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iBasso Audio DX200 Reference DAP

Rating:
4.57692/5,
  • 64GB + 256GB µSDXC DSD512 & 32Bit/384kHz Android DAP & USB DAC

Recent Reviews

  1. AnakChan
    A Long Term Review of the iBasso DX200
    Written by AnakChan
    Published Mar 17, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - A DAP that's stood through the test of tIme. It is as current now as when it was released 2 years ago - unlike other DAPs that have come and gone. It has as strong user-base community support and simply one of the (if not the) best customer support from its maker, iBasso. Sonically, a superb neutral sounding DAP shows great return on value.
    Cons - User interface could do a little more refining
    Introduction

    P3120022.jpg

    Personal audio enthusiasts of the past 12 years would be all too familiar with the iBasso brand. They started making amps, then to DAPs in the better part of the past 7 years, most notably the DX100. Whilst iBasso made some more mid-tier DAPs such as the DX50, DX80, & DX90, it wasn’t only until 2017 that iBasso finally had a new flagship, the DX200.

    Paul from iBasso sent me a review DX200 in Feb 2017 however until now I’ve not written up a review for it; instead I’ve contributed where I can in tiny little snippets and little posts here and there in the iDX200 and other threads.

    Roll forward over 2 years later, I’m finally writing a review. Why now? What has given me confidence in this DAP is that it has stood through the test of time, especially in this current dynamic climate where audio enthusiasts are changing their players faster than their warranties expiring.

    How has the DX200 been able to maintain the fuelling the steam train? At least to my opinion, it is due superb design - and I don’t mean aesthetics nor user functionality on the surface. By this I mean it was a properly thought out product from conceptual design to production and support. Not only are the modular amps usable across their suite of DAPs (DX150, and upcoming DX220) but the DX200 design caters its lifecycle to remain current and adaptable - such as supporting DSD512 which is becoming more prevalent now than when the DAP was first released 2 years back. Furthermore the design is open enough to cater for the DIYers to tweak not only just the firmware but the hardware components too.

    Contributive members such as @Lurker0 and @Whitgir keep the product alive with the support of iBasso. Even the member base has kept the DX200 alive and current for over 2 years.

    The DX200, however, didn’t come up as an immediate winner though when it was released back in 2017. It’s firmware instability in the early days definitely did not help its reputation much especially when its larger commercial competitors had DAPs with smooth interfaces, and did not suffer from ghost touches. However true iBasso fans stuck to their guns and provided their continual support over the years that the other competitor models came and left whilst the DX200 stood strong. iBasso Support greatly deserves the recognition to have open interaction with their fan base and often bending their backs to help their customers - all this for a $1000 product, that was competing in a market where competitors were easily charging $3000 - $4000.

    I believe this is where iBasso has shone as a company as who cares about their customers.

    Specs

    P4150001.jpg

    The DX200 uses a dual ES9028PRO DAC and boasts a 8 core 64 bit processor with 2GB LPDDR3 RAM. Whilst when it was originally released it was based off Android 6.x, the current supported firmware is Android 8.1.

    The base amp module is the general purpose AMP1, however over the past few years iBasso has also released the AMP2, AMP3, AMP4, AMP4S, AMP6, and more recently the AMP7 and AMP8. Each with their own speciality in various single ended 3.5mm outputs, up to the recently adopted 4.4mm balanced. Also more recently, a prototype AMP9 with Korg’s NuTube was exhibited in the e-earphone PortaFes Winter Dec ’18 Show.

    The DX200 also supports 5G WiFi & Bluetooth 4.0. With Android 8.1, the DX200 supports SBC, AptX, and LDAC.

    The DX200 battery lasts for a respectable 7-8 hrs depending on the amp module used and usage.

    Ergonomics

    PB180001.jpg

    The DX200 holds nicely in the hand and does not have an obnoxious heft as some of the other TotL DAPs are these days. Granted the DX200 gold is pretty heavy but that’s a limited edition, rather than mainstream model. The volume dial has a bumper which prevents accidental volume change and the buttons are mostly recessed protruding only ever so slightly. I’ve not had any accidental button presses on them either.

    Inputs and Outputs

    P8270019.jpg

    The DX200 has Coax out at the top, and supports USB-C for charging and transport. I don’t recall any other mainstream DAPs that used USB-C when the DX200 was released in 2017.

    The headphone/line out depends on the amp module of user’s choice. Some have headphone out only, whilst others have both headphone and variable line out.

    Firmware, User Interface & Operation

    P9070004.jpg

    As mentioned above, originally when the DX200 was released, there was much room for the firmware to improve, and improve it did. iBasso quickly fixed the ghost touches a few years back, and the current Oreo firmware has been very stable. Whilst the UI is still a little laggy compared to the likes of AK or Sony, however is a lot smoother than it used to be from its original firmware when it was released. @Lurker0 further helped to improve the operability and extend functionality which is own patching.

    The DX200 firmware allows a dual mode of listening either in Android mode with the Mango player, or in an Android cut-down “Mango native” mode.

    I tend to use the physical buttons for track control more than the touch screen as I find that to be a little more responsive.

    The battery life of the DX200 depends on which Amp module use but on average for a healthy battery, it should last ~7 hrs.

    Sonics

    PC150018.jpg

    Over the years, the DX200 has had different firmwares, each seem to have tweaked the sound a little bit in one way or another. Further the device has had a wide range of amps, each having their own tuning. However as an overall (and after 2 years of listening to it), I feel the DX200 has a very neutral presentation. The player has proven its ability for detail retrieval comparable to the likes of the Sony NW-WM1Z and AK players. Naturally each of those players would vary in how it decides to present the details it has retrieved. The little nuances and subtleties picked up in track recordings are presented ever so smoothly even compared to its expensive competitors. Sonically, there is nothing that even hints mediocrity in its music presentation.

    Customers who decide to pick other alternative DAPs would do so more for other reasons such as personal sonic preference, or for a smoother user experience, but it would not be for DX200’s sonic inferiority.

    AMP1
    This amp seems to be the base standard of the DX200. In terms of functionality it supports a 3.5mm single ended headphones, and 3.5mm single ended line out, and a 2.5mm TRRS balanced headphone. The amp to my ears have a somewhat flat signature but also a little rounded on both low and high ends. Sonically it wouldn’t be my personal preference as other iBasso amps seem to have a fuller signature, however I do keep the AMP1 handy for its line out functionally for testing external 3rd party amps.

    AMP2
    This amp is now discontinued and a more dedicated SE-only with 1x 3.5mm TRS for headphone and 1x 3.5mm TRS for line out. The AMP2 uses a 4 channel architecture with current feedback buffer based. Sonically the AMP2 seems to extend the either ends of the FR that the AMP1 rolls off. The AMP2 seems more give a somewhat fuller signature to single ended headphones.

    AMP3
    I spent a lot of time with this amp as it was a dedicated balanced amp for both headphone and line out in the 2.5mm TRRS size. For me this married the AMP2’s fuller signature with the AMP1’s balanced headphone out. Due to it being balanced, not only does one get the fuller signature of AMP2, but also a wider soundstage experience. The AMP3’s design is high voltage swing based.

    AMP4
    I only recently managed to get hold of this as it was available in limited quantities. The AMP4 took on the Pentaconn 4.4mm socket which has been gaining popularity in recent years being a more robust design than the 2.5mm size. Whilst this is also a high voltage swing design like the AMP3, to me sonically the AMP4 is my personal favourite as it seems to have an even fuller signature than the AMP3. The bass seems fuller and more impactful and the highs are refined and extended. To my ears, I feel the mids have an ever so slightly U-shape to give it a nice wide soundstage however not recessed by any means. IMHO it is a pity that iBasso didn’t further invest in the AMP4 (but as you’ll read next, they have the AMP8).

    AMP4S - AMP5 - AMP6 - AMP7
    Unfortunately I do not have these amps and therefore cannot comment on them. Whilst info about the AMP4S, AMP5, and new AMP7 are available on the internet. What’s intriguing to me is the elusive AMP6 which does not even appear in iBasso’s discontinued section, yet small quantities of AMP6 exists.

    AMP8
    Along with the release of the single-ended AMP7, the AMP8 is the latest production-ready balanced-only headphone out amp in the Pentaconn 4.4mm format. I feel this is the replacement of the AMP4. Prior to me receiving the AMP4, I shifted from the AMP3 to the AMP8 as most of my headphones were 4.4mm terminated. There were differences between the AMP8 and the AMP3 however where the AMP8 has a completely new discrete design that features both voltage and current feedback. I preferred it sonically over the AMP3 where I felt it made the soundstage even fuller and wider than the AMP3. However to my ears the AMP4 had the perks of the AMP8 but with a wider soundstage. As the AMP4 is no longer available (except in the used market), the AMP8 would be the go-to amp for 4.4mm based plugs.

    AMP9 (prototype)

    PC150014.jpg

    In the e-earphone December PortaFes Winter 2018 show, iBasso demoed the AMP9 which is Korg Nutube based. The Korg Nutube is vacuum tube in a dual in-line package (DIP). As it is a proper vacuum tube, the Nutube is also sensitive to vibrations. As the AMP9 is just a prototype, when one taps on the DX200/AMP9 you’ll hear the microphonic tube “ping”. As I heard the AMP9 at the show, it was hard to comment on how it sounded like. I do hope that if the AMP9 makes it to production, iBasso would (have room to) implement some kind of vibration dampening around the Nutube.

    How does the DX200 compare to other DAPs?
    The only other DAPs I have in my disposal are the Sony NW-WM1Z and loaner Cayin N8. Both of these DAPs are 3x the cost of the DX200 and therefore not entirely apples to apples comparisons.

    To my ears, irrespective of amp modules chosen, the DX200 has more of a reference-like sound which I attribute to the DAC of choice & implementation within the DX200.

    As previously mentioned, to my ears I feel the DX200 is able to retrieve as much detail as its higher ended competitors however the presentation may vary. I find that whilst the DX200 tended more towards a reference sound, the NW-WM1Z and N8 were more organic in presentation. There was greater depth imaging with the NW-WM1Z and N8 whilst the DX200 focused on soundstage breadth. In fact in NW-WM1Z’s firmwares, the DX200 had a wider soundstage than the Sony. Over the years as firmwares of both DAPs improved, the NW-WM1Z’s soundstage caught up, whilst the DX200 improved in UI response.

    Conclusion

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    The iBasso DX200 has definitely stood the test of time. Despite a DX220 coming up, I feel the DX200 base will remain strong especially in the DIYer community. Although I’ve not seen nor touched the DX220, I feel it’s taken some strong directions from where the DX200 itself had evolved in the past 2 years with thanks to the DIY community.
    1. Grimbles
      Thanks @AnakChan for a really interesting read. Id be really interested to hear some more impressions of the amp9 if you get the chance to hear it some more.
      Grimbles, Mar 19, 2019
    2. AnakChan
      I really wonder if the AMP9 will go to production. I've not really heard much about it since its prototype debut in Dec. IMHO it still needs some work especially around the vibration dampening aspect. It's not useable OTG without it, the vacuum tube ping would annoy the heck out of the listener. Maybe iBasso would get back to it again after the DX220's released.
      AnakChan, Mar 21, 2019
      Grimbles likes this.
  2. icefalkon
    iBasso DX200 with AMP 8 Review
    Written by icefalkon
    Published Dec 31, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Amazing detail, price point, and soundstage.
    This review of the iBasso DX200 is long overdue. I received my unit a year ago, long before it was publicly released. I have been putting her through the paces for a year now and am finally ready to share my thoughts and insights on the device.

    First I would like to thank Paul from iBasso for all his support to the entire community over the last year. He and the iBasso Team have shown us all that a manufacturer with integrity can produce a DAP that is both affordable and comparable to players far above it’s price point. They have also shown us that they are the pinnacle of community based support which is now being copied by other manufacturers.

    The firmware for the unit has been upgraded over the course of the year with improvements primarily coming from our friend @Lurker0. As time went by we found more out about the DX200…such as it’s amazing ability to decode DSD512 files and it’s superior DYI tinkering capability.

    At last years NYC CanJam 2018 @jamato8 and I were able to preview the DX200 TI and were floored by its sound. I chose to not upgrade because I wanted to put the original unit through its paces…the unit that most people would come to love and enjoy.

    I recently upgraded the firmware to Oreo 8.1 with Lurkers fix for Playstore and @WindowsX’s Fidelizer ROM. Doing so has improved the sound of the unit remarkably and I’ll go into that later.

    Please note: I am not a paid reviewer, nor am I an employee of iBasso. I am just like you…a fan, an audiophile, and a working man with an expensive hobby/habit…lol.

    So to begin, the DX200 High Resolution Reference Audio Player has the following product description:


    Product description


    Main Features
    - 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.
    - Audio Formats Supported: APE, FLAC,WAV, WMA, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, OGG, MP3, DFF, DSF, DXD.
    - Support for M3U Playlist
    - 4400mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer battery (Play time varies depends on volume, music type, and AMP card)
    Specifications
    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 (64O@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 (32O@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


    I have burned this unit in for somewhere between 1500 and 2000 hours. I began with AMP1, then 2, 3, 4, 4s, 5,6, 7, 8, and now I have been using the upgraded AMP8 thanks to the fine work by @Whitigir. Vince has been a pioneer with tinkering and improving the sound of this DAP as well as introducing us all to the DSD512 format. Before him, no one had a clue that this little unit had the sheer processing power to convert these files. Thank you for that Vince!


    Packaging:

    As with all iBasso products since the venerable DX100, the unit was packaged beautifully and securely. I’m not including pictures here because there are plenty of them available if you want to see how the box looks. Included with the DAP are screen protectors, a leather case, optical cables and burn in cable.

    I recommend reading the DX200 thread to learn about its full capabilities and to upgrade to the most recent software immediately. Yes, it makes a huge difference.

    Basics:

    I have one single playlist that I use for all my reviews and auditioning of equipment. Every file is FLAC and chosen for its complexity and uniqueness. For the DX208W (DX200 with AMP8…the W stands for Whitigir) I had been using FLAC’s for most of the year, but have since converted the entire list to DSD512.

    For listening I am basing my review on ALL the IEM’s I have used over the course of the year, including my old JH Audio Angies, my Traulucent OneplusTwo’s, and now the iBasso IT04’s. For headphones, this review is based upon my well burned in Audeze LCD2 NF.

    The Playlist:

    Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody, One Vision,
    Rush – Tom Sawyer
    Allman Brothers – Statesboro Blues, Melissa, Jessica, Ramblin Man, Whipping Post, Midnight Rider
    Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer
    Kool and the Gang – Celebration, Ladies Night
    Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
    Thin Lizzie – The Boys are Back in Town
    John Lennon – Imagine
    Dire Straits – Money for Nothing
    Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Lucky Man
    Beatles – Hey Jude, Let it Be,
    Bachman Turner Overdrive – You Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet
    Skid Row – I Remember You
    Extreme – More Than Words
    Gary Moore – Parisienne Walkways
    Meatloaf – I’d Do Anything for Love (But I won’t do that)
    Thompson Twins – Hold Me Now
    Genesis – Lonely Man on the Corner, Tonight,
    Def Leppard – Pour Some Sugar on Me
    Kiss – Rock and Roll All Night
    Jefferson Starship – Jane
    Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares to You
    Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven, Fool in the Rain, Kashmir, Over the Hills and Far Away
    The Righteous Brothers – Unchained Melody
    The Eagles – Hotel California, Desperado
    Bob Marley & the Wailers – Redemption Song
    The Doors – Light My Fire
    The Animals – The House of the Rising Son
    Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama, Simple Man, Free Bird
    Boston – More Than A Feeling
    Metallica – Enter Sandman
    The Bee Gee’s – How Deep Is Your Love, Stayin Alive
    The Kinks – Lola
    Dusty Springfield – Son Of A Preacher Man
    Creedence Clearwater Revival – Fortunate Son, Bad Moon Rising
    James Taylor – Fire & Rain
    Gladys Knight & The Pips – Midnight Train to Georgia
    Alabama – Mountain Music
    Asia – Heat of the Moment
    Black Sabbath – The Sign of the Southern Cross, War Pigs
    Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band – Turn the Page
    Crowder – Forgiven, Come As You Are
    Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb, Wish You Were Here
    Beethoven – Piano Sonata #14 in C, Symphony #5, #6 and #9
    Pachelbel – Canon in D

    What I have found over the last year with the device is that it is incredibly versatile. Anything that I’ve thrown at it, it can handle. Not just play, it plays everything on this list way beyond the other players I’ve had in the past. I have heard nuances in this selection of music that I have never had the pleasure to hear before. That brings me into the next section of my review…sound.

    Sound

    Way back when I first received the unit I borrowed a Sony WM1Z and an AK380 from a fellow Head-fier to compare the DX200 to. I called it then, and I reiterate it now even more so…this unit sounds just as good as the both of those “premium” DAPs. Everyone’s ears are different and to mine, now that I have @whitigir’s modded AMP8, I believe the sound has surpassed both of them. The sound stage and separation of instruments is pronounced, the vocals are ridiculously clear, and the sheer ability to make any genre that I’ve thrown at it sound amazing are at the core of the DX200’s awesomeness.

    I don’t care what genre you listen to, I don’t care what IEM’s or Cans you possess. There is an AMP that will fit your style and compliment the music you play. As with any TOTL DAP, the better the music the better the sound. That’s why I went from using FLAC’s to DSD512s for the DX208W.

    With Classical, you can hear the bow on the violin strings, the vibration of the orchestral drumsticks and the pages turning as they play.

    With Rock, you can hear small nuances in the background that previously were not heard and even the tapping of the guitarists on the fret boards.

    With Country/Blues, I have had the pleasure to be able to hear when the vocalists are sipping a drink during the solos as well as inflections in their voices that I've never heard before.

    This is incredible. There’s no other way to put this.

    Conclusion

    I can’t go into the science of this unit, because well…that’s not my thing. I just write about what sounds good or bad. With this one, iBasso did good…Real Good. The fact that this is a sub $1000 DAP for the basic DX200 with AMP1 and you get crazy sound is mind blowing. Once you start playing with AMP modules the cost goes up, but you still are getting way more bang for your buck than with any other DAP, hands down.

    This unit has surpassed the old DX100, which was the top of the food chain for DAP’s 10 years ago.

    Bravo iBasso, Bravo.

    images

    1. avatar290090.jpg
      fokta and Whitigir like this.
    1. Whitigir
      Excellent review! I love the DX200 very much too, and I am with everything that you said above. Soundstage, details, layering and separations. That is the strongest point of the DX200
      Whitigir, Dec 31, 2018
      Redcarmoose likes this.
    2. rrbaer
      Excellent review! Love my DX200 too, and agree with everything you said. As a long-time FLAC listener, your DSD comments have me curious. From the sample list you posted, we have very similar listening preferences. Can you point me in the right direction to get the tracks in a higher-res format than decent FLAC? I'm seeing primarily classical tracks and albums for sale, and no rock so far. Have you had to purchase full albums, or do some sell tracks? Sorry for the noob questions on DSD...
      rrbaer, Mar 28, 2019
  3. Whitigir
    Technology Packed !
    Written by Whitigir
    Published Jun 26, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Cheap, features packed, Native D512, External USB....etc...WiFi....Excellent price-performance ratio, High-end worthy!! Live DSD512 Via USB DAC
    Cons - Bugs can be found here and there, slow charging, 64Gb internal....
    If you are into this hobby, and especially also seeking for Portability just like me, then you will find some helpful informations from my journey down this road and the experiences that I am about to share. I found my purchase of this little device has served it purpose very well and totally justifiable
    49F4AAE9-AA56-4DBD-A594-6420F18022C0.jpeg

    It seems that everything is heading down the road where good sound quality will be associated with higher pricing. Will there be a gem somewhere that would be named "giant killer" ? It seems Fiio and Ibasso are both trying to do this with their release of recent flagship X7 and Dx200. I couldn't pocket change both players at the same time, so having to purchase the Dx200 first just due to the Dual DAC chips inside vs 1 single Chip ES9028Pro from X7. Does it really matter 1 or 2 ? I don't think so, but I feel better having 2 instead of 1. What have ticked the box for me ?


    1/ affordable pricing $959.99


    2/removable Amp-card. The possibilities are endless. Developing new modules frequently


    3/android 6.0. Developing new firmwares frequently and Lurker custom firmware available


    4/Dual Es9028Pro, desktop tier DAC


    5/USB-DAC function


    6/ Native DSD upto D512. You read it correctly, and in my opinion, if you have FLAC from CD, you can upconvert your files to D512 using XiVero. The idea is to have the files being processed and modulated at the utmost accuracy as the PC can spend unlimited amount of time to process, and does not process the synchronous signals on the fly (which heavily relying on clocking systems and other plethora of things, in contrast of more storage for D512, about 1.5gb per track)

    With newest firmware and only in mango mode, the Dx200 can play Native DSD512 without stuttering and charging together, so you never run out of juice. What a winner the Dx200 is!
    E36D768C-0758-46F3-8DCD-6C5EAE4E2D9F.jpeg
    Arriving just 3 days after purchasing directly from the website by DHL. Out of the box and I realized that he is a man. The design language is straight forward, muscular and tank like, thick, yet with gentleness. He came with already applied screen protector and installed amp1 card, inside a fancy box with very nice accessories, especially USB type C cables that has cotton sleeve for flexibility and thick! A burn-in dongle, spdif to coax cable, a genuine leather casing protector.


    Skipping all the fancy boxing itself, the Dx200 was fit in a very nice box for a very eyes catching attentions, and looking at it, the protective film printed "dual es9028Pro" in gold color that popped my eyes out to just having it permanently removed a moment later. Good idea to have it written at the boot up screen !


    Now, into the design of the swappable amp modules. This design was patented by Ibasso and it was genius, the thick slab of metal chassis in front, which has the LCD screen on top, to act as a solid base for the amp module to lay on with the L-Brace locking mechanism that you need to slot in your amp card first, and then pushing it toward the player. This design allows 2 main superbly thoughts functions


    1/ locking mechanism to allows a tank like attachment, and that once locked in, you can only slide it in or out. There is no way to swing it side to side or up and down. This guarantee precise sliding movement only


    2/ precise sliding movement will provide a steady in and out only to prevent accidents where you slip and may damage the amp card or the receiver slot


    3/ larger display screen in the front !


    Once it is swapped in, and screwed lock, it is impossible to damage the amp card or the player intentionally.


    On the top, there is Spdif and USB type-C sockets. This is awesome, because the USB-C is not moving in and out with the amp card, thus leaves more room for the amp module to stuff things, and digital transmissions are kept away from the analog amplifications.


    The side buttons are nicely bulged out but is almost flushed with the protective bar to prevent pressing it accidentally, and the volume wheel is covered sitting inside the bar to prevent rolling and touching it accidentally. The angle of the semi-covered volume wheel is carefully thought that if you slightly sliding your finger on top of it, the wheel just will not budge. This wheel is designed better than Opus #2 and #3


    The Operating system is Open android 6.0 without google play store. There is no root needed to be able to install custom firmware, and so you can install whatever fit your needs. Even if you want to roll back into previous firmware. You just need to make sure to use the batch tool provided by Ibasso to do a clean wiping for the installations.

    26AF2F67-CB88-4ACC-A2C7-E057E9C67740.jpeg
    We know that Android has limitless playback apps, and Dx200 comes with stock Mango app. Then pressing the power button to turn off, there is an option to switch into a more simple Mango-mode. It is still buggy and I prefer Android 6.0. I love installing the APK files using files explorer on dx200, and my favorite now is APK Pure app. This is similar to google play store but you get things for free. Beside this, you can install custom Lurker firmware, which will bring a lot more into play, especially google store to log-in with your account and download your already purchased apps


    The player can last about 7-8 hours out of Most amp modules which is 6Vrms power output, and it can still be charged while using headphones Balanced out. The player gets warm, but not terribly warmth. It can get very very warm if you play D512, I recommend to remove the leather pouch so the player can cool properly.


    Mango player app within Android. This app is Ibasso specialty, and some people may like it, some don't. In my personal opinion, the app at stock configuration has emphasized sub-bass, but it has excellent layering and separation with smooth and vivid resolutions edges. However, I found that by switching EQ on and not using any EQ bars, the Mango player has a more neutral sub-bass presentation and retaining all of everything else.


    Mango app interfaces: navigating it was fairly simple, and this is my first time with it, and it took me less than a few minutes to figure which goes where. So it is fairly simple to use.


    Practicality and applications:


    SPDIF up the top or the main body to assure the purest signals transmission as a digital transport out. If you have been a fan of SPDIF over USB ? Sure will be a winner feature here. Dx200 comes with a short Interconnect of adequate quality for SPDIF to Coax, and it does Native DSD by DOP. I tried on my Sr009 system and I got DOP 64, just simply plug and play. Mango/stock app will just do it wonderfully for DSD
    0B371D2A-6BE5-4646-9FBF-978658B276CA.jpeg

    Would better cables work here ? Yes, you can make an upgraded cables using better wires. I use solid silver for my custom cables and it does a wonderful job. I can also charge it using the USB as well. Using DX200 as digital transport into my desktop DAC which uses dual Es9038Pro. (Lks-004). Though, unless you know what you are doing, to get the best out of Coax Cables, I recommend you be buying a good cables instead.
    46D7DD6A-844C-44BD-89BC-C014B427701C.jpeg

    USB-DAC : There is a trick to this, you need to enable the feature first before plugging in anything, otherwise it may get messed up and wouldn't work. Once it works, you have the awesome performances from your computers or iPad.


    EQ features: this feature can be enabled and used effectively while using the player with Spdif/coax out into your desktop DAC.


    Digital filtering: There are 7 modes that is fully accessible within Mango app. However, if you are using 3rd party app such as Neutron...etc...you can access by setting>>>sound and notifications. Or in Ibasso App, just Swipe Left.

    0049545B-68EC-4AB8-BD77-9560D649DC28.jpeg
    1BA6AD29-1BB4-4DCB-8E14-742D246C2888.jpeg
    ***My favorite*** is Apodizing, it offers the most soundstage in all axis for my observation with superb layering and separation and most authentic tonal body, and this carries on into Spdif/coax out.


    Accessories: it comes with amp1 stock, short spdif/coax cable, nice and soft USB C cable.


    Sound performances:


    Sound signature: Naturally neutral timbres. Soundstage is expansive, immersive, clean and clear, Snappy with great resolutions and details, spacious and energetic. That is General signature, but with the ability to upgrade amp card is limitless, and so far there are 4 upgraded amp cards, and more will be coming soon. Better yet, they are all just as affordable as the player itself. I have came across most modules and I have found different signatures from each of them. It depends on your personal gears (headphones/iems) to justify aiming for which ever module. Yet, there are slight differences, but it will not be a deal breaker or that you should sell your kidney to find some limited release modules as I am very sure that Ibasso will always aim to improves the performances with every module released, and the best yet, they are all interchangeable toward DX150, and it will not stop there. A fun fact is that most of these modules are specked at 122+ dB Signal to noise ratio, Amp4 is 124db.

    In conclusion, the DX200 is yet another device to shake this industry for high quality portable audio. It has adequate power to drive full-size headphones and even HD800/S (depends on Amp modules, I favor Amp4S and 800s together). It amp modules has very low output impedance <0.65 ohms (generally found from different posts) and ofcourse it depends on amp modules. The upcoming Amp 7,8 with discrete components will be <0.35 ohms, which are excellent for sensitive iems.

    The pricing is barely the price of a smartphones, technology packed to do everything you would want, external USB DAC , Digital transport via SPDIF or USB, Wifi, Native DSD upto D512 or 22.4MHz, Bluetooth....maybe I forgot something.

    The DX200 not only offer a very high quality sound performances that can rarely be found from other DAP at this price range, and even if you find it, you won’t have the Swapable Amp modules which is a huge advantage. DX200 can also serve other purposes that you may or may not need. In the end of the day, I am most happy with the price, the modules, the Coax that DOP and D512 Native. I just run out of words to praise this little portable device.

    Oh, and if you can not pocket this price range, you can also opt for the little brother DX150 as well.

    Does it have the negative things ? Yes, slow charging for the speed of battery drainage, firmware can be a little complicated at first, too cheap for it performances in comparison to the present market direction, only 64Gb internally and 1 single SD slot. There are other minors annoying things here and there, but I can not complain from this price-performances ratio. Yet, you may also wonder how DX200 would perform against the Giant Sony WM1Z, it gets very close and can hold it Ground, ultimately if you know what you are looking for, the wm1Z is a superior player, but if you simply look from personal preferences point of view, these 2 are as equal as a performer as much as distinctive different sound signatures, and so the ultimate decisive factor would come down to “your wallet”.

    Remember, enjoy your music, and satisfy your “curiosity”. Ultimately, no one can explain or details out about what a single person may or may not want, therefore I urge you to try the Dx200 out for yourself. You may leave with dx200 in your pocket or without it. But one thing for sure is that you will not be disappointed.

    **Updated** As of today another member @tennessee discorvered that Dx200 can be used as external DAC that can take upto Native DSD512 by live streaming from a PC. I am configuring it with Jriver now, using windows 10-64 bits and downloaded windows driver from Ibasso website. It works just like a breeze, easy to setup, live upscale from PC by 16/44.1 into DSD512 and it sounds so wonderful. It runs hot, recommended to take out of leather case and put on a cold surface !

    This is beyond crazy for a portable player. I noticed Ibasso did not include the features into the website, so here I put up with a picture too

    8B57608F-E28B-4769-99B3-BCCE64EAB74C.jpeg
    298CA584-0B87-418D-B53C-1700BB071767.jpeg

    I love Dx200 performances and practicality so much that I upgraded into Dx200Ti (titanium limited release) right away! I am pairing it into my Stax KG-T2 and SR009/S. The performances are crazy for DSD512 Native Playback. I did use the best theoretical (offline conversion DSD 512) and also trying live feed upscale from a PC.

    It is only a little behind in soundstage compares to Desktop DAC (20% or so). However, In compromising larger and more expansive soundstage, I observe better details of upper mid and lower treble. Dx200Ti when used as a dedicated DSD512 source is not shy away from Desktop system. It is outright Insane! When using Amp1Ti that comes with the Dx200Ti, I observed narrower soundstage but better trebles and details resolutions from upper mid and lower trebles, leaner bass with sub-bass being very tight and linear, where as with Amp8 there are more bass and sub-bass bloom with authority, more expansive soundstage but also a little less of upper mid and lower trebles. The level of Triangle performances and it resonances being played back under this vividity is crazy for a portable player !

    The Titanium is a limited edition that Ibasso released for hardcore enthusiasts with only 66 units world wide, and anyone could buy it but it went out of stock in 10 minutes !! However, the Dx200 is not to be underestimated. This level of performances and practicality has officially put the Dx200 to be the best portable player on the market at the moment !!!

    The Titanium main signature is an improvement upon the regular Dx200 into : Soundstage, layering, separation, airiness, and treble fidelity. Most specially and notable is Treble resolution and it airiness. It can be observed both from using PCM that makes uses of the internal DAC decoding or Native DSD512. Totally worth every pennies from my own point of view. This is a confirmation that when Ibasso is allowed to put the best of their enthusiastic heart into a special product (limited edition), they really do make it special !

    For Live DSD512 conversion, I recommend a dedicated PC Built with Linear power supply and good processing power. Also, Foobar for the best performances (not Jriver). For best result, use offline conversion DSD512 (not many desktop can perform great Live DSD512 conversions)
    BA4E7F42-38EE-4162-99AD-E3DF101DC503.jpeg
      ranjitotski, fokta, cycheang and 4 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. simonfraser
      can anyone confirm that Tidal will actually DL and play off line on the DX200 ?
      simonfraser, Aug 26, 2018
    3. jasonho
      Yes, I am able to download and offline play Tidal songs
      jasonho, Aug 27, 2018
      trellus likes this.
    4. simonfraser
      Tnx Jasonho, dx200 ordered.
      simonfraser, Aug 30, 2018
  4. PinkyPowers
    The Womb of New Worlds
    Written by PinkyPowers
    Published Mar 10, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Sound. Power. Features. Design. Changeable Amps.
    Cons - Clunky, buggy OS.
    DX200 & Fourte 01.jpg
    ~::I originally published this on THL. Now I wish to share it with my Head-Fi fellows::~

    :: Disclaimer ::

    iBasso provided the DX200 free of charge for the purpose of my honest review, for good or ill.

    The DX200 sells for $899, and each AMP module for $200.
    www.iBasso.com
    iBasso on Amazon

    ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    This came as one of those bad-ass surprises which makes you smile in a fiendish grin and fills your guts with butterflies OD’ing on Ecstasy. I did not request the DX200. Well, that’s not true. I did, months ago, but never received a reply. That happens a lot, so I thought nothing of it and moved on.

    Recently, I contacted iBasso again, inquiring about their new IT04 IEM. This time I did hear back. However, the 04 was not ready for release, and Paul Hu suggested I review their new IT01 instead. I’ve since done so, and it’s outstanding. He also asked if I wrote about more than just earphones. This is probably when the early stages of the grin began. Walking him through my recent DAP reviews, and my Beta Testing of the Cayin N5ii, hope burbled within. His next reply was pure sex.

    “I’m sending you the IT01, as well as the DX200.”

    Four days later, this spilled onto my hardwood floor.

    iBasso Shipment.jpg
    Included in Paul’s package is the standard DX200 player with AMP1 module installed. As well as AMP4 and AMP5 in separate boxes. I also found a 2.5mm TRRS-to-4.4mm TRRRS adapter, so I could use my 2.5mm balanced cables with the AMP4 module. This turned out to be extremely useful. Further supplies include a lovely leather case and a burn-in cable, along with the USB Type-C cord and a few other things I never used and so don’t recall off-hand.

    It’s a generous assortment of gear I’ve had a great time playing with. Much thanks to iBasso and Paul for the opportunity!

    So let’s get into it, shall we?

    Unboxing 01.jpg
    Unboxing 02.jpg
    Unboxing 03.jpg
    Unboxing 04.jpg
    The iBasso DX200 is built like a tank, fortified and rugged. Beauty is not a virtue iBasso prioritized in this design. They wanted something which would stand up to hard use in practically any environment. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a kind of elegance to it. You know you’re holding a high-end, quality product, especially when you throw on the leather case with that brass snap. An IPS panel is used for the display: 4.2inch, 768×1280. It’s vibrant, smooth, and free of pixilation. Very nice. Each button depresses with a solid feel, and the volume wheel, secured behind part of the chassis, turns with smooth, precise clicks.

    Volume Wheel.jpg
    Back.jpg
    Buttons.jpg
    Ports 01.jpg
    Ports 02.jpg
    SD slot.jpg
    I do so fancy a good leather case. I have a bit of a collection growing. This one, though, is by far the most unique.

    Case 01.jpg
    Case 02.jpg
    This is a full and open Android device. You can get access to 3rd party apps, WiFi, Video, and Bluetooth. I can’t speak to how stable any of that is, since I like to use my DAP as a locked-down, dedicated music player. Even as a reviewer, I just can’t be bothered with features that don’t interest me. I’m the worst, I know.

    Well, Bluetooth did receive some love from me. I have a few wireless headphones: B&O H9, Klipsch X12 Neckband… and the DX200 gave me decently stable playback. Not flawless, but above average for a boutique Asian company.

    Pinky’s a purist. I use all DAPs the same: 16bit and 24bit FLAC, from 44.1Khz to 192Khz, and a few DSD albums, all accessed via Browse by Folder from microSD and Internal Storage. If it handles that well, it’s passed my functionality test. I can’t tell you how well it sorts by Artist or Genre, or how finicky it is as a USB DAC. I just don’t use it like that.

    So how does it handle my basic use?

    First, the iBasso UI is weird. It’s unlike any other DAP I’ve tried and took a while to familiarize myself with. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but you should prepare for a bit of a learning curve. Once you do grasp the UI, it’s still a bit awkward and could do with a serious overhaul. It’s not very intuitive or streamlined. It is functional, though, and full of tools to customize your experience.

    You will experience some lag. Most notably when the DAP buffers before playing a new album. This would be awful enough in and of itself, but it gets worse. Many times, after the buffer-period, the song is already a few seconds into playback before you hear anything. Fortunately, this only occurs on the first song in a playlist or album, and everything after that flows smoothly. Indeed, Gapless weaves the songs together without hitch or seam.

    In standby/sleep mode, the battery drains so slowly you may be tempted to just keep the DX200 on all the time. That’s how I use Opus DAPs. However, the iBasso develops quirks if I keep it on for two days in a row. It randomly pauses my music while I’m listening, forcing me to hit play again. And this issue can come on with frightful frequency. I don’t need to tell you, a disruption like this is a potential deal-breaker. A music player that doesn’t play music smoothly is pointless.

    The way I’ve avoided this game-breaking bug is by rebooting the DX200 every day. It’s on all day and charging all night. In the morning, I just hit Reboot before I begin my listening session at work. This seems to keep things fresh and more or less bug free. Playing my FLAC and DSD files in the iBasso music app becomes a pleasing endeavor.

    DX200 01.jpg
    ~::All sound impressions were done after the unit and AMP modules went through a full week of burn-in, plus a few additional weeks of simple listening and use.::~

    The iBasso DX200 delivers a big, powerful sound of immaculate detail and clarity. It’s been called bright, with its dual SABRE DACs, and I can’t exactly argue the point. It definitely has more treble energy than I’m used to. Yet somehow, iBasso balanced this brightness with authority and weight. There’s significant body to these notes, and only a fool would call the DX200 thin or cold.

    I’ve learned, through reviewing so many DAPs, nothing separates one tier from another quite so distinctly as how well they render depth and three-dimensionality. DX200 dwarfs everything else I’ve heard. It has a remarkable gift for conveying space, and the shape of the various elements within that space. Among all the DAPs I’ve tested, this one stands the furthest from the crowd.

    Each time I listen to this device, I am struck by its resolution and transparency. Every player these days boasts “Hi Res” capacity, but the DX200 ******* sounds it, to a degree other players ought to envy. I would not praise this feat nearly so much if iBasso didn’t marry its tremendous resolution with a profoundly natural, realistic quality. DX200 is grounded, deep, and honest of spirit. Never does it suffer from the artificial SABRE glare common in some other devices bearing that chip. Its implementation is sublime.

    DX200 02.jpg
    Soundstage is enormous—no other way to describe it—its width, depth, and height just phenomenal. As is the separation of elements, and the cleanliness of the stage. The darkness of the background makes the notes pop vividly, and you can sense the space behind them. Truly holographic, and mighty impressive.

    Now, all that was based on AMP1 Module… the least-special of all available options. Here’s how the others compare:

    AMP4 with its 4.4mm balanced port is my favorite. The soundstage expands to unreasonable dimensions. And since I’m an unreasonable fellow, I appreciate the madness. The power and weight of the music reaches all-time highs. Smoothness and detail increase, as does naturalness and dynamism. You could say it’s an improvement in dichotomies. But the sickest aspect of all is how deep and rich the holographic image becomes. With the right monitors, this sensation is so palpable it can overwhelm me. So real it’s surreal. I love it!

    Adapter 02.jpg
    Adapter 01.jpg
    AMP5 with its 3.5mm single-ended port is stronger than AMP1, and on par with AMP4. It’s the smoothest and warmest of them all. Very full and organic sounding. Yet it lacks the transparency of AMP1 and the magic of AMP4. It feels more traditional in some ways, whereas AMP4 is way outside the box. This is a great choice if you just need to power some full-size cans and don’t have a balanced cable for them. With bodied, meaty notes, and awesome driving power, there aren’t many headphones that will fail to come alive on this Module. Maybe it’s not as fun and weird as AMP4, but it will get the job done and sound bloody amazing while doing so.

    The Opus#2 ($1,299, Review HERE has been my top player and reference source for around a year now. I’ve found its replacement. While the Opus has a grand soundstage, DX200, especially with AMP4, is grander. Depth on the Opus is excellent, but nothing like DX200. The 3D rendering, also, is flat-out beaten. In terms of tuning, the Opus#2 is noticeably warmer, and this helps it achieve a more natural, organic character than even DX200 can match. I want to say it has a blacker background, though to be honest, both are very good in this regard. You can’t go wrong with either DAP, but I’ve begun favoring the DX200, and I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon.

    Now, the newly released Opus#1S ($399) is warmer still, and wonderfully smooth. It has a delicious, cozy sound which is perfect to relax to. Soundstage is smaller, dynamics aren’t as punchy, yet the 1S draws you in with ease, and holds your attention. While depth and dimensionality are good, it’s clear we’re no longer in the TOTL range. Still, if you’re looking for a warm, natural DAP with tons of power and storage capacity, one of the very best UI’s around, without forking over all the monies, the Opus#1S is a righteous choice.

    Cayin’s new N5ii ($369.99, Review HERE) is a solid mid-tier SABRE implementation. It has much of that DX200 sound, though everything is on a smaller scale. Soundstage is not as big. Detail and transparency fall short of iBasso’s glory. Depth and dimensionality are impressive as hell, but not quite on the same level. Sorry Cayin. Dynamics are strong. DX200 is stronger. Yet the disparity isn’t that huge; the N5ii holds up surprisingly well. If you don’t want to spend the better part of a grand, and maybe fancy a smaller device with a streamlined UI and 2x µSD, the Cayin N5ii is an awesome alternative.

    In spite of the brighter nature of the DX200, after burn-in, I found most everything I owned paired up beautifully. The brighter and the warmer gear, it all sounded so splendid. Of course, I’m not terribly sensitive to treble, as it turns out. If you are, be on the safe side and match a warmer monitor with this player.

    DX200 & Fourte 02.jpg
    I hate to be that guy, but you haven’t heard tia Fourté ($3,599, Review HERE) until you’ve heard it on the DX200 w/ AMP4. Likewise, you haven’t heard the DX200 until you install AMP4 and spend some time listening to Fourté. Nothing quite opens up these pieces like pairing them together. It’s an experience unlike any other. Nothing sounds like this. The transparency, soundstage, depth and dimensionality… it’s unbelievable. Hearing this system is what finally convinced me, beyond all doubt, the DX200 outperforms the Opus#2. It took me a while to admit that, I was ridding the fence for a couple weeks, but this setup pushed me over the edge.

    For those in search of the perfect mix of deep, chocolaty warmth, and outstanding resolution and staging, the AudioQuest NightOwl ($699, Review HERE) combines with the DX200 to deliver just that. Significant, black depths. Richness and scope. Goddamn what a special sound they make. It might not be for everyone, but for those who lust for true warmth sometimes, yet never want to lose clarity and resolution, I can think of nothing quite like this pairing.

    DX200 & IT01.jpg
    iBasso’s own IT01 ($99, Review HERE) may seem like a bottleneck for a music player of this caliber. Yet I find it a marvel of resolution and clarity. It scales nicely to take advantage of summit-fi sources. You get a rich, detailed, expansive sound, making you question the impulse to indulge in more costly gear. For those on a budget, this is the king of price-to-performance ratio.

    Another killer bang-for-your-buck is the Meze 99 Classics ($309, Review HERE). These cans may possess my ultimate favorite signature. With deep, warm lows, crystalline mids, and clean, sparkly highs, Meze is at its absolute best with a DAP like the DX200. You are treated to unbridled musicality, presented in a clean, oh so revealing execution. To my ears, it does everything just right, and the result can move me to tears.

    DX200 & 99C 01.jpg
    DX200 & Dita 01.jpg
    DITA the Dream ($1,800, Review HERE) moved me in much the same fashion. Its synergy with DX200 AMP4 left an impression on me I doubt will ever entirely vanish. To put it simply, I loved this setup.

    No question about it, the Noble Audio Kaiser Encore ($1,850, Review HERE) is on the brighter side, with its enhanced treble tuning. With DX200, you could be forgiven for calling it “too bright”. For me, however, they play together awfully well. Much like tia Fourté, Encore celebrates all iBasso’s strengths, creating one of the most insane systems I’ve heard for high-resolution audio. This is not warm or smooth or laidback. It’s detail-first, aggressive, and transparent, but not without a good measure of musical fluidity.

    DX200 & Encore 01.jpg
    I remember, as I looked for an upgrade to my AK120II, I dismissed the DX200 rather swiftly. It was too new and unproven, and the threads were full of mixed impressions. So I went with the Opus#2. Make no mistake, that is a serious DAP and has served me well this past year. The DX200, it seems, has come a long way in that time. With the AMP4 Module in particular, I’ve found my new reference. I won’t say it’s an outright upgrade to the Opus#2, as the tuning is different enough to make that a matter of preference, but it sure as **** delivers the goods. Of those qualities I prize most, the DX200-AMP4 outshines all.

    -~::Pinky_Powers::~-

    images

    1. DX200 & Dita 02.jpg
    1. Paul - iBasso
      Please update to the latest firmware. Paul
      Paul - iBasso, Jun 26, 2018
  5. ostewart
    Reference by name, reference by nature.
    Written by ostewart
    Published Jan 8, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Easy to use, TOTL sound quality, ability to tune with amp modules.
    Cons - Some may find it a little on the larger size.
    Firstly I would like to thank Paul at iBasso for sending me this sample to review; this has had well over 200hrs of burn-in before reviewing.

    *disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of writing a review, no incentive was given to write a favourable review. All opinions expressed are my own subjective findings.

    Gear Used: DX200 > Symphones V8 build / Custom Art FIBAE3 / Cleartune VS-2 / 64 Audio U6 and more.

    DSC_9684.jpg

    Tech Specs:
    http://ibasso.com/cp_xq_dy.php?id=4898

    Main Features
    - 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.
    - Audio Formats Supported: APE, FLAC,WAV, WMA, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, OGG, MP3, DFF, DSF, DXD.
    - Support for M3U Playlist
    - 4400mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer battery (Play time varies depends on volume, music type, and AMP card)

    Specifications
    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 (64O@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 (32O@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

    DSC_9686.jpg

    Packaging, Build quality and Accessories:
    The iBasso DX200 comes in a fairly big, 3 piece card box. Once you remove the outer sleeve that only has the model number printed on it, you will find an inner black box that slides apart. One this inner box there is a picture of the DAP on the front, along with the model number but still no specs anywhere on the box. You will find the player neatly placed in an inner foam tray, lift this tray up and you will find the accessories. The box is very well built and feels solid, and fitting of the price of the DX200.

    The DX200 is superbly built, one of the best I have come across, the casing is all metal and the front houses the touch screen. On the top you have the power button and USB-C socket for charging and file transfer, much better than normal Micro-USB. You also have an optical/coax output on the top so you can use it as a transport with an external DAC. On the right you have playback controls and the volume knob which is protected via a small metal cover. The volume control has defined steps and is tight with no play; the playback buttons also feel very good. On the left you have the MicroSD slot for your memory card and on the bottom (AMP1) you have a 3.5mm line out, a 3.5mm headphone out and a 2.5mm balanced out.

    The DX200 comes with the AMP1 module as stock; a big selling point are the interchangeable amp modules so you will see there are 2 small screws on either side of the device to remove the amp section. The screen is big and bright, it comes with a screen protector already installed. This player does not have a user replaceable battery, but apart from that, it is very well built. The sockets on the amp module are tight and everything feels very well put together.

    DSC_9717.jpg

    Accessory wise you get a lovely brown leather case that fits perfectly, apart from a slight overhang that makes the volume knob slightly harder to reach (not a huge issue as it’s still easy to operate). You also get a quick start guide, a fabric coated and well built USB cable, a burn-in cable that plugs into the 2.5mm balanced socket. This means you can leave the player burning-in for the recommended 200hrs without headphones attached, you also get a 3.5mm to coax cable so you can use the DX200 with an external DAC. Overall a very good amount of accessories, the case is especially nice. All you need is a MicroSD with your music on it, a pair of headphones and you are good to go.

    Features and UI:
    The DX200 has interchangeable amp modules; different modules have different outputs as well as slight differences in sound signature. It uses dual DAC’s and the signal is fully balanced within, using ESS9028PRO chips. It has an XMOS USB receiver and can be used as an external DAC with a PC/MAC, it also has changeable digital filters. The DX200 fully supports gapless playback, along with being able to make playlists. There is a high and low gain option, WiFi, Bluetooth, EQ and channel balance settings. To be honest the difference between DAC filters is so subtle I’m not sure I can hear a huge difference between them. However it is always good to see things like this available to fine tune the sound.

    The DX200 runs on Android, there are 2 running modes, regular Android or Mango player mode.
    In Mango mode, it is a stripped down music player based interface with the basic folders and categories (Artist, Track, Album etc...). The main screen is the playback screen offering the track name, artist, album artwork and bit rate. Swipe to the left and you will find the settings, swipe to the right and you will find the categories for finding your music. Mango mode works really well if you just want to use the DX200 as a player for locally stored music, this is the mode I use it in the most. Unfortunately you cannot use Bluetooth when used in Mango mode; this is one thing I would like to change.

    DSC_9702.jpg

    In regular Android mode you have all the standard Android settings, a home screen and you can install APK files once you have loaded them onto the player. This means you can choose to use the stock Mango player app, or install your preferred Android music player app (Neutron, Hiby etc...). The DX200 supports streaming services as it has WiFi and these work very well (tested with Spotify and Qobuz). In Android mode you might not have the play services but it is a snappy device and handles most apps with ease. This is the mode to use if you want to use streaming services, Bluetooth or just want to use a different music player app. I find the Mango app to be very easy to find your way around and use.

    Whichever way you use this player, it is intuitive and snappy, battery life is stated at 8-10 hours and with my usage this has been quite accurate. Unfortunately the player does not automatically go into a deep sleep mode, so setting the auto-off is a good idea to save battery.

    DSC_9703.jpg

    Sound:
    My main reference point is my Audio Opus #2 player, which I am very familiar with and enjoy a lot.

    The DX200 stock is a true reference player in many ways, the Amp1 module really tries to be neutral and flat without colouration. To be honest it can come across as a little cold sometimes, and portrays everything in a very crisp and detailed manner. To my ears there is not a lack of warmth, but there is no added body to the sound. Transient response is superb, it is one of the quicker sounding players out there, and I also find the DX200 does not accentuate the soundstage.
    The Opus #2 sounds ever so slightly fuller than the DX200, with a wider soundstage and a more refined portrayal of micro details.

    The DX200 works well with all IEM’s and also easy to drive headphones, it has power to spare most of the time, and even does a respectable job at driving the HiFiMan HE-500. There is nothing missing from the DX200 sound, the bass extends with ease but remains tight and controlled at all times, the midrange is open and crystal clear, the highs are not masked or recessed. The DX200 comes across as an analytical and detailed player that is a bit more intimate and up-front sounding than the more laid back Opus #2.

    Micro details are easily heard, and the DX200 easily separates more complex mixes, the output impedance is low which means it works wonderfully with low impedance multi BA IEM’s. The wonderful thing about the DX200 is you have a real reference sounding player with the Amp1 module, but if you want to tailor the sound a little you can swap out the amp module to a different one that suits your needs better.

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    Conclusion: The DX200 is in all accounts a high end DAP, full of functionality and plenty of audio based tweaks in the firmware. The sound does not disappoint in its stock form if you want a more analytical and reference sound. With the interchangeable amp modules there are multiple output connectors and also sound signatures. Overall the DX200 delivers a lot for the money, and is a very good buy if you are in the market for a sub £1000 DAP. The interface offers either a pure DAP, or a full Android mode, perfect for those that want to either focus on locally stored music vs those who want to be able to stream and use other apps.

    Sound Perfection Rating: 9/10 (reference sounding, modular DAP that is a pleasure to use)

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      Kerouac, faithguy19 and Wyville like this.
  6. Dobrescu George
    IBASSO DX200 - REFERENCE FLAGSHIP FROM IBASSO
    Written by Dobrescu George
    Published Dec 11, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Sound Quality, Build Quality, Price, Package, Detailing, Transparency, Driving Power, Modularity, Neutral Signature, Analytical abilties with a musical sound, Mature and stable Firmware, Intuitive UI, Solid Performance All-Around, Versatility
    Cons - Battery Life might be a bit short
    DX200 is iBasso's Flagship DAP (Digital Audio Player), and it is here to show how much iBasso improved over the ears, and how their latest innovation sounds like. With an extreme hardware backing it, DX200 might be the DAP that will fulfill all your audio needs, as it has all the bells and whistles you can wish for, and more.

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    Introduction

    iBasso is one of the largest and most well-known DAP producers from China, being up there with all the other titans, having provided a lot of delightful devices and music companions over the years, from the little DX50, to the older flagship DX100, all the way to their current flagship DX200. I haven't had the chance to hear the older iBasso products, but I have an extensive DAP collection to compare DX200 to, from entry-level DAPs, all the way to the most recent and high-end DAPs.

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    iBasso's public relations department has proven to be quite excellent, providing answers to all questions and solving every issue that may arise. This being said, iBasso is one of the companies I really trust to find the best solution for their customers and to provide an excellent customer satisfaction.

    It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with iBasso, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by iBasso or any other company. I'd like to thank Paul from iBasso for providing the sample for the review. The sample was provided along with iBasso's request for an honest and unbiased review. This review will be as objective as it is humanly possible, and it reflects my personal experience with iBasso DX200. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in DX200 find their next music companion.



    About me

    https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.com/p/about.html



    First Impression

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    I received DX200 soon after I went out of my medical issues, so my mental and my physical state were not exactly great by any means.

    In fact, this is a funny story full of adventure and sudden turn of events.

    DX200 was delivered on a pretty busy day, mere days after my health was starting to get better. One of the days when I was eating outside in Bucharest with my girl, I was waiting for our order to be processed, when the DHL driver called me and asked me if I can come and pick up the package really quickly. After a quick moment of thinking, I thought that I have just placed the order, so I knew it was going to take at least twenty more minutes for it to be ready, so we both left the table and went ahead to pick the package. The driver was really nice, and the delivery took less than three minutes.

    We went back to the table in a haste, as cold pizza is not the best kind of pizza.

    Although in a public place, and clearly not in the best kind of conditions, curiosity kept pushing me more and more, until the moment I actually went ahead and started opening the package right there. After getting through the first layer of packaging, I realised that it probably wasn't the best thing to unpack DX200 there, so I spent the next half an hour eating while contemplating what might be hiding within that rather large, yet elegant looking box.

    When we reached home, I managed to take a little pause from my schedule and unpack the mighty DX200. At first I was amazed by the level of detail and elegance iBasso built in the box and by how proud they present DX200, as true masterpiece DAP. Getting it out of the box was rather easy, and my curiosity couldn't really be held within as my feet were tapping from excitement to hear the magic of DX200 first hand.

    I plugged in my mSD card with my portable music library and pressed play.

    The song of choice was Machinae Supremacy - Cybergenesis. I plugged HIFIMAN RE2000 in, looking forward to the ultimate experience with this pairing between two exquisite Flagship devices. DX200 started playing with an exceptional detail and precision, revealing a lot of detail in the guitars, rendering the voices with exceptional clarity and an ultimately perfect tone, all while the background guitars played more musical than they ever were. Although my schedule was quite busy, I took a moment to breathe, leaned back in my chair, and although it was extremely hot in the room, I closed my eyes for a moment and couldn't notice the heat of that summer day, but the amazing musical scene presented by DX200 in combination with RE2000. As it was quite the exceptional piece, I went ahead and played a few more songs, and although I had to leave Bucharest in just a few minutes after that, things were okay - I decided to make DX200 an addition to the trip that followed.



    Packaging

    First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:

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    The unboxing experience of DX200 is exquisite and extraordinary, with a gorgeous package that is ingeniously designed to impress the buyer from the first moment he has contact with iBasso and their products. The outer box has a beautiful, velvety pattern to the box, which opens as if it were cut by a sword at an angle which slightly reminds of the "Dutch Angle".

    Within the inner box, you can find DX200 seated vertically in a soft foam cutout, presented as a high-end, flagship device. iBasso packaged a lot of extras with DX200, all the cables you will need, along with a genuine leather cover case for DX200. The DAP comes with a screen protector from the factory, and it comes half charged, for the best storage of its batteries while not in usage.

    The unboxing is as high-end and spectacular as it gets, with ultra high-end materials all around, and with an excellent package content for DX200, as it comes with:

    A Leather Case

    A Quick Start Guide

    The Warranty Card

    Type-C Cable

    Balanced Burn-in Cable

    Coaxial Cable



    What to look in when purchasing a high-end DAP

    https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.com/p/what-to-lookl.html



    Technical Specifications

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    DAC - Dual ESS9028PRO Desktop Class DAC Chips

    Perfect Bit Playback - Yes

    Max Decoding - 32bit / 384kHz

    Max Native DSD Decoding - 512x

    USB DAC - Yes, XMOS Receiver + dedicated Tesycon Driver

    Display - 4.2" IPS (1280 x 768)

    Optical Output - Yes

    RAM - 2 GB LPDDR3

    CPU - 8 Core

    Internal Memory - 64GB

    Wifi - Both 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz

    Bluetooth - 4.0

    Interchangeable Cards - Yes

    Digital Volume Control - 150 Steps

    Battery - 4400 mAh, 3.8V Li-Polymer

    Frequency Response -

    Balanced Output - Yes, 2.5mm with AMP1, 4.4mm with AMP4

    SE Output - Yes, 3.5mm




    Build Quality/Aesthetics/UI/Firmware

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    DX200 is one of the most solid devices I had the honor to hold in my hand, every single part of it coming together perfectly in what can only be named an "art". The front of the devices presents a large and high quality, high-luminosity and colorful screen, the edges present the buttons of DX200, along with the volume wheel, and the back has a black matte surface, with a texture for a better grip in the top region. The display has enough brightness for outdoors usage (one of the best I've seen), and it doesn't have the blue tint most displays have when it comes to portable devices.

    DX200 features interchangeable AMP cards, but it should be noted that those are attached in a very solid manner, with a secure locking mechanism, the user having to adjust only two screws. There is no wiggle or space to play, the AMP modules coming together perfectly with the DAP body. The AMP module connector pins are gold-plated and look very solid.

    There is a SPDIF output, a USB Type-C, and a power button on the top of the DAP. There is a volume wheel, and a forward, play/pause, and a backward button on the right side. The mSD slot can be found on the left side. Each AMP module will change the outputs found on the bottom, but the AMP module that comes with DX200 has a Headphone Output, a Line Out, and a 2.5mm Balanced Line Out.

    DX200 features soft angles, and the DAP sits comfortably both in hand and in pocket. It is a bit thick compared to the average smartphone, but I had no issues pocketing it, and it is as thick as most audiophile grade DAPs. The weight is not too light nor too heavy for a DAP, and the mSD card slot clicks right in place.

    The UI is extremely Fluid, DX200 sports both a Pure mode and an Android mode. There is a Lurker's mode available, which provides even more support for the DAP, but I have been using it with the factory firmware, and I have been extremely happy. The DAP runs smooth, it does everything it should to, as it should be doing it, without pauses, interruptions of anything else. The music player app looks elegant, and works flawlessly.

    It should be noted that DX200 offers filters options, enabled by its ESS DAC, and DX200 also presents the user with a few graphical explanations for what each digital filter does.

    The DAP starts in about 20 seconds, being a bit faster than most smartphones, and DX200 does not require to scan its mSD card again, after a restart. One can swipe left on the main music screen to go to a graphical selection type screen. Swiping right from the main music screen brings up a settings menu. The EQ function of DX200 is quite excellent, it does not add any kind of noise, and it was extremely useful for me. You can fine tune the EQ precisely, and it has 10 bands. DX200 has a working Gapless playback option, and it can be used as a USB DAC, working quite well when used as such. There is no delay and it simply works with windows 10. DX200 can play videos flawlessly, and you can view your favorite photos and images on it. All typical Android usage scenarios are available on DX200, and it does all works flawlessly for its hardware. OTG functions work very nice as well.

    The Mango Mode (Audio Pure Mode) saves a bit of energy by turning off certain Android services. This mode also presents the user with a slightly different GUI (Graphical User Interface), and it is slightly different from the Music app from the Android mode, but it is also lighter.

    iBasso has been standing behind their products for a long while now, and they plan to support DX200 for a long time to come, with both future firmware updates, upcoming AMP modules, and excellent warranty services.



    Sound Quality

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    Describing the Sonic Signature of a DAP (Digital Audio Player) can be fairly complicated as the ideal source should sound transparent and should leave the coloring for the IEMs and Headphones. This being said, every single DAP out there will change the sound in some way with every headphone and IEM, some people naming this "Headphone - DAP Synergy".

    DX200 has a natural and revealing signature, with an extremely musical tonality that balances the analytical signature ESS DACs are known for. DX200 is quite organic, but it presents the sound with the best of both worlds, an organic musicality, yet a neutral signature that reveals the technical side of things with an analytical performance, along with a welcome smoothness.

    Song impressions have been taken with HIFIMAN RE2000, which was also reviewed by Audiophile Heaven: https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.com/2017/11/hifiman-re2000-amazing-ample-absolute.html




    Bass


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    The bottom end of DX200 is fairly quick as DX200 features a fast yet non-aggressive bass, with a nice punch and impact, and a very good transient response. The bass can go as low as it is needed, and it can change quickly, leading to a good texture representation in the lower registers. Bass guitars have a satisfying feeling, and bass notes from electronic music is deep, quick and well-rounded.

    Thousand Foot Krutch - Absolute - The song starts with a well-paced and intimate intro. Cymbals are clear, detailed, and the drums are impactful and snappy. The bass feels visceral, presented with excellent depth and impact, while the voices feel tangible and have a natural tone. The lead guitars are presented with excellent textures and emotion, and background guitars are always audible and presented with a good amount of musicality and detail. The story about the man who searches the absolute and how he asks for the absolute from the Skies, is presented with excellent emotional impact, and it is easy to start tapping your feet while listening to this song, or even to start singing along.



    Midrange

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    The Midrange is presented with very good detail and instrument layering, in an organic and rich fashion, and it sounds very musical, regardless of the music that is being played. The very impressive instrument separation coupled with an excellent soundstage and a quick transient response leads to a sound that is natural, yet very detailed, with good technical abilities. Violins and other stringed instruments bear excellent emotion to them, and voices always sound natural and their tone is spot-on.

    Arctic Monkeys - R U Mine? - The song starts with a slow and impactful intro followed by a playful combination of smooth cymbals, strong and impactful bass, and a clear and natural voice. The guitars have a well-textured presentation, while the drums are played with good timing and dynamics. The song is presented with good soundstage and excellent instrument separation. The story about the man who wonders about the love of his life is presented naturally, and with a good emotional impact.



    Treble

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    The top end of DX200 is extended very well, being presented with enough sparkle and airness to make all music feel energetic and vibrant. The cymbal crashes last for the right amount of time, and trumpets have enough energy to sound impressive. The treble is not over-enhanced or anything of the like, being presented naturally, as DX200 w/ AMP1 is very neutral.

    Ken Ashcrop - Absolute Territory - The song starts with a thick bass line accompanied by a snappy drum set, and a smooth cymbal playing in the background. Voices sound sweet and melodic, while the guitar lines are presented forward and have a very musical and dynamic sound. The song feels heavy and is presented with excellent emotional impact during its bridges, and everything is presented with incredible detail. Electronic instruments have a very good width and separation from the other instruments. The message about the man dreaming and living with the love of his life is presented in a romantic and playful way, the way it was intended.



    Soundstage

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    The way DX200 presents the soundstage can vary a bit with each AMP module, starting with a very natural soundstage presentation and enhancement with AMP1, growing in size and depth with AMP2 and AMP3 and AMP5. We'll review each of those independently, so let's talk a bit about AMP1. AMP1 provides a precise and natural soundstage, having a pinpoint precision, placing every single instrument in its intended place, and placing the listener right in the middle, with everything else happening around them. If there is one word to describe the soundstage of AMP1, that is Reference - exactly as it should be.

    DX200 provides excellent instrument definition, and helps every headphone present every facet of a complex composition with utmost detail and definition. Having those excellent detail and instrument enhancing abilities, DX200 with AMP1 makes a great companions for those seeking a clear, precise and honest sound.



    ADSR/PRaT

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    The ADSR and PRaT (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release, and Pace Rhythm and Timing) of DX200 are very good, as it is more precise than a swiss watch, being able to enhance the revealing abilities of all headphones and IEMs that are connected to it, in presenting an extremely well defined and well-textured sound. The ADSR sounds natural, and very resolving, every texture and micro-texture being presented very well by DX200.



    Portable Usage

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    DX200 is one of the most portable devices, having a great form factor, weight, stable firmware and good battery life. Its battery life lasts for about eight hours on average, and up to ten hours if your usage scenario is lighter. The device does not get overly warm, and can be comfortably used in both Summer and Winter. Having the headphone port on bottom is an excellent option as I pull it out of the pocket vertically, being able to operate it directly. The button placement on top is quite good actually, and works well for its size and thickness, without any unintended button presses, while being easy enough to press. The side buttons are also seated in such a way that they'll never press randomly while DX200 is in your pocket, but they are easy to feel and press if you want to.

    DX200 can do a lot of jobs, being able to act as a standalone DAP, a DAC, or even as a transport, being one of the most versatile devices out there. DX200 has Bluetooth and Wifi abilities, being able to stream music from online services, and being able to power Bluetooth Headphones. All in all, it checks all portable usage scenarios one can think of, and it does all of them pretty well.



    Select Pairings

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    Please note that for any pairing, the IEM has more impact on the final result than the DAP, the best DAP being one that is as transparent as possible - DX200 being quite good at this.

    iBasso DX200 + Dunu DK-3001 - Quite the excellent pairing, DK-3001 being a very natural sounding IEM, with a relaxed, clear and natural sound. The bass goes deep, but is fairly quick, the midrange is exactly where it should be to sound natural, and the top end is smooth and detailed. The instrument separation is excellent, and soundstage size is very good.

    iBasso DX200 + FiiO F9 - Although it doesn't have a very high price tag, F9 sounds extremely good and is quite comfortable. The bottom end is very strong with excellent presence and impact, the midrange is slightly pushed back, while the top end has a lot of sparkle and a good presence. F9 has a very good detail for its price range, and does present music with excellent detail and layering, DX200 being a very good source to drive it.

    iBasso DX200 + Unique Melody Martian - With their very precise and clear character, UM Martian's original signature is enhanced by DX200, as it helps them gain another edge in clarity, detail, and instrument separation. As DX200 has a quick transient response, UM Martian becomes even more precise, but it should be noted that DX200 also gives them an ever so slightly bit of smoothness and enhances their musical side.

    iBasso DX200 + Sennheiser ie800 - Quite the interesting pairing, DX200 is able to make ie800's bass slightly quicker, giving them an edge in speed and resolution. The midrange of ie800 sounds as it usually sounds, slightly recessed, but with excellent detail and musicality, while the top end stays bright, energetic and airy, DX200 being quite transparent and precise when paired with ie800. The soundstage of ie800 is natural in size, while their instrument separation is quite excellent, being one of the best there is when paired with DX200.

    iBasso DX200 + HIFIMAN RE2000 - RE2000 is driven to their full potential by DX200, as it provides them with a deep, full and organic sound, a visceral bass, a clear, organic and musical midrange, and an energetic and airy treble. The instrument separation and soundstage are both in excellent condition, and the resolving abilities of RE2000 are used to their full potential.

    iBasso DX200 + HIFIMAN RE800 - HIFIMAN RE800 is like a genius IEM that does one thing amazingly well, and stays focused on doing everything else with amazing ability, but stays the best at something - which is true and honest acoustic reproduction in this case. DX200 is an amazing driving source for RE800 as it tones down their peak a bit, but keeps their quick and impactful bass, their clear and well-layered mid range, and their energetic, airy and sparkly treble.

    iBasso DX200 + Beyerdynamic Xelento - Xelento is quite the Romantic IEM, with a very smooth top end a very peaceful and relaxing presentation, yet with extreme bass impact, and a thick and fulfilling general sound. DX200 is great at giving Xelento a few more analytical properties and enhancing their revealing abilities and detail retrieval. DX200 tends to keep their soundstage at very good levels, while enhancing their instrument separation.

    iBasso DX200 + Ultrasone Signature Studio - DX200 is an excellent source for Signature Studio as it gives them a deep yet very well controlled and tight bass, a very wide and open sound, with good instrument separation, and an energetic and well-extended, yet smooth treble. The technical abilities of Signature Studio are enhanced by DX200, as it helps them with their revealing and resolving abilities.

    iBasso DX200 + Meze 99 Classics - DX200 is quite good at driving Meze 99 Classics, giving them a full, deep and impactful bass, with a natural decay, a full, organic, rich and very satisfying midrange with excellent revealing abilities, a natural timbre, and a smooth and open sounding treble.

    iBasso DX200 + iBasso IT01 - Rocking a setup made of only iBasso products surely feels mesmerizing, as IT01 is a very fun-sounding IEM, with a strong bottom end, an enhanced mid-bass, an organic and full-sounding midrange, with excellent detail, and a smoother, yet present enough top end. The instrument separation and especially the soundstage are quite impressive for a IEM, regardless of its price. DX200 is very good at enhancing IT01's revealing abilities, their soundstage, and ad making them even more musical, all while keeping a fairly good technical side to their sound.



    Comparisons

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    Most comparisons have been taken with RE2000, Signature Studio, RE800, ie800, and DK-3001. Hiss is usually very hard to notice and I tend to not notice it at all, but I tried my best to compare how DAPs perform relative to each other in this aspect, as well as other aspects that might come off as relevant.


    DX200 vs FiiO X5-3 – X5-3 is a nice Android DAP that really impressed me back when I first heard it, and it still is a very able DAP when it comes to its firmware and abilities. Although priced at a considerably lower price point than DX200, X5-3 still makes an interesting comparison. When it comes to driving sensitive IEMs, X5-3 is slightly more prone to hiss. Both DX200 and X5-3 have a similar soundstage expansion, although DX200 presents music with a bit more air, while X5-3 tends to sound wider in the mids. X5-3 tends to sound smoother, warmer, more organic, with a stronger mid-bass presence, while DX200 is a bit brighter, more revealing, more resolving, and it also presents music with better layering and instrument separation.

    DX200 vs iFi Micro iDSD BL – Two quite different devices, DX200 being a standalone DAP, while iDSD is an high-end portable DAC/AMP. In sound, both present music with excellent soundstage expansion. iDSD BL tends to have a bit more sparkle in the upper registers, and it tends to have a tad more warmth and to be a bit more organic, while DX200 is a touch smoother in comparison. In terms of detail retrieval, resolution, transparency, and sound layering they are fairly similar, DX200 providing excellent abilities, even when compared to a titan like iDSD BL. There is a difference in battery life, and actual driving abilities, as iDSD BL can drive headphones that are more power-hungry, up to the mighty HD800S, while DX200 tends to work excellently with anything up to HD600.

    DX200 vs Opus#2 – Opus #2 is the Top Of The Line DAP from Opus, while DX200 is the Top Of The Line DAP from iBasso. They have similar abilities, but rely on slightly different firmware and hardware. Opus #2 is an all-in-one solution, while DX200 has interchangeable AMP cards. When it comes to their sound, the soundstage is similar in width and depth. The sound signature is fairly similar as well, with Opus#2 being a bit smoother, musical, and a touch less transparent while DX200 holds an edge in transparency. DX200 also tends to have a slightly better separation in sound due to its more analytical general presentation.

    DX200 vs X7 w/AM03A – The Flagship devices from FiiO and iBasso! Starting with their abilities, DX200 and X7mkii are fairly similar, both having interchangeable AMP modules, and other abilities, like Android firmware or Digital Output. When it comes to their sound, the overall tonality is fairly similar, both being neutral and transparent, with enough warmth and body, and a natural timbre. With DX200 + AMP1, X7mkii + AM03A tends to have just a tiny bit more air and sparkle, with a bit more sub-bass rumble, but adding another AMP module on DX200 does change this a bit, DX200 becoming the DAP with a tad more bass rumble and air in the treble.



    Value and Conclusion

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    iBasso presents DX200 at a fair price for a High-End Flagship DAP, about 1000$. At this price, it has few direct competitors, and it is able to tackle devices that are far more expensive than it. DX200 comes in one of the most high-end looking packages, and it comes with a lot of extras, like its cables, it's genuine leather case, and its excellent warranty. iBasso has been standing behind their DAPs, providing both firmware updates, repairs and technical support, leading to a range of DAPs that fully justify their price. The sound of DX200 has enough resolving abilities, transparency and detail for this price range, and even higher. While expensive, no part of DX200 feels overpriced, the device itself feeling rather well-priced and the premium paid being actually present in the end product. The inner components of DX200 are all ultra-high quality, and it is built to last a long while, iBasso having made no compromise in its building quality.

    With an excellent firmware, precise and transparent sound, excellent support, and excellent build quality, DX200 is a DAP which excels at being an high-end DAP, being an excellent companion for music lovers. Featuring support for a microSD card, interchangeable AMP cards for tweaking the sound, and being possible to use it in a wide array of scenarios, from DAP to Transport, DX200 is a device you should check out, if you're looking at purchasing one of the best Top Of The Line devices for your music enjoyment.

    DX200 is able to provide service to all music lovers, in every way one can dream of, it has a high-end Desktop-Grade DAC inside, it has one of the most solid firmwares on the market, and you can always explore other AMP modules to suit the music better to your tastes, all for a fair price. DX200 is a truly solid device, and it will be the favorite music source for many music lovers from now on, being one of the best there are.



    I hope my review is helpful to you!



    Stay safe and remember to always have fun while listening to music!



    Link to the review on Audiophile-Heaven: https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.ro/2017/12/ibasso-dx200-reference-flagship-from.html

    Link to the official Thread on Head-Fi: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/dx2...p1-amp2-amp3-amp4-and-amp5-fw-2-7-188.791531/

    Link to the official product page: http://ibasso.com/cp_xq_dy.php?id=4898

    Link to the writer’s head-fi page: https://head-fi.org/members/dobrescu-george.170938/

    Audiophile Heaven: https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.com/

    Audiophile Heaven on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AudiophileHeaven/
      TYATYA, natemact, AndrewH13 and 6 others like this.
  7. Moonstar
    Ibasso DX200, The TOTL Sounding Player
    Written by Moonstar
    Published Jul 31, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Top of The Line Sound,
    Android OS = Online Streaming,
    Powerful Output,
    Already a balanced out on stock AMP1 Card,
    Upcoming AMP Cards,
    Cons - Software releated issues,
    Screen should be more responsive,
    Battery Life,
    First of all,

    I hope that this will be a useful guide for people who are curious or interested in buying this device.

    This is a non sponsored review!!

    About me: www.moonstarreviews.net

    Equipments used in this review:

    Albums and track used in this review:
    • Michael Jackson - Bad Album (Flac 24bit/96Hz)
    • Amber Rubarth - Sessions from the 17Th Ward Album (Tidal HIFI)
    • Amber Rubarth - Scribbled Folk Synphonies Album (Tidal HIFI)
    • Dr. Chesky’s Binaural Album (Flac 24bit/192Hz)
    • Metallica - The Black Album (Flac 24bit/96Hz)
    • Céline Dion - The Very Best of Céline Dion Album (Tidal HIFI)
    • Daft Punk - Random Access Memories Album (Tidal HIFI)
    • Kraddy - Be A Light Album (Tidal HIFI)
    • Nina Simone - I Put A Spell On You Album (Tidal HIFI)
    • Thomas Zwijsen - Nylon Maiden Album (Tidal HIFI)
    • Opeth - Pale Communion Album (Apple Music)
    • London Grammar - If you Wait Album (Flac 24bit/44.1Hz)
    • Twenty One Pilots - Fairly Local (Tidal HIFI)
    • Two Steps From Hell - Battlecry Album (Flac 16bit/44.1Hz)

    3. Box Contents:

    The device comes with a stylish box and a nice presentation.

    Some images of the box
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    The box contains the following contents;

    · Ibasso DX200
    · USB Type-C to USB
    · Coax cable
    · Burn-in Cable
    · Leather case
    · Warranty and product identification card

    Accessories
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    The USB cable is covered with a fabric material and has a good quality. This cable uses a new generation USB Type-C connector. Coax and burn-in cables are also familiar to us from other Ibasso models.


    The leather case feels good and is fully compatible with the device.

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    By the way, there was no screen protector in the box, but later I noticed that Ibasso already put it on the screen. I'm glad I will not struggle with sticking :)


    4. Material Quality and Workmanship:

    The DX200 is made of CNC engraved aircraft type Aluminyum.

    I didn’t found any quality issues or defects on the device.

    The only criticism will come to the physical keys, because they look a little small. For example, the Sony ZX2 has larger keys in a similar position, making it easier to use it in your pocket.


    The volume pot on the DX200 is sensitive and feels more robust and precise than all Astell&Kern devices I've used before. However, the bad thing about the volume wheel is that it is too sensitive. To turn it to loud volumes takes to much time and too much turns :)


    Personally, I think that the Lotoo Paw Gold is the most successful device in this regard.


    Buttons of the DX200
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    5. Hardware:


    a) Display:

    The device has 4.2” IPS display with a resolution of 768 * 1280 pixels. It is a bright and good looking screen with vibrant color reproduction.

    The Screen of the DX200
    ekran.jpg



    b) Processor, Ram, Xmos:

    Inside the DX200 is an 8-core Rockchip RK3368 processor. It would be nice to see a Snapdragon inside, but the RK3368 has enough processing power for a DAP in this segment.


    The DX200 features the XMOS XU208 Chip, with a 2GB LPDDR3 type of Ram (unluckily an old type of ram). The internal storage type is eMMC with 64GB capacity and it uses a Thesycon USB Audio Driver for the USB DAC function.


    The DX200 has only one Micro SD Card slot. That means you have a max storage capacity of 64 + 256 = 320 GB. Competitors like the Sony WM1A or even the cheaper Fiio X5 3GEN have two slots or have more build in memory like the Sony NWZ ZX2.


    c) Wireless Connectivity:

    The device has a build in Wi-fi antenna that supports speeds up to 5GHz and has also Bluetooth 4.0 connection. I found out that old routers with only 2.5GHz speed capability can cause to noise/interferences while listening or downloading tracks form online services like Tidal, Spotify etc. and I think that’s a little bit annoying.


    d) Amplifier Card:

    The standard AMP1 amplifier card, which comes pre-assembled with two screws, has 3 analogue audio outputs. These are Line Out, 3.5mm Phone out and a 2.5mm TRRS Balanced out.

    Outputs of the AMP1
    LyAGRG.jpg



    AMP (Amplifier) cards with different features, power and sound characteristics will released in the near future.


    The AMP amplifier card
    brD99d.jpg


    There is also the new released AMP2 amplifier Card, which has a four channel architecture. I didn't had the chance to test it out, so for more information please visit this link.


    The AMP2 Amplifier Card
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    E) Digital Outputs:

    At the top of the unit, apart from the analog audio outputs on the AMP1 card, we have a digital audio output, called SPDIF. This Audio output slot supports Coax and Mini Optical interfaces at the same time.


    Digital Outputs
    qbEoDd.jpg



    F) Heart of the DX200, the DAC:

    I would like to give some more details about the DAC, which we can call the heart of the device. Ibasso used two ESS Saber branded 32bit ES9028PRO’s as DAC.


    ES9028Pro & small brother ES9026Pro
    oj34Yk.png



    DX200 has 16 DAC cores in total, with 8 channels per DAC (2 DAC’s x 8 DAC cores).

    This DAC is donated with a technology that is called HyperStreamDAC. With this feature, the device has a Dynamic Range (DNR) of 135dB.


    Sabre ES9028Pro Block Diagram
    LyA571.jpg



    The DX200 has also an external USB DAC feature that uses the Thesycon USB Audio Driver technology that is promoted to be the best external DAC feature released on a DAP ever.

    Unfortunately, I can not comment on the USB DAC feature for now because my PC at home is death at the moment :ksc75smile:


    6. Software and Interface:

    The DX200 comes with Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 pre installed. The user has the option to switch between Android and Mango OS which is pure music software. The Mango OS Grafical User Interface = GUI, looks familiar to the Linux-based operating systems on the DX50, DX80 and DX90.

    a) Mango OS:

    The pure music player interface we call Mango OS is very simple and has a useful structure. It looks very similar to these I saw on the DX80. The only difference is that the DX200 has a digital filters option in its menu. Some users have said that the sound is more refined when using Mango OS. Yes, there are some small differences, but don’t expect a night and day difference.


    A short GUI Demo:



    My biggest complain comes to the software of the DX200. I think that Ibasso has shipped this device to the market with a beta stage software that has/had a lot of "Bugs"

    The first things I noticed where some software related freezing and disconnection issues.

    But don’t worry, because Ibasso is a company that is constantly releasing new software updates that fixes such problems.

    The device is now much faster and stable than before after I did some software updates in the past months. With new upcoming updates I guess that all problems will completely disappear.


    b) Android

    Of course, one of the greatest benefits of the Android operating system is that we can use "Online Streaming" applications like Tidal, Spotify, Apple Music, just like in popular devices for example Fiio X7 and X5 3Gen, Onkyo DP-X1 etc.


    BTW, it will be possible to download Google Playstore to the DX200.


    What did I said possible!!! :) Yes, because the device does not come with Google Playstore pre-installed. Of course, not having Playstore doesn’t mean you can’t install apps!

    All you need to do is to download the application's .apk file (it's like an .exe file in Windows) over internet and install it via a file browser to the device.

    BTW, the DX200 has a web browser, calendar and even a calculator :D

    I mostly use Tidal and Apple Music. It’s a great thing to have the possibility to stream or download your favorite music tracks, playlists or albums to your device over online service.

    USB Audio Pro can be installed for those who want to use a Parametric EQ.

    Updates can be made either by downloading the .zip file from Ibasso's own site or directly to your device or via an OTA update (Over the Air) just like on a Smartphone. It's good to have OTA support like Astell&Kern devices, but I am warning you, Chinese servers are very slow J


    7. Mango Player:

    The Mango Player is Ibasso's own Player application, which is found in the Android interface and has the same look and feel like the Pure Mango OS. I am very surprised that this application is very fast, even faster than the Mango OS interface. Oh, and it's also very handy!


    8. Battery Life:

    The DX200 has a lithium polymer battery with a capacity of 4400mAh / 3.8V. The device is charging fast in approx. 2 - 2.5 hours.

    Battery life is about 6 hours when online services like Tidal, Soptify etc. are used. But if you listen to regular flac or mp3 files the battery life will increase up to 7 - 8 hours.

    In short, nobody should expect the legendary Sony battery life from such a powerful device!

    Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:EN-US"> Battery life is based on High Gain and and sound level is 110.


    9. Spesifications:

    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
    Dimension: 5.1L x 2.7W x 0.77H (inch) 128.5L x 69W x 19.5H (mm)
    Weight: 240gr or 8.5oz


    The DX200 supports a wide range of music formats. It supports almost all of the current and traditional high-resolution files.

    All of the formats listed below are also supported when the device is used as an external USB DAC.

    APE, FLAC,WAV, WMA, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, OGG, MP3, 32bit/384 kHz Bit for Bit.

    Native DSD Support up to 512x (DFF, DSF, DXD)

    M3U Playlist and CUE sheets supported


    The Sound:

    Now,

    I have burn-in the device for approx. 230 -240 hours before I wrote this review!

    All comments related to the sound are my personal and subjective opinions made after intensive listening with the stock AMP1 amplifier card and the firmware version V2.2.110.

    a) The Timbre:

    The DX200 uses a Saber DAC just like its predecessor the DX100. Because of this fact the device faced a number of prejudices before it was released and I think it's not hard to understand why so many critics made for this device. Saber DAC’s have generally a bright and clear tonality.

    Luckily Ibasso misled me and gave the Sabre DAC inside the DX200 a warmer and more natural sounding tuning that is ideal for long listening periods.

    I think Ibasso is the second company after Hifiman that has made a good job by adding warmth to a Saber DAC, congratulation Hifiman and Ibasso!


    b) The Bass:

    The Bass response of the DX200 is close to natural not as tight as the Paw Gold or the Hifiman HM901s but well controlled and well textured, exactly what a TOTL DAP should be.

    The bass region gives the sound a slightly warmth that is welcome for me, but what we don’t except form a player with a Sabre DAC under the hood

    The bass is fast and gives the overall sound spectrum enough body, so that you can listen to a wide variety of genres.

    Overall, I think that the DX200 is not a bass shy nor a bass heavy DAP that has enough power and juice to stratify its owner.

    I am using the Noble K10UA and the ATH M50 to test out the mid- and sub-bass capability of the device:

    I loved the pairing with both earphones. The sub-bass goes really low and the mid-bass hit’s hard enough to vibrate my ears

    Nice to see that the bass is not attaching the rest of the frequencies, that would otherwise ruin the clearness of the sound and the wonderful vocal and instrument presentation of this device.


    c) The Mids:

    WOW, the Dx200 is ear-catching with its natural, transparent and organic sounding mids. It has a Top of the Line sound that is welcome when we think again that this device is two or three times cheaper than its competitors.

    My reference album for vocal and instrument separation is the “Sessions from the 17Th Ward by Amber Rubarth”. She has a wonderful voice! This album is also well recorded and includes lots of instruments and is a perfect album to make my critical listening.

    Now, the DX200 is a dry sounding DAP, it is not warm or bold sounding like the Hm901s or thin and bright like the old DX100. The resolution of the mids is perfect for its price tag, the instrument separation is great, the vocal are neither forward nor recessed, its somewhere in the middle.

    I have noticed some stress in the upper mid region at the first listening periods, but after an intensive burn in the device sounded more controlled. Finally, after the 200 hour barrier the device sounds more mature and the stress is now only barely noticeable.


    d) The Highs:

    Sabre , what did they done to you… :dt880smile:

    First thing I notice is that the highs are smooth clear and engaging. It is detailed, nonaggressive and well controlled. I think that the Ibasso team did a great job by teaming the highs of a Sabre chip.


    BTW, the DX200 is something between the Lotoo PG and the HM901s. It is not a detail monster like the Lotoo PG that is sometimes to aggressive for my taste and is not too soft like the warmer sounding Hifiman HM901s.


    After intensive compression with the HM901s I found out that the DX200 is only a little bit more transparent and clean sounding than the slightly warmer tuned HM901S.

    The DX200 did a great job by handling Celine Dion’s powerful voice. I didn’t notice noticeable or at least a annoying sibilance while listening it with the Rhapsodio Solar over the 2.5mm balanced headphone jack and Noble Wizard K10 with the regular 3.5 phone out.

    Only in bad recorded albums like "Metallica’s - The Black" album is some sibilance noticeable.

    Rhapsodio Solar & DX200
    M0pRbg.jpg



    e) The Soundstage:

    This device has a massive soundstage; it is wider than the Lotoo PG and Hifiman HM901s.

    When it comes to deepness, the Lotoo PG is the clear winner, followed by the DX200 and the HM901s.

    The instrument separation and positioning is very good due the silent background. It has the ability to give you a good 3D like soundstage with the right gear.

    The soundstage benefits from the 2.5mm balanced out. It has an even wider and deeper presentation, but don’t get me wrong, it’s not a night and day difference, but noticeable.


    The Ibasso DX200 & Hifiman HM901s side by side
    j83Aam.jpg



    f) Background Noise:

    Over the 3.5mm unbalanced out, the device sounds clean, noiseless and has a dark background. However, with the Noble K10 and Rhapsodio Solar, I have noticed only a small amount of noise in loud volume listening.

    The 2.5mm Balanced out is “Dead Silent”. It’s very impressive for the standard AMP1 amplifier card.


    When I started using the device for the first time, there was a slight intermittent noise with sensitive IEM’s while using the Wifi connection to stream or download music over online services. But this issue was gone after the latest software update.

    Overall Score:

    Accessorys:
    8
    Build Quality: 8
    Software: 6
    Hardware: 7
    Sound Quality: 9
    Battery life: 6

    * 1 is bad & 10 is perfect


    Final Words:

    When compared next to devices in the same price range like the AK300, AK100II, Sony WM1A etc. its very hard to find a negative point for this device.

    The DX200 is clearly in the Champions League of portable Digital Audio Players. At this price point you can’t go wrong. The only negative results seems to be software related and can be fixed with future FW updates, that will released official and/or from developers just like lurker0.

    I hope you enjoyed my review.

    Best Regards,

    Gokhan
    1. Paul - iBasso
      Please update to the latest firmware. Paul
      Paul - iBasso, Jun 26, 2018
  8. Aerosphere
    iBasso DX200 "Chameleon"
    Written by Aerosphere
    Published Jul 5, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - SQ, Android OS, Interchangeable Amps, Excellent Price Performance Ratio
    Cons - Battery Life and nothing else. (subject to change with new modules)
    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Accessories
    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.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Build Quality
    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.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Flagship Components
    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.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Battery [16.44]
    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.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Sound
    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 Module
    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.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    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.

    Balanced (AMP1)
    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.

    Quick Comparisons
    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.

    Vs. AK300
    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.

    Verdict
    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!

    [​IMG]
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    - End -​
  9. HiFiChris
    iBasso DX200: A Reference Streaming DAP that is almost there
    Written by HiFiChris
    Published Apr 2, 2017
    4.0/5,
    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
    DSC01746.jpg
     




    Introduction:

    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
    DSC01732.jpg
    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.


    Specifications:

    Price: $869

    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)

    Line Out:
    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
    RK3368 CPU
    2GB LPDDR
    64 GB Internal Memory
    WiFi, Bluetooth
    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.


    DSC01725.jpg   DSC01726.jpg
    DSC01727.jpg   DSC01728.jpg


    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.
     

    DSC01729.jpg   DSC01730.jpg



    Design, Feels & Build Quality:

    Out of the box, the DX200 already arrives with an applied screen protector, which is quite nice.

     

    DSC01733.jpg


    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.

     

    DSC01735.jpg   DSC01737.jpg


    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.

     

    DSC01738.jpg   DSC01743.jpg



    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 Screen:

    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.

     

    DSC01748.jpg   DSC01752.jpg


    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.

     

    DSC01750.jpg



    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.

     

    DSC01742.jpg

     

    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).

     

    DSC01749.jpg


    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.

     

    DSC01786.jpg


    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.

     

    DSC01776.jpg


    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 DSC01775.jpg
    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.

     

    DSC01777.jpg


    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. DSC01778.jpg

    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.

     

    DSC01779.jpg   DSC01780.jpg


    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.

    - - -

    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. DSC01782.jpg

    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.





     

    DSC01783.jpg   DSC01784.jpg
    DSC01785.jpg



    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.

    - - -

    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.

     

    DSC01781.jpg



    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:

     

    DSC01787.jpg   DSC01788.jpg
    DSC01789.jpg




    Performance:

    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.

    - - -

    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.

     

    DSC01770.jpg


    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.

    - - -

    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.

     

    DSC01772.jpg   DSC01773.jpg



    - - -

    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.


    Battery Life:

    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.


    Sound:

    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):


    4NL.jpg


    As it could be expected, the raw and unloaded frequency response is perfectly flat and therefore just the way it should be.

    - - -

    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:


    TF10.jpg


    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:

    #1:


    1NL.jpg   DSC01763.jpg
     


    #2:

    2NL.jpg   DSC01764.jpg
     


    #3:

    3NL.jpg   DSC01765.jpg
     


    #4:

    4NL.jpg   DSC01766.jpg
     


    #5:

    5NL.jpg   DSC01767.jpg
     


    #6:

    6NL.jpg   DSC01768.jpg
     


    #7:

    7NL.jpg   DSC01769.jpg
     


    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.
     

    AllFiltersOverlay.jpg


    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.

    Hiss:

    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,
    DSC02148_rotiert.jpg
    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
    DSC01921.jpg
    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.

     

    DSC01731.jpg

     

    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.

    USB DAC:

    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.

    Bluetooth:

    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.

    Balanced Output:

    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
    DSC01753.jpg
    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.

    Gapless Playback:

    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.

    - - - - - - - - -

    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.


    iBasso DX90:

    The DX200 has got the more premium appearance and seems better built due to its aluminium body.
    DSC01756.jpg
    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
    DSC01755_2.jpg
    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
    DSC01754.jpg
    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.

    iBasso DX80:

    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
    DSC01755.jpg
    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.


    Résumé:

    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
    DSC01740.jpg .
    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.

    1. View previous replies...
    2. Psychomiks
      Don't worry about it. Still, I thank you for giving me your reply.

      I just need to make sure if it requires a google / Play store services verification. If not, I reckon that it will be okay right?

      Nonetheless, perfect read and review. Will try the thread that you shared.
      Psychomiks, Apr 12, 2017
    3. HiFiChris
      @Psychomiks
       
      Yep, as long as it doesn't require that Google services and as long as your WiFi is stable, the app should work well.
      And I think that even if it requires those Google services (which I personally don't think though, since so far every app that I tried worked except for some native Google apps such as Gmail or YouTube), you could still run it using a modified OS that has a Google service integration (as far as I know, two users have already released modified operating systems).
      HiFiChris, Apr 12, 2017
    4. Psychomiks
      @HiFiChris
       
      Copy that! I just have to find someone who actually tried it. Because, there's no chance for me to demo the unit nor to return the item if 3rd party apps won't work (I know, sucks to be me). I mainly use my iPhone as my daily driver for convenience purposes, but it would be great if I can get best of both worlds (hi-res and stream). 
      Psychomiks, Apr 12, 2017
  10. twister6
    A Reference Flagship on a Budget!
    Written by twister6
    Published Mar 16, 2017
    4.5/5,
    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.

     
    Intro.
     
    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.
     
    Unboxing.
     
    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.
     
    ibasso-01.jpg   ibasso-02.jpg
    ibasso-03.jpg   ibasso-04.jpg
    ibasso-05.jpg   ibasso-06.jpg
     
    Accessories.
     
    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.
     
    ibasso-19.jpg   ibasso-20.jpg
    ibasso-21.jpg   ibasso-22.jpg
    ibasso-23.jpg   ibasso-24.jpg
    ibasso-25.jpg
     
    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.
     
    ibasso-26.jpg   ibasso-27.jpg
    ibasso-28.jpg   ibasso-29.jpg
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    Design.
     
    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.
     
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    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.
     
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    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).
     
    GUI.
     
    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)
     
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    Mango OS
     
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    Side-loaded apps.
     
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    Sound analysis.
     
    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.
     
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    Comparison.
     
    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.
     
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    Pair up.
     
    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.
     
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    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.
     
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    Conclusion.
     
    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.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. myrddin56
      Great review. As someone new to the field of Digital Audio Players I am finding these pages an invaluable source of information/help. I particularly like the comparison with other players and headphones references that you used while reviewing the iBasso. Certainly added this to my ever growing list of possible purchases.
      myrddin56, Mar 18, 2017
    3. pacman46
      nice review as always!!
      pacman46, Mar 19, 2017
    4. BriarSnob
      Great review.  This is very helpful.  Thanks!
      BriarSnob, Mar 21, 2017

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