High-fidelity modular DAP!
PROS: Build quality, modular amp design, ergonomics, good usage of premium tech inside with ESS’ flagship DAC, very nice smooth UI experience, high quality neutral, rich and musical sound signature, good power output from both SE and BAL, very low noise floor, USB3.1 and QC3.0 support.
CONS: Nitpicking – Stocks AMP1 MK3 lacks 4.4mm BAL, which has become more common.
The product was kindly provided by iBasso for the review. I covered custom duty to import it.
Included in the box.
- iBasso DX240 with AMP1 MK3
- USB-C cable |Coaxial cable | Burn-in cable
- TPU case
- Screen protector
- Warranty card and Quick Start guides
- Colour options – Black/Green
- Screen – Sharp 50inch, 1080 1920 P, with on-cell capacitive touch panel
- Audio Formats – MQA. APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, ACC, ALAC, AIFF, OGG, MP3, DFF, DSF, DXD and DST
- USB C- USB 3.1
- Output Ports – 2.5mm balanced phone out | 3.5mm single ended phone out | 3.5mm line out | 3.5mm coaxial output | USB OTG output
- WiFi – 802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4Ghz/5Ghz)
- Bluetooth – V5.0
- RAM+ROM – 4G LPDDR4X, 64G ROM
- Battery – 4400 mAh | 3.8V li-polymer battery
- Charging Time – 2.5 hours
- Average Play Time – 11 hours (The play time varies with different resolutions, volume used and headphone/IEM loads)
- Size – 124mm*71.5mm 19.4mm
- Weight – 205g
iBasso DX240 with iBasso Leather Case and TRI Starlight
Output Specifications (with AMP1 MK3).
2.5mm Balanced Phone Port
- Maximum Output Level: 6.2 Vrms
- Output Power: 878mW@32ohm, 128mW@ 300ohm
- Frequency Response: 10Hz-45kHz +/-0.1dB
- S/N: 125dB
- Dynamic Range: 125dB
- THD+N: -114dB (3 Vrms, no load). -114dB (3 Vrms, 32ohm load)
- Crosstalk: -119dB
- Output Impedance: 0.57Ω
3.5mm Single Ended Phone Out
- Maximum Output Level: 3.1 Vrms
- Output Power: 281mW@32ohm, 32mW@300ohm
- Frequency Response: 10Hz-45kHz +/-0.1dB
- S/N: 123dB
- Dynamic Range: 123dB THD+N: -110dB (1.8 Vrms, no load). -109dB (1.8 Vrms, 32ohm load)
- Crosstalk: -117dB
- Output Impedance: 0.38Ω
3.5mm Single Ended Line Out
- Maximum Output Level: 3 Vrms
- Frequency Response: 10Hz-45kHz +/-0.1dB
- S/N: 122dB
- Dynamic Range: -122dB
- THD+N: -110dB (1.8 Vrms, no load)
- Crosstalk: -116dB
Flagship DAC ES9038Pro.
ES9038Pro is the current flagship DAC chip of ESS. The ES9038Pro has a very high dynamic range of 132dB and THD+N can achieve -122dB. According to ESS, ES9038Pro has 4 DAC cores per channel compared to the previous ES9028Pro, which only had 1 DAC core per channel. In terms of the number of DAC cores, 1 piece of ES9038Pro is equivalent to 4 pieces of ES9028Pro.
Modular DAP with switchable Amp modules | Compatible With AMP1 – AMP8.
The DX240 has a modular amp card design and is compatible with AMP1 to AMP8. You can choose the amp modules as per your preferences and output sockets you need. For now, iBasso offers screwable DX240 faceplates for all the amps to fit the DX240 perfectly.
The stock amp card, AMP1 MK3, has a balanced output power of up to 878mw@32ohm and has three sockets – 2.5mm balanced phone out, 3.5mm single-ended phone out and 3.5mm single-ended line out.
5.0inch Sharp 1080P Full Screen + Curved Frosted Glass.
The DX240 utilizes a Sharp’s 5.0inch 1080P screen, high contrast ratio and extremely narrow black borders. The back is made up of curved frosted glass, which highly improves the ergonomics with the way you hold the device in your hand.
In-House Developed FPGA-Master Technology.
The DX240 utilises the FPGA-Master technology developed by iBasso. As the audio system controller, it directly requests audio data from the SoC and plays a major role in signal reproduction and maintaining signal integrity. It synchronises and generates all audio clocks, at the same time utilising two NDK femtosecond oscillators to achieve a fully synchronised single clock source. The FPGA and NDK oscillators also reduces jitter to an extremely low level, building a clean digital audio signal.
Dual System Android 9.0 + Mango OS.
The DX240 is equipped with Android 9.0 OS and supports streaming apps while at the same time has a Linux-based system specially developed for pure audio playback – Mango OS. Mango OS disables Bluetooth and WiFi to reduce EMI interference and has minimal CPU and RAM usage to maintain system purity to achieve better sound quality.
System Wide SRC Bypassed.
Due to the SRC (sample rate conversion) of the Android system, when an Android device plays music, the sample rate gets truncated to 44.1 kHz or 48kHz, which causes a loss in sound quality when playing high resolution music. DX240 bypasses SRC at the system level, whether it is the built-in Mango player or using third-party streaming apps.
MQA 16X MQA (Master Quality Authenticated).
DX240 offers MQA 16x unfolding capability whereas some much more expensive DAPs can only do upto 8x.
- On the top are USB Type-C charging and SPDIF ports.
- At the bottom are all the outputs in the order below,
3.5mm Line Out | 3.5mm SE Phone Out | 2.5mm BAL Phone Out
- On the right are buttons for Previous, Play and Next as well as the Rotary Volume control.
- On the left we have a micro-SD card slot.
AnTuTu Benchmark – DX240 scores brilliantly in AnTuTu Benchmark test (for a DAP) with a score of 197744, which makes it one of the fastest DAPs in the market along with other DAPs like R6 2020. Even though DX240 and R6 2020 have a ballpark benchmark score, I find DX240 smoother and more fun to use than R6 2020.
Battery Life (4500 mAh) – iBasso claims 11 hours of battery life. In my tests, I came close to their claim, averaging 10.4 hours with SE and 9.3 hours with balanced using my MP3 320 kbps playlist and a bit of screen time in between.
DX240 User Experience and stock Mango player features.
DX240 is a slightly beefier version of DX160 but with a curved back design. Its frame is CNC’d out of Aluminium alloy with bonded glass front and back. I quite like the dark green and gold volume wheel combo, looks very classy! The curved back might look weird in photos but makes for a very ergonomic design as it fits my palm very well. All the buttons are perfectly placed so that you can use the DAP with just one hand, which isn’t the case with a lot of DAPs.
DX240 is one of the fastest DAPs in the market and has a very smooth bug free UI. Plus the vibrant 5.0″ 1080P screen from Sharp adds on to the user experience greatly! Album Artwork looks very nice on the screen. The volume wheel is extremely smooth and responds perfectly to every input.
Mango OS – You can switch to Mango OS by long pressing the Volume Wheel and selecting ‘To Mango’. Mango OS is even faster than Android OS but the low resolution of Mango OS and lack of streaming apps had me switching to Android OS very quickly every time. Also, Mango OS’ overall volume is significantly lower than Mango player on Android, by around 20 clicks. I personally really love the UI, flexibility and customisability of Android OS plus Mango player’s looks and UE are much better on Android. I don’t see myself using the Mango OS much in the future either.
Mango player – I quite like DX240’s updated stock Mango player. Looks wise, it has a very simple UI, good contrast and aspect ratio, and comes with a lot of features built in. In ‘Navigation Bar Management’, you can customise how you want Mango player to sort your songs under categories like Artist, Album, Genre and Playlists, order you want them sorted in, as well as how the Artist and Album Artwork show up in the player.
In Settings, you have options like Gapless, Gain, Play Mode, Equaliser, L/R Balance, Digital Filter, Media Scan and Advanced. Then in the Advanced settings you have options like USB DAC, Bluetooth DAC, Display settings, etc.
I do have 2 complaints though –
- First is with the the Equaliser section. Even though you get both equaliser types as options – Graphic and Parametric, switching them ON drops the volume by quite a lot of decibels which makes it unnecessarily difficult for A/B comparisons. I know the volume is dropped for clipping protection in case of abnormally high boosts but having that control in your hand would make it so much easier for A/Bing when EQing, like in HiBy’s stock player’s EQ section.
- Second – I wish the USB DAC option was available as an option in the system drop down menu or switchable in the notifications when you connect the DAP to a device. Going into the Mango player -> Now Playing -> Gear Icon (settings) -> Advanced -> USB DAC is a bit counter intuitive and unnecessarily difficult to find for first timers.