In this section of my review, I will go over how various earphones and headphones pair up and sound with DX248mk2. 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, V66) – One of the best pair ups with these 470ohm cans I heard. Wide and open soundstage expansion, but since I only have 3.5mm SE cable, I wouldn’t call the width to be super wide, but it is way above the average. Also, imaging is 3D holographic with a very accurate positioning of sounds in space. Tonality is balanced with rich natural timbre. When it comes to R70x, clarity is not an issue with different sources, but bass performance falls short with many. With AMP8mk2, even from SE output, the sub-bass rumble and texture along with a visceral impact of mid-bass was excellent. You can feel the weight of the bass without the bass weighing down or overpowering the sound. Mids have a natural body, clear, detailed, layered, and I would even say, reach micro-detail level without tonality being too bright. Treble is clear and detailed, without any extra sparkle or harshness. I was impressed how well it sounded with AMP8mk2, the bass has even more authority in comparison to AMP1mk3.
MEZE Audio Empyrean (HG, V44) – I hear a wide-open soundstage with a very good holographic imaging. The imaging was a little more center focused, with sounds positioned closer to the center, yet, it still felt open and expanded and accurately positioned in space, no congestion despite sounds being closer to the center. Tonality is balanced and bass has a good extension with ok rumble and nice fast mid-bass punch. But I think mids have a little more focus here, bringing more attention to the vocals. There is plenty of body in lower mids, clear detailed upper mids, layering is OK, not the best. Treble is clear and detailed, has a little extra crunch but nothing harsh or splashy. Good airy extension.
Beyerdynamic T5p 2nd (HG, V40) – Another great pair up with an excellent soundstage expansion in all 3 direction and 3D holographic imaging. This was another example where high gain was necessary to bring up soundstage expansion to its best level of performance. The sound is balanced W-shaped with a velvety sub-bass rumble, faster mid-bass punch, and overall, very articulate bass impact. Lower mids were north of neutral, still with a good amount of body, but not as much warmth, giving upper mids more clarity and transparency. Vocals came out clear and detailed. Treble also has plenty of clarity, details, and crunch, and still sounds realistic and not exaggerated. Good airy extension as well.
With full size more demanding headphones, High Gain in DX240 is absolutely necessary. I noticed at low/mid gain, assuming lower voltage, the soundstage was affected and narrowed down. In High gain, soundstage spread was wider and the sound was more open. Also, the high voltage/current output helped drive the bass deeper and with more impact.
Pair up with IEMs.
Oriolus Traillii (MG, V38) – Wide open soundstage and great 3D imaging. Tonality is balanced, maybe even a touch U-shaped due to stronger bass impact and a bit of extra lift in mid-treble. Bass goes deep, with both elevated rumble and stronger mid-bass impact. Mids are warm and natural, with plenty of body in lower mids and organic detailed tonality in upper mids, though vocals felt slightly pulled back. Treble is clear and detailed, and with extra sparkle and crunch in mid treble. When I tried High gain, bass was lifted even a bit more, so I switched back to MG to get back to more balanced tuning.
Aroma Jewel (MG, V41) – I’m using Jewel with an upgraded EA cable which improves tonal balance and soundstage expansion, but still, driven from AMP8mk2 the soundstage is wide and expanded in all 3 directions with holographic imaging. Tonality is quite balanced in this pair up. Bass goes deep, more sub-bass rumble than mid-bass punch. There is still a good fast punch, but the focus is more on sub-bass weight. Lower mids are leaner which gives upper mids more transparency, less coloring, making them more revealing but not too bright. There is a bit of a contrast between bass and mids, because of these leaner lower mids. Treble is crisp and detailed, not splashy or harsh. Jewel does gain a little extra resolution in treble, but it still keeps sound natural.
UM Mest MKII (MG, V37) – huge holographic soundstage expansion in this pair up. Typical of Mest MKII U-shaped sound signature with deep analog quality bass and more emphasis on sub-bass rumble to add extra weight to the bass. Lower mids are neutral, giving more transparency to the sound, making upper mids more revealing and a bit colder in tonality. Treble is bright, crisp, airy. The pair up is impressive, no surprises here. I did try it in high gain as well, but it made treble a lot more piercing, crossing a threshold of my personal tolerance, so I preferred mid gain here.
VE EXT (HG, V38) – I started off with a medium gain, but quickly switched to high gain since these IEMs are a bit power hungry and their bass performance scaled up with extra power boost. Soundstage is huge in this pair up, expanding wide and deep, along with 3D holographic imaging. Sound sig is W-shaped, with a bit extra emphasis on bass. Bass is quite powerful in this pair up, going deep with elevated rumble and hitting hard with a very strong punch. Mids have a perfect balance of lower mids body and upper mids clarity, resolution, and details. Treble is moderately crisp and airy, clear and detailed, and sounds very natural. Very good pair up synergy.
EE Odin (HG, V29) – I’m sure one of the first questions some might have, is there any hissing in high gain? Pitch black background with zero hissing here even in high gain. And the reason I switched to high gain because it improved the response of Odin’s DD bass, adding more weight, more impact, deeper rumble, and still keeping the bass tight and articulate. Mids are leaner, more revealing, layered, micro-detailed, but not bright and not too forward, the overall sound signature is still well balanced. Treble is crisp, clear, detailed, more revealing and yet, still well controlled and without any sign of splashiness. The soundstage is also big, expanded, holographic. Improvement in bass was impressive.
EE EVO (MG, V36) – The soundstage is very open, expanded, holographic. The sound sig is balanced with a heavier emphasis on bass, almost borderline L-shaped. I also made an interesting observation while switching between mid and high gain. In mid-gain, bass is elevated but not too overwhelming, while mids are softer and slightly pulled back, especially noticeable when analyzing vocals. Mids sound natural, detailed, layered, just not as forward. When I switch to high gain, the sound becomes more W-shaped, with mids and treble coming more forward, with a bit of an additional resolution and even some improvement in retrieval of details. But at the same time, in HG the bass is stronger as well. I was going back and forth here, and decided to stay on mid-gain since I found bass in high gain to be a bit too much for my personal preference, especially during extended listening session.
Campfire Audio Solaris 2020 (MG, V25) – This is Campfire Audio iem, so the first question, does it hiss? There is a mild background waterfall hissing effect, regardless of the gain or even if you switch from BAL to SE. But it is so mild that I can only hear it while idling with song on pause. I can’t hear it during the regular playback, even in the intro of “The Curse”. The soundstage is big, with an overall sound being holographic and quite expanded. Also, the sound sig is balanced. Bass had a good sub-bass rumble with a fast well controlled punch. Bass doesn’t have a lot of weight, but it is for sure above neutral and unmistakably DD bass. Mids are natural, detailed, and quite musical. Treble has a little bit of sibilance in lower treble, typical of Solaris, but it is not too elevated and not that fatigue. I only noticed it while switching between different iems, but then your ears adjust to it.
iBasso IT07 (MG, V34) – Not sure if iBasso was using their own IT07 to fine tune AMP8mk2 module, but that is also one of the best pair ups with this pair of IEMs I heard. A very big and expanded soundstage along with a 3D holographic imaging. A balanced W-shaped sound signature with a natural detailed tonality. Deep sub-bass rumble with a powerful rounded mid-bass impact. Fuller body natural lower mids with a detailed organic upper mids. Well defined clear detailed treble with a natural sparkle. The sound is balanced, natural, non-fatigue, more on a smoother side, but still with a great retrieval of natural details.
As I was writing this review, I noticed a lot of on-line chatter from people wanting to know what happened to DX300 since it is no longer available for sale. Apparently, due to supply chain issues with CS43198 DACs, DX300 production was halted and in a near future this DAP will come back with updated DACs. The chip supply issue has been a problem for many manufacturers during the last 2 years of pandemic chaos. DX240 gives you an alternative solution in a more pocket friendly DAP design with the same system performance and equally impressive sound performance.
This should make it easier to decide between DX240 or DX300. And if you already have DX300, perhaps there is no immediate rush to switch to DX240 unless you want a more pocket friendly compact design in a size of DX160 with a modular performance of DX300. If you got DX240 and need 4.4mm BAL output, AMP8mk2 will be a must have upgrade which still showcases the strength of DX240 neutral signature with a resolving dynamic sound. In comparison to its stock AMP1mk3 and original AMP8 modules, you get a more natural analog tonality and 4.4mm/3.5mm outputs. In my opinion, AMP8mk2 makes DX240 complete.