The sound of a DAP is based on pair up synergy with different headphones. Afterall, you are hearing the sound of headphones connected to the Source. In this section of my review I will go over how various headphones pair up with DX160, in low gain, filter 1. I noted volume “V” in every pair up. Most were wired balanced, unless stated otherwise.
64 Audio U18t (V25) – wide soundstage expansion; balanced sound signature, unlike in some other pair ups where it’s more mid-forward; natural revealing tonality with an excellent retrieval of details; textured sub bass rumble with an average speed mid-bass punch, natural revealing layered mids/vocals, well controlled crisp treble. Not a hint of hissing, not even a waterfall.
Fir Audio M5 (V24) – wide soundstage with a little more out of your head depth; balanced sound signature with a more neutral revealing tonality of mids/vocals; sub-bass rumble that extends pretty deep and an average speed mid-bass punch (not too fast or too slow), clear detailed mids with a slightly more forward presentation and natural revealing tonality, natural sparkly well controlled treble with a moderate extension. Not a hint of hissing here, dead quiet.
Empire Ears Legend X (V32) – wide soundstage expansion; L-shaped sound signature but more controlled bass impact; natural smoother organic tonality; the bass is a little bouncy, has more body, more mid-bass than sub-bass emphasis which makes it less fatigue, mids being detailed organic, and the treble being more natural with a moderate amount of sparkle. It’s still L-shaped sound sig to please bassheads, and the bass is certainly noticeable, but it doesn’t feel as weighted or rumbling like in some other pair ups, thus my reference to bass being “bouncy”.
iBasso IT04 (V24) – very wide/deep soundstage; balanced sound signature with a neutral revealing tonality; bass comes alive in this pair up with a more noticeable rumble and faster mid-bass punch, mids/vocals sound detailed, revealing, but in a more natural realistic way, treble has a good sparkle, extension, and well controlled and natural. Pitch black background without any hissing.
Campfire Audio Andromeda (V10) – very wide soundstage spread; balanced sound signature; more natural revealing tonality; I hear a good balance between a textured sub-bass rumble extension and a slower more laidback mid-bass punch with an average attack/decay, smooth natural detailed mids, not as revealing or micro-detailed but with a natural retrieval of details, crisp and airy non-fatigue well controlled treble. Very faint waterfall hissing, so faint that I had to unplug headphones to double check it.
Campfire Audio Solaris (V9) – wide soundstage expansion with more depth, pushing the sound a little more out of your head, making it a little more holographic; balanced sound signature with a noticeable emphasis on lows, mids, and treble; a little brighter more revealing tonality; deep textured sub-bass rumble with a faster mid-bass punch, bass sounds very analog, mids are more revealing, layered, micro-detailed, and still natural in tonality without sounding harsh, treble is more crisp, airy, extended, well controlled (non-fatigue). Some waterfall hissing, a bit more than Andro, but not by a lot.
Noble K10UA (V33) – very wide/deep soundstage; balanced sound signature with a more revealing tonality; bass has a decent sub-bass rumble extension with a fast punchy well controlled mid-bass, mids are leaner brighter layered and with retrieval of details on micro-detail level, treble is crisp and airy, on the edge of being a bit fatigue, but still quite tolerable. Tested these with a stock 3.5mm cable.
Meze Empyrean (V40) – wide/deep soundstage expansion, approaching holographic level. Balanced sound sig with a more natural revealing brighter tonality. Bass is well textured with a nice sub-bass rumble and fast mid bass punch. Lower mids are neutral while upper mids are more revealing, layered, micro-detailed; treble is crisp, airy, with a nice sparkle, and still non-fatigue. It was a good pair up, but to my surprise was a little more on a revealing side.
Beyerdynamic T5p 2nd (V39) – soundstage width is above average, with more out of your head depth in this pair up. The sound sig is balanced with a little more emphasis on mids where I hear vocals having a little more forward presentation. Bass has a nice sub-bass rumble and mid-bass actually has a faster punch, but to my ears bass is pushed a bit into the background, giving vocals more room to shine. Vocals are more revealing, layered, non-fatigue. Treble is crisp with a nice well controlled sparkle. But I wasn’t too crazy about this pair up, due to a narrow soundstage width and a little offset in a balanced between lows and mids.
iBasso SR1 (V38) – soundstage has just OK width and I hear more out of your head depth here. The signature is balanced with a smooth natural detailed tonality. Bass has a nice laidback presentation with a good sub-bass extension, going down to a deep rumble without being too exaggerated, and an average speed mid-bass punch. Mids sounds very organic, with a good retrieval of details and lots of clarity, treble has plenty of crisp details and airiness without being fatigue. DX160 was driving these without a problem. SR1 were used with perforated pads.