iBasso DX160: silk veil of the finest tunes


Hi dear friends!


I will not hide, meeting with the latest DAP from iBasso is akin to a holiday for me. This brand from the Middle Kingdom has long been a benchmark in the audiophile world, and without a doubt, it fully deserves it.


Let me remind you that the company began its journey with the production of portable amplifiers and DACs. Moreover, in 2012, the brand introduced the DX100 audio player, which won the hearts of music lovers around the world. Later saw the light and younger models: DX50, DX90, DX80. Well, then the flagship DX200 appeared, which was notable for the possibility of replacing amplifier modules. This hereditary trait was passed on to models like the DX150 and the current flagship DX220. In addition, the kid with the DX120 index harmoniously blended into the new iBasso line of DAPs.


And now, here we have a new budget hit - iBasso DX160. Yes, there will be no suspense about the qualities and properties of the monitored device today, we will leave unexpected interchanges for Hitchcock. In this case, I don’t see the point of suspecting the intrigue; we have a great DAP as a guest, which just captivated me. Let me tell you more about everything.




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Text: Alexey Kashirskey aka Hans Barbarossa




Specifications

Android 8.1 OS

Screen: 5.0 inch 1080px OnCell Full Screen

DAC chip: 2 × CS43198QFN

RAM: 2 GB

ROM: 32 GB

CPU: Octa Core

Outputs: 4.4mm balanced, 3.5mm headphones (combined with 3.5mm LO / S/PDIF coaxial)

Bluetooth 5.0 / LDAC, APTX output

WiFi: 80 2.11 b / g / n / ac (2.4Ghz / 5Ghz)

USB: USB Type-C

Battery: 3200 mAh / Quick Charge : QC3.0, PD2.0

Dimensions: 113mm x 69mm x 15mm

Weight: 178 gr.





Appearance and kit


DX160 comes in a small, stylish cardboard box in light purple with the manufacturer's logo and model name.




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Inside, in addition to the player, a set has been put, to which there is nothing more to add, and everything is already there: spare protective films on the screen, a nice USB-C cable for connecting to a power adapter and synchronization with a PC, a silicone bumper case and well, the required warranty documents.



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The dimensions of the device, by today's times, are rather modest: 113 mm x 69 mm x 15 mm. Therefore, it fits comfortably in the palm of your hand and fits easily in your pocket.


The design and ergonomics of the device are beyond praise, and the materials from which it is made even more emphasize its extraordinary. The union of anodized aluminum and glass, embodied in a simple but sophisticated form, caused a wave of pure aesthetic pleasure in me. I experienced similar artistic and emotional experiences when I acquired my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.




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The DX160 comes in four colors; one another is better: red, blue, silver and black. I got the last option, and this, I tell you, is a gorgeous "dark theme."


The entire front panel is occupied by a touch screen from Sharp (IPS, 5 inches, 1080px) with good responsiveness and excellent color reproduction. The back panel of the device is glossy, covered with plastic, made under the glass. From the packaging, a triangle-logo and model designation migrated to it.




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On the right side there is a wheel recessed into the body for volume control with a pleasant smooth ride and control buttons: forward, start / pause, back. On the left side is a microSD slot, if 32 GB, which are already on board the device, are missed.


The upper edge went to the on / off button and the type-C connector. Bottom pair of connectors: 4.4 mm balanced and 3.5 mm for headphones (combined with linear and S/PDIF coaxial).




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For wireless manipulation, there is Wi-Fi (80 2.11 b / g / n / ac, 2.4Ghz / 5Ghz) and Bluetooth 5.0 with support for LDAC and aptX.


When connected to a desktop PC or laptop, the device can operate as an external DAC / sound card.




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The DAP has a battery capacity of 3200 mAh (8-10 hours of operation) with the ability to quickly charge (Quick Charge: QC3.0, PD2.0).




Software and control


Android 8.1 is responsible for the “inner life” of this DAP. Navigation is performed in a manner familiar to smartphones: swipe right, swipe left, curtain top and touch. The response is quick, and all the commands distributed on the screen with the index finger are executed with lightning speed. Well, for obscurantists (just kidding, just kidding) there is the ability to start and switch tracks with side buttons.




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In general, the menu is simple and intuitive. It lacks only the Google Play Market service, however, this is not such a big problem. Almost any application can be installed using apk files - this is not a tricky business, it will take a few minutes.


By the way, firmware, as with older brothers, flies through the air, the device itself finds and updates software when connected to a Wi-Fi network. You just need to go to the settings menu - the system and select the update search - everything is simple and convenient.



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The DX160 also has four digital filters and an equalizer, which allows you to fine-tune the sound to your taste.


In general, the device “out of the box” is already well optimized, and the manufacturer promises to regularly improve its software. Why, the player just left, and an update has already arrived on it for me!




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Next begins my favorite part in every review. Well, you guess, right?





Sound


The DX160 model is based on two DAC chips: CS43198 from Cirrus Logic.


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.




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With all the IEM / headphones, the device played more than worthy, no serious genre deviations were noticed. Separately, it should be noted that he perfectly copes with any type of IEM, not even giving in to low-impedance multi-driver / multi-drivers based on BA.




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The DX160, like its eldest relative DX220 with AMP1 MK2, did not gasp, worked with 18 BA driver A18s from 64 AUDIO, and this, you know, is by no means for everyone, because these CIEMs are very demanding on amplification, and to the audio section as a whole. The player fully completed the task, demonstrating good control on all fronts. Pretty boy!




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The sound of the DX160 is fervent, noble and very melodic. This is a smooth manner, with bodily filling of sound images and a darkened background, moderately expressive, with a good study of micro and macro nuances.


The device, like the general iBasso DX220, has a good tonal balance, but has a warmer and thicker feed, which gives the sound of special charm and musicality. Undoubtedly, it is inferior to the leader in technicality and speed, but it wins in melody and ability to convey the emotional component. It has a picturesque, with its unforgettable charm, detailed and extremely comfortable sound. 




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This is by no means an even monitor sound, on the contrary, it has an excellent transmission of the emotional part and is mainly focused on the mid-frequency range, with warmth filling the whole picture, highlighting in the midbass area and a smooth, extremely neat focus in the upper middle region. Because of these masterfully placed accents, an unusually comfortable, charming and melodic manner is achieved. In such a pleasant atmosphere, I want to delight in enjoying my favorite music for hours without thinking about time.




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Another point that I liked: iBasso DX160 does not impose its own rules of the game on the IEM/headphones, does not seek to redraw their “voice” for themselves. It only helps them to open and sound in all its glory, more juicy and driving. So the result of the "color" of the sound will depend on the bundle "player + headphones", which gives great variability.



Let's take a closer look at the frequency amplitude.


The bass is thick, energetic, well-tuned and well-controlled. Here there is a dense and precise strike, and relief, and good speed. Here, perhaps, there is a lack of texture transfer for drawing volume, although much here depends on the headphones. For example, with my FIR Audio M5 CIEM, I did not even notice this nuance. The subbass area is linearly applied, clearly complementing the low-frequency register, and the midbass area, in turn, is neatly forced. In general, the low-frequency range and the lower middle in the DX160 are charming; they work off their due, darkening the general background and filling the middle with vital substance, giving it velvet, physicality and naturalness.



Mids is pleases with the detail, localization of sound sources in space and a smooth, charming manner. Vocal parts and string busts - everything sounds rich, lively and naturalistic. Mids are so comfortable and sweet-voiced that they seem to throw a silk veil on your head, woven from the finest tunes. And you sit, wrapped in harmonies, in the center of the sounding composition - how cozy and interesting it is!



The high frequency range is accurate, crisp and clear. It is not a lot and not a little, as much as you need. There is no abundance of “air” or sophisticated after-tones, but there is a correct development of minor nuances, without undue aggression and artifacts - everything is fair and to the point. The register is served smoothly and comfortably, which contributes to long-term listening to music.





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The virtual scene of the DX160 is medium in size, it is proportionately built in width and in depth.


To summarize, I will describe the voice of the device as balanced, peppy, smooth, melodic, harmonious and charming.




Conclusion


In my opinion, the DX160 was a success, so much so that it’s not even clear what you can complain about and criticize so that the review does not look like a panegyric. The player is beautiful both outside and inside, and this "beauty" vividly carries in the ears of the afflicted.


Seriously, the device has a charming perky sound, a chic screen, a stylish and durable case, it can be an external DAC, connects via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth - this is where the grouchy word is inserted here?


And, of course, the price of the novelty, which is only $ 399, is pleased. In my opinion, every dollar of this amount iBasso DX160 fulfills with interest!





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Pros - Sound, convenience, design, price


Cons - No


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