iBasso DC02: agent 002 - The World Is Not Enough



Hi, friends!


This summer in our audio-ph.ru editorial office was visited by the voice guy DC01, a miniature balanced DAC/headphone amplifier from iBasso. We were glad to prepare a report on a very pleasant acquaintance with him, and before he left he promised a visit of his twin brother with stereo (TRS 3.5 mm) connection. And this hour has come, and on our door knocked the same fast kid DC02.


This device, as well as its relative, will be a great solution for those who do not want to carry a smartphone in addition to the player, but would like to have a decent portable sound. However, DC02 will be useful not only on the road, but also at home or in the office, as it can also be connected to a laptop or desktop PC.


And considering the universal connector of 3.5 mm, in my opinion, it will be even more in demand than its balanced version.







Text: Alexey Kashirskey aka Hans Barbarossa






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Specifications

AK4490EQ Premium 32-bit Stereo DAC Support of PCM up to 32bit/384kHz

Support of Native DSD up to 256x

Dedicated headphone amplifier with 3.5mm single-ended output portWorks as a USB-DAC for Android smartphones and tablets, Mac, Windows, and Linux computers

USB C connector for better compatibility with Android smartphones & tablets

Dual ultra-low noise LDOs to ensure high-performance audio

4-wire braided audiophile cable.




Appearance and kit


The iBasso DC02 comes in a small white cardboard box. On its front side is a photo of the device, as well as its name and "profession": DAC cable-adapter that can reproduce sound in high resolution. Detailed technical specifications are shown on the back. Inside, besides the gadget itself, we find the USB adapter from type-C to type-A and the instruction, which is also a warranty card.




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Just as with DC01, the design of the device retains a charming retro motif. Externally, it resembles a remote control for Walkman CD players from the 90s.




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DC02 is 120 mm long and weighs only 8 grams, which is 3 grams less than its balanced relative. The inscription on the outer side of the metal case categorically speaks about the outstanding skills of this "singer" from iBasso: 32bit/384kHz DSD256x. We also found a place for the mandatory status of all of us familiar yellow sticker Hi-Res Audio.




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One of the ends is equipped with a 3.5 mm TRS connector output. In the same place, just below, a tiny blue LED signals to us that DC02 is working properly. From the opposite side comes a four-core silver-white cable, consisting of silver plated copper. This short wire ends with a type-C connector, which is similar to many phones and other mobile units, and with the help of the adapter already included in the package it can be connected to a desktop PC or notebook.


Unlike the twin brother, who has on board the AK 4493EQ, the DC02 is built on a 4490EQ DAC chip from the same company Asahi Kasei Microdevices. Such replacement did not affect the remarkable power of our "kid". And this fact, believe me, should be taken seriously. Carelessness here is fraught with hearing problems. In order not to be unsubstantiated I will bring my own story, which occurred during the DC01 testing. It is in the corresponding review, but it will be useful to place it in this one as well.


"The first time I connected DC01 to my smartphone using USB Audio Player PRO (UAPP) software, and almost deaf, I immediately pulled the headphones out of my ears. The fact is that the player outputted a digital signal in bit perfect mode (without the interference of OS, equalizer and other software), in which the volume is not regulated and has the maximum value. And since the device also couldn't control the signal level, I was risking a lot with my eardrums."




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I hope you don't repeat my mistake now. In general, be vigilant and everything will be fine. And to help you, there's the iBasso UAC app, which lets you fine-tune the volume on the sound source. You can find it in Google Play Market. I recommend adding Hiby Music software to my partners. Everything is clear, clear and adjustable by default without any problems.


Now, let's move on sound impressions.





Sound


Listening (audio testing) was conducted with:  64 AUDIO A18, 64 AUDIO A12t, Vision Ears VE8, Vision Ears VE4.2, FIR M5, BGVP DMS, Custom ART FIBAE4, InEar PP8, Beyerdynamic DT1350 & Phonon SMB-02.


With all IEM/headphones the device has played more than worthily, not having experienced any difficulties with the variety of musical genres offered to it.





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The DC02 sound palette is beautifully laid out, with the right pressure, clean and skillful.


I have to admit at once that I didn't see much difference in the sound between DC01 and DC02, which is not surprising in the case of twin devices. However, it seemed to me that the hero of our review today draws a sound canvas a little smoother than his "balanced brother", but the difference is barely noticeable and definitely insignificant. Therefore, when choosing DC01 vs DC02 I would recommend to be guided simply by your preferences: you want a balanced connection (2.5 mm) - take a "unit", and for adherents of the standard 3.5 mm jack-connector is "agent 002".  




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We're going back to the description of the last one's sonic abilities. Bass parts of DC02 sound massive, energetic, with good articulation and good depth work. They don't pamper us with their tonal diversity, but they are well assembled, quite massive and have 

worthy of speeding characteristics. For a device the size of a finger it is an amazing result. The area of mid-bass is carefully forced that allows to speak about comfortable, plastic and very musical manner.



The mids is cheerful, contrasting and detailed, with a good transmission of the emotional component. Vocal parts are practiced wonderfully. They are slightly accentuated, but without sharp peaks and within the limits of what is acceptable. This gives the compositions a slight expressiveness, which can only be welcomed. Strings, keys and wind instruments sound clean and legible, with no visible problems.



High frequencies do not excite the ears with sharpness, they are transmitted very smoothly, legibly and in detail, but, as it seemed to me, a little rough and simplified. Although in general they have a good resolution, they are served comfortably and longitudinally, adding contrast and airiness to the overall picture.




In general, I would describe such a sound as drive, beautiful and harmonious. At the same time, there are no significant flaws that could prevent you from enjoying the music.  




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Conclusion


As in the case of the previously reviewed DC01, there is nothing to get tired of with iBasso DC02 in general. The device immediately bribes with its "mature" and pleasant sound, it looks nice, and its size allows you to take at least to the beach, at least for a jog, but anywhere. And development of streaming services (Tidal, Spotify, Deezer, etc.) makes such DAC/AMPs an ideal addition to a smartphone or laptop.  


I'm glad the price of the novelty is too. At the time of writing the review on the site of the manufacturer iBasso Audio DC02 cost only $ 50. It should be noted that this is one of the most affordable options to get an entrance ticket to the world of high quality sound.





Pros 

Sound, design, size, price.


Cons 

No (not for that money)




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