iBasso DX220

Design.

Starting with exterior dimensions, DX220 is 126mm x 70.5mm x 18.7mm, very close to DX200 128.5mm x 69mm x 19.5mm, plus both weight the same 240g.  Up close you can’t miss the new big 5” 1080p Sharp full screen display with 1080×1920 resolution, while the original DX200 has 4.2” display with 768×1280 resolution.  The new display is not just bigger and sharper, but the colors are richer and deeper.  Its 2.5D Corning glass panel covers the whole front of the DAP, all you see is a thin bezel of beveled chassis edges.

Since DX220 has a modular design like DX200 and amp cards are backward/forward compatible, the module is still at the bottom behind the glass with edges seamlessly integrated with main chassis.  A screw on each side secures the amp module.  The rest of the ports and controls around the DAP are similar to DX200.  On the left you will find a spring loaded micro-SD card opening, on the top there is SPDIF port shared between COAX and Optical outputs.  Next to SPDIF port, you will find USB-C charge/data port, and Power button (for screen on/off with a short press and power on/off with a long press) is in the upper right corner, flush with chassis.

On the right side you no longer will see a guard bar over the volume wheel.  Design is cleaner now with a solid one piece chassis and nothing else attached in the upper right corner.  Volume wheel doesn’t stick out too far, has a diamond cut along the side for easy one-finger rolling, and has a precise tactile response with a soft click feedback.  Below it, you have playback control buttons, all metal, the same size, flush with a chassis, with Play/Pause in the middle and Skip on the sides.  It looks and feels nice in your hand, but I still prefer and recommend keeping DX220 in a leather case to enhance the grip.

Under the hood.

In this section I usually cover inner guts of the new design, but in case of DX220 not too much has changed, at least not when it comes to the main components.  According to iBasso, they looked at all the available DACs, and still decided to use dual ES9028Pro configuration, the same as in DX200.  Based on my discussions with iBasso, they put audio quality as their #1 priority, above any “next gen” marketing buzz.  The selection of those desktop grade DACs for DX200 was a way for iBasso to futureproof their design, and they did it, even carrying it over into the next gen DX220 flagship.

To my surprise hardware was updated with 4GB of DDR3 RAM, but the CPU remained the same, Octa-Core ARM Cortex-A53 as the one used in DX200.  So, what does this mean?  I can only judge by running new Mango v2 app and other apps I loaded on DX220, and I do feel apps running smoother, but overall Android experience is the same, and I even confirmed that by running a few benchmark tests.  Do I need a faster Android OS on DX220?  I already have a smartphone and half of the time use DX220 in Mango OS anyway, so it’s definitely not a show stopper for me.  But, I would have loved to see it with either Qualcomm Snapdragon or Samsung Exynos processors because with its gorgeous 5” display and 4GB of RAM I would have probably used DX220 for more entertainment tasks than just music.

Internal storage remained the same as DX200, only 64GB which I would have loved to see doubled, but it’s not a show stopper either with microSD cards going up in capacity, plus DX220 being able to stream.  Battery remained the same, 4400mAh, but now you have a Fast Charging capability supporting all popular protocols, such as QC3.0, PD2.0, and MTK PE Plus.  That is a big plus and a welcome change.  In my DX220 battery testing, I was able to get a solid 8hrs of playback time in low gain from 2.5mm balanced output playing mix of mp3/FLAC files.

If you want to, DX220 can also be used as high end USB DAC, a.k.a. external “soundcard”, supporting PCM up to 32bit/384kHz and native DSD up to 512, the same as in a standalone DAP operation.  Also, some miscellaneous components were updated, using Panasonic polymer capacitors and custom inductors, as well as high accuracy femtosecond precision oscillators.

Bluetooth has been upgraded to 5.0 and supports LDAC and aptX.  BT operates in 2-way mode where you can either pair up with external Bluetooth devices or use DX220 paired up with your smartphone as Bluetooth wireless DAC/amp.  And speaking of Bluetooth, the antenna now is outside the chassis in isolation cavity to cut down on interference with internal circuit.  Dual band (2.4GHz/5GHz) WiFi is supported as well.

As already mentioned, this is still a modular design, and amp modules are forward and backward compatible.   This means you can share the same amp modules between DX150, DX200/Ti, and DX220, and have access to all the previously released and upcoming modules, like a promised AMP9 with Korg NuTube.  DX220 comes with a new stock AMP1ii (2nd gen AMP1) amp with an impressive spec of 2.5mm: 6.2Vrms, SNR 125dB, 3.5mm: 3.1Vrms, SNR 123dB, and LO: 3Vrms.

Last, but not least, though I’m not an expert on MQA subject and don’t have any MQA encoded songs in my collection, according to iBasso, DX220 will support hardware decoding of MQA.  Furthermore, I have seen a few people to comment about it on Head-fi with a positive feedback.

ibasso_dx220-20

Page 3 – New Mango v2 interface, Mango OS, Graphic and Parametric EQs.

Page 4 – Sound Analysis and Pair up.

Page 5 – Comparison, Wired/wireless connection, and Conclusion.

28 thoughts on “iBasso DX220

  1. Great review! I am loving my DX220. It is a large step up from my n5ii. Quick question: when using the line out, I am must to having the output fixed, and was surprised to see the volume control come into play. What gain and volume should it be set at for best performance?

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    1. It will all depend on the amp you have connected to LO. You don’t want it to clip. So, maybe keep the gain of the amp somewhere in the middle and raise the volume of dx220. If you reach the volume over 75-80%, then boost the gain of the amp.

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  2. Nice review! Regarding my earphones (Andromeda & Xelento), do you think dx220 is a solid upgrade (sound wise) over my current dap Hiby R6.

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    1. Definitely. R6Pro, still have to review it, is great as well and I like mseb dsp effects, plus it’s super fast, faster android performance than dx220. But dx220 stepped it up to a higher sound performance.

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  3. Nice review as always. Still undecided, whether to upgrade my R6 to R6pro or DX220 or now N6ii.. i read r6pro had hiss problem on some iem.. my earphones now tia trio, mh334 (problem pairing with R6) and moondrop A8..

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  4. A long awaited and greatly appreciated review.
    Many thanks and congrats on being able to wait out 150 hours of break-in before being able to sample this new piece of kit 🙂

    From memory h0w would you consider the sound signature and power of the DX220 to the Cayin N8?

    Did you find battery life to be on par with the DX200?

    I also have some off topic questions regarding audio equipment. Is there a general discussion board I can use or should I post them here?

    Very nice review

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  5. Great review. I wonder; when burning in a dap, should one also activate the EQ circuits to burn them in too? Or does it ‘not work like that’… I’ve never been a EQ guy, but i’m wondering if the circuitry just needs to be burned in.

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  6. Hi again, Twister. Can you sum up the difference between the dx220 and the A&K SE-100’s sound signatures? Is one ‘better’ than the other?

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  7. Hello, Alex!
    Very interestingly as dx220 in comparison with cayin n6 mk2? Loses on a sound, or devices of one level, just different giving? So to speak matter of taste:)

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    1. I already compared dx220 to many other daps in my review, on the last page. I didn’t have M11 until now, and M11 has a great design, build, functionality, but its sound is just mid-fi, not on the same level as other flagships like dx220 or N6ii or even fiio older flagship X7ii. For many consumers M11 will be great, but if you are a picky audiophile, you will find M11 to sound flatter, not as layered, and with more hissing when using sensitive iems. Just my opinion.

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    1. if you are streaming with constant display on, or high gain, or play hi-res files or switched from 720p to 1080p resolution, all will add up to extra battery consumption. Under normal circumstances of playing a mix of mp3/flac, with period display on, at 720p resolution, I get 8hrs of payback with IEMs in low gain in 2.5mm balanced. But the battery life will go down when you push it with other stuff I mentioned above.

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  8. Could you, please, help me with my problem. Thinking about buying a new DAC (currently, I have dx80, quite satisfied but want more at this point). Choosing between A&K sp1000 and dx220. I understand that sp1000 should be better than dx220, but on what scale? Because sp1000 is older and also cost much more (in my region though difference is not so huge, 600USD). Is the difference in sound worth the price? I’ll listen sp1000 by myself but will not be able to get hands-on dx220 unfortunately… Can only order it via Amazon. I’ll also look for new IEMs and listen to some of them, but I think I’ll choose solaris se

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      1. My budget…good question) in the beginning I thought to buy smth like dx220+dunu4001. But then I saw huge sale at the nearest shop on solaris se and sp1000. This is more than I wanted to spend but…I can afford them, more or less (it would cost 2800 usd for me). And no, I don’t care about streaming and bluetooth at all. I am open-minded to other suggestions though, both about daps and iem-s

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      2. well, since you are coming of DX80, many daps will be an upgrade in sound and performance (better resolution, more resolving, better separation of instruments, etc.). Also, it sounds like you are not a very picky audiophile. SPK is great dap, but big and bulky to carry around like your dx80. DX220 is great, but you can save money and go with DX160. Solaris is great, but are you sure you wll be happy with a fit? Some people find it too big. SE version is brighter, btw. I personally prefer original over since it sounds more natural. If you want more natural sound maybe RAI Penta is a good choice, I’m not familiar with 4001, though I thought people were saying 4001 and 3001 were bright, while 3001 Pro was more natural in tonality. Heck you can get DX160 and ibaso IT04 for under $900 and it’s a great combo. There are dozens of DAPs and hundreds of IEMs. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get something good. 3-4 year ago it was a different story. With iems, you need to figure out what sound you are looking for, and also read what people say about the fit. Dunu Luna is comfortable, I tried that one, but heard many older models were very uncomfortable to wear. Also, be aware, way too many amateur reviewers today, people without experience who use big words and promoting junk in exchange for free samples.

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  9. With iems – yeah, I am not so concerned about choosing them, as I will be able to listen to many of them and choose. Not ibasso unfortunately. My shop doesn’t have any ibasso or dunu products for some reason.
    I will consider ibasso dx160+it04 as you suggested. But since I cannot listen to them, could you tell me, is there like a significant difference in sound quality between them and sp1k+solaris se, for example? or it is more like “I have a lot of money to spend, so I will pay 3x times more for 10% better sound”. Because even if they are much better than mine dx80+d2000j, maybe difference with dx160+it04 is not so significant.
    And yeah, I am not such a person who believes that software (mango os on linux vs android os on A&K) or usb or power cables in your audio system affect sound. But I want to buy something I will be happy with for 5+ years. Because I have dx80+2000j for 4 or 5 years, and I have started to think that I want more.

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      1. i see. yes, geographic location plays a big role when you’re down under and won’t be able to return it back if you don’t like it. Tbh, in your situation stick to something you can test. Are there some stores in your area with audio gear on display? PAW6k is great, solid DAP and very compact. The thing, price no longer means everything. PAW6k not going to sound 3x better than Dx160, just like SPK will not sound 9x better than DX160. DX220 gives you flexibility of different amp modules, and ibasso usually focuses more on sound quality, not necessary the fastest processor…. So, my advice, don’t go for the most expensive thinking it will be the best. Figure out your priorities in terms of what features you do or don’t need. And maybe try to buy something which you can return if you don’t like it (i just google “audio store in australia” and see a few choices). Cayin makes nice daps, like N6ii w/A01 stock card. Hiby R6 Pro is nice, and even R5 is good. iBasso kicked arse with DX160 release, though bluetooth performance wasn’t as strong. Read different reviews, some more ideas. Good luck!

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  10. Actually, I have only one shop to go, but they are on quarantine right now) They have sp1k (and some others), but not ibasso. There are people on forums, who say that they sold their sp1k or even sp2k, and that dx220 is better. And I know that A&K is quite overpriced, while ibasso is not so hungry for money with some good sound. But still those people could not convince me as they were saying things, like Mango is much better in terms of sound quality than android. And in the context of a price difference for me is actually only 600USD (1400AUD of dx220 and 2200AUD for sp1k), which one would you choose? That’s why I am asking if you can give some advice about their comparison. If like sp1k is better for 20%, not several times, it will be enough for me. But if dx220 is more or less equal or even better…

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