A review of the iBasso player DX150 — when it is cheaper does not mean worse

Don’t know whether iBasso does not understand the essence of modern marketing, whether, on the contrary, know all too well, but after the release of their flagship DX200 edition model was only a matter of time. Amazing also was the fact that almost all aspects of the DX150 has turned out not worse.

In iBasso decided not to change almost anything that has brought success to the older model: big touch screen, good for speed chipset, 2 GB of RAM to provide acceptable performance. DACs changed a couple AK4490, the dumb changed the design and added support for QuickCharge. In the same way as the older model, the novelty allows to change the amplifier modules, and this is where lies the most interesting step for the company. DX150 out of the box is equipped with a new amplifier module AMP6, allowing him very effectively to compete with a bunch of DX200 + AMP1 with a very slight delay in sound. In addition, the product managers of the company quite nice, lowered the price, at the moment, “strategemata” costs about $ 500.

Specifications

  • OS: Android 6.0
  • CPU: RK3368 (8-core ARM Cortex-A53)
  • RAM: 2 GB LPDDR3
  • Flash memory: 32 GB
  • Memory card: MicroSD up to 2 TB
  • Screen: the 4.2″ touch screen, 768 × 1280
  • Wireless interfaces: Wi-Fi 802.11 n, Bluetooth 4.1
  • USB interface XMOS XU208
  • DAC: 2 × AK4490EQ
  • Maximum supported resolution: 384kHz/32 bits, DSD256
  • Battery: LiPo, 4400 mA/h
  • Operating time with one charge: ≥10.5 h
  • Full charge time: 2 hours with a QC 2.0
  • Dimensions: 129 mm × 69 mm × 20 mm
  • Weight: 245 g

Balanced output

  • Frequency range: 10 Hz – 40 kHz ±0.5 dB
  • Output voltage: 3.7 Vrms @ 32Ω
  • Power output: 425 mW @ 32Ω
  • Total harmonic distortion (at 32Ω load): -110 dB
  • Channel separation: 119 dB
  • Dynamic range: 118 dB
  • The ratio signal/noise: 118 dB

3.5 mm output

  • Frequency range: 10 Hz – 40 kHz ±0.5 dB
  • Output voltage: 2.4 Vrms @ 32Ω
  • Output power: 185 mW @ 32Ω
  • Total harmonic distortion (at 32Ω load): -108 dB
  • Channel separation: 115 dB
  • Dynamic range: 117 dB
  • The ratio signal-to-noise ratio: 117 dB

Line out

  • Frequency range: 10 Hz – 40 kHz ±0.5 dB
  • Output voltage: 2.4 Vrms
  • Total harmonic distortion (no load, 1.5 Vrms): -108 dB
  • Dynamic range: 118 dB
  • The ratio signal-to-noise ratio: 117 dB

Packing and delivery

Box has become simpler from the architectural frills packaging DX200 abandoned in favor of a conventional circuit “cardboard box + paper jacket” although the overall quality of printing and materials used remained at a very good level. Inside are:

  • the player itself
  • spare protective glass on the screen
  • USB-C cable,
  • adapter for coaxial output
  • load to “warm up” the player
  • case, this time it made suseptable material
  • manual and warranty card

As you can see, the package in iBasso to save clearly did not, especially as thanks to them for the bag and pasted straight from the factory shield.

Design and management

The new model is very similar in size and dimensions to its predecessor, but as it was, for example, the transition from the first to the second generation of FiiO X7, on the appearance a bit, making it more modern. The screen is now flush with the front panel removed a strange ribbed rear panel, side panel volume control and playback control buttons has become smaller, largely due to the fact that I have removed the bracket, passing over the DX200 volume control. Insert color changed from black to silver.

The Cabinet is made mainly from metal, it features a pleasant visitest and very decent build quality — no backlash, no squeaks and so on.

On the left side put the card slot on top are the power button and lock, the USB-C connector and S/PDIF output. Traditionally, the USB connector is for charging and to access the memory and to use the player in the role of the DAC. As for the latter, use a separate XMOS chip, this role DX150 well.

On the right side are three buttons control the playback, they are a little free to go, but at least it’s not rumble, and volume control. The latter is implemented using a quality encoder, so it clearly registers the click and the stress during the rotation are chosen so that to reduce the likelihood of accidental changes.

Below are the modules of gain, they determine what player will be the audio outputs, regular and ordinary AMP6 is equipped with a 3.5 mm output, and 2.5 mm balanced socket. To connect external power amplifier provides line output with a 3.5 mm connector. The amplifier continues to be changed by loosening the two side screws, nothing has changed.

Most of the front panel covers the screen, it is quite good and the brightness and resolution with colour reproduction. Of course, it’s not modern smartphones with their 4K displays, but how to player, screen DX150 is quite decent. Can be a bit of reproach imperfect oleophobic coating, but fingerprints are easily erased.

A nice bonus was the support QC2.0 full battery power from a compatible power supply now takes only 2 hours, enough charge usually 10 hours or more, depending on load. This is a great indicator that if you want you can improve with firmware from Lurker-and, she adds Google Play and a number of additional optimizations. Not very effectively implemented DX150 while in sleep mode, as it “sleeps” the device is quite restless and actively loses charge when idle, so in the case of prolonged inactivity of the player is better off.

Firmware

Only, perhaps, a change in the firmware regarding DX200 was the absence in Junior model mode, the Mango. Realizing his almost complete uselessness, Yes, if you were his fan, you should not break to write about it, statistically, the vast majority of users they still do not use. In iBasso went for a bold move and easy job, just throwing on dual booting. The rest of the firmware here — almost naked Android without Play Services support, but with the ability to install third-party software via APK. By the way, that it needs to be optimized in the case of the iBasso players, many popular software players have learned to work with their DACs directly, providing bit-perfect.

But, of course, iBasso could not be embedded in the firmware of your own player is also named them Mango Player. I’m not even going to describe its functionality, first, I already did in the review of the DX200, and secondly, the player is very simple, even though it stylish. There is a media library with viewing folders/genres/albums/artists, and playlists, the basic setup, options like creating playlists and adding to favorites — in General, what distinguishes the modern player. Everything is very optimized to control the fingers, the menu is large, and black-and-red range looks impressive. By the way, tip: to exit the player have to swipe up from the bottom of the screen, you will see standard buttons Android.

Overall the firmware is quite stable, although not perfect, as it always happens in the case of “open” version of Android. The company has already released two updates, adding a number of useful features, for example, a wireless DAC, and correcting a number of errors, including the lag when switching from PCM to DSD, rasstraivatsya some fans to evaluate a player on YouTube videos.

In iBasso has obviously realized the advantages of a single code base, so DX200 and DX150 receive updates with new features almost simultaneously, which gives grounds to count on continued support in the future.

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.

I think for anyone not to be surprising is the fact that the Junior model, the developers have kept the tendency to the neutral and technical supply, and due to the upgrade of the amplifier the difference between the DX200 and the DX150 was very small. Developers do not have to artificially “hold” the player by sound, to reduce the supported frequencies or remove support Native DSD, for what they honor and respect.

Bass is fast, just a little bit shifted towards the dry feed, but they have excellent density and perfectly controlled. Player well work out the texture of the bass and perfectly conveys the texture. NCH go to a decent depth (although not as deep as DX200), so the bass sounds realistic and natural.

Have DX150 midrange is very detailed and tend to monitor the flow, there is no attempt to add “myself” emotions or artificially inflate the stage, so the recording quality, the player is quite picky, although not as much as his older brother. The imaginary stage is considerably greater average depth and width, with the holographic nature and volume of the model, all very good. The instruments sound very natural and displayed the “right amount”, the same applies to the transfer nature of the vocals, the player is not trying to get all the dirt or break into a cold neutral sound. Lovers to experiment can try different variants of the digital filter, to my ears, just to build a volume effect most notably.

RF is good for attack and damping, although the bedding, they are a bit lacking, and in comparison with the older model we can also note a slightly poorer elaboration of the upper portions of this range. However, for the middle segment of the RF DX150 is quite good, they are natural and very detailed, so that fans of the clamped feed the “top” player can be skipped.

Of course, it is impossible to ignore the comparison. I can’t compare DX150 with all that now exists in the market, so I picked a few “reference model” and will build on them.

iBasso DX200. Owners of older models can be relaxed, the flagship remains the flagship, if you compare the players, “Stoke”, that is, those amps that come in the kit, you can say that 200 is a more technical player with better study of the edges of the frequency range. Also, the DX200 is better layering and separation plans for HF. If the DX200 to deliver AMP6, the difference becomes slightly more noticeable, although her character does not change. The main drawback of the older model is still the most picky to the quality of the material.

FiiO X7-2. If we talk about “level”, although it’s not like these players are close enough, so the favorite will be determined by the preferences of the listener. If we abstract from the specific characteristics of the filing, the technical level is similar. X7 less dry delivers bass that is a little too dark for the effect a high speed DX150, the same applies, probably mid, although added X7 “musicality” there is some recordings clearly benefit. Vernacularly range X7 second generation takes the more “noble” in the study of stratification.

FiiO X5-3. The case when the device “is completely different”, a little relaxed and continuous flow srednekamennogo player FiiO vs neutral monotonnosti DX150. Of course, resolution and other technical indicators iBasso is better, but there still will Balk in the taste preferences.

Cayin N5-II. Here, perhaps, we can say that the overall flow of the players are similar, although DX150 in full compliance with the price plays the same neutral monitormost better, making it with more technicality.

Of course, you can remember other players close price segment (Lotoo PAW5000 Mk2, OPUS#1S, Echobox Explorer, etc.) but they are like X5-3, differ in the flow, so to paint them in detail I don’t see the point.

Compatibility

Player powerful enough, especially with balanced output, so the problem with the buildup of most headphones will not (well, except for very tight models). The reverse side of the sensitive IEM-ing, with them there is a small noise, but it is very quiet, you can hear it only in silence. Furthermore, it is easy to clean the cavity using the same iFi IEMatch. Headphone selection can be carried out without much regard for the source, since the Junior model as a neutral, the sound of the chords will depend primarily headphones. From what I personally liked: IMR R1, Dunu Falcon-C, Audio Campfire Comet and Andromeda, from Panoramio — Cascade from the same company.

Stylistically DX150 completely and totally universal, if the owner agree on a neutral pitch. The quality of the recording sensitivity is smaller than the older model, on a 10-point scale of “picky” it is gaining about 8 points.

According to tradition — a few tracks as example

Machine Head — Aesthetics of Hate. Well, let’s start the collection with something fast and requires good skill, without any claim to naturalness. Excellent, very tight track from the Machine Head for this perfect, peppy percussion, bold guitars, aggressive vocals — DX150 do not constitute a problem.

Marcus Miller — Hylife. And again in my collection the American genius of the bass and other instruments, this time we use it for testing the naturalness of the sound and the naturalness of flow. However, the result is again obtained in favor of the hero of this review, it copes with all the instrumental parts and gives great volume.

Garou — I Put a Spell on You. I wanted to put the track of the late work of Deep Purple, even wrote the text, but suddenly treacherous Deezer gave me the next track, and Deep Purple were ruthlessly removed. Classic track, unreal played by the brilliant singer (friend almost all in one musical), and even played a good player… well, it is a joy to the ears and balm for the soul music.

Insights

Honestly, I don’t really know what else to add to what was said above in the review, to the conclusion looked meaningful and profound. So let’s just say it is very likely that we have the best player in the mid-segment in 2018.

Buy iBasso DX150

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