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iBasso DX160

  1. Whitigir
    Dx160! Another Affordable player by Ibasso
    Written by Whitigir
    Published Oct 8, 2019
    Pros - Affordable, beautifully built, powerful output, Android O, frequent firmwares, sound quality punches above it price
    Cons - No charger in the box and only 32gb internally
    Ibasso DX160

    So, for the year of 2019, Ibasso has been very busy to keep up with the enthusiasts forever demanding for higher quality music player, and at an affordable pricing. Ibasso while keeping themselves busy, still have not forgot about all of their line up and previously released products, such as Dx100, Dx150, Dx200....etc

    As everyone have known, I sometimes review to share my thoughts about a product, and so here, I have had a pleasure to have a DX160 review unit sent to me. I am not affiliated to Ibasso, and having a review unit just simply means that I am going to share my honest impression to everybody. In no way a review unit would influence my views of it performances and impressions over it.

    The DX160 was not clarified as a successor to Dx120, but I think it must be a sibling or side-step as the next up in-line would be Dx150 with Amp modules design, where as DX160 remains to be a complete unit. Also, the DX120 is pure Mango-OS where as DX160 is Android. Aside from all of the disclosed and advertised specifications, I do not have insider information regarding what other components being used, such as OP-amps or DSP-IC....etc....the one thing do caught my attentions still, would be the dual (2X) implementations of CS43198. This is the top tier chip from Cirrus itself and is with Master-Hifi technology which is the revered technology for CSS-DAC IC as a brand. Then it has 6.4 Vrms output at 4.4mm balanced, with an impressive 130Db Dynamic range ? Which is much higher than the DX220 and the Amp8 itself which is 125Db!

    So, here is something that everyone would stare into.

    Amp8 is listed at 125Db Dynamic range vs 130Db Dynamic range on DX160

    Amp8 is listed at THD of 0.00023% and crosstalk is -113db VS DX160 at 0.00022% and crosstalk is -125Db


    Yes, I would have to agreed that the specifications above do put the DX160 over the DX220 and Amp8 configurations. So, let put that into perspective, DX228 is a $1,200 device, and with that you will get a top tier player from Ibasso with module design and Discrete Amp 8 module which utilize discrete transistors array for amplification purposes. The DX220 also comes with Mango-OS, and I am not sure how important the OS is to anyone else, but to my own personal experiences, the OS itself is as vital as other components, which also including the implementations, the choices of DAC-IC, and the DSP-IC. Now, in contrast, the DX160 is an $399 player with more impressive specs, compacts, and runs on Android alone without Mango-OS.

    Now, do notice that IBasso is similar to other Android based DAP, that they do not have google playstore out of the box, you will have to work around with APK files, or thank you to Ibasso, and you have APK-Pure installed and ready to be your Hacked through app market. Also, Native DSD256 !!!
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    DX160 also have 4 color of red, blue, silver, black for your choices. The price is sitting competitively toward IPod Touch 256 Gb for $399. The differences is huge though as the DX160 support MicroSD but internal Rom is only 32Gb. I would think it could make a big gift for anyone on this year holiday if they are thinking of IPod touch.

    The most noticeable different here when compared to dx220 is that the digital filters on dx160 will prove to be a much easier observation between each of them. This is another extreme case of differences between DAC-IC, and there will only be 4 filters. My favorite is the Filter #3 as it prove to have more bass textures, the blooms, the articulations, the separations between instruments, the layering, and the expansive soundstage with vocal sit just right. Where as #2, the Bass is more speedy, tighter, less bloom, with vocal a little too forward with the extensions being a little harsh. It does seem to me that the #1 is the #2+ and #4 is #3+. So the real differences that can easily observe is 2 and 3


    Design: the DX160 is very compact, and out of the box will come with a clear TPU case. The screen is full-surface, coated and with high resolution display. It is very similar to DX220 display on sizes and resolutions, so I guess 1080 resolution. Sitting side by side to DX220, the 160 is thinner by a bit, and smaller by a small bit. It also weight almost a slight bit less....unless you are picking it by single digit % similar to how you are judging the sound impressions, otherwise I would think they both are similar with a thinner form and different output, headphones ports arrangement. The 3.5mm now will have SPDIF as digital out and lineout as much as single ended phone out, with all that available at a flip of a finger by dropping down menu from the top.

    It will come with usb A to UsB C cables, screen protector as well, but no charger. It is compatible upto Quick charge 3.0 or so. So, make sure you are using quick charge charger to have better charge time.

    Out of the box and the taunted output, could it drive full sizes headphones ? I quickly grabbed my 4.4mm HD800S and Aiva, and it can drive these 2 just fine. It isn’t as powerful as the DX220 and Amp8 In driving Aiva, a planar headphones

    The sound signatures: the DX160 is tuned toward a more musical and entertainment sound signature with a very focused into the inner resolution density and energy. It does not lack the quantity of sub bass, mid bass, or any specific spectrums at any given specific segments. However, the one thing that it does lack is the ability to render the room ambient and reverberate. Also on the same scale of perspective, the DX160 also can not render the depth and airiness between instruments layering as well as the DX220 and Amp8 But not too far behind, and for this point alone, it is enough to say $399 is hardly believable. DX160 is neither a warm nor bright signature but can also hardly be said to be neutral or natural as I would say that it slightly tilt the scale toward warmer side. That is why I would say that it is musical and entertaining. It is also a more vocal focused, forwarded kind of signatures. I would recommend anything with a little lay-back in the mid to pair with it. I found the IER-Z1R and M9 a perfect pairing for it.

    Specifically the bass is pretty plenty in quantity, the articulations and the different segments of bass from sub-bass, mid-bass, and upper bass are all presenting with a more focused toward the timbres inner resolutions. This focuses will be carried on from low into upper mid spectrum of the whole player itself. It does not dive as deep as DX220 and Amp 8, and the extensions of the bass isn’t as satisfying as DX228. The DX228 have a very High quality bass that not only accurate, layered, articulated but also a very precise ripples of it extensions and energy.

    The mids spectrums on the DX160 is more forward, and together with that focus as mentioned above, the DX160 has a unique presentation of artist Vocals. It is forward, focused, with great extensions and breathy. The rendering of a forward, focused vocal and wider soundstage but a slightly lack in depth when compared to the DX228. The DX160 perhaps set itself a part clearly from the bigger brother DX228. Even with very detailed vocal and mids, the dx160 ability will stop here as the Skillful Vibratos from artists and singers in Jazz and Ballads ...etc.., it will not be fully exposed with the continuity, fluidity that the dx220 may bring.

    Please notice that I use DX228 as a mark of comparison as I love Amp8 and it carries an almost similar signature to DX160 as both carry on with the musicality but DX228 is more of an accurate presentation as mentioned above where as DX160 is into rendering and revealing as much as possible without the aims toward the accuracy of little details on room ambient and imagines cues.

    However, the DX160 does not sound like any $399 device at all. For instant, when compared to NW-ZX2, an android based Walkman from Sony, the DX160 has a lot more power, a much more modernized Android, a powerful processor, and everything is so smooth, snappy on the UI. The timbres density, the very blacked out background is all presented to me as an upper tier device when compared to this player that I have around here. Even-though I am not into Mid-tier DAP as I used to anymore, the experiences that I have accumulated over the year would put the DX160 instantly into the category of the least 2X of it price or $799 and up for example. Also, I can not say that it can be competitive to higher-end devices such as DX220, just because it stops at fully exposing the finesse of the music textures on each instruments, vocal, room ambience.....But it definitely punches above it MSRP, It simply is because the soundstage, the details, the energy, the vocal, the power to drive headphones, the snappy UI....etc....as a package, the DX160 is very cheap for it price. In fact, I don’t really understand how Ibasso could pull this off ?

    The trebles on the DX160 is totally different than the Dx228, and similar to the bass, the trebles does not reach as high or extend much with the timbres rather thick and vivid where as Dx220 with Amp1 MKII or Amp8 both have a better reach and extensions, together with the metallic sparkling. Though, here is the tricky parts. The Dx228 can reach that much in both end of the spectrums. It exposes the limitations of the Dx220 and Amp8 in stock form with “grainy trebles” for any very picky ears, and revealing gears such as Hd800S , which lead me into EX modifications. The DX160, however, does not reach as well, but it also masks the graininess on both end of spectrums very well, which yield a very pleasurable experiences in trebles and bass presentations. For this trick alone, I totally understand why people would put the DX160 on the same tier and side by side to the Dx228. To my own opinions, I think Ibasso has implied too much limitations onto the Dx228 executions of a top-tier products. The EX modifications is totally a proof of this, and this makes me very excited for the Dx220 MAX!

    So, what about the battery on both ? They have similar battery playtime and charge with quick charge. I use IPad 29W and Anker quick charge, they work flawlessly on both.

    Finally, what is the verdict ? The DX160 sounds too good for its price, and practically is very capable with quick charge, DSD256 ....etc...and especially for anyone who is a fan of Cirrus IC itself, you would found yourself being fascinated by the DX160. Under different perspectives, it can be said to be very close to Dx228 in performances as it would depend on many different factors such as what you are pairing with and what you desires for from a player. However, under my very specific perspectives That judges toward the finesses, the accuracy of timbres, room ambient, imagines, soundstage rendering...etc..just to name a few....the DX160 is really what Ibasso Named it out to be, a high quality digital player. The DX220 and Amp8 does execute those criteria better to my own opinions.

    Therefore, what do I say here ? If I have to make a purchase, with a very limited budget, I would be totally satisfied with DX160 performances right next to Dx228, and at 1/4 the pricing VS the performances between both, the decision is easy. But if Sound quality is all that I am chasing for, with the ability to swap out modules, I would rather grab a Dx228 and then also apply EX modifications toward it. Better yet, I would wait for DX220 MAX! But again, if portability form is a huge determination remark, then DX228EX is ways too hard to beat. The DX160 would make an excellent choice for a holiday present which is affordable, and yet performances can be said to be punching above it prices.

    Lastly, a kind reminder is that my experiences, and observations as much as preferences and genres are different than you and others. So, please, find a way to try out the dx160 before you make your final decision.


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    1. View previous replies...
    2. Cat Music
      So in sound quality which is better? Mojo or DX160?
      Cat Music, Oct 15, 2019 at 4:25 PM
    3. Whitigir
      I would go for Dx160 if I had to pick between those 2
      Whitigir, Oct 15, 2019 at 7:19 PM
      Cat Music likes this.
    4. Cat Music
      I thought Mojo had more sound quality than DX160 ... But if you say so, I will trust you!
      Cat Music, Oct 15, 2019 at 11:51 PM