So I just got my DX90 and did a quick comparison to my X5. All I can say is wow for both. I think that I would be happy with either, but they are different enough that I will be happy with both. Here are some quick impressions:
- Soundstage: I feel like the DX90 is bigger and the X5 is a little more intimate. The DX90 feels airy like it is in a concert hall while the X5 has a very black background, more like a studio recording with everyone in a different sound booth. Neither is superior, just different signatures.
- Volume: I feel like I need to turn the DX90 up to get to the intimate “in the living room” soundstage which it does effortlessly and without getting shouty at higher volumes. For my NT6pro CIEMs I have the DX90 comfortably at high gain at 170, which would have killed me on my DX50. On the other hand, I do not have to turn up the X5 nearly as much to get to my preferred intimate soundstage. However, the X5 can get brighter and shouty when turned up to higher volumes depending on the song. Both work well and sound great, so neither is superior, just different.
- Texture: After turning up the volume to get to the appropriate intimate soundstage for my listening preference, I am all about texture. They both excel in layering texture that I couldn’t even hear before on a portable source. I thought this was restricted to my balanced Mjolnir/LCD2 setup, but no longer. Both not only express the texture that is front and center, but separate individual textures from each sound source are well represented as well. Here there is a difference. While I hear the textures equally with both, the X5 allows me to really feel them with its more intimate presentation. The DX90 sounds great, but the sounds feel further away, not hitting me in the chest. I’m not saying that the X5 takes a win here for everyone as the DX90 is more euphoric which is very compelling as well.
- Signature: While both are very neutral signatures, the X5 excels at intimacy, black background, and texture that you can feel as well as hear. Where the DX90 excels is in opening up the soundstage and creating a very euphoric listening environment.
- Detail: Both are equally great at generating detail but do it differently. X5 detail is more in your face and supported by a very black background while the DX90 seems to layer it very naturally. With the DX50, sounds got in the way of each other and covered up if behind each other in the same blob. This is not the case with the DX90 where you can distinctly hear two different guitarists in the same area.
- Power: While I would not use an external amp with either, the X5 feels more powerful and like it has more reserves to support dynamics. The DX90 eliminates the clipping problem that the DX50 had with dynamic songs, but doesn’t sound as full and ampy as the X5. The X5 bass and other big sounds come full on, full size, and natural where the DX90 is a little less full and maybe a little tinny (without clipping) at times. That is not to say that the DX90 doesn’t have slam – it does – but the X5 outclasses it here for those that insist on stacking for power.
Just a few initial thoughts, but remember there has been zero DAP nor Brain burn in so my opinion may change latter. Now it is time for me to disappear like everyone else that got theirs and just enjoy.