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iBasso Audio D-Zero MK2

Rating:
4.75/5,
  • iBasso D-Zero MK2
    USB-DAC/Headphone AMP

    Main features:
    - Dual Wolfson WM8740 DAC Chips.
    - VIA Vinyl Envy USB2.0 audio controller, takes up to 24Bit/96kHz digital signal.
    - OPAMP+BUF design, ensures high current output.
    - Takes Windows PC, MACcomputers USB digital signal (USB Soundcard), OTG audio signal from Android 4.1 or above device, digital signal from iPhone/iPad with camera kit.
    - Works as a DAC+AMP Combo, a standalone AMP, or a standalone DAC (Line out function).
    - 2-Setting Gain Switch for impedance matching.
    - Rechargeable Li-polymer battery with integrated charging system.
    - 120 hours play time when works as an AMP and 10 hours when used as a DAC.
    - Slim and small, it is ultra-portable design.
    - Pouch, USB cable, 3.5mm to 3.5mm interconnect, OTG cable, silicone strap, and warranty card.

Recent Reviews

  1. Dave965
    Great Little Amp For On The Go
    Written by Dave965
    Published Apr 23, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Great Sound, Perfect Size For My DX-90, Battery Lasts Forever
    Cons - None So Far
    Didn't see much of a difference when I bought this as I was pairing it with my m50x at the time, but since I've upgraded to my new Momentum 2.0s, I've tried them both with and without the amp, and I feel the music seem "fuller' somehow, and it definitely increases the sound stage a bit, at least enough to where it's noticeable by me. Was an impulse buy when I got it, but now I'm totally glad I did.
  2. lin0003
    Incredible Sound At An Extremely Reasonable Price
    Written by lin0003
    Published Nov 26, 2014
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Overall Sound, Build, Size, Battery, Android Compatibility (4.1 & Up)
    Cons - Occasional EMI
    iBasso D-Zero MKII Review
     
    iBasso is a very common name out there on the forums now, with their DX50 and DX90 gaining a rather large user base. I have reviewed both the DX50 and DX90 and I found both of them to be very good for their price. The DX50 and DX90 were better than their competitors to me and I still feel like the DX90 is the overall best DAP I have used despite the Astell and Kerns, HiFiMANs and Fiios.
     
    201411102256429104.png
     
    The D-Zero is a DAC/amp that has been out there for a long time now and has always been something that I have been intrigued in. Being an android user, I found it quite cool that I could use the digital out of my phone into the D-Zero. Despite this, I never actually got to try the original D-Zero so I can’t comment on how it sounds. Even so, I have waited for iBasso to come out with another portable DAC/amp that was similar to the D-Zero and what better than the D-Zero MKII?
     
    The original D-Zero had a single WM8740 chip for the DAC and a nice amp section. The D-Zero MKII now implements dual WM8740 chips, one for each channel. I was a huge fan of their dual ES9018K2M DX90 so I was expecting quite a lot from this little box. I am quite a fan of the WM8740 DAC chip, I find it a little warm most of the time, however, which was a bit annoying, but iBasso’s house sound leans slightly to the bright side, so I was quite confident that the D-Zero MKII would sound somewhat like the DX50.
     
    **Disclaimer** I am not affiliated with iBasso in any way, these are my honest impressions.
     
     
    Features
    The D-Zero MKII is certainly a feature packed portable DAC/ amp. It can be used as a pure DAC and the line in doubles as a line out as well. The phone out is just beside it to the left and on the right is a power switch and the volume slider. At the back, there is a gain switch to switch between high and low gain and another switch to turn USB charging on or off. This rather useful if you intend to use the D-Zero as a USB DAC for your computer to stop the battery from being damaged from leaving it charging the whole time. The light at the back indicates when the unit is fully charged.

     
     
    Specifications
    I tend to not judge something by their frequency graph or specifications, but here are the specs for the D-Zero MKII for anyone interested. They look pretty standard to me.

     
    1. Height 101 mm
    2. Width 55 mm
    3. Depth 11 mm
    4. Weight 95 g
    5. Headphone out Phone / Line out
    6. No Coaxial input
    7. No Coaxial output 
    8. Frequency Response 20Hz - 20kHz
    9. THD 0.002%
    10. Output impedance less than 1 ohm
    11. SNR: 108db for the DAC, 102db for the amp
    12. 1500mAh built in 4.2V battery
    13. 5 hours charge time
    14. Up to 120 hours of play time (amp only)
    15. Around 10 hours of play time as a DAC/amp
     
     
    It goes up to 24/96 so no 24/192. Personally I cannot tell any difference between 16 and 24 bit formats, so I don’t think it is an issue at all.
     
    The battery life is exceptional as just an amp and is one of the best I have seen. The battery as a DAC/amp is pretty good at 10 hours, but could be better. It is not a huge issue though, because if you are using it with your computer you can charge it when you are using it.
     
    DSC_0005.jpg
     
    Unboxing & Accessories
    This has typical iBasso packaging, as in it is very simple, but still very nice. I do like fancy boxes, but I would rather the packaging be simple if it means that the price is lower. The front of the box has a picture with “Dual WM8740” on the bottom left, which is its biggest selling point. The back has some specs, and the 120 hours of battery life as it states is very impressive, but I wonder if they put an extra 0 in there lol. Upon taking the inner box out, a compartment with all the accessories comes out and the D-Zero and warranty card is just below.

     
    The D-Zero comes with all the accessories that you would need, iBasso certainly did not skimp on accessories. It has a soft felt case, 2 rubber bands for attaching the D-Zero to another device such as your phone, a USB OTG cable, felt pads and of course, a USB cable. The USB OTG cable is very nice indeed, being right angled on both side. This will be much more pocket friendly compared to the original D-Zero model. It also feels very well made, not a cheap feeling cable. The Felt pads are also a nice addition to make sure that the D-Zero’s matte surface does not get scratched as easily when putting them on a table or something like that.
     
    DSC_0007.jpg
     
    Design
    The biggest factor of the D-Zero that makes it so appealing to me is its size. It is very small, only a bit longer than a credit card and just a centimetre thick. This will be much more portable that something like a Fiio E17 and will fit into pockets much better. It feels very well built, and the matte black finish of the D-Zero gives it good grip and it does slip easily from your hand. The jacks feel very solid and the USB port does as well, I get a feeling that the D-Zero is a very well built device indeed. The gain option is very useful, and the low gain is very clean and quiet. The high gain has quite a bit of noise with the SE846 which was predictable. The low gain has no issues at all and channel imbalance is not an issue either. The volume wheel is also nicely designed, it will much less likely be moved if it is in a pocket compared to one that sticks out. The USB charging switch as I mentioned above is also very important and thoughtful addition. There is just one quirk with the design, and that is it is prone to EMI when around a lot of electronics. When using it in a car, there was occasionally static which wasn’t there when I was using it at home around my computer. That was my only slight problem with the D-Zero MKII, but I think that it is a very trivial issue, at least to me anyway, since putting it in my pocket or simply moving it away from some electronics solves this issue; the case that iBasso included shields it very well. Overall the D-Zero truly feels like a quality product that is extremely portable.

     
     
    Testing Gear
    To test the amp section separately, I ran them off the DX90’s line out, which I am familiar with. It is detailed and clean and a nice pairing with the D-Zero. I didn’t do too much DAC testing, but I did compare just the D-Zero to the DX90/D-Zero combination. I used a SPC mini to mini if anyone believes in cables. For the D-Zero, I didn’t really test them with full sized headphones. I did briefly run them with the HD800, but realistically nobody is going to use the D-Zero to drive the HD800s with the D-Zero. I did use the V-Moda M80 with them and they were quite a nice pairing, but I am not a fan of the M80s sound and the D-Zero obviously doesn’t change that. I did test them with the Dunu DN-2000, but most of my testing was done on a Shure SE846 with the white filters. I felt like out of all the things I tested it on, the SE846 paired the best, but the DN-2000 was very good too.

     
     
    Sound Quality
    On to the most important part of this review – the sound. I am a huge fan of the way that iBasso products sound, very neutral with a hint of brightness. The D-Zero, being a WM8740 device, should sound somewhat like the DX50, at least that was what I thought. Usually Wolfson chips sound a little warm from my experience but the DX50 wasn’t warm at all, so I wasn’t really sure exactly what to expect. However, I certainly had high expectations for this offering from iBasso.

     
    DSC_0006.jpg
     
    DAC Section
    As I have mentioned several times, the D-Zero MKII uses dual WM8740 chips, which is also the chip used in the original D-Zero, except now there are two instead of one. I was a big fan of the DX50 and I feel like the implementation of the dual WM8740 chips in the D-Zero actually sounds rather similar to the DX50. The DAC is truly something outstanding for the price of $119 – it is detailed, very clean and has very little colouration. Although iBasso usually makes their devices slightly bright or dead neutral, I could hear a hint of warmth from the DAC of the D-Zero. It sounds quite well rounded and is a little slower than the dual ES9018K2M in the DX90. The DX90’s DAC section essentially sounds like an upgraded D-Zero, being faster, more detailed and quite a bit faster. Do keep in mind that the DX90 costs over 3 times more though. iBasso have implemented the dual WM8740 extremely well and the D-Zero’s DAC is the best I have heard in this price range.

     
     
    Amp Section
    The amp section was actually quite surprising too. It was suite powerful for its tiny size and drove all my IEMs and the M80 with no issues at all. It is quite noisy on high gain and I would not recommend using any IEMs on high gain. Switching to low gain was much better and absolutely silent. Do keep in mind that I was testing them with the SE846, which is a very sensitive IEM. With the HD800 in high gain it actually didn’t sound crap, which was admittedly what I expected it would be. Dynamics, soundstage and imaging were quite weak though, but that was to be expected. With the M80, it had no problems at all and it is actually quite a good pairing. If you like the M80, then these would be a good choice. No disappointments here, it performs very well and sounds just like what I expected.

     
     
    Bass
    If there is one thing that the D-Zero is missing, it is a bass boost, which I can see some people using, but personally I wouldn’t use it anyway so it is no problem. The bass is not heavy if that is what you are looking for. I would say that it is just about neutral, but it does not have as much punch as the DX90. The bass is not slow, but is liquid and fast. It still has sufficient impact, but it will not be as strong as other offerings. The bass texture is something that I was really impressed by considering the price. Although the impact is a bit short of the DX90, the texture of the bass is very good from the mid-bass through to the sub-bass. I also did not hear any bass roll off at all and to my ears it stayed linear all the way throughout. With the SE846, the bass is still very tight and sub-bass has the perfect amount of rumble, but not getting in the way at all. Considering that it is so cheap, only just losing out to the DX90 is a remarkable feat.

     
     
    Midrange
    The midrange is very linear and flat, I don’t hear much, if any colouration at all. Before receiving it, I was hoping that the midrange would not have that warm midrange sound that the E17 and other WM8740 devices do and luckily it doesn’t. I particularly enjoy vocals with these, they sound so clear and realistic. If anything, the midrange has very slightly accentuated upper mids which increases vocal clarity. This made the M80s sound better than they did in the slightly more neutral DX90. Something that you perceive as having an overly bright midrange may not be a great pairing with the D-Zero. The detail in the midrange is very impressive, instruments sound very realistic and I really like pianos with the D-Zero, the timbre is very nice. Do note that the D-Zero is only very very slightly bright and will not really affect your headphones much.

     
     
    Treble
    Just like other iBasso devices I have used, the D-Zero shines in the treble area. The amp seems to be a little bright to counter the slight warmth of the DAC. The treble as a result is extremely neutral but having just the right amount of sparkle and never sounds dull at all. Sibilance is also not an issue and I never felt like it was too bright with the DN-2000 and SE846. Cymbals are very well defined and have a nice zing to them, extending very well and being extremely clear. Its tonality reminds me quite a bit of the DX90, but a little bit brighter. It is a little less bright than the DX50 though, so it strikes a very nice balance between the two. The clarity of the treble if you are coming from a Clip+ or something like that will be a very big step up and a solid upgrade. There is no roll off at all and it beautifully extended. This is the reason why I love iBasso gear, their treble is simply awesome.

     
    DSC_0008.jpg
     
    Separation, Detail & Clarity
    This is the area that the D-Zero excels especially in. The separation is phenomenal on this, not too far off the DX90 and actually beats the Geek Out 1000 that costs 2.5x more. Don’t forget that while the Geek Out 1000 is only a USB DAC/amp, the D-Zero works with android too. It handled most of the tracks I threw at it superbly and then SE846 helped too, being very good here was well. Never did I feel like it was really troubled or lacking. The DX90 is obviously better in this regard but not that much better. The instrument separation was incredible, switching from The Clip+/SAP to this was very noticeable, everything immediately became much less congested and cleaner. The vocal separation was also very good, pairing superbly with the SE846’s neutral but smooth mids. It made for a very neutral and detailed vocals and was not fatiguing at all.

    I’ll go out and say that the D-Zero is a very detailed device and from memory it beats the DX50 and X3 as well as the GO1000. Because of the ever so slightly bright sound signature, details shine through and are very evident. Instead of slowly letting them sink in, the D-Zero really hits you in the face with them. This is not a bad thing at all and I actually like this very much, but I love detailed audio gear. Do make sure that the recordings are of a pretty decent standard with the D-Zero because the D-Zero paired with a good IEM will not hide any details.
    Once again, the tuning gives the impression that the clarity is very good and it is. Instruments are very fast and don’t linger any longer than they should. Cymbals especially are very well rendered and have a very nice timbre to it. Instruments have a neutral tone and are not bright if you are worried about that. Vocal clarity is also excellent because of the extremely slight upper midrange boost that makes female vocals sound a bit cool and crystal clear.
     
    DSC_0009.jpg
     
    Soundstage & Imaging
    Well you can’t expect a $119 DAC/amp to do everything and the D-Zero almost does, but the soundstage isn’t the widest that I have heard. It is decent, quite good actually but wasn’t nearly up to the standard of the DX90. Maybe I am setting my expectations too high however, since the D-Zero is actually still very good, but it has stayed close to the DX90 for everything else, but it lets the DX90 slip away a little here. The soundstage is rather wide, and sufficient in width and depth, but doesn’t blow me away here. Just to clarify, the soundstage is definitely not bad, but just not that great.

    The imaging doesn’t follow the soundstage and is highly impressive once again. The thing about budget devices is that it seems to have the wrong proportion for instruments, vocals etc. For example, a singer may seem to take up the majority of the stage instead of just a small area. Fortunately the D-Zero does not do this and everything sounds superb with the SE846. Instruments are easily picked out and while it has still got a bit of way to go before it matches the DX90, it holds its own very well. For the price, it does exceptionally.
     
     
    Summary
     
    DSC_0004.jpg
     
    Finally we have reached the end of this review and in case you haven’t grasped my tone from the rest of the review, I like this. A Lot. I do realise that I have made many DX90 comparisons, and that is because those two are very tonally similar. If you read my other reviews, you will know that I generally do not give 5 star reviews because  feel like not many products deserve this. The D-Zero MK2, however, is simply incredible in my book and gets as close to perfection as I have heard for a mere $119. The fact that it is not too far off the DX90 is a huge compliment for the D-Zero, you have to keep in mind that this is not a $300 DAC/amp, but one that costs just $119. That’s only $20 more than the X1…. For the price, I really don’t see it getting beaten soon, the value of this is just crazy; it is the best price/performance portable device I have ever heard. The D-Zero MKII gains my highest recommendation. 
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Digital7
      Dude, the website had a failure and caused multiple postings through error messages when i tried to submit, and again accidentally 4 times error message, then they all showed-up without my knowledge.
       
      On the other matter, why are you being so defensive? 90% of my review was positive for your comments and i thanked you, didn't i? What is wrong with you man?? I was not being so serious when mentioning suspicions, it was a general comment not meant to be offensive because i was happy to find this review so positive for me to get this iBasso, chill-out man! Anyway can't you see i thanked you and was glad for your comments, right? Relax bro, you're being too serious. What, are you from Russia, why are you being so touchy? I was thankful wasn't I. Read the tone and context of my message more closely and think before you tell people to take crap elsewhere. Did i tell you to take your crap elsewhere? So what is the problem? Read my comments properly before coming to false conclusions, i was happy, couldn't you tell? Sheesh.
      Digital7, Jan 29, 2015
    3. riodgarp
      yea who took you can suspect someone work for whatever companies?
      riodgarp, Jan 29, 2015
    4. TomM
      Great review. Ordered one today on Amazon. I might get it tomorrow.
      Can't wait pairing it with my Surface 2 and Philips Fidelio X1.
      TomM, May 21, 2015

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