Did some comparisons back and forth with just one track to get a really good feel. The DX100 is an amazing transport, first off...so transparent; people should really consider it even with a superexpensive DAC, since it can compete favorably with a lot of other sources (my Audiophilleo and my QLS QA350 wav player come to mind). It has an obviously better UI and more formats than the QLS, and the AP1 is considerably more expensive although it's part of a less integrated laptop setup which depending on one's needs could be better or worse (being able to take your transport to go in your pocket is a plus but not everyone needs that).
The DX100 direct with LCD3 is really enjoyable. The sound is quite expansive and transparent with plenty of layers and microdetail. The B22/RE7 added to the mix forces every bit of microdetail to the surface which gives even more realism. Still, it's stupid how good the DX100 is for being the size that it is. It has a whole lot of the B22's authority and at times really shocks me, like hey it is performing on almost the same level. Other times the B22 is so incredibly impressive that it's hard to compare anything to it. I will say this, you'll never hear a portable system like the DX100, not for a long time, if ever. It makes me forget the B22 exists, and I have to plug into the Beta to remember that the B22 is the last word for me in sound, although I have not tried nearly as many amps as some headfiers...I'm the guy who drove a Ferrari off the lot early on without test driving everything, I really only have the Phoenix, M3, and O2 to mentally compare it to.
Would I be saying too much if I said the DX100 has 70-75% of the enjoyability of the home setup? I think that's what I'm comfortable with saying at this point. Some songs the B22 really takes it home, other songs the iBasso is so good that it's more of a tossup. But once again, it is not a remotely fair comparison. There's four boards, a huge power supply, and 3 flavors of transistor in the B22...behind eight pieces of PCM1704UK chips and four current output stages in the DAC. The iBasso has one competitive advantage though - integration. It is seamless between the files, the operating system, the digital output to the DAC, the DAC's analog connections through the multilayer circuit board to the amplifier. Cables are no issue, no cables can compete with a clean circuit board layout. Cables and separated components do offer physical isolation between the parts, but they have plenty of disadvantages.
The DX100 is a no brainer. The best proof of its value I can give is that I actually want to spend time with it, and it holds my interest, since the sound is in the same class as good desktop systems, to where I don't feel disappointed when I listen, like I'm missing out on a lot. It has to be the most luxurious toy I've ever used in terms of the perfect sound that comes out of something so small. I'm an insanely busy person but I'm still making time for the DX100 every day, I love it.
Going to test it again with the DB2 PB2 added into the mix, for laughs, in a sec.
Edit: And you'll know I've put a ring on it when all my cables have mini plugs on it instead of 6 pin iBasso...won't be long.
Edited by scootermafia - 2/10/12 at 11:19pm