iBasso DX300

Comparison.

In this test, I was using Traillii, Odin, and IT07.  Each of these DAPs, besides a difference in tonality and pair up synergy, has their own Pros/Cons when it comes to features, all of which should be taken into consideration depending on your priorities if you need streaming or not, which balanced termination you prefer, how much output power do you need, your battery requirements, etc.

DX300 vs DX220 MAX – In most of the pair ups MAX takes soundstage width to the max, thus as expected its soundstage is wider in comparison to DX300.  DX300 soundstage is wide, but not a match for MAX.  Other noticeable differences are a blacker background and stronger bass impact when paired up with MAX in comparison to DX300.  Again, MAX sets a bar very high, and in comparison, the DX300 bass is more relaxed and scaled down in quantity.  Also, DX300 mids/vocals are a little smoother while treble has a little more air and sparkle in comparison to MAX.

Like I said before, MAX set a bar very high, but due to its weight/bulk I find it to be borderline transportable, while DX300 despite its bigger size is more lightweight, slimmer and thinner, and feels more portable.  Plus, MAX is built on old DX220 platform, doesn’t have modular design, and lacking transport controls.  DX300 is built on a brand-new platform with a faster processor, newer Android, and overall super-fast performance.  Plus, modular design of DX300 opens the opportunity for future amps with updated performance.  And the last, but not the least, single usb-c charger of DX300 makes it more convenient, especially when traveling.

DX300 vs DX220 w/AMP8 – DX300 performance is somewhere between DX220 with stock AMP8 and MAX.  The soundstage is wider than DX220 but not as wide as MAX.  The background is blacker than DX220, but doesn’t reach the same pure black background of MAX, but DX300 is certainly closer to MAX than DX220 w/AMP8.  Relative to AMP8, tonality is closer, maybe with DX300 being a little bit smoother and more natural, including some improvements in vertical dynamics.  Relative to sound performance, DX300 with its default AMP11 is a step up from DX220 with its original AMP8 (not EX version), giving DX300 a more natural tonality.

But when it comes to Android performance, the gap is wider due to DX300 featuring 660 snapdragon processor and later Android 9.0 version.  DX300 is faster, more responsive, and also has a noticeable improvement in WiFi and Bluetooth performance.  This one is no brainer, definitely a worthy upgrade.

DX300 vs DX160 – why am I comparing iBasso flagship to its entry level Android DAP (not counting DX120)?  Because DX160 sets its own high bar in that price range with its sound performance and because it uses 2 out of 4 DACs like DX300.  But it is a prime example of how DACs don’t make up the sound, final amp stage is where the magic happens.  DX160 is a great DAP, and I can even say that its soundstage a touch wider than DX300.  DX160 tonality is a bit brighter in comparison to DX300.  But when it comes to technical performance, DX160 is not a match for DX300, with DX300 having a more layered, more dynamic, more textured sound and a blacker background.

And similar to previous DX220 comparison notes, DX160 runs on an older iBasso platform with a slower processor and older Android OS, thus DX160 Android performance, including WiFi and Bluetooth, will be behind DX300.

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DX160, DX220, DX300, MAX

DX300 vs Hiby R8 – When it comes to sound performance, there are some differences, and the one you find as better will probably depend on your pair up synergy preference.  For example, soundstage expansion is very similar, but there are variations in tonality.  DX300 bass is tighter and hits a little stronger while R8 bass with the same IEMs/headphones feels more neutral and slightly relaxed.  Mids and vocals in DX300 have fuller body and a little colored while R8 is more neutral and more transparent.  With treble, I hear R8 to have a little more sparkle vs DX300 treble being a little smoother, but that could be also due to a different tonality of mids.  Both DAPs are very powerful and scale up well from driving IEMs to headphones.

Overall Android performance is nearly the same since both feature Snapdragon 660 and optimized Android 9.0.  And both have a strong WiFi and BT performance.  Also, both have plenty of power to drive anything from sensitive IEMs to demanding headphones.  But DX300 has an upper hand with a modular design where there will be more amplifier modules in the future and also dual OS with Android and non-Android mode.

DX300 vs Cayin N6ii w/E02 – These two actually stack up very close in sound comparison.  I ended up doing quite a few blind tests, and the only deciding factor here was N6ii w/E02 having slightly more bass impact while DX300 having a little wider soundstage.  Otherwise, both have a very similar tonality around their mids/vocals, similar treble response, similar dynamics, and aside from some small variation in bass and soundstage, they come close.  They even have the same level of waterfall hissing with sensitive iems.

In terms of overall performance, N6ii has a slower processor and older Android OS, so DX300 has an edge here.  Both have modular system with DX300 featuring amp modules while N6ii having dac/amp modules.  Also, overall power output is higher in DX300 which going to push harder some of the more demanding headphones.

DX300 vs Lotoo PAW6000 – Some might wonder why I included PAW6k in comparison, but due to the same price I received quite a few questions about it.  There are quite a few noticeable differences here.  PAW6k tonality is very different, being warmer, smoother, while DX300 has a better retrieval of details and overall sound is more dynamic and more layered.  Also, soundstage is wider in DX300.

In this comparison, DX300 is a very fast Android daps where you can run any apps, has modular design, and has a lot more powerful output in comparison to non-Android PAW6k which is designed mostly for audio only playback driving IEMs and “easy” headphones.  Another thing to note, Lotoo DAPs are well known for their Parametric EQ, but iBasso Mango app features its own powerful Parametric EQ as well.  But if you want a pocket friendly small DAP, PAW6k will suite you better.

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Other Wired/Wireless connections.

In this section of the review, I will go over various wired and wireless connections I tested and verified with DX300.

Coax out

Tested with iFi micro iDSD BL.  I used the provided iBasso cable that worked well.  I found the volume on DX3000 to be fixed, output volume adjustable using micro iDSD.  The sound has a typical smoother natural tonality I’m used to from iFi micro iDSD BL dac/amp.

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Digital audio usb-c out

Tested with iBasso DC03.  It works with DX300 without a problem but you do need to install iBasso UAC app to control the volume of DC03, otherwise it will blast your ears when connecting earphones/headphones at full volume.  DX300 volume wheel doesn’t affect DC03 volume, need to use UAC app.  DC03 is a great sounding usb DAC/amp with a transparent and slightly more revealing tonality and a very big soundstage.

Tested with L&P W2.  I found this connection to be more straight forward because W2 has its own volume control so no other app was required to install.  And likewise, the wheel on DX300 wasn’t adjusting the volume, but luckily, I was able to do that from W2.  The sound was neutral and natural, maybe just a little more revealing connected to DX300 in comparison to my smartphone.

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Line Out

As I previously mentioned, you don’t want to be going into external amplifier with 7.1Vrms output, thus better of switching to low or med gain when in LO, low gain probably even better.

Tested with Romi Audio BX2.  I set DX300 to low gain, volume at 50, giving BX2 some headroom for its own volume adjustment.  With BX2 being a very clean transparent amplifier, it is a great way to checkout AMP11 “coloring” and DAC output sound.  When comparing the direct DX300 phone output vs DX300 LO + BX2, the only difference I noticed was in treble, where straight from DX300 I hear more treble sparkle and airiness.

Tested with Cayin C9 in tube mode.  This pair up takes the sound to a whole different level by spreading soundstage wider, adding more texture and impact to the bass, giving more natural body to the mids/vocals, and adding extra sparkle to the treble (treble wasn’t as prominent when I paired up DX300 with neutral BX2).  Just remember to keep DX300 gain at low in this pair up.

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USB DAC

USB DAC mode needs to be activated in Advanced setting of Mango app.  When activated, you have option to change the gain and digital filters.  Win10 recognized it right away, no drivers were necessary.  When playing the same song from my laptop + DX300 vs directly from DX300, I found the sound to be nearly identical, only slightly warmer playing directly from DX300.

Wireless Bluetooth DAC

This mode gets activated from Mango app in Advanced setting, and the pair up connection was fast and effortless.  Also, I was able to confirm a close to 60ft open area operation until it started to stutter just a little bit.  I was only able to control volume from DX300, not from the source.  But to my surprise, this connection was only using AAC which I checked under Developer Option on my smartphone.

Bluetooth Wireless

Tested with Sennheiser HD1 M2 AEBT.  I found the pair up to be fast and effortless, aptX codec was detected, worked 60ft across the open area without a single glitch.  These wireless HD1 M2 headphones are VERY finicky due to higher sensitivity of their wireless antenna.  Here, it was the first time I was able to walk so far away and still able to control remotely the volume and the playback from headphones, all that without sound glitches.

Tested with iBasso CF01/IT00.  I found the pair up with these TWS adapters to be fast and effortless, and it worked 60ft across the open area, can probably go even further.  Crystal clear sound (aptX option was available in BT setting), full remote playback control from CF01.  Pair up with TWS could be finicky, here it was a solid effortless connection.

Since I don’t have any LDAC wireless headphones, for confirmation I tested with a few wireless dongles and was able to connect using LDAC codec without a problem.

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Conclusion.

I ended my previous iBasso DX220 MAX review with “… my imagination already running wild, thinking about what DX3xx could bring to the table.”  In my opinion, DX300 release didn’t just meet but actually exceeded my expectations.  People will always argue which DAP sounds better based on their sound preference and pair up synergy with favorite earphones and headphones.  And there is always going to be an argument about the flagship DAPs pricing which today is all over the place and goes up to a multi-kilobuck level.  But you will hardly see anybody arguing about the value of iBasso products, regardless if we are talking about DAPs or IEMs or even headphones.  And relative to iBasso DX300, this flagship level DAP still has one of the best price/performance ratios.

In frequent discussions with my readers, I’m well aware that some prefer non-Android DAPs, while others can’t live without streaming.  Some want more compact design with the best battery performance, while others don’t mind transportable design and don’t even care about the size or the weight.  Thus, there is no single DAP which could be labeled as overall “the best” because everybody has different requirements and different criteria of what they consider to be the best for them.  But if you are looking for a fast Android DAP, futureproofed with modular design, powerful amplifier, great natural sound tuning, and don’t mind a super-sized 6.5” multimedia display, it will be hard to find another DAP under $1.2k packing all these features.  Now, the big question is when and what to expect in the next new AMP card!

5 thoughts on “iBasso DX300

  1. I’ve had three DX200’s and one DX160. Two of the DX200’s went faulty with different faults and the DX160 lasted five days before on about 20% of occasions it wouldn’t allow you to swipe the screen out of lock boot up.

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  2. Great review as usual.
    DX300 seems really big and compared to a SR25 should seems like a giant and a dwarf 🙂.
    My question it’s not about the DX300 but about usb C dacs. How do you find the reliability at the connection of the USB interface?

    I have both DC01 and DC4 which I really find exceptionaly good in terms of sound when connected to my S10+. But, and that’s why I bought a dedicated DAP, the connection at the usb C port it’s not reliable anymore (wear…?). Unless both the smartphone and the usb dac are still, a simple movement can disrupt the connection which it’s very annoying since the solution it’s to remove the usb jack from the phone and connect it again!
    Thx.

    Like

    1. Do you mean new oBravo IEMs? I have reviewed quite a few in the past, from Cupid to RA C Cu 😉 For now, my work/family and review schedule has been a bit too much, still need to get through everything I have been sent for review in the last 2-3 months. Curious about their new RA C Cu 21 model, might look at it in the near future.

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