A review of the iBasso player DX120 — continuing the offensive


In iBasso is sometimes slow to harness, but then speeding, they race with such speed that the majority of competitors only have to swallow the dust in the corners. Having begun its triumphant return with the DX200, they strengthened the position of the DX150, but, of course, everyone was waiting for the younger model of their player, are shown as “draft” last year. And here is the chassis index DX120 went on sale.

Creating a player with a top strap prices of $ 300 (that’s how much younger version), the company had to decide on what they need to save. Fortunately for buyers, price cuts have not touched the sound part and a little raised design. Moreover, the last had probably even better than the older models, but about it below.

In this case, “under the knife” went Android as OS, the hero of this review uses its own developments, dubbed Mango OS. Of course, this add-on to the Linux kernel is not a brand new, even the old players iBasso worked with her, and in the DX200 was the dual boot in this OS. But 120 are first introduced with the new version of “Mango”, has received numerous modifications, starting with OpenGL for the interface and ending with DMA for input / insights.

Traditionally, iBasso did not skimp on the filling. Of course, AK4495 is the ex-flagship, but the developers managed it to cook, achieving a dynamic range in excess of nameplate performance characteristics. For USB, as usual, uses XMOS, help all of thermostable specifies generators with PLL providing the correct traktowanie. About the amplifier, I think, needless to say, it’s iBasso.

Specifications

  • DAC: AK4495
  • Frequency range: 10 Hz ~ 45 kHz (-1 dB)
  • Output power: 400 mW @ 32Ω
  • Output voltage: balanced output — 3.6 Vrms, regular output of 1.8 Vrms
  • Total harmonic distortion+noise: balanced output — 0.00028%, regular output — 0.00042%
  • Dynamic range: balanced output — 117 dB, normal output — 115 dB
  • The ratio signal/noise: balanced output — 117 dB, normal output — 115 dB
  • Channel separation: balanced output — 116 dB, normal output — 115 dB
  • Output impedance: balanced output — 0.36 Ω, the normal exit is 0.24 Ω
  • Screen: 3.2″ IPS, 480 × 800
  • Outputs: 2.5 mm balanced, 3.5 mm regular, 3.5 mm line-in, 3.5 mm coaxial
  • Input: USB-C support QC2.0
  • Battery: 3700 mAh
  • Work time from a single charge: up to 16 hours
  • The charging time QC: up to 2 hours
  • Memory card: MicroSD
  • Maximum supported resolution: 384kHz/32-bit DSD128
  • Dimensions: 63 mm × 113 mm × 15 mm
  • Weight: 165 gr.

Packing and delivery

Despite standardization, the box is made quite nice. The scheme of traditional packaging: thick cardboard box in a “dust jacket”, but high-quality materials and unusual gray-blue color scheme give care about the design. Inside, besides the player, you will find:

  • USB cable for charging use the device as a DAC
  • poluchal bumper silicone
  • protective glass for the screen and swipe to install it
  • “warm-up” cable
  • adapter for coaxial output
  • different papers


In General, despite the lack of full cover, the package is very extensive.

Design and management

Appearance is also quite possible designers of the company. In iBasso worked on the shape, moving away from the traditional chopped of straight lines, characteristic for their previous players. The novelty has received a completely different appearance, streamlined, with smooth longitudinal faces and unusual textures. Most of the casing is made of aluminum, there are two interesting colors: pale coffee-brown and a kind of greyish blue. Both look at the same time not flashy, but stylish, like the legend of that 120 was originally created for the Japanese market has some reasons. The rear panel of the player is made of glossy black plastic, which slightly spoils the total delight of the latter, but given the fact that developers had to invest at a given price, I don’t think it’s big trouble.

The controls are fairly freely placed on different faces. Bottom can find all three outputs, and 3.5 mm with gold rings around them look much more spectacular than modest 2.5 mm. to the Right are all the six control buttons: power on/lock screen, adjust volume, and navigate tracks. The buttons are logically grouped and have a different size, which simplifies the management blindly. The keys themselves are a bit lack freewheel, you get used to it and discomfort to use it does not deliver.

On the upper side there are two slots for memory cards (to the delight of fans store discography Postmodern Jukebox in DSD256), coaxial output and USB C. of Course, the location of the ports is not such an important question as whether to break an egg with the pointed end or a blunt but I can not mention that I am in the camp of fans of the opposite option: outputs must be on top and the USB at the bottom. Despite the unusual location of the nest, iBasso has not stinted and has equipped 120 support Quick Charge, so only two hours with a charger will give you end up with about 14 hours of play (maybe more, maybe a little less, depends on the load). Considering the capacity, the uptime is more than impressive.

The main control is via the touch screen, occupying most of the front panel. Display here, of course, not a record by the standards of modern phones, but for the player the upper-elementary (or lower-middle?) segment — it is more than decent. Resolution, color reproduction and viewing angles — quite on the level, margin of brightness is not a record, but quite normal, testing of pressings are also very clear (I suspect that there is still the matter of the rewritten firmware).

Firmware

The joy of googleanalytics, iBasso decided to do this one without Android (and no wireless interfaces at the same time), it uses their own life, many years well-known fans of the brand under the name of Mango OS. The usual add-on Linux has been seriously upgraded, which improved performance and responsiveness, as well as to optimize the I/o that is supposed to affect the sound. On first impressions, all this company most likely failed than not.

The main screen of the player causes a good feeling of nostalgia to all fans of the brand: top cover, below the playback controls and the band rewind. Traditionally, under the cover there are buttons, one is responsible for the playback order, the second line displays the quick access menu to the main settings (gapeless, Gein, digital filter, sound mode, and USB mode). Tap on the cover shows three buttons: view information about the track, add to playlist and delete.

Swipe from left to right opens the media library. The menu will hardly be a surprise: all the files in a row, browsing by folders, artists, genres and playlists. Everything is traditional and familiar. With CUE files player friends is limited so I would advise you to immediately cut the tracks into separate files.

Swipe right to left on the Central screen opens the settings menu. There are the following options: gain, viewing track information mode, USB (DAC to access memory cards or charge only), digital filter (5 pieces), the sound mode and additional settings. What exactly is hidden under the “sound mode” I don’t know, but I suspect it’s some settings in PLL that developers used to improve the results of the processing of “the numbers”. These settings are hidden under code names like “Neutral”, “Natural” and “Organic”, forcing the user to make choices, but in fact, the difference between them is somewhere at the level of the placebo effect, so what to bother I do not see sense.

Additional settings include language selection (Russian available), screen brightness, Wallpaper, manage timers backlight, sleep, and off idle, system info, reset to factory settings and re-scan the media library.

Overall, the firmware has proved to be stable and smooth, however, I don’t really use complex scenarios.

By the way, I can’t not mention the animation of the volume, I like it very much and I’ve learned to restrain myself and not to turn the volume all the time.

Sound

To listen to the device used the following headphones: iBasso IT04, 99 Meze Classics, Audio Zenith PMx2, Noble Kaiser Encore, Campfire Andromeda Audio, Unique Melody Mason V3, HUM Pristine and others.

The sound of iBasso remained true to himself and made a player with a neutral sound that has not embellished the natural flow with excellent control of the entire range. This time they were able to avoid and issues specific to DX80 and issued a player quite so lifeless.

The bass here is not tinted, it is devoid of any accents and “supplements”, so a listener to the player will receive it exactly as much as is the track, nothing more. Based on this, the fans pumping stodday unlikely “to court”. On the other hand, the bass here is no less, “added” record, so with normal headphones and high-quality material the player will appreciate the control, resolution, depth and detailed textures. Attack practiced almost flawless, fade — a little drier than it should be, but it is suitable to the manner of filing device. Power makes itself felt, and the player will not succumb even with full-size models broke strictly the amount of bass that should be.

Midrange is also neutral, not afraid of the word — monitor, with a small bias in the micro-contrast. Fortunately, then developers were able to avoid breathing the icy death that was typical of the sound DX80, and the player perfectly conveys the emotions of what is in the track. From himself, however, he does not add, so here the rule is simple: what in the track, and on the way out. If feeding something poorly recorded or mixed, the result is predictably sad. Qualitative composition will delight the emotions, the minute details of instruments and impressive (more than the average for both directions) of the stage with a great three-dimensional effect.

The upper frequencies are served in slightly accented manner through easy supplements aggressiveness in this range. Subjectively, to my ears it sounds quite nice, emphasizing the strengths of the player: solution and refinement of the attacks. If you are sensitive to treble, perhaps the player is worth before buying to listen to on their headphones. Vernacularly range is characterized by reliability, normal length, and even presence of the embryonic “webbing”.

But the comparison, perhaps, to paint I will not be in the power of meaninglessness, the player has its unlike any other model in nature, and to clarify the question “how iBasso DX120 sounds compared to XXX?” simply compare the two surveys.

Compatibility

The gadget is very powerful, so it is without any problems to cope even with a very demanding workload, including the tight of plenary. With particularly sensitive IEM there is light background noise, but it is perfectly corrected any attenuator.

Genre player universal, the main thing that a potential buyer loved precisely monitor flow. Sensitivity to the quality of entries is very high, on a notional scale of “picky” I would rate it 8 out of 10.

According to tradition, a few tracks as examples

Dynoro — In My Mind To warm — some interesting electronic music, which DX120 shows himself just fine: volume audio effects, powerful bass punch, the details of children’s voices — all of it just dissolves in the atmosphere of the composition.

Iron Maiden — The Wicker Man (Live ’01) I don’t often listen to live, but in this case it is necessary to make an exception for 120-mu perfectly manages to convey the atmosphere of a huge, people-filled stadium in Rio de Janeiro and Bruce, great all this crowd control.

Riverside — Left Out Well to contrast with the previous track — a bit of brilliant progressive. The hero of this review an excellent job of conveying the fragile atmosphere of the track, leading the listener for themselves whether to light, or in darkness.

Insights

Two (or so) years in the development were not in vain. iBasso DX120 was not only reasonably worthwhile and impressive-looking player. The company’s engineers were able to pack into a relatively compact body, good sound, long work time and plenty of power.

Buy iBasso DX120

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