iBasso Audio D14 "Bushmaster"

Pros: Sound quality, build quality, value for money, coaxial and optical input
Cons: Slightly too large to be truly portable
The iBasso D14 Bushmaster was sent to me for free by iBasso for the purpose of me writing an unbiased review of it.  I’d like to send a big THANK YOU to Paul at iBasso for letting me check out the iBasso D14 Bushmaster.
The iBasso D14 is available from numerous online resellers with prices ranging from $229 to $259 at the time of this review.  Here’s the link to the listing on Penon Audio:
For more information about the D14 you can also visit the iBasso website:
I’m not in any way affiliated with iBasso or Penon Audio.
Short introduction to Audinst Inc.:
iBasso Audio is a China based company well known for its good performing and great value for money DAP’s, amp’s and amp/DAC combos.
The D14 Bushmaster is the first product I try from them so naturally I was very curious about it so let’s find out more about its performance. .
About me:
I’m a 43 year old music and sound lover that changed my focus from speakers to headphones and IEM’s about five years ago. At that time I realized that it wasn’t realistic for me to have all the different setups that I wanted and still house a family of four children and a wife so my interest turned first to full sized headphones and later also IEM’s.
My preferences are towards full sized open headphones and I believe that also says something about what kind of sound signature I prefer (large soundstage in all directions, balanced and organic sound).
My music preferences are pretty much all over the place (only excluding classical music, jazz and really heavy metal). My all-time favorite band is Depeche Mode although I also listen to a lot of grunge/indie, singer/songwriter/acoustical stuff as well as the typical top 40 music.
I tend to value function over form within reasonable limits.
I do not use EQ, ever.
I’m a sucker for value for money on most things in life Head-Fi related stuff is no exception.
Built, accessories and functionality:
The iBasso D14 Bushmaster is a solid state headphone amplifier and DAC combo.  
The D14 is available in one flavor only AFAIK: silver color.
Output power is rated to 400mW@ 32Ohm. Output impedance is rated at a very low 0.1Ohm.
The D14 has a sturdy housing that feels durable. The physical controls available on it do also feel reliable. The physical controls sums up to a gain switch and a volume control that also doubles as on/off switch on the front and a source switch (USB, AUX or SPDIF) and a switch for turning the charging on/off on the back. Although it doesn’t feel very heavy the overall build still feels pretty solid.
The D14 offers one USB mini digital audio input that also doubles as charging port if the charging switch is set to on. It also offers one coaxial and optical input (the SPDIF input doubles as both) as well a combined in/out 3.5mm analogue connection (if headphones are connected it works as an input, if not it works as a line out). There’s also one 3.5mm headphones output.  In total I find the number of connections to be very good on a unit this small.
The D14 works very well with Android when connected with an OTG cable and using USB Audio Player Pro (UAPP) as music player. It might be worth noticing that the D14 uses a mini USB socket and not the more common micro USB. Fortunately iBasso has included a mini to micro OTG cable in the package since these are not the most common cables around. A nice feature is that the D14 disconnect automatically from the Android device when the source selection switch is put in another position than USB. The internal battery on the D14 does also make the battery drain on the hosting device very low. Although Android and sound does not have a great reputation the D14 have worked with every Android device I’ve tried it with (with the help of UAPP).
The D14 uses an Xmos USB receiver that is supposed to work with Apple devices using the Camera Connection Kit (CCK) but I haven’t been able to test this myself.
The D14 does also feature a coaxial input and I’ve used it most connected to my FiiO X3 this way and I like this combo a lot. I’ve had the X3 since it was first released and although it does not have the  most refined sound I absolutely love (and am VERY familiar with) the way it works and this combo has made me really appreciate it again. iBassy also graciously included an 3.5mm to 3.5mm coaxial cable in the accessories so this connection is truly plug and play.
The battery life is fairly good and is said to be 13 hours when used as AMP/DAC and 25 hours when used as AMP only. Without having brought out my stop clock I’d say that these numbers are fairly accurate from my experience. Charging time is 5 hours and although it’s quite long it have not really bothered me since I typically charge it when I sleep.
The D14 support all popular file formats for audio up to DSD256 and 32bit/384kHz files.
The accessories included are:
1 storage pouch
1 USB cable,
1 3.5mm to 3.5mm interconnect
1 mini to micro OTG cable
1 3.5mm coaxial cable
2 Silicone straps
The specs:
Power Source: Built-in 4.2V Li-polymer Batteries or external power supply.
Frequency Response: 17Hz~20 KHz +/-1dB (DAC)
17Hz~100 KHz +/-0.2dB (AMP).

Signal to Noise Ratio115dB (DAC), 116dB (Amp).
Crosstalk: 106dB (DAC).
Total Harmonic Distortion
: 0.0018%@1kHz/-10dBF (DAC)
0.0012%@1kHz/max volume (AMP).
Output power: Up to 400mW+400mW into 32ohm.
Gain: +3dB and +9dB (AMP).
Battery Life: 13 hours AMP+DAC or 25 hours if amp only.
Battery Charge Time: 5 hours.
External Power supply: 5V DC.
Recommended Headphone Impedance: 8~300.
Output impedance: 0.1ohm.
I’ve used the D14 for the last two weeks and my unit has played for well over 50 hours.
Demo list:
Mark Knopfler – Sailing to Philadelphia
Røyksopp (Feat.Susanne Sundfør) – Save Me
Ane Brun – These Days
Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana
Metallica – Die Die My Darling
The Peter Malick Group – Immigrant
Eva Cassidy – Songbird
Thomas Dybdahl – A Lovestory
Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why
Celldweller – Unshakeable
Jack Johnson – Better Together
Seinabo Sey – Younger (Kygo remix)
Dire Straits- So Far Away
Björk - Moon
Lupe Fiasco - Deliver
Morrissey – Earth Is the Loneliest Planet
Sound impression:
The first thing that I noticed when I started to listen to the iBasso D14 was the lean, clean and airy sound it produces.
Bass extension and quality is quite good with a slight roll off in the lowest frequencies. Mid- and upper-bass is on the lean side making the presentation airy and ever so slightly on the bright side. When listening to the D14 the bass sounds very good and I don’t really miss much but when starting to compare to other competitors it does indeed lack some dynamics compared to the best in this department.
The midrange is liquid and smooth with plenty of details. The D14 sounds very linear through all frequencies and the midrange is no exception. Nothing really stands out and it sounds very natural and airy like a fresh breeze.
The treble is very well extended, airy and smooth. It adds further to the liquid non-fatiguing and natural overall sound.  Although being slightly on the bright side it does never feel harsh or artificial to me but rather light and refreshing.
The overall presentation has good soundstage in all directions and layering is also good as is the amount of air between the instruments. The background does also feel black and calm. Transparency is also quite good.  All together I’d describe the sound of the D14 as lean and clean. This is a signature that I personally find to be quite appealing, especially with warmer sounding and/or bass tilted IEM’s or headphones.
Please note that the comments in the comparison section are not in absolute terms but in comparison between subject A and B. This means (as an example) that if subject A is found to be brighter than subject B it does not necessarily mean that subject A is bright sounding in absolute terms. I hope this makes sense.
In these comparisons I’ve been listening through my AKG Q701’s.
I’ve been using the USB input when doing these comparisons. Both units has been hooked up to two different laptops both running Windows 7 with the same settings and I use MediaMonkey as my player of choice.
Burson Audio Conductor V2+ (1,499) vs iBasso Bushmaster D14:
Compared to the D14 the V2+ has more airiness in its presentation as well as a larger soundstage width and better bass presentation with a higher quality (better layering) and impact. This is actually very easy to hear with the Q’s.  The greater bass quality makes the V2+ more dynamic sounding and with better definition while the D14 is more lean in its presentation. The V2+ does also have better separation with more air between instruments. Both are good when it comes to detail retrieval but the V2+ is even better. In short I’d say that the V2+ is more dynamic and engaging while the D14 is more relaxed and slightly thinner sounding.
The V2+ of course has some other advantages as well such as significantly higher power output (4W @32Ohms compared to 400mW@32Ohm on the iBasso), two analogue RCA inputs and both pre-amp and DAC direct RCA outputs. In addition it also has a great quality remote control. D14 on the other hand offers a gain switch, portability, battery power and is of course much smaller.
iFi Micro iDSD ($420) vs iBasso D14 Bushmaster:
Compared to the D14 the iDSD have a even more airy presentation. The iDSD has more sub bass presence while both of them had a quite low amount of mid bass making both sound very clean, the iDSD even more so though helped by better separation giving it more air between instruments.The iDSD is a touch warmer and more relaxed while still having the same, if not even slightly better, detail retrieval. In total I find the iDSD to sound more natural and engaging but it’s also almost twice the price of the D14. The difference between these two is not as big as it may sound here though but my job is to highlight the difference that does exist.
Feature wise they both offers coaxial input in addition to the USB input but the SPDIF input on the D14 also offers optical connection. Both does also have an 3.5mm analogue input and line out although the iDSD has RCA outputs and has option to choose between pre-out or direct out while the D14 has a 3.5mm output. When it comes to headphone outputs the D14 has one 3.5 while the iDSD has one 6.3mm. They both also have an internal battery. The footprint of the D14 is quite a bit smaller and it’s definitely the more portable of the two. Both offer a gain switch but the iDSD has three settings compared to the two on the D14. The iDSD does offer a bass boost and a 3D enchanter, three different IEM moods (to reduce hiss), polarity switch and the option to choose between three different digital filters. Build quality feels very solid on both units with the iDSD pulling slightly ahead.
For even further comparisons feel free to visit this thread for breakdown between more $250+ amp/DAC units (this is a work in progress and several other units will follow in the near future).
The output impedance of the headphone out on the D14 is rated to a very low 0.1Ohm. This means that it should work well with all kind headphones and even very sensitive IEM’s.
In this section I’ve tested how some of my favorite headphones but also one earbud and one pair of IEM’s pairs up with the Mojo.  
AKG Q701 ($300):
The Q’s pairs up quite nice with the D14. I was kind of afraid that the lean presentation of the D14 would make the Q’s unengaging but that’s not the case. The smooth presentation of the D14 pairs very well with the forward upper mids on the Q’s and does also pair very well with the well extended treble on the Q’s. I’ve heard the bass on the Q’s with deeper extension and more impact though. Although the Q’s and the D14 is not the perfect pairing it’s still a quite enjoyable one to my ears.
Philips Fidelio X2 ($300):
The X2’s, being quite warm and full by itself does make a very good combination with the clean and light presentation from the D14. The D14 is also perfectly smooth in its presentation and this does also help to make the X2’s very enjoyable with them. I don’t find the X2’s to be harsh in any way but they don’t have the most refined treble sometimes and the D14 seem to make this less obvious. To put things short these two sound very good together.
VE Zen 2.0 ($138):
The Zen 2.0 is a 300Ohm earbud that I like a lot and tend to use instead of closed headphones.
The soft and smooth signature from the Zen 2.0 lack some energy, drive and dynamics compared to the best I’ve heard it when paired with the D14. The Zen’s doesn’t have the most impactful bass originally and it doesn’t get much help from the D14 to bring it out either. It’s pretty obvious to me that the D14, although it’s not bad sounding in any way, is not the best pairing with the Zen’s.
Aurisonics ASG-1PLUS ($500):
The ASG-1PLUS is an 11Ohm hybrid IEM (1 DD + 1 BA).
Once again I was afraid that the lower amount of dynamics and bass drive would make an unengaging listening (like I found the Mojo and 1PLUS to be) but once again I was wrong. Although the D14 doesn’t pack a lot of energy its tilt to the bright side still breathes life into the relaxed presentation of the 1PLUS. Once again I find that I’ve heard better bass presentation but it’s still very enjoyable. Once again, it’s not a perfect pairing, but still a very good one.
Super Audio 6 ($250):
The Super Audio 6 (SA6) is a six BA driver Chines DIY offering. It has a warm, smooth, intimate and mid-centric overall presentation.
The combination of the D14 and SA 6 is a great match and the liquid, creamy and intimate character of the SA6 does really come to live with the help from the fresh, clean and airy presentation of the D14. As a matter of fact this is one of the better pairings I’ve ever heard for the SA6.
To sum up the matching section the signature of the D14 works quite well with all the headphones and IEM’s I’ve tried it with. That being said I find it to perform the best with full, lush IEM’s and headphones that has a good bass drive. There’s also a very low background hiss when paired with my most sensitive IEM’s that might be worth noticing. In total I’d still consider the D14 a great all-rounder when it comes to pairing.
The iBasso D14 Bushmaster is a truly excellent offering in its price bracket and even beyond in my opinion. I can easily see people looking for a neutral, smooth and lean sound preferring it over other, much more expensive, offerings.
Although it’s not quite up there with the best $400-600 performers in sound it’s certainly not far off either and has a lot good to offer. The iBasso D14 is well built, has an internal battery, works with lap tops, computers, Android devices, Apple devices and is portable. In addition to all this it does also offers a coaxial/optical input as well an analogue input combined with output and a gain switch, This is really a great list of features at this price point, add to it an excellent sound and it makes the iBasso D14 a strong recommendation for the budget oriented looking for great performing AMP/DAC combo in the sub $350 segment.
Audio Quality: 4
Design: 4
Quality: 4.5
Value: 5
Features: 4.5
FiiO X3/iBasso D14 
Battery life is only around 7 hours when using the DAC over USB, the quoted 13 hours is for the DAC using co-ax, apparently something to do with the power required by the USB receiver chip.I really like the D14 and I think it is excellent value for money but like the review says it's just too big to be a proper portable DAC/AMP, stacked with a phone or DAP it just becomes too deep, it's almost like a mini desktop DAC/Amp. The digital input also accepts optical connections.
Thanks for the information about the optical input, I totally missed that. I'm looking forward to try it out with mu Chromecast Audio. I'll update the review accordingly.
I did indeed use it connected to the FiiO X3 through coaxial cable the most and that's what I based my impression of the battery time on. 
Pros: Versatile application, Drives a large variety of earphones, Multiple inputs/output options, Solidly built, Good battery life, Detailed and clean sound
Cons: Mini USB Charging/DAC port isn't ideal, No battery indicator, Leaner sound isn't the most dynamic and textured thing around
At the time this review was written the iBasso D14 Bushmaster DAC/Amplifier was for sale on Penon Audio’s website. Here is a link to iBasso’s product page display, and also a listing on Penon Audio:
The only other iBasso product I’ve reviewed to this point has been the DX-80 DAP. It was a positive experience that left me curious to experience more of their products. When I heard that iBasso was looking for someone to review the D14 Bushmaster, I jumped on the opportunity. Reading the specs and versatile range of applications, there wasn’t any reason to not give it a try.
The iBasso D14 has been around for a while now. The product came along as the Sabre ES9018 series DAC chip was gaining popularity. The folks at iBasso has implemented the Sabre32 ES9018K2M chip into the Bushmaster, and added features that makes it a fun a versatile unit. Let’s go over it with a comprehensive review.
I was given a free sample of the D14 to sample and write an honest and unbiased review. I am in no way affiliated with iBAsso. I would like to personally thank Extreme Audio for the opportunity to cover this product, and share my experience with the Head-Fi community.
The D14 comes in a black and white box with blue accents. The front of the box features a picture of the Bushmaster along with brand and product name.
The back of the box lists some key features. The sides of the box doesn’t have anything notable to mention. Inside of the package are two more black boxes. One contains the product accessories, the other contains the D14 resting in a foam cutout.
Specifications and Accessories
Power Source: Built-in 4.2V Li-polymer Battery or external power
Frequency Response: 17Hz-20KHz +/-1dB (DAC)
17Hz-100KHz+/-0.2dB (AMP).
Signal to Noise Ratio: 115dB, 116dB (Amp)
Crosstalk: 106dB (DAC).
Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.0018%@1kHz/-10dBF (DAC)
0.0012%@1kHz/max volume (AMP)
Output power: Up to 400mW+400mW into 32ohm
Gain: +3dB and +9dB (AMP).
Battery Life: 13 hours AMP+DAC or 25 hours if amp only.
Battery Charge Time: 5 hours.
External Power supply: 5V DC
Recommended Headphone Impedance: 8-300
Output impedance: 0.1ohm.
Case dimension: 2.4W x 4.1Lx 0.8H (inch)
60W x 104Lx 20H (mm)
Weight: 149g or 5.26oz
iBasso Mini Audio D14
USB cable,
3.5mm to 3.5mm interconnect
OTG cable
3.5mm coaxial cable
Silicone strap
The Accessories package is very decent. The OTG cable is a weird configuration by today’s standards, using a Micro USB to Mini USB mode of transmission. More on this in a bit. The accessories package covers most inputs (but not all applications). If you have a DAP or smartPhone, you won’t need anything beyond the accessories package to use your D14.
The Bushmaster (love that name) is housed in a brushed aluminum exterior. The options come in two different finishes (black or silver). The device weighs in at 149 grams and is about the size of a deck of cards. The amplifier feels very solid and premium in terms of build.
One end of the unit operates all output functionality. There is a heavy duty analog volume pot, line in/out (preamp) and headphone output jack for use with headphones. A High/Low gain switch is also located on this end of the device.
The opposite end has a SPDIF input that works for both Optical and Coaxial modes of music transmission. A mini USB plug is available and used for both USB DAC functionality and charging the device. A switch next to the input allows owners to decide whether or not the mini USB should receive a charge from whatever device it is connected to. Another switch is placed on this side to allow owners to choose the correct input for their application. Choices are AUX (line in), SPDIF (coaxial or optical), and USB (digital connection via the mini USB port).
The D14 Bushmaster offers a lot of features for a portable amplifier. There are a lot of possibilities as to how this device can be used. There’s several input options to choose from, which allow the device to be used as a stand alone DAC, Amplifier, or combination DAP/Amplifier.
Bushmaster’s amplifier pumps out 400+400mW into 32 ohms and has high and low gain settings. I was able to drive everything from very sensitive in-ear monitors to High Impedance full size headphones upwards of 300 Ohms. Although output settings were not as customizable as something like the micro iDSD, it was formidable and works really well for a portable amplifier.
There are no bass boost or EQ options. More times than not bass boosts on a portable amplifier makes a mess of the low end. Because of this, bass boost is not something I look for in a portable DAC/Amplifier these days. Your mileage may vary however. Any sound tweaks you make will need to come from the source you use the D14 with.
SPDIF Inputs
Digital Coaxial
I was also able to connect to D14 to any source with a digital coaxial output with no problems. Anything with a SPDIF out could be utilized with the provided stock digital coax interconnect. A digital coaxial to RCA style digital adapter is needed to use the D14 with a source with a RCA style digital output.  
Optical Input
The first thing I thought of when I realized the D14 had a Toslink optical input was utilizing it with my DX-80 optical output. It’s a bummer that the D14 doesn’t come with an optical transmission cable. Fortunately, I was able to find a really nice (and very reasonably priced) Toslink cable on Amazon. Here is a link:
USB Input
A mini USB port is used to receive digital audio signals from a computer’s USB output, and also from smartphones.
When connecting the D14 to my laptop, I was able to use the provided USB charging/data transfer cable to replace my computer’s sound card and amplifier. On my windows computer drivers needed to be downloaded from iBasso’s website, unzipped and installed. It isn’t the most complex process in the world, but can be difficult for someone with limited computer skills or knowledge.
When connecting the D14 to my LG V10, I was able to do this by using the supplied micro USB to mini USB cable. This is not a common cable and I would have preferred to see a micro to micro USB mode of transmission for sake of convenience, and because it seems to be a more mainstream application.
When linking the Bushmaster an Iphone 6, I was able to do so by using a IOS lightning to USB camera connection kit (not included) along with the supplied USB charging/data cable. Functionality was fine, but there was a lot of cable involved in this application, making this connection not ideal in terms of portability.
Line In/Out
Line out connection from the DX-80 to the D14. An aftermarket JDS Labs interconnect was used in this picture.
Line In
This is pretty standard. Run the line out on a DAP to the D14 via a 3.5 mm interconnect cable (included in the accessories package) and access the amplifier section of the Bushmaster.
Line Out
Just the opposite of line in and utilizing the amplifier, you can run a digital source into the D14, and run the line out into another amplifier, utilizing the Bushmaster’s DAC.
All in all, the Bushmaster gives you a bunch of options in terms of its use. This is one of the devices biggest strengths, and a reason I consider this to be a good value for it’s price. It’s not too often you get this much versatility, functionality and options at this low of a price. Optical Toslink input usually comes at a much higher asking price.
The rechargeable battery is rated at thirteen hours when used as a combination of DAC and amplifier. When used solely as an amplifier (line input) the battery life nearly doubles to twenty five hours. I found the functionality and performance was superior when used as a DAC/amplifier (via optical toslink with my DX-80). I got one or two days (three at the most) of regular use (a few hours each day) before needing to recharge the device. The D14 needs about four to five hours to charge, depending on how depleted the battery is and what charger you’re using.
One thing to note, there is no automatic shut off on the Bushmaster. Forget to turn the unit off (by turning the volume pot counterclockwise until there’s a click and the device shuts off) and you will be dealing with a drained or dead device that needs recharging. Also, make sure to switch the device to charge when plugging it into a charger. Not doing so will make the time spent plugged in useless. On top of this, make sure to switch the device from charge to no charge when using it with a portable device like a cell phone via USB connection. Not doing so will result in a application error due to the D14 attempting to draw juice from your DAP or smartphone. Long story short, the bushmaster isn’t dummy-proof. The D14 versatility requires owners to make sure the device settings are inline with the corresponding mode of operation.
The D14’s ES9018K2M chip is linear, detailed and crisp. The internal amplifier follows suit. All in all when using the device with most sources, the overall impression I got from listening to it is that it follows suit with other devices I’ve listened to with the ES9018 chip. Examples would be the Shanling H3, Hifimediy Sabre 9018 DAC/Amplifier, and also my LG-V10 in HiFi mode. The overall impression I get is linear and detailed, packing a lot of micro-details and transparency.
The Bushmaster runs at a max output of 32bit/384kHz (32bit/192kHz on my Windows laptop). There is no problems in terms of file handling. It played all my music files including FLAC and DSD.
I’m not going to say that the Bushmaster sound is overly bright, but is on the more linear side of things. It “cools down” the warmer and more musical sound of my DX-80 when paired together. Same thing applies when pairing it with my Luxury and Precision L5. I think anyone who’s heard the ES9018 chip will understand what I’m trying to explain here.
The Bushmaster pairs with every headphone I have, thanks to the gain settings and out somewhat versatile output power. The D14 manages to avoid audible background hiss from most of my more sensitive in-ear monitors. In high gain the Bushmaster packs enough power to get high impedance full size cans bumping.
While just about any earphone will sound good, I preferred to use the D14 with warmer and bassier earphones. The detail and transparency combined with a bassier earphone created a “best of both worlds” type of scenario for me. Your mileage may vary.
NOTE: The Bushmaster sounds considerably better through a digital input than through the 3.5 mm line input. There is noticeable increases in clarity, detail and separation, especially when used via the optical input.
I would definitely recommend the D14 to someone who wants natural and crisp sound. I wouldn’t recommend the D14 to bassheads, or those looking to add warmth and musicality to their setup. The D14 isn’t geared for this.
Shanling H3 ($275-$300 USD on many sites)
The Shanling H3 was a personal favorite for some time. The H3 packs the same ES9018K2M DAC chip and has line in, USB, and bluetooth options, making it a superb cell phone companion for audio enthusiasts. I really enjoy being able to enjoy top of the line sound via bluetooth, all while not having to stack my phone into a rig or needing to take the portable amplifier out of my pocket in order to control music playback.
Comparing the two, they are almost identical sound signatures. The D14 has almost twice as much output power. This makes the H3 slightly more ideal for in ear monitors, and the D14 better suited for full size headphones (although still very formidable for IEMs).
The D14 offers more inputs and output options. The optical and digital coaxial input of the D14 are something the H3 doesn’t have. The Bluetooth option of the H3 is something iBasso doesn’t offer with their device. Battery life is slightly better on the D14.
If I’m going to a Head-Fi meet I’m bringing my DX-80 and stacking it with my D14 Bushmaster. If I’m commuting or going to work with a pair of in-ear monitors I’m bringing my H3. They are both solid devices that have a lot to offer. If you still aren’t decided which one you’d prefer, the current asking price of the D14 is about fifty dollars cheaper.
Cayin C5 ($150-$200 UDS on many sites)
I still love the C5 several years after its release. No, it’s not a DAC, but I am a firm believer that you don’t have to have a DAC in order for a portable to sound good as long as it has premium components and is connected to a good source. The C5 has something special under the hood that makes it really fun to listen to. It presents a powerful and entertaining sound.
Comparing the two, the C5 is larger and not as solidly built as the D14. The plastic components of the C5 seem frail and cheap as compared to the more solid build of the Bushmaster. Soundwise, the C5 brings a very powerful and more musical and dynamic sound to the table. The C5 pumps out 800+800 mW  at 32 Ohms, twice as powerful as the D14. High gain on the C5 is insanely powerful, making it ideal for even the most demanding full size headphones. With all that power there’s drawbacks. They aren’t what I would consider ideal for in-ear monitors (advantage D14) and the C5 gets pretty warm with extended use (especially when used in a pocket). Another negative is the C5 battery life. It is rated at twelve hours but I don’t get that much use before it’s dead. Also, there is slow battery dissipation with the C5. Charge it completely and leave it in a drawer for a month and you’ll most likely have to give it another charge before using it again.
D14 gets a huge advantage for its DAC functionality, more universal drivability factor, multiple input options, and line out functionality. Long story short, the C5 is more powerful and musical, while the D14 is way more versatile and universally capable of making all of your earphones and headphones sound good.
I think the D14 is a nice little DAC/Amplifier for its price. I think they really nailed it in terms of inputs and outputs. The versatile of this thing will make it a great pickup for someone getting more serious about sound quality. The fact that it will work with just about any source under the sun is a big plus.
I don’t think the D14 sound is going to blow people’s minds, due to the fact that it is geared more for neutrality rather than emphasized bass and warm dynamic midrange. For my preference it could use a touch more dynamics, warmth and texture. The D14 is a fantastic companion to the DX-80. They compliment each other really well. The optical connection is sweet, and the various inputs and outputs makes them fun to use together.
When rating this product I have to take all criterias into account (including price to performance). I give the D14 four and a half stars for design, five stars for build quality, five stars for versatility, three and a half stars for accessories (no optical toslink, digital coax to digital RCA adapter, or connection for apple), and four to four and a half stars for sound quality. Average them out, the D14 gets four and a half stars. For the price they’ve done an excellent job, and packed a ton of features into this device.
Thanks for reading and happy listening!
Detailed review, with a lot of useful practical comments regarding connectivity, exactly what people are looking in a review. I also like your description of the 9018 "sound-house", it's very typical ESS sound, clean, quite flat, something that should pair up nicely except with very cold IEMs/headphones.
I've been impressed with my D14 and it's very clean sound. Anyone looking at the D14 should know that the battery life is only around 7 hours when using the DAC/AMP through USB, the quoted 13 hours is for the DAC/AMP using optical or co-ax digital input (confirmed by iBasso). From comments posted by iBasso they went with the mini USB over micro because it is a more hard wearing socket/plug combination. To me the D14 sounds a lot like the Oppo HA2 but is considerably cheaper, unfortunately it's not quite as pocketable as it is quite 'chunky'.
A good and fair review in my opinion.
Was going to get one until i saw it's size.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Sound, Design, Accessories
Cons: Size
First of all, I’d like to thank iBasso for sending me a review sample of the D14. iBasso have really established themselves as a big name in portable audio devices and after reviewing both their DX50 and DX90 models as well as the budget minded D-Zero MKII, I was really looking forward to having what they had in store for us now. iBasso are primarily a brand for portable DAC/amps and DAPs and recently have grown significantly, gaining many new fans with their exceptional DX DAPs.
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Anyway, the D14 “Bushmaster” is their latest foray into the DAC/amp world and seems to be the next generation of the well-established D12. Coming in at a price of $229, it appears to be a shot into high end but at a more affordable price point. Obviously, this review is going to draw a lot of comparisons to the DX90, which it is rather similar to, at least on paper. What really interested me was that it is compatible with both Android and Apple, so if you want, you can use it as a DAC/amp on the go.
Given that it employs the renowned ES9018K2M chip, I had high expectations for the D14. I had a very positive experience with the DAC of the DX90, which used two of the 9018 chips instead of the one in the D14. Let’s go on to see how the D14 fared, hopefully this will help some of you guys to decide whether the D14 is for you.
**Disclaimer** I was given the D14 in return for an honest, unbiased review. I am not affiliated with iBasso in any way.
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Here are the specifications for the D14 if anyone is interested. Personally I don’t pay too much attention to the specs and listen with my ears, but it is nice to see the output impedance is 0.1 ohms. iBasso also recommends that you use it with headphones with an impedance of 8-300 ohms, which covers pretty much everything except for a few IEMs and very inefficient headphones.

Power Source: Built-in 4.2V Li-polymer Battery or external power supply.
Frequency Response: 17Hz~20 KHz +/-1dB (DAC)
                                   17Hz~100 KHz +/-0.2dB (AMP).
Signal to Noise Ratio: 115dB (DAC), 116dB (Amp).
Crosstalk: 106dB (DAC).
Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.0018%@1kHz/-10dBF (DAC)
                                          0.0012%@1kHz/max volume (AMP).
Output power: Up to 400mW+400mW into 32ohm.
Gain: +3dB and +9dB (AMP).
Battery Life: 13 hours AMP+DAC or 25 hours if amp only.
Battery Charge Time: 5 hours.
External Power supply: 5V DC.
Recommended Headphone Impedance: 8~300.
Output impedance: 0.1ohm.
Case dimension: 2.4W x 4.1L x 0.8H (inch)
60W x 104L x 20H (mm)
Weight: 149g or 5.26oz
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Packaging & Accessories
iBasso has never been the brand for extravagant packaging and the D14 follows the trend of their basic packaging. It is pretty much identical to the D-Zero MKII from memory. On the front it shows that it uses the ES9018K2M chip, and on the back it includes the main features. Inside the D14 is under the accessories and well protected by the foam. Nice to see that the box protects the D14 and if it means keeping the price lower, then that’s all the better.

The D14 comes with plenty of accessories, pretty much everything that you will need. There is a 3.5mm interconnect, coaxial cable, USB OTG cable and a standard mini USB cable. It would have been nice if the coaxial cable could have been right angled so it could be used more easily on the go with devices such as the DX90, but I’ve heard that a standard 3.5mm cable works as well, not sure if this would damage either device though. There is also a pouch, 2 rubber bands, some felt “feet” and a warranty card – very useful if you happen to lose your receipt. The USB OTG cable is very nice, rights angled and fits perfectly if you stack a phone on top of the D14.
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While the D14 is not the most feature packed device by any means, it does have all of the necessary things. At the front is a line out/in, phone out, gain switch and a volume knob, which doubles as an on/off switch. The back has a mini USB port, input switcher (USB, AUX, SPDIF) a charge switch and an SPDIF in jack. The charge switch is particularly useful if you use this primarily with your PC and don’t disconnect it. Constant charging isn’t great for the battery.

First, let’s get the negatives out of the way first – the D14 is not a small device at all and not all that portable. The footprint is quite small, but it is 2cm thick, so it would be quite hard for most to carry it in their pocket, especially with another device stacked on top. I also found that when I did put it in my pocket, the volume knob would sometimes get knocked, but this happens to every portable amp with a volume knob, not just the D14. 

The build quality on this is impressive, a large improvement over its younger brother, the D-Zero MKII. Although both are made out of metal, the D14 feels sturdier and the brushed look seems a lot nicer, to me at least. The chassis is very solid and looks like it could take a drop or two, not that I’m going to test that lol. It does, however, seem to scratch quite easily, so I would highly recommend putting the felt pads on, or strapping the provided rubber bands on. The two faces are brushed metal as well and the entire presentation looks very polished. The D14 looks like a true high quality product, more so than the price tag might suggest.
The jacks all feel great as well. I’ve read that they are the same as the ones implemented in the DX90, which are supposed to last 10000 cycles. So if you plug in and unplug your headphones 10 times a day on the D14, it should theoretically last 3 years or so. They do feel very sturdy and remain some of the nicest jacks I have come across. Surprisingly, they weren’t overly tight in the beginning, I find with some jacks they tend to gradually loosen out over time. They are also flush, so you won’t have a problem with any plugs. The USB and SPDIF plugs feel quite heavy duty as well.
I’ll elaborate a bit more on the D14 OTG features. Pretty much it is supposed to work with android devices with 4.1 or above. It did work with the SGS3 and Z2 I tried it with, but not a 4.1 SGS2, but I think that might have more to do with the S2 itself. It supposedly works with some Apple devices as well, but I did not get a chance to test that. For use with Apple devices, you will need a camera kit cable and connect it via the USB cable. Oh, and you will need to download a driver for your PC, no plug and play this time.
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Touching on the battery, it boasts 25 hours on either DAC or amp mode and 13 hours on both. The battery life of the DX90 is around 8 hours, which is around where most DAC/amps of the same calibre sit. The D14 is certainly very good in this regard and 13 hours should last almost all people an entire day even if you are listening all day. I find I charge the D14 around once a week. It does take 5 hours to fully charge from empty, so not very fast. I’ll be taking this on a trip to China soon, I’ll keep you guys posted how it holds up during then.
In terms of noise, I did notice a tiny bit of sound when nothing was playing, but that all disappeared when the music came on. Even when it was there, I had to really listen for it for it to even become noticeable, so I doubt you will have any issues with the noise floor of the D14. This was non-existent with headphones such as the HD600.
There was a bit of channel imbalance when the knob was quite low, but when I use it, I tend to make the volume on my source lower and turn the knob on the 14 up to around 11 O’clock. Not really a problem, most amps have a bit of channel imbalance at low volumes.
Whereas I did have a little problem with EMI with the D-Zero MKII, there was none on the D14 with any of the devices I tried it on. I was using the D14 around computers, in cars and with people calling around me, no issues whatsoever.
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Testing Gear
I tried the D14 with a range of sources and each one had a little bit of difference in sound. In the end, I just settled on the SGS3 for most of the review; I was using Poweramp for anyone interested. The IEMs I tried with these was the FAD Lab 1, Dunu DN-2000, TF-10, Earsonics SM3 v2, SE846 and a little audition with the Roxanne. For the most part I was using the Lab 1, I really enjoyed the way that they paired. I did test the high gain of the D14 with some headphones, which included the HD25, HD600, K7XX and HD800. Obviously the D14 wasn’t excellent with these harder to drive headphones, but it was sublime with the HD25. I was actually quite surprised with how well it drove the HD800s, I wasn’t expecting much at all, but it actually did quite well. I also used it with the DX90 with the coaxial out and line out to test the DAC and amp.

Sound Quality
For those that are unfamiliar with iBasso’s products, their house sound is generally known to be rather neutral with a little bit f top end sparkle and personally, I have found this to be the case in the iBasso devices I have used. I’m unsure as to what the D14 is supposed to lie on iBasso’s lineup – is it a DX90 rival or its successor? The fact that the DX90 is soon about to be discontinued suggests that iBasso feels like the D14 is perhaps superior and (hopefully) will bring out a DAP based around the same materials as the D14. One thing stands – the D14 is a remarkable DAC/amp, it is one of the most refined devices I have heard for the price and (spoiler alert) I even rate it higher than the DX90.


Amp Section
The amp was surprisingly powerful and obviously had no issues with any of the IEMs I threw at it. If there was anything “wrong” with the DX50 and 90, it was that the amp did not have that power to it to drive some headphones with authority. The D14 certainly does not suffer from this shortcoming and control especially is remarkable. It is the most refined amp for IEMs that I have tried. Not sure how it measures, but as I mentioned before, the output impedance is very low and had no bass issues with IEMs. Compared to the O2, the D14’s amp section is not as sterile and has a little more bass down low.

DAC Section
I had rather high hopes for the DAC of the D14 and I am a big fan of both the ES9018 desktop chip and the portable ES9018K2M DAC chips. The DAC on the DX90 was a huge highlight for me, it was detailed and very clean, not to mention neutral. Neutrality and detail is what I look for in a DAC and the D14 does rather well. I could not detect any colouration in the sound and it sounded just as detailed as the DX90, if not more despite having just one sabre chip compared to the two in the DX90.

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Nothing much to say about the bass as far as coloration goes – it is one of the most neutral devices I have used. The bass extension is exceptional, it goes down very deep and the bass response is incredible with my Lab 1. There was definitely sufficient rumble, but it felt in balance with the mid-bass and did not linger any longer than it should. The mid bass is punchy, fast and very well controlled. The bass detail is also very good, drum kicks are very clear and you can hear the soft vibrations afterwards. What struck me about the bass was how it managed to have a solid impact, but still remained very fast. Though it’s been a while since I last heard a DX100, it reminded me of that. At no time did I feel like the bass was boomy and overpowered the midrange. An excellent flat bass response.

The midrange sounds somewhat similar to the DX90’s mids. There is a sweet tone to the vocals, but it didn’t come out and sound cold at all. I seem to hear the D14 a little different to Cotnijoe, who states that the D14 is a little on the warm side. Personally, I felt like the D14 was very neutral, and if anything, slightly bright, but this might be because of different IEM pairings that we used. To elaborate more on the tone of the midrange, I heard it as slightly accentuated in the upper midrange region, but there was no glare and it wasn’t sterile sounding at all. However, it did a good job at retaining detail in both instruments and especially vocals. Despite the slight colouration, everything sounded very natural. The main thing I noticed was that vocals had a nice crisp edge to them, similar to the DX90.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the treble, I initially thought that it might have been a little bright, but after 50 hours or so it settled down. For those who get the D14 and think it is overly bright at the box, just leave it running for a while and come back to it. After 50 hours or so I didn’t detect any further change, no need for a 400 hour burn in like the DX90. The treble is definitely not bright any longer, but it is far from warm. I would put it at just a smidge brighter than neutral, it seems to have more of a sparkle compared to the D-Zero MKII, but a little less than the DX90 by itself. It is well extended and there is only a slight roll off at the higher treble region. Detail is where it really excels. It doesn’t push the details in front of you like the DX90, but instead presents them effortlessly. Cymbals had the perfect decay and tone.

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Separation, Detail & Clarity
As with many previous iBasso devices I have reviewed, the D14 excels in this category, which is one of the main things I look for in a DAP or DAC/amp. Due to the beefier amp on the D14, the separation seemed better than even the excellent DX90. It made the Lab 1 sound like a full sized headphone in a high end rig. The Lab 1 itself is very good with vocals and paired with the D14, vocal separation and detail was the best I have heard from a portable rig. I like Fun.’s tracks and use them to test vocals much of the time and the D14 sounded superb. Along with the FAD, it captured the detail and emotion in the vocals. With instrument separation it was also very impressive, never getting congested or muddy. The D14 is one of the best I have heard in this regard.

Like I mentioned briefly in the treble section, the D14 presents detail very effortlessly. It doesn’t seem to be overly detailed in the beginning, but it weaves even the most subtle of details into the music. It definitely matches the DX90 as far as detail goes, but it may not seem so initially. It allows for a less fatiguing listen. Clarity is also excellent because of the tuning. I felt like it was neural with a hint of brightness, which made the overall sound have a crisp edge to it without sounding artificial. Vocals, especially female vocals have very nice tone and clarity. Tiny clicks and bells in the background that I never realised were there with other DAPs were presented nicely by the D14. One of, if not the most detailed device for a little over $200.
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Soundstage & Imaging
For the soundstage I actually used the DN-2000 for my tests. Though the Lab 1 has a large soundstage, I felt like it centrals a lot of instruments and is not spaced out quite as well as the DN-2000. Width wise, the D14 is very good. The entire soundstage is actually very similar to that of the DX90, but a little larger. It had a surprising height to it, sometimes I would hear instruments quite high up, which I really didn’t expect. However, what impressed me most was the depth of the D14. Like the DX90, it really feels like it creates a 3D stage. The space that it creates was really unique, I haven’t really heard anything quite like it before. The soundstage in this little brick is really awesome, it really fills the stage.

For the imaging, I went back to the Lab 1 and was immediately reminded how good the pairing was. The imaging was quite simply not like anything I have heard from a portable rig before. The D14 was awesome, it had a pinpoint accuracy that reminded me of a good HD800 rig. It put everything into the right places and combined with the large soundstage it makes it very easy to identify where everything is. It is easily better than the DX90 in this regard and is just in another league to the $250 devices like the DX50, X3, ODAC/O2. I really could not have asked for iBasso to do a better job here.
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In terms of headphones, the presentation of the D14 reminds me most of the HD800. Accurate and expansive. I wouldn’t describe the D14 as laid back, but it is not upfront either – it distances the listener a little from the music. The stage seems like a concert hall and you can really hear the layering of the music.

iBasso D14 vs D-Zero MK2
Given that there have been numerous comparisons with the DX90 all throughout the review, I’m not going to compare it here. Something I think many people would be interested in is a comparison between the D14 and D-Zero MKII, given that the MKII is much cheaper and smaller. Coming in at half the price and half the size of the D14, the MKII may be an interesting option for many. The best description of the comparison of these is that it is essentially the DX50 vs DX90 all over again. The D14 is more detailed and overall more refined in all areas. Personally, I would go for the D14, but obviously it depends on your budget restrictions and what you are planning on using it for. For portable use I would go with the MKII, the D14 is too thick for that. But if you are going to use it primarily at home or in an office, the D14 is a much better choice IMO.


I guess I should probably stop ranting on already, this review has stretched on for longer than I expected already. The D14 is another impressive DAC/amp from iBasso and a worthy successor to the DX90. Coming in at $239, it beats one of the best DAPs under $500 for me and that is an extraordinary achievement. Combined with its neutral sound signature and detail, the D14 is an excellent choice for anybody looking for a DAC/amp and at least worth a consideration. As far as I know, nothing is as good as the D14 for the same price, it truly punches well above its price point. Hope this helped some of you guys 
Great review m8.

Did you have the opportunity to compare the D14 with Centrance M8?

with d12 ??


Sponsor: iFi Audio
Formerly with Unique Melody
Pros: Build Quality, Versatility in Function, Fantastic Sound
Cons: Too Thick to Actually Stack with a Phone and Fit in a Pocket
iBasso is a Chinese company that has been making some very quality portable components for very reasonable prices for quite some time now. I’ve owned multiple iBasso products, and when I saw that iBasso had announced their new portable DAC/Amp after some time away from their amplifiers, I was very excited to try them out. I contacted Paul, iBasso’s representative on Head-Fi, to see if he would be interested in organizing a tour for the new amplifier like many companies have started doing recently. To my surprise, Paul offered to send me a review unit to try instead – an offer that I wasn’t about to say no to.
I’d like to give Paul and iBasso a big thank you for giving me the opportunity to listen to the new D14. I’ve compiled my honest thoughts here in this review and hope that it will benefit those that are looking for a portable device in a market currently flooded with choices. This write-up has turned into one of the longest reviews I’ve ever written, so sit tight!
Packaging and Accessories:
A lot of companies have really upped their game recently to make the presentation of their products competitive with the flare that commercial audio companies like Beats and Monster. iBasso chose to go with the more traditional simple and informative approach to the D14. The box of the D14 is fairly simple – with a nice image of the D14 in the front and its specs in the back. Nothing fancy that makes the D14 look like a zillion bucks, but gets the job done just fine.
Inside, you get a nice black box with the D14 and accessories inside. The D14 is nicely padded and protected by foam. The accessories are tucked neatly in a little pouch – the one that’s also included with the DX50 and DX90. In the pouch, you get all the cables you’ll ever really need to use the D14 with as well as some rubber bands and feet for the amp.
One big thing to mention is that the OTG cable includes for use with a smartphone includes angled micro and mini USB connectors. Thank you iBasso. Thank you for getting that I need a low profile cable that is out of the way when I use an external DAC with my smartphone. Like almost all other portable DAC/Amps, the digital input is in the back, while the headphone out is in the front. With that kind of design, that means you’ll have a cable in the back and in the front of the device. So many manufacturers make the mistake of just including some generic straight plug with their device. Well, that means I have cables stick out from both sides of my device, which has effectively destroyed the portability of the device. By offering a nice, low profile interconnect, the D14 is actually able to be used portably! It’s a simple design that, for some reason, manufacturers just don’t get. Big thumbs up to iBasso.
Packaging of the D14 - Outside Box and What's Inside
Build and Design:
The D14 looks like you typical iBasso amplifier. I’m happy to see that iBasso hasn’t really deviated too much from their past designs. The housing is made completely out of brushed aluminum, with a black body and silver front and back plates. The D14 feels solid and definitely looks like it can take a bit of a beating. The only parts of the D14 that are plastic are volume knob and switches. Overall, the D14 has great build quality and fantastic looks.
Something I would like to point out is the 3.5mm jacks on the D14. I don’t remember exactly if they’re a proprietary design or just nice, but their certainly worth a mention. First introduced with the DX90, the jacks make another appearance with the D14. They look thicker and more heavy-duty than just about any 3.5mm jack you’ll see, and they provide a very tight and good fit for your 3.5mm connectors.
The D14 is a wonderfully versatile device. Its DAC section has the ability to take inputs via SPDIF, computer USB, or Android OTG. I think it basically covers most of your bases there for when you’re out and about. You can use it with smartphones, computers, as well as your DAPs. If you want to use just the amplifier, the D14 also has an analog input. Have a nice amplifier and want to use just the DAC section of the D14? The analog input also doubles as a line out. Again, connected the D14 any which way, it’ll likely work for you. It’s a wonderfully versatile device.
The size of the D14 is basically the same size as the DX90, only varying slightly from the size of the DX90. The small size of the D14 certainly makes it a fantastic portable device. However, for those looking for something pocketable with your DAP or smartphone, I think the D14 is just a tad too thick for that. Imagine stacking two DX90s up and putting it in your pocket. That’s a pretty substantial and silly looking bulge you’re gonna have there. There are devices out there with a slimmer profile I would recommend for those that’s really looking for something pocketable. For the rest of us that enjoy stacking up device after device, the D14 is fantastic as it’s quite small.
One thing I’ve noticed with the recent portable market is that they tend to sacrifice battery life for other aspects of the device, whether it be form factor, sound, or something else. I remember my first iBasso DAC/Amp had a battery life of almost 40 hours when using either DAC or amp alone. Nowadays, an amplifier with a 10+ battery life is considered above average. As someone who travels between Asia and North America every now and then, the recent decline in battery life has been a freaking pain for me. I’m happy that iBasso hasn’t followed the trend too much. While it’s not 40 hours, the D14 does boast up to 25 hours of use when using only either DAC or amp, and 13 hours when using both sections. Honestly that’s more than enough for me. I don’t use the D14 with my android, and the only time I use the D14 as a DAC/Amp is with my computer – which means it’ll be charging anyways. Thus, for my needs, the D14 is essentially an amplifier with 25 hours of battery. That’s awesome.
Something Paul of iBasso mentioned to me is that while the D14 can’t charge smartphones like a lot of DAC/Amps can now do, you can actually do the reverse and charge the D14 with your smartphone. I’m not how sure efficient that is, or how helpful it is, but I guess it’s good to have that option regardless.
The last thing to mention is that the D14 firmware for your computer also includes a fairly basic, but helpful, program called “iBasso Audio Control Panel.” The most helpful thing is that it allows you to change the output the DAC. D14 is a surprisingly powerful amplifier, and it can be a little too loud for me when I use more sensitive IEMs. Having the output adjuster gives me a lot more freedom with adjusting the volume knob of the D14.
Listening Impressions:
Noise Floor
When I first received the D14, it had a significant amount of hiss to it. Considering the fact that iBasso lists the D14 as having an output impedance of 0.1 ohms, the hiss was a bit troubling. After listening to the D14 for a couple days though, I noticed that the hiss had almost completely disappeared. The DX90 is possibly the quietest device I have ever tried, and I think the D14 now joins it as the two quietest devices. Plug in your sensitive IEMs with confidence. The noise floor of the D14 is fantastic!
While I don’t use the D14 with my smartphone, I did pair it with my HTC M8 One just to give it a shot. While pairing the two, I never got any sort of interference.
Channel Imbalance
Like many amplifiers, the D14 does have a little bit of channel imbalance below the 9 o’clock mark of the volume knob. Paul has informed me that it is normal and that all the D14s should have some imbalance below the 9 o’clock mark. It’s not an issue for the most part, but when I connected my DX90 to my D14 via SPDIF, I did find that it was just a tad too loud to listen to the music past the channel imbalance area of the volume. Do note that I tend to listen to my music at lower volumes than most people do.
For that reason, I just use the D14 as an amplifier so that I can still have digital control over the volume with the DX90’s digital volume control.
At this point, I’ve lost count of how many times someone has chuckled when I mentioned that the name of the new iBasso amplifier is “Bushmaster.” Alright… putting the provocative innuendos aside, what the hell is a Bushmaster, and why did iBasso choose this name? Turns out the Bushmaster are the largest viper in the world, capable of growing up to 3 meters in length. Yea, don’t mess with the Bushmaster or you might just regret it. Seems iBasso has decided to continue naming their DAC/Amp after snakes – eg. Boa, Anaconda, etc.
Like the viper, the D14 “Bushmaster” is a serious predator, as it packs a seriously deadly sound quality.
Most of my listening was done using the D14 as my computer USB DAC/Amp and with the Noble Audio Savant as the IEM. Music of all genres and of varying qualities was used, with the exception DSD files. Note that the D14 does support native DSD up to 256x though. Having owned 4 iBasso products now at different times, I can say I’ve become quite familiar with the iBasso house sound – and its one I enjoy a whole lot.
Noble Audio Savant with the D14 and DX90         
The bass is very well extended and possesses very clean and tight bass punch. I feel that both the sub and mid bass has just a touch of boost to it, making the sound of the D14 very nice and full sounding, especially with IEMs that lack a sub bass extension and can sound lean in the sub bass. Drum hits come off having a much more authoritative sound and feel much more natural and realistic. Thanks to its impressive extension and slight lift in the sub bass, bass texture also comes out clean and detailed – more so than any other amplifier I’ve heard at the price. I think iBasso struck a great balance with the bass of the D14. The bass has fullness to it, but you would never describe it as being accentuated, as it remains very true and natural.
iBasso amplifiers, in my humble opinion, have always presented some of the best midrange offered at their price range, and the D14 certainly didn’t disappoint here. First thing I have to point out is that the D14 has killer separation and one of the blackest backgrounds I’ve ever heard. The D14 also has a fantastic sense of musicality that many companies fail to nail. Many amplifiers aimed at a flatter and neutral response create a product that’s wonderfully clean, but lifeless and sometimes polite sounding midrange. While I feel that the D14 does deviated slightly from being flat, having a touch of warmth to it, boy is its sound anything but lifeless – the D14 sound rich, with an articulate and dynamic sound. While I like to describe the D14 as having a full, and slightly rich tone, I have to differentiate and clarify that D14 doesn’t ever sound thick. The balance of the D14 is very good.
Rather than taking a more energetic and airy approach like many consumer products take, I feel that iBasso generally takes a slightly different approach with their amplifiers, and that is the case with the D14. The treble is never dark sounding, but I do feel that it’s smoother with maybe just a tad bit of roll off, as it doesn’t offer a sense of air that something like the Cayin C5DAC or the Aune B1possesses (just two amplifiers I had the chance to review recently). The D14 doesn’t sound closed in, it just doesn’t feel like you’re in an open field. On the contrary, the D14’s treble demonstrates some fantastic control and beautifully natural decay. Despite having a smoother treble, the D14 nonetheless remains great detail retrieval. The best part is that while the D14 isn’t tuned to bring out its treble detail, I never feel that the D14 lags behind in detailed compared to other devices that are tuned to have a more pronounced treble.
Cayin C5DAC, iBasso DX90, and iBasso D14
iBasso D14 “Bushmaster” and DX90 (Amplifier Section)
Disclaimer: Both the amplifier and DAC comparison between the D14 and DX90 were compared with the DX90 running firmware 2.3.0.
I think the amp section of the D14 is superior to the DX90’s in many ways. The D14’s amplifier sounds much more natural and open sounding. Comparing the two, the DX90 has a more accentuated mid bass with less extension, a thicker sound, and a more closed-in feeling and smaller soundstage. The D14 then, has a slightly less accentuated and tighter bass punch, better separation, clearer vocals, and slightly more air. The D14 also feels more natural with the presentation of the music, as the DX90 feels more "in your head" while the D14 is able to present the music more in front of you than in your head.
iBasso D14 “Bushmaster and DX90 (DAC Section)
Both the DX90 and the D14 utilize the same Sabre32 ES9018k2M DAC with the difference being that the DX90 utilizes a dual DAC chip configuration while the D14 I believe uses just one chip. So how do the two’s DAC sections differ?
The DX90 is almost two years now at the time of this review, and it seems that iBasso has learned a few things about implementing the sabre DAC chip since the DX90. Despite only having one sabre DAC chip, the D14’s DAC section outperforms the DX90’s. The D14’s DAC is more resolving, by a surprising amount, boasting more vocal detail and a much more resolving treble. The treble is also slightly more sparkly than the DX90. The D14’s DAC is also cleaner with better separation and overall sounds much tighter. In comparison, the DX90’s DAC section sounds a bit soft in its articulation and impact.
I feel that both the DAC and amplifier section of the D14 is superior to the DX90. iBasso has clearly done their homework and improved upon the sound of their past products while offering the D14 at a very attractive price. Of course, the D14 lacks the ability to be a portable player, but to make up for that, the D14 does have the versatility that the DX90 doesn’t possess.
Cayin C5 DAC and iBasso D14 “Bushmaster”
The Bushmaster is iBasso’s 230 dollar return to portable DAC/Amps after discontinuing many of their previous portable products and focusing on the DAP market for a few years.
In terms of build quality, I think the D14 is a good bit better. The brushed aluminum chassis of the D14 feels more substantial and more securely put together. The D14 is also made completely out of metal with the exception of a few switches and its volume knob, while quite a few parts of the C5 DAC are hard plastic.
In terms of design and function, both products have its merits. Both have some minor background noise and channel imbalance issues, but the D14 hisses less. The D14 has the benefit of having a SPDIF in, allowing it to act as a DAC/Amp for products that do not have a USB line out. For example, many budget DAPs offered by iBasso or Fiio have some sort of coaxial out function, but lack a USB out. In such a situation, the D14 would allow the user to bypass both the DAC and amp section of the DAP if the user chooses, while the C5 DAC does not have that flexibility. On the other hand, the C5 DAC is slightly wider and taller than the D14, but also thinner by a good margin. This makes the C5 DAC a much more viable option for using it as an external DAC/Amp for your smartphones. Fitting both the D14 and a smartphone into one pocket is really pushing it, and honestly, no one wants to look at the bulge in your pants while you walk around. In terms of form and function, I find the C5 DAC to be a more suitable on the go device, while the D14 is very nice for plugging into your computer or players while you’re away from your home rig.
While I really enjoyed the sound of the C5 DAC, I just felt that the D14 edged it out by just a bit in most aspects of sound. Detail retrieval throughout the spectrum is just a bit better on the D14, bass extension is a bit better on the D14, and the midrange of the D14 is just fantastically fluid and natural. The midrange of the D14 is cleaner with better separation, imaging, soundstaging, and has a wonderfully black background. The treble of the D14 is also a little more controlled, detailed, and smooth. The benefits of the C5 DAC over the D14 is having a less colored sound and having a nice airy sound that isn’t quite as apparent in the D14. Overall, the D14 has a richer and punchier sound than the C5 DAC.
While I have a lot of praises for iBasso’s D14, I can’t undermine the C5 DAC’s capabilities either. iBasso just made a monster of a device. In terms of recommendation, I would absolutely point people in the C5 DAC’s direction if someone is looking for a more balanced sound or if someone is looking specifically for a portable DAC/Amp for their smartphone (and I would personally choose the C5 DAC over the D14 for this) or just someone who maybe doesn't quite like iBasso's house signature. While the D14 isn’t large, I just find it too thick to realistically be used as a DAC/Amp for your smartphone that you can just grab and put in your pocket. For those looking for a nice small device to use for just about any other situations though, I have to give the D14 a big recommendation.
Ending Thoughts:
I think the D14 is an amazing device and offers an amazing value at its 230 dollar price tag. Not only is it a versatile all-in-one portable solution, its sound is by no means compromised by the number of functions it can perform. I have yet to hear the Oppo HA-2, but I can say that with the possible exception of the HA-2 (which again, I’ve never heard, but it’s gotten a whole lot of hype), I can’t think of a device that performs at the level of the D14 for under 300 dollars. The D14 is also plenty powerful for a portable device. Kudos to iBasso for creating a beast of a product in the D14.
The Bushmaster is hungry, so those of you out there looking for a portable device might want to watch out for this killer predator.
D14 Product Page
More Info. on Head-Fi
My Portable Rig - DX90 and D14 Stack Beautifully
Hi Cotnijoe... (Sorry for the delayed response...)
Yes, the boom sound can be turned off IF you connect the phone output to the D14's analogue in. In this way, the M8 "sees" the D14 as a headphone and allows you the turn off the boom sound. Unfortunately, the D14 then acts only as an amp - not as a DAC/amp and you're operating on the phone's DAC. If you connect via the USB OTG connection to the D14, the M8 then thinks you're playing music through the speakers and you cannot switch the boom sound off.
Hope this explains things...
compare with d12 ??
It's a very good review thank you.
Although i still need your help. I have an ibasso dx50 and a Alo Continental v3. do you think i would improve my sound putting the d14 between them? I have tried Mjo and didn't like , besides the monster improvement in sound 'definition'. or.......any other idea for a portable dac?
Thank you and sorry for my english