Pair up with other DAPs.
While most of my previous testing was done with DC01 paired up with Galaxy S9 smartphone where it definitely improves the sound, I was also curious to find out if I can do the same with my other DAPs, specifically non-Android ones. To my surprise, it actually paired up with a few DAPs without a problem. In this testing, I was comparing iBasso IT01s connected directly to the DAP vs connected to DC01 attached to the same DAP.
Hiby R3 (2.5mm bal) vs R3+DC01 – DC01 expands the soundstage, makes it wider and deeper, more holographic, tonality is also improved, making it a little more transparent and more neutral, improves dynamics of the sound as well.
Cayin N3 (3.5mm SE) vs N3+DC01 – adds balanced output to N3, and actually has a very noticeable improvement, going from warmer, smoother sound to a more transparent, more layered, more detailed, with better dynamics and more holographic soundstage.
Shanling M5s (2.5mm bal) vs M5s+DC01 – DC01 expands the soundstage, makes it wider, and changes the tonality to make it more transparent, more neutral, in comparison to a warmer thicker original tonality of M5s. Btw, in case if anybody is wondering, I wasn’t able to connect DC01 to M0.
As I mentioned in the intro of my review, DC01 caught me by surprise because I didn’t know what to expect, or the reason why iBasso would even bother to release this USB DAC dongle. Yet, I ended up bringing this little guy with me to work almost daily for the last few weeks because I found it to be very convenient as well as being able to improve the sound quality of my smartphone, especially soundstage expansion and sound dynamics.
The convenience comes from DC01 becoming a relatively small extension to my IEM cables. The sound improvement comes from a high-res AK4493EQ DAC and a true balanced output design. Plus, with 2.5mm headphone jack, I don’t have to bring extra 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapters and can use my balanced 2.5mm cables connected directly. And I get the same benefits using DC01 with my laptop. For $49 this is no-brainer.