iBasso DX240 AMP8 MK2

Sound Analysis.

I analyzed DX248mk2 (DX240 + AMP8mk2) sound with Traillii 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 DX248mk2 burn in for 100hrs 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 the sound characteristics of a source shapes the sound signature of 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.

In a summary, I found DX240 with AMP8mk2 to have a neutral natural tonality with a detailed layered dynamic sound.  The stock (AMP1mk3) amp has more transparency, less coloring in mids, giving the sound a more reference quality with a neutral tonality.  AMP8mk2 gives mids a more natural tonality with some coloring, though it still keeps the sound closer to neutral.  Also, the soundstage was wide open with a natural expanded space and very good imaging with accurate placement of sounds in space.  Furthermore, background was super black with a fast transient response of notes popping out of that blackness.

As a result of this tuning, I found DX248mk2 combo to pairs up better with neural and more revealing IEMs.  Doesn’t mean there was an issue with warmer IEMs, but you might lose some resolution since the sound will be smoother.  Another interesting observation was due to high voltage swing and high current output, where it elevated the bass performance of full-size headphones by driving the bass deeper, especially in high gain setting.

ibasso_dx240_amp8mk2-08

DX248mk2 4.4mm vs 3.5mm

When comparing the BAL vs SE outputs of AMP8mk2 card, I found the tonality and technical performance to be nearly identical.  The only difference I hear is in power output, as expected, with BAL being more powerful.  And also, the difference in soundstage expansion where the perception of BAL has a bit wider expansion.

Mango App vs Mango OS sound.

Wanted to add this comparison as a bonus since a number of people asked me about it.  Don’t make the assumption that just because we are dealing with dual OS on the same DAP, the sound will be the same as well.  While playing the same song at the same volume and with the same filter setting, I found Mango app (in Android) to have a wider soundstage, higher resolution, and better layering and separation of the sounds.  Under Mango OS, the sound was smoother and more relaxed.

I’m sure for some 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.

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Comparison.

All comparison were done using BAL output and Traillii w/FT cable, volume matched in every comparison.

DX240 AMP8mk2 vs AMP8 – mk2 has a slightly wider soundstage, especially more noticeable when you focus on vocals and how far they spread to the left/right.  The sound has the same characteristics with a little different tonality.  AMP8 has less coloring in mids and a little more sparkle in treble.  In comparison, mk2 has a little more warmth in mids which adds a more natural body to the sound, and along with that it has a little less sparkle in treble which also gives the sound a more natural top end resolution.  The sound change itself is not that drastic, and extra warmth doesn’t add that much coloring.  The sound is still very dynamic, layered, resolving, has a deep black background, and now it also adds a more natural analog “finish” to the sound which takes a digital edge of the brighter tuned IEMs and gives more organic tonality to the sound.

DX240 AMP8mk2 vs AMP1mk3 – in comparison between these amps, I hear a very similar soundstage expansion; there could be a very small difference, but it is negligible.  The more noticeable difference here is in tonality of mids, with AMP1mk3 being a little brighter while AMP8mk2 adding some warmth and body to the mids.  Especially when it comes to vocals, I hear a little more analog density.  Actually, when it comes to tonality of mids, to my ears AMP1mk3 is in between of AMP8mk2 (which is a bit warmer) and AMP8 (which is a bit brighter). Another thing to note is a treble where AMP8mk2 and AMP1mk3 have a similar natural definition and sparkle, while original AMP8 is brighter and has more shimmer at the top.  But what really made AMP8mk2 stood out for me over AMP1mk3 was the improvement in dynamics.  I had no issues with stock amp until I heard AMP8mk2 which make AMP11mk3 sound flatter in comparison.  The vertical dynamics of the sound with mk2 is more expanded, and you can really appreciate micro-dynamics when focusing on busy passages of various tracks where in comparison a stock amp1 made sound a bit flatter and compressed.  The difference in dynamics is noticeable when comparing BAL ports of these cards, and even more noticeable when comparing SE ports.

DX240 AMP8mk2 vs DX300 AMP11mk2 – The wide soundstage of AMP8mk2 is close to AMP11mk2, though AMP11mk2 is still a touch wider.  Another difference I hear is a little more sparkle in AMP11mk2 while AMP8mk2 is a little smoother at the top.  But other than that, and despite a difference in DACs, these are not too far off.  That was actually the biggest surprise where in theory DAC should play an important part in sound sig along with amp coloring.  But considering that iBasso mentioned that AMP8mk2 architecture is very similar to AMP11mk2, it suggests that amp stage of the sound chain has more influence on the final sound of the DAP.

DX300 / DX240 / DX220

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DX240 AMP1mk3 (3.5mm LO, max volume) + C9 vs AMP8mk2 (3.5mm PO, max volume) + C9 – We always assume that double-amping will create a distortion in sound.  But that wasn’t the case in this test.  Using stock amp module with a dedicated LO and Cayin C9 dual NuTube amp yields a nice clean balanced sound which I used as a reference for comparison.  I had the volume set to 100 to have max Line Out voltage output.  Then, switched to AMP8mk2 and 3.5mm headphone output set to max 100 volume, I connected it to C9 and got a similar clear, undistorted balanced sound, but it had a little bit of coloring in mids, just more warmth that gave it a fuller body.  The biggest difference here was a noticeably wider soundstage.  Keep in mind, I’m using the same C9+Traillii, and going between 3.5mm LO (AMP1mk3) and 3.5mm PO (AMP8mk2), yet, the soundstage was wider.  It’s good to know if you need to drive a lot more demanding headphones and require to use external amp with AMP8mk2 card.

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Page 3 – Pair up analysis and Conclusion.

4 thoughts on “iBasso DX240 AMP8 MK2

  1. Hi,

    With the amp8 mk2 installed my DX240 gets quite warm. Is this normal? Not previously noticed it with the stock amp, nor with any of the amps in the DX300.

    Thanks

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    1. I assume you are running the latest updated fw on dx240? Try to unplug and plug back the amp. Also, are you connected directly using 3.5mm or 4.4mm cables or using some adapter? Sometime a faulty adapter could cause a problem. And another thing to keep in mind, if you are playing hi-res files, dap will run warmer. But in general, a little warmer is not an issue. Mine warms up as well.

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      1. Many thanks for getting back to me so quickly. Good to know that running warm is normal. Yes, using the latest fw with direct connection via 4.4mm. Playing mainly flac files with some hi res. Will unplug amp card and reinstall later when I get home. Thanks once again.

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