I analyzed DX300 sound with Traillii and IT07 IEMs while playing a variety of my favorite test tracks, such as Agnes Obel “The curse”, Sandro Cavazza “So much better” (Avicii remix), C-Bool “Never go away”, Ed Sheeran “Shape of you”, Alan Walker “Darkside”, Galantis “Hunter”, Iggy Azalea “Black widow”, Indila “Boite en argent”, Dua Lipa “Love again”, Counting Crows “Big yellow taxi”, David Elias “Vision of her”, and Michael Jackson “Dirty Diana”. As recommended by manufacturer, I let DX300 burn in for 200hrs using the provided balanced burn-in cable before I started sound analysis.
I prefer to describe the DAP sound based on the comparison to other DAPs and pair ups with different IEMs/headphones since the DAP by itself doesn’t have a “sound”. What we hear is how it sounds through connected IEMs/headphones or the difference in sound relative to other sources using the same pair of IEMs/headphones. As a result, this section of the review usually summarizes what I find in the follow up Comparison and Pair-up sections. Of course, this is my subjective opinion, describing how I hear it.
DX300 with its default AMP11 has a natural reference tonality with a detailed layered sound. It is more natural and even a touch warmer in mids than a typical iBasso DAP sound I’m used to. I still consider DX300 to be neutral, but this neutrality is tilted toward a more natural and smoother flavor. In many pair ups I tried, of course depending on the tuning of IEMs and headphones, I hear a tighter articulate bass, transparent and natural mids, and airy extended treble with extra sparkle. Also, I hear a relatively black background and a nicely expanded vertical dynamics of the sound which has a very good layering and separation. While being natural and a bit smoother, the sound is still of a reference quality with fast transient of notes on/off to make details pop out.
It doesn’t hinder soundstage expansion, creating a natural space with a very good imaging, but I felt that it gave the sound a little more intimate feeling, bringing you closer to the stage, not in every pair up, but in some for sure. Even in those pair ups where the soundstage felt holographic and imaging was more 3D, it still felt like I was closer to the stage.
Mango App vs Mango OS sound.
Some might assume since we are dealing with dual OS on the same DAP, the sound will be the same as well. There are definitely a lot of similarities. While playing the same song at the same volume and with the same filter setting, soundstage is the same, technical performance is nearly the same too, and bass sounds the same as well. But in Mango OS I hear upper mids and treble to be brighter, vocals to be slightly more revealing and treble to have a little more sparkle. As a result, Mango OS “sound” is less colored and more reference to my ears, while Mango app under Android OS sounds a little smoother and more natural. I’m sure for many the deciding factor will be either Mango OS with audio only playback or Android OS with streaming capability, but for others it could also provide a choice depending on pair up synergy with their IEMs and headphones.
Digital Filters Sound Analysis.
Digital filters are part of the DAC design, and DX300 offers you 5 choices to access it. Many people complain it is hard to hear the difference, and they are right. You need to have trained ears, listen very close, and have more revealing balanced tuned monitors to spot the difference. Usually, I find the difference between filters to be subtle as well, with an exception of NOS filter.
- D1 (fast roll off) – deep sub-bass rumble, natural detailed mids, crisp treble (baseline tuning).
- D2 (short delay, slow roll off) – more sub-bass rumble, a bit thicker body in lower mids, the same treble sparkle.
- D3 (short delay, fast roll off) – a little less sub-bass rumble, more transparency in lower mids, a touch more sparkle in treble.
- D4 (slow roll off) – a little less sub-bass rumble, more transparency in lower mids, the same treble sparkle.
- D5 (NOS no over sampling) – deeper sub-bass rumble, more organic mids, and smoother treble. It feels like NOS wraps the sound in a thin layer of a smooth blanket, very subtle, but it takes some digital shine off the sound, giving it a smoother laidback analog flavor.
In this section of my review, I will go over how various earphones and headphones pair up and sound with DX300. In each pair up I noted the gain (High Gain or Middle Gain, and Volume level). These are just very brief analysis notes to give you the basic idea.
Pair up with Headphones.
Audio-Technica ATH-R70x (HG, v58) – R70x are open back 470ohm headphones, but not every source can make them feel like you are sitting in an open room surrounded by sound, while that’s how it felt in this pair up. Overall, tonality is very natural, bass has a deeper rumble while mid-bass sounds more neutral; mids/vocals sound very transparent, effortless, natural, and so does treble with a natural airy sparkle. I was very impressed with vocals in this pair up.
Beyerdynamic T5p 2nd (HG, v34) – despite these being closed back, soundstage was very open and exceptionally wide. The sound is very clean and detailed. It is not bright, just very transparent, detailed, layered. Bass has a deep rumble, mid-bass has a more polite punch; mids/vocals are natural, transparent, very detailed, but not too bright, and treble is crisp and airy. In this pair up, again, I felt like mids very shining and less colored.
MEZE Audio Empyrean (HG, v41) – again, not a surprise when it comes to soundstage, being holographic. The sound is balanced, fast, very clean and clear. Again, I hear a deeper sub-bass rumble, fast articulate mid-bass punch, very detailed and transparent mids/vocals, and crisp airy treble. A very clean uncolored pair up sound.
iBasso SR2 (HG, v34) – open holographic soundstage in this pair up. Very articulate fast bass with a deeper sub-bass rumble and fast tight mid-bass punch. Mids/vocals are natural, detailed, very transparent, treble is crisp and airy. It’s a great example of headphones where the sound is very clean and transparent, and still sounds quite natural.
With headphones, in every pair up DX300 was driving them effortlessly, efficiently, with a big natural soundstage expansion, articulate tight bass, deep sub-bass extension, clean and transparent mids (no coloring), and crisp airy treble. The thing that stood out for me was transparency and lack of coloring I’m used to with some other DAPs and the same headphones. Perhaps, if you want to add more coloring to the sound in pair ups mentioned above, you can use external amp or wait for more iBasso amp modules.
Pair up with IEMs.
Empire Ears Legend X (MG, v36) – wide soundstage with imaging that positions sound closer to you, L-shaped sound signature with a heavy bass slam that extends down to an elevated sub-bass, stronger mid-bass punch, thicker lower mids, clear natural vocals, and natural clear treble sparkle. Bass is not as tight in this pair up, but it is big, bold, and analog, sounds like floor standing speaker. No hissing.
Campfire Audio Solaris 2020 (MG, v16) – wide soundstage with a good height and depth; balanced sound sig with a little more emphasis on mids, above neutral bass with a decent extension and noticeable mid-bass impact, but it is scaled down, not as strong; mids/vocals are the shining star of this pair up, being clear, detailed, natural, layered; treble is bright, with extra sparkle, airy, not harsh but it does have extra energy. With hissing, in this pair up you would definitely want to stay in med gain. If you want minimum hissing, switch to low gain; going to med gain adds more to waterfall hissing when idling or in less busy passages of the song. But when you switch to high gain, hissing is a lot more noticeable.
VE Elysium (MG, v43) – soundstage width is above average with a good height and depth; sound sig is balanced, even a touch u-shaped due to deeper bass extension and extra treble energy which puts natural organic vocals slightly behind relative to lows/highs. Due to Ely needing to be pushed harder, these need higher volume, and raising volume up makes treble even brighter. It was not harsh to my ears, but definitely has higher energy and could be borderline harsh for some where you might want to tame it down with foam eartips. No hissing.
Empire Ears Odin (MG, v31) – holographic soundstage expansion, deep sub-bass with a tight mid-bass punch, above neutral quantity, mids are very detailed, layered, natural, and treble is also crisp and natural. Was surprised to hear the extra depth of sub-bass rumble and added naturalness of EST treble. With hissing, low and medium gain have some waterfall hissing, going to high gain raises the hissing level up, but you will be OK in med gain where it is mostly noticeable when idling or between the songs or in quiet passages of the song.
64 Audio U18s (MG, v35) – wide soundstage with the sound slightly out of your head; warm smooth tonality with a deep analog bass, smooth warm detailed mids, and natural treble sparkle. Very smooth sound, and bass is more relaxed in this pair up. No hissing.
Oriolus Traillii (MG, v34) – holographic soundstage and 3D imaging, very balanced signature with a natural detailed tonality, deep sub-bass rumble, tight articulate mid-bass punch, natural, layered, detailed vocals, and natural well defined crisp treble. Traillii shines in every pair up, DX300 wasn’t exception, yielding a great combination of natural detailed tonality. No hissing.
iBasso IT07 (MG, v30) – holographic soundstage, deep visceral bass, smooth natural detailed mids, clear natural treble sparkle. Very clear, transparent, natural sound with a tight and punchy bass. No hissing.