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iBasso DX220 Does Not Work Properly Over USB

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by sf_hifi, Sep 9, 2019.
  1. sf_hifi
    Dear community,

    This is part plea for help and part negative review.

    I recently bought an iBasso DX220 from another Head-fi'er. Great transaction and the DX220 was provided nearly as new with box, paperwork, cables, etc... I use a number of amps/dacs with my DAPs at home. One setup is through a Chord Hugo2 (direct from DX220 via Toslink to Hugo2 - out to IEMs/phones). I also have a Woo WA8 Eclipse. At times, I will run DAP into Hugo2 (in DAC only mode) into WA8 as the amplifier. Again, the DX220 is connected to the Hugo2 via optical. Both these setups work great. Also have a Questyle 400i that when connected via Toslink works without issues.

    However, with certain iems/phones and sources, I like to use the WA8 as a stand-alone (its a combo amp/dac). The only input on the WA8 for use in dac/amp mode is a USB B input. In the past, I have used a Pioneer XDP-300r via USB without issue. That's a direct connection from the XDP300 (microUSB out) via cable with a USB B male plug into the WA8.

    With the DX220 I have found it impossible to use the USB connection to either my WA8 or Questyle amp. Because the DX220 is USB C (out), I first took my available cable (recall above) which was microUSB to USB B. I had a small microUSB to USB C adapter and when I used that with the previously functional cable there was no connection recognized and no output to the amps. I assumed it was because I was using a generic adapter (microUSB to USB C). So, I purchased a cable online (not terribly cheap but not audiophile) that was USB C to USB B so I could connect the DX220 directly to the WA8 or Questyle (I note that Schiit dac/amp combos also utilize USB B in exclusively which I don't understand but that's for another day). With this newly purchased cable, the DX220 was immediately recognized as a source. By the way, throughout this tale I have been using Hiby Music, Mango Music and Deezer streaming to try to solve the problem. When I played any file (using any of the three s/w players) there was a significant amount of static/popping/clipping/cutouts - basically a ton of noise making the setup unusable. Having started with the WA8 I went to my Questyle amp/dac to see what the culprit was. Same problem so the issue is not with the amp/dacs.

    Assuming I had just bought (or been sold) a crappy cable I then bought an Audioquest USB C to USB B cable - not their totl but a 200-300 dollar three foot USB cable from an audiophile company. I was disappointed that the same problem occurred with the high-end cable. Again, it makes not difference which amp/dac or which s/w player I'm using. And because I know someone will ask - the files are CDs ripped to FLAC at various bit rates - some low, some higher but nothing exotic. And Deezer claims to stream in CD quality so again, nothing like hi-res, DSD or other.

    Now, having gone through a few setups with different equipment, my frustration led me to the forums, both here and elsewhere and unfortunately none were terribly helpful but one did mention Paul at iBasso and suggested he was helpful. I have now been going back an forth with Paul for almost two weeks and he (and iBasso) have done nothing to solve the problem.

    Paul's first suggestion was that I was using bad cables/connections. I explained that I had used a variety of cables including one that can arguably be considered audiophile quality (audioquest). After multiple emails, Paul told me that iBasso had only been able to get the USB connection to work if they use a USB C to USB A OTG cable and an adapter to go from USB A to the USB B male connector needed to plug into the WA8 or Questyle amp. Even though this made no sense to me, I took a look online and (because they are inexpensive and I wanted to solve the problem) ordered six different adapters - most just a short input/output plug setup but a couple had a little bit of cable, like six inches or so. I first used the USB cable that iBasso ships with its TOTL, 900 USD DX220 ( which is USB C to USB A) and tried with all six adapters and the DAP isn't even seen by the amps (or vice versa, doesn't matter). Turns out that the cable that iBasso includes with its TOTL, 900 USD DAP is not an OTG cable but merely a charging cable. I'll let you decide if that's good business or not.

    However, I assumed it was a crappy dumb cable so I reached for another cable I had laying around that I knew to be OTG (USB C to USB A) and I again tried with all six adapters and the connection is not even made.

    Throughout all of this, I continued to ask Paul at iBasso for assistance. He continued (and continues) to repeat the same questions (what cable are you using? is it an OTG cable? it sounds like a cable issue . . . blah blah) despite knowing exactly with cables and adapters I am using from about day 2 of this joke of a customer service journey. I have included pictures of the setup and cables. I have done a factory reset and am using the most current firmware. I have used the bit rate lock feature in the Hiby and Mango s/w to limit to its lowest option. Nothing has changed the problem.

    What iBasso and Paul have utterly failed to do is (1) acknowledge that the problem might be with the DX220, (2) offer to inspect it, or (3) offer to replace it. He has repeatedly said that iBasso has used the DX220 over USB (recall, they could only get it to work with A to B adapters which provide no output signal for me) but have never identified the cables they are using. He has repeatedly told me that other customers are using the DAP over USB without problems but has never told me what cable setups they are using.

    After almost two weeks and hundreds of dollars in cables, I am done.

    If anyone has any suggestions or experience with this I'd appreciate help toward solving the issue.

    As for iBasso, I will never buy another of their products. I strongly encourage others not to buy their products. They have simply refused to engage in any meaningful customer service or to even acknowledge that the problem might be with their DAP even though they admit that they need to use a USB C to USB A cable with some janky adapter to even make it work in house.

    It was a mistake to buy this DAP - unfortunately I relied on the positive reviews but not being able to use a simple, direct USB connection to an amp/dac is a design flaw of monumental oversight/stupidity.
     
  2. CobraMan
    Sorry to hear that you have had such extreme problems trying to get your devices to play nice together and that you spent a lot of extra money trying to resolve the situation only to exacerbate your frustration. I imagine most folks reading this have felt this pain at some point or another in our digital adventures...

    Here are some observations/comments:
    1) The different USB connection types, revision levels, and associated communication protocols are not forward/backward or 100% compatible with each other. So trying to connect the USB C on the DX220 to the USB B on the WA8 is really pushing the envelope of signal processing in my opinion (just take a look at the pinout differences at the link below for starters - no direct 1 to 1 corresponding pins). Even with adapters that are out there it does not guarantee compatibility as you are painfully aware. You can read more at this link if you are interested: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB#Connector_types

    2) It sounds as though you want music files on the DX220 to be sent to the WA8 to be decoded/played by the WA8 if I understand the scenario described above correctly. I do not believe that the USB C connection from the DX220 is intended to do this - but I could be wrong here. The Mini Optical/Coaxial Output port (SPDIF) would provide the digital output but obviously there is no way to connect SPDIF to the USB B on the WA8 (although there might be some kind of adapter/converter that does this if you do some searching).

    3) Given the Dual ES9028PRO DACs in the DX220 significantly better than the single ES9018M in the WA8 - have you consider using the DX220 Line Out from the AMP1MKII to the Line In on the WA8? Given the exceptional audio performance of the DX220 you might find this combination will produce acceptable, maybe even pleasing, results for you.

    Not sure if any of this helps - hope you can find something of use.

    Cheers,
    Tim
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
  3. sf_hifi
    Wow! - that's my first reaction. Thank you very much for taking the time to send this response. It is extremely helpful and (whether it ultimately leads to a solution or not) it had an immediate calming effect on me. Thanks again!
     
  4. CobraMan
    Glad I could provide some information and hope it gets you to a point of enjoying the DX220. If you have further questions I can try to answer them as well.

    Cheers,
    Tim
     

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