iBasso DX220

GUI (Mango).

DX220 continues its DX200 tradition with a dual boot design where you have access to either full Android OS with its Mango audio app or stripped down Mango OS with a main interface being that audio app.  Each one has its own advantages depending on user requirements.  With access to full Android you have support of wifi and Bluetooth, can load other apps, stream audio, etc, though you have to be aware that stock DX220 doesn’t have Google Play.  Instead, it comes pre-loaded with APKPure and CoolApk apps where you can search and download most of the apps to install on your DAP.  Just keep in mind that updates won’t be installed automatically, and you can’t bypass apps that require Google play authorization.  The solution to this problem is very simple since you can always download and install Lurker’s free ROM (https://github.com/Lurker00) which brings Google Play to DX220, along with a few other goodies.

Mango OS is a strip down version of operating system built around Mango app interface where the focus is strictly on audio interface without a waste of OS resources on other tasks.  Switching between these two OS is very simple, when you boot up into Android and press’n’hold Power button you have a choice of Power off, Restart, or switch to Mango.  When you switch to Mango, DAP is rebooted and will continue to boot into Mango OS every time until you go to Settings->Advanced and select Android System.  Once Android System is selected, it will only boot into Android OS until you switch back to Mango OS.

If you look into Mango app (or Mango OS), you will quickly realize this is a new v2 version, and it doesn’t just have the updated look and functionality, but also a lot smoother and faster to navigate.  There are a few differences between Mango app and Mango OS interface, they are not identical, and I will cover it a little later.  But first, let me go over the updated interface layout and its changes relative to the original Mango v1 in DX200.

With a bigger display, now you also have a better view of the embedded song/album artwork, if one is available.  If not, a default image is displayed.  The biggest change here is that you no longer have to swipe left/right to get to the file/song management and settings.  The main playback screen has a more logical interface where you swipe the artwork display left/right to skip between the songs, and access song search and file management from a shortcut in the upper left corner and settings from a shortcut in the upper right corner.

Below the artwork, you have track info and a scroll bar to advance through the song where you can tap anywhere to skip.  To me it’s a BIG deal since previously you had to tap and drag the current song position to a new one.  Now, you can fast forward/back by simply tapping on a timeline like you would on your smartphone.  Below it, you have a shortcut on the left to provide a more detailed info about the song, and another shortcut on the right to switch between playback modes (play in order, repeat list, shuffle, repeat current song).  Play/Pause and Skip next/prev buttons are big enough and located at the bottom.  Also, all the way at the top in the middle you can swipe down to access the list of your current songs playback or songs located in your current playback directory.  From that list, you can swipe each song to the left which gives you an option to delete it.

In Music search and track management, you can search through your songs (where it’s indexed) or by browsing the internal storage directory.  Under indexed list, you can view All Music, or sort by Album, Artist, Genre, Now Playing, and Playlist.  Any song you long press will give you an option to Play, Add to playlist, or Delete.  You also have a setting (3 vertical bars all the way on the right) to specify exactly what you want to see in navigation bar or how you want music to be sorted and viewed.  The level of customization details here is quite impressive.  Plus, all the way at the bottom you have a small area to see the currently playing song and to control its playback with play/pause button.  Tapping on it takes you back to the main Playback screen.

In Settings Menu, you have access to Gapless (on/off), Gain (low, medium, high – 3 gain settings now!!!), Play mode (order, loop, shuffle, repeat, folder play), EQ (on/off, brings you to Graphic/Parametric EQ screen), L/R Balance, 7 Digital filters, and Advanced Setting.  In Advanced you can select USB DAC, Sleep Timer, Scanning (songs on a card or internal), and System info.

While I enjoyed the unique look of the original iBasso Mango interface and its navigation by-swiping to get to corresponding tiled pages, the new Mango v2 is a lot more “traditional” and consistent with other DAPs.  So, when switching between different DAPs, I no longer have to think if swiping the artwork will skip to the next track or will bring up a file sorting menu.

Mango app vs Mango OS.

I’m sure many will be curious how does Mango app (in Android mode) compares to stripped down Mango OS.  Here is a summary of some of the differences I found while testing under fw 1.09.092.  There could be more, but these stood out for me.

  • Mango OS start up is faster, while Mango app/Android takes a little longer (a few extra seconds).
  • Mango app (in Android) navigation is faster, while Mango OS has a slight lag.
  • Mango app (in Android) has EQ and PEQ, while Mango OS has only EQ.
  • In Mango app you can randomly tap on timeline to advance to any part of the song, in Mango OS you have to drag the pointer to a new position like in original DX200.
  • In Mango app “Now playing” directory/list is accessible when you pull down the main screen, while in Mango OS you have to tap upper left corner to get to music sorting where you view “Now playing” list.

There are also differences in sound between Mango app and Mango OS, and I will cover it in sound analysis section of the review.

EQ.

DX220 offers a traditional Graphic EQ (EQ) where frequency bands are fixed, and you only adjust the gain with a slider.  In Mango app (Android mode) you also get Parametric EQ (PEQ) where you have a lot more control over which frequency is being adjusted, bandwidth of the frequency being adjusted, the type of the filter used to adjust the frequency, and of course the gain of the adjustment.  Here are my observations while testing DX220 EQ and PEQ.

Graphic EQ (EQ)

  • When enabled, drops the volume to create extra headroom for band adjustment (to avoid clipping).
  • Relatively clean 10-band EQ adjustment (33, 63, 100, 330, 630, 1k, 3.3k, 6.3k, 10k, 16k frequency bands).
  • Whenever you adjust a band, you can see it being shown graphically above the EQ sliders; great visual feedback.
  • 5 genre specific presets are included where each one could be adjusted further and reset to its original state.

ibasso_dx220-32

Parametric EQ (PEQ)

  • Includes 6 custom preset settings.
  • When enabled, volume doesn’t drop.
  • While adjusting, I didn’t hear any distortion.
  • Each preset setting has 6 assignable filters/frequencies to shape the sound where each one is represented by a different color on the screen.
  • Filter types: low pass filter, high pass filter, band pass filter, notch filter, all pass filter, peaking filter, low shelf filter, high shelf filter – peaking filter will be probably the most useful.
  • Each filter has: Fc (center frequency, from 33 to 16k), Gain (-20 to 20 dB), Q factor (0.3 to 20) where smaller Q makes the bandwidth wider and bigger Q makes the bandwidth narrower.
  • Fc and Gain could also be adjusted on the touch screen by dragging the pointer left/right and up/down.
  • The sound is adjusted/updated in real time as you move the filter peak and frequency.

ibasso_dx220-33

Page 4 – Sound Analysis and Pair up.

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

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14 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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