thread.

I must also preface my post by stating that I was not really sure where the D7 would fit into the extensive line of portable devices produced by iBasso; It seemed at first glance as though it might be in competition with the D6 or D12, but after examining it in detail and listening to it, my thinking has changed.

Not only is it a very high-quality DAC, sounding as good, if not better, out of the box than my desktop DAC. It is also in its own right, a superb headphone amplifier. Size-wise, it is the same length as the D6 but about 1/8" thinner and very slightly wider. Because of the reduced thickness, it appears to be smaller than the actual dimensions.

Packaging is similar to that of the other iBasso products. Included with the D7 were 2 USB cables of differing lengths, a leather carry case, rubber feet and an extra set of panel screws, although there is no necessity to ever open the case.

The first challenge was to see if the D7 would be recognized by my Linux OS, as some previous DAC's by other manufacturers were not. I was pleased to find that the D7 was immediately recognized, showing as "XMOS Audio USB 2".

There are several small LED indicator lights; a red that indicates "ON", a front panel white that indicates "Playback" and blinks until a USB signal is locked and a small amber LED on the rear above the USB input which indicates a live USB connection. This amber light extinguishes when the power is turned off, indicating that the D7 is drawing no input from the USB when switched off.

The On/Off/Volume knob must be turned on to output a signal, either from the headphone jack or any of the 3 outputs. (RCA, Coax or Line Out).

As the D7 is powered entirely by USB power, it cannot be used as a typical portable amplifier, it is primarily a DAC, requiring a USB connection for all functions, and I must admit, it is very reassuring to not have to be concerned about batteries, recharging, extra circuitry, etc.

Soundwise, the Class A amplifier circuitry sounds superb, with a very well-balanced presentation that provides plenty of low-end punch as well as smooth and extended highs. I would say that this is a very neutral but accurate amplifier section with instrumental timbre being very portrayed in a very realistic manner.

Despite the limited voltage supplied by the USB input, the D7 was able effortlessly drive my 600 ohm DT880's, in fact the output actually seems to exceed that of the D12 and D6 although I have not measured and compared the actual outputs of each.

Soundstage and imaging are definitely two of the highlights of the D7. Instrument and vocal placement is precise and solid. The size of the soundstage always seems appropriate to the genre of the music and size of the venue.

While the D7 does not allow for opamp rolling, iBasso has certainly not considered the headphone output of this DAC to be a "me too" amplifier as they have chosen excellent-sounding and expensive chips for this section of the D7.

I can also understand why there is no opamp rolling capability for the D7, as the circuit board is very heavily populated with caps on the top side and many SMD devices on the bottom side. There is simply be no room for DIP sockets without having to make the entire device significantly larger.

It will be interesting to see how the sound changes with additional play hours, considering the many caps that are used in the circuit.

In summary, I feel that iBasso has accomplished their design goal of producing a small no-compromise DAC that can hold its own against many desktop DAC's costing considerably more than the D7. The quality of the headphone output is an added bonus, adding to a package that will certainly appeal to those desiring a high-quality DAC at a very modest price.


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Edited by HiFlight - 12/27/11 at 1:49pm
post #2 of 664

Wonderful write-up aka mini review there HiFlight. Looking forward to a full review. And can you please post some hi-resolution pictures of D7 internals and circuitry.

post #3 of 664

could we have a dac comparison between the d7 and the d6 as well??

 

thanks!!!

 

 

post #4 of 664

Thanks, HiFlight. I'm very interested in this one even though I love my D6 (with Topkit of course) and I'm not looking to replace it. This could indeed be my next DAC.

post #5 of 664
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TiEx View Post

Wonderful write-up aka mini review there HiFlight. Looking forward to a full review. And can you please post some hi-resolution pictures of D7 internals and circuitry.

Will try to get a couple of pix of the internals and add them to the post.
post #6 of 664
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Allforheather View Post

could we have a dac comparison between the d7 and the d6 as well??

thanks!!!


This would be a rather unfair comparison, as the D6 has only an analog output from the DAC whereas the D7, being a dedicated DAC also has a Coax output which is typically of higher performance than analog.
post #7 of 664

HiFlight thank you for pictures. Correct me if I'm wrong but it looks like D7 is using a proper USB to spdif conversion before feeding w8740 with digital stream. Something like integrated HiFace. I see there quality crystal clocks to handle the reclocking of signal.  A lot of Nichicon FW caps and even one Muse. ALPS volume pot. Also as far as I see there is a good power section from usb to clean up some dc ripple. I think D7 will improve the sound with at least 100 hours of burn-in. Must be a damn good dac\amp combo!

 

P.S. Can't comment on the amp section of D7 but I trust 100% to HiFlight in this regard.


Edited by TiEx - 12/28/11 at 3:27am
post #8 of 664
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TiEx View Post

HiFlight thank you for pictures. Correct me if I'm wrong but it looks like D7 is using a proper USB to spdif conversion before feeding w8740 with digital stream. Something like integrated HiFace. I see there quality crystal clocks to handle the reclocking of signal.  A lot of Nichicon FW caps and even one Muse. ALPS volume pot. Also as far as I see there is a good power section from usb to clean up some dc ripple. I think D7 will improve the sound with at least 100 hours of burn-in. Must be a damn good dac\amp combo!

P.S. Can't comment on the amp section of D7 but I trust 100% to HiFlight in this regard.

IMO, iBasso really did their homework on the D7. It is a first-rate desktop DAC in all respects except size with the added bonus of a headphone amplifier of comparable quality!
Edited by HiFlight - 12/28/11 at 9:17am
post #9 of 664

I ordered mine last night to go along with the AKG k550 which should arrive any day now.  I'm really excited!  It will be my first nice headphone rig.

post #10 of 664
Quote:
Originally Posted by Terps Fan View Post

I ordered mine last night to go along with the AKG k550 which should arrive any day now.  I'm really excited!  It will be my first nice headphone rig.



Congratz! Looking forward to your impressions on this rig.

post #11 of 664

How are the preamp outs?  Any idea of the output on them?  Also wondering if the volume controls the level on the RCA outs. 

post #12 of 664
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxjam View Post

How are the preamp outs?  Any idea of the output on them?  Also wondering if the volume controls the level on the RCA outs. 

The volume control only affects the headphone output. Line Out, Coax and RCA outputs are at a fixed level. I haven't measured the output levels but they seem to be similar to those of my other DAC's.
post #13 of 664

Nice.  Thanks for the info. 

post #14 of 664

Other than the D7 and Dacport, what other usb Class-A amps are there?

post #15 of 664

How does it compare to iBasso D4. Is the D7 DAC better? Is the AMP section better, and compared to D4 with topkit?

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