iBasso DX240: Prince Charm and his impeccable manners

Hi friends!


A festive mood is in the air, and not only the rapidly approaching New Year is to blame for this. After long adventures, our editorial office finally received a special gift that we have been waiting for!


Today we will get acquainted with a wonderful new product from everyone's beloved iBasso Audio. This year, to celebrate its 15th anniversary, the company released without exaggeration the iconic DAP DX240, which, in fact, became a logical continuation of the popular DX220 model. This compact device has managed to incorporate all the advanced developments from the flagship DX220 MAX, DX300 and DX300 MAX! The novelty is also notable for the fact that it is compatible with replaceable amplifier modules of its predecessor.


The DX240 turned out to be more than a worthy successor of its noble family. But before proceeding directly to acquaintance with him, I would like to conduct a small excursion into the history of the brand.


IBasso Audio started out with the production of portable amplifiers and DACs. In 2012, she introduced the DAP DX100, which has won the hearts of audiophiles and music lovers around the world. Later, the younger models saw the light: DX50, DX90, DX80. And then the flagship DX200 appeared, which, among other things, was notable for the possibility of replacing the amplifier modules. This hereditary trait was passed on to such models as DX150, DX220, DX300 and the hero of our today's review - DX240. It is also worth remembering the hits in the entry and middle segment - the iBasso DX120, DX160 and of course the unsurpassed DX220 MAX. Unfortunately, I am not familiar with the new limited edition DX300 MAX, but I am sure that this is one of the pinnacles of modern sound engineering.


Well, in today's concert, a new talent from iBasso, talented and sophisticated, Prince of Charm - DX240 will be the soloist!





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Text: Alexey Kashirskey (aka Hans Barbarossa)



Specifications

OS: Android 9.0

CPU: Qualcomm 660

RAM: 4Gb

Storage: 64Gb + micro-SD

DAC: 1x ES9038PRO

Sample rate: PCM: 8Hz – 768kHz (8/16/24/32bits) native – DSD64/128/256/512

System clock: Full synchronization technology with TXCO PPL + FPGA Master

Outputs: 3.5mm headphone out/line-out / 2.5mm TRRS balanced headphone output 

Input: USB Type-C

Screen: 5.0″ 1920×1080 IPS Screen 

Micro SD: SDHC / SDXC (single slot)

USB DAC: yes

WiFi: 2.4 GHz / 5 GHz support 

DNLA + APK support

Bluetooth support:  SBC, aptX, LDAC, AAC – BT5.0

Duplex Bluetooth: the player can emit and receive music

Battery: 4400mAh Li-Polymer

Quick Charge: yes (QC 3.0 / PD2.0 / MTK)

Battery life: 13h in single-ended, 12h in balanced

Charging time: around 1h30

Size: 126mm x 70.5mm x 18.7mm

Weight: 240g (270g with the silicone case)


2.5mm Headphone out

Output level: 6.2Vrms (max)

Output Power: 878mW@32ohms, 128mW@300ohm

SNR/Dynamic Range: 125 dB / 125dB

Crosstalk: – 119dB

Output impedance: 0.57 ohms

THD+N: -119dB

Frequency Response: 10Hz – 40kHz


3.5mm Headphone out

Output level: 3.1Vrms (max)

Output Power: 281mW@32ohms, 32mW@300ohm

SNR/Dynamic Range: 123 dB / 122dB

Crosstalk: – 117dB

Output impedance: 0.38 ohms

THD+N: -110dB

Frequency Response: 10Hz – 40kHz



Appearance and kit


The DX240 is packed in a nice compound box. The first is a hard, glossy cover, which, like a chameleon, shimmers with a pearlescent silver color. It shows the model of the device and its profession - Reference DAP, below is the brand logo.




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Next is the green box, in which, in addition to the DX240, there was a whole scattering of accessories: screen protectors, a coaxial cable, a USB type-C / type-A cable for connecting to a power adapter and synchronizing with a PC, a burn-in cable , transparent silicone bumper cover and mandatory warranty instructions.

As always, iBasso has the most complete package.




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Separately, you can purchase a chic branded leather case and a set of external panels for docking the DX240 with previously released amplifier modules.

Re-profiling an amplifier module is not difficult: you need to select the required external panel in accordance with the outputs of your amplifier, unscrew the amplifier board from the old case and screw it to the new panel.



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But back to our acquaintance with the DAP itself. Its frame is made of aluminum alloy, and externally it is similar to its counterparts DX220 and DX160, however, a number of key points have been improved here.

To begin with, the DX240 has become more compact than its predecessor (126 mm x 70.5 mm x 18.7 mm) and is practically close in size to the DX160. And its weight is 240 grams. Beautiful touch-screen from Sharp with a 5.0 ″ IPS matrix covers the entire front panel. The display boasts Full HD resolution, rich color reproduction and good sensor response.


The back surface of the apparatus is of a rounded arcuate shape. It is made of matte, tactilely pleasant plastic and shimmers with a gray-black gradient, and the model index "DX240" flaunts in the center. This design solution looks just amazing.




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The DX240 is available in both green and black. We have, as you probably already understood, the second color option.

On the right, at the end, there is a wheel recessed into the body for adjusting the volume with a smooth ride. It is also, in combination, is the on / off button of the device. Next to him are three control keys lined up: forward, start / pause, back. There was also a place for the golden “Hi-Res Audio” sticker.

On the left side there is a microSD slot. The volume of the device's own memory is 64 GB.




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The top edge got type-C connectors (for charging and synchronizing with a PC) and S / PDIF (for digital signal output). At the bottom there are AMP1 MK3 amplifier connectors: 3.5 mm linear, 3.5 mm TRS and 2.5 mm TRRS for balanced headphone connection.




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For communication with the outside world by air, the player is equipped with wireless modules: dual-band WiFi (4 GHz / 5 GHz) and Bluetooth 5.0 with support for SBC, aptX, LDAC, AAC codecs.

When connected via USB Type-C to a desktop or laptop, the DX240 can also act as an external DAC / sound card.


The device is built on the Saber 9028PRO DAC chip from ESS Technology. For the analog part, as I mentioned earlier, the new amplifier module AMP1 MK3 is responsible.

For processing the digital part and suppressing jitter, the FPGA-Master matrix of its own design iBasso is responsible.

Responsible for the computing part is Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (SD660) paired with 4 GB of LPDDR4X RAM.

One charge cycle of the 4400 mAh battery will last about 11-12 hours of operation. But here everything will depend on the headphones connected, the files being listened to and the volume level. The battery also has a fast charge function: (QC 3.0 / PD2.0 / MTK).





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So, before us is a perfectly assembled device: no laxity, everything is clear, monolithic and tactilely pleasant. Its design and ergonomics are beyond praise, and the materials from which it is made further emphasize its originality. Therefore, it is a pleasure to use the device.



Menu 


Android 9.0 and its own Mango OS are responsible for the "intellectual" abilities of the device.

Installation of apps here can be done using APKPure, so that any program for Android can be found and downloaded by yourself in a matter of minutes.

The DX240, like its cousins DX220 and DX300, has a dual boot, which allows you to choose between the Android OS and an independent virtual Mango player that has a stylish interface and easy control.

If you want, in addition to listening to music, Internet access, all kinds of programs and streaming services - Android. If you want a clean audio player, choose Mango OS.




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Updating the software occurs both online (the DX240 finds and installs it by itself when connected to Wi-Fi), and through the manufacturer's website, from where you can download the firmware to a memory card and install it on the device from there. This is familiar to us from 220 / MAX / 300.

With navigation, everything is simple and familiar, like with smartphones on Android: swipe across the screen, pull the curtains, poke your finger at what you are looking for. Well, if you wish, you can start and switch tracks using the side buttons.

It is worth mentioning that the DX240 is already well optimized out of the box, and the manufacturer promises to regularly improve its software. By the way, the player has recently been released, the update is already out!


Like its predecessors, the DX240 has seven digital filters and a parametric equalizer (PMEQ), which allows you to fine-tune the sound to your taste.


Well, we have figured out the external and internal contents of the device, let's finally talk about the main advantage of the newcomer - about the sound!




Sound


We used: 64 AUDIO A12t, FIR Audio M5, Vision Ears VE8, Vision Ears VE7, InEar PP8, iBasso IT07, Beyerdynamic DT250 / 250 ohm and Phonon 4400.


Before analyzing the sound, the player burned-in for about 100 hours, which, in my opinion, had a very beneficial effect on the final formation of its "voice".

I note right away that the device coped well with both low-impedance sensitive IEM/CIEM and high-impedance full-size models Headphones - noise and distortion were not noticed anywhere.




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DX240 sounds balanced, energetic, with drive and amazing melody. He so competently and scrupulously places accents at the edges of the frequency range that the overall sound becomes more contrasting and lively, saturated with notes of positive, and the audio images are filled with volume. This is the case when a pedantic approach gives simply amazing results. The manner of sound production is comfortable and rhythmic, smooth and voluminous, and most importantly - very exciting and "thoroughbred".


The hallmark of the DX240's audio signature is its amazing dynamics. There is a crisp clap, a tight hit with a clearly distinguishable impact force, and a rounded, agile bass with a charming rhythmic pattern.


The device, despite the rather dense manner of sound presentation, builds a stereo panorama very accurately and in a contrasting manner, very accurately indicating the localization of sound sources in space, placing greater emphasis on macrodynamics, but at the same time not forgetting to sensitively indicate all the small nuances of the composition.




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At the same time, the sound is not at all a monitor sound, it has an excellent transfer of the emotional part, with its own "pattern" and character. It focuses mostly on the midrange, with light, warmth, emphasis in the midbass area and smooth, neat and graceful high-frequency emphasis delivered in a comfortable manner. In such a blissful and enchanting atmosphere, you want to dive without looking back and enjoy your favorite music for hours, not thinking about the time.


The virtual soundstage is medium in size, it harmoniously and proportionally builds up, both in depth, height, and width, strikingly conveying the volume of an imaginary space.




Frequency amplitude


The bass is tight, rounded, punchy, energetic and well controlled. There is a tight, accurate shot, terrain, and good speed. He clearly sets the rhythm with his energetic manner, filling the middle with a dense velvety substance. The subbass area is served smoothly, complementing the low-frequency register with depth, and the midbass, in turn, is neatly forced, detailed, rhythmic and unusually dynamic.

The lows and low mids in the DX240 are adorable! The lows perfectly work out their own, darkening the general background and beautifully fill the middle with an organic warm substance, giving it velvety, physicality and naturalness.



Mids are smooth, natural, rich in timbre and texture, and therefore every musical instrument and image is endowed with a bodily basis. It is an extremely naturalistic, convex and pliable manner, with striking contrast and wide dynamic range. Vocal parts and strings - everything sounds cheerful, rich, lively and naturalistic. Mids are sweet, comfortable and silky. Here extraordinary melody enters into a perfect symbiosis with exciting dynamics.



High frequencies are reproduced cleanly, clearly and harmoniously. They are moderately energetic, laconic and charming. This is a precise and comfortable manner with a light, unobtrusive "spark" that slightly tints the overall sound, followed by an early decay. Yes, there are no baroque, refined after-sounds inherent in the old brothers, but at the same time, the DX240 transmits this register quite clearly and accurately, without excessive aggression and artifacts.




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In fact, the sound of the DX240 does not want to be divided into separate frequency ranges at all, so it is presented as a whole, euphonious and noble, as a single harmonious audio array.


The DX240 does a great job with a variety of music genres: classical, instrumental, jazz, electronic, rock and all sorts of brutal genres. Everything plays out engaging and extremely interesting.




DX240 vs DX220 MAX

In character, sound style and family ties, so to speak, the DX240 gravitates more towards the manners of the DX220 Max than to the DX220 and DX300. From the common features of these two models, one can note the amazing dynamics, speed, density, precision of impact and extraordinary melody. Although, of course, this is a rather conditional comparison, and the sound of these devices is clearly different. In general, in all honesty, I confess that the DX220 Max is my favorite in the DAP world.


Max, in addition to a larger imaginary space, better conveys micro-contrast, and as a true gourmet knows how to "savor" small details. The DX240 does this very nicely too, but nevertheless delivers the audio material more convexly, musically, with an emphasis on macro dynamics.

Well, and, perhaps, the main difference is playing out high frequencies. The DX220 Max handles this challenging range in a more refined, drawn-out, analytical manner. While the beginner passes the high-frequency register more concisely, accurately, with a slight simplification in the form of a distinct "spark" and an earlier falloff. There are no refined manners, layering and extended after-sounds, but there is a clear and precise working out of the treble, served in a comfortable form.


But seriously, it would be strange to expect a great similarity of devices with such a difference in size and price. The DX220 Max is hardly portable at all. It is large, weighty, and sounds to match its size - as seriously as possible. DX240 is just a crumb against its background, but at the same time it also has an amazing "voice"!

I also note that individual preferences in sound and headphones connected to these devices also play a significant role.




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DX240 vs DX300

Let me remind you that the DX300 has a very deep, hypnotic, multi-layered, "bohemian" style, with a wide and unusually deep virtual soundstage.

The three hundredth sounds more measured. The lower register is shifted towards the subbass, while the DX240 works out the midbass area better.


DX240 in this comparison is more lively, driving, rhythmic, fast and dynamic. In addition, in my opinion, it is more versatile in terms of style preferences in music. Yes, the newcomer's soundstage is not as “all-encompassing” as that of the older brothers, but he perfectly conveys volume, harmoniously building an imaginary space in width, depth and height, albeit a little more compact.

From the DX300, our today's hero received an extraordinary musicality that literally envelops the listener, impeccably polished smoothness and bohemian manners. The best inheritance from the previous generation is hard to come up with.





Conclusion


When we talk about iBasso products, it is almost impossible to keep the intrigue. Any development of the company is something special, and this case is no exception.

DX240 is a stylish, modern, convenient in all respects device with an outstanding implementation of the technical part, functional hardware and a gorgeous screen. The versatility and unusually interesting harmonious sound of this multimedia DAP will be highly appreciated by both novice music lovers and the most demanding audiophiles.

Bravo, iBasso, bravissimo!


It remains only to name one important number. The player's suggested retail price at the time of writing was $ 949. I believe that every dollar of this amount iBasso DX240 works out completely!




Pros

Sound, kit, design, functionality

Cons

No


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