Sexy leather for your DX200.
Manufacturer website: VALENTINUM Leather Goods Shop.
Product page: DX200 leather case.
Premium cables aside, I stopped reviewing separate audio gear accessories because today many manufacturers already offer a very attractive selection of goodies that come standard with their products. For example, a few years ago, you would be lucky to get a silicone skin case with your DAP, while today many include a pleather case, either stock or as an add-on accessory. These cases usually offer a nice fit and acceptable material quality, though typically no front cover of the display. There are also a few manufacturers that either make their own premium leather cases or partner up with other case manufacturers.
For me personally, I look for a case to enhance the grip, especially since DAPs are getting bigger and heavier, and to protect the device from scratches and minor drops. The case is especially important when a DAP becomes one of my daily drivers. With iBasso DX200, though I was OK with its bundled basic pleather case, I felt there was some room for improvement. And usually when this thought crosses my mind, the first thing I do is to look for Dignis case, but found none for DX200. Further search brought me to some Head-fi posts and FB links talking about VALENTINUM cases.
Valentin, the store owner and the designer, is from Eastern Europe and has been in business since 1992, making custom leather and fur goods. Recently, in 2016, he joined Etsy community to make his products available internationally. His Etsy shop, under VALNETINUM name, focuses on various custom made leather DAP and IEM cases. Plus, all his cases could be customized per request, including different leather material, color, and modifying parts of the design. Prior to receiving this review sample, I didn’t have any specific requirements for DX200 case, so it arrived as a surprise, and now I would like to share about it in this brief review.
The first thing that stands out about this case is the touch of the material. I knew that all VALENTINUM cases are made from genuine leather, but it felt different when I took it out of the envelope it arrived in. It had this silky-smooth fine texture that felt like satin to the touch, and also a faint smell of suede leather. As Valentin later explained to me, this is a smooth calf leather with a special laser treatment. It felt and looked premium and was very pleasant to the touch with the same material on the inside and the outside so it doesn’t scratch the DAP inside of the case.
DX200 was very easy to get in and out of the case since you have a fully open top and 2/3 of the right side open as well. Once inside, at the top you will find an attached elastic band that secures the top and the upper right corner, and a magnetic leather flap (with VALENTINUM branding tag) that goes over the top for an extra security. I like the use of small hidden magnets which makes case assembly look clean, something I wasn’t too crazy about with DX200 stock case and the snap button in the upper right corner.
The left side of the case is fully closed, similar to a stock case, with microSD card covered and protected from dust and accidental removal. The bottom of the case has a generous opening for headphone outputs and line out. The case I received came with an optional right side soft leather flap that covers HW transport control buttons, but you can request to have a design without it. The soft leather allows easy feeling and pressing of the buttons, but you can’t see them. After a while of using it, the buttons actually made an imprint in leather, but I had to feel them first to figure out Play/Pause in the middle and then Skip buttons around it. For me personally, I would prefer the case without covering these buttons – it’s an optional feature and you have to let Valentin know about it when placing your order.
When you flip the case over, you will find a nice surprise with a clever cutout around the volume wheel. Many are probably familiar with a stock DX200 case and the volume wheel being slightly covered. It’s not the end of the world, but often I need to use two fingers to get a better grip in order to turn the volume up/down. Here, the case also has a volume wheel slightly covered on the front but fully exposed on the back. This makes volume wheel turning a lot easier with two fingers, and also makes is easy to turn it with only one finger on the back. That was actually a big plus for me. Since I have loosened up a bit screws holding the volume wheel guard-bar, now I can turn the volume a lot easier, and with this cutout in the back of the case – it’s not just easy, but also convenient.
Last but not least, is the front display flap cover. It’s very rare to see front covers in DAP cases, recently showing up with Sony latest Walkman DAP. I’m sure this cover is optional as well and can be removed upon request, but I think it’s actually a very cool design feature. If you keep your DX200 constantly out and using touch screen a lot, it could get a bit annoying dealing with a cover. But if you prefer listening to music for an extended period of time and mostly use HW playback control buttons or prefer to keep your DAP in the pocket or in the bag – the front cover is a very good idea. I always worry about DX200 in my bag because the display could get scratched. And in a pocket, you have to make sure there is no keys or coins or a sand/dust rubbing against the display. Covering it up gives additional screen protection.
Overall, this case adds as much bulk to DX200 as the stock case, though it’s probably a little bit thicker. You do have a front cover, but the original DX200 case also has a thicker back panel. If you want to slim it down, you can definitely request a case design without a side hw control buttons cover (since the magnetic flap adds thickness to the back) and you can also ask to remove front cover.
VALENTINUM vs iBasso cases.
I’m sure many DX200 owners are happy with their stock case, but there are others who want to customize the look and the feel of their DAP, the same way how many customize their CIEMs or get a different cable. Either way, it’s all about the choices. You can keep what you have without spending extra money, or you can treat your audio gear to something more exotic. This VALENTINUM case definitely gives you a premium experience since it’s unique to the touch with its laser-treated calf leather, and it has an added functionality of the front display cover to protect your screen. You can also add an optional hw transport buttons cover, and if you want to – request a different leather material or ask for a custom color. It’s all about the choices, and now you have one more for your DX200 dap.