Ibasso has gained a lot of popularity lately, the DX50 they just released selling like hot cakes, their much higher end DAP, DX100 has been released years ago and still is their curently top of the line DAP with android interface, gaining nothing but good reputation with its good audio quality and android based interface.
DX50 is selling for 239USD only currently, which sit in the line that is quite affordable and cheap for an audiophile piece of DAP, especially compared to the DX100 which sell for 829USD. Here I copied the specification from iBasso official website :
- Bit Perfect, Support up to 24Bit/192kHz
- WM8740 24Bit DAC Chip
- Built-in 9V Voltage Swing Headphone AMP
- 2.4″ IPS Screen(320*240) with Capacitive Touch Screen, Bonded by OCA
- Up to 24Bit/192kHz Mini Coaxial Output
- 3.5mm Headphone Output, and Line Out
- Three Physical buttons (Rewind, Play/pauses, Forward) on The Top Panel.
- 256-Steps Digital Volume Control
- 8GB Onboard Flash
- Support SDXC and SDHC MicroSD card, up to 2TB
- 3-Setting Gain Switch
- Audio Formats Supported: APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, AAC, ALAC, OGG, MP3
- User Replaceable Battery(Compatible With S**sung S3), 14hours Play Time.
Frequency Response: 20Hz~20KHz +/-0.2dB
S/N: -109dB +/-3dB
Output Level: 1.5V rms (1kHz 0dB)
Frequency Response: 20Hz~20KHz +/-1dB
THD+N: 0.004% (32ohm load)
Output Level: 1.2V(Low gain), 1.7V(Mid gain), 3.1V(High Gain)
S/N: -103dB +/-3dB(Low gain), -106dB +/-3dB(Mid gain), -108dB +/-3dB(High Gain) (32ohm Load)
Output Impedance: <0.5ohm
Battery Life: 14hours
Battery Charge Time: 3hours with AC adapter, 5.5hours with PC USB port
Case dimension: 2.52W x 3.98L x 0.67H (inch)
64W x 100L x 17H (mm)
Weight: 146g or 5.15oz
USB cable, Coaxial cable, Pouch, and Screen protector
DX50 seemed like a excellent deal from spec, not only support most of the audio codec (Flac, Wav, APE, etc) are all supported, but also because it is a 24bit 192 khz audiophile device with a wolfson WM8740 audiophile grade DAC chipset, with Coax output features (Which can acted as a digital music transport itself), a line out feature (Which bypass the internal headphone amplifier section), a tremendous battery life (which upon my test, exceed 14 hours) and easily replaceable battery (The included Pisen brand battery is a very good battery itself, not a typical chinese made battery), also a sleek design and affordable/friendly pricing.
I don’t really feeling surprised when I knew DX50 is selling very well in the audiophile crowd, even me myself is thinking to get a piece, but I gave up because I don’t really have time to enjoy another audio devices.
Design, Build Quality and Finishing
Whatelse can I say for the outlook and design of iBasso DX50? It is extremely nice looking and charming, blend nicely between being classy and trendy. DX50 feels very sturdy in my hand, solid and refined. The construction itself is quite tough and no strange clicking and cracking sound, iBasso has done a great job here, I noticed that the machine itself might get scratched easily if we didn’t take good care of it, but out of these, for a 239USD devices, it meet my expectation and somehow exceeding for what I have expected.
The IPS colour screen is very nice as well, the screen itself is big and clear enough for indicate the music (I set the screen at low brightness level though). Everything is touchscreen-able now, so DX50 is using touch screen interface, result is users can access their playlist easily.
Ergonomics and User Interface
User Interface is very important for a DAP. UI decides how comfortable will you with the DAP. For most of the part I am quite happy with the UI itself. DX50 took some short time to power up and after powering up, the control layout is very straight forward. I don’t have problem to access the playlist and all settings.
What I like the most is even when the screen’s backlight is off, we are still able to change tracks(In same album), play/pause, adjusting the volume. From my experience, the control layout is definitely way better than the Colorfly C3 and Hisound Nova.
Headphones/IEMS : Shure Srh-940, Creative Aurvana Live!, Chord & Major 8’13 Rock, Chord & Major 9’13 Classical, Shure SE425
Headphone Amplifier : Tubeamp TA-1
Firmware : V1.1.6
Firmware Version V1.0.0
When I first get this DX50, it come with a V1.0.0 firmware which many have claimed as the worse firmware of DX50. I have tested this version and honestly never really like the sound quality, overall is okay just the soundstage is very narrow and too tight. My review will not focused on sound quality on different firmware but only the V1.1.6 only.
Firmware Version V1.1.6
This is a much better firmware in which DX50 has corrected some of the bugs before and improve the audio quality, First of all, soundstage seems to be so much better, at least I don’t think that it is too much of ‘in the head now’, the music flow much easily in a quite spacious medium.
What about the sound quality now? Personally I think that it is quite good for a DAP that is selling for just 239USD, I have tested the DX50 with some of the albums that I always listen to, ‘The Goat Rodeo Session’ by Yoyoma and friends, sound is mostly neutral and balanced, I am satisfied with the instrument separation and positioning of DX50, especially in its price range. I then played the famous jazz album, ‘Here’s to Ben’ from Jachinta, the vocal is very nice and the ambient has been potrayed accurately. Vocal show no sense of sibilant, of course I have tested with few albums and the vocal is nice, something that I will call ‘sweet’ especially with IEM like Shure SE425.
DX50 is mostly neutral and balanced means that most of the time it just show how your IEM sound signature is. I plugged in Chord & Major 7’13, 8’13, 9’13 and each of them showed their sound characteristic nicely, be true to themselves. For 239USD, this is close to a steal.
I have tested DX50 with some of the big headphones, but I have found no luck with it. DX50 is quite powerful and can drive my Shure Srh-940 and Creative Aurvana Live! Way more than audible volume, however, it sounded a little uncontrolled, so I really will recommend a portable headphone amplifier for headphones, it is not too bad though. However, for IEMs most of the time an additional headphones amplifier is really unnecessarily.
If you are looking for a good DAP and have a tight budget, I personally think that DX50 is a wise choice and one will be very hard to regret the purchase, combining the exceptional value and audio quality, everyone that is looking for a DAP in the market should consider this.