The Mighty MAX!
PROS: independent battery and charging system for analog and digital sections, desktop quality performance with high voltage output, solid build, large 5” display, 4GB RAM/128GB Storage, Parametric EQ with Mango v2 app, BT 5.0, fast charging, leather case.
CONS: higher price than original DX220, no hardware playback control buttons, 2 separate chargers.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
Manufacturer website: iBasso.
iBasso releases are always consistent but sometimes not as predictable. Three years ago, when DX200 was introduced, its new modular design was a step forward relative to their previous DAPs. Last year, DX220 release was focused more on sound refinement rather than drastic design changes. Fast forward to this year, and we have DX220 MAX. The first time I heard about this DX220 model with MAX suffix, a flashback of limited edition DX200 Ti crossed my mind since I thought iBasso was not due for a new flagship yet. But I was in for a BIG surprise, no pun intended.
Is this a limited edition? No, but it is a limited run of only 999 units. Is there an overlap with original DX220? Maybe some, considering the same CPU/GPU, DAC, and display. And that is where similarities end and you start to wonder why they didn’t just name it DX MAX? iBasso always puts sound performance ahead of other features. And they did take it to the MAX with an all new advanced design based on DX220 platform without a modular part. As a matter of fact, the changes were so drastic that “DX220” reference might even confuse some people.
So, let’s take a closer look at this new premium flagship DAP from iBasso, and find out what MAX brings to the DX-series family table! Keep in mind, it is a long read, but as usual, I partitioned everything into multiple sections to make navigation easier in case if you want to “fast forward”.
Unboxing and Accessories.
Bigger DAP needs a bigger packaging, and indeed, MAX arrived in a bigger all black carboard box with another giftbox inside of it, stamped with iBasso logo on top. Under the cover with a foam to protect the screen, MAX was sitting securely in a foam cutout of the top tray with a velour lining.
With that top tray out of the way, you will find a number of very useful accessories organized inside of velour drawstring bags. There was a short coax cable for digital SPDIF output, 2.5mm balanced burn-in cable along with iBasso own CA02 2.5mm to 4.4mm balanced adapter, 4.4mm balanced to 3.5mm SE one-way short LO cable, AC adapter (18V), quality usb-c cable, extra screen protectors, warranty card, and a quick start guide.
iBasso recommends at least 200hrs of burn in time, and using a burn-in load cable is a lot more convenient and quieter since you don’t need to use the actual headphones. Due to 4.4mm balanced Line Out only, the included custom cable “converts” LO from BAL to SE by using GND pin and only L+/R+ side of the connector pins. The 4.4mm side of the cable even has a directional arrow to make sure you plug it in the right away.
A custom leather case was included as well. A decent quality leather case to enhance the grip of MAX, with a fully open top where the DAP slides in, a slot on the side for micro SD card, and an open bottom to provide the access to all the available ports.