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Digital Audio (FLAC/MP3/etc) Players (DAPs) item created by the wizard of oz, Jan 24, 2017
Pros - SQ, Android OS, Interchangeable Amps, Excellent Price Performance Ratio
Cons - Battery Life and nothing else. (subject to change with new modules)
iBasso DX200 "Chameleon"iBasso is a professional audio company located in China. They specialize in high performance portable audio gear and equipment. iBasso is well-known between audiophiles for their price/performance solutions and their unending FW support.
Today we will be talking about the iBasso’s 10th Anniversary special the DX200. This long-awaited digital player hit the shelves around 2 months ago and since then it’s been causing shockwaves in the DAP market, hurting wallets and placing smiles on the faces of grumpy audiophiles!
DX200 is the successor of DX100, iBasso’s previous android flagship. DX100 launched in 2012 and it caused quite a stir in the industry because of its operating system and sound quality. DX200 is doing exactly the same right now.
DX200 is a special product due to company’s efforts to stay in constant contact with the Head-Fi community regarding the needs and likes of the end user. (consumer)
They observed what people look for in a dap very closely and the device was designed accordingly. From chassis to dac chips, head-fi members were involved in every step of the production.
Right off the bat I want to say that iBasso nailed this section. Accessories are on-point. The box is very handsome and offers great protection so you don’t have to worry about harsh int. shipping conditions. Inside the box, iBasso included a very flexible usb-c cable and a coaxial cable. Unit also comes with a premium leather case. I liked it personally but to be honest, they could’ve made it slimmer.. It adds unnecessary bulk to the unit.
Back in the early development days, there was a poll about DX200’s design. You were asked to choose 1 from 3 prototype designs. I actually liked a different design from the poll but the current design was ultimately selected by unanimous vote. Funnily enough, I am really satisfied with the result.
DX200 has a somewhat grainy aluminum finish. Device feels premium in hand. I just wish that the black section on the back was aluminum like the rest of the device. It is surprisingly light considering the components inside. After having so much trouble with A&K volume wheel, DX200’s wheel is perfect. There are enough volume steps to fine tune the perfect volume. Screen is a controversial topic, some say that their screen is not as responsive as a smartphone etc. I removed my pre-installed screen protector and I can confirm that screen works as intended. Screen responsiveness is almost on par with my V20. Be warned though, responsiveness is not good with the pre-installed protector. Remove it or replace it with a tempered glass.
iBasso did not skimped while creating the DX200. They used premium-grade components such as the ES9028PRO DAC, ARM Cortex-A53 Processor, Accusilicone femtosecond oscillators, eMMC storage, IPS screen, 6 layered gold plated pcb..
FWs & Customizability
First of all let’s make one thing clear. FWs do change the device’s SQ. Sometimes it is nuances, sometimes it is entire signatures. If you ask me, this elasticity of options is great. However, just because it has many firmwares available., do not make the assumption that DX200 is unstable, because it is not. Think this as the perfect gateway to finding YOUR favourite signature. Some of my friends sold the device after one week... This is a huge mistake. DX200 needs time and effort. You have to try the major FWs like Lurker0, WindowsX, iBasso.. Find what you like the most by using trial-error method. Another thing to mention here is that the device needs burn-in.
Of course, your options does not end here. DX200 has an interchangeable amplification system. This feature allows you to physically change the amplifier of the device to your liking. iBasso already released its first AMP module, AMP2. iBasso’s ultimate aim is to please you, they tried to offer something for all audiophile types from analytic lovers to analog junkies..
Let’s talk about Android! Frankly I had doubts about how iBasso would handle the software development/optimization of DX200. First few weeks were quite painful but with user feedback, iBasso’s team quickly released a bunch of firmwares that fix the reported bugs.. iBasso’s dev team tried to trim the android 6.0 from its unnecessary bloat thus improving the device stability. I think they did a good job, my device runs Tidal without any problems and I can watch HD videos on it. Cool!
After some time, Lurker0 and WindowsX started working on it as well, cooking roms, improving FWs and on and on.. I knew Lurker0 from his DX90 works, I admire his work quite a lot. I also own the Advanced Purist ROM from WindowsX, his works are great, too. They both have advantage and disadvantages over one another.
Of course these are all great for the end-user because we get to have many options... Freedom, baby!
Android is a great companion for a DAP, you get to play with the device however you like. You can go ahead and load apks, install Tidal & Spotify, set-up launchers, edit icons.. I love the improvement headroom it offers. After getting the DX200, first thing I did was installing a launcher & stream apps. DX200’s processor and ram is more than capable of running such apps.
Another great thing about DX200 is that iBasso features dual boot. there is actually a closed android system (like A&K’s) in the DX200 and it’s called “Mango”. You can boot it in Mango mode if you like. I unfortunately won’t be talking about Mango mod because I see no use for it. I am more than happy with Android and I don’t know why anyone would use Mango over it.
I already mentioned iBasso’s commitment when it comes to FWs. They’re still releasing firmware updates to DX50&90. This entire example proves that we’re in good hands.
Probably my only complaint. In my experience DX200 lasts about 7 hours. I don’t think this is a great achievement when it comes to a device like this. I expected at least 8.5-9 hours. Fortunately, AMP2 improves the playtime little bit. I managed to squeeze 8-8.5 hours out of it! I am keeping my hopes up for the new amp modules.
I will divide this section into FWs after talking about general sound performance.
First of all, regardless of it’s price, DX200 is a high-end DAP. It offers great tonal balance, resolution and detail. I can put it against Hugo, Paw Gold, HM901S without any second thoughts.
AMP1 & iBasso Stock
Neutral/Reference sound signature, shallower bass response compared to other fws, mids are clear and defined, upper mids are crispy, high frequencies are brilliantly controlled.
AMP1 & WindowsX Purist Advanced
Neutral transparent sound signature, airy presentation, snappy and punchy bass response, mids are clear and upper mids are crispy. Highs are brighter, resolution and detail revealment is improved over stock.
AMP1 & Lurker0 (Pers. Fav)
Warmish-Neutral sound, airy presentation, more bodied and impactful bass response, articulate mids and tamed upper mids. Highs are controlled and never goes “hot”. Detail revealment and resolution is increased over stock.
AMP2 is the first of many modules iBasso is currently planning to release..
It comes in a sturdy little box and it is quite easy to install. You just have to turn off your device, unscrew the screws, pull it back and up, install the new one and screw em’ back! Voila! You successfully changed the sound signature of your DX200 from neutral to warm!
Yup, AMP2 sounds warmer than AMP1. Treble section is recessed, upper mids are even more gentle than usual.. Both coherency and musicality is improved and woman vocals are more emotional than ever. Kudos to iBasso!
AMP2 & iBasso Stock
Warm, warmer, warmest. Florida, Australia, Bali.. Sahara? Feeling hot yet?
Both sub and mid bass sections are broad and bodied. Mids are meaty. Upper mids are gentle, treble is laid back. Overall it is very lush and mellow compared to AMP1.
AMP2 & WindowsX Purist Advanced
First of all, sense of air is back, bass region is impactful and fast. Mids articulate with hints of warmth. Upper mids are controlled and tad laid-back. Treble is airy and more prominent compared to stock fw. Overall this FW sounds more detailed due to upper mid & treble changes. This applies to resolution as well. Go for this one if you want somewhat balanced signature.
AMP2 & Lurker0
Coherent, thick and rich.. Bass region is airy, impactful. Mids are emotional and meaty. Upper mids are recessed whereas the treble region has the perfect balance, not too bright, not too dull. Resolution and detail departments are both improved over stock.
Soundstage, Dynamism, PRaT & Instrument Separation
Different fw-amp configurations offer wide array of options but I’ll try to keep it simple.
DX200’s soundstage is wide. Imaging is impressive. Instruments have enough space between them resulting in brilliant separation. The soundstage is not as wide vertically as it is horizontally but the margin is small so you won’t notice it without a critical listening session.. Dynamism and PRaT is quite amazing with the AMP1, making my metal tracks sound effortless. Congestion is very well handled by the DX200. AMP2 on the other hand is not as fast as AMP1 because of the bass and treble presentation. Margins are small so you have nothing to be afraid of.
This is where the magic happens. Soundstage expands both vertically and horizontally, airiness and feel of realism improves by a great margin.. It’s also tad more detailed compared to SE.
Vs. Fiio X5iii
Resolution-wise DX200 is few steps ahead. DX200 is faster, cleaner and dynamically superior. X5iii is warmer and drier. X5III lacks the ability of making me move my feet when the drums kick in.
AK300 has a more “liquid” sound, details are left behind the counter. iBasso’s soundstage is wider and its presentation is airier. AK300 feels soulless after DX200. Bass presentation is shallow as well..
Vs. Plenue P1
P1 is warmer, smoother and has a smaller soundstage. Bass-wise it is not as tight as DX200 and treble is not as controlled. iBasso is ahead in the detail&resolution department as well.
Vs. Hifiman 901S -Minibox Gold
901S offers a smoother experience. Soundstage is similar, DX200 have better speed, precision and PRaT. 901S is more emotional. Mid section is a tie but I prefer DX200’s snappy treble and bass.
Vs. Lotoo Paw Gold
DX200’s soundstage is wider, both are equally airy. LPG is half a step better than DX200 in resolution subject, which is very impressive for DX200 because LPG is often called “the resolution king”. Speed-wise LPG is tad better. Of course we are comparing a brick to state of art android dap so you might wanna take that into consideration as well.
Vs. Chord Hugo
Soundstage, imaging, instrument separation, detail, resolution.. Hugo is one clear step ahead.
DX200 packs a serious punch though. Almost half the size, 1/3 of the price, android capabilities, upgradeability.. Honestly I can guarantee you that you won’t itch for a while.
I am seriously satisfied with DX200’s price/performance ratio. This is kind of device that I’d want as my daily driver. Affordable, upgradeable, customizable, small enough to carry without too much hassle.. DX200 is like a chameleon, you can fine tune it to your liking or you can explore uncharted territories with new modules. I consider DX200 as a bargain at this price point and I am rewarding it with Editor’s Choice Award on QuantumEars.com. Good job iBasso!
- End -
Pros - sonic performance (v. good measurements, neutral, low output impedance, very good SNR, ...), very powerful balanced output, music streaming, fast CPU
Cons - still some slight software bugs, no search feature yet, only 1 micro SD slot might turn some customers off
Flashback: Let us move back in time by just a few years: In 2011, one audio company released a digital audio player that was probably ahead of its time. With its brick-like appearance, large touchscreen for the navigation next to the physical track and volume control buttons, integrated WiFi and a price that was definitely in the higher region at its time, it was sort of like the iPod Touch’s badass audiophile cousin. While this would have probably already been enough to set it apart from its competitors, its designers had also decided to not implement small and power-saving DAC and amp components but went for something quite different when they chose to use ESS Technology’s desktop version of the 9018 SABRE DAC chip instead. In addition to this and its great measured performance, the audio player also featured a full-sized headphone socket next to the standard 3.5 mm output, had a mechanical gain selector switch and was charged through a DC plug while the Micro USB socket remained free for data transfer.
When I finally had decided to put my money on it, production had unfortunately ended, so I never got my hands on one. But one thing is for sure, this audio player that I am talking about, the iBasso DX100, still has a quite legendary touch to it and was definitely a milestone in the modern audio world and probably opened the gates for audiophile players with touchscreens, streaming, WiFi, Bluetooth and Android as operating system.
While I never experienced the DX100, I have owned iBasso’s DX50, still own their DX90 (that I think is one of the overall most perfect products with its really fine-grained gradual volume control, very low output impedance and great SNR that is the wet dream of every owner of super sensitive in-ears who likes to listen to music at low levels without being distracted by any hiss at all) and reviewed their DX80 that I also learned to like despite its somewhat high noise floor for really sensitive in-ears in quiet environment.
Now time has passed and the DX100 got a successor that was released to the market by the end of 2016. Logically called DX200, the modern day interpretation of the company’s
flagship audio player boasts a slimmer design compared to the brick-like DX100, which has also to do with the decision to drop the additional, large 6.3 mm headphone jack, but the rest really is an homage to the DX100, since the DX200 also relies on Android as operation system, however the way more recent version 6, has also got a dual-DAC chip implementation that you would usually rather expect in a desktop audio system (ES9028 Pro), along with integrated WiFi and Bluetooth. Inside, we can also find an 8-core 1.2 GHz CPU, 2 GB of RAM and an internal memory of 64 GB.
While the prototype shown one year prior to the release featured two micro SD slots, iBasso decided to go for just one with the production version since two slots would require an additional bridging chip as the SoC board didn’t have any free slots anymore, which would lead to a lesser battery life. While some customers and potential customers got upset by this, the initial “shock” of this decision (that I admittedly also had at first) faded away quite quickly, and since manufacturers such as SanDisk are eventually releasing higher capacity Micro SD cards, having one instead of two slots doesn’t seem like a too big deal anymore.
Another feature that the DX200 has is the ability to switch between various amplification modules. While this idea is not new and was already used by HiFiMan and later by FiiO, it can give the user the ability to tailor the amplification stage according to their needs and used headphones. And instead of bundling the DX200 with an entry-level amplification chip for the start, iBasso decided to give the user a very powerful module with a (single-ended TRS) 3.5 mm headphone output with up to 3 V RMS into a 64 Ohm load, and a (balanced TRRS) 2.5 mm headphone socket that can output up to 6 V RMS.
After this rather lengthy introduction, all I have left to say is that I invite you to reading my detailed review of iBasso’s DX200 flagship audio player that I wrote.
Full disclosure: I was contacted by iBasso regarding the opportunity to receive a free sample of the DX200 for the purpose of honest testing and a review. I first took the chance and replied with “sure thing” but later turned it down, just to shortly realise that it was a mistake and that I still wanted to review it, wherefore I asked if a review was still possible. Thanks to Paul and iBasso who still sent me a test and review sample even though I turned the offer down at first.
2.5mm Balanced Output:
Output Voltage: 6 V RMS
Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz -0.16 dB
Signal to Noise Ratio: 125 dB
Crosstalk: -122 dB
THD+N: < 0.0002%, -114 dB (64 Ω @ 3 V RMS)
3.5mm Single-ended Output:
Output Voltage: 3 V RMS
Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz -0.16 dB
Signal to Noise Ratio: 122 dB
Crosstalk: -118 dB
THD+N: < 0.00032%,-110 dB (32 Ω @ 1.8 V RMS)
Output Voltage: 3 V RMS
Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz -0.16 dB
Signal to Noise Ratio: 122 dB
THD+N: < 0.00025%, -112 dB
Dimensions: 128.5 mm * 69 mm * 19.5 mm
Weight: 240 g
2x ES9028 Pro
64 GB Internal Memory
Android 6 & iBasso Mango Firmware
Interchangeable Amplifier Modules
Unboxing & Delivery Content:
If you expect a high-end, premium audio player to deliver a premium experience right from the start, it is suffice to say that the DX200 will be a delight for you.
Themed in black, the cardboard box it arrives in is covered with a soft, smooth and somewhat leather-like material that feels really nice and also fits really well to a premium product. The way the package is opened up is refreshingly new, too, and matches iBasso’s current logo that was introduced around the time the DX80 was released.
Inside, one will find labels and descriptions next to the DX200’s buttons and ports.
After the player has been taken out, the included accessories can be found neatly organised in two cardboard boxes that contain the genuine leather case, a warranty card, a coaxial output cable, a USB to USB-C charging/data transfer cable, and last but not least a balanced 2.5 mm burn-in cable.
Design, Feels & Build Quality:
Out of the box, the DX200 already arrives with an applied screen protector, which is quite nice.
The player’s design is rather simple but elegant and doesn’t have any visual extravagancies that some people might not like wherefore I would say that its design is universally likeable.
There is not too much to describe about the DX200’s design – the front is mostly covered by the large, high resolution touchscreen that is slightly raised. The whole chassis frame is made of metallic grey aluminium. There is a recessed Micro SD slot on the player’s left side (note that the card needs to be inserted facing down) and a digital output socket on the player’s upper side that can output an electrical COAX as well as optical TOSLINK signal, depending on what you plug in. Next to it is a USB-C socket that however, like a couple of other audio-related and non-audio-related devices with USB-C, is not using the USB 3.0 standard but is just there as a theoretically more reliable and future-proof socket (yeah, while I was quite sceptical about the USB-C standard a couple of months back, I really learned to like it for portable devices when I got my first powerbank with shared USB-C in- and output).
The far upper right part and about 65% of the player’s right side have a bumper-type element installed that is made of black aluminium. It doesn’t only house the on-/off-button on the upper side and the three playback control buttons on the right, but also acts as a protection for the rotary volume potentiometer that is made of aluminium as well.
The replaceable amplifier module can be found at the bottom of the player.
The back of the player, except for the very upper section of it that is made of plastic for better WiFi and Bluetooth signal strength, is made of black aluminium with etched iBasso logos and gives a nice visual contrast to the silver aluminium frame.
Unless you have got rather small hands, the player should be still easy to use and operate with just one hand. I would not really mind if the on-/off-button was mounted on the left side though, but it is still good to reach for me where it is placed.
With around 240 g, the player is also on the heavier side but doesn’t feel like a heavy brick at all. It actually lies quite well in my hand.
Build quality is great and everything feels very solid.
Something I usually wouldn’t mention here is the included USB cable – it isn’t only long enough to properly use it for charging, but it is also very soft and flexible. And therefore, even though it is coated with woven fabric or nylon, which I usually don’t like, I find it really nice.
The IPS screen is the main element of the player’s front side and measures 4.2 inches with a resolution of 768 x 1280 pixels. This is a very good resolution and guarantees for a very crisp image. Brightness is adjustable but not automatically. The colour reproduction, contrast and viewing angle are very good, too. Colours are displayed naturally and are only slightly on the warmer side.
Since it is a multi-touch touchscreen, it also recognises multi-touch gestures if supported by the app. The responsiveness of touch inputs is very good.
The Leather Case:
The case the DX200 is bundled with is made of genuine leather that has got a very dark, somewhat tobacco-like shade of brown. Its back side is reinforced, has got the iBasso logo embossed in and is sewed to the side parts of the case, while the front side is reinforced as well but (flawlessly) glued to the side part. A snap fastener can be found in the case’s upper right corner and can be opened up to slide the player into the case and out of it. It also adds some additional protection to the volume pot. The player itself sits well inside the case that has got a nicely tight fit. The amplifier module and Micro SD slot are covered and protected, too.
All ports and buttons remain easily accessible and there is still enough room even for larger headphone connectors.
While the case is flawlessly built, has got a tight fit and is protective, I have got somewhat mixed feelings about it. One reason is that I wouldn’t mind if a softer type of leather was used. The DX200 definitely doesn’t look bad at all with the case put on, however I think that it looks even better without it (I would say that it somewhat feels like a premium case but not necessarily like a flagship case).
What bothers me though is that the case limits the usability of the player: since its front cover is not flat, not super thin either and also sticks somewhat out, the far sides of the screen are less easily accessible. The rotary volume potentiometer that is very easily accessible and usable with one hand and one finger with the bare DX200 is also less easily accessible when the case is put on – attenuating the volume with one hand and one finger is still possible but the precision when using it is lowered and the grip isn’t as good anymore either, unless you are holding the player in your left hand.
Replaceable Amplifier Modules:
One of the things that is different to the DX100 is that the DX200 has got interchangeable amplifier modules. At launch, there was one module available, which is the one the player arrived with. It is called “Amp 1” and features a line out, 3.5 mm TRS single-ended and 2.5 mm TRRS balanced socket. With 3 V RMS into a 64 Ohm load through the single-ended output and up to 6 V RMS through the balanced socket, it is definitely not shy on power at all.
The sockets are made of plastic and stick out a little instead of being plain, which was done in order to avoid shorts. This doesn’t bother me at all (both visually and in terms of usability) and there is no gap between the socket and the headphone plug as soon as the headphone is plugged in.
The amplifier module is securely attached to the lower section of the player’s back and can be taken off by removing the two screws that hold it in place and then sliding it out a little and lifting it off.
The only thing that I would like to see is the addition of a small screwdriver and replacement screws to either the delivery content of newer batches of the DX200 or bundled with future amp module releases.
The Rotary Volume Potentiometer:
For the first time for an iBasso audio player, the DX200 got a rotary volume potentiometer instead of the traditional buttons. While I think it is quite clear, I better mention it anyway: the potentiometer does not control the volume in analogue form but digitally, so you get the benefit of perfect channel matching even at very low volume settings with the DX200 compared to the very few audio players on the market that are using a purely analogue volume control that is suffering from some channel balance issues at low listening levels.
Since it is stepped and also a little on the stiffer side but still easy to turn with one finger, chances to accidentally change the volume are minimised and one can also feel each adjustment step.
There are 150 total (system-wide) attenuation steps in Android mode, with a scaling of 0.5 dB per step in the medium and higher ranges and larger steps in the very low range (getting the personally desired listening level even with very sensitive in-ears is still possible though and the DX200 can also be used for very quiet listening).
Mango OS offers more than 200 attenuation steps with a scaling of 0.5 dB over the whole range (so the advantage one gets over Android OS is a more precise volume control in the very low adjustment range), which is a great thing for finding the exactly desired listening level when listening quietly.
Operation, User Interface:
The DX200 is a player that actually comes with two operating systems – Android 6 and iBasso’s Mango firmware. Mango is like a stripped-down version of the Android player with just the player software that is almost identical to the DX80’s interface and cannot use any wireless or streaming services or apps.
One can get to the Mango OS when powering off the player which gives the user the Option to boot into Mango OS from now on. Once that was done, the player will now always boot into Mango until the user goes to “Settings” -> “Advanced” -> “Android System” -> “YES” which gets them back to Android OS from now on.
Android OS, Player Firmware Version 2.1(.94):
The DX200 is running on Android 6 OS, so you don’t get an old looking and outdated system but a modern one that is also up-to-date for recent apps.
Instead of the bare-bone Android system (that Google’s Nexus devices are using for example), iBasso is using a slightly customised interface – just like pretty much most smartphone makers are doing it as well. Apart from the missing menu for apps (that I think is called “launcher”) and widgets that you would for example find on a Nexus device (on the DX200, all apps that you install will appear directly on the home screen(s)), everything feels “normal” and things like the settings and the drop-down notifications/quick settings menu are even untouched wherefore you won’t feel lost in a software jungle you are not familiar with.
Keep in mind that the DX200 is no smartphone or tablet though, and is missing what most smartphones have – Google’s Play Services and the Play Store. This will probably also not be implemented in
the future either due to licensing, the requirement of the installation of some services and some other things, so I was told.
This will then also mean that if you want a certain app to be installed, no matter whether it is an app you paid for or a free one, you have to do it manually using a PC. Since the Play Store can be accessed using a web browser and since there are websites where you can insert the Play Store URL that leads to the app and then download it, you still get access to most apps, but of course need to manually transfer them to the DX200’s storage and install them. Because of this, there are unfortunately of course no automatic updates of the user-installed apps.
Due to the missing Play Store, some apps will also not work if they require the certification in order to be usable, so you get an error message when trying to start the app. YouTube or Gmail are two of likely more apps that will show an error message and don’t work, but surprisingly Google’s Chrome web browser (that is admittedly quite a bit better than the stock browser) works without any problems even though you cannot log in to sync the data, passwords, bookmarks and history with your Google account.
Music-related apps that definitely work (which I can verify since I have installed them and am using them) are TIDAL, Spotify and SoundCloud (the latter will show that it requires Google’s Play Services, but you can just click that away after the start and use the app normally). Using the apps in offline mode works as well.
Firmware updates of the player can be installed using a Micro SD card or alternatively the internal memory, following the instructions in the update folder, but the settings also show “Auto Update” and “Online Update”, so it is quite safe to assume that in the future, iBasso will add the ability of firmware updates “over the air” when the player is connected to a WiFi router.
As it seems, a manual factory reset after a firmware update wipes the internal storage, so it is best to install everything on the Micro SD card or to make a backup before every firmware update/resetting the player, since the internal memory is mainly meant for offline music content from streaming apps anyway (nonetheless it can of course be used for pretty much anything else that you could store on any other Android device).
So now that you know that the DX200 has got a quite normal Android OS but lacks Google’s Play Services, I can continue to iBasso’s own music player app called “Mango”, just like iBasso’s “Mango OS”, that is integrated to iBasso’s lightly customised Android interface.
The interface appears very modern and, in many ways, shows some similarities with the Mango OS found on the DX80 and the DX200 itself.
The playing screen shows a large album cover that probably takes up half of the screen. Tapping its lower section unveils the track, interpret and album information, while tapping the far right section opens a popup to add the track to a playlist, view its detailed information or gives you the option to delete it.
The status bar shows symbols if WiFi or Bluetooth are activated, along with showing the volume level and battery percentage.
Below the album cover are three symbols – the left one accesses the quick settings, the one on the right hand side changes the playback mode, and the centre one is a track counter.
Below, there is a progress bar that shows the total track length as well as elapsed time. Conveniently, you can also drag your finger across it to get to the track position you want to which also opens a temporary overlay that shows the track’s temporal position.
Below is some information about the bit rate and file format and three virtual playback control buttons in case you don’t want to use the hardware buttons that are located on the DX200’s right hand side.
Just like in Mango OS, you can slide your finger from the left to the right to access the music library or swipe your finger the other direction to open the settings.
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The music library is neatly organised in 7 tiles for the artists, albums, genres, all music tracks, playlists, folder browser and list of what songs are currently playing from an album/list/folder/artist etc.
Album view is quite nice and shows all albums from the database sorted in a list with a preview of the album cover and a track counter for each album.
The artist browser shows all artists as well as the number of tracks for each one along with an album cover photo (and perhaps a photo of the artist if there is one embedded to the file, but I haven’t tested that). Unfortunately the artists are just sorted by the regular “Artist” tag instead of the “Album Artist” tag, which is however true for most audio players, wherefore I went over to using a really good folder structure quite some time ago, which also works very well since the DX200, just like any previous iBasso audio player, has got a great folder view support.
What will probably be nice for some is that playlists can be created, renamed and fitted with descriptions right in the player software.
It is also possible to add folders, albums, artists etc. to the “Now Playing” queue by holding the element that is to be added for a little more than one second and tapping the “+” icon. This is sometimes quite convenient and a nice feature.
Attention: the songs/albums/folders are not in the correct order right now with this firmware release when tapping the “+” icon – instead of being moved to the end of the “Now Playing” queue, the individual tracks are sorted in by the track number tag. It would make so much more sense if they were added to the end of the queue, so that the added albums, folders or tracks would be played one after another in the order they were added to the “Now Playing” queue instead of being sorted illogically. So this is a bug iBasso should look into for the next update(s).
The only thing I am really missing sometimes though is a search feature that most other audio players in the DX200’s price range and even below already have.
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The settings are organised in this nice tile-like pattern as well. What you find are an EQ with 10 bands, two gain stages, 7 different digital filters, an L/R balance control, a gapless playback toggle, four playback modes and an icon that brings the DX200 into DAC mode.
Swiping from the right to the left again, you can find a sleep timer, rescan the music library, or view the system information.
Mango OS, Player Firmware Version 1.6.6:
Mango OS’s interface and features are mostly identical to the DX80’s Mango UI, so instead of describing everything again, I would recommend you to check out my review of the DX80 and view these photos below:
Turning the player on (booting into Android OS) takes around 23 seconds. Booting into the stripped-down and more basic Mango OS takes around 8 seconds.
WiFi signal strength is really good – I can be two rooms away from my internet router and still get the same signal strength and speed as my tablet computer (Asus Google Nexus 7 II) and laptop. The only downside is that when using 2.4 GHz WiFi, some interference noise can be heard every now and then through the left audio channel when WiFi is activated and sensitive headphones and in-ears are used while everything is fine when using the 5 GHz WiFi band.
Animations in the menus and Mango player App are very fluent and without any lag. Opening folders, apps and menus doesn’t produce any lag either. The same goes for auto-rotation in the web browser or the Android settings.
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What I wanted to test, just for fun, from the first day, was whether the DX200 could handle a more complex game such as GTA: San Andreas. So I went ahead and copied the files from my Nexus 7 tablet computer to the DX200 and installed the game.
A little to my surprise, the game started indeed and I was even able to play it – even more surprisingly without any lag or graininess. Yes, even playing with advanced/high graphic settings doesn’t produce any lag at all, and the game is even well playable with all the sliders set to maximum graphics and resolution with just a moderate lag (the game surprisingly starts to lag earlier on my Nexus 7 II (which might of course just be kind of an illusion due to the Nexus’s larger screen)).
So if you’ve always wondered if it is possible to play GTA: San Andreas or any other more advanced video game on the DX200 – yes, it really is, and even with the graphic settings set to a higher level.
While this was more like a fun little excursion, it also showed the DX200’s processing power. This player really should be able to handle about any supported app when it comes to a fluent navigation and quick loading times.
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To test this further, I ran two CPU benchmark tests (CPU Prime Benchmark and Geekbench) on it and compared them to my Nexus 7, a tablet that is still more than plenty quick, fluent and doesn’t really struggle with anything.
I think the photos speak for themselves and demonstrate that hardware-wise, the DX200 is a really capable device that should not struggle with running any supported music app.
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Besides having a responsive user interface with fluent animations, reading Micro SD cards and building the music database is no problem for the player either. It has no problems with different card formats and reads 200 GB cards without any issues (maximum supported card size is 2 TB which is the upper limit for the SDXC standard anyway). Scanning the card and building the database works very fast, too (not as fast as on the Cowon Plenue M2 but so much faster than on the DX80 and DX90). While the card is scanned, one can use the player normally because the process is done in the background.
File transfer speed via USB is good, too.
Ultimately, the battery life will of course depend on how one is using the DX200 (headphones, volume setting, file type, WiFi, Bluetooth, …). Since it has so many features, the battery life you can get might be shorter or longer than what I got in my non-representative test that I did to see how much battery life I could get when mainly playing FLAC files from a Micro SD card and streaming some music for around 90 minutes while occasionally unlocking the screen and navigating through the menus.
Using the Superlux HD668B as a load (single-ended output) at volume 75 out of 150 in Android mode, I was able to get quite exactly 8 hours and 4 minutes from the DX200 under these test environment conditions.
Please be aware that all of the following sound impressions, comparisons, measurements and evaluations have been done using the “Amp 1” called amplifier module the DX200 came with.
Some people are wondering whether both DACs or just one is active in single-ended mode. Unlike some audio players, both DACs also remain active in single-ended mode (as it was also the case with the DX90 and DX80 that also feature a fully balanced internal audio path but just don’t have a balanced output), so you get the benefit of a theoretically better measured performance compared to if just one chip was active and used.
Frequency Response, Output Impedance:
One of the most basic and fundamental things an audio player should have is a flat unloaded frequency response in the important range of 20 to 20000 Hz. While it is anything but sorcery to achieve this in modern days, some (however mainly inexpensive and rather no-name) audio players still fail to achieve this basic thing.
Let’s see how the DX200 performs in this regard (measured with Digital Filter #4 through the single-ended output):
As it could be expected, the raw and unloaded frequency response is perfectly flat and therefore just the way it should be.
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Even when having a flat frequency response without load or with a simple load (such as a headphone that has got the same impedance over its entire frequency response), things are getting much more difficult with most multi-driver in-ears that have got more than just one driver and a crossover circuit that causes the in-ears’ resistance to vary along with their frequency response.
If the audio player’s headphone output doesn’t have a low output impedance, the in-ears’ frequency response and therefore heard tonality will be skewed and they will (depending on the player’s output impedance and the in-ears’ specific impedance response) sound more or less different than when driven by an audio player that has got a low output impedance. To maintain an unaltered sound even with low impedance multi-driver in-ears, it is therefore best to have an audio player that has got an output impedance of less than 1 Ohm.
This is what the DX200 puts out when connecting a critical, low impedance, multi-driver in-ear to its single-ended output:
The connected load was my Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10, an in-ear that is among the most source-picky species of its kind and changes its sound rapidly as the player’s output impedance climbs.
The measured deviation in combination with the DX200 is just very small and can be calculated to be below 0.5 Ohms (the official value is < 0.3 Ohms, so my measurements and calculations seems to be correct), which is a really good value and proves that the player can drive any multi-driver in-ear without altering its sound unlike players that have a rather high/higher output impedance.
So if you were wondering whether or not the DX200 has got a very low and multi-driver-friendly output impedance, I can confidently tell you that it does (at least over the single-ended output, but it is also safe to assume that the balanced output’s output impedance is very low as well, since iBasso also states it to be < 0.3 Ohms).
The 7 Digital Filters:
The DX200’s ES9028 Pro DACs have 7 digital filters incorporated that the user can choose from.
What digital filters mainly do is shaping the upper end of the frequency response as well as the impulse response, which could be perceived in a subtle difference in the treble and soundstage reproduction but is inaudible in most cases as long as the filter does not affect the upper frequency range by too much.
I will definitely not go into detail about what the filters do exactly and how this affects the frequency response as well as pre- and post-ringing of a signal since this would just exceed the frame of the review (that is probably overly long anyway) by a bit too much and because there are a couple of informative websites and contributions about this topic on the internet, but instead I will show you how they affect the frequency response from 20 to ~ 18.5 kHz (because this is the range where my soundcard’s input response measures flat) as well as impulse response (that is practically shown for each filter in the digital filter settings of the DX200’s player software). After that, I will briefly say what differences I can hear, what I cannot hear and how distinct I find the effect.
So here are the 7 filters:
Filter #1 is the one that is the most commonly used in audio applications. Filter #4 is the one that is labelled as “default”. Both have essentially got the same frequency response in the range my soundcard can measure it while #1 should theoretically reach higher (not that it would matter anyway since the frequency the difference takes place is theoretically and practically above what our ears can sense and what is relevant for the music signal). Where they mainly differ is the impulse response where #4 should have no pre-ringing before the impulse signal but a longer post-ringing after the impulse signal, just as the picture in the settings also correctly shows.
The question is though – do these filters really have a greater audible effect that is not caused by psychoacoustics? The answer is clearly no – the effect of the filters, while measurable, is in fact at best very very subtle for our ears.
Mainly using my UERM and SE846, switching back and forth, I thought I was able to hear a very subtle difference between filter #1, #4 and #5. What I basically heard was a very small difference in terms of spatial reproduction, more precisely the space around single instruments and notes. What I am hearing is a subtle difference when it comes to that space around single instruments. Exaggerating a little, it is like there is very subtly more “smearing” at the borders of instruments and tonal elements with filter #1 compared to filter #4, with #5 having the least amount of “smearing” around instruments. As I said though, this difference is super subtle and I would definitely not be able distinguish the different filters in a real blind test.
Personally, I am mainly using filter #4.
I consider myself as someone who is rather sensitive to hearing hiss and have also got some very sensitive in-ears (for example the Shure SE846 and Ostry KC06A that are among the most hiss-revealing models on the market). So with the right in-ear, I hear hiss to a varying degree with about any digital audio player (in fact out of the players I have and have heard,
only the iBasso DX90, Luxury & Precision L3 and Luxury & Precision L3 Pro are basically hiss-free, however the latter two do not have the most ideal output impedance for multi-driver in-ears and those with a varying impedance response).
Using the DX200’s single-ended headphone output with my Shure SE846, Pai Audio MR3 and the Ostry KC06A, I am happy to say that the amount of hiss that I am hearing with an empty audio file and in quiet passages of the music is very little and quite close to being not present/inaudible wherefore it is little enough to be actually irrelevant.
Regarding hiss, the DX200 is therefore among the better and best players and puts out fewer hisses than for example the popular Chord Electronics Mojo and even very slightly less than the Cowon Plenue M2 that is also very good and among the best players in this regard. When music is playing, even at really low volume, the hiss is covered and inaudible. So yeah, the DX200 definitely gets a “thumbs up” from me in this regard.
The balanced headphone output is likely going to output somewhat more hiss due to its higher power output, but since I am not convinced about the often claimed “superiority” of balanced connections in general except for the higher possible power output, and share the view that the implementation is more important wherefore a well-made single-ended output can perform and measure just as well as a balanced connection, I don’t use my in-ears with a balanced termination.
Only my Audeze LCD-X (that came with an additional balanced cable right from the factory as an included accessory next to the regular cable) and the Fidue SIRIUS A91 have got a balanced termination, but the Audeze is, just as expected, too insensitive to reveal any hiss, and the SIRIUS makes a little more hiss audible over the balanced output than the single-ended port which would back up my theory that it will show a bit more noise than through the single-ended output due to the greater power output. Through the balanced output the amount of hiss is about comparable to the Mojo’s, so in fact still relatively small while the background will be a little less “black” with very sensitive in-ears than through the single-ended output that only hisses very slightly when listening to music in a quiet environment at low volume levels with very sensitive in-ears.
Subjective Perception of Transparency, Precision & Soundstage:
Now to the rather subjective part of my review. My opinion and experience regarding the perceived “character” and “transparency” of source devices and amplifiers is this one: there can be an existing audible difference between various devices, but it shouldn’t be overrated – simply because the basic character of a headphone won’t be completely changed (if the circuit follows a clean design philosophy and the output is load-stable), but sometimes rather slightly “shaped” and is usually very subtle in many cases and is (in most cases) just slightly present (if even) and not huge or like totally different classes or night and day.
I am not a fan of exaggerations and hyperboles here because as long as the objectifyable parameters of an audio player are neutral and not too shabby (loaded frequency response, distortion, crosstalk, dynamic range, noise, …), the audible difference, if there is any, will be quite small at best if two devices are compared with proper volume matching that cannot be done by ear, since even small differences in loudness can be perceived as a technical advantage by our ear and brain.
So let’s continue with my subjective impressions and observations (for this critical listening, I mainly used my UERM, Pai Audio MR3, Shure SE846, Audio Technica ATH-IM03, Audeze LCD-X, Sennheiser HD 800 as well as the Etymōtic ER•4SR, Noble Audio SAVANNA, Custom Art Ei.3 and Fidue SIRIUS in single-ended mode while the A91 SIRIUS and LCD-X were also used in balanced mode. I also used more headphones and in-ears from different price and performance ranges for listening but more for personal enjoyment than for the sake of critical listening and comparisons):
It is often said that SABRE DACs tend to have a glare and aggressiveness. While it ultimately comes down to the entire implementation of the audio-related components, I would also back this up for some devices – to my ears, besides the audible hiss the HiFiMe 9018d has, it sounds just like my iBasso DX90 to me, which could be characterised as sounding and
measuring neutral but somehow having some kind of “aggressiveness” and “speed” when it comes to treble attack. This is even more present to me with the Zorloo ZuperDAC that, while measuring neutral and flat, gives me the impression of a somewhat “aggressive”, “speedy” and “accelerated” treble attack using in-ears (with a flat impedance response due to the ZuperDAC’s rather high output impedance).
Then there is the Chord Electronics Mojo that seems to render cymbals “unaggressively” and appears to “take away an edge”, somewhat just like the iBasso DX80 that surprisingly also keeps this slight character over its line out unlike most other audio players that sound entirely identical to me when having their line out connected to an external headphone amplifier.
To my ears, the DX200 falls into neither category and has got no subjectively perceived “sharpness”, “aggressiveness” or “digital glare” in its treble and cymbal attack to my ears – it just sounds subjectively neutral (and measures objectively neutral anyway). It just sounds spot-on neutral and like the desired “wire with gain” to me.
The signal it outputs is just super clean with no additional colouration or shaping caused by an elevated noise floor, the shaping of that noise or increased second-order harmonic distortion. Due to the really good signal-to-noise ratio and the other things I just mentioned, it also sounds very transparent when used with resolving in-ears like my UERM.
Sometimes audio players seem to have a slightly soft bass with very sensitive in-ears that perhaps might be caused by some hissing in the lower frequencies. This is also nothing I can hear when using sensitive multi-BA in-ears together with the DX200 – just a tight and controlled attack in the lows, the way it should be, is what I can hear.
While I cannot hear a reproducible difference in terms of soundstage reproduction among various audio sources when using full-sized headphones, there can be a slight difference to my ears when using sensitive in-ears with a three-dimensional soundstage on various sources (that have an output impedance that is low enough so it doesn’t change the in-ears’ frequency response).
To my ears, just like the DX80, iBasso’s DX200 recreates a spatial presentation that has got a base that is wider than about average (e.g. iPhone 4, FiiO X3 Gen 1, iPod Nano 6G & 7G, iBasso DX50, Cowon Plenue M2, Chord Mojo), with more sense of spatial depth than about average as well (unlike the DX90 that I perceive to have a wider-than-average basis but just about average spatial depth, wherefore it somewhat reminds me of the HiFime 9018d or Shanling M2 when it comes to spatial cues).
Keep in mind though that these differences mentioned above are actually quite small in quantity when comparing two or more audio devices with proper volume-matching.
So sound-wise, the DX200 delivers just what I expect from a great audio player (measured and perceived neutrality with not too much subjectively perceived smoothness, good noise performance with sensitive in-ears, low output impedance, good volume scaling, flawless transparency and tightness, impeccable spatial reproduction with sensitive in-ears, …) and iBasso has got every right to call it a flagship device, because this is what it really is.
Digital Audio Outputs & Line Out:
On top of the player is a 3.5 mm socket that is labelled “SPDIF”. Quite nicely, just like already known from the DX80, it is a shared socket that can output an electrical COAX as well as an optical TOSLINK signal depending on what cable you plug into it.
Using the included COAX cable or a TOSLINK cable I bought on Amazon, connecting the DX200 to an external portable DAC such as my Chord Mojo or Leckerton UHA-6S.MKII works flawlessly and the plug snaps nicely into the player’s output socket.
The line out is built into the amplifier module and just like with the line outputs of every well-made audio product, you get nothing but a clean and neutral sound through it when connecting it to an external amplifier.
Using my Leckerton UHA-6S.MKII as amplifier, the perceived timbre of the DX200’s line out signal is just as neutral as from my DX90’s, FiiO X3’s (gen 1), iPhone 4’s or iPod Classic 7G’s line out in contrast to the DX80 or my Chord Mojo (that is basically a pure DAC with a variable line output and low output impedance) that still transport a bit of their unaggressive and smooth treble through the line out.
While the USB DAC feature supposedly works natively with Linux and Mac computers, drivers need to be manually downloaded and installed from the iBasso website to make the DX200 work as a USB DAC when connected to Windows computers. The installation is simple though and only needs to be performed once.
Once the drivers are installed, the DX200 can be set to DAC mode in the Mango Player app or the Mango OS and then play a bit-perfect kernel streaming music stream. The player’s volume control also remains active, the screen can be turned off, there is no additional hiss, noise or interference coming through the USB DAC input, and the sound you can hear is not much surprisingly identical to the one you get when playing files from the player’s internal storage or a Micro SD card.
This is a feature I just briefly used in combination with the MEElectronics Air-Fi Matrix² headphone and the Mass Fidelity Relay stationary Bluetooth DAC (that I by the way find excellent but admittedly don’t use as often as I could or as it deserves).
The quality of the used Bluetooth chip seems to be pretty good since the difference to a source with aptX or AAC streaming is just fairly small and only audible in a slightly less well separated and grainier treble. The quality of the Bluetooth stream really is much better than from my laptop’s built-in Bluetooth chip (I don’t know what codecs and profiles it uses but it is definitely a very compressed stream) and is just slightly behind the aptX stream of a modern BlackBerry (OS10 as well as Android) smartphone and the Hidizs AP60 or an iPhone with AAC streaming.
Bluetooth can of course also be used for various purposes such as file transfer, adding an external keyboard or remote.
When I realised that the DX200 would get replaceable amplifier modules, it seemed quite clear to me that the one it would be bundled with would be a basic one with just a 3.5 mm TRS output and a line out, since I thought that other modules like one with a balanced headphone output would be sold as additional accessories.
I was obviously wrong and it was a quite positive surprise when iBasso announced that the included amplifier module would also frature a balanced 2.5 mm TRRS output next to the
unbalanced output (even though I personally think that balanced headphone outputs aren’t necessary except for the potentially greater power output as long as the single-ended pendant has been implemented well).
What you mainly get with the balanced output is a greater power output – a whopping 6 V RMS versus 3 V RMS to be exactly. What you may also notice when using very sensitive in-ears is a little increase in hiss presence which was however to be expected due to the much higher power output.
Properly volume-matched, I began the comparison of the single-ended and balanced output with as little expectations and personal bias as possible, using the Fidue SIRIUS and my Audeze LCD-X.
Starting with the Audeze, I was and am not able to discern the two outputs from each other. My LCD-X just sounded identical from both – same perception of soundstage, transparency and bass tightness.
Moving on to the Fidue, I actually expected the same result but was a little surprised when I thought I could hear a slightly cleaner, larger sense of space through the balanced output along with a slightly more “aggressive”, “SABRE-like” treble and cymbal attack even though both outputs were volume-matched between the process of switching them. The perception of transparency and bass quality however remained the same.
Take this observation with a grain of salt though, since switching outputs, adapters and adjusting the volume between switching between the two outputs takes a few seconds and the difference I thought I could hear was anything but “major”, “night and day” or “significant” but rather subtle. Another reason could also be that the SIRIUS’ balanced to single-ended adapter has an effect by slightly changing the impedance.
With the DX90, it took many firmware updates until gapless playback was finally working perfectly with FLAC files. When the DX80 came out, gapless playback was working perfectly right from the start and the very first firmware it came with.
Once it is enabled in the DX200’s settings, gapless playback does also work perfectly with FLAC files in the Android system’s Mango player application as well as in iBasso’s Mango OS. There is no glitch between transitions, no ever so short gap and also nothing of either track is cut off during songs that have been recorded/mastered with a gapless transition in mind.
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Comparisons with other Audio Devices:
Needless to say, the compared devices were properly metrologically volume-matched as close as possible, else the comparisons wouldn’t make any sense due to slight volume differences that could be interpreted as a higher amount of details etc.
Here, I mainly used the Audeze LCD-X, UERM, Shure SE846, Etymōtic ER•4SR, Fidue SIRIUS, Audio Technica ATH-IM03 and Noble SAVANNA through the single-ended output with digital filter #4 for direct comparisons. All of the statements below refer to the DX200’s single-ended headphone output.
The DX200 has got the more premium appearance and seems better built due to its aluminium body.
The DX200 has got the higher possible total memory capacity due to its greater built-in memory (64 against 8 GB; both have got one Micro SD card slot). In terms of features and outputs, the DX200 has got an additional optical TOSLINK output, 2.5 mm TRRS output as well as Bluetooth and WiFi capability while the DX90 has got a three-stage mechanical gain switch and the easier to replace battery.
The DX200 has got the much better resolving screen and the more modern user interface along with the much faster card scanning speed. Both interfaces are about equally responsive but scrolling is slightly more fluent and faster on the DX200’s side (it really is no big difference though).
Both players have got a really fine-grained volume control – the DX90 adjusts the volume in 0.5 dB per attenuation step and the DX200 also in 0.5 dB per attenuation step over the whole attenuation range in Mango OS and somewhat larger steps in Android mode at the very bottom of the scale, but also 0.5 dB per step attenuation in the medium and higher ranges. Both allow for very quiet listening levels with extremely sensitive in-ears if needed.
While the DX200 is really good in terms of hiss performance with very sensitive in-ears and definitely among the better players, the DX90 is even quieter and among the quietest audio players ever made with basically no audible hiss with extremely sensitive in-ears.
Both players have got a very low output impedance that is ideal for all multi-driver in-ears.
Comparing the two players, the DX90 appears slightly more “aggressive”/”rawer” sounding in terms of treble and cymbal attacks, but besides that the subjectively perceived timbre is identical to my ears (both players measure flat anyway). Transparency with well-resolving in-ears is a little higher on the DX200’s side (but please don’t expect any dramatic night-and-day difference when properly volume-matching both devices, since there just isn’t anything like this nowadays as long as the audio devices that are to be compared measure well).
Soundstage width appears to be quite comparable to my ears while the DX200 seems to have more spatial depth (which is not that much of a surprise to me since I always heard the DX90 as having more width than depth when using it with sensitive in-ears). Spatial precision/separation is equally precise to my ears with both devices.
Cowon Plenue M2:
Both players appear comparably well built and premium to me. The Cowon is a bit thinner and has got a unibody design, whereas the DX200 consists of more chassis parts but is
easier to maintain (battery, volume pot).
Both have got one Micro SD card slot, however with 128 GB, the Cowon’s internal memory is two times larger than the DX200’s. With a coaxial output, line out, balanced output, Bluetooth and WiFi, the iBasso has got more features and outputs. It also features the more powerful output even though the Cowon’s is more than sufficient for me in about any case.
When it comes to user interface, both are really good, but ultimately, I think the Plenue M2 is a little ahead in terms of having a clear layout that seems more mature, complete and intuitive (it is simpler than the DX200’s and visually not as “impressive”, but somehow appears more complete and offers more features). Especially the search function in Cowon’s interface that most DAPs in the DX200’s price range and below have nowadays is an advantage, and I also think that the “cover flow”-like album view when turning the device can be practical in some scenarios since it is easy to access.
Both players have got a really fine-grained volume control – the Cowon’s is adjusted in 0.5 dB per attenuation step and the iBasso also in 0.5 dB per attenuation step over the whole attenuation range in Mango OS and somewhat larger steps in Android mode at the very bottom of the scale, but also 0.5 dB per step attenuation in the higher and medium ranges while the iBasso allows for even quieter listening with extremely sensitive in-ears if needed.
Both players are almost completely quiet when it comes to audible hiss with very sensitive in-ears such as the Shure SE846. While both showcase a very slight amount hiss compared to the pretty much completely quiet DX90 and Leckerton UHA-6S.MKII, both are among the best audio players when it comes to being hiss-free – the DX200 even slightly more so than the Cowon.
Both have got an output impedance that is ideal for pretty much all in-ears (around 1 Ohm on the Cowon’s side and just about 0.3 Ohms from the iBasso).
When it comes to subjectively perceived timbre, both sound identically neutral and uncoloured to me while both of course also measure flat.
When it comes to transparency using well-resolving in-ears such as the ATH-IM03, UERM, SIRIUS or SE846, I hear the DX200 as being a little above the Cowon, however it is definitely not a night-and-day difference when compared with correctly matched volume levels.
The DX200’s soundstage appears to be a little wider and also somewhat deeper while “separation” is comparably good.
Chord Electronics Mojo (“standalone” use):
The Mojo is a DAC-Amp and needs to be fed by a digital source device (PC, CD player, audio player or anything that outputs a digital signal). I am normally using my Mojo as a pure
DAC with an additional amplifier for various reasons, but for this comparison I used my Mojo with the in-ears being directly plugged into it.
The Mojo’s visual design is for sure more extravagant and probably polarising compared to the simpler and more elegant DX200.
The iBasso’s volume control’s adjustment steps are smaller and it also allows for a lower lowest possible volume level.
In Balanced mode, the DX200’s maximum power output is comparable to the Mojo’s but even through its single-ended output, the iBasso can drive even more power-demanding headphones without any problems.
The Mojo that many people perceive as being hiss-free still has got some audible hiss with very sensitive in-ears, and its audible hiss is a bit higher than the iBasso’s over the single-ended output. Connecting in-ears to the iBasso’s balanced output, there is still slightly less hiss audible than from the Mojo.
Both have got a low output impedance, however the Mojo’s output impedance response is not 100% linear due to its simple output stage (the Mojo’s output impedance is higher in the treble), so the DX200 will measure more linear with very low-impedance multi-driver in-ears like divas such as the Shure SE846. By the way, the Mojo’s frequency response shows the characteristic of a slow roll-off filter in the highs when low impedance headphones are connected but turns into a sharp roll-off-like response when a high impedance load is connected.
Regarding subjectively perceived timbre, volume-matched of course, the Mojo appears a little smoother and a bit different. Compared to the iBasso and most other devices I compared it with, it is mainly the treble where the Mojo seems to render treble and cymbal attacks less “aggressively” but “smoother” and makes them appear less edgy. I would describe it like as if it would take the edges off high notes and makes them decay “quicker”, which leads to a more “rounded” perception in the highs (personally I wouldn’t mind a little more aggressiveness in the Mojo’s treble and (unfortunately) could also replicate that treble behaviour in a volume-matched and blinded test). In this regard I personally prefer the DX200’s presentation but individual preferences may of course differ.
When directly comparing the two, while the DX200 is a very transparent sounding audio player with resolving in-ears, I hear the Mojo as still being ever so slightly more transparent. It is a really slight difference though and might also have to do with the Mojo’s different treble presentation and filtering. Using filter #5 on the iBasso that is very very subtly less “smeary” around the borders of instruments, both are pretty much identically transparent sounding to my ears.
The Mojo’s soundstage appears a bit more compact than the DX200’s while separation is (not that much surprisingly) equally good through both devices.
Both players have got a good build quality but the DX200 appears more premium since its sides are also made of metal and as the labels next to its ports are more subtle compared to
the DX80. Due to its light grey and black colour scheme, it is also visually more interesting and less monotone.
While the DX200’s touchscreen is a bit larger, the device itself isn’t that much larger.
The DX80 has got two Micro SD slots whereas the DX200 has got only one but 64 GB of internal memory. The reason for that is that the DX200 didn’t have any more free SoC ports due to its additional features such as WiFi and Bluetooth, wherefore iBasso would have had to use a bridging chip in order to to implement two card slots, which would result in a lesser battery life (that is anyway limited due to the two power-hungry desktop DACs) though. What the DX200 has got as an advantage over the DX80 in terms of features are an additional balanced headphone output, Bluetooth and WiFi for online music streaming.
In Android mode, the DX200 has got the more modern player interface with nice animations while the functionality and features are essentially the same. In Mango OS mode however, the interfaces are even pretty much identical.
Both players have got a really fine-grained volume control – the DX80 adjusts the volume in 0.5 dB per attenuation step and the DX200 also in 0.5 dB per attenuation step over the whole attenuation range in Mango OS and somewhat larger steps in Android mode at the very bottom of the scale, but also 0.5 dB per step attenuation in the higher and medium ranges. Both allow for very quiet listening levels with extremely sensitive in-ears if needed.
Using sensitive in-ears, the DX200 has got a much better hiss performance than the DX80. While there is still a noticeable amount of hiss with the DX80 when using averagely sensitive in-ears (provided that you are sensitive to hearing hiss as well of course), there is no hiss coming from the DX200. Using very sensitive in-ears, there is a strong hiss coming from the DX80, whereas just a faint amount of audible hiss that is close to being inaudible with the DX200 using the single-ended output.
Both players have got a very low output impedance that is ideal for all multi-driver in-ears.
When it comes to subjectively perceived timbre, the DX80 does definitely sound “warmer” despite measuring flat, which I think can partially be addressed to its noise floor.
The DX200, when comparing the two with metrologically properly matched volume-levels, appears a bit more transparent using well-resolving in-ears, and especially clearer and a bit better separated in the highs due to the much lesser amount of hiss.
When it comes to soundstage, I hear both as being pretty much identical in terms of dimensions and separation while the DX200 has got the “emptier”/cleaner appearing space around and between instruments, which is also partially because of its very good hiss performance, while there is not so much of a difference (to even no difference at all) when using less sensitive in-ears or full-sized headphones.
The iBasso DX200 is a premium flagship audio player without the hefty >$1000 price tag other companies are nowadays often charging for their top-of-the-line models
It features a nice design and very good build quality. Measured and subjective sonic performance are very good and the DX200 also performs very well when it comes to processor and user interface speed – there are no delays, everything runs smoothly, applications and menus start quickly and if you want to, you can even play more complex video games on it fluently, which definitely speaks for its performance even though it is not the main purpose.
Really nice is also that instead of bundling a basic amplifier module with the player to trick the user into buying a better one, iBasso included a well-engineered module with the player that has got an amplification section with extremely powerful 6 V RMS output through the balanced headphone socket, along with still more than plenty powerful 3 V RMS (into 64 Ohms) through the single-ended 3.5 mm headphone output. The rest about the sound is great as well and the amp module doesn’t only feature a nicely low output impedance of less than 0.5 Ohms, which is ideal for all multi-driver in-ears on the market, but is also almost entirely hiss-free through the 3.5 mm output using very sensitive in-ears such as the Shure SE846 and still performs well in terms of hiss over the more powerful 2.5 mm balanced output.
So what you get is a premium flagship audio player that can also be used for streaming music from popular services such as Tidal or Spotify. The sound is great as well, with a very powerful amplifier if you need it, and a fast, powerful processor and user interface.
The UI is modern, reacts without any delay and is stable, but still has some bugs to be sorted out such as the incorrect sorting in the “Now Playing” queue when adding new folders/files to exactly this queue, and a search feature hasn’t been implemented yet even though it is pretty much a standard in this price range.
Nonetheless the DX200 is a premium player that does everything remarkably well and only needs some small adjustments/updates on the software side to be completely excellent.
So for now, I am sticking to a rating of 4 out of 5 possible stars. Once the “Now Playing” queue sorting bug/issue has been solved and a search feature that is usually standard in this price range has been implemented, my rating will definitely go up.
Pros - neutral revealing signature, dual ES9028Pro DACs, DSD512 support, Android 6.0/WiFi/Bluetooth, 2GB of RAM, leather case
Cons - single microSD and 64GB of internal storage, battery life due to high power AMP module, fw is almost there.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion. The review was originally posted on my blog, and now I would like to share it with all my readers on Head-fi.
Manufacturer website: iBasso.
*click on images to expand.
What is the first thing that goes through your mind when you hear a DAP being labeled as a Reference? I have a feeling many audiophiles will envision a cold sterile uninspiring sound, used as a reference for a comparison to other sources How about referring to a DAP as a Flagship, does it make your wallet cringe in fear of $2k-$3k price tag? Who knows, but my feeling is that some manufacturers inflate their prices, regardless if it’s a headphone or a DAP, just because flagship products should have a flagship price tag. In my opinion, iBasso is going to shatter many of these inflated cold stereotypes with their 10-year anniversary release of a new Reference Flagship DAP – DX200. Despite a high cost of its premium components, they still managed to list it at a very reasonable price, and its neutral revealing sound signature quickly elevated it to a reference level in my book.
Of course, you can’t start talking about DX200 without mentioning iBasso DX100 and its HDP-R10 twin (special edition Japanese version of DX100) which had a truly forward thinking design back when it was introduced 5 years ago. Today, when many DAPs lose their momentum and become irrelevant a year after the release, it’s fascinating that people still ask me to compare DX100 to new products I review. I don’t have DX100 and not familiar with DX90, but ever since reviewing DX80 DAP and IT03 3way hybrid monitors, I formed a solid opinion about iBasso as a company which pays close attention not only to details of the sound tuning and ergonomics of the design but also selection of quality materials and components. DX200 release is not an exception, and here is what I found after spending the last month testing this DAP.
iBasso put a lot of thought into the packaging design, making sure it has a flagship appeal from the moment you get it in your hands. From a soft-touch exterior sleeve and storage box to a peculiar diagonal split opening, right away you can sense that you’re dealing with a premium product. Unlike majority of other packaging boxes where you have a foam cutout tray protecting the DAP from sliding around, iBasso came up with an interesting idea where DX200 was placed on an open "tray" surrounded by a cool sketch drawing describing ports and controls, while the surrounding foam was glued inside of split halves of the box. DX200 is still secure and protected inside, and then becomes a centerpiece of the presentation without a need to take it out after you slide the box open.
As a matter of fact, I usually prefer to take my review pictures with a DAP out of the box, while here I kept it on a “display” tray because it looked cool with all these sketch lines around it – a nice setting for detailed pictures. Once I removed the tray, underneath I found boxes with a leather case and cable accessories, each one labeled and with a little tab to assist in removing them out.
We all come to expect a screen protector, a charging cable, and a manual, and you will find all of this here included with DX200. When it comes to a power/charging cable, iBasso took a step further, featuring a premium build USB to USB-C cable with a flexible braided nylon jacket and a solid quality metal connectors. I know, it’s just a cable, but I still find it to be a nice touch to include a quality upgrade cable, especially since we are dealing with a less common USB-C.
Another included cable was a short thick coax interconnect, a solid construction design with a perfect length for a portable external DAC/amp connection. I wouldn’t mind seeing a short optical digital cable included as well, but you can find these on-line for under $20. If you have a need to use DX200 as an external transport and you want an improved quality sound, I always find optical connection to yield better results when comparing to electrical cable.
Also, included was a burn-in cable which is only intended for the initial “break in” period. Many manufacturers recommend a burn in period of 200hrs to break in electrical components (such as caps). You can go through burn in by listening with your headphones, or you can take a shortcut by attaching this cable with a built-in load which simulates your transducer. I find it very convenient because you can set DX200 on repeat for a week and crank up the volume (up to the max 150 steps) without worrying about blowing your headphone drivers or distracting others with a loud music. DX80 featured a similar cable with 3.5mm TRS single ended connection, while DX200 burn in cable comes with 2.5mm TRRS balanced connection. Per iBasso, connecting balanced output will exercise most of the circuit components since they are shared between SE and BAL outputs.
One thing to keep in mind, you will not get an accurate total battery life reading while using burn-in cable since it drains battery faster in comparison to a regular headphone use. If you want to test DX200 battery endurance, use headphones at a regular listening level.
Last, but not least, is the leather case included with DX200. This DAP is not exactly compact or featherlight, and you can feel the heft of all metal solid construction in your hand. I would personally recommend to use the case to enhance the grip and to protect both the DAP and the surface you place it on from scratches. The case has a generous port opening at the bottom for your headphones and LO, covered micro-SD slot on the left to keep the dust away (need to remove the case to replace the card), a complete cutout around the transport controls and volume wheel on the right side, and full opening at the top for digital out, USB-C, and power button. The snap button in the upper right corner keeps DX200 “locked” inside, and the back panel with an imprinted company name and logo has extra cushioning to absorb the shock if you drop it.
Without a doubt, it was great to include a quality case with stock accessories, and it should do a good job enhancing the grip and providing some level of protection if you drop it. But to be honest, I wasn’t too crazy about it. Maybe it’s just because I’m spoiled by Dignis cases which I use with majority of DAPs. Perhaps cutting some bulk on the back to slim it down and trimming the right front side since it covers part of the volume wheel would be an improvement. For sure it’s not a showstopper, and I hope that maybe we will see a premium upgrade from Dignis or someone else in a near future.
When DX200 was first announced, iBasso presented 3 different choices and let their fans decide the winning design. Despite a few choices with exotic body lines, majority of people agreed on a standard clean rectangular shape with a volume wheel surrounded by a protection bar with embedded power and hardware control buttons. As much as we enjoy the looks of non-traditional exotic designs, at the end of a day many prefer a more practical and comfortable shape that is easy to hold in your hand and to carry in your pocket. But at the same time, having the analog volume wheel with hw buttons next to it clearly sets the design apart from a typical boring smartphone look.
The focus of the front of DX200 is 4.2" IPS high resolution (768x1280) display which utilizes Mitsubishi optical glass with OCA-bonded touch screen. The display is raised on a beveled pedestal, while the included leather case protects and keeps it away from the surface even if you place DX200 face-down. With dimensions of 128.5mm x 69mm x 19.5mm and the weight of approximately 240g, this high precision CNC engraved aircraft aluminum DAP feels very solid in your hand, though it’s a bit on a large and thicker side, especially with extra back padding of the leather case. The only plastic part of the exterior design is at the top on the back, a small ridged plate to make sure WiFi and Bluetooth antennas are not blocked by a metal shield.
The left side of the DAP in the upper corner has a slot for micro-SD card (up to 256GB), while the right side has a volume wheel along with Play/Pause and Skip Next/Prev buttons. The buttons are embedded into a guard bar which extends and goes around the volume wheel to protect it from accidental bumps. This bar extends around the corner to the top where it also hosts a power button (long press to turn the power on/off, short press for a display on/off), and 2 hex screws securing it to the body. At the top, you will find USB Type-C connector for charging, data transfer, and future usb-otg support. To the left of it, you will find SPDIF multi-port which supports both electric coax and optical connection.
The bottom of DX200 has Line Out port, 3.5mm TRS Single Ended HO, and 2.5mm TRRS Balanced HO, all part of a default AMP1 module. Amplifier module is removable and replaceable where iBasso promises more modules in the future. Personally, I'm hoping for an amp module with the same number of ports and a reduced power for IEM use to extend the battery life. If you think about it, by default AMP1 has a very impressive spec even for many demanding full size headphones, which are not always practical for a portable use. But for IEMs which don’t require too much juice, lowering the output power will do the trick of extending battery life which is always welcome for a portable use.
The removable amp module slides in at the bottom of DX200 and stays behind the display, hidden from the front (the joint seam is only visible from the back/sides) so it doesn't add too much to the length of the unit. With two latches and a pair of screws on each side going into these latches, the module attachment was very secure.
Under the hood.
Price of the DAP is often a hot topic of discussion since in some cases it varies in thousands between different flagships. Of course, a company has every right to charge for the product as much as they want to. But regardless of MSRP price, every DAP has a bill of material (BOM) which is based on the cost of the components, and in case of DX200 it's not cheap.
When iBasso announced to be the first to offer 2 high end desktop ES9028Pro (32bit 8ch) DACs, I automatically assumed DX200 will have a price closer to other flagships in $2k+ range. From what I heard, ES9028Pro is still too new and costs approximate 6x more than your typical AK4490, ES9018, or PCM1792 DACs. So using two of those, and adding on top of that two Femtosecond high precision oscillators from Accusilicone, 6-layer gold plated printed circuit board (PCB), handpicked low ESR capacitors, high precision resistors and ultra-low noise power regulators, XMOS XU208 usb receiver, ARM Cortex-A53 8-core 64bit CPU, 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM, 64GB eMMC internal storage, 4.2” IPS high res Mitsubishi optical glass, and CNC engraved aircraft aluminum body – have to add up to a high cost.
Common sense will tell you, higher cost means higher price. But Basso took a risk and decided to lower the MSRP price, similarly to what they did with IT03 3way hybrid IEMs. I guess it's one of those examples where manufacturer makes a product more affordable to push higher volume of sales. But it takes more than just a reasonable price and an impressive spec to sell the product.
Besides the key components I already listed above, including dual pro series desktop quality ES9028Pro DAC (we're talking about S/N ratio of 125dB from a balanced output), you also have a generous size 4400mAh 3.8V Li-Po battery (providing about 8hrs of playback time with mixed mp3/FLAC files – as tested by me), 5G WiFi, BT4.0 (no aptX). SPDIF output support of both coax and optical, and AMP1 module HO outputs supporting 2.5mm TRRS BAL with output voltage of 6Vrms (1.125W into 32ohm load) and 3.5mm TRS SE with output voltage of 3Vrms (281mW into 32ohm load). In terms of storage, it has a single micro-SD card (up to 256GB) and 64GB of internal flash memory. In my opinion, dual micro-SD and internal storage boosted to 128GB would have been more appropriate for a flagship release.
The powerful hardware makes it a breeze to support the latest Android 6.0 OS along with a smooth decoding and playback of majority of lossless and lossy files up to PCM 32bit/384kHz and DSD512, covering all the formats from APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, OGG, MP3, DFF, DSF, DXD, including support for M3U playlists. I don't even have DSD512 files for testing, though tested DSD256 without a single hiccup. And just like a playback of audio, I also enjoyed a smooth playback of video (great way to watch some movies).
Anybody with Android phone will feel like at home once DX200 boots up, and with a little learning curve iOS users should figure it out quickly too. Just remember to pull down notification bar to reveal your common Android OS shortcuts (brightness control, WiFi and BT enabling, and a few others). The most important in there is Android Settings icon at the top in the upper right corner of the notification bar which takes you to more detailed settings of WiFi and Bluetooth, Display setting, Sound and Notification (constantly under updates, with more features added with new FW releases), Apps, Storage/USB, Battery, Memory, Security (makes sure to enable installation of apps from unknown sources to side-load apks of the apps until Google Play is added), Backup and Restore (that's where you find Factory data reset - important after every new FW update), and other settings including About DX200 where you can access System Update menu.
By default, in Full Android mode DX200 will load all the drivers necessary to run Android OS. This way you can run various apps, including the ones which come bundled with DX200 or others which you can side-load by running corresponding apk file to install it directly. Until Google Play is enable (promised by iBasso soon), that's the only way for now. Just keep in mind that until fw is finalized, it makes sense to keep your apk and audio files on micro-SD card since factory reset will bring device to a default factory image and will erase everything from internal memory, so I hope in the future iBasso will come up with a way to have a system reset without erasing internal content. In addition to Full Android mode, you can switch DX200 to a Pure Music "Mango OS" mode.
In Full Android mode, you have access to iBasso's own Mango audio player app, while in Pure Music mode you switch to Mango OS by long pressing Power button and selecting "To Mango". In Mango OS mode, you no longer have access to Android system resources and apps, and the whole interface looks a lot like DX80. Mango app mirrors the interface of Mango OS, and as of now the app is faster and more responsive in comparison to Mango OS version. I'm sure iBasso team will optimize and fix it, but in a meantime, I'm sticking to Mango app version of an audio player which I will describe next. Since Mango OS player is nearly a mirror image (with an exception of some differences in graphics), my description of one is applicable to the other.
Once you start a Mango player (Mango app), the main playback screen is very simple and has a clear layout. The top half will display the cover art, if one is embedded into the file. Tapping anywhere in the middle or the top of the cover art screen brings up a menu with an option to add song to the playlist, give you additional song info, or just to delete the song. Tapping at the bottom of the cover art screen brings up the artist name and the song title. Underneath in a playback control area you have an icon to bring up shortcuts menu, song index number (from within folder list), and Play Mode setting (to switch between Order, Loop, Shuffle, or Repeat playback). Scrub bar with a time marker is below it, allowing to fast forward to any part in the song. Then, you have brief file info below it (with a bit depth and sampling frequency), and all the way at the bottom you have Play/Pause surrounded by Skip Next/Prev button which also works as Fast FWD/BACK when you press and hold it.
To get into My Music sorting and display view, you slide the screen to the right. In there you can sort songs display by Artists, Album, Genre, as well as Directory/Folder view, or Playlist and All Music view. Since I usually listen by folders, I typically navigate from a Directory to a folder and then use Now Playing list to display the songs. Within that list, you can swipe down to reveal more sorting choices such as Title, Album, Artists, Added, and Folder to organize the list even further.
Swiping the screen from the main playback screen to the left will bring up Settings menu. In there you can select Gain (high, low), Select Digital Filter (7 are offered), change L/R balance, Enable Gapless (which works great!), change Play mode, turn on USB DAC, and access EQ. EQ is your typical 10 band (33, 63, 100, 330, 630, 1k, 3.3k, 6.3k, 10k, 16k) paragraphic EQ with a few genre specific presets. From Settings menu, you can swipe one more time to the left where you find Advanced settings with Sleep Timer, Rescan library, and System info. The Shortcut menu, accessible from within main Playback window, also has Gapless on/off, Gain high/low, and digital filter selection.
I will probably continue to use DX200 in Android mode with Mango app which I find very flexible and intuitive. Plus, with Android OS I can run apps, like Spotify (I'm using a free account), some card games, and also able to watch movies. DX200 high res display with rich colors, deep contrast, and wide viewing angle is perfect for watching movies or tv shows. To be honest, I don’t look at DX200 as a replacement of my smartphone, but rather as a dedicated DAP with extra bonuses which enable me to stream music (like Spotify), to use wireless BT headphones, and to take a break while playing some games and watching a few movies.
Mango app (Android OS)
Many manufacturers talk about necessity of burn in before you start analyzing the sound, while iBasso actually encourages its customers by providing a burn in cable with a suggestion to use it for 200 hrs in order to condition the electric components. That's what I typically do by setting the DAP to play in a loop for days and periodically checking the sound progress. This way I don't have to worry about brain burn in, and can just focus on incremental changes, if any observed.
After 200hrs of burn in, I hear DX200 as having a neutral revealing signature with a natural musical tonality which balances out a typical analytical performance of ESS DACs with a more organic polish. It feels like the best of both worlds, staying closer to a neutral signature while bringing up details of analytical performance along with smoothness and body of organic tonality.
It has an articulate layered bass, a little leaner in sub-bass but with a nice fast non-aggressive punch. Mids are resolving, layered, detailed, maybe slightly on a dryer side due to its leaning toward a more analytical performance, though never crossing the harshness threshold sometimes associated with ESS DACs. Treble has plenty of sparkle and airiness, and a great extension.
The sound is very dynamic, expanded, never feels compressed or congested which leads to an excellent layering and separation between instruments and vocals. Also, the transient response of notes is fast, where the sound pops out from the black background, a very clean transition. Of course, a lot of it dependents on a technical ability of your headphones. Despite a more revealing nature of dx200, I still find timbre of the sounds to be natural, convincing, with instruments sounding rich in tonality.
Soundstage stands out with an expansion in all 3 dimensions. The sound is very spacious, even more from balanced output, and the imaging is very precise, pushing headphones performance to their full potential.
After a close listening and comparison of 3.5mm SE vs 2.5mm BAL, the first obvious observation is higher output power from BAL HO. Soundstage width expansion is also noticeable going from SE to BAL. And depending on how resolving your monitors are, I'm also hearing BAL output to have a darker background with a sharper transient response of the notes when comparing to SE output.
Furthermore, I went back'n'forth between Mango app and Mango OS, and I constantly arrive to the same conclusion that native OS is a touch smoother in comparison to Mango app. I know that iBasso is working on more optimization and additional features, so I will continue monitoring these changes.
All the DAP comparisons were done using W900, Zeus XRA, and UERR iems while volume-matching between sources and using 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter wherever it was necessary. For hissing, I always use Zeus as my "reference" due to a sensitive nature of this IEM. Majority of people who use full size headphones or other IEMs might not even hear any hissing with DX200 at all.
DX200 vs LPG - a touch more hissing with LPG. Soundstage is a little wider with DX200. In terms of a sound sig, these are very close, having a similar transparent revealing sound signature with a neutral tonality. The only noticeable difference I hear is LPG having a little more aggressive mid-bass punch while DX is more neutral in comparison.
DX200 vs Opus#2 - a touch more hissing with dx200. Soundstage is very similar, though I would still say that DX200 is a touch wider. Very similar sound sig as well, maybe with Opus#2 being a little smoother, musical, and a touch less transparent versus DX200 having an edge in transparency. Also, DX200 having a little better separation in sound due to its more analytical sound nature.
DX200 vs X7 w/AM3 - a touch more hissing with X7. DX200 soundstage is wider. Here you can hear a more noticeable difference in tonality with X7 being brighter, thinner, and even more analytical, including X7 bass being a little more neutral. In comparison, DX200 sound has more body, sounds a little more organic and smoother, low end has more impact and upper frequencies are a little smoother too. In terms of a technical performance, they both have an excellent level of transparency, separation, and layering. Just overall, X7 sounds even more analytical and brighter in comparison to DX200.
DX200 vs AK120ii - ak has zero hissing, while in dx it's more noticeable. Soundstage is wider in DX200. Sound quality difference is quite noticeable where DX200 is more neutral, revealing, transparent, detailed, while ak120ii is a lot smoother, warmer, more laid back, not as layered and even a little congested in comparison to DX200. The difference is definitely noticeable.
DX200 vs X5iii - x5iii hissing is stronger. Both have a very similar soundstage expansion. In terms of a sound, X5iii is smoother, warmer, more organic, with a little stronger mid-bass punch. DX200 is brighter, more revealing, more resolving, and also with better layering and separation of sound. Except for a strong hissing, x5iii actually sounds like an upgrade to ak120ii, but still can't match the technical performance of dx200.
DX200 vs L5Pro - L5Pro has a touch stronger level of hissing. DX200 has a wider soundstage. L5Pro sound is warmer, smoother, more organic, a little less revealing, and with a little stronger mid-bass impact. DX200 sound is more revealing, more neutral, with higher resolution and retrieval of details, and better layering and separation of sounds. The difference is not exactly night'n'day, but still noticeable.
DX200 vs N6 - N6 has a stronger hissing. N6 staging width is a touch narrower. N6 sound is a little thinner and slightly more analytical, while DX200 sound has a little more body and a touch smoother in comparison. The sound in both is resolving and transparent, but I hear DX200 having better layering and separation of the sounds. Another noticeable difference is N6 having a slightly better mid-bass punch in comparison to DX being more neutral.
DX200 vs PM2 - PM2 has a touch less hissing. DX has a noticeably wider soundstage. DX sound is more neutral, revealing, transparent, while PM2 is warmer, smoother, a little more congested and flatter in comparison, and not with the same level of layering and separation. With JetEffects PM2 really transform, but with dsp effects disabled DX200 definitely has an upper hand.
DX200 vs Micro iDSD - with iEMatch on Micro the hissing could be completely eliminated, but when it's disabled - the hissing level is on par with DX200. Very similar soundstage expansion. Micro sounds a little brighter while DX is a touch smoother in comparison. In terms of detail retrieval, resolution, transparency, and sound layering they are very similar.
In this round of pair up testing, I went through a large collection of different C/IEMs and full size headphones.
Zeus XRA (14BA) - a very expanded soundstage (in all 3 dimensions). The sound is neutral, revealing, transparent, leaning more toward analytical quality and yet still having some degree of musical smoothness. Even so bass is close to neutral, it still packs a nice punch and a quality sub-bass rumble. Neutral revealing mids, and well controlled treble sparkle. Noticeable hissing.
W900 (9way hybrid) - holographic soundstage (spreads very wide left to right). The sound is very balanced with a hard hitting elevated mid-bass punch and a great sub-bass extension with a nice textured rumble (sub-bass is not overwhelming). Lower mids have a nice body and a little north of neutral, upper mids are clear, detailed, with a very natural revealing tonality. Treble with great definition. Dead quiet.
W80 (8BA) - a wide/deep expanded soundstage. The sound signature is very balanced and smooth, yet still with great retrieval of details. The bass has a perfect balance of sub-bass rumble and mid-bass punch, well controlled, not spilling into lower mids. Lower mids have slightly above neutral body, but under control without muddying the sound. Upper mids are smooth and detailed, very organic but not veiled or dull. Treble has a great definition, moderate sparkle and airiness. Overall sound is not as layered or separated due to its smooth signature, but it never gets congested or veiled. No hissing.
oBravo ERIB1C (hybrid planar magnetic) - a very expanded sound with an excellent width/depth. The signature is mid-forward with a super revealing and layered sound and excellent level of transparency. The bass has a great quality but flat and neutral since mids dominating the spectrum, being very revealing, transparent, analytical, and still without a single offending peak. Treble is very extended, crisp, airy. No hissing.
UERR (3BA) - a nicely expanded soundstage with a great width and depth. The sound signature is very neutral with an incredible natural and detailed retrieval of details. Bass is neutral, but not flat, goes deep with a very polite sub-bass and a nice tight mid-bass punch which is slightly above neutral in this pair up. Lower mids are neutral, upper mids are very detailed natural, transparent. Treble has a good sparkle and airiness. The sound is not super layered/separated, but oozing with natural revealing details. No hiss.
VEGA (dd) - excellent soundstage expansion (in all 3 dimensions). The sound is leaning more toward V-shaped signature due to a bass impact and upper mids/treble lift. The bass is full and rounded with a powerful sub-bass rumble and analog smooth mid-bass punch. Lower mids have a nice full body while upper mids are smooth, clear, detailed, organic. Treble is nice and clear but not as extended. Overall sound is a little congested and bass is rather boomy in this pair up. No hissing.
ZEN (dd earbuds) - wide expanded soundstage. Neutral full body smooth detailed sound. Excellent bass extension with a nice sub-bass rumble (depending on the seal), nice mid-bass punch (slower in speed, with a longer decay), above neutral lower mids, clear, smooth detailed upper mids, nice well defined sparkle, not super extended. No hissing.
K10UA (10BA) - wide expanded soundstage. Overall balanced sound with emphasis on all frequencies. You get deep extended sub-bass with a nice healthy quantity, fast BA-quality mid-bass punch (sub-bass adds a nice warm layer under the mid-bass), a neutral lower mids, and a bright revealing upper mids (not harsh), including a very crisp, sparkly, airy, extended treble. No hissing.
S-EM9 (9BA) - wide holographic soundstage. Overall balanced sound with a little mid-forward signature. Bass has a great extension, but surprisingly sub-bass sounds a bit lean with a great quality rumble and a more neutral quantity. Mid-bass has a strong fast punch, lower mids are neutral, and upper mids are clear, detailed, a little more forward. Treble is well defined, crisp, with a moderate airiness. The sound is balanced, leaning more toward the smoother side, not too transparent or highly resolving. No hissing.
U12 w/M15 (12BA) - soundstage is wide and deep. The sound is leaning a little more toward L-shaped signature with an enhanced bass quantity. Sub-bass goes deep with a nice textured rumble. Mid-bass punch is strong, but the bass itself is more analog with a longer decay and slower attack. Lower mids have a full body while upper mids pushed slightly back, sound warm, organic, and detailed, but not very resolving or transparent. This is a smooth detailed signature. No hissing.
Andromeda (5BA) - nice wide staging, but not as much depth (more intimate stage). The sound is very balanced. Bass goes deep with a nicely textured enhanced rumble, and a fast punchy mid-bass. Lower mids are neutral, upper mids are detailed, resolving, layered, not harsh or grainy but very detailed. Treble is crisp, airy, with a nice sparkle and great extension. Almost zero hissing.
IT03 w/CB12 (3way hybrid) - a very expanded soundstage (in all 3 directions). The sound signature is very balanced. Deep sub-bass extension, going deep with a nice enhanced rumble, and punchy fast mid-bass. Bass is very articulate and well controlled. Lower mids are neutral, while upper mids are slightly pushed back, but still very detailed, resolving, layered. Treble has a very nice sparkle, lots of airiness and great extension. No hissing.
R70x (470ohm open back) - a very expanded open back soundstage performance (in all 3 directions). The sound signature is very balanced and natural. Bass goes down deep with a smooth textured rumble, mid-bass punch is rather fast and very well controlled. Lower mids are neutral and smooth while upper mids are very detailed, organic, smooth and revealing at the same time. Treble is well defined, crisp, not as sparkly but with plenty of open back airiness.
PM3 (planar magnetic) - above average width soundstage, but not super expanded. The sound signature is balanced smooth, and overall sound a little congested. Bass has a good extension, warm, rounded, a little on a slower side, not very articulate. Lower mids are above neutral, have a full body, upper mids are smooth and clear, but not super detailed or very resolving. Treble has a good definition, but not very crisp or airy. The overall sound was very smooth, laid back, organic.
EL8C (planar magnetic) - a very expanded soundstage (in all 3 directions). The sound signature is neutral-balanced. Bass is closer to neutral in quantity, but still has a nice deep quality sub-bass extension and a fast articulate mid-bass punch a little north of neutral. Lower mids are lean and neutral, while upper mids are very resolving, detailed, layered, closer to analytical quality but not harsh or grainy. Treble is crisp, airy, with a nice sparkle, and great extension. Absolutely no metallic sheen.
T5p2 (tesla drivers) - excellent expansion of sound with a holographic soundstage. A very balanced revealing sound signature. Bass has a great extension with a perfect balanced between textured sub-bass rumble and analog quality mid-bass punch (faster attack, slower decay). Lower mids are neutral-lean, while upper mids are very resolving, detailed, layered, and at the same time natural and non-harsh. Treble has a great definition, great sparkle, plenty of airiness and excellent extension.
External and wireless connections.
With DX200 I didn't find the need for any external Amp or DAC/amp use since it was driving everything from sensitive IEMs to my demanding cans with authority, but regardless of that DX200 still has plenty of connection options to either use LO with your own external amp (bypassing the internal amp), or SPDIF (either coax or optical) to drive external DAC/amp while using DX200 as a transport.
While testing with Micro iDSD, I found DX200 LO to be adjustable (not fixed). Right away DX200 recognized Line Out connection and showed it when I was adjusting the volume on the DAP. And speaking of Volume adjustment, I wish iBasso will add on-screen slider because it takes awhile turning the volume knob when going between headphones with different sensitivity. I found the sound to be very clean and transparent where the output of ES9028Pro DACs paired up well with a warmer amp section of Micro (vs more reference DX200 sound). Using DX200 as a transport for Micro iDSD (from SPDIF), output is fixed and you can either use coax or optical cable where everything worked as expected as soon as I connected it. Personally, I always find optical digital connection to be cleaner and more transparent in comparison to a warmer smoother sound when using coax cable.
I tested wireless connection with B&W P7 Wireless, and found it to work in open space up to 60ft away from DX200. I was able to control volume up/down and skip tracks forward/back (double/triple click), but surprisingly couldn't use Play/Pause with a single click. Also tried LG HB730 Bluetooth headset where the volume range was a bit limited making it too sensitive, and in there I also found track skip working OK, but not Play/Pause. Hopefully, it will be fixed in the next fw update.
I really wanted to test USB DAC functionality and well aware from others that it's working without a problem, but unfortunately my aging Windows laptops at home have issues with Thesycon USB drivers. So, I wasn’t able to test USB DAC.
Sometimes we focus so much on the sound of headphones, that we forget about the signature of the source and how much it contributes to the final sound. For me, as a reviewer, the neutral sound sig is very important because I'm always in search of a reference quality source to evaluate headphones without coloring the sound. DX200 fits the bill perfectly with its neutral revealing signature which still has a natural musical tonality, though don't expect a full body organic sound. The same goes for those audio enthusiasts who want more impact and weight in the low end - DX200 will have an accurate reproduction of the bass without coloring or enhancement. To my ears DX200 is a true reference quality DAP intended for music purist who want to push the performance of in-ear monitors and full size headphones to their full potential in soundstage expansion, retrieval of details, and sound transparency.
As a bonus, you are also getting a full Android 6.0 DAP with a capability to do streaming and to run other apps - side-loaded at the moment of writing this review, while Google Play store is promised to be added soon. Plus, you can use wireless connection to pair up with your Bluetooth headphones, and use coax or optical connection to turn DX200 into a transport to drive external DAC/amp. Add to that a solid aluminum body with analog volume wheel and hardware playback controls, single ended and balanced headphone output connection, and interchangeable amp module (with more to be available soon), and you got yourself one fully loaded portable DAP.
Pros - Neutral Sound, Build quality, low noise floor, high power output, Amp module option in the future, nice screen resolution, smooth UI android
Cons - Not fast charging, slow response in Pure mode, Lots of Bugs from early period of FW, Not native sampling rate for 3rd party app
- AMP Module: AMP1
- FW Version Tested: 2.0.78 (WindowsX Free Version) which automatically includes google playstore and support all of google services!
Remind that in stock FW, Google services are removed and unsupported which makes app installation more difficult.
Prior to jumping into sound section, I just want to provide all of information I know about my tested cans and my sound preference. In case I have different opinion on cans’ matching differently from others’ opinion or review, you can understand that various factors might make review different.
This part will also include unboxing and accessories and some essential picture of the unit and the OS for reader to visualize easier.
1.1 List of owned cans and stuffs
Cans Cable Plug IEM Tips, earbud foams Module / Special Mod
IEM: 64 audio U12
Brimar Supreme Reference x4
Eidolic both 2-pin and 2.5 mm plug
2.5 mm plug from Luna Shop
- SDR mod
- Mimimamo mod
Earbud: Rose Mojito
First batch of stock cable (4 x braided black cable)
2.5 mm plug ranko
Mr. Chote light blue foam
Other stuffs (used to test line out):
- 2.5 mm female to 3.5 mm male Viablue plug DIY (since my cans are all 2.5 mm balanced but the line out and used external amp itself are 3.5 mm Single End)
- Lisa L3 Amp
- Silver Eagle Mini to mini
1.2 My Sound Preference:
I love fun sound signature but not basshead type, prefer balanced sound. Crazy on big 3D soundstage and black background (low noise floor)
1.3 My Song Preference:
JPOP, Anisong, Movie OST
1.4 List of Song used for testing purpose
Artist name Song name Format Testing Purpose
La La Land Cast
Another Day of Sun
Next of Kin
FLAC CD Rip
Prisoner of Love
Natsu no Tsumi
FLAC CD Rip
Bass and Deep Bass
BlackYooh vs. Siromaru
Black or White?
FLAC CD Rip
1.5 Unboxing and Accessories
Very beautiful grey-black marble-like box of DX200 with logo and "DX200 ibasso Audio" in white at side of box which gives a professional and formal welcome to us. On the front. it has a skin stamp of ibasso logo and "DX200" at the top.
Disclaimer: I didn't use any cutter or samurai sword or anything! It is being like this out of box
You might notice that I have already peeled off the sticker sheet which is written "DX200 - Reference DAP - Dual ES9028 PRO" in gold color which is their unique selling point.
Inside, there are 3 separated box. In the left top box, there is warranty card, Start guide card and sturdy nice brown case for DX200!
Even the case is very beautiful and solid. I didn't use it much because it makes Perfect design, curves and convex of fully-CNC DX200 device less stand-out!
In the top right box, it is cables box including coax cable, balanced plug burn-in cable (I really love this!) and most picturesque USB-C cable for data transfer and charging.
Testing the sound with some of my favorite song out of box on my bed with 2.5 balanced 64 audio U12 is bliss!
ibasso! How dare come with just one micro SD slot! This is why I need to use OTG to cover all of my music. In short, the device is supporting USB OTG to access to second card. Even External HDD is also working which is good thing.
Note: it doesn't need to have the gadget in middle called "ifi isilencer" - I am just kind of making it more complicating and test if sd card still can be read. (it also worked)
1.6 Build Quality and Interface Picture Sample
What favors me most from this DAP is very nice screen resolution (720p) on 4.2” which makes us easily enjoy watching music video, cartoon from either web browser or Youtube thanks to its Android functionality too. DAP's touchscreen is also top-notch responsive compared to among DAP either in higher or lower price range.
Left Picture: The right hand of DAP contains volume wheel control, Forward, Play-Pause, Rewind. The bottommost is the AMP module which tighten with 2 tiny screws
Middle: The Left hand of DAP contains the micro SD card slot. At the bottom output shows 3.5 line out, 3.5 mm simgle end and 2.5 mm balanced from left to right.
Right Picture: show the top side of DAP containing Power on/off, usb type C port and coax out
The back of DX200 is in black background having smooth edges and corrugated plastic at top making hand grip more tightly.
Android Mango Player: The song list in album is in alphabetic order instead of Tag ID number which should be fixed in future FW.
Size comparison with my Letv Max and also showing how bright and colorful DX200's screen is.
Also, all third party music apps are working perfectly despite the fact that it is all downsampling to 44.1kHz only for now. But Paul has promised for fixing.
Left: Mango OS: Album is nicely separated and show cover image. One screen can contain 7 different albums. The space of each album is nicely distributed compared to
Right: Android Mango Player: One screen can only contain 4 different albums without showing the artist name. Instead it shows the number of song in each album.
Mango OS UI
Here is the Mango OS interface. It contains only offline playback only.
Android OS UI
Left: Android Lock screen with Date and Time
Right: Swipe down to see the drop down function controls including: wifi, bluetooth, airplane mode and screen rotating etc.
DX200 Android UI is nicely arranged and so pure and clean. coming with default apps including calculator, clock, web browser, calendar, downloads, file explorer and gallery
Android's Mango music app UI is picturesque and smoothly responsive than Mango OS's Pure music mode.
2. DAP sound quality from out-of-box to fully Burning-in (Tested with U12 with G1 module)
0 Hour Mark
250 Hour Mark
Bass is not tight resulting in decay left in the music and leak into mid frequency
Bass is become tighter and enough quantity(neutral) to enjoy music of variety choices and not leak into vocal frequency anymore
Towards dry vocal and have striking /z/ /s/ phonic compared to fully-burnt-in. Vocal is not clear due to leak of bass decay which creates foggy.
Vocal is clear, transparent and express in very natural way. It is not considered as forward or laid back. It is in a balanced position.
Treble is the most part I really found it most beautifully tuned. Extended treble but not create any annoying peaky. It is a crystal clear treble and also controlled with no disappearance of any details.
This is not the most impactful DAP I listen to but it is still impactful enough for enjoy rock, trance and EDM. Not too boomy or muddy.
Soundstage & Imaging
Really impressive big 3D soundstage even out of box. Separation is good.
The atmosphere becomes more enjoyable to listen due to no foggy vocal. Every instrument is more harmonized with stable position.
3 Cans Matching’s Opinion (all are tested with 2.5 mm Balanced, Slow Filter #5 Mango OS)
Low gain ~75 - 80
It has very syrupy vocal. Listening to Utada’s song makes me fall into her ocean of vocal expression. Very spherical 3D soundstage. It has both crispy treble and impactful. I can enjoy both rock and edm music. Bass is tight and has sufficient quantity to enjoy dynamics of every song. Imaging is so real and lively. Separation is great. Very musical yet detailed at the same time. I feel like I am flowing into music and left the real world behind.
High Gain ~105
DX200 with AMP1 module is powerful enough to drive this hi-end fullsize. The strings song is its strength from this synergy. The vocal is euphonic but a bit laid back. The treble is extended and controlled (no high frequency peak). Bass has body and a little warmth. Impact is not that slam. Imaging and separation is top-notch. Even though the bass has body and tight, impact is not bashing enough to enjoy EDM with fun. EDM music seems not to the best matching out from this couple due to its analytical signature. For the vocal, string, jazz including OST, I can enjoy the music with ease and peace without need to lining out to desktop tube amp.
Low gain ~80 - 90
Seem not to be best synergy for some kind of music. It lacks some low-end bass and impact. Even if the bass is tight, EDM song is too boisterous to listen to. Vocal seems to be a bit thin but still transparent without laid back. The separation is still perfect among every instrument. Wide soundstage and have all details. The treble is still crispy and extended. However, depth soundstage seems to be lacking. Strings movement is distinctive to listen. The cans seems to be too analytic when matching with DX200 + AMP1
From testing with various cans above, I can confirm that DX200+ AMP1 = neutrality and balanced. It is not towards basshead or vocal-centric or treble-head. It has equally distributed of frequency response which I consider as a good decision from ibasso where leaves every IEM, earbud and Full-size show their own signature with no dressing up the sound a lot. If you are going to review the can’s sound signature, using this DAP will be very beneficial. DX200 + AMP1 is considered as truly "REFERENCE" as stated in the loading screen.
4. Line Out Testing
My Set up: HD800 2.5 balanced > DIY Viablue Adapter to 3.5 mm > Lisa L3 Amp > 1.2 m Silver Eagle Mini to Mini > DX200 Line out (with Low gain setting at Full volume)
Result: The sound is very impressively clean. low noise floor. No grain of treble sound cracking as adjusting volume of the amp. Give very good separation and pull all micro detail. The strings voice is very clear and euphonic vocal. Strings movement is clearer to listen to. However, the impacts is still a little shy with this set up though it is as much as possible this little portable amp can provide. But in no doubt, EDM is more pleasant and enjoyable to listen to by using DX200 line out as source.
5. OS difference in various aspects
The Interface of Android is very user-friendly and so pure. Almost all functions we can utilize from this DAP are no different than android smartphone nowadays at all except calls and recording.
On the other hand, Pure music mode create some slow response to our touches, slides and tapping which is room for improvement for ibasso to make it more smooth operation.
Below are the comparison Table shows the different/Pros & Cons from variety aspects.
Really impressive, very comparable to 2014 android phone. Swiping left right and tapping is so responsive. There is a bit difficult to swipe down the screen which I need to press before I swipe it.
Has around 1 second delay response after swiping or clicking but still impressive considering it is a DAP, not the smartphone.
For Mango stock music app, I found this to be a little disappointing.
Each album not follows the Track ID.
In the Album mode, each album uses too large space. One screen can show up only 4 albums which make it tiresome swiping to the bottom part of Library
.cue album cover not showing
A lot of classified –as–Unknown Album if ID3Tag is not fully fill up while Mango OS doesn’t have this problem
Random Pause out of while
In sum, Library management still not very impressed compared to other third party music app i.e. power amp alpha or neutron
So far so good. I find Mango OS has better library management. All Albums are separated correctly even if some of my album contains no ID3Tag (due to my laziness). I think this OS’s Logic is separating by Directory.
Moreover, each album is nicely spaced. One screen can show up to 7 albums. Also The .cue’s cover image is shown during playback.
There is one big bug which makes me annoyed that is random popping noise when playback is 24bit/96 or 192kHz Hires music. However I believe ibasso Dev will surely fix in future FW.
So far so good. No popping sound. Very impressive.
Scanning Time for 128 GB Card
2 minute 45 second
Third Party App Installation
The stock 2.0.78 Beta is not coming with Playstore yet you can download APK search from Google to install. (don’t forget to set “unknown app from outsource” in Setting)
While WindowsX Free Version coming already with Google Play which makes me comfortable to install everything and update so easy.
A bit dryer vocal and less quantity of bass and impact compared to Mango OS. Feel Airy than Mango OS.
More impactful and engaging than Android with thicker vocal.
The detail and separation is comparable.
Battery life (screen off most time; 2.5 mm balanced)
Wifi + Tidal = 5 hr 30 minute
No wifi + Mango Player = 6 hr 30 minute
7 hr 30 minute
6 Gain Difference
There are two gains to choose out: is low gain and High gain. Low gain is designed for most IEM while High Gain is used for High impedance Full-size.
While using Low gain will give a balanced tonal while High gain will make crispy treble and high bass and impact quantity. That is why I set U12 + G1 module and Rose Mojito in Low gain while HD800 is in High gain. Nonetheless, in Line out mode, I normally set it at low gain and let external amp does the job.
Since it has adjustable line out, it means you can adjust digital volume control to your line out. Of course, if you are using it for external amp, you can just keep it at max volume (150). It can also be used to High Impedance full-size directly as well by adjusting the volume down and you can enjoy the sound which has been buffer-bypassed which makes the sound cleaner and fuller atmosphere compared to conventional 3.5 mm single end port.
7 Filter Difference
As we have already known that DX200 comes with various choices of DAC filter in 7 formats.
 Fast Roll Off (Linear)  Slow Roll off (Linear)  Apodizing (linear)
 Fast Roll off (minimum)  Slow Roll off (Minimun)  Fast Roll Off (hybrid)
 Brick Wall
I am quite unsure if my thought is 100% correct in this section. The difference among one another is slight but some are noticeable. I will start by pairing case by case.
By the way, in this section, I use Album “Leo Ieiri – Little Blue”, 24 bit Lossless track from mora.jp, as Tested Album.
Fast Roll Off VS Slow Roll Off
 vs 
 vs 
Fast Roll Off – feel brighter, noticeable treble peak. Vocal is farer.
Slow Roll Off – Less Fatigue and more natural. Vocal is nearer.
Minimum Phase vs Linear Phase
 vs 
 vs 
Minimum – Has more micro detail (strings are more noticeable)
Linear Phase – Each instrument is more harmonize
Special Cases which I hardly find difference with common 4 cases above
 Despite the fact that it is Fast Roll off. The signature is like  which is slow roll-off.
 The signature is like 
 sounds a little strange to my taste. It gives a laid-back presentation but not smooth movement especially when violin and vocal is drawling. All instruments seem farer and lacks body compared to its siblings’ filter.
8 DAP Comparison
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these DAPs myself. I ask the local headphone shop for generosity to compare with demo units. I come test around 3 times to make sure the comparison is accurate enough and I don’t mess up. Anyway, please take it with grain of salt. All units are tested with U12 + G1 Module
My DX200 set-up: Low gain, filter 5, balanced output. volume ~70 - 80
AK380 Volume ~90
AK's mid is more forward and bass has more body.
Both seems to be very close in terms of staging, separation, depth and speed.
In term of treble, details and airy presentation, I would give DX200 an upper hand. AK380 give more relaxing and smooth treble.
QP1R (low gain ~35)
QP1R does give more V shape sound. Treble is more extended. Impact is so powerful than DX200.
Soundstage width is a little wider but less depth. While DX200 is 3D staging.
Bass is tighter but same quantity. Listening to rock music is satisfying with QP1R.
However,I can feel that it does give shy vocal presentation. While DX200 vocal is more forwarded and smoothly-pleasing to listen.
Separation is equally good for both
HM901 (low gain ~ 2.5, balance card)
HM901 gives very smooth listening. Not even fatigue thanks to its dark / warm presentation.
Speed is slower than DX200. I do enjoy slow BPM vocal-centre song.
The treble is not extended as DX200, it is very smooth when compared to DX200.
Impact is lesser. But in the same time, I do feel that female vocal becomes too warm and soften.
Resulting in, I do prefer DX200' s treble and female vocal more. DX200 bass is tighter feel lesser in quantity.
Opus#2 (middle gain volume ~105)
Opus 2's vocal does share similar sound signature which is transparent and natural. While DX200 vocal is a little more forward.
Both also share the balanced and neutrality signature very well.
However, I do believe Strings and purcussion 's detail is more noticeable in opus 2.
The quantity of impact are same for both. Bass has similar in quantity and tightness.
While DX200 has more deep bass in particular. Listening to instrumental in Opus 2 is opening more detail and more analytical.
Separation in Opus 2 is better while managing all detail including jingle sound more pleasant, crispier and fascinating.
I feel that soundstage of Opus 2 is slightly bigger 3D presentation than DX200.
Fiio X7 AM2 (low gain ~65-70)
Fiio's vocal is dryer for x7. Bass is less tight than dx200 and it gives an echo of bass and make me feel like bass is trying to overwhelming the music presentation which creates muddy and foggy atmosphere. Fiio x7 has smoother and less crystal clear treble. Smaller 3D soundstage. Listen EDM with fiio x7 is cramped. DX200 gives a better details and stage and separation.
Disclaimer for comparing with SONY DAPs: I am not having 2.5 to 4.4 adapter. Thus it is not quite fair since balanced mode is believe to be far better claimed by many users. so take this review with some buffer.
WM1A (single end, normal gain ~67.)
Bass is more in 1A. And give the warmer atmosphere while Separation and stage for dx200 is better both width and depth.
Sony has thick vocal - darker and fuller. slightly laid-back compared to DX200.
Treble seems to be harsher while dx200 treble is extended but also controlled.
WM1Z (single end normal gain ~67)
The signature is keeping 'fun' into music. Vocal is smoother and so euphonic.
Bass is a bit less tight and gives a little echo but it doesn't overwhelm the music.
Instead it gives a nicely warm while keeping airy and space. so this DAP is warmer and has fuller vocal than DX200.
It is towards basshead people and listener who love lush rhythm.
Treble is extended and controlled as same as DX200.
Separation and stage is better. I can feel the instrument more "colored", "fun", "lush" and less neutral than DX200.
Fiio x5 iii (70 low gain slow roll off) FW 1.0.9
Fiio give so smooth treble tonal while DX200 is detail monster.
Bass and impact is less than DX200.
Fiio has lesser quantity of bass but tight bass as same as DX200.
Fiio has clearer vocal but a bit laid back compared to DX200's juicy vocal.
X5iii seems to lack engaging into music which I can noticeably feel in DX200.
Separation and resolution is good but not in the same level as dx200. I also feel less depth soundstage in Fiio X5 iii
Considering DX200 is TOTL DAP under $1000 which is able to compete with many DAPs with higher price tag. I consider it as a valuable DAP and make a noticeably huge improvement from my Letv Max, my current audiophile smartphone which also impressed me so much before. As a previous owner of DX100 and AK240, I truly accept it is quite a big improvement in terms of both sound quality and UI & functionality. Despite all the fact mentioned, it still has a lot of room for improvement to get rid of the bugs. Although there are still other TOTL DAPs such as OPUS 2 or SONY 1Z which are widely considered as sound-wise Giants compared to DX200. However, considering the DX200's price, uniquely impressive sound quality, various functionalities and Smooth UI from DX200, as of now, I truly believe I do not need to upgrade to any other TOTL DAP or feel itchy anymore.
Pros - Detailed, large sound stage, excellent separation, accurate representation of recording, looks smexy, great build, neutral dap
Cons - Some early units had UI problems, which is presently being rectified with Firmware updates
IBasso DX200 Review - Expatinjapan
iBasso DX200 with iBasso IT03 IEMs. iBasso DX200 review -expatinjapan http://ibasso.com/cp_xq_dy.php?id=4898
For full details and additional technical graphics see the above link I was excited to have the chance to experience and review the latest and greatest iBasso product, the DX200. It has proven to be a worthy contender amongst the current field of TOTL daps.
Earlier at Head pie we were sent the iBasso IT03 for review and feedback and thought it performed well, and was priced more than fair. Since then the iBasso IT03 has gone on to be a favorite for many, fitting a decent balance between price and performance. You can read the Head pie IT03 review here: http://headpie.blogspot.jp/2016/10/ibasso-it03-review-expatinjapan.html
iBasso DX200 and Campfire Audio Vega (with the Dita Awesome Truth cable).
I have had the iBasso DX200 for just over month and it has been my daily traveling companion. So far I have just over 400 hours on it, via listening and burn in by using the included 2.5mm burn cable. It has been an impressive month, noticing significant changes as the hours passed. At the 50, 75, 100, 150, 250, 300, 350+ marks I noticed more and more changes to the iBasso DX200 as it tightened up overall, resolution and detail improved. The sound stage was always satisfying wide. The bass was more controlled over time, the mids were more balanced and the clarity and reach of the treble increased. I used mainly the Campfire Audio Vega and Andromeda IEMs so that I could keep track of the subtle improvements as the hours ticked by. The iBasso DX200 certainly packs enough power and is helped by a low and high gain setting. No doubt the early beginnings of iBasso and their many portable amplifiers have helped to fine tune this part of the circuitry. There definitely is not any need for a portable amplifier, that is unless one wants to color the sound by using a tube amplifier or some such. iBasso had released the DX100 at what seems many years now (2012?), but not so long ago. It was one of the first batch of hi-res daps to come out at the time. And I remember trying Currawongs of Head-fi at the time at one of the Fujiya Avic shows in Tokyo. The DX200 significantly improves on the DX100.
The iBasso had a few teething problems as in minor bugs with a few of its early units. This was addressed with a new Firmware on March 1st, 2017.
Improvements with this firmware: 1. Touch panel sensitivity adjusted. 2. Rectified the bug that the DX200 can't be woken up from a sleep mode occasionally. 3. Added adjustable line out on Mango OS. 4. Rectified the bug that the next and rewind buttons are swapped on some third party player Apps. See and download here: http://www.ibasso.com/down.php **UPDATE: iBasso has released another two firmware updates and are continuing to work on more fixes. The most recent being V2.0.78Beta from March 7th which I am running with no problems.
Also I am following the Head-fi thread, and also reading Facebook posts and see that iBasso is promptly rectifying any units with issues and providing excellent customer service. Well done iBasso!
Image via iBasso Website
Image via iBasso website.
Image via iBasso website.
Later came the DX50, DX90 and DX80 Daps. No one really knew what to expect next, certainly not the high end DX200, and definitely not at the excellent comparatively low price. iBasso continues their tradition of `great sound, at a fair price` .
iBasso DX200 and Dita Dream and Dita the Truth Awesome cable at the Fujiya Avic show.
Unboxing and build
The iBasso DX200 comes in an exquisite, functional and unique packaging. The DX200 box is two halves lined with protective solid foam, within is a bed of foam where the DX200 itself safely rests on. Gorgeous packing is a guilty pleasure of many a consumer.
The DX200 comes with a screen cover already perfectly laid, with the screen cover protective layer still laid atop for a clean delivery of a spotless screen.
The two halves gracefully slide apart to reveal the treasure within. Simple, beautiful and elegant designing are the first thoughts one has when seeing the iBasso DX200 unveiled for the first time.
Although it looks heavy, it is actually quite lightweight in ones hand as AnakChan recently commented when he tried my DX200.
The fully metal case when combined with the included smexy leather case makes for an attractive and robust Dap, perfect for those daily commutes or lounging at a cafe. Line out, 3.5mm jack (single ended), 2.5mm jack (balanced). TOP: Optical and coax output. SPDIF (cable included), Type C USB for charging and data transfer, on/off etc button. Slot for a micro SD card, on the right we see the detachable section, other modules and configurations will be available in the future.
The detachable module on the left, three physical buttons for back, play/pause/stop, forward and a volume wheel with 150 steps.
The iBasso packs a decent dual set of the latest ES9028PRO chips. Under the foam bedding we find more compartments. A charging and data transfer USB C cable, SPDIF cable and a burn in cable for the 2.5mm jack, which also works on the main circuitry. 200 hours burn in is recommended for it to approach its full potential
A gorgeous leather case, warranty and instruction book. A further PDF manual is available for download from the iBasso website. A graphic break down of the outer components. Image via iBasso website The iBasso DX200 will also have changeable Amp cards in the future with differing functions. image via iBasso website Specifications and features
iBasso DX200 and iBasso IT03 IEMs
Image via iBasso website. Image via iBasso website.
2.5mm Balanced Output:
Output voltage 6Vrms
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz -0.16dB
Signal to Noise Ratio：125dB
THD+N: < 0.0002%, -114dB (64Ω@3Vrms)
3.5mm Single-ended Output:
Output voltage 3Vrms
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz -0.16dB
Signal to Noise Ratio：122dB
THD+N: < 0.00032%,-110dB (32Ω@1.8Vrms)
Output voltage 3Vrms
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz -0.16dB
Signal to Noise Ratio：122dB
THD+N: < 0.00025%,-112dB
Dimension 128.5mm*69mm*19.5mm. Weight 240g
iBasso DX200 and iBasso IT03 IEMs Features:
1. Micro SDXC card slot.
2. Type C USB connector (C connector USB2).
3. RK3368 CPU.
4. 2GB LPDDR.
5. The DAC chip is the ES9028pro (dual).
7.. Blue Tooth.
8. 64gb internal memory.
9. Mango (iBasso operating system) and Android 6.0.
10. Interchangeable amplifier sections.
11. Stock amplifier: Amp1 a balanced and single ended amplifier. Specifications above.
12. Custom leather case included.
13. Optical and coax output. SPDIF
14. Line out.
iBasso DX200 manual:
iBasso DX200 and iBasso IT03 IEMs
Price and value
`The DX200 has been designed from the ground up. Interchangeable amps, a CNC case and the finest components.` - iBasso.
Retail price $869.00.
Well, in this age of $4000 `TOTL` daps, where does the iBasso DX200 fit in? Coming in under $1000 was a bit of a surprise in this bloated market. Should iBasso have attempted to milk the cow just for sake of a chance at more dollars?, or continued their general philosophy of a `great product at a fair price`, they appear to have gone for the latter, much to everyones general pleasure.
Reading the iBasso DX200 thread on Head-fi and hearing from people who own one or more of the more recently released TOTL Daps, it seems that the iBasso DX200 holds its own very well against them.
I myself recently did some A/B`ing against other TOTL heavyweight daps such as the Sony WM1Z, AK380CU (with amp) and AK380SS (with amp) and also came to the same conclusions.
The overall differences seem minuscule and incremental rather than significant. The differences playing out more in terms of signature than in terms of performance as such.
I found the DX200 similar to the AK380CU +Amp in terms of sound signature and I also used a SPL.
AK380SS(with amp), AK380CU(with amp) and iBasso DX200 at the Fujiya Avic show. Sony NW-WM1Z & Tralucent 1Plus2.2
I myself find the DX200 to be an extremely well built player, beautiful to hold and look at, the UI functional and easy to navigate.
Some users had some trouble with the first batch concerning the UI but iBasso is addressing those persons concerned. Currently as of this writing iBasso is working on the next update which will take care of many of these initial hiccups one expects.
UPDATE: New March 1st update firmware here: http://www.ibasso.com/down.php
**UPDATE: iBasso has released another two firmware updates and are continuing to work on more fixes. The most recent being V2.0.78Beta from March 7th which I am running with no problems.
Also I am following the Head-fi thread, and also reading Facebook posts and see that iBasso is promptly rectifying any units with issues and providing excellent customer service. Well done iBasso!
The sound generally is neutral, so one can attach their high priced in ears or headphones and hear them play back music as intended, and EQ is included for those who wish to dabble with the sound signature and several filters are also available.
It truly is an outstanding dap. Full bodied, great resolution and details, decently wide soundstage, fairly neutral and clear. It ticks all the boxes for me.
A marvel at the price.
iBasso DX200 and Campfire Audio Andromeda IEMs with ALO Balanced Reference 8 cable. Sound and more
iBasso DX200 with Campfire Audio Vega. I made sure I had at least the recommended amount of 200 hours before really getting into the review process. During that time I was of course also listening to, nearly on a daily basis as it is such a pleasurable device to use and listen to.
Eventually I got to 300 hours plus and thats when the iBasso DX200 definitely came into it own as reference style dap. It is neutral in the sense that music is played back authentically to its original source material and intention of reproduction.
Neutral in the sense that ones earphones retain the sound signature that they have been purchased for.
A low output impedance of under .3 of an ohm in single ended and balanced mode, and the low/high gain setting means that the iBasso is a good fit for most IEMs, even the most sensitive.
There have been reports of some minimal amounts of hissing on some extra sensitive IEMs but this seems relegated to the usual suspects/IEMs that turn up in every review.
iBasso DX200 with JOMO 6R and ALO Reference 8 cable
Mostly I used Campfire Audio IEM models the Vega and the Andromeda. Being both TOTL IEMs from the same manufacturer and also one being a dynamic driver and the other being a 5 driver BA IEM with a reputation for being sensitive, I thought consistency would help to me to uncover the subtleties of the iBasso DX200.
Of course as you can see in the many photos I also tried it with many other IEMs and also some headphones such as the ATH-ESW9, ATHESW11 and the ATH-A900.
I used FLAC 16/44 mostly, along with a few sample tracks of 24/96.
Mostly I shuffled the music so each track was unexpected to ensure my listening wasn`t influenced wholly by just playing my favorite tracks.
I tested it at my home, semi quiet cafes and on my daily train commutes.
I did some comparisons with lower priced daps and dac/amps also.
Note: I haven`t listed the many tracks that I listened to whilst testing. This is for a specific reason. The iBasso DX200 being a neutral dap the sound impressions would be largely resulting from the sonics of each individual earphone rather than the DX200 itself.
My findings are a summary of the dap generally as I swapped between many headphones and earphones over a period of several weeks and hours with a variety of music genres.
As I am not a streamer of music (Spotify etc) so I did not explore those functions, although I did test out the wifi connectivity and found it satisfactory and non interfering at 5Ghz. iBasso DX200 with Campfire Audio Vega and ALO Reference 8 Cable. The first impressions from 0-45 hours were veering from wow! to average which was to change over the course to overwhelmingly positive as the iBasso DX200 opened up.
My experience of owning and reviewing many portable audio items has ended up that now I take my time. I generally do not offer many early or mid time impressions as either through the gear burning in or my brain, my opinion changes until I get to the heart of the matter and the true sound of what ever it is that I am reviewing.
It was the same with the iBasso DX200 as I have mentioned already, although with the iBasso DX200 the changes were quite noticeable, and pleasing.
Early days and Initial firmware.
My first listen was with the iBasso IT03 of course, I thought `wow!`, there was certainly a definite synergy between them both...of course.
Next day I tried the Campfire Andromeda.
I detected a slight hiss (which resolved itself with more burn in and updating the firmware later),
It had great details and resolution, I could notice at that early stage the typical Sabre ESS Dac signature - high in the treble end (which also later went away).
It seemed a bit sterile in the initial days and I didn`t find myself involuntarily head nodding at that time.
I also had a bit of trouble mounting it to my Macbook which was easily resolved with the release of the DX200 manual
The third day I also uploaded the new firmware which seemed to have a bit more low end and body to it.
It was also the day I threw the Campfire Audio Vega into the mix.
I had also started to become more comfortable with the DX200 as I had got to know the UI more, and it seemed more speedy and responsive after the update.
I am enjoying reading the Head-fi posts in the DX200 thread, it seems like a good group of people and most everyone has something useful to offer.
An interesting aside as I got more hours on the device to bring me up to around 50 hours, the DX200 seems to have reached its first point and I found myself concurrently enjoying listening to the music, analytically noticing the details of the player and also forgetting that I am listening to the device and drifting off all at the same time. An unusual situation for this reviewer and shows good signs of things to come.
At 65 hours + I started to notice the bass tightening up as it should, and the soundstage begin to open up more.
100 hours, the next milestone. Using the Android player, Campfire Audio Vega with balanced ALO reference cable, it all seems a great match.
The DX200 certainly is tighter overall now. Even better detail and resolution, wider sound stage, bass is fast, instruments well separated, the highs have more air and extension.
iBasso DX200 with Campfire Audio Andromeda and ALO Balanced Reference 8 cable.
Hours on the Dx200 300-400+.... Well I certainly have enough hours on the DX200 now.
As I write this morning about to collect up my final notes and to type them up, it seems iBasso has released a new Firmware to address the most pressing issues:
Improvements with this firmware:
1. Touch panel sensitivity adjusted.
2. Rectified the bug that the DX200 can't be woken up from a sleep mode occasionally.
3. Added adjustable line out on Mango OS.
4. Rectified the bug that the next and rewind buttons are swapped on some third party player Apps.
**UPDATE: iBasso has released another two firmware updates and are continuing to work on more fixes. The most recent being V2.0.78Beta from March 7th which I am running with no problems.
After 300 hours the DX200 certainly comes into its own.
It is a neutral dap as has been mentioned with no emphasis on the lows nor the highs.
It is designed to retain the signature of your purchased ear/headphones.
The low impedance is excellent for sensitive IEMs.
The Bass is tight and accurate to the recording.
The Mids are enough in that they complement the music being played, they are neither forward nor recessed.
The highs are clear and detailed, I did not notice any veering towards sibilance, except when I tested with poor mp3s.
A larger to larger sound stage.
Excellent timbre and imaging.
Instrument separation is clearly defined and placement is accurate.
I did, one day after listening to the Campfire Audio Vega IEMs on steady rotate start to think, `Hey this is a warm dap, with a lot of low end`, I then switched to the JOMO6R and got the shock of my life as the JOMO6R is a truly reference IEM with lots of air.
With iBassos own IT03 earphone of one dynamic driver and two BAs http://ibasso.com/cp_xq_dy.php?id=4756#page1 there is a wonderful synergy as to be expected. As I don`t have the iBasso upgrade to balanced cable I am quite tempted to connect it to the ALO Audio Reference 8 cable to see what its like.
At its present stage including the recent March 1st update and many hours of burn in, the DX200 is definitely a high performer, and a device that should make people think twice before spending $400 or $4000 on a Dap.
With its clear and concise low end, present and emotionally moving middle and a high end that is full of clarity without over extension. It is a pleasure to listen to.
A soundstage of the wider variety. It is very natural, whilst other players can center the sound in particular places within the skull, the DX200 sound is very evenly placed and sphere like.
Excellent instrument separation and accurate placement.
Android vs iBasso Mango
As far as sound quality is concerned I found them to be be very close.
I did think that the simpler and less cpu hungry basic iBasso mango to be slightly ahead in terms of sound quality, space and over dynamics. A bit more effortless.
I do love the Android players volume graphic.
iBasso DX200 with Campfire Audio Vega and ALO Balanced Litz cable User interface.
The user can choose and Android Mango player or just a basic Mango player.
Reports from several have favored the basic Mango player.
Also one can stream via wifi and various apps, or install a player of ones choice.
See the Head-fi Dx200 thread OP: http://www.head-fi.org/t/791531/dx200-details-features-and-specifications-1st-page-with-wifi-and-bluetooth-interchangeable-amps#post_12169678
I have two videos of the UI below, on occasion I missed the screen as I was holding my ipod touch to film and operating the screen at the same time (not lag, just finger misplacement).
Android 6.0 player
Mango (iBasso operating system). To change to the iBasso Mango player, hold down the power button until the menu comes up. I have included various photos of some of the main menu features, as you will notice there are more that I did not cover due to space. But enough is seen of what the iBasso DX200 has to offer. The in player UI is divided into four halves, accessed by swiping left or right.
Connection via USB-C to a computer and how to transfer files.
**UPDATE: iBasso has released another two firmware updates and are continuing to work on more fixes. The most recent being V2.0.78Beta from March 7th which I am running with no problems.
From the iBasso DX200 manual. http://ibasso.com/uploadfiles/20170123/201701230405436442.pdf Fpr Apple/Mac one may have to use the Android File transfer application https://www.android.com/filetransfer/ Updating the firmware
This is in the manual but it leaves out one piece of information.
First you have to unzip the file, inside is a Read me and also another zipped file.
That is the file you use for the updating.
Line out and SPDIF functions
iBasso DX200, ALO SXC8 interconnect, ALO Audio Continental V5 and Campfire Audio Nova. with Effect Audio Thor ii+ balanced cable to EA BL adaptor to SE Certainly the iBasso DX200 does not need any external amping in terms of power nor sound.
As it is it stands alone quite happily in terms of sonics.
But for the sake of science and those wondering `what If..`, I connected the iBasso DX200 to the ALO Audio Continental V5 via the DX200 Line Out and to the ifi Micro iDSD BL via the included iBasso Optical and coax output/SPDIF cable.
The functions worked seamlessly and easily.
I enjoyed the fun, smooth, tube lushness that the ALO Continental V5 (with stock tube) bought to the DX200. More an exercise in offering something different and enhancing than something needed in this case.
The DX200 when using the SPIDF function performed well in the simple task of being a source to the ifi Micro iDSD BL, and leaving it up to the ifi DAC and Amp to do the heavy lifting.
iBasso DX200 to ifi Micro iDSD BL with Campfire Audio Nova using the included SPIDF cable. Line out The iBasso DX200 also has a USB DAC function, certainly an all rounder when it comes to connectivity and options. Image via iBasso website. Size
The size of the DX200 is well within acceptable parameters. It fits comfortably within the palm of my hand, or within my jacket pocket.
It is not so large as some would imagine, nor it is heavy.
Size comparison with ipod touch 5G, iBasso DX200 and ipod 5G 30GB (Wolfson). AnakChan of Head-fi`s comments after taking the iBasso DX200 for a quick spin at the Fujiya Avic show in Tokyo, Japan 2/19/2017.
iBasso DX200 & Tralucent 1Plus2.2
iBasso DX200 and JH Audio at the Fujiya Avic show Overview
The iBasso DX200 is a well built, excellent sounding, high performing priced dap in a overgrown field of over priced under performing daps.
The build is faultless on my model, although some have reported touch screen difficulties from the first batch. iBasso has addressed those concerns and provided customer service to my knowledge.
A new main firmware is up and coming to address the few issues that have been reported.
UPDATE: On March 1st a new firmware was released to address the most pressing issues:
Improvements with this firmware:
1. Touch panel sensitivity adjusted.
**UPDATE: iBasso has released another two firmware updates and are continuing to work on more fixes. The most recent being V2.0.78Beta from March 7th which I am running with no problems.
Also I am following the Head-fi thread, and also reading Facebook posts and see that iBasso is promptly rectifying any units with issues and providing excellent customer service. Well done iBasso!
As it stands I find the iBasso DX200 to be near fully functional to my needs, and I have not encountered any significant bugs as others have reported, some minor improvements to be can made I have noticed, but thats about it. I have done and will continue to give iBasso feedback on any points that can be improved or need fixing.
It looks and feels great, the supplied leather case gives it protection and smexy bonus points.
It is neutral in the sense that music is played back authentically to its original source material and intention of reproduction.
Neutral in the sense that ones earphones retain the sound signature that they have been purchased for.
The iBasso DX200 has a low output impedance of under .3 of an ohm in single ended and balanced mode and the low/high gain setting means that the iBasso is a good fit for most IEMs, even the most sensitive. There have been reports of some minimal amounts of hissing on some extra sensitive IEMs but this seems relegated to the usual suspects/IEMs that turn up in every review.
The DX200 has enough power to handle most headphones from general reports and my own experiments with my more portable and less power hungry models.
As I am not a streamer of music (Spotify etc) so I did not explore those functions, although I did test out the wifi connectivity and found it satisfactory and non interfering at 5Ghz.
The Google play store isn`t up and running yet, but some having been directly installing apps by way of apk files.
The head-fi thread OP post has some information on how to do this:
The DX200 has 7 subtle filters to craft the sound in increments.
Also is a EQ for those savages who enjoy EQ`ing
Although some have reported some warmth from their units, I have not experienced such a phenomena using 16/44 FLAC files. This seems to mainly occur with DSD and higher resolutions because the player will get warmer because it consumes more current.
To learn more either go to the iBasso site http://ibasso.com/cp_xq_dy.php?id=4898
The iBasso DX200 manual: http://ibasso.com/uploadfiles/20170123/201701230405436442.pdf
In conclusion the iBasso DX200 whilst on release had a few bugs in the early batches, (and a few very minor more to be rectified in the probable near future) is a stellar piece of audio gear. Any customer issues been steadily and promptly addressed by iBasso either by an exchange of the unit from what I have read or by yesterdays update and future updates.
Every audiophile has their own person needs and budget, there also being recently and upsurge in the $400 - $500 bracket of daps. Also one has to keep in mind the correct pairing of earphones/headphones to match the dap.
I would like to see a package deal promotion of the DX200 bundled with their IT03 earphone for example.
The DX200 is a dap that has a neutral presentation and is neither warm/dark nor on the bright side of things. For my tastes this is perfect as I prefer not to have my earphones influenced by a player. If I want a dark, light or warm sound I change my earphones. And thats how it should be in my book.
Often daps that veer to a warm or light sound usually are trying to mask a short coming in my experience. More treble to appear more detailed and airy, more bass and warmth to mask the lack of detail etc and appear more smooth, same with an output impedance of 3, 5 or more. It always rings my bell.
Thankfully the iBasso DX200 displays none of these faults and/or warning signs (to my thinking anyway).
With a cool under .3 of an Ohm output impedance on both single ended and balanced jacks, oodles of power on each of them 2.5mm Balanced Output: Output voltage 6Vrms and 3.5mm Single-ended Output: Output voltage 3Vrms.
It definitely has enough power overall, one shouldn`t expect to have to add an external amp at this price (or more).
The UI is quite easy to learn and use, even for Android neophytes like myself.
A fantastically wide sound stage coupled with excellent instrument separation and imaging makes the DX200 truly a joy to listen to.
It is recommend is to get at least 200 hours+ on the DX200, with it continuing to improve overall with more hours logged the sound stage will open even more and the low and high ends continue to tighten up.
I think not only is important to have at least one decent reference earphone, it is equally or even more so imperative to have a neutral dap of high quality.
I believe the iBasso DX200 in terms of performance, and most certainly its comparative and competitive price is a great place to start.
Power, performance, price and pleasure. The iBasso DX200.
iBasso DX200 with the Advanced AcousticWerkes W300 universal IEM Thank you to iBasso for sending Head pie the DX200 for review
Pros - Amazing sound performance, resolution, detail, dynamics, features, large screen, fast interface, build quality, purchase presentation
Cons - Single micro sd card slot, minor features missing on initial release firmware, slightly heavy/large device for portability
iBasso Audio are no strangers to personal audio, they've been active on the scene for 10-years now. What I admire about the Chinese company is their attention on great hardware, price to performance and genuine appreciation of music quality for themselves and consumers. They definitely aren't unfamiliar with the portable DAP market either with releases such as DX100, DX50, DX90, DX80, along with several portable amplifiers, dac/amps and most recently branching out into IEMs. DX100 was their first endeavour into flagship players back in 2012, it wasn't without some persistent firmware concerns though well received in the sound quality department. Still today, members speak highly of DX100's performance alongside present players of 2017. Every player they have released has been extremely successful with large populated threads on Head-fi.
Today we're going to asses their newest flagship player, DX200, released on iBasso's 10[sup]th[/sup] year anniversary. Decked out with top of the line dual Sabre ES9028 PRO DAC chips, 2GB RAM, 8-Core CPU, Wifi connectivity, Bluetooth 4.0, optical and coax digital out.. large 4.2” touch-screen interface running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, interchangeable amp modules, micro sd expansion, DAC functionality, OTG storage and much more. Like mentioned, iBasso are dedicated in providing powerful hardware and specifications, squeezing in everything they can for a competitive price.
I was provided the DX200 unit as a review sample directly from iBasso, I will be giving an opinion based on my personal experience only without any persuasion bias. Thank you to iBasso for considering me as one of the worldwide reviewers for DX200's release.
My opinion for this review will come from over 5-years experience with over 67 digital audio players, all of which can be 'found here' listed on my site profile under source inventory. I don't use highly technical terms or graphs so the review is easy to understand for all readers. Since my time owning and testing digital players I've come to learn much of how a player sounds to any listener will be determined on synergy and the performance ceiling of the IEM or headphone they're using. For the majority of sound impressions in this review I will be using TOTL hybrid in-ear monitors by a company called Tralucent Audio, my preferred brand by choice.
DX200 User Manual: http://ibasso.com/uploadfiles/20170123/201701230405436442.pdf
Dual SABRE ES9028PRO DAC Chips
Bit for Bit Playback Support up to 32bit/384 kHz
Support of Native DSD up to 512x
XMOS USB Receiver with Thesycon USB Audio Driver
Easy to use USB DAC
Dual Accusilicon Ultra Low Phase Noise Femtosecond Oscillators
4.2" IPS Screen (768*1280) with Capacitive Touch Panel, Bonded by OCA
Mini Optical Output and Mini Coaxial Output
8-core CPU. - 2GB LPDDR3
64G of Internal Memory
5G WiFi and Bluetooth4.0.
Patented User Exchangeable AMP Card
Three Physical Buttons (Previous, Play/Pauses, Next)
150-Steps Digital Volume Control
4400mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer battery (Play time vary with AMP card)
2.5mm Balanced Output: Output voltage 6Vrms
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz -0.16dB Signal to Noise
Ratio：125dB Crosstalk: -122dB THD+N: < 0.0002%, -114dB (64Ω@3Vrms) 3.5mm HP
Output: Output voltage 3Vrms Frequency
Response: 20Hz-20KHz -0.16dB Signal to Noise
Ratio：122dB Crosstalk: -118dB THD+N: < 0.00032%,-110dB (32Ω@1.8Vrms)
Lineout: Output voltage 3Vrms Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz -0.16dB
Signal to Noise Ratio：122dB THD+N: < 0.00025%,-112dB Screen Size: 4.2inch 768*1280
Battery Capacity: 4400mAh
Case Dimension: 5.1L x 2.7W x 0.77H (inch) 128.5L x 69W x 19.5H (mm)
Weight: 240g or 8.5oz
Audio Formats Supported:
Support for M3U Playlists
The packaging has been extremely well prepared and presented for consumers. Apart from wanting to install a small window and door so I can live inside due to its outer exterior the boxing is nothing short of upper-class. It appears the days of Apple, Samsung and even the likes of Astell & Kern won't raise eyelids in comparison to iBasso's DX200 packaging box, I won't enquire how much it cost to produce because the attention to detail is above most I've encountered before, at least my personal journey in portable audio (and including numerous mainstream products). Flagship packaging indeed.
The outer layer has an almost felt like texture, the darkish grey with shades of white colour scheme and etched diagrams on the outside are simplex yet effective, even the inner insert concealing the player is cater designed with graphics walking you around the players outputs and functional buttons. The way you open the box by splitting it into two pieces unique. iBasso took one up on the trend setting beats by Dre boxes we knew years ago with their own specific approach. I will display some photos of the boxing, how the player arrives and that attention to detail. If you're a real packaging freak, who likes to meditate over unboxing's momentarily and cherish that moment, iBasso have not let you down in any shape or form.
Once you remove DX200 from the top layer there's a second compartment located underneath containing your accessories inside individually labelled boxes. Included is a leather carry case (iBasso branded), a very cool sheathed USB C cable, some extra cables including coax out, a burn in adapter and some paperwork such as your individual serial number and starter guide. The leather case isn't really for me, I appreciate a decent amount of effort went into it and the case may sit better on DX200 after that leather breaks in but its not something I will use personally. For me, the case takes away some of the design appeal DX200 offers, there's something about looking at its build, volume wheel and external buttons which gives a stronger essence of audio for me. In saying this, if I was taking the unit outside regularly without a doubt the included case would offer a large amount of protection for all sides and rear of the unit. If you use the case keep in mind its quite a tight fit at first, you may even feel the player becomes stuck inside. If this occurs take your time in removing it, don't press on the screen too generously or you risk damage. I hear very soon there will be alternative cases available, most likely from the company Dignis, their cases are extremely premium, neat fitting, usually with colour choices but also premium price depending on your location and where you order. Personally, I would like to see iBasso offer a silicon case in the future or by a third party. if I was to niggle I'd prefer one had been included as an extra protective option.
The USB C cable appears custom made, its thick yet flexible, sheathed with a soft nylon like material, very generous considering the cables provided with mainstream and general audio purchases, another well thought gesture of a flagship purchase. The USB C connection itself is quite new to the market, we're slowly seeing it more but the gist of things is the player side connection can be inserted either way and still be functional, there's also some advantages with data transfer speeds and the cable is included for using DX200 as an external DAC when connected to your laptop/PC. I really am impressed with the cable aesthetics, it sure looks great.
An alternative option provided for burning in DX200 (running in the player which iBasso recommend 200-hours) is using the accessory burn in adapter cable. With this cable you plug the connection side into DX200' headphone output, start some music on repeat allowing it to play for several hours at a moderate to high volume. The opinion on burning in devices is quite divided in audio, some people believe it helps, others decline the thought entirely. Myself, I remain neutral seated somewhere in between, I'm always open to the possibility but unless asked by the manufacturer don't become too concerned about it. None the less, if you wish to break your DX200 in this option is there saving you from using one of your expensive headphones or IEMs. The adapter also allows the process to be done completely silently.
Design / Build Quality:
DX200's casing is CNC engraved using high-grade aircraft aluminum, this keeps the unit light as possible while remaining robust, the unit weighs in at 240grams total. DX200 resembles something of a thick(ish) smartphone with dimensions 128mm x 69mm x 19mm. There are physical play/pause/ forward/rewind buttons and a nicely designed volume wheel located along the right-hand side with nicely allocated clicks, on the opposite the micro sd card slot is capable of cards up to 256gb in capacity. On top of the unit you'll find your power button, coax/optical 3.5mm ouput jack (combined) and USB C port for charging, DAC connection, data transfer and OTG storage. At the bottom the removable amp labeled 'AMP1' is bolted on securely with two easily accessible flat head screws. When observing the design there is one small issue comes to mind, at first glance two screws holding the side plate cover in place give the appearance of extra buttons, I would recommend in the future changing the colour of these screws to a matching tone so they blend in with the side-plate more consistently and prevent confusion.
On the rear of unit is a hard molded plastic backplate sporting the iBasso logo which provides the player a sense of identity. Overall, the build quality and design represents a quality finish and DX200 is considerably easy to hold one handed, the side buttons lending extra attention to its functionality. I still feel DX200 stands against competition when considering Astell & Kern's designs and build quality if considering flagship units, DX200 unit may appear slightly behind its time since we first heard about it however, what iBasso accomplished is excellent craftsmanship regardless with no real flaws I can uncover.
On the display side DX200 uses a high quality 4.2” IPS screen, resolution coming in at 768*1280 which is quite respectable in the scheme of things. Album art images are full of colour and pop, the UI with its red theme nothing short of excellent, the quality is surprisingly good for a portable audio player, above my expectations and generally quite a large screen when looking at other players on the market right now. Touch response shows no issues and the unit comes pre-installed with a factory screen protector. The large screen makes browsing albums and music a breeze, the speed of the interface makes it entirely pleasing to use, I encounter very little mentionable issues.
User Interface / Android 6.0 / Pure Music Mode:
Out of the box DX200 comes running a stripped down version of Android Marshmallow 6.0. Installed by default are a few simple applications such as web browser, file explorer, calculator, clock, video player, downloads manager and photo gallery. Unfortunately at this stage Google Play Store isn't available but many applications such as third party music players can be installed by downloading apk files directly from the Internet. The main application most will use is the iBasso music player app, an application built and designed by iBasso themselves for playing your music files on the device. The interface of this player is extremely colourful, modern and fast for navigation. Inside the app all your usual settings and features are present such as playlists, repeat modes, artist, album, genre, folder browsing, high/low gain including several DAC filter options and more, very similar to what you find in today’s audiophile players (especially iBasso's previous interfaces and optional settings)
Navigating the app is mostly executed with swiping motions across ways letting you zip between screens, the scrolling speed is fast, fluent, button presses are almost instant in response. Overall, the iBasso app player has been well implemented with little bugs or problems I can discover. The only thing missing (at the time of this review) is an on-screen volume adjustment icon activated by the rotation wheel. At this stage when within the application all volume adjustments must be done by spinning the physical wheel rather than anything on-screen, if you exit the app while music is playing back to the Android home screen there is a volume slide-bar on-screen within the Android interface. I have no doubt this feature will also be added within the iBasso app's updates really soon. There is also a 10-brand adjustable EQ within the Android app along with presets, while I won't be using this apparently there are future plans for an improved parametric equaliser to be added.
DX200 also has a second alternative firmware called “'Pure Music Mode'. After holding down the power button in Android mode DX200 will display an extra option along with regular shut down, restart icons found on Android firmwares. The third option will boot the player into a secondary firmware stripping DX200 down to a pure music playing only. The user interface is common and (almost identical) in appearance with iBasso DX80's interface. At this stage on early firmware there is slight lag or small delay present when swiping between screens here but this will be addressed as future firmware upgrades become available. DX200 will also remain in this firmware each power up until you decide to boot back into Android. Whether both playing modes of DX200 sound the same is debatable, we have users who hear no difference between them, and others who call it night and day, (the best person to judge this will be yourself).
Overall, even on early firmware DX200 is practically free from any critical or crippling bugs, there are some minor features missing or need adding eventually. As owners receive units some forgivable issues have been reported only. Considering DX200 was held back intentionally making sure there wasn't stability problems the player does basically everything asked of it out of the box from my testing and how I use it. Doesn't crash, freeze, become unresponsive, it scans my cards quickly without problem, no glaring faults making me overly frustrated. I give huge credit to iBasso for holding back the release date making sure the unit was stable, it means a lot to consumers and far less headaches for them long term. From reading the forums iBasso had around (20) DX200 units set-up doing multiple tasks at their location to help straighten out the initial release firmware.
DX200 will come attached with a stock amp module called AMP1, it supports all popular outputs by default including 3.5mm single ended output (most common headphone connection), 2.5mm balanced output and your normally found 3.5mm line out jack for feeding DX200 into portable or desktop amplifiers. iBasso have confirmed the output impedance for the headphones outputs is below < 0.3ohm. In the future other interchangeable amp modules will be released, while iBasso haven't specifically said what their functionality will be I imagine they have some clever ideas up their sleeves. Some that come to mind are modules that concentrate on high output power, possibly a premium module to take the sound up another notch, they mention on their website something about 'synergy matching', there's every chance they could design alternative modules that sound a little warmer, thicker, cooler, brighter etc, perhaps one for longer battery life. Regardless of anything said, the modules themselves have great advantage, as time goes by you can customize DX200 into virtually an entirely different sounding player, there is lots of potential and possibilities which expand the duration of DX200's life cycle on the market. When considering hiss and background noise I cannot detect any from my IEM inventory which were all low quite sensitive impedance, I don't have anything here hiss prone such as Shure's SE846 to try though every IEM I try (mostly Tralucent branded) don't display anything I can detect with or without music playing using the default AMP1 module.
Additional Outputs / Connection Options:
Additional outputs include optical out, coax out, line out, Wifi, Bluetooth 4.0. DX200 was specially designed with its metal casing to be excellent at keeping unwanted interference noise out. Many players on the market have displayed some types of RFI interference when streaming music with their Wifi active. From my testing with Wifi active doing tasks I cannot hear any interference with my low impedance IEMs. Reports are also coming in solid DX200 is silent when doing this and its advertised on the iBasso website as a highlighted area they worked on during the design phase. From my research all people using single ended 3.5mm output report no noise, there was one case I read a member reported a small (negligible) amount from the 2.5mm balanced out. DX200 has the ability to connect wireless headphones via its up to date Bluetooth option, portable dac/amps can take advantage of the coax out and optical out which shares a 2in1 3.5mm output jack located on top of the player. The only option I've not tried or looked into is whether DX200 has the ability to perform a USB audio out signal, at this stage without Google Play Store on the unit some of the paid apps used to create a connection cannot be installed. I would suggest anyone to checkout the Hiby Music app which is free to use and able to achieve this task with Android smartphones. DX200 can also be used as a USB DAC to your laptop or PC, it seems a feature popping up on all players in the market these days even cheaper offerings so its obvious to see the implementation here.
DX200 uses an internal 4400mAh battery, the run times are coming in between 7-8 hours depending on the file format used which is around 2-days of casual listening for myself. If you're simply playing lower resolution files (which are also smaller file size ) like MP3 or 16/44 FLAC the player has far less processing work which keeps power consumption down. When utilising DX200's hi-res playback with 24bit or DSD the player needs to work harder, reports are coming in around 5-6 hours with these kinds of formats. The battery itself charges via the provided USB C cable taking around 3-4 hours depending what percentage you let it drop. Myself allow players batteries to drop around 40% before topping them back to 100%, people have different methods they follow and that's fine. An interesting aspect about DX200's battery is while the internal battery isn't user replaceable like Samsung smartphones or the earlier DX50/90 players iBasso thought ahead when designing DX200 which makes accessing the battery quite easy and convenient in the future. As things stand, DX200's battery will last many years providing its looked after correctly When reading comments iBasso explained they specifically used a high-grade battery inside DX200 and expect it to last a long long time.
DX200 can pack out a large amount of power for full-size headphones even with the stock amp module, while I haven't been able to try anything overly demanding there are several reports being logged in the official DX200 thread .It comes as no surprises, the level of dynamics created and headroom even in low gain using AMP1 module expresses the amount of driving power DX200 should be capable of. Due to not owning anything physically demanding in my inventory its hard for me to give a exact impression on this area though safe to say I've seen reputable (trusted) members mentioning the HD800 being driven by DX200 (somewhat) comfortably, but please take this section from word of mouth and myself following the official thread everyday for quite sometime now. Even check some other reviews if your interest is specifically this area.
Something to mention about DX200, when running for hours on end the unit becomes quite warm, it may even feel slightly hot around the sides and backplate. After experiencing this mild heat myself along with several other reports its a completely normal occurrence. I will always recommend turning the unit off when not in use, its an audio player not an Android phone you leave in standby, when the power is on DX200 will probably not deep sleep like a smartphones, its amp section will be on, its internals, and you will be losing battery power. Apart from this when the unit is running (especially with hi-res and at higher volumes) the heat produced is nothing to worry about. Unless of course, there is some obvious fire or smoke pouring out...
Firmware Version: V1.3.60
Firmware mode used: Android firmware/mode – iBasso App Music Player.
Files: 16/44 FLAC (all files)
Output: 3.5mm single ended (AMP1 Module)
Headphone/IEM: (not listed in order of preference)
On the sound front its full steam ahead, DX200 serves up potent doses of resolution and detail, its tonality leans every so slightly cool due to the dual Sabre DAC's and stock AMP1 module but with a particular addition. While DX200's voice leans on the energetic lively side its also quite full/thick sounding in note weight particularly around the mid-range, this thickness and fleshed out detail is also accompanied with an ever so slight essence of warmth layered inside the tonality, not too much it ever sounds veiled but enough to lessen a majority of long-term listener fatigue many experience with several Sabre DAC implementations, it provides a slight amount of smoothness to the detail retrieval and a percentage of musicality. Overall still lots of Sabre attitude voiced within DX200. Areas like dynamics in combination with DX200's high output power come into force when listening at moderate volumes, side instruments and backing vocals create individual walls of abrupt detail letting you hear them in new fashion as they enter in/out. Areas like refinement are strong strong aspects allowing high levels of coherency and separation so there's hardly any loss of understanding samples within a track. With many players some samples become lost or slightly blurry throughout busy or complex passages, DX200 does a fantastic job keeping the music posture tight, you will perceive samples with higher accuracy providing your headphones are capable of revealing them.
The players balance between bass/mids/highs is considerably flat, there's no emphasis in bass regions that shouldn't be in recordings, lows have large amounts of bubbly clarity and texture which provide levels of depth. Extension can reach down extremely low into sub-bass region’s with impact when called upon but only if DX200 detects this in a recording, its the tell tale story of 'if its in the recording' DX200 should display the music accurately as its primary role suggests reproducing reference sound. When listening with Tralucent 1Plus2.2 occasionally I notice there can be a slight lack of speed in the lows or tightness on busy tracks which doesn't seem apparent when switching over to another IEM, it makes me question if the IEM or player is producing the difference. When moving into the highs detail and extension are clear without any harshness, there's a good balance of treble that never treads out of line, you'll especially notice high frequency samples and instruments on the left/right outer channels quite obviously within the layering, its not metallic or unnatural and particularity inoffensive. Very well polished upstairs.
Soundstage is an assorted area for me, reports from several trusted owners are expressing DX200 being extremely airy and wide in staging, many of them suggest this from the 2.5mm balanced output. Unfortunately, using the single ended 3.5mm output I don't hear the stage to these lengths, its not closed in or compressed, I can make it wider with different tip selections on my IEM's though naturally I do hear slightly wider/airier stage from my Tralucent DacAmp by default. Some tracks may sound quite wide with DX200 another lacking though this doesn't appear to be the recordings when switching between the two sources as the Tralucent DAC is always slightly wider. From my experience with iBasso's players (and others) soundstage width can alter after simple firmware updates, I'm hoping this is the case for me down the road. Moving on from soundstage layering on the left/right channels are reasonably strong aspects, hearing side instruments on the outer channels imaging accurately in precise locations, again, when the layering displays itself you achieve high levels of detail accompanying the instruments which forms an extremely detailed almost energized presentation.
Something a player or any source needs to accomplish is accurate timbre reproduction, a well-recorded piano track is a great starting point, others familiar with classical music may use string instruments such as the violin. Its these kind of tracks you really begin to test a digital sources capabilities and when competent enough you occasionally extract feeling or emotion from sound quality alone. I'm not talking about simply enjoying a song because “its a good song”, if your IEM's are capable enough and the quality of music is outstanding enough you begin to draw a new state of feeling, the shear sound quality can make you teary-eyed, or feel overwhelmed from its presence. Does DX200 produce such a timbre, atmosphere and emit this sensation I've heard from a small amount of others? Well, I won't say the timbre is in anyway inaccurate it does a fabulous job, vocal reproduction and detail absolutely provides such sensations, it can really blow you away, but its a little different from what I've become accustom too particularly when a piano key note decays, its quite fast in decay with the default filter option (4) I use by preference. If anything it simply offers a different take on timbre. The note weight is quite solid, DX200 uses this along with dynamics to push out full fleshed detailed instruments. Its accurate, not unnatural or at fault, just taking on different entity to what I've accustom too in the past, not a bad thing when owning multiple sources.
DX200's sound alone is worth more than its asking price, there's no other way to put it, I can confidentially say this from experience with digital audio players over the years. The strong hardware speaks for itself even before considering the additional features. It leaves DAP's like my Astell & Kern AK300 priced similarly far behind, even to laughable extents. Instead, DX200 raises muscle to the likes of Sony's new $3000 Walkman, PAW Gold and flagship level AK380. When a product reaches these players in performance at just fractions of their retail price its not only self-explanatory, there's also little standing in DX200's way currently on the market. The sound is highly detailed, dynamic, super strong in resolution, refinement and technical ability, it makes me underwhelmed with other gear in several sound areas when hearing my favourite tracks played through it. Extremely high (and in my opinion) practically unmatched price to performance where we stand in 2017 now in terms of audio players. Like mentioned in opening paragraphs, iBasso are about bang for buck, sound for pound, DX200 is an absolute testament to that phrase.
Along with the premium packaging, well thought out accessories and incoming amp modules you're getting a lot for your money in terms of satisfaction and versatility. The unit overall can be a little large/heavy to cart around, I would have liked to see a secondary silicon case provided and the single memory card slot is a turn off for some (although I'm confident when people hear DX200 their priorities may shift). The large screen and easy to use swift Android interface makes the unit a breeze to navigate. While the overall design doesn't quite impact as AK luxury the literal $2-3K you save keeps those thoughts at bay. I give big congratulations to iBasso getting DX200 released so stable, its been a pleasure to use, review and listen to, you should be very proud.
I'm giving the review 4.5-stars because the price to performance ratio sound-wise is extremely high. When I think through the entire review pro/con there's really nothing glaring I can personally fault with DX200 besides some minor sound characteristics purely preference related or a non-critical bug/feature that needs adding. When I consider the steadily increasing prices of flagship players from companies like Sony, Astell & Kern, (and others) quickly stretching out of reach for many consumers, then considerate DX200 challenging these in sound quality for under $1000 USD this type of demonstration cannot be ignored and should be praised.