IBasso DX120: Goliath In David's Clothes

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.




Text by Alexey Kashirskey aka Hans Barbarossa




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Specifications

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

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 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.



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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.

 


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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.



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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.



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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.



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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!




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 IEM/headphones, the device played decently, no serious genre deviations were noticed.



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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.




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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.



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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.



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Conclusion


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.


And, of course, the price of a novelty which at the time of writing of the review on the website of iBasso Audio cost only $299. In my opinion, each dollar from this sum fulfills the device with interest!



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Pros - Sound, convenience, design, price

Cons - No (not for this money)


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