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Review and Measurements of iBasso DX200 DAP

amirm

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#1
This is a review and measurements of the iBasso DX200 Digital Audio Player (DAP). It is on kind loan from a member who has been waiting a while for its review. I see on Amazon that DX200 costs US $1,199 but Amazon is selling it for US $799 including free shipping. Either way, it is the price of a smartphone!

The DX200 is quite a bit larger, thicker and heavier than a phone though:

iBasso DX200 Digital Audio Player DAP Audio Review.jpg

The DX200 runs Android OS and has a responsive touchscreen. Not as fast as a modern smartphone but quite a bit faster than some other cheaper DAPs.

The volume control has no acceleration and has 150 steps making it very tedious to make large volume changes.

When a DAP supports a DAC mode using a USB cable, I try to test its DAC that way since my analyzer can be fully in charge allowing me to run all the tests I want. Alas, that was not meant to be. I killed at least 3 hours trying to figure out how to enable this. The manual says to pull down the settings menu in Android. I did that. There is an audio settings menu but that says nothing about DAC mode.

Next I tried to download drivers. The support page is an unorganized mess of zip files for everything they make and multiple versions. I clicked on a driver package which installed but did nothing. Digging into driver settings I realized it was unsigned so Windows had refused to use it.

I thought the firmware was too old. Downloaded a nearly 700 megabyte package only to be told in an ominous warning that I better upgrade to Android 8 first or else. Why is that my job and why is it not part of what I just downloaded???

Searched again and found another more recent driver package that had "signed" in its name. Upon running setup, Windows 10 warned me the driver was not signed! What the heck? With nervous fingers I told it to ignore and keep going. Still nothing. Windows would not see a sound device.

By chance, I swiped my finger left and right and then I saw a set of tiles, one of which was to select the DAC mode. Even there, I did not know what "DAC ON" meant. Did it mean if I clicked on that the DAC would turn on? Or that it was already on? Turned out to be the latter.

Once there, Windows recognized the device as a DAC and I got all excited! That didn't last long after I realized I could not get any output out of the device across any of its ports.

The documentation talks about Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) which as an aside, my team developed while I was at Microsoft. Again, no sign of how to get the device into that mode. If this device were mine, by now I would be throwing it out the window!

So there I go searching for an unused micro-SD card (all my existing ones have Raspberry Pi images on them). Found one and transferred a couple of my test files to it. That worked and as a result, those are the only measurements you see.

DAP Audio Measurements
Here is our usual dashboard with the 24-bit 1 kHz tone playing from local micro-SD card:

iBasso DX200 Digital Audio Player DAP Audio Measurements.png


This is from 3.5 mm headphone out at max volume. Performance was almost identical with Line out. I was disappointed with such a low output level. With such a beefy device I expected a lot more output and hence power.

Good news is that distortion and noise are quite low for a portable device, landing the DX200 into our second tier of all DACs tested regardless of type and price:

DAP Portable Players Tested copy.png


The output power nearly matches the specifications. This means you can use it to compute the power output using V^2/R. So for 300 ohm headphone you have just 8.5 milliwatts output. That is no better than a little dongle you can buy. Power increases using balance to 34 milliwatts which is not bad.

Jitter test shows a couple of spurious tones that should not be there:

iBasso DX200 Digital Audio Player DAP Jitter Audio Measurements.png


But their levels are below -120 dB so definitely not audible.

Conclusions
The baseline system runs fine here courtesy of Android and responsive touchscreen. I did not use the device with large number of music files to see how easy it is to navigate. You can find other reviews for that. As you can tell from my intro, the setup and documentation is quite lacking. Company should hire someone in US to improve these things for them. There is no excuse for an electronic manual to be out of date. Or have tons of files thrown in a directory without due organization.

At these sky high prices, you may be better off getting a used LG phone instead of DX200. It will be tons lighter and easier to setup. Then again it also has its own quirks when it comes to how much power it produces.

Anyway, the core audio performance of DX200 seems quite good based on limited testing. So if that is an important criteria, and you have the cable to run your headphone using balanced, I don't see a concern with its performance. It simply is not for me so I can't recommend it.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Just bought a new faster PC to speed up my workflow and deal with piggy software people write these days. :( I am happy with the PC but am very depressed over spending $1,200. Need a fast and good infusion of cash to be happy again. So please donate money using : https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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#3
Thank you for your hard work! I can imagine your hard time getting this thing set properly...
It' so true that many DAPs made by Chinese companies has so many interesting functions implemented which is good, but then just let the customers figure out how to use them, which is ok to me but obviously there will be some criticism.
By the way, the new DAP from iBasso, the DX160, has a really stunning spec and comes at a much more reasonable price. But after this somewhat unpleasant experience, I am not sure if I may ask you to test it in the future. *sighed*
 

Tks

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#4
As you can tell from my intro, the setup and documentation is quite lacking. Company should hire someone in US to improve these things for them. There is no excuse for an electronic manual to be out of date. Or have tons of files thrown in a directory without due organization.

At these sky high prices, you may be better off getting a use LG phone instead of DX200. It will be tons lighter and easier to setup. Then again it also has its own quirks when it comes to how much power it produces.

Anyway, the core audio performance of DX200 seems quite good based on limited testing. So if that is an important criteria, and you have the cable to run your headphone using balanced, I don't see a concern with its performance. It simply is not for me so I can't recommend it.

This Is the one thing I never understood about portable players since getting into audio, and since the downfall of the older iPods, and the takeover by smartphones.

Why would anyone buy these for some of these prices? I already have a strong aversion to some of the flagship phone prices these days, I can't imagine buying a DAP that didn't AT LEAST deliver on the UI/UX experience as well as smartphones do. I get it though, they're nowhere near as big as smartphone companies. But that blade cuts both ways, they don't have to worry about hardware/software implementations of things like the phone aspect and such.

And speaking of iPods. How is has no one been able to replicate it in some way. To this day the touch scrollwheel and the UI is so nice and simple. I don't get it. Likewise doing away with some of these ridiculous screens for the sake of battery life would be a great step in offering more value.

I see some DAPs though that position themselves as desktop replacements in terms of performance and such, and that's great. But if these are supposed to be "throw in your pocket and explore the world" devices.. I just don't see how.
 

pwjazz

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#5
At these sky high prices, you may be better off getting a used LG phone instead of DX200. It will be tons lighter and easier to setup. Then again it also has its own quirks when it comes to how much power it produces.
This! You can get New LG V20s for around $120-$130 on eBay. Those things have a better CPU than pretty much any DAP you'll find, and the Quad DAC measures very well and puts 2 Vrms into high impedance loads. The impedance detection is a bit annoying, the footprint is a little larger than ideal and it would be nice if it had a volume control, but with the $9 Neutron Player these things make an amazing DAP and I love mine. I can't really understand why anyone would choose something like this iBasso over that.
 

LLL

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#9
AP measurements from manufacturers?
Also from Chinese friend. I am having issue uploading image will try later.
https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/zVxbYFje4NrcQQi4jUtBPw one of the link comparing u8 and u6 with measurents with 32ohm.
That looks promising although the output voltage is still pretty low and what they have shown is not sufficient to claim SOTA given the cherry-picked data points as well. Looks like the U6 is the new flagship (based on the link) and it is selling for well over $800.
 

JohnYang1997

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#10
That looks promising although the output voltage is still pretty low and what they have shown is not sufficient to claim SOTA given the cherry-picked data points as well. Looks like the U6 is the new flagship (based on the link) and it is selling for well over $800.
For any product to have 0.0001x% THD+N with 32ohm load is really good, especially for a portable device. We don't see dashboard with load very often here. Very few is able to achieve that. Low voltage was essential for his test and I personally do that as well. Test at low voltage means the noise is going to affect the thd+n. What level do you listen at? 100mV? That's a much more meaningful number than at max.
 

LLL

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#11
For any product to have 0.0001x% THD+N with 32ohm load is really good, especially for a portable device. We don't see dashboard with load very often here. Very few is able to achieve that. Low voltage was essential for his test and I personally do that as well. Test at low voltage means the noise is going to affect the thd+n. What level do you listen at? 100mV? That's a much more meaningful number than at max.
I am not disagreeing with the premise that that level of THD+N is good. We should, however, measure at the same level, and apply the same metric. What I personally listen at doesn't matter, only objective measurements matter.
 
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#12
This Is the one thing I never understood about portable players since getting into audio, and since the downfall of the older iPods, and the takeover by smartphones.

Why would anyone buy these for some of these prices? I already have a strong aversion to some of the flagship phone prices these days, I can't imagine buying a DAP that didn't AT LEAST deliver on the UI/UX experience as well as smartphones do. I get it though, they're nowhere near as big as smartphone companies. But that blade cuts both ways, they don't have to worry about hardware/software implementations of things like the phone aspect and such.

And speaking of iPods. How is has no one been able to replicate it in some way. To this day the touch scrollwheel and the UI is so nice and simple. I don't get it. Likewise doing away with some of these ridiculous screens for the sake of battery life would be a great step in offering more value.

I see some DAPs though that position themselves as desktop replacements in terms of performance and such, and that's great. But if these are supposed to be "throw in your pocket and explore the world" devices.. I just don't see how.
The audiophile community has ate the marketing up like crazy that's why. I just read the latest post in the sony ZX500 thread and they're oozing over the "audio enhancements" Sony said they have done.
The device has an insanely weak amp, unknown dac, and will cost an insane amount..

But can you truly blame them when no one tests the devices? What else can they go on. Now that I've seen this, I can further confirm Ibasso is horrible in every aspect. If I show someone this from headfi, it's irrelevant. Ibasso has a "refined" Sq and it's better than xyz and Ibasso wouldn't charge $1k if it wasn't good!

It's just the nature of the game. When you have no info, companies rake you over the coals.
 
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#13
@amirm are you able to test if the application mediamonkey is able to output bitperfect to the dac? Ibasso has said they modified the os to allow apps to all do this and bypass android resampling but I won't know until tested.
 

Tks

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#14
The audiophile community has ate the marketing up like crazy that's why. I just read the latest post in the sony ZX500 thread and they're oozing over the "audio enhancements" Sony said they have done.
The device has an insanely weak amp, unknown dac, and will cost an insane amount..

But can you truly blame them when no one tests the devices? What else can they go on. Now that I've seen this, I can further confirm Ibasso is horrible in every aspect. If I show someone this from headfi, it's irrelevant. Ibasso has a "refined" Sq and it's better than xyz and Ibasso wouldn't charge $1k if it wasn't good!

It's just the nature of the game. When you have no info, companies rake you over the coals.
Lol their Walkman ZX300 I tried hissed with IEMs ..I'll never understand why people ride the Sony wave considering their evident fall from grace of being at the top. They just seem like a more modest A&K in a Japanese suit these days. Overpriced, but not a leader in their product segments at all anymore like they used to be.
 
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#15
Lol their Walkman ZX300 I tried hissed with IEMs ..I'll never understand why people ride the Sony wave considering their evident fall from grace of being at the top. They just seem like a more modest A&K in a Japanese suit these days. Overpriced, but not a leader in their product segments at all anymore like they used to be.
Song has made daps since forever. So they must have magic sauce. And they always upgrade their daps with more gold and audio enhancements(no one ever asks for details. As long as they say it!).
The fact Sony offers the same slow cpu from in the Ibasso, is just further insult. Other companies are starting to offer cell phone cpus, but Sony is still maximizing profits, giving the least amp power, unknown dacs, cheap cpus, and charging premium prices.
It's sad, but can you blame em? Consumers don't care about educating themselves. They actually just want to mindlessly trust companies and root for them.
 

LLL

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#16
Song has made daps since forever. So they must have magic sauce. And they always upgrade their daps with more gold and audio enhancements(no one ever asks for details. As long as they say it!).
The fact Sony offers the same slow cpu from in the Ibasso, is just further insult. Other companies are starting to offer cell phone cpus, but Sony is still maximizing profits, giving the least amp power, unknown dacs, cheap cpus, and charging premium prices.
It's sad, but can you blame em? Consumers don't care about educating themselves. They actually just want to mindlessly trust companies and root for them.
They certainly took a page from BOSE and the fashion industry, for sure.
 

Hemi-Demon

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#17
Interesting driver issues. I have owned a few Ibasso devices, and never ran into issues downloading, installing and or using their device(s) in USB DAC mode. The win 10 USB dac driver is less than 3MB, you were downloading the firmware files (700mb+). What amp module did was attached (it is on the back, lower bottom), also which firmware was used (assuming you have not boxed it up and sent it on)? Also why was the testing not performed on the balanced output? The THD+N numbers are great. Why not post the full measurement, akin to the detail compiled for the Cowon Plenue P2? This is a very nice device, and this review, paints a pretty poor picture, or shall I say incomplete picture for members to compare.
 
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#18
Ibasso makes a great hardware but very poor software. A few 3rd party hacked their software to fix some of the issues via a custom build.

The DX200 has an option to bypass Android and boot to it's simple Player-app mode called "Mango". It has a simple interface and I think the DAC mode works better in this mode.

The DX200 is supposed to be a desktop alternative as it is suppose to deliver 6Vrms at max output thru it's balance out. Ibasso is saying the balanced output measures better than their LO.

Judging by the SINAD measured on it's LO the Hardware is very competent for a portable and looks like better than the Cowon tested.
 
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#19
Interesting driver issues. I have owned a few Ibasso devices, and never ran into issues downloading, installing and or using their device(s) in USB DAC mode. The win 10 USB dac driver is less than 3MB, you were downloading the firmware files (700mb+). What amp module did was attached (it is on the back, lower bottom), also which firmware was used (assuming you have not boxed it up and sent it on)? Also why was the testing not performed on the balanced output? The THD+N numbers are great. Why not post the full measurement, akin to the detail compiled for the Cowon Plenue P2? This is a very nice device, and this review, paints a pretty poor picture, or shall I say incomplete picture for members to compare.
I can't blame @amirm, he basically experienced what most users hated about Ibasso's players in general. Software quirks. Though I think those issues are less common when booted in Mango mode. The amp module used in this review is the AMP1
 
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amirm

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#20
@amirm are you able to test if the application mediamonkey is able to output bitperfect to the dac?
You mean on Windows or on the device? If the former, nothing causes it to output anything. On the latter, it seems bit perfect to me using their own player.
 
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