iBasso DX120 - Reviews
Pros: Sound quality, Simple & Smooth UI, Power(2.5 mm), Much Storage
Cons: SE output a touch dry compared to Balanced output
iBasso DX120



Manufacturer Website: iBasso DX120 Home; Amazon DX120

A Little Technical Stuff:


· Output Voltage: Frequency Response: THD+N:

· DNR: S/N: Crosstalk:

· Output Voltage: Frequency Response: THD+N:

· DNR: S/N: Crosstalk: Output Impedance:

· Output Voltage: Frequency Response: THD+N: DNR: S/N:

· 3.6Vrms 10Hz-45kHz+/-1dB 0.00028%,-111dB (without load) 0.00032%,-110dB(32Ω@2.4Vrms) -117dB 117dB -116dB

· 1.8Vrms 10Hz-45kHz+/-1dB 0.00042%,-107dB (without load) 0.00056%,-105dB(32Ω@1.2Vrms) -115dB 115dB -115dB 0.24ohm

· 1.8Vrms 10Hz-45kHz+/-1dB 0.00042%,-107dB (without load) -115dB 115dB

· 3.5mm Line Out:

· 3.5mm Single Ended:

· 2.5mm Balanced:

Average Play Time: 16 hours. (The play time varies with different resolutions and headphone/IEM loads.)


iBasso DX120

-MRSP: $300

iBasso has been a company with a longstanding reputation among the audiophile crowd. Their DX200, with the ability to swap out amp sets, really made a splash and had become a reference player for many reviewers.

The mindset in the development of the DX120 was different. This player, on the lower end of DAP pricing, was designed to do one thing and one thing only, deliver high-quality music to the listener. I really appreciate and can support a company that spends its research and development time on quality sound versus throwing every feature, including the kitchen sink, at the consumer. I am going to put this out there from the beginning, this little DAP is incredibly good at its objective, delivering a high-quality sound to whatever headphones or IEM’s you are using. I have no sensitive IEM’s in my collection so I cannot test whether there is a hiss, with everything I own there is no hiss.


My review is seriously delinquent, and I apologize to iBasso and my readers, but life does indeed happen. Hopefully, it is worth the wait.


I have been privileged enough to review DAP’s at all levels and my current reference DAP is the Questyle QP2R, but it is a DAP I don’t carry in my pocket, or when walking my dog or going to the gym. There are a couple of reasons for that, one being that the QP2R is largish and more substantial in hand than any of the others I have in my collection. Secondly, it is expensive, and I don’t want to run the risk of damaging it. As I said, it is my reference DAP, and I use it for critical listening, so sitting at home is perfectly fine when employing the QP2R.

On the flipside, the iBasso DX120 is one of the DAP’s I wouldn’t leave home without. It has an excellent level of sound, compact and sexy build, and power to drive any of my hybrids, especially in the 2.5mm balanced port make it a welcome traveling companion.

A Little Marketing Hype:

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Unboxing and Accessories:


The iBasso DX120 is enclosed in simple packaging. When viewing the packaging and pack-ins one must consider that this has been priced aggressively and everything included aptly fits the price tag. Frankly, I couldn’t ask for anything more than what is enclosed.

The box comes wrapped in a silver-gray sleeve. The sleeve is emblazoned with the iBasso logo and the text iBasso Audio, In Pursuit of Perfection. One edge of the outer packaging has the company website address and the other shows DX120, High-Performance Digital Audio Player and beneath a sticker that shows Blue, the color of the unit I was sent. On the back of the sleeve are some basic specs in multi-languages, as well as a sticker that shows DX120 and the S/N.

Upon removing the sleeve, you are greeted by a rectangular shaped box, blue in my instance, with a box top that closes with a magnetic closure. Inside is nestled the DX120, enclosed in a throwaway bag, for protection, and nestled in a foam cutout with the words DX120, High-Performance Digital Audio Player tattooed prominently on the cutout.

Lifting the cutout exposes a black box which included all of the pack-ins. All of the included accessories are listed below, so there really isn’t much need to take a deep dive into those. I do want to mention a couple of critical points about the inclusions, the first being that while it is thoughtful to include a border case for minimal protection, it created more frustration than its minimal protection was worth, as far as I was concerned. First, there is no back protection for the DX120, and while with the case on it does keep the back from sitting flush on a table, it offers no further protection. I can deal with this, but the one thing I can’t deal with is the fact that the cutout, around the 2.5mm balanced output, did not allow for the cable to connect firmly and seat completely. This would require me to remove the case to use my balanced cable, thus negating even the minimum protection offered by the case. My summation is, any protection is better than none at all, but I think an included case designed to protect from scratching, maybe silicone, would be a better option. I know silicone is a lint magnet, in the pocket, and usually, they lose their shape, but it is only my suggestion.

Included is:

· USB C (braided)cable for charging and data transfer

· Warranty Card/HDtracks Promo

· A border type silicon semi-protective case

· Tempered glass screen protector

· Coaxial cable converter

· A burn-in cable

· DX120

Design and Build:


This is my first review of an iBasso product. After reviewing quite a few DAP’s I will say that the size, design and build materials and quality are all First Class.

The DX120 is 63mm X 113mm X 15mm with a 3.2” screen and comes in at a lightweight 165g. The aluminum chassis not only contributes to the sexiness of the feel in your hand but also, it’s weight. The unit itself is not a plain rectangle with sharp edges and lines, it is designed with sleek lines and a “wave design” on the sides of the unit. The wave design and bevels give the DX120 an engineered look as opposed to something fabricated, absent of thought or consideration as to the aesthetics. There are two colors available, Sky Blue and Earth Brown, my unit is the Sky Blue.

The screen is of decent quality, and while being a touchscreen, it also has suitable colors and contrast for outside viewing. The back side of the DX120 is flat and has a glass covering. Already affixed to the DX120 is a tempered glass back protector.

On the left side of the unit is nothing, no controls, nothing. It has the “wave” design and nothing more.

On the bottom of the iBasso there is a 3.5mm Line Out and a 3.5mm Headphone Out and to the right of those outputs is a 2.5mm Balanced output. In my opinion, the bottom of the unit is the only thing questionable in its design. With the three outputs being linearly placed, both the Line Out and the Single End output are adorned with a gold ring. The same gold ring, with a black text identifier too difficult to see for my old eyes, not to mention it is written in black on a blue colored chassis. With time, you learn that the LO is on the left and the PO is on the right. Until you learn, you will plug into the wrong input, I guarantee it. The 2.5mm output is just a port without a “ring,” only with text showing balanced.


The controls are on the right-hand side of the unit. Some of the controls are handled through the touch screen and the UI, while some of the controls are physical buttons. The control buttons all adorn the wave design along the right side of the DX120.


The single top button on the right is the power on/off button. The button also controls the screen on and screen off as well. A slight push will turn on/off the screen while holding the button down will power on/off the unit.

Next, the button line-up is the volume up/down buttons. These buttons are the largest of the buttons. The volume control is broken into 100 volume steps. I really like this level of control as you can always find the proper listening level and in other DAP’s firmware which has fewer steps there are times, you would be more satisfied with a half step in-between the full click.

Last but not least of the hard controls are the playback control buttons. There are three buttons in this array, one of which advances to the next track, in order of the playback control buttons this would be the top playback control button. If the button is held, it will fast forward through your music track. The middle button of the trio is the play button which also serves as a screen lock, when depressed and held. The bottom of the playback control buttons would take you to a previous track or rewinds the track when held.

Finally, the top of the unit. The top has a USB-C port and two memory slots and a coax port. The USB-C allows you to charge the device and also provides the functionality for the USB-DAC. The DX120 has a built-in quick charge as well.


I really like the fact that there are dual memory cards. I have mine loaded with 2-256GB cards. This allows for an extensive music catalog. I have been eyeing the 400gb cards as they have started to come down in price. It would be cool to be able to have 800GB of music at my beck and call. You can add music in a couple of methods, the one I use most is to use as an adapter for my micro SD card, insert it in my pc and drag and drop my music in the music folder. You can select inside the Mango OS to use the memory slots as a card reader and install tunes in that fashion.

One thing I would like to mention now, in case I have a senior moment later and forget, is the fact that you can charge the unit and play music simultaneously. I have other unit’s that cannot play and charge at the same time. Nice feature!

Battery life is stated to be 16 hours. Obviously, individual use plays a big part in how long your battery lasts. I was receiving anywhere from 12-14 hours on a charge, I feel this is more than adequate. Keep in mind, I am not using mine in a daily commute and subsequent day at work and a commute home again. My cellular devices use USB-C, so if I did continually use the device, I would have a charger nearby anyway. A full charged DX120 should easily get you through your day and then some.

The internals are aptly designed to provide you with a high-quality music listening experience. The DAC is an AK4495, it is a single DAC design as opposed to dual DAC’s that many DAP’s utilize today. It is capable of playing all of the Hi-Res music formats, including DSD natively at 128X. While the AK4495 is rated to be able to obtain a THD+N of -105dB, it appears it is an engineering feat actually to achieve the THD level. The engineers at iBasso were able to reach -111dB which I am told is spectacular.

A differential operational amplifier is used on each channel with a fully balanced output design which lowers the distortion and crosstalk. The output power of the balanced output is up to 400mW with a 32ohm load, plenty of ability to drive every monitor or headphone I have in my collection.


The Mango OS is built on Linux architecture. To me, there is an “Androidy” feel to it, but it is Mango. No Android means there is no ability to download Android apps from a Play Store or sideload Android apps. Of course, there really is no reason to do so anyway since this is a no-frills player, without Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, thus no reason for Tidal or Spotify. Utilizing Mango vs. Android also equates to faster boot-up and load times and no additional software except what is needed for controls, adjustments, and playback. For the most part, the response is snappy, and the touch controls in Mango are lag free and fluid.


The UI functions by swiping the screen L to R or R to L depending on what you wish to control. A swipe L to R will take you to My Music, and a swipe from R to L will bring you to Settings. There is also a “center” screen which would be aptly named the Music Playback screen.

I will include some pictures to give you the feel of the OS, but unlike so many DAP reviews I won’t bore you with a view of each available screen, it just makes the reviews too freaking long. I will, however, talk about some of the more exciting features available in the OS.

I have always loved A&K and theBIt and used them for the bar to reach regarding their user interface, but now I will gladly lump the Mango OS into that same polished, usable category.


One of the features that warrants discussion is the sound modes. These come already configured for the listener, and there are 5 options to choose from, Reference, Traditional, Original, Classical and Natural. There is not a vast difference between the options, in my opinion, and the decision of which will be your favorite is purely subjective, and I have chosen Reference and Traditional as the two options I use the most, with Reference being my primary go-to.

Directly above the sound modes are the Digital Filters. As with the Sound Modes, the Digital Filters are mostly minor tweaks. The Filters are designed to enhance the level of attack and decay on your music. The Filters are Sharp roll off, Slow roll off, Short delay sharp roll-off, Short delay slow roll off and Super slow roll off. These are designed to allow the listener a higher level of personalization and find the sound signature that agrees most with their tastes.


Of course, the DX120 also comes with pre-loaded EQ settings to align with the Genre of music you are listening too as well as a custom setting to make your own adjustments. The pre-loaded options are Classical, Pop, Dance, Rock and Bass. I am not a massive user of EQ, but it is there for those that do use EQ.

On the Playback screen there is a “quick settings” menu that can be accessed giving you controls for Gapless(on/off), Gain(low/high), Digital Filter, Sound Mode and whether you are using your DAP as a Reader, a DAC or are plugged in wishing to Charge only.

One other noteworthy option on the Playback screen is available when you touch the Album Art. You will be presented with an opportunity to add to a playlist, delete the track or display more information about the track ie. Duration, Sample Rate, Bit Rate, File #, Title, Album, Artist and the Path or location of the track on the player.


The entire OS is well thought out and user-friendly. Since this is a DAP focused on the quality of sound and music playing only, it has a vast array of customizations to allow the consumer to enjoy their music. Hats off to iBasso for simplicity and usability.

Moving on to the sound:

The iBasso DX120 is a mighty, pocket-sized wonder. The signature is dynamic, full and unobtrusive in its coloration of the music, it delivers the music as intended. It is not clinical or dry in its sound, particularly in the 2.5mm balanced output, it does not add a layer of color.


I must say that I am impressed with the overall signature. This is one reason I like the recent trend of DAP’s dedicated to sound as opposed to including every feature imaginable. Additional features add to the cost of the device and the DX120 is a device that delivers in its sound signature well above the price of admission.

I have found that some of my hybrid IEM’s shine when played through the balanced output, it is not as if in the SE output they don’t sound fantastic, because they do, it is that the additional power brings out the best of my music tracks. The balanced output just seems more dynamic and alive, where SE the DX120 can come off a little dry, by comparison to the balanced output. It is not a criticism, it is just a preference of mine, I prefer the dynamic, lively signature.

The architecture of this signature is rendered with a dark background, none of MY IEM’s display hiss or any unwanted sound artifacts, it is a dark sound floor.


Overall, the signature comes alive with any genre of music, there is a delicate precision without being clinical. The stage is wide and extends well on the fringes of the spectrums. The treble extends well and does not sound shrill as if it rolls off, it is solid and defined at the edge of the frequency. There is a crispness in the upper range which exhibits the details from cymbal crashes with an average decay. I really enjoy the mids in the balanced mode of the DX120, they are a bit forward, but not obtrusive. The details are portrayed thoughtfully, but detailed. The lower mids accentuate the punchiness in the music, and the bass and sub-bass are full-bodied and robust. The amount of layering showcases your music without any blurring or smearing into any other frequency. The decay is natural across all frequencies, unveiling the sharp, crisp, punchy and dynamic signature. The DX120 is not a thin sounding DAP, it is energetic and full, but without excessive bloat.


I tested a variety of file types and concluded that if you feed the DX120 high bitrate files, you will undoubtedly be rewarded. The tone of the DX120 paired perfectly with the Empire Ears Legend X, and on 2.5mm output, it unleashed the fury that is known as the Legend X, and it’s excellent DD bass.

In summary, the treble extends well and is a bit edgy but never offends. It is detailed and stretches the listeners focus to the fringes of the spectrum and assists with conveying the emotion and is never fatiguing. The mids are smooth and accurate, and the lower mids have a wonderful punchiness, especially when utilizing the balanced output. It bears the bass parts without muddiness or smearing, the bass notes are clear and present. Sub-bass is solid and present and the mid-bass punchy. With every IEM I have to test, the noise floor was black, but I have read that with sensitive IEM’s there can be some hiss, I apologize I cannot verify this.

You might want to own this DAP if:

+ You utilize the 2.5mm balanced output

+ You prefer a smooth, balanced, non-offensive, dynamic signature

+ You prefer a sound that is full of emotion and excels at long listening sessions

+ You need the power to drive higher impedance IEM’s or headphones(balanced)

+ You want to carry two micro-SD cards with your entire music collection

In Closing:

It is essential to compare apples to apples when comparing DAP’s. This is a sound first and focused player. It is not for you if you need features like streaming and WI-FI.

There is undoubtedly adequate storage with the addition of two micro-SD slots, a welcome addition.

The DX120 plays all of the popular file formats and truly excels with high bitrate files.

I must include the subjective part of this review and say that while I have more expensive DAPs in my collection, the DX120 receives more play time than any of the others. The sound is top notch.

I could go on and on in the conclusion/summary, but I will say in closing that the DX120 has an excellent form factor, build quality, simple UI, and TOTL sound quality. I see no reason that it shouldn’t be on your short list to buy!

Hats off to iBasso for a quality product at a quality price
Now I am confused, as I've seen quite a few reviews stating it has a slightly brighter than neutral signature?
Hey Expat...I don't hear anything bright in the signature. An example of a brighter DAP would be the Shanling M3s. You also have to look at the bulk of the IEM's I have are warmer tilted. Let me try the DX 120 with the FIBAE 3 and post back if those appear brightish. Could be a difference in the delay or filters used, as well, but those changes in signature were subtle at best to my ears.
Pros: + Clear, Dynamic, Punchy Sound
+ Lots of Driving Power on the Balanced output
+ Low THD
+ Very good ergonomics
+ Sexy curves, sleek design
+ Good Battery Life
+ 2 MicroSD slots
+ Excellent support from iBasso
+ Stable and quick firmware
+ USB DAC functions with minimal lag
+ Very good overall user experience
+ Excellent Price / Performance Ratio
Cons: - No bells and whistles, no Wifi, no Bluetooth
- No case that would protect the glass back included in the package
- Not a lot of power on the Single Ended Headphone Output
Little Joy - iBasso DX120 Review

iBasso DX120 is a more affordable Player from iBasso, one of the most trusted names in the audio industry, but given the very saturated state of the price range it comes at, DX120 has to be pretty good to hold its ground. It is time to see what iBasso can offer for 300 USD, and how it compares to other similarly priced DAPs (Digital Audio Players).

Link to the review on Audiophile-Heaven: https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2019/02/little-joy-ibasso-dx120-review.html


iBasso is a very strong name in the audio industry, and not because they are the largest, but because they are some of the most friendly and helpful folks there are. They are known to interact with people over Head-Fi, and Facebook, and iBasso has long been known to offer some of the best support there have been. Not only that, but they tend to offer excellent support for their Players, including the way they offered strong software upgrade and support for their previously released Players, like DX200 which was upgraded to Android Oreo recently, being one of the very few Players supported so well by the company behind it.

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 anyone else. I'd like to thank 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 DX120. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in iBasso DX120 find their next music companion.

About me



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

iBasohave always been a company to include a lovely amount of extras with their Players, and DX120 is no exception. It is packaged in a very premium suit, just like DX200, and DX150 were, in a finely designed overall package.

There are a large amount of extras in the box, including a silicone carrying case, premium USB cable, with textile cover, one coaxial cable to use DX120 as a transport towards an external DAC/AMP, and a burn-in cable, to allow you to burn-in your DX120.

Extra Tempered Glass screen protectors are also included in the package, so you don't have to worry if you scratch or break your current one.

Overall, there's nothing I can say is missing from the package, especially given the sweet price point of DX120, and I feel iBasso did an awesome job with the package. Furthermore, although I will not be using the silicone case, it is a really good addition if you want to offer your DX120 further protection, and the premium cables included surely make the DX120 experience quite a bit better.

What to look in when purchasing a high-end DAP


Technical Specifications

OS: Mango OS
DAC: AK4495
Screen: 3.2-inch 480X800 IPS touch screen
Sampling rate: PCM: 8kHz-384kHz / native DSD: DSD64/128
Battery/Charging: 3700mAh 3.8V Lithium Ion Battery
microSD slots: 2 Micro SD card slots
Size: 63mmx113mmx15mm
Weight: 165g

2.5mm balance po:
Maximum output level: 3.6Vrms
Frequency response: 10HZ - 45KHZ+/-1dB
THD+N: 0.00027%, -111dB (no load @2.4Vrms), 0.00032%, -110dB (32Ω load 2.4Vrms)
Dynamic range: 117dB
Signal to noise ratio: 117dB (32 ohm load) (132dB)
Crosstalk: -116dB

3.5mm single-ended po:
Maximum output level: 1.8Vrms
Frequency response: 10HZ - 45KHZ+/-1dB
THD+N: 0.0004%, -107dB (no load @1.2Vrms), 0.00056%, -105dB (32Ω load 1.2Vrms)
Dynamic range: 115dB
Signal to noise ratio: 115dB (32 ohm load)
Crosstalk: -115dB

3.5mm single-ended line out:
Maximum output level: 1.8Vrms
Frequency response: 10HZ - 45KHZ+/-1dB
THD+N: 0.0004%, -107dB (no load @1.2Vrms)
Dynamic range: 115dB
Signal to noise ratio: 115dB
Play time: about 16 hours

Build Quality/Aesthetics/UI/Firmware

Startng with the build quality, DX120 is fully made of metal, it has buttons on the side, and it comes with a glass screen protector already applied on it. Furthermore, it comes with high-quality gold plated jacks, and a glass back, making sure it stays sleek and sexy. There are no hard corners, and all edges and corners of DX120 are rounded, making it extremely pocketable.

DX120 is also quite a bit smaller than the higher-end offerings from iBasso, staying in like with the pocket-ability factor for a 300 USD Player.

There are two colors available, one is the one presented in this review, which is a blue color, and there is also a brown / darker colored version available.

Now, the aesthetics of DX120 are simply stunning, it is a very modern, sleek and ergonomic device, based on curves and gentle slopes, everything feels really well put in place, even the buttons following the curved design nicely, and being different in size, making blind navigation much easier.

iBasso always had an excellence in presenting the technical abilities of their Players, and DX120 is no exception, with the very good DAC being a central highlight for DX120, along with the operational amplifiers, and the buffers being presented by iBasso.

Now, DX120 is a unique product, because it features two microSD slots, but it doesn't feature Android like its bigger brothers, rather, being the best Player sonically, and offering the best simple music experience for enthusiasts. While it doesn't feature Streaming, DX120 does offer USB DAC abilities, 16 hours of declared play time, a 3700mAh battery, Native DSD decoding, Line Out / Coaxial ports, MangoOS Operating system, and Quick Charge.

It is a full plate really, the only reason you could look into something else from a feature standpoint, is, if you'd want Streaming or Bluetooth, but otherwise, you get pretty much everything you could desire with DX120.

Starting with the USB DAC abilities, and the huge battery included, the USB DAC feature is supported by iBasso, as it has been with all their DAPs, so you can use DX120 as your main sound card, and since it has extremely low latency, it will even work for gaming. Furthermore, DX120 sports a huge battery beneath the surface, so you can take it as a truly long-lasting DAP, being able to follow you even through a 2-day trip through the woods.

DX120 can do Native DSD decoding, up to DXD 128, which should be enough for most people, and it offers a Line Out, in case you want to pair it with something like Feliks Echo (since it also has USB DAC abilities), or with something like iFi xCan portably, and DX120 even features Coaxial Output, if you want to use it as a transport, being a rather capable swiss knife of a Player.

DX120 is supported by the very powerful Mango Operating system, which is a very mature and hassle-free OS. Furthermore, it features Quick Charge, so you won't have to wait for too long for the huge 3700mAh battery to be ready to go, so quite a lot of fun prepared for DX120.

I haven't experienced a single crash with DX120, it reads all my files, including the cover art I have in my folders, it has been super stable, and offers a really good overall user experience.

Gapless Playback works flawlessly, and DX120 is extremely light and quick, switching between songs is almost instantaneous, and a lot of this happens because iBasso has included a multi-core CPU with DX120, which allows it to be fast enough, and the RAM features Direct Memory Access, helping achieve this speed.

The balanced output is extremely strong, at almost 400mW into a 32 OHM load, while the Single Ended Output is quite a bit less powerful, rated at almost 100 mW in a 32 OHM load, basically better suited for more portable headphones, or IEMs.

I personally cannot hear much hiss with DX120, even from its uber-powerful Balanced port, but for those who are quite sensitive to hiss, or who like to listen extremely quiet, iFi created something like the 2.5mm Balanced iEMatch. Now, I prefer the sound of the balanced output with most of my IEMs and Headphones, since it has better dynamics, power delivery and overall control / authority, but, on the other hand, I still do not have balanced cables for all my IEMs and Headphones, making the inclusion of a 3.5mm Single Ended output a necessity.

I love how responsive the UI is, and how light it feels, and one thing I also love to bits, is the way the GUI reacts to volume changes when the display is turned on. You can also swipe down in the volume screen, to adjust it quicker with, and for higher magnitude adjustments, making DX120 rather cool, even if you're switching from a full headphone, to a very sensitive IEM.

Overall, DX120 reaches a golden standard for the Firmware, Build Quality and Design for a 300 USD Player.

Sound Quality

For the sake of the Capacitors reaching their optimal state and working condition, I have let DX120 burn in using the burn in cable, for about 100 hours, as iBasso instructed. I also used iBasso IT-04 for taking the sonic impressions, along with Campfire Atlas, Dita Fealty, HIFIMAN RE2000 Silver, and Ultrasone Signature DXP, all of them switched between sonic modes, digital filters, and where possible, switching between Single Ended and Balanced outputs. You can find a list of tracks I use for sonic impressions at the end of my review.

DX120 features more than one tonality, or sonic signature, so I will try my best to talk a bit about each one of them. Generally, it has excellent soundstage, detail retrieval, and clarity for its price range, being quite amazing already, but iBasso felt like including a few sonic modes, besides the digital filters already built into the DAC. All of this comes above the EQ, which is implemented as well in DX120.

Now, I have listened to each of the sound modes, and tried my best to compare with each other.

Reference Mode - This mode has the most treble presence and overall clarity, the overall tonality leans towards being more neutral rather than euphonic, being a touch colder, crisper and faster than the other Sound Modes. This is where my favorite setting is at for Metal Music.

Traditional Mode - Slightly more forward vocals, working really well if you love a slightly forward vocal presentation, with a slightly smoother top end, and with a more lush overall presentation. Works really well for Jazz.

Original Mode - Makes me feel this was the intended signature for, it has a deeper and more present bass, with more rumble, but also has a more crisp and sparkly treble, probably my most favorite overall signature for DX120, and where I'd leave it at for most headphones and IEMs.

Classical Mode - This one is most probably intended for Classical music, as the treble is rather smooth and less present, with the overall speed also being a touch slower, each musical note being presented like this. Works really well with slow music, and music where you don't want quite that much sparkle.

Natural Mode - Natural mode is probably the most thick and lush from all the sonic modes available on DX120, with the sub-end rumble being the main star, and with the lower mids having a fuller body, and the treble and midrange being smoother and less aggressive.

Overall, I am quite impressed by how much fine tuning you can give to your DX120, and I am also amazed by the amount of work that was put into this, but, the fun does not stop here. With an extremely low THD (Total Harmonic Distortion), DX120, is quite exceptional on all levels, but that still wasn't enough for iBasso. They also allow you to fine tune your digital filters, feature which is embedded in the DAC chip of DX120.

The differences between digital filters is much much smaller than the one between Sound Modes, but it is still present. I noticed only after taking all my impressions of the Sound Modes that I had the digital filters left on Sharp Roll Off, so I will describe the other ones here. Please keep in mind that the differences between digital filters can be extremely small.

Slow Roll Off - Now, this filter tends to slow down everything a bit, takes the edge off the sound a bit, especially in the treble, and gives the lower midrange and the bass a touch more body, resulting in a more thick overall sound.

Short Delay Sharp Roll Off - I can hear that it has a touch more sub-bass rumble, compared to the Sharp Roll Off, and a touch smoother treble, but that is pretty much it, can't say I notice much else going on.

Short Delay Slow Roll Off - Slightly faster attack and slightly faster overall music notes, with a slightly more forward midrange, but very slightly.

Super Slow Roll Off - This seems to be the most lush of the filters, with an ever so slightly thicker sound. Very very slightly.

Quite a handful different signatures and a lot of information to take, I know, but you should just keep in mind that this is a really wide-sounding, powerful DAP, with good clarity, and clean sound, in the 300 USD price range, and all of the above are extra options you can engage to fine tune it to your tastes.

Portable Usage

Now, DX120 excels at being portable. As I was just talking with other users of DX120, it is really easy to slide it in your pocket, as it is easy to slide it out of your pocket, due to its really sweet rounded edges. The curves and different sized buttons make it really easy to switch songs, and adjust volume while in pocket, which is quite essential for a portable Player.

There are no interferences, and iBasso actually has a good design, with anti EMI shielding in all of their DAPs, thing which can be easy to tell, if you're riding the subway and using DX120, it will not pick one bit of interference.

The display is bright enough, and colorful enough, for most scenarios, although I personally would prefer a slightly brighter display where possible, since it would make the user experience a touch better for those who travel a lot, or who use it in really bright outdoors scenarios. The display inputs the touch really well, and I have an almost 0% fail ratio for my touch input, and the overall device is really responsive.

This is one of the most important aspects of DX120 to me. As a portable device, it has a large capacity, of using two microSD cards, and I tested it with two 256 GB microSD cards loaded with flac files, and it didn't feel one bit slow or sluggish even with this huge library loaded. In fact, I was quite happy with the speed with which my library list loaded, although I should mention I do use folder browsing and I have a neatly ordered library, with my overall library looking like Genre / Artist / Year - Album / number. Song Name , so I can quickly browse my entire library. I heavily suggest having a tidy collection if you want to have the best audio experience with any device.

I was able to get about 12 hours of music, with heavy usage, maximum display brightness, very loud listening volume, and a lot of folder browsing. This means that iBasso's figures for 16 hours are pretty accurate, if you will be using IEMs, and have a more mixed usage, and especially if you won't be switching songs a lot.

Other than this, I found no issues while using DX120 portably, it is a dream Player for portability and for outdoors usage. DX120 reaches a golden standard for a Player in this price range, with excellent battery life, amazing build quality, good display, and fast speed, as well as buttons that allow for browsing it while in a pocket.

Select Pairings

DX120 is quite excellent for being paired with a large number of IEMs and Headphones, one of the most versatile DAPs there are, especially with the multitude of Filters and Music Modes. It has a low THD, low noise floor, so it will work with pretty much anything you throw at it.

iBasso DX120 + iBasso IT04 - IT04 has been a favorite for me ever since I reviewed it, and for a good reason. Its flexibility, build quality, soundstage, and smooth, musical midrange, paired with that energetic and vivid top end, and the tight and amazingly fast bass, really worked wonders for Metal, Death Metal, Black metal (Especially black), but electronic, and pop as well. Paired with DX120, they sound a bit more forward in the midrange, with the right digital filter, and sound mode, so you can get the best of both IT04's abilities, but also make them more balanced if you wanted to. DX120 can also make them sound a bit wider than they typically do, but also a tad more punchy and energetic, overall the pairing being a personal favorite.

iBasso DX120 + ClearTune VS4 - ClearTune VS4 is still very loved by the users, because it is a really comfortable IEM with a unique tuning that will immediately appeal to Rock and more vintage music lovers. DX120 can make them go a bit wider than they typically do, but also gives them a nice amount of dynamics and an excellent punchiness. Overall, I am quite pleased with the pairing.

iBasso DX120 + Campfire Atlas - Campfire Atlas is quite a unique IEM, flagship actually. Tuned for fun, with a large bass, imposing soundstage, and a bright top end sparkle to balance the large bass, Atlas is surely impressive, as much as it is fun. Now, DX120, although being a rather impressive entry-level IEM, can really push Atlas well. There is a very slight hint of hiss with the pairing, but it is way too faint for me to hear it while music is playing. As for the sound of the pairing, with the right choice of Music Mode and Digital Filter, the pairing is very punchy, huge-sounding, dynamic, imposing, controlled, and sparkly, the two working so well together, that I often use them while going for a stroll through the woods.

iBasso DX120 + HIFIMAN RE2000 Silver - HIFIMAN RE2000 is also an interesting flagship, pretty different from Atlas that I just spoke about, because RE2000 Silver is extremely balanced and neutral, being on the analytical side of things, impressing with its detail and clarity, rather than a large bass. RE2000 is excellent at revealing how good a source Player actually is, and this is why I pair it with almost every single source I review, since its extremely analytical nature will quickly reveal how good a source can hold its ground. With DX120, RE2000 Silver is able to reveal how clear and dynamic, but also punchy DX120 really is. A very low noise floor and very good overall THD are also easily audible from the pairing, and DX120 has enough power to really push and control RE2000, which although are not very hard to drive, they do appreciate a higher quality source, and they seem to be appreciating DX120 quite a lot.


DX120 compares fairly well with similarly priced Players, but most people are also curious how it compares to DX150, so I will dive right in.

iBasso DX120 vs DX150 (AMP6) - DX150 running AMP6, the default one, is the big brother, and the other option you're probably considering, if you're considering going with an iBasso Player. DX150 features only one microSD slot, but it comes with a much more rich set of features, like full Google Play support, a brighter display, Bluetooth Support, and most importantly, support for iBasso's excellent AMP modules, making it almost as versatile as DX200. On the other hand, the AMP module it comes with, AMP6, has its own specific tuning, which is quite warm, and DX120, in comparison to DX150 + AMP6, sounds more bright, more revealing, more reference, has a more clear overall sound, while DX156 has more bass impact, and a more thick and lush overall sound. Setting DX120 to slow roll off filter and traditional sound will bring it closer to DX156, but it still isn't quite the same, as the love DX150 has for being thick and lush. If you're looking for a more versatile Player, can spend a bit more, and if you plan on upgrading the default AMP module, DX150 makes a lot of sense, and it is quite lovely on an overall level, while, if you're looking for a really clear, revealing, and punchy Player, and if you don't require any of the bells and whistles DX150 has, and if you prefer a more traditional music player experience, DX120 is a really sweet player for a really sweet price.

iBasso DX120 vs Cayin N5ii - Cayin N5ii is quite interesting because it has Android, and Streaming abilities, but it had a few bugs when it was launched, so some people were discouraged to go with it, rather than a more simple DAP like DX120. Both Players have dual microSD cards, both players have an excellent amount of accessories included in the package, and both are premium devices. The battery life is longer on DX120, but N5ii is smaller physically. There is no volume wheel on DX120, but there is one present on N5ii. The UI and overall firmware is much faster and more responsive on DX120, although N5ii provides bluetooth and Streaming abilities / Wifi if you're looking for those. Sonically, DX120 tends to be brighter and more revealing, more detailed than N5ii, while N5ii tends to have more body, and to be more lush, along with offering a deeper and punchier bass. Overall, if you're looking for Streaming, Bluetooth and a smaller device, along with a thicker and more lush sound, N5ii is still quite amazing, while if you're looking for a simpler Player which can use your microSD cards for its music library, and if you're looking for clarity, and a more neutral overall sound, DX120 is quite amazing and an excellent purchase.

iBasso DX120 vs Opus #1s - Opus #1s is probably the most forward direct enemy of DX120, since they have a very similar approach, dual microSD slots, long battery life, lots of driving power, excellent design, clear and bright display, and similar features. DX120 is physically smaller, and has a longer battery life in practice. The largest differences will be felt in the sound, where DX120 feels like it has an even wider soundstage, and I kid you not, #1S was already huge in the stage, DX120 goes even wider, and the noise floor seems to be actually lower on DX120, which is a great thing, especially since #1s never had a loud noise floor to my ears. Furthermore, they have a pretty similar overall tuning, I'd say almost identical, but they do have a few points where they're different, like the midrange, where DX120 is a touch smoother and more natural, while #1s is a bit more energetic and forward, as well as a touch brighter. The overall sound, and especially the bass seems to be a bit more impactful on DX120, while it tends to be a bit more neutral on #1s. If you're looking for the Opus experience, #1s is still quite easy to recommend, while if you want to experience the iBasso version of this signature and experience, especially if you want to have a multitude of micro-adjustments available, DX120 makes a really interesting option right now.

Value and Conclusion

iBasso created quite a unique Player with DX120, and they are not only in the market, but they are slowly overtaking their competition with those awesome releases lately. I like seeing more competition, and I like the fact that they are able to deliver both excellent Build, Sonic, and Firmware quality. iBasso's warranty and customer support is also one of the best there are, and working with them and with their representative, Paul, is always a pleasure.

The DX120 Player is pretty much the wet dream of someone who doesn't require any kind of bells and whistles, but access to his large music collection, a quick and reliable Player, with a stable firmware, excellent display, and just an awesome music experience.

The body of DX120 is made of Aluminium, so it is both durable and lightweight, and DX120 was designed to be both small and portable, with rounded edges, and sexy lines defining a player that looks both sleek and futuristic. The firmware behind is iBasso's ultra-solid Mango OS, which works wonders for DX120, especially since it is optimized to take advantage of DX120's multi-core CPU, resulting in one of the fastest, most engaging user experiences of the audiophile Player market.

Two microSD slots, and a huge battery are responsible for your portable enjoyment, and you can be sure to have lots of fun with DX120, especially if you're going on a long trip, since it features quick charge, and if you packed an external battery pack that can do quick charging, you can get even double, or even triple the already amazing battery life DX120 has.

The price point of DX120 is also very sweet, being priced at 300 USD, so being quite competitive when placed against Players in a similar price range. To be fair, it has its own charm, and it is easy to recommend and consider, especially with the support iBasso offers it, and with their golden history, at this point having upgraded their almost two-year old Flagship to Oreo, DX120 will be a long-lasting Player in your collection, rather than a flavour-of-the-month.

At the end of this review, if you're looking for a simple music player that can play your music, do everything it should do, but which doesn't feature any other bells and whistles, if you have a large music library, and if you appreciate a long battery life, a responsive GUI and firmware, and if you want a clear, dynamic, punchy, wide, and fine-tunable sonic signature, DX120 is really hard to miss, and it is one of the Players I would really recommend you to consider, especially if you're on a budget, being priced so friendly, that it stands out as an outstanding option for a music enthusiast.

Link to the review on Audiophile-Heaven: https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2019/02/little-joy-ibasso-dx120-review.html

Playlist used for this review

While we listened to considerably more songs than those named in this playlist, those are excellent for identifying certain aspects of the sound, like PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you're searching for new most, most of them being rather catchy.

Bats - Gamma Ray Burst: Second Date
Eskimo Callboy - Frances
Incubus - Summer Romance
Electric Six - Dager! High Voltage
Kishida Cult - High School Of The Dead
Dimmu Borgir - Dimmu Borgir
Breaking Benjamin - I Will Not Bow
Thousand Foot Krutch - The Flame In All Of Us
Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
Infected Mushroom - Song Pong
Attack Attack - Kissed A Girl
Doctor P - Bulletproof
Maximum The Hormone - Rock n Roll Chainsaw
Rob Zombie - Werewolf, Baby!
Escape The Fate - Gorgeous Nightmare
SOAD - Chop Suey
Ken Ashcorp - Absolute Territory
Machinae Supremacy - Need For Steve
Ozzy Osbourne - I Don't Wanna Stop
Crow'sclaw - Loudness War
Eminem - Rap God
Stromae - Humain À L'eau
Sonata Arctica - My Selene
Justin Timberlake - Sexy Back
Metallica - Fuel
Veil Of Maya - Unbreakable
Masa Works - Golden Japang
REOL - Luvoratorrrrry
Korn - Word Up!
Papa Roach - ... To be Loved
Fever The Ghost - Source
Fall Out Boy - Immortals
Green Day - Know The Enemy
Mindless Self Indulgence - London Bridge
A static Lullaby - Toxic
Royal Republic - Addictive
Astronautalis - The River, The Woods
We Came As Romans - My Love
Skillet - What I Believe
Man With A Mission - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Yasuda Rei - Mirror
Mojo Juju - Must Be Desire
Falling Up - Falling In Love
Manafest - Retro Love
Rodrigo Y Grabriela - Paris
Zomboy - Lights Out
Muse - Resistance
T.A.T.U & Rammstein - Mosaku
Grey Daze - Anything, Anything
Katy Perry - Who Am I Living For
Maroon 5 - Lucky Strike
Machinae Supremacy - Killer Instinct
Pendulum - Propane Nightmares

I hope my review is helpful to you!


Contact me!

Great comprehensive review! Impressions on digital filters rather different than my impressions, especially the Super Slow Roll Off as it sounds most transparent to me, but yea, YMMV :D
Dobrescu George
Dobrescu George
Thank you for your kind words, @earfonia !! :) It seems we have heard this one differently, but I think we're on the same page otherwise! Maybe the headphones paired with DX120, or the music itself reflected the differences differently, I know you love more mature music, where Slow Roll Off may compliment it very well, while for metal, a faster and more punchy, maybe even a touch more energetic on the top end, would compliment it more.
Pros: Easy UI, No frills means simple to use, Excellent sound, variety on inputs/outputs, price, two micro SD Slots
Cons: No streaming, wifi etc
IBasso DX120 Review
- Expatinjapan


Look at all those pretty offerings below crammed into the DX120


Coax, spdif cable, cable for balanced port burn in and USB-C/A cable for charging.

The DX120 comes with a pliable plastic case.

Specifications and general information

iBasso DX120 user interface
Not much to write about here: The pictures tell the story mostly.

iBasso DX120 UI Video

iBasso DX120 Manual

iBasso DX120 and iBasso SR1 headphones

The iBasso DX120, like the DX150 and DX200 has oodles of power to spare.


iBasso DX120 and iBasso IT04 impressions


"Moving down but not out! IT04 with the DX120. Slow roll off filter, Reference setting. Low gain.
The DX120 while a beautiful looking dap and a generous performance to match of course lacks the overall resolution of the DX200.

I tried a few different settings on the Dx120 to try to find the most complementary mix between the digital filters and Sound modes but there being so many configurations I had to in the end just pick two and get on with it. But rest assured between the two modes one can have a decent amount of control over the signature of the earphones albeit in a subtle way.

The DX120 is perhaps the frill free younger sibling of the DX150.

Throwing muses `Downtown` was natural and realistic, PJ Harvey `50ft Queenie` needed a bit more air in it.
Switch to high gain.
The IT04 sucks up the extra power and seems to enjoy it, more solid edges to the music, clarity and brings up the over all performance that an increase in volume on low gain could not achieve.

In summary the IT04 with the DX120 the satisfaction seems to differ from track to track, I think the iBasso IT04 needs a dap to match its price point or above.

Back to the DX200 to complete the circle and the IT04 certainly shines with detail and extension, though I do enjoy the smooth pairing of the DX150."

Size comparisons
iBasso DX200, DX120 and DX150.

After market case by MITER
Miter sent Head pie a case for the iBasso DX120 to check out.
Also available on https://www.amazon.com/MITER-Leather-Case/pages/14574969011

Sound & stuff
Well one can ramble on endlessly about the merits and deficits of daps.
It is certainly much easier than in times gone past when there were peddled daps of all sorts of features and sound signatures.
Now days they are divided by the many features available to the consumer, and one has to be realistic with oneself and ask `what do I really need?`

For many people a simple player is enough, like the DX120. But one that has great resolution.

What can one write about the iBasso DX120 that I have not already listed above in my many photos and lists of specifications and features.

The iBasso DX120 is a straight player with a fairly neutral signature player whose sound can be slightly and subtly altered by the use of the Digital Filters when combined with the Sound mode.
Or even boosting the high gain or using the equalizer.

It does not reach the resolving heights of the flagship the DX200 nor does it fall terribly far behind.
One could even describe it in a pinch as a stripped down DX150 minus wifi, bluetooth, streaming etc.

There is a place for such daps and many consumers like myself prefer to have digital files of their music rather than relying on streaming services - the music is there, ready to go.

Its a solid well made robust dap, feels good in ones hand.

Its a beautiful creation and the sound quality and resolution is satisfying.

You probably have acquainted yourself with its many features already but lets take another look at the more visible parts via the graphic I made and which heads this piece.

Just about everything the streamlined audiophile needs whilst out and about on the town.

The iBasso DX120 also makes an excellent source


The iBasso DX120 is a solid, easy to use player. Load up your music and go.
The User Interface is simple.
Nice easy to use physical side buttons.
Two Micro SD card slots.
It has a variety of inputs and outputs to satisfy most needs.
Price is excellent as it could by sound alone fit into the $500 bracket.
Simply enjoy the music.

More from iBasso.....

Thank you to iBasso for sending Head pie the iBasso DX120 for review
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Pros: Sound, convenience, design, price
Cons: No (not for this money)
Hi friends!

Three years ago I told you about the iBasso DX80 DAP, and here we are again on the New Year's eve, and I am holding in my hands an extremely cute device that replaced that wonderful model.

I can’t not say a few words about iBasso, suddenly someone else does not know. This Chinese brand began its journey with the production of portable amplifiers and DACs. In 2012, company introduced the DX100 DAP, which won the hearts of music lovers around the world. After some time, the younger models also saw the light: DX50, DX90 and some later DX80.

My current guest DX120 has now, become the first step in the updated iBasso line, DX150 and DX200 rising behind it. Although to call it simple, my language simply will not turn. This is a modern multifunctional DAP with a memorable appearance, and my acquaintance with it turned out to be purely positive.


OS: mango pure tone system
DAC: AK4495
Screen: 3.2-inch 480X800 resolution full-fit IPS touch screen
Sampling rate: PCM: 8kHz-384kHz (8/16/24/32bits)/native DSD: DSD64/128, stereo (does not support multi-channel DST)
Clock system: TCXO active temperature compensation crystal oscillator + phase-locked loop technology, digital audio bus full synchronous clock

Battery/Charging: 3700mAh 3.8V Lithium Ion Polymer Battery/USB TYPE-C MTK-PE+ is compatible with QC2.0 dual fast charging technology, supports 12V, 9V/1.5A fast charging standard, and is backward compatible with common BC1.2 specification. USB charger

2 Micro SD card slots
Size: 63mmx113mmx15mm

2.5mm balance po:

Maximum output level: 3.6Vrms

Frequency response: 10HZ-45KHZ+/-1dB

THD+N: 0.00027%, -111dB (no load @2.4Vrms), 0.00032%, -110dB (32Ω load @2.4Vrms)

Dynamic range: 117dB

Signal to noise ratio: 117dB (32 ohm load) (132dB)

Crosstalk: -116dB

3.5mm single-ended po:

Maximum output level: 1.8Vrms

Frequency response: 10HZ-45KHZ+/-1dB

THD+N: 0.0004%, -107dB (no load @1.2Vrms), 0.00056%, -105dB (32Ω load @1.2Vrms)

Dynamic range: 115dB

Signal to noise ratio: 115dB (32 ohm load)

Crosstalk: -115dB

3.5mm single-ended line out:

Maximum output level: 1.8Vrms

Frequency response: 10HZ-45KHZ+/-1dB

THD+N: 0.0004%, -107dB (no load @1.2Vrms)

Dynamic range: 115dB

Signal to noise ratio: 115dB

Play time: about 16hours

Appearance and kit

The DX120 comes in a small silver cardboard box with the iBasso Audio logo and the slogan "In Pursuit of Perfection." Inside fit: player, spare protective glass on the screen (one is already carefully installed), coaxial cable, pretty usb type- cable c for connecting to the power adapter and PC synchronization, cable for warming up the device, silicone bumper case and obligatory warranty documents. In general, there is everything you need and can be useful in the future.

The DAP is made of aluminum and glass. Combining a simple Spartan form and elegant waves, splashing on its sides, it attracts the eye. The device is available in two elegant shades: silver-blue and silver-brown. In my case, the color is silver-brown, and for my style it fits perfectly.

The player is cute, comfortable and easily fits in any pocket. The dimensions are quite modest (63 mm × 113 mm × 15 mm), weight 165 grams.

Almost the entire front panel is occupied by a touch screen (IPS, 3.2 ″ diagonal, 480 × 800) with good responsiveness and excellent color reproduction.

The back panel is covered with a black glossy plastic plate, and at the very center there is a silver iBasso Audio logo.

DX120 have no internal memory, but it is possible to install 2 memory cards of microSD under which slots were located at the top end face. Here in the neighbourhood there are connectors: 3.5 mm coaxial for outputting a digital signal and USB type-C for charging and connecting the device as USB DAC.

From below more connectors: 3.5 mm linear, 3.5 mm normal for connecting headphones and 2.5 mm balanced.

The left end is empty, and on the right are the control buttons: the on / off button, two volume buttons and three control keys — forward, start / pause, and back.

The menu in the already familiar Mango is intuitive. I would like to mention the beautiful display of both fonts, blocks and the interface as a whole, as well as the covers of the reproduced albums.

Touch-screen response to touch is fast, swipe right and left are flying.

I was pleased and very long time, about 15 hours. But the player is charging in just a few hours, of course, if you use the Quick Charge adapter.

In general, the DX120 is a small, stylish and effective device that pleases not only the eye, but also the ear. Next, let's talk only about the sound!


The DX120 model is based on the AK4495EQ D / A chip from Asahi Kasei.

The DAP has a digital filters (5 options) and additional adjustment of the sound supply (original, classical, natural, reference, traditional), so you can adjust the sound a little to your taste. Personally, I chose: sharp roll-off / original.

Listening (audio testing) was conducted on: 64 AUDIO A18, 64 AUDIO A12t, Vision Ears VE8, Custom ART FIBAE BLACK, InEar SD-2, iBasso IT01s, Beyerdynamic DT1350, and Phonon SMB-02.

With all the headphones, the device played decently, no serious genre deviations were noticed.

The device has a neutral sound style with a smooth low frequency range, smooth, detailed and clean middle, with decent dynamics, good detail, resolution (even without taking into account the player’s price level) and a little cool, a bit of an aggressive, but clear and distinct high-frequency register.

This is an accurate, clean, balanced, slightly dry manner of presenting sound with a small neat “spark” in the high-frequency region, but at the same time without undue aggression and any obvious distortion.

The bass is neutral, accurate and well controlled. It seemed to me that he lacked a little massiveness, but otherwise everything is fine. Quantitatively, it is not much, but there are no complaints about the quality of the development. Here there is a dense exact blow, and a relief, and excellent speed with transfer of textures. If the DX80 possessed a bit of an imposing and sometimes even modest supply of a low-frequency register, then this is not to be said about the DX120: everything is clear, a little dry, accurate and to the point, without pumping and daubing. As they say, "hits the bone."

The mid-frequency range is clean, smooth, detailed and technical. Remarkably, when delineating every nuance, there are stringed instruments, where every pinch and touch of the strings are clearly outlined. Vocal parts sound expressive and picturesque.

The DX120 perfectly arranges sound sources in space, quite well building the virtual space in width and a little less in depth. This is a neutral, detailed and at the same time incredibly musical manner. This middle can be the envy of many players.

High frequencies are served clean and a little cool. There is an accent in the form of a neat “spark”, which sounds a bit aggressive, but within reason. It is served without distortion, giving the sound of airiness and pressure.

By the way, in those records where there is a sharp intrusive accent in this register, the player will surely show this, and where everything is balanced and well combined, there is practically no aggression. So, if you listen to the quality of the recorded musical material, then, in general, this moment itself practically does not manifest itself. And, of course, I wouldn’t recommend to take headphones with a bright sound or flaws in a high-frequency register in a pair of DX120. The player will emphasize this even more. But with headphones that have a neutral or slightly darkened sound, everything will be very, very decent.

In general, it not remarks, but only note. After all, finding fault with the DX120 for its price would be unfair. There are many more expensive devices with a bunch of more significant drawbacks.


In my opinion, the DX120 was a success. The compact size, remarkable design, the presence of a good screen and, most importantly, a decent sound - all this deserves only praise. In addition, this mini player works as an external USB DAC, and also, which is very important for me personally, it can be used as a portable transport for outputting a digital signal to an external DAC.

Such a rich functionality in such a compact size is rare! Just Goliath in David's clothes.


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Nice review and nice pictures. Did you try the Line-out with external amp?
Pros: Sound quality
Comfortable design & build quality
Good battery
2 card slots
Balanced 2.5mm output
DAC support
Excellent touch screen response
And customer service
Cons: Cannot adjust volume with external DAC
Max screen brightness is low (under the sun)
REVIEW - iBasso DX120 - Pure Audio Quality

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Website - iBasso Audio

dx120 fibae3.jpg


. The new addition to the iBasso portable player's line priced at $300. A new design featuring Type-C USB, coaxial and 2.5mm balanced connections, with DAC support as well. It may skip all the cool add-ons such as Bluetooth wireless playback or WiFi streaming, but brings a nice battery performance that reaches up to ~16 hours. Solid Mango OS interface and excellent touch screen response, and with just a simple goal, pure sound quality that surely delivers.

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Official DX120 info

(Manual available in PDF format)

Technical specifications

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Price: U$299 (msrp); street price may vary.

Available in two color options: "Sky Blue" and "Earth Brown".

The unboxing...

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The included case is made of silicone (or so it seems). It is soft and easy to install (you need to start from the bottom part of the player) but only covers the lateral sides of the device.

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USB cable, Type-C for the DX120 side and USB A on the other end. Both plugs are well made with a metal cover and the whole outer jacket is cloth braided.

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The Coaxial cable.

dx120 (57).jpg

And finally, the iBasso own "burn-in" cable. This time it arrives in the 2.5mm balanced plug version. iBasso suggest to burn-in the device for at least 100 hours to reach the best results.

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There are also an extra set of protective film to install on the player if needed, and warranty card.

Design & Build Quality

The new iBasso DX120 not only looks nice but it is also very well built and finished. Opted for the Sky Blue color option which found to be sleek and more eye-catching, but there you also have the brown color option. The player arrives in a rectangular form factor but in comfortable finish with well rounded corners and smoother edges; a strong improvement over the most common players that usually look like a plain brick.

dx120 (54).jpg

The whole lateral section is made of aluminum material, solid yet very smooth to the touch, while the front and back panels consist of glass; full black color on the back with the single iBasso logo, and at the front an already installed tempered glass cover for extra protection.

The dimensions are very decent for a portable player at this level, comfortable in both height and width, similar to older ~4" screen smartphones, and if anything maybe a bit thick, which is more than acceptable taking in mind the high audio components inside. Weight is nothing out of the standard either, and considering the more ergonomic and smooth finish, the DX120 makes a comfortable and fairly pocket friendly option as a daily audio player.

At the front, the LCD touch screen occupies almost the whole panel with its 3.2" display and 480x800 resolution. The numbers might sound low compared to the higher standard of common smartphones nowadays, but with no Android system or online connection there's really no need for anything else; pure sound quality is what the DX120 real aims for. In fact, the device doesn't even read image files alone unless it is an album cover. Nevertheless, the quality is actually very good with wide viewing angle, vivid colors and sharp resolution. The main fonts have good size and are comfortable to read, though smaller text parts may be too thin for some. However, the screen brightness doesn't get too high and even set at maximum level it will be hard to read directly under the sun; screen playback controls (play/pause, back and next) will be still easy to spot.

The Layout: Input, Output, Controls

The whole layout is well thought, with all the connections and playback buttons well grouped on each side.

At the bottom there are the three analog output connections, left for Lineout (LO) for full external amplification use, middle for Headphone output (PO - Phone Output) for a standard 3.5mm headphone plug (compatible with TRRS in-line remote termination too), and lastly the small Balanced output for 2.5mm balanced option at the right. As can be seen the two 3.5mm LO and PO have a much larger golden colored ring that stand out over the player borders while the 2.5 Balanced is much simpler with a thin plastic black ring. Of course, the balanced output can be used for extra balanced amplifier entry as well. Worth noting both 3.5mm options rate a 1.8VRms of max output power, while the 2.5mm balanced doubles this number to 3.6VRms.

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At the top side there are sorted slots. At the left, the Coaxial output to use the DX120 as source for a dedicated DAC; no optical option though, but not really missing.

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In the middle, there are two Micro SD slots, and from the DX120 specs it should read up to 2TB cards. Only tested up to 128GB here and the reading process is fast enough. The DX120 has no internal memory, so the dual micro SD feature makes up for that.

And to the right, the USB Type-C port with multiple purpose usage. Not only it supports faster charging and reading if available, but more also it adds the option for DAC use as well. As can be seen, the USB Settings allows setting the Type-C port for the different options. Choosing the DAC option allows the DX120 to be used as external DAC to replace a source sound card; and depending on the system it may be needed to install a driver for it (available at iBasso website). Moreover, an extra DAC can be plugged to the USB port too. However, the volume is fixed to maximum level from the DX120 side and cannot be adjusted, something I found as a disadvantage for gears like the AudioQuest Dragonfly Red; hopefully it should be improved on future firmware releases.

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While there's nothing on the left side, the right side holds six different physical buttons for power and full playback control, all of them nicely arranged over the wavy line in very slightly different heights and sizes, made of black colored plastic. All these buttons do not stand much out of the player lateral bounds so won't be unnecessarily pressed. With the silicone case installed the buttons stick out just a bit more, though will need some extra more strength to press them. Either way, the responsiveness is very good; the different sizes also make it easier to recognize them without taking the player out.

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At the higher part there is the small power button that turns and shut down the device when held for a few seconds, and also turns the screen on and off at a single press. Below are the two larger buttons for volume control.

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And then, three small buttons for playback; middle one is for play/pause, while the other two are for next or previous track (or back to beginning of the current track), for a single press. These two buttons can be set up for either next or previous. Also, if long pressed it is possible to forward and rewind the song played. Moreover, the play/pause button works to lock the player if held for a couple of seconds, and to unlock it again it can be only done by the touch screen. It is worth mentioning that all the buttons work also on screen off (as long as the player is not locked).

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User Interface & Software

The iBasso DX120 runs on the new Linux based Mango OS software. A very nice option over the Android based players for those that search for a dedicated sound portable player and have no need for extra features such as WiFi streaming, Bluetooth or other wireless options. This new Mango system along with the strong hardware components provides a high level of system responsiveness and great stability. The device is not only fast but also the touch screen is very accurate. The unit here arrived with the firmware 2.1.20 version, and while there's also a newer 2.2.42 version, the additional changes didn't mean major changes to the already so comfortable interface. The navigation through folders and menus is very smooth with no lag to be noticed so far.

Describing the whole menus and options in just words will take some time, so instead here below are actual photos of every section. (The PDF manual also covers all of them)

First of all, there are three main screens on the DX120. The first one is the music playback screen, and where the player will always boot up. A slide to the left brings the 'My music' screen, and to the right the 'Settings' screen.

The main playback screen shows the album cover at the upper half (if available), volume and battery levels (both in number and image indicator). At the lower half there is some track info and two options, one for playback order to the right and quick settings menu to the left. Also the playing time bar, and play/pause, back and next touch buttons.

Main screen

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Single touch on the center of the screen opens a short menu for music info, add to playlist and delete the file (from left to right).

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Quick settings menu on main playback screen

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'My music' brings all the music library options, including access to each card and playlists management. All the options here are more than self explanatory and doubt that anyone may need to check the manual for further help.

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'Now playing' returns to the music playback screen.

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Icon on the left to arrange all the music files by different options.

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Two album views

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Long press on a playlist open a new menu window.

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The more complex section lies in the right screen of 'Settings', holding different system and playback setup options.

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Equalizer 'off'.

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Equalizer 'on'.

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Display settings for screen brightness and three wallpaper options.

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Packed with a 3.8V 3700mAh Li-polymer rated battery, iBasso state a continuous playback time of about 16 hours. Surely, in practice the numbers may vary depending on the earphones or headphones, gain level, output and of course the frequent use of the screen. However, on low gain with easy to drive IEMs or on-ear headphones, and a volume of 30~50 (out of 100), the DX120 held around 14~15hrs without any issue. More importantly, the battery percentage indicator is quite accurate and doesn't show a sudden drop without notice.

Full charging time will depend on the charger used. With the USB Type-C connection the DX120 supports the quick charge option up to 2 hours which is a good rate, and even with standard charging it takes around 3 hours. The device can be used while charging too.

Sound Quality

At the core of the DX120, the DAC AK4495 used this time is not new stuff compared to more advanced options on the company higher models; however, it doesn't matter too much considering the excellent implementation and more affordable cost of the DX120 DAP.

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Power & Volume

Boosting two gain sets and two headphones options, the DX120 packs more than enough power to drive any portable set. For very sensitive IEMs to standard 32~64 Ohm headphones, the low gain option doesn't even reaches the 50/100 steps to sound loud enough with zero distortion. Even with more demanding earphones like the VE Zen at 300+ ohm impedance, there was no need to pass the 60 steps (at low gain). With more hungry full-size sets the High gain may be needed before asking for extra amplification.

As usual, the Balanced 2.5mm output will also bring more power, and for instance with the own IT04 IEM the volume difference was of ~10 steps next to the normal 3.5mm output.

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So far the DX120 proves to be a strong device, and more importantly the sound performance is nothing short of impressive. Regardless the whole hardware and different sound modes or selected filters, this last iBasso addition brings excellent sound quality.

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Among the main gears used for the sound test, the list includes some good sounding IEMs like the CustomArt Fibae 3, Periodic Audio Be, FLC 8N, the own iBasso IT01 and current flagship IEM IT04. For earbuds, the VE Zen on the 2.5mm balanced output and also the Meze 99 Classics, u-Jays, SoundMagic Vento v3 and Sennheiser Momentum for larger headphones.

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Overall, the presentation is very nicely balanced without adding certain coloration to the sound. It can be described as neutral but not flat in a reference kind of tuning as there is a very slight hint of warmth and delicate touch of fullness, giving a more natural timbre with a faint sense of musicality and that's still very engaging.

Fullness of the sound already starts from the low end, not in simple terms of bass quantities as that will depend on the gears used, but there is excellent quality with slightly more weight and richness on the notes. There's more effortless extension too and very good layering, great control and resolution, especially when reaching the lower mids. Not aggressive in impact but improves the speed and with more natural depth, attack and decay.

The midrange gains more clarity and detail. Neutral overall, but not thin in texture or cold in tonality as the fullness continues through the whole midrange, with just a hint of added sweetness that works nice for voices. It remains fairly uncolored with greater separation and coherent instruments positioning that improve the imaging. A wonderful match with the hybrid IT04 in terms of drivers' coherence, and with the so high detail oriented Fibae 3 (triple BA) the sounds is fuller through the midrange and still keeps all the micro detail in tad smoother presentation when it reaches the upper midrange.

The highs have excellent quality. Precision and extension on the DX120 are very natural, with almost no added emphasis to what the headphones allow, so neither too smooth nor extra bright. Still, where the DX120 really stands out is in treble control; truly remarkable and hard to beat among the $300 tag portable sources. It does scale higher with better quality lossless tracks (mainly from the 2.5mm output), and yet not too unforgiving on lower recordings.

The presentation is very spacious, and while it may not give that wider stage as the Aune M1s, it actually sounds more coherent with better imaging. Dynamics on the DX120 are great as well and the transition from bass to lower midrange or at the upper mids and treble is very smooth, offering a better rounded sound presentation.

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The switch to the 2.5mm balanced mode not only raises the volume level, but also offers a better audio performance. As expected, improvements are in soundstage width, separation, higher micro detail, extension and more effortless sound overall. Changes are not too drastic but definitely worth if you already have the gears for it.

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The iBasso DX120 is an excellent portable player in many ways. It has very good build quality in a new friendly design with great screen quality and touch responsiveness. The battery runs enough for the daily portable use and supports quick charging too. The no Bluetooth support may be a disadvantage for some buyers, but the balanced and dedicated lineout outputs and the option for DAC function is well done. And of course, the more important part lies in the great sound quality with its fuller presentation and high detail.
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Pros: Clean sound, Powerful 2.5mm headphone output, good built quality, well designed UI and Menus, 2x TF Slots, and USB DAC Feature.
Cons: Similar gold ring appearance for headphone output and line output prone to accidental IEM plug to line output.
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Product page:
User manual:

Many thanks to Zeppelin & Co. for the loan of the iBasso DX120!
I have iBasso DX90 for many years and it is still one of my favorite DAP sound quality wise. I tried iBasso DX200 for a few times and really like the sound quality of it (default Amp card). But I feel the DX200 is too bulky and heavy for me, as I prefer smaller DAP. DX120 seems to be a good option for those who prefer smaller and lighter DAP with solid build and features.

Review based on Firmware Version: V2.1.20 (22 September 2018) and V2.2.42 (28 October 2018).

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  • Clean sound with relatively low hiss noise from the 3.5mm headphone output, especially for a DAP at this price category.
  • Powerful headphone output, especially the 2.5mm balanced output.
  • Excellent build quality, solid metal body with good ergonomics. Good size, not too big or too small, and not too heavy.
  • Mango OS for quicker startup relative to Android OS.
  • Well designed and easy to operate UI and menus.
  • Good touchscreen with pretty responsive and smooth operation.
  • Well-thought accessories with tempered glass screen protector and protective case included. I wish all DAP manufacturers learn from iBasso to include a screen protector and case with their DAP.
  • 2x TF card slots.
  • USB DAC Function.

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  • Headphone output and line output are positioned side by side with similar gold ring appearance that might lead users to wrongly plug in the earphone into the line output socket and accidentally blasted by the line output higher output voltage.
  • SD card scanning is rather slow.
  • Besides the ‘Super Slow Roll Off’ digital filter, all other digital filters cut the high frequencies rather too early causing audible differences in the upper treble response. Although softer treble response might be preferable on bright recordings, In my opinion, we don’t need more than 1 digital filter with an early treble roll off. The rest of the digital filters could be set with a more extended treble response (check measurement section for explanation).
  • Update 2018-11-17: I removed previous comment about "Easily scratched back side glossy surface" as Paul and some other members informed me that it was the plastic protector that scratched, and the back side is actually made of glass. Thanks to Paul from iBasso, @jamato8, and @mbwilson111 !

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Suggestions for Improvements:
  • Differentiate the appearance of headphone output and line output to avoid user mistakenly plug the earphone jack to the line output jack.
  • Feature to swipe the volume up/down using the touch screen after pressing the volume button.
  • In USB DAC mode, only volume control is accessible, headphone output gain and digital filter settings are not accessible on USB DAC mode. Would be nice if gain and digital filters are accessible in USB DAC mode.
  • In USB DAC mode, there is no indicator of PCM / DSD, or the current DAC sampling frequency on the screen. I prefer USB DAC mode screen to show more information rather than just a plain screen. This is very useful to check if the DAC is operating at the correct sampling rate as the audio file that is being played.
  • In USB DAC mode, digital filters 1 to 4 don’t show any differences in measurement, and all 4 filters behave like filter 2, the Slow filter. While in the DAP mode those digital filters clearly show differences in measurement. Probably a bug to fix in the firmware. See measurement section for more detail about this issue.
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Sonic Recommendation:
DX120 is a clean and neutral sounding DAP, and I don't consider it as a warm sounding DAP. Clarity, tightness, and dynamic are DX120 prominent sound signature, especially when using the 2.5mm headphone output. The 3.5mm headphone output is audibly less lively or less dynamic than the 2.5mm headphone output. Therefore my recommendation for DX120 users would be to use the 2.5mm balanced headphone output. As for IEMs or headphones, I would probably pair it with anything from neutral to warm sounding IEMs or headphones. In comparison to warmer DAP, DX120 may sound a tad dry with tight and punchy bass. That sound characteristic might help to improve bass and midrange clarity of warm and bassy IEMs and headphones. Although DX120 might pairs well with some analytical IEMs or headphones as well, I would be more careful in pairing DX120 with analytical IEMs or headphones.

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Sound Quality
Let’s discuss the sound quality first before everything else because others don’t matter if sound quality is not desirable. For this review, I’ve used DX120 for a few weeks, mainly compared with the sound quality of my Onkyo DP-X1 because that’s what I use to carry daily, and some USB DACs, like the Fiio Q5, Light Harmonic GO 2A, and Chord Mojo. So price wise it is not an apple to apple comparison, but more of a comparison of sound signatures to get the general idea of the DX120 sound signature. But to keep this review not too long, I will write comparisons with DP-X1 and Chord Mojo only. As for IEMs, I mostly use DUNU DK3001, Creative Aurvana Trio, 1964 Ears V3, and some others. For headphones, I used Beyerdynamic T1 (1st gen) and Kennerton Thror. I’m not going to be very detail about matching the DX120 with each IEM I tried, because it may not be relevant to many people that don’t have the same IEM model. But instead, I will share my general impressions of the DX120 overall sound signature.

DX120 has 5 selectable digital filters. The first 4 filters sound pretty much the same to my ears with very little to almost no distinguishable sonic differences, but the 5th filter, the ‘Super Slow Roll Off’ filter sounds quite different than the others. The default filter is the
‘Sharp Roll Off’ filter. My preferred sound signature is with the ‘Super Slow Roll Off’ filter. Therefore the sound quality description below will be based mostly on the ‘Super Slow Roll Off’ filter.

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As for the ‘Sound Mode’, my ears are not sensitive enough to hear any significant differences between the modes. So I set it to ‘Original’ most of the time. It is not clear what ‘Sound Mode’ does to the audio signal as I don’t see any differences in oscilloscope and spectrum analyzer when switching between the modes. I guess it probably has to do with the clocking mode.

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Before comparing DX120 with other player or DAC, let’s discuss briefly the sonic differences between the digital filters. From the 5 digital filters:
1. Sharp roll off
2. Slow roll off
3. Short delay sharp roll off
4. Short delay slow roll off
5. Super slow roll off

Filter number 1 to 4 sound quite similar to one another with only very mild differences. But filter number 5, the ‘Super slow roll off’ sounds more transparent, tonally more neutral and balanced to my ears. The super slow filter also have wider perceived stereo imaging, while other filters sound more forward with higher emphasis on the center imaging, that sometimes makes orchestral recordings sound smaller, but vocal may sound more forward and more intimate on filters 1-4. So it is a matter of personal preference, and my sonic preference is closer to the ‘Super slow’ filter.

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Clear, neutral, and lively, are 3 words that I would associate with DX120 overall sonic signature that I perceived mainly using the ‘Super slow’ filter and the 2.5mm balanced output. Clarity seems to be the theme of DX120 sound signature. Clarity and instrument-separation are really good on DX120. Bass is tight punchy and impactful with good dynamic, but sub-bass sounds a bit lean, and I hear slightly less sub-bass rumble in comparison to my DP-X1 and other DACs. Sub bass decay is rather short, but bass speed, impact, and tightness are very good. Mids is on the neutral side, clear with practically no coloration. DX120 is not a warm sounding or vocal flattering DAP. As mentioned earlier relevant to vocal presentation, digital filter 1 to 4 bring vocal a bit more forward in comparison with the super slow filter. Treble is digital filter dependent. On filter 1 to 4, upper treble is relatively soft and less extended than the filter 5. For maximum transparency, set to filter 5, the ‘Super slow’ filter. Detail retrieval is relatively pretty good, especially when set on ‘Super slow’ filter. Dynamic is greatly improved on the 2.5mm balanced output. Usually, I don’t hear much improvement between 3.5mm to 2.5mm headphone output on a DAP, but on DX120, the 2.5mm output has a significantly better dynamic and impact in comparison to 3.5mm headphone output. To be honest, I was not very impressed when I listened to the DX120 on the first time, as the digital filter was set to Sharp and I was using the 3.5mm output. But when digital filter set to ‘Super slow’ filter and I use the 2.5mm output, I’m quite impressed with this player. So, yea the difference is quite audible, especially in the dynamic, therefore I highly recommend to use the 2.5mm balanced output on DX120. Please remember that the 2.5mm output is about 6 dB louder, therefore when comparing the 3.5mm output and the 2.5mm output volume need to be adjusted around 6 steps higher on the 3.5mm output.

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Comparison with Onkyo DP-X1
Since I’m quite used to the sound signature of Onkyo DP-X1 after using it for many years, once I tried DX120, my first impression was, it has kind of the opposite sound signature of the DP-X1, mainly in the perceived tonality. I perceived DP-X1 as a tad warm, silky smooth, polite presentation with a good low-end body. DP-X1 has a pleasing sound signature, but I don’t perceive DP-X1 as very impactful, especially on the bass, or having very lively and dynamic presentation. DX120 on the other is quite lively and impactful with punchier and tighter bass, but less sub-bass body and rumble. DX120 perceived tonality is very slightly on the brighter side in comparison to the DP-X1, with the lower treble section a bit more prominent than DP-X1. DX120 vocal sounds a bit more forward than DP-X1. Perceived clarity is slightly more emphasized on DX120 but it doesn’t mean that DX120 is more resolving. When listening in a quiet room, DP-X1 still has slightly better micro detail with slightly wider perceived stereo imaging. But at this price bracket, DX120 performs really well in detail and resolution department. The most obvious difference is probably on the bass section, with DP-X1 has fuller and powerful sub bass, while DX120 has punchier and tighter bass. I love full sounding bass, therefore when switching from DP-X1 to DX120 I do miss the DP-X1 bass. But when it comes to fast and punchy bass, DX120 performs really well.

Comparison with Chord Mojo
Overall Mojo has more tonal density. I’m not sure if tonal density is a common expression in sound quality, but what I mean is instruments and vocal sound thicker, denser, and have more weight to it. Mojo also sounds a tad warmer. DX120 emphasize more on clarity, clearer instrument separation, but it sounds somehow lighter and doesn’t sound as thick and weighty as Mojo. In comparison, Mojo sound signature is probably closer to the DP-X1 than the DX120. So yes, bass also sounds fuller on Mojo. At the end, I guess it is not about which one better but it really boils down to personal preference.

I don’t have comparable DAP price wise to be compared to DX120. Comparing to my old Fiio X3ii, DX120 sounds better with better instrument separation and more realistic 3D stereo imaging. DX120 also sounds more refined overall. The interesting comparison probably with my old iBasso DX90. Interestingly, DX90 as a much older DAP than DX120, DX90 still competes pretty well sound wise. DX120 sounds more refined, smoother and less grainy with better stereo imaging. And for sure a much better UI and touchscreen than DX90. But considering the time span from DX90 to DX120, I’m quite surprised that it is not a day and night improvement. DX90 is surprisingly still quite enjoyable. A legendary player indeed. I think the cleaner and the more refined sound of DX120 is a clear improvement from DX90, but I think adding a touch of warmness on the mids and fuller sub-bass sound on DX120 would be nicer. But again this is just my personal preference. For those who prefer clear and refined sound signature, DX120 if a great DAP. The headphone outputs are surprisingly quite powerful, especially the 2.5mm balanced output. It drives full-size headphones and 600 ohms headphone like my Beyerdynamic T1 with ease, with good power and dynamic.

All measurements were done using QuantAsylum QA401 Audio Analyzer and Owon VDS3102 Oscilloscope. While RMAA measurements were done using HRT LineStreamer+ ADC. The objective of measurements in this review is only for observation purposes and comparisons between digital filters, and the results are not meant to be compared with the manufacturer specification or other measurement result using different measurement equipment.

All headphone output measurements were done using 33-ohm resistive load.
All line output measurements were done using 10k ohm resistive load.

Output Impedance
Measured Line Out, Output Impedance: 22.31 ohms
Measured 3.5mm Headphone Out, Output Impedance: 0.18 ohms
Manufacturer specification for the 3.5mm headphone out, output impedance: 0.24 ohms

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I didn’t measure the 2.5mm headphone output because I didn’t have the proper cable for the 2.5mm output. But if it uses a similar amp circuit as the 3.5mm output, in theory, it will be close to twice of the output impedance of the 3.5mm output. So theoretically will around 0.36 - 0.48 ohms. To me, output impedance below 1 ohm is considered very low. Even 2 ohms usually still pretty safe and won’t cause any significant sonic differences on multi-driver IEM.

Maximum Output
I noticed that on 33-ohm load, at the maximum volume level, 100, the THD is slightly higher than at the volume level 99. But still at below 1% THD, therefore it is not considered as clipping.

3.5mm Headphone Output - High Gain (33-ohm load) - Volume at 100:
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3.5mm Headphone Output - High Gain (33-ohm load) - Volume at 99:
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Manufacturer specification for maximum output:
Line Output (fixed output) : 1.8 Vrms
3.5mm Headphone Output : 1.8 Vrms
2.5mm Headphone Output : 3.6 Vrms

My measurement result for maximum output:
Line Output (10 kohm load) : 1.81 Vrms
3.5mm Headphone Output - High Gain (33-ohm load) : 1.80 Vrms
3.5mm Headphone Output - Low Gain (33-ohm load) : 0.90 Vrms
2.5mm Headphone Output - High Gain (33-ohm load) : 3.55 Vrms
2.5mm Headphone Output - Low Gain (33-ohm load) : 1.79 Vrms

I didn’t measure the maximum output power of the headphone output with other loads than a 33-ohm resistor. The general convention for maximum output power measurement is to load the output until the output distortion reaches 1% total harmonic distortion (THD). If we calculate from the balanced 2.5mm maximum output at 33-ohm load:

(3.55 Vrms)2 / 33 ohm = 382 mW

And at that output, it still maintains THD at around 0.01%. That means it probably can still output slightly higher power at lower impedance. That level of output power can be considered a very powerful output for a DAP at this size.

Signal to Noise Ratio
There is no standard SNR measurement in the audio industry yet, therefore in my opinion most useful SNR measurement is measured at the levels and conditions close to the intended applications. For example for headphone output SNR measurement, most of the time users have issues with hissing noise when using sensitive IEMs, and generally less hissing noise issue with headphones. Therefore SNR measurement at sensitive IEMs playback level is more relevant than SNR measurement at maximum output level. Especially for a portable DAP.

Therefore after years of playing around with measurement, I set my own standard for SNR measurement for headphone output, which is a simple guideline to estimate the level of audible hissing noise, especially for pairing with sensitive IEMs. My headphone output SNR measurement is 1kHz SNR at 50 mVrms (+/- 10%) at 33-ohm resistive load. At 50 mV, SNR equal to or greater than 85 dBA is practically very quiet even for sensitive IEMs. Between 80 - 85 dBA, considered acceptable with probably only mild hissing noise on some very sensitive IEMs (sensitivity ≥ 110 dB SPL/mW), but generally relatively quiet for other IEMs with less than 110 dB SPL/mW sensitivity. While less than 80 dBA at 50 mV can be considered not sensitive IEM friendly, as hissing noise would be most likely audible with most IEMs. This is not an audio industry standard, this is just my own (Earfonia) simplified SNR guideline for the headphone output. And different people have different sensitivity to hissing noise, so YMMV.

SNR measurement at 1kHz, at 50 mVrms (+/- 10%), at 33-ohm of resistive load:
3.5mm headphone output SNR at 1kHz 50mV - Low Gain : 84.3 dBA
3.5mm headphone output SNR at 1kHz 50mV - High Gain : 84.3 dBA
2.5mm headphone output SNR at 1kHz 50mV - Low Gain : 81.4 dBA
2.5mm headphone output SNR at 1kHz 50mV - High Gain : 81.4 dBA

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So generally the headphone output is reasonably low noise and quiet, with only mild hissing noise when using very sensitive IEM such as my 1964 V3 universal (sensitivity: 119 dB SPL/mW).

Digital Filters and Frequency Response
When I did RMAA measurement, I was quite surprised at the result of the frequency response. I redo the RMAA test multiple times with various cables and load to verify the result, and it was pretty consistent, and it is also consistent to what I hear when listening to the differences between the digital filters. There is some audible treble roll-off on digital filters 1 to 4. While digital filter number 5, the Super slow roll off, produces the flattest frequency response. Please take note that the measurement is done on firmware Version: V2.2.42 (28 October 2018).

All tests were done in 24bit - 96kHz mode.

Line Output RMAA Test Comparing The 5 Digital Filters:
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Line Output Frequency Response:
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3.5mm Headphone Output RMAA Test Comparing The 5 Digital Filters:
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3.5mm Headphone Output Frequency Response (33-ohm load):
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I double check the frequency response using the QA401 Audio Analyzer, observing the frequency spectrum when playing white noise:

Sharp roll off:
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Slow roll off:
22 iBasso DX120 LO 10kohm 2 Slow White Noise.png

Short delay sharp roll off:
23 iBasso DX120 LO 10kohm 3 Short Delay Sharp White Noise.png

Short delay slow roll off:
24 iBasso DX120 LO 10kohm 4 Short Delay Slow White Noise.png

Super slow roll off:
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In comparison to Onkyo DP-X1 Sharp Filter:
26 Onkyo DP-X1 LO 10kohm 1 Sharp White Noise.png

The result is pretty consistent, the digital filter 1 to 4 apply some early treble roll off, while filter 5, the ‘Super slow roll off’ filter has the flattest frequency response. I’m not sure if this is the default characteristic of the AK4495 digital filters, or if this is iBasso special tuning for the player. And I didn’t have time to redo all the testing at a different sampling rate, all test were done at 96 kHz sampling rate.

I found that in DAP mode, all digital filters work properly and showing a different result in square wave test and measurement. But in USB DAC mode The digital filters 1 to 4 don’t show any differences in square wave measurement, and those 4 filters all look like the Slow filter, or filter number 2. Only the ‘Super Slow Roll Off’ filter is showing differences on measurement, as well as audible sound differences than the rest of the filters. Usually different type of digital filter always showing some differences in square wave measurement. So I’m not sure if this is a bug in the firmware V2.2.42 that I used for this testing. There is no point for having 5 different digital filters USB DAC mode if 4 of them don’t show any differences at all. It seems that this is a bug in the firmware V2.2.42.

DAP Mode:

Sharp roll off:
27 iBasso DX120 LO 10kohm 1 Sharp PCM 96k.png 27a iBasso DX120 HO HG Max 33ohm 1 Sharp PCM 96k.png

Slow roll off:
28 iBasso DX120 LO 10kohm 2 Slow PCM 96k.png 28a iBasso DX120 HO HG Max 33ohm 2 Slow PCM 96k.png

Short delay sharp roll off:
29 iBasso DX120 LO 10kohm 3 Short Delay Sharp PCM 96k.png 29a iBasso DX120 HO HG Max 33ohm 3 Short Delay Sharp PCM 96k.png

Short delay slow roll off:
30 iBasso DX120 LO 10kohm 4 Short Delay Slow PCM 96k.png 30a iBasso DX120 HO HG Max 33ohm 4 Short Delay Slow PCM 96k.png

Super slow roll off:
31 iBasso DX120 LO 10kohm 5 Super Slow PCM 96k.png 31a iBasso DX120 HO HG Max 33ohm 5 Super Slow PCM 96k.png


Sharp roll off:
32 iBasso DX120 LO 10kohm 1 Sharp PCM 96k USB DAC.png 32a iBasso DX120 HO HG Max 33ohm 1 Sharp PCM 96k USB DAC.png

Slow roll off:
33 iBasso DX120 LO 10kohm 2 Slow PCM 96k USB DAC.png 33a iBasso DX120 HO HG Max 33ohm 2 Slow PCM 96k USB DAC.png

Short delay sharp roll off:
34 iBasso DX120 LO 10kohm 3 Short Delay Sharp PCM 96k USB DAC.png 34a iBasso DX120 HO HG Max 33ohm 3 Short Delay Sharp PCM 96k USB DAC.png

Short delay slow roll off:
35 iBasso DX120 LO 10kohm 4 Short Delay Slow PCM 96k USB DAC.png 35a iBasso DX120 HO HG Max 33ohm 4 Short Delay Slow PCM 96k USB DAC.png

Super slow roll off:
36 iBasso DX120 LO 10kohm 5 Super Slow PCM 96k USB DAC.png 36a iBasso DX120 HO HG Max 33ohm 5 Super Slow PCM 96k USB DAC.png

The digital filters have no effect on the DSD playback. All filters in both DAP and DAC modes are showing the same result for DSD Playback (DSD128):
37 iBasso DX120 LO 10kohm 6 Super Slow DSD128 USB DAC.png 37a iBasso DX120 HO HG Max 33ohm DSD128 USB DAC.png

There are lots to like from iBasso DX120. The form factor, build quality, user-friendly Menu and UI, features, and the powerful balanced headphone output. I observed only some minor issues (cons) with DX120 that I have listed at the beginning of this review. Sound signature is always a matter of both personal preference and equipment matching. Personally, I prefer neutral to a mildly warm sonic character with good tonal density. While I love the tight bass and dynamic of DX120, the neutral mildly dry sound signature is slightly off track from my preferred sound signature. But again this is just my own personal preference, as others might prefer dryer sonic character. Technically both headphone output and line output performs really well, especially on the ‘Super slow roll off’ filter. No doubt DX120 is a good performing DAP following the good tradition of iBasso good quality products. I hope this review provides sufficient information for potential owners of DX120. Kudos to iBasso!

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Equipment used in this review:

Beyerdynamic T1
Kennerton Thror

DAPs and DACs:
Onkyo DP-X1
iBasso DX90
Chord Mojo

Test Equipment:
QuantAsylum QA401 Audio Analyzer
Owon VDS3102 Oscilloscope
HRT LineStreamer+ ADC

Some recordings used in this review:
Z Albums - 2016.jpg
Thanks! Unfortunately I have returned the DX120 to Zeppelin, so I don't have it with me now. For the demo unit that I reviewed, it seems there wasn't any plastic protector over the back side, but I will double check when I go to Zeppelin. Maybe it was early batch unit for demo? I'm not so sure about that.
Paul confirmed that it was the plastic protector that showing scratches on the back surface. I have removed the comment about easily scratched back surface from the cons. Thanks @jamato8 !
Excellent. When i first listened a wav track, i noticed the better treble on super slow filter, and you heared it and proved it.
Thanks alot.
I taught that i have a bad ears.
And it seems that dx120 in not best player for dsd files due to deactivation of filters and early roll of treble.
In this site, there is simillar measurements: