iBasso DX160

Design.

Coming off DX150/200/220, DX160 is a lot slimmer and more comfortable in your hand, especially when you are comparing all these DAPs in their corresponding stock cases.  But you also have to keep in mind, those are modular designs which add extra bulk.  DX160 is not as small and slick as DX120, but bigger size is expected due to a full Android DAP with 5” display.  Despite its 5” hi-res (1080×1920, selected in Setting as 1080p or 720p) Sharp screen, iBasso designed DX160 alloy-aluminum chassis to fit display edge to edge, without any wasted space.  The overall size of DX160 is 113mm x 69mm x 15mm.  The weight of 178g feels light in my hand as well.  Once power is on, the display with its rich colors and high resolution is definitely an eye candy.

ibasso_dx160-46

Top of the DAP has USB-C port in the middle for USB charging, data transfer, and USB DAC connection.  Next to it is a power button, with the usual long press for power on/off, and short press for display on/off.  Left side of the DAP has spring loaded microSD card slot, supporting up to a usual 2TB flash cards.  At the bottom you have 4.4mm Balanced headphone port, and next to it a multi-function 3.5mm port selectable as headphone, line out, or SPDIF.  On the right side you have a new golden slick low profile volume wheel, and hardware playback control buttons with skip and play/pause.  The back of DX160 has a curved glass panel.

While DX160 has a simple slick design, it still has a distinct personality with golden external accent disks around headphone ports, golden slim volume wheel with slightly raised top/bottom guards around it, slick glass back, and a gorgeous bezel-less display (16.7 million colors, 445PPI retina fine display).

Under the hood.

Inside, iBasso decided to take a break from the usual AKM and ESS DACs, using a dual CS43198 DAC.  But after this break, went back to their good-old Rockchip Octa Core processor.  I confirmed AnTuTu 3D benchmark score to be on par with DX220, no surprises here, even so DX160 has 2GB of RAM.  I know, the performance score is not as high as what I have seen with other Snapdragon and Exynos DAPs, but iBasso already has a sw platform built around this processor, and they decided to focus more on analog design and audio performance of the DAP, instead of starting from scratch with a new processor.

Based on my experience with DX160, using its Mango v2 audio app, or streaming using Qobuz and Spotify, or just a general navigation around the system, I didn’t find any lag or other issues.  Is it as fast as my Galaxy S9 phone?  Definitely not.  Is it faster than other Snapdragon based DAPs?  Not really.  But when advantage in performance is measured in milliseconds, for me personally it’s not a big deal.  Perhaps it will become more apparent if playing video games or running more CPU and GPU intense apps.  But for audio playback and streaming popular apps, it was fast enough.

As already mentioned, DX160 has Balanced and Single Ended ports.  4.4mm BAL has a low 0.4 ohms impedance and 6.4Vrms output.  The single ended 3.5mm port is also low impedance, 0.3 ohms, with 3.2Vrms output.  3.5mm port is multi-functional and could be selected between 3.5mm Headphone Out, 3.5mm Line Out, and SPDIF digital out using the same cables as provided with DX150/200/220 (the cable wasn’t included with DX160).

Internal storage is 32GB, and you can expand it further with micro SD card.  WiFi supports a dual band, covering both 2.4GHz and 5GHz.  Bluetooth is based on BT5.0, including support of LDAC, aptX and other codecs.  I will talk more in my review about BT performance which I found to be a little underpowered (in terms of a distance).

USB port supports Type-C (for charging and data transfer), and also supports popular quick charge standards, such as QC3.0 and PD2.0.  Internal battery is 3200mAH li-po battery, and I confirmed getting about 9.5hrs of playback time on DX160 (4.4mm BAL, low gain, FLAC in a loop with a display off).  Going to single ended and with mp3 playback should extend this playback time, while going in the opposite direction with a playback of power demanding DSD files will shorten that playback time, as expected.

ibasso_dx160-00

Based on its DAC, DX160 supports variety of lossy and lossless audio formats, such as APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, OGG, MP3, DFF, DSF, DXD, CUE, ISO, M3U, M3U8.  I tested up to DSD256, all without a problem.  But one very important format support here is MQA.  Since you can install and run Tidal app, it automatically gives you partial software unfolding (decoding), but the device has to be certified for a full hw decoding.  I was able to confirm that DX160 supports full MQA unfolding to the original file format while playing MQA FLAC files, noticing the correctly interpreted bit depth, sampling frequency, and sampling rate.

ibasso_dx160-29

Lately I have been using DX160 a lot for Qobuz streaming.  I had no issues with that so far, tried it on WiFi at home and at work, always a strong connection, never drop outs, and fast access without any stuttering or buffering.  Also, I’m able to download content for off-line listening and access it later without a need for WiFi.  And of course, the artwork of tracks is a treat to view on DX160 display.  32GB of internal storage is not that much, but with access to expand it with 1TB micro SD and all the streaming sources, there is no complaints here.

Page 3 – GUI, and EQ/PEQ.
Page 4 – Sound Analysis, and Digital filters.
Page 5 – Pair up with IEMs and Headphones.
Page 6 – Comparison with different DAPs.
Page 7 – Wired/Wireless Connections, and Conclusion.

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “iBasso DX160

    1. imho, it will not get better. In case of DX150, the DAC is behind its technical performance which is just OK. AMP7 can color the sound a little, maybe improve some dynamics, but technically DX150 with any amp (even amp8) will still be inferior to DX160.

      Like

  1. Hey, I am about to buy a new DAP and stuck between DX160 and M11. To give you some context, I still use the original Fiio X5 (Gen 1) and still love its sound signature. Which one would you recommend? DX160 or M11?

    Like

  2. Thanks for your review. I also read your DX120 review and found that you quite enjoyed that too, and now I am looking for a comparison between these two DAPs. What do you think of them in term of sound quality?

    Like

    1. I need to charge up the battery again of dx120 to compare, but in general with dx160 out, I wouldn’t consider 120 unless you want something even smaller and lighter and need two micro SD cards. 120 was noisier with sensitive iems, and just not the same level of resolution, layering, and soundstage expansion. 160 sound quality is aiming closer to 220 with its default amp1mk2. But keep in mind, 160 Bluetooth performance is not that good if you are relying on it.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s