iBasso DX220

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.

Manufacturer website: iBasso.  Could be purchased directly from manufacturer or Amazon.


Intro.

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!

ibasso_dx220-35

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.

Page 2 – Design and Under the hood.

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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