iBasso DX220 MAX

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.


Intro.

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”.

ibasso_dx-220-max-00

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.

Page 2 – Design and Under the hood.
Page 3 – GUI, Mango app vs Mango OS, Graphic and Parametric EQs.
Page 4 – Sound Analysis and Pair up.
Page 5 – Comparison, Wired/wireless connection, and Conclusion.

10 thoughts on “iBasso DX220 MAX

  1. Hi Twister6.

    Presumably DX228EX edition sits somewhere between DX228 and DX220 MAX in terms of technical proficiency and overall “sound”?

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    1. Not too familiar with AMP8ex. Vince and I met at CanJam NYC ’19 when he let me hear it briefly, it was a long time ago, vague memories, but I do remember soundstage being wider… EX mode changes caps, adds shielding, but MAX is a totally different design with a completely isolation of digital/analog sides, different batteries to power up analog/digital sides of the ckt, and 8.8V output straight without up voltage conversion. There could be similarities in sound, but I don’t have access to do direct a/b comparison. I even heard, there is MAX-ex mod as well.

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      1. Thanks for the feedback. Although I can see why iBasso have used the same screen and SoC, the DX220 is sluggish to boot and respond to input, compared to say, the N6ii. Not sure if that’s the case with the MAX? I understand that more current SoC are hard to obtain. Looking at some of your other DAP reviews, I did think about a LPGT but not sure if the outlay would necessarily bring a tangible increase in performance. I reckon my DX228EX is on par if not better than the PAW6000.

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      2. Yep, MAX Android performance is the same as dx220. LPGT/LP6k is Unix based, non android, very fast. Just speaking in terms of OS performance, N6ii/R6Pro will be faster and new R8 is the fastest available Android dap. With sound performance, can’t think of any dap that can beat MAX, but you have to compromise portability, lack of play/pause/skip, and 2 separate charges.

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  2. What are your thoughts related to the Cayin N6ii with E02 and the Max? I’ll primarily be listening using the Solaris SE and I’ve heard really good things about the Cayin pairing, but it sounds like Max may be better, particularly when it comes to hiss.

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    1. Yes, better pairing, but you have to keep in mind, MAX is 700g brick. I’m using it on my desk, not dragging it around with me. That is a reason it is transportable. Also, keep in mind, N6ii android performance is faster.

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      1. I’m not a stranger to bricks. I’ve previously owned a Kann Cube, though the Max is a bit heftier.

        I almost exclusively listen while at a desk or have some surface around I can place it on so that should be fine.

        I have a Max on order now and I’m looking forward to taking it for a spin when it arrives later this week.

        Thanks for the review! It was extremely helpful when it came down to making a decision since I was really debating between the Max, R8, AK SE200 and Cayin N6ii w/ E02.

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      2. Then, MAX shouldn’t be a problem for you! R8 is great as well, MAX still has an edge in technical performance, but if you are on the go and need something powerful and portable, R8 currently is the fastest and the most powerful android DAP, imho. But if you want the best and don’t need portability, MAX is truly at the top of the food chain.

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  3. I’ve owned 5 ibasso players and all have sounded great. But I’ll never buy another one untill they get all of their issues out of the way BEFORE they take my money. My first 2 were the dx50 and 90.both great sounding payers, but the user experience to many updates to fix. Then I bought the dx150. Again, excellent sound, but the lag, even with their “fix” is still an issue. The dx160 posed a boot up problem that finally fixed itself. Now the biggest issue is with the dx150, dx160, & dx200. If you’re a streamer, you’ve got to be in the same room with your router. Once you leave the room, NO WIFI. I’ve got a very powerful router that throws a signal throughout my 2500 Sq foot home, and I have zero issues with any other device. Even my fiio M6, a 130.00 pkayer streams perfectly. Now we go to bluetooth. Once again you’ll get a great connection for 20-30 feet AS LONG AS YOU HAVE AN UNOBSTRUCTED PATH. Even putting the device in your pocket will change this. So I’m giving up on ibasso, and bought the fiio m11 pro. WOW, it sounds better, works flawlessly, and has a great UI. Sorry ibasso, but I gave you a chance.

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  4. Hello, I have the CU version of sp2000 and the Max, I think the CU tuning is very diferent from the SS, my sp2000 has a more natural voice reproduction is not brighter than Max, is exactly the opposite, but I like Max very much

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