iBasso DX160

General Information

An affordable yet high quality digital player with beautiful screen
4C74A8CF-E0DC-42F8-BB1D-B79DAA1E1B6E.jpeg

Latest reviews

RikudouGoku

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Can drive everything I got
Display quality
Pretty small
Zero hiss with my transducers
Cons: No 2,5mm port
Poor battery life
Horrible CPU and optimization
unsmooth usage, raising/lowering volume can cause lag
Plastic screen protector, not tempered glass
Volume wheel not easy to use while in pocket
3,5mm port has a lot of noise (CPU and wifi noise)
Display brightness too bright (needs 3rd party app to fix it)
Single micro SD card slot
Not worth it unless you only care about sound
Disclaimer: I ordered this a year ago from amazon at full price and have used It since then, so it’s a 1 year in use review. (This is the 2020 version.)

Disclaimer 2: My opinion is that amps do make some very slight differences in the tonality but it is very minor and if you want to change the tonality of the transducer it is better to change the transducer itself or to change the tips/foams/pads (iem, earbud, headphones). While the DAC does NOT make any difference at all.

Price: 400 usd (although I paid 500 usd on amazon)

Specifications:


Screen – 5-inch 1080p Sharp LCD

Operating System - Android 8.1

CPU – Rockchip Octa Core | RAM - 2GB | ROM - 32GB

DAC - Dual CS43198

Output Ports – 4.4 mm BAL & 3.5mm (PO/LO/SPDIF)

Battery - 3200mAh

Charging - QC3.0, PD2.0

Wi-Fi - 80 2.11 b/g/n/ac (2.4Ghz/5Ghz)

Bluetooth - Bluetooth 5.0

Weight - 178g

- 4.4mm Balanced Out

Output Level - 6.4Vrms

Output Impedance – 0.4 Ω

Frequency Response - 10Hz-40kHz +/-0.15dB

S/N - 130dB

THD+N - 0.00022% (32Ω, 3Vrms)

- 3.5mm Headphone Out

Output Level - 3.2Vrms

Output Impedance – 0.3 Ω

Frequency Response - 10Hz-40kHz +/-0.15dB

S/N - 125dB

THD+N - 0.0007% (32Ω, 2Vrms)

- Line Out

Output Level - 3.2Vrms

Frequency Response - 10Hz-40kHz +/-0.15dB

S/N - 125dB

THD+N - 0.00035% (no Load)

Accessories:

2x Plastic screen protector

Soft silicone cover

USB-C cable

Build: The build is pretty small for a mid-tier dap so its not a problem for me to have it in a jeans front pocket together with my smartphone (LG G7). The chassis is made out of metal while the back cover is in glass and a glass display. Power button at the top while the USB-C port for charging and connecting it to a PC is also there. At the right side there are track control buttons (skip, go-back and pause/play) and a volume wheel as well. At the left side there is a slot for the micro-SD card (single slot). While at the bottom left there are the 4.4mm and the 3.5mm outputs.

Useability: Now, this is where the DX160 is really terrible at. The CPU it uses and the optimization is so horrible that occasionally, even just lowering/increasing the volume is not instant and is delayed. Which means that if you increased it and did not hear any difference and keep on doing it, a few seconds later all the changes you made will instantly happen. Which can cause quite the volume spike.

Pressing the power button takes around 1.0-1.5 seconds before it actually opens up the screen while turning off the screen takes around 0.5-1.0 seconds. This might not seem like a lot, but during use this makes the overall experience a very bad one.

The 3.5mm output is a lot worse than the 4.4mm and not just because it has a lot lower output power. But because there is noise in it, turning off/on the Wi-Fi makes a very obvious noise in the background for a second. But while having the Wi-Fi on, there is constant noise in the background, which is lessened while it is turned off. Another noise factor is that it seems to have some processor noise, basically when you are interacting with it (even by simply touching and moving the screen) it makes a noise similar to static noise coming from an old radio. (This is only noticeable on BA iems and is excluded to the 3.5mm output, the 4.4mm is completely silent with everything I have tried except the Tansio Mirai TSMR 4 pro that do have hiss)

The volume wheel is another issue. Due to how it is designed, it is very hard to adjust the volume using it while the DX160 is in a pocket. This essentially means that if you are outside and want to adjust the volume, you need to take the entire device out. Which is another point of inconvenience. While the other buttons feel very “mushy” and not very tactile at all, which make the user experience feel non-premium. The track control buttons are also non-responsive when you have had the DX160 turned off (screen) for a few minutes, which requires you to press the power button and go into it before it responds to you.

Battery life is also an issue as it runs out of juice very quickly. It generally goes from 100-70% in just around 2 hours which is the usual time I spend on a session. (I also recharge it to 100 after, so I am not sure how long it can run from 100-0, but it is a lot worse than my old dap, the Fiio M11.)

The display, while quite good for a dap, is too bright at even the lowest settings (another factor for bad battery life) which meant that I needed to install a 3rd party app to lower it more.

Bluetooth is something I never use so I can’t comment on that, but from other people´s posts it doesn’t seem to be very good either.

Setup: Neutron player, fast-roll-off

Synergy: As mentioned above, BA iems together with the 3.5mm is a no-go. But otherwise, the DX160 synergizes pretty well from iems, earbuds to headphones with the 4.4mm port since it is powerful enough to drive everything I own so far and the volume control is good enough that even extremely sensitive iems have good volume control. High-gain is only needed with the Tin Hifi P1 (the hardest to drive transducer I have) and that is also because I use PEQ with it. (Technically not really “needed” since even on low-gain I am nowhere close to max volume.)

Transducer:

Tin Hifi P1 (high-gain volume around 47, EQ, jvc Spiral dot++, cable A9 4.4mm):
The hardest to drive transducer in my library and the DX160 can handle it without issues even with EQ that has a -14db preamp.

Audiosense T800 (low-gain, volume around 12, Elecom EHP-CAP20 tips + DIY Foam mod, cable A6 4.4mm): A very sensitive BA iem but there is no hiss and volume control is good enough to not be too loud or too little volume.

K´s Samsara K300 (low-gain, volume around 42, full foams, stock 4.4mm cable): A high impedance earbud at 300 ohm. But there are no issues here with a lack of power.

Koss KPH30i (low-gain, volume around 43, unmodded, stock 3.5mm cable): Lower impedance than the Samsara but needs a bit higher volume (most likely due to the lower sensitivity). But otherwise, the same response here, no problems with a lack of power.

Tonality: A warm-neutral tonality, is very versatile because of that and matches well with brighter transducers that would not match well with a bright amp since the end result could be too bright. Although for warmer transducers, the end result might end up being too warm.

Comparisons:

JDS Atom
: The Atom has a similar output power (needs around the same volume, percentage wise when paired with the Tin Hifi P1 + EQ). But the DX160 is a better amp due to it working with everything from iems, earbuds to headphones. While the Atom struggles a lot with iems, especially sensitive ones due to the very poor volume control (either too little volume or way too much). The Atoms tonality is a bright-neutral one, so it’s the opposite of the DX160.

Schiit Asgard 3: The Asgard 3 has a lot more output power and the volume control is also better but since it is a volume wheel instead of showing the volume in terms of numbers in the DX160. It is similar in that regard. The Asgard 3 is neutral so it isn’t as warm as the DX160, which also means that it retains the transducers original tonality better without coloring it too much.



Conclusion: The Ibasso DX160 is a very powerful amp (4.4) that works on essentially everything while the 3.5mm is essentially non-functional due to the cpu/wifi noise. But aside from the sound, it is simply lacking too much and at the price it is at, it is extremely hard for me to recommend this. NOT RECOMMENDED UNLESS YOU ONLY CARE ABOUT THE SOUND! Thanks for reading.
Aramaki
Aramaki
Did you try the lurker mod?, I have on mine and it works a lot better (more responsive, slightly better battery life, google play access and mango OS).
RikudouGoku
RikudouGoku
@Aramaki I am aware of that mod. But IMO, when you are paying as much as you are with the DX160, it should be functional from the start and not fixed by a 3rd party mod....

Lacas

New Head-Fier
iBasso DX160 - midrange player redefined
Pros: In many aspects it's slightly warm, but balanced, dynamic, lively sound is close to the DX220
Size of soundstage in width and depth, exceptional positioning (for the category)
Sharp screen with great contast and colors
Eventually all music sources can be accessed through the Android UI, including Tidal MQA
Cons: Cannot change to native, Linux based Mango Player (with official firmware)
Rockchip processor
Intro
I had contact and constant positive experience with iBasso products since the start of the computer audio era. The DX90 was one of the best mobile audio players anno - liked it a lot, and also the DX50 was a likeable player. The DC01 2,5” balanced USB dac was one of the front-line fighters of the budget mobile usb dongle dac-s with extraordinary sound quality. I used it for more than a year, sold it just because I upgraded it to a pricier, higher level component.

iBasso has built up and renewed its audio player line in the last couple of years. In the lower segment of the midrange players they sent the DX120 into fight with the in-house Linux-based, audio optimised Mango OS operating system and Mango Player app, with AKM AK4495 DAC chip. On the top of the player range they released the DX200 and the upgraded DX220, the later with dual Sabre ES9028Pro chips, selectable Android 8.1 and MangoOS operating systems, two-way Bluetooth 5.0 support, and last but nut least changeable amplifier modules. In the midrange they released the DX150 also with interchangeable amplifier modules (compatible with DX220 modules), with midrange AKM AK4490EQ chip, Android 6 and Bluetooth 4.1 support. The number of amplifier choices has grown constantly, now including also the AMP9 module with Korg NuTube tubes.
SIMG_20200831_074214_1.jpg


The question may arise, how the DX160 fits into this palette of audio players? In the midrange such popular Android based players have been released as the Hiby R5 and Fiio M11, and at higher price level, the Fiio M11 Pro, Shanling M6, M6 pro. The iBasso wanted to provide an alternative to these players with the DX160.

Technical details - all in
Let's start with the most important aspect - the DX160 with its aluminum frame can be bought in 4 colors: black, blue, red and silver :) The tested player was red - the color can be described as very nice dark mauve. The tested, updated 2020 version of the DX160 contains an 5 inch, 445 ppi, 1080p screen produced by JDI. The screen fills the device side-to-side, just some small place is left below it. The screen looks gorgeous - colors and contrast are great, and has enough luminance to make the use also outdoors enjoyable.
sIMG_20200830_123533_1.jpg


Based on the announcement, the 2020 facelifted version contains also upgraded opamp and buffer beyond the new screen, and the headphone socket has beem replaced with a CTIA conform version.

Back to build characteristics - the DX160 has been designed to use in one hand. This is supported by the ideal, pre-phablet size, and the 178g weight that is betwwen the weight of Hiby R5 and Fiio M11. The track change and play/pause buttons are positioned on the right side of the device, and can be easily reached with the middle or the trigger finger. The volume wheel changes the volume digitally, works easily and precisely.
sIMG_20200830_124556.jpg


The USB-C socket has been placed on the top of the device. Beyond the charging it makes it possible to use the DX160 as a USB DAC, and the socket supports the connection of OTG compatible device, thus the DX160 can act as an USB Audio digital audio transport. The USB DAC operation can be activated in the Advanced settings of the Mango Player.

The SD card slot can be found on the left side of the device, while the 3,5" single ended and 4,4" simmetrical output has been placed on the lower end of the player. The 3,5" jack socket is multifunctional - line out (LO), headphone (PO) signal level can be selected, and can act also as COAX SPDIF output. The design shouts for 90 degree headphone adapters...
sIMG_20200830_125059.jpg
sIMG_20200830_124754.jpg


We did not talk about the inner life of DX160 yet. Dual CS43198 DAC chips are working inside. The CS43198 is a very popular choice among mobile audio hardware manufacturers nowadays - for example the Hiby R5, Opus 1s and AK SR25 players employ this DA converter. The operation system is Android 8.1 - also the Mango Player can be accessed from the main screen of Android. In contrary to the DX220 the swith to MangoOS is not possible on the DX160 (using the official firmware). Some mods made it possible derived from the formware of the DX220. The two-way Bluetooth 5 connection is is imherited from the DX220. The operating system is driven by an 8 core Rockchip processor with 2 GB RAM and 32GB ROM. I did not face any UI speed problems. Sometimes the Mango player 'was a bit thinking' before playing the first song of the albums, but the subsequent songs started immediatelly, so I did not find it annoying, problematic. The official firmware does not contain the Google Play store. Instead the APKPure and CoolAPK management apps are installed. I could easily install the newest version of the official Tidal app using APKPure. The wifi connection is up to date - b/g/n/ac (2.4Ghz/5Ghz) standards are supported. I did not encounter any dropouts during using Tidal-t connected to a wifi router in another room. Also the MQA decoding worked without any issues.

The built-in battery supports QC3.0, PD2.0 charging standards, and the size is 3200mAh - they promise maximum 13 hours of playback time. In daily use it fluctuated between 10-12 hours, depending on the file types and ear/headphones used. To achieve higher energy-efficiency, the screen goes blank after some seconds of inactivity, and the screen resolution can be set to 720p. The included accessories are an USB-A to USB-C cable and a transparent silicone case.

Some additional performance measures, then we can finally move to the usage experience.

specs.jpg


The DX160 performed really well on independent tests - the measured performance was close to the iBasso published values.
This is refreshing, since in case of some other audio manufacturers the measured performance is many times much worse then the values annaounced. If somebody is interested, the test can be accessed here:
https://hifigo.com/blogs/news/ibasso-dx160-player-testing-report-beat-even-himself

Usage - nicely fits in the palm
sIMG_20200830_125334.jpg

It is worth to mention about Android used on the device, that additionally to the apps of streaming services any prefered audio player can be installed from APK file (for example USB Audio Player Pro), even if it is not available in APKPure.

The icon of iBasso's own Mango Player appears in the lower left corner of the screen by default.
sIMG_20200830_123541.jpg


The usage of this player is very straightforward. You can search in the indexed media library ordered and filtered by Album, Performer, Genre, etc..., also album and performer views can be selected, and the music stored on the device can be browsed also by folders. The Mango Player does not support DLNA, but third party apps, like USB Audio Player can be installed also for this purpose.
sIMG_20200830_123805.jpg
SIMG_20200830_124006.jpg


The following options can be accessed in the Settings
  • Turn on/off Gapless playback
  • Play mode – Original order, Continuous playback, Random playback, Repeat
  • Gain (Low/High)
  • Graphic and parametric Equalizer
  • L/R balance
  • One of four digital filters (one of them must be selected)
  • and in the Advanced menu
    • the USB DAC mode
    • Sleep timer, media rescan and system information.
The graphic and parametric equalizer are of very high (sound) quality. The handling is very easy with on-screen touch controlled frequency correction curve setting. The Mango Player lowers the volume with some dB to avoid distorsion. In the graphic equalizer we get 5 standard and one user adjustable configurations.
sIMG_20200830_124303.jpg
sIMG_20200830_124355.jpg


In the filter manu we can choose from the four built-in filters of the Cirrus CS43198:
  • Fast Roll-off
  • Short delay slow roll-off
  • Short delay fast roll-off
  • Slow roll-off
sIMG_20200830_123936.jpg

With my earphones I liked the 3. filter the most - the bass was tight and dynamic, with the right amount, the sound was very natural.

Sound - refined vitality
General impressions of tuning- balance to the force
The sound of DX160 is balanced, none of the frequency ranges are emphasised substantially. All the ranges are equally well presented. Even so I would not call it completely reference, neutral tuning - it sounds slightly warm. The focus is slightly on the midbass and midrange, with nice vocals. The following adjectives come first into my mind: fresh, dynamic, tight, rich, without the common problem of blooming midbass and oversaturated midrange. The DX160 cannot be accused of the politeness, occasional softness of the iFi iDSD BL Nano, nor the sterility of the Hidizs S8 / Tempotec Sonata HD Pro. It can be heard that iBasso did not aim for an absolute reference sounding player with the DX160 - if somebody is looking for such DAP, for them there are in house the DX200, DX220 and DX220 MAX using dual ESS Sabre 9028 chips. In later part of this article there is a datailed comparison with the DX220.
sIMG_20200830_125228_1.jpg


The great advantage of this tuning, that in case of all the earphones I tried with the DX160, the DX160 did not alter their own sound character (including their advantages and disadvantages), did not color their sound, but the freshness, dynamism and airiness could be felt in all these pairings. It must be emphasized, that the manufacturers have to make compromise in the midrange players to meet also the cost-optimisation goals. In most cases the price of the emphasised detail retreival is a more or less digital, unnatural sounding device. The makers of DX160 has balanced it really well - they could avoid this kind of 'hardness' of the sound. The instruments have realistic body / weight and natural lifelike timbre, but not at the expense of detail retreival.

The soundstage is significantly over average in size horizontally and also in depth, and the positioning of instruments is surprisingly convincing. If we do not expect reference level, we can be surprised by what we hear. Also in this aspect is the DX160 really close to the DX220 with AMP1 Mk2 - this is a great feat from a midrange player.

The balanced Pentaconn 4.4 output brings its usual benefits - the double power of SE output (6.4Vrms), thanks to that it has enough power for higher impedance, harder to drive headphones. The SE and balanced output sounded similarly, but the balanced output was more dynamic and the instrument separation was better through this output.

Bass - solid ground
The DX160 does not spare on bass, and doesn't raise it. As I mentioned earlier, within the bass range the emphasis is on the midbass, but not to that extent as in case of the iFi Hip-Dac. It does not provide reference level subbass, but can reach quite deep, and if a song requires, it can become enough physical - not any bass drop is lost :) We cannot have any complaint regarding the detail level of bass - the DX160 can reproduce the diverse vibrations of a double bass, and the unique sound of diverse elacatric bass playing styles. The sound of bass instruments is natural, energic, weighty, but not overly, quick, tight, and can be hard hitting if the source material sound so. Changing the filters of the DAC chip affected the bass range the most - we can tailor the sound to our taste this way to an extent.

Mids - music to my ears
The mids are a bit in the foreground. Both the male and female vocals sound good, lifelike. I liked a lot that the DX160 can sound velvety, fresh/live and airy at the same time, that makes listening to it enjoyable and exciting for longer sessions. The detail retrival, and 3D presentation is outstanding within the midrange players, and very good on the whole.

Highs - fine details
The highs nicely fit into the mostly balanced tuning of the DX160. The detail level of the highs is 'only' close to the DX220, and the highest octaves are a bit rounded, but I did not feel I miss anything important. What is provided (and it is not scarce) from the high range, that is fantastic - they are sparkling, but do not become metallic, hard, or even harsh. The DX160 represent the sound character of instruments in this range really nice - they are fresh, airy, dynamic, but can become enough scratchy (for example intense trumpet solos). The DX160 does not want to become the champion of details, but serves up enough detail for those who are interested is small nuances of a performance or musical piece. As a result the DX160 is a good choice for any genre.

Soundstage, separation, positioning - the question is from where, instead of from what direction
One of the best features of the DX160 is the exceptional soundstage representation. With all the earphones/headphones used during the testing it produced an out of the head soundscape with convincing horizontal scale and depth. The positioning of instruments, and separation was very precise even in densely orchestrated, complex songs. I know that it starts to become boring, but I can say that compared to the DX220 there were no night and day differences. Compared to one of the best mobile USB DAC-s, the Lotoo S1 turbo charged with an iFi iPurifier3 noise eliminator +USB reclocker they provided similar level of sound, there were slight differences in favor of the DX160. The sounds were not just positioned correctly to the left or right side, but I could hear well where are they related to eachother, and what is the approximate distance between them. The DX220 could up this level with the ability to clearly separate also very close instruments from eachother, avoiding the blurring of these instruments, or rounding their sound. Beyond that the DX220 could also present complex room reverbeations more correctly. I can say confidently, that the DX160 reaches outstanding level of soundstage representation, positioning, separation in this price range.

Noise level, power - Sound of silence
The 4.4" balanced and the 3,5" SE outputs have 0.4 Ohm and 0.3 Ohm output impedance, that ensures, that the DX160 does not influence the original sound character of the ear/headphones. The player is very silent - I did not hear any noise through my very sensitive Simphonio Dragon 3 earbud. I have read some tests stating that the DX160 is sensitive to WIFI signals, that can be heard used with very sensitive earphones - I did not encounter this issue. The power of 3.2Vrms (SE) amd 6.4Vrms is enough to drive most of the earphones/heaphones except for extremely hard to drive ones.

Pairing - sociable
The DX160 is not too sensitive to pairing, can be used effectively with a wide range of earphones / headphones.

Beyerdynamic T5P
My friend Csaba lended me the T5P together with the DX220 for the test - great thanks for it. The soundstage representation of the DX160-T5P pair was above average, but I felt the left-right separation a bit close. Within the bass range the focus has been moved to the subbass, that resulted in emphasising the mids. This was not my favourite pairing.

Simphonio Dragon 3
SIMG_20200830_130149_1.jpg

The DX160 is a perfect pairing with the balanced sounding Simphonio Dragon 3 - the very detailed mids and fresh highs of the earbud are a great match with the sound signature of the player, and the Dragon 3 can benefit from the tight, deep, quick bass of the DX160. In Kamaal Williams song called Street Dreams the sound of the harp and the saxophon are great beneath the strings, and the sound effects in the background can be heard, identified very well. Clair de Lune from Kamasi Washington is a fantastic, complex musical piece, that is mastered gorgeously – recommended listening. Using this pairing the timbre and weight of piano in the intro is great, even the noise of the pedals can be heard, if somebody is interested :) The sound of wind isnstruments are very life-like, the electric organ in the background sounds realistic, the varied sound of saxophone reflects the changing style of play, and the base is tight. The sound of the chorus is very emotional and convincing. The soundstage is great, imaging is pinpoint - this is one of the - this is a great feature of the Dragon 3 - the DX160 lives up to it.

oBravo Cupid
SIMG_20200830_130018.jpg

The tuning of the oBravo Cupid is very exciting, but calling it balanced would be hugely misleading. Between the tight, deep, detailed bass of the dynamic driver and the fresh highs of the planar driver, the midrange is a bit weak, slim. The DX160 helps a lot to compensate it, but it cannot eliminate this limit of the Cupid (without EQ). In Kamaal Williams - Street Dreams the harp is even more airy, the saxophone has more bite, but the strings sound a bit slim. Kamasi Washington - Clair de Lune: the base is a bit bulky, the brass intruments sound a bit too metallic. Beyond these everything sounds very dynamic, soundstage is great, the sound of the chorus is great. This pairing is better suited for pop and electronic genres.

Etymotic ER2XR
SIMG_20200830_130317.jpg

This pairing has a lot in common with the Simphonio Dragon 3, thanks to the great tuning of the ER2XR, and the realistic timbre of the instruments.

In case of Kamaal Williams - Street Dreams the sound of the harp and saxophon is great next to the string instruments, with easily identifiable effects in the background. Kamasi Washington - Clair de Lune: the piano sounds a bit slimmer, but overall the timbre and weight is good in the intro. The sound of pedals can be heard, the sound of brass instruments is nice, but a bit less rich than in cas of the Dragon 3. The electric organ is convincing in the background, the sound of the saxophone is a bit dryer, but natural, the trumpet is very life-like. The base is tight and quick, maybe this pairing is the best in this apect. Using the two earphones with the DX160, the pairings represent the core signatures of the earphones: both earphones produce very realistic sounding instruments, but the Dragon 3 sounds richer, more inviting, airier with huge soundstage and pin-point imaging, while the ER2XR is a bit dryer, more monitoring sound, with a flatter soundstage, but goes deeper in the subbass range, and is tighter. Both pairings are great, just in a different way - but this preference is hugely subjective.

AIAIAI TMA-1 STUDIO YOUNG GURU EDITION
SIMG_20200830_130630.jpg

Color-wise this is the best pairing :) The TMA-1 Studio Young Guru Edition is a very interesting headphone. This has been designed and tuned for mastering electronic and bass oriented genres like hip-hop. The frequency response is not balanced, some sort of W shaped, but the soundstage presentation is great, and it is very detailed - every nuance, change and movement of the instruments can be traced easily. I usually EQ down the midbass with about 4dB, and raise the subbass with 1-2 dB - this way I get a tight sounding, very detailed, enjoyable headphone. In Kamaal Williams - Street Dreams the sound of the harp and saxophone is even better, more lively than on the Dragon 3. Kamasi Washington - Clair de Lune: the higher octave piano sounds sound a bit slim, sizzle. The base is tight, the sound of brass instruments is realistic and have nice bite, the lower octaves of piano sound very natural with great weight. Good pairing with very detailed, sometimes bit bright sound.

My Sennheiser HD6XX arrived only following the completion of the review, thus could not take into consideration. In the upcoming tests it will be a standard device in the comparison section.

Comparison – can hold it's ground
These comparisons were completed with the DX160 - Simphonio Dragon 3 pairing, as this is the Top Of The Line earbud now with very realistic tuning and detail retrievel, which trades blows with the HD650, and scales well with better sources. Beyond that I know very well all aspetcs of it's sound :)

SIMG_20200830_125858.jpg
SIMG_20200830_132730.jpg
SIMG_20200830_132549_1.jpg

SIMG_20200830_132051.jpg


The table containing the detailed comparison can be read in the original version of the review: http://www.futureware.hu/?p=450

Verdict
What can be achieved with a midrange audio player nowadays? Based on the experience with the DX160, quite a lot. Playing back music that is stored on an SD card, from bluetooth source or from from streaming providers (Tidal also with MQA, Spotify, etc...) or using third party DLNA player apps are all supported on the ANdrois 8.1 based UI.

The DX160 is not total reference tuned, but quite balanced - the following adjectives come first into my mind: fresh, dynamic, tight, rich, without the common problem of blooming midbass and oversaturated midrange.The makers of DX160 has balanced it really well - they could avoid this kind of 'hardness' of the sound. The instruments have realistic body / weight and natural lifelike timbre, but not at the expense of detail retreival.

Soundstage presentation, positioning is great, not far from the reference level players. Thanks to the very low noise level, and quite high power output, the DX160 can be paired with a wide range of ear/headphones, from sensitive IEM-s to harder to drive headphones (except for the extreme hard to drive ones), and it is not sensitive to tuning of ear/headphones in pairing.

The great suprise of the test was for me, how close is the performance of the DX160 is to the reference level DX220. If somebody is looking for a player with absolute neutral, flat tuning, for them it is recommended with provisions, but I think it is worth for everybody to try it. You will be surprised how natural, refined, dynamic sound full of vitality can it produce, inviting to continuous music listening joy. Based on these findings I was not surprised that the DX160 is one of the standard sources used by Crinicle in his IEM and headphone tests: https://crinacle.com/

The iBasso DX160 has been presented for the review by Muzix Group Kft. the official hungarian distributor of iBasso.
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Like
Reactions: Audiophile2019
NotTheMomma
NotTheMomma
So can I use my Amp 8 & 9 modules from the dx225 on this? I was thinking of a getting the 2020 one but I want to use the Amp 8 in one and the Amp 9 in the other. Thanks to anyone who answers.
Lacas
Lacas
Hi, DX160 has built in amp, does not support amp modules.

rev92

100+ Head-Fier
iBasso DX160 2020
Pros: Great build quality
Price/performance ratio
Screen
MQA capability
Very enjoyable to listen to
Cons: Software needs tweaking
dscf4556.jpg

iBasso DX160 is a mid-end DAP with built-in MQA decoding, Android 8.1, 4,4mm balanced output and it is priced at 399$.


Packaging


The DX160 comes in a pretty small package with a minimalistic design, inside you can find a high quality, braided, 60cm long USB-A to USB-C cable, transparent case and three foil screen protectors.
Screen

The screen is 1080P, 5,0 inch IPS. Honestly, this is one of the best screens I’ve ever seen in a DAP. Very bright, colorful and sharp. One thing that’s not so good is minimal brightness, which is too high and can dazzle at night.
Build quality

Overall build quality is stellar, nothing creaks, it is hard to scratch, pretty heavy, but it fits nicely in the hand. Thanks to the small frames the screen fills almost the whole front of the device.
Buttons are a little shaky and too easy to press, I did it many times when I was hiding DX in my pocket. In case it is too hard to press and I have no idea if I pressed it or not, because click disappears.
Software

Software is the worst point of the whole device. I had two DX 160’s to for my own use – the first one was lagging and restarting five to fifteen times a day, which is unacceptable. I was unable to listen to music facing all these problems.
The second unit is better, but still, it’s laggy and muddy, especially in regular android apps like Tidal or Spotify. Every time I go back from the album to the musician it has to load everything once again.
When I was listening to master quality on Tidal and tried to change the screen’s brightness music started to stutter.
I hope that these kinds of software bugs will be dealt with in the near future, as it really could destroy the feeling of using the device.
Battery life
Battery is pretty good, it can easily stand 8 hours of listening to music on balanced output with turned off WiFi. When I was using WiFi (or not, it was just turned on) battery was going down in two shakes.
Sound

I would say that iBasso DX160 is really fun to listen to. So much fun, great dynamics, but it is occupied with not that good scene and holography. Everything is so vibrant, there’s no chance to be bored with it.

Bass is pretty fast and accurate, it can easily douse the listener and let him be inside of the music. I think the best word to describe the lowest frequencies is buoyant.

The midrange is not recessed, but it is quite lazy sometimes. Female vocals are great, full of life, hoarse and pleasant to listen to. Male vocals don’t break through the rest of the sound, maybe the lowest vocals like Dave Gahans are better, but tenors are not present at all.
Trebles are natural, well balanced. I did not notice any sibilances, it is all softened compared to FiiO M11. For me, it should be quite brighter, just a little.
The soundstage is where DX160 falls short in comparison to other DAPs in this price range. It is not bad, but could be better. I love when sound surrounds me, here it is placed nearby, quite intimate.
Holography is better, I am able to distinguish distances easily so that’s cool in this price range.
Summary

For some, this is the best DAP around $500. I bought it because the sound signature was just about spot-on for me. Lots of fun, great dynamics, the whole thing is very pleasant and not tiring to listen to. But unfortunately, I am disappointed with how does the device work. Until the software gets fixed and previously mentioned problems are gone, I can’t recommend the iBasso DX160.
Sound quality is truly great for the price, but it falls short in terms of usability and stability.



Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
  • IEM – Shozy Form 1.1, Meze Rai Penta, Kinera Odin, Kinera Nanna, Noble Django, Fiio FH1s, Fiio FA9, Lime Ears Aether R, Moondrop Blessing2,
  • DAP – Astell&Kern SR25, Fiio M11, Fiio X7ii, Cayin N5i


For more reviews visit www.ear-fidelity.com

Comments

There are no comments to display.
Top