The next gen Refinement!
PROS: new large 5” display, new Mango v2 app, more RAM, improved sound performance, PEQ, BT 5.0, fast charging, new leather case.
CONS: more RAM with the same CPU/GPU (as in DX200) doesn’t improve Android performance.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
Regardless if it’s an entry or a flagship level DAP, every manufacturer has a different approach when it comes to new releases. Some will do a major cosmetic overhaul, change internal hardware, or start fresh with a new product series. Others will introduce a model with a different chassis material or headphone jack, though those are variations on top of the existing design, not intended to be a replacement. A price bump could be part of the changes as well. But with today’s flagship DAPs the price could vary by a few thousand dollars, thus it’s no longer a deciding factor when choosing the top performer.
Two years ago, when iBasso DX200 flagship was introduced, it had a big cosmetic overhaul using modular design and all new internal hardware. iBasso uses DX name across their DAP releases where the model number indicates its standing relative to other DAPs. For example, DX150 with a design similar to DX200 had a lower model number along with a scaled down performance. We also saw two variations of DX200, a very small batch of Gold Copper which I don’t believe was even for sale, and a limited production run of Titanium version. And who can forget all new amp modules, compatible with both DX150 and DX200 models.
No doubt, iBasso was due for a new flagship release, so nobody was shocked when DX220 was announced, but it did catch some by surprise when company revealed the spec. Personally, I had a suspicion it will not have a drastic design change because the model went from 200 to 220. But seeing all the effort they put into the enhancement of sound performance while experimenting with various components in their amps and Titanium DAP version, I had a feeling it would be the main focus of improvements in DX220 as well. Now, let’s find out what this latest flagship from iBasso brings to the table!
Unboxing and Accessories.
Before you get to the actual product, analyzing the packaging could give you some clues about it. Coincidentally, the design of the packaging box didn’t change from DX200, just got refined with new bolder colors. From a silver exterior half-sleeve to a burgundy soft-touch storage box with a cool diagonal split opening, it still has a premium feeling. The DAP itself is in an open tray on display when you take it out, surrounded by foam cushions inside the box. The exterior sleeve had a spec on the back, but it referred to a new amp module.
Inside you will find a number of accessories, including film screen protector with a few spares for the front and one set for the back panel and amp module. Good idea, considering the glass back of DX220 and its stock amp module. Tempered glass screen protector was included as well, but as iBasso pointed out after the release, it reduces the screen sensitivity thus not recommended.
A premium quality USB-C charging/data cable with a nicely braided nylon sheathing was another included accessory. You will also find their burn-in 2.5mm cable which serves as a load to let you burn-in the DAP quietly without a need for attached headphones. A short SPDIF cable was included too (3.5mm to RCA) which comes in handy when using the DAP as a transport. Both burn-in and SPDIF cables had updated look with a silver-color theme.
A detailed DX220 quick start guide, S/N card, HDTracks 20% coupon, and even a card with acknowledgement of DAP supporting the hardware MQA decoding was included as well, but my focus went straight to a new leather case. The case is an upgrade from DX200/200Ti design. You no longer have a snap-on button in the corner, and instead it has a clean slip-on design with an open top providing full access to SPDIF port, USB-C port, and power button. Left side fully covers the chassis, including micro-SD card. Bottom has a large opening for stock amp LO, 3.5mm, and 2.5mm ports, except I had an issue with some of my larger diameter 2.5mm headphone plugs and ended up shaving off a few mm to widen the case opening.
Right side now has hardware transport buttons fully covered with an imprinted shape that is very easy to feel by sliding your thumb. Volume wheel is open with an easy access to control it with your thumb on the front or the back. The back has a nice padding and imprinted iBasso logo. The color of the case is yellowish-mustard, perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but for me personally it stands out in a drawer with other dark leather case DAPs. I have no doubt MITER will have a case for DX220 sooner or later if you prefer a different color. Also, not sure if mine came from a first pre-production batch, but it was a bit loose which I fixed by putting a few pieces of paper on the back, to prevent it from sliding out.