iBasso DX220: Fair play in the high league


Hi, lovers of quality sound!


Today an excellent opportunity to meet at us - to us the new leader from the highly respected company iBasso on a visit glanced, DX220 DAP.

The model was only issued and right there surely occupied a pedestal, having pressed the fellow of iBasso DX200 which is released in 2017 from there.

 

The device is built on the same two top-end DAC chips ESS Sabre 9028PRO and also has the ability to replace the amplifying modules, which currently number nine pieces: AMP1, AMP2, AMP3, AMP4, AMP5, AMP6, AMP7, AMP8 and now AM1 MK2.

 

If the DX200 was supplied with the AMP1, then its continuation already has on board a new module, namely the AMP1 MK2.

I think, it is worth mentioning also a complete amp of “middle brother”, DX150 - AM6 module.

And junior, DX120 about which we told you recently has no possibility of replacement of the amplifier because of his small size. However, it is already good.

But back to the big leagues. I will not keep the intrigue and immediately admit that the DX220 definitely bypasses its predecessor, but what exactly - I will describe in detail below.





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Text: Alexey Kashirskey aka Hans Barbarossa

 



 

 

Specifications

OS: Android 8.0 Oreo

Screen: 5.0inch 1080px + Gorilla Glass

DAC: 2 × ESS Sabre 9028PRO

Memory: 4GB RAM, 64GB ROM, 1 microSD(TF) slot

CPU: Octa Core

Outputs: (AMP1 MK2) 2.5мм балансный, 3.5мм наушники, 3.5мм линейный

S/PDIF combined optical / coaxial

Bluetooth 5.0 / LDAC, aptX

WiFi: 802.11 b / g / n / ac (2,4 ГГц / 5 ГГц)

USB: USB Type-C

Battery: 4400 мАч

Dimensions: 126мм х 70.5мм х 18.7мм

Weight: 240 гр.





Appearance and kit


DX220 by the principle of a nested doll is packed. The first is a solid dust jacket, which, like a chameleon, shimmers with pearl-silver color. Short characteristics of the treasure which is inside are given in it.

 



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From it leaves a light brown box embossed under the skin, dissected, like a samurai's sword, diagonally. And finally, a box with a DAP. Inside fit: the DX220 itself, screen protectors on the screen and on the back of the device, a coaxial cable, a nice USB type-C cable, a cable for warming up the device, a stylish yellow leather case and obligatory warranty documents.

 



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As always at iBasso, a complete set very full.


The DX220 is similar to its fellow DX200 and DX150, however, a number of key points have been improved. To begin with, it has become more compact, although the weight has not changed - 240 grams. The material is already familiar aluminum. But the screen from Sharp has grown significantly from 4.2 inches to 5 and now occupies the entire front side. Other important indicators have also changed: resolution 1080px, color rendition 16.7 million colors, protection of Gorilla Glass 2.5D.



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The back panel has become glossy. There is a departing replaceable amplifier module AM1 MK2, mounted on both sides of the cogs, like the previous models.


Right on the end is a recessed wheel for volume control with a pleasant smooth stroke and control buttons: forward, start / pause, back.


On the left side there is a slot for microSD, if the internal memory of the device is not enough - 64 GB.


The upper bound contains: on / off button, S / PDIF (combined optics / coax), USB type-C (for charging and synchronization with PC).



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At the bottom there are AMP1 MK2 amplifier connectors: 3.5 mm linear, 3.5mm, and 2.5mm for a balanced connection of headphones/IEM.

 

For communication with the world, the player has wireless communication modules: WiFi: 802.11 b / g / n / ac (2.4 GHz / 5 GHz) and Bluetooth 5.0 with support for LDAC and aptX for receiving and transmitting a signal.

 


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When connected via USB type-C to a desktop PC or laptop, the device can act as an external DAC.



The DAP has a 4400 mAh 3.8 V battery with quick charging (Quick Charge 3). One charge cycle is enough for about 8-10 hours of operation. Here everything will depend on the connected headphones, the files being listened to and the volume level.

 

Made iBasso DX220 soundly: no laxity, everything is clear, monolithic and tactile nice. To use the device one pleasure.



Software and control


Android 8.0 Oreo is responsible for the internal content of the player. Navigation is performed using the touch screen: swipe right, swipe left, curtain on top and touch - in a word, everything is simple and familiar, like on smartphones. If you wish, you can start and switch tracks with side buttons.

 


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With such a filling, the Google Play Market service would be desirable, but its absence is not such a big problem. Almost any application can be installed using programs with apk-files - this is not a tricky business, it will take a few minutes.

 

In the DX220, like the DX200, there is a dual boot, which takes the gadget to the menu of an independent virtual Mango player, which has acquired a new elegant interface and more convenient control.

In general, the choice is yours. In addition to music, you want access to the Internet and all kinds of programs – go to Android. Would you like a clean audio player - choose Mango OS.



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Like its predecessors, the DX220 has seven digital filters and a parametric equalizer (PMEQ), which allows you to fine-tune the sound to your taste.

 It is worth mentioning that the DX220 is already "out of the box" well optimized, and the manufacturer promises to regularly engage in improving its software. Why, the player just came out, and I already had an update on it!



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Yes, by the way, now it is not necessary to download the new firmware from the site, and upload the fw file to the memory card. The device itself finds and updates software when connected to a WiFi network. You just need to go to the settings menu - the system and select the search for updates. For me personally, this is a very pleasant moment.

 



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Well, now is the time to talk about the sound!




Sound


The DX220 model is based on two DAC chips: ESS Sabre 9028PRO.

 

Listening (audio testing) was conducted on:  64 AUDIO A18, 64 AUDIO A12t, Vision Ears VE8, Custom ART FIBAE4, EarSonics S-EM6 V2, InEar SD-2, InEar PP8, iBasso IT01s, Beyerdynamic DT250/250 ohm, Beyerdynamic DT1350 и Phonon SMB-02.

With all the IEM/headphones, the device played very good, no serious genre deviations were noticed.




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I admit, it is difficult to talk about the device, which is almost impossible to find fault with, but I will try. I will begin, perhaps, with the main merit of the device: it copes with any type of CIEM/IEM, especially for low-impedance BA multi-driver models.

 

For example, take my 64 AUDIO A18 and EarSonics S-EM6 V2. Both those and others are very demanding to gain, and to the audio section as a whole, and from any device, from the air, they will not sing. So, the DX220 easily coped with this difficult task, demonstrating a thorough control, and received a storm of applause from me.

 

In the end, I went through all my CIEM, IEM and full-size headphones, connecting them to the player, and he always showed the highest class.

 

I do not know whether this is the merit of the new amplifier module AMP1 MK2 or the matter of a more serious refinement of the circuitry. One thing is clear, iBasso did a scrupulous job that led to an amazing result. No words, well done!




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The device demonstrates excellent dynamics, separation of tools, elaboration of plans, with a stunning transfer of depth and width of space. It fills the audio layer layer by layer, clearly placing the sound images in their places. This is a neutral, well-balanced and at the same time thick and very musical manner of transmitting material. The player is well able to transfer timbres, micro and macronuances, as well as endgame echoes. Compositions are played harmoniously and extremely naturalistic.

 

In the inevitable dispute between the two flagships, the DX220 surpasses its predecessor, the DX200, on all fronts, although it is also good, and they certainly recognize the general style.




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The sound of the DX220 is well balanced, purebred, smooth, more serious and adult than that of a fellow, with a bodily filling of sound images and a slightly darkened background due to the timbre rich palette in the low-frequency register and accurate testing of the lower middle. Moreover, the device is not inclined to soften the blow or the impressiveness of the bass parts, even the opposite - here every beat is extremely accurate and massive, and the bass boasts a thick manner, beautiful relief, excellent speed characteristics and density.

The strength of each individual blow is clearly distinguishable, from this creates an additional illusion of the volume of internal space.




The mids is pleases with its smooth and harmonious manner, with excellent detail, accurate localization of seeming sound sources in space and timbre diversity.

This is a layered, well-balanced and multidimensional picture with excellent transmission of the entire palette of sound and the emotional component. Strings, keyboards, vocals and wind - everything sounds very accurate and naturalistic.

There are no bright peaks or failures, everything is clear, precise and to the point. From such sonic harmony you simply dissolve in the music you are listening to, absorbing it with all the fibers. The player is so dynamic, melodious and comfortable manner that you can listen to it for hours without fatigue.




The high frequencies cleanly and precisely work out their own, adding gloss and charm to the compositions being listened to. They are not much and not enough, exactly as much as needed. They are moderately restrained, they have not the slightest hint of friability or distortion. All the most honest, accurate and natural. I have no complaints.




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In general, the voice of the device is extremely musical, comfortable, with a slight touch of warmth, good detail, without any obvious problems in a particular area of the frequency response.





Let us consider an example.

Talking Heads – «Blind»


The composition is served in a neutral manner, dynamically, with a beautiful presentation of all myco-and macro-nuances.

Brass honed in the ears of their slender musical designs. Funking, resilient bass quickly darts between the rest of the instruments, picking them up.

Guitars in the fever are spat out with ragged chords, here and there scattering nerd solos..

Shamanic percussions twist the African rhythm into a composition, finally turning it into a savannah, onto which a refreshing musical rain pours like a wall, while you can see and feel every bit of it.

 

The striking harmony of well-defined details, lively emotions and sound dynamics!

And David Byrne, who soars above all this, sings not so much, but rather conjures:



..Someone should've told him

That the buck stops here

No one ever said

He was involved with thieves

They're blind, blind

Blind, blind, blind, blind, blind

Blind, blind

Blind, blind, blind, blind, blind...



It should be emphasized that the DX220, like any good sound source, does not add anything extra to the sound of music. The final picture should be drawn by headphones, and the player should transmit the signal as accurately and reliably as possible, without blunders and smears, cleanly and frankly. And it is DX220 perfectly it is possible.




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The bottom line


Lows - accurate, with a tangible impact and clearly visible force of impact, with a relief and well-articulated bass. The striking dynamics and transmission of contrast, the depth of space. The quantity and quality of low frequencies without complaints, everything is good.

 

Mids - smooth, harmonious, multi-faceted, with a wonderful transfer of textures and good resolution. Here every sound has its own mass, body and relief. The mid-frequency register is presented in detail and harmoniously, in a lively and beautiful manner.

 

Highs - Clean and crisp. There are no complaints about the quantity and quality of mining. They are moderately restrained and charming, without the slightest hint of friability or distortion.




Conclusion


Beautiful device, which simply struck me outright with its sound. But not the sound of one can boast this player. This is a complete device, harmonious and balanced in everything. Premium packaging, great kit, chic design, cool screen, convenient software. Although, it is necessary to admit, all these advantages fade into the background when there is such a SOUND!

Bravo iBasso! Taking off my hat.

 

And now about the price. Breathe the air, gentlemen! So, the price on the website of  iBasso Audio  difference between the DX200 ($ 869) and the DX220 ($ 899) is only $ 30!

I think it's just an act of generosity!





Pros - Sound, set, design, functionality, price


Cons - No














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