iBasso DX150 review - expatinjapan

iBasso DX150 with Double Helix Cables - Clone Fusion IEM cable and AAW W300U.


iBasso DX150 review
 - expatinjapan

Full specs etc here:

The DX150 is the latest offering from iBasso. A mid tier dap that fits nicely under the DX200.
Whilst the DX150 includes many of the features of the DX200 it does not rise to the level of the DX200, which is to be expected. But the gap closes a bit when when one swaps out the warmish stock Amp 6 for the more spacious, sweet and transparent Amp 5.

Much of what I might say about the DX150 in terms of usage can also be found in the Head pie DX200 review. ...additional information on menus, UI, updating firmware etc (I have included some in this review).

DX150 manual - Full of useful bits and bobs about the DX150.

DX150 unboxing





DX150 Specs.














Type C usb cable, Coaxial/spdif cable, 2.5mm burn in cable.




Excellent volume wheel and physical multi use buttons.


One micro SD slot.


Coaxial/Optical/spdif port, USB C for charging/DAC use with a computer and transferring data


Gorgeous


Amp 6 in the iBasso swappable Amp range (9 amps in total). It complements the AK DAC in the DX150 and brings out its certain signature nicely. Warm and smooth.



Music, music, music...Halleluyah!


With iBasso IT01 earphones



A nice case, a bit different from the DX200 material.





Specs and features




DX150 Manual

Price

The iBasso DX150 retails at US$ 499 and is available from the iBasso site, or from licensed vendors listed on the iBasso website.


With LEAR Kaleido earphones

iBasso DX150 UI 
Android player
(Taken from my DX200 review as the layout is the same)




I have included various photos of some of the main menu features, as you will notice there are more that I did not cover due to space. But enough is seen of what the iBasso DX150 has to offer.

DX150 UI video 

(First firmware - after the recent update it is more faster).



The UI swipe system

 The in player UI is divided into four halves, accessed by swiping left or right.
(the far right screen is sleep timer/rescan library and system information)

Connection via USB-C to a computer and how to transfer files.



From the iBasso DX150 manual 

For Apple/Mac one may have to use the Android File transfer application

Updating the firmware

This is in the manual.

First you have to unzip the file, inside is a Read me and also another zipped file. 
That is the file you use for the updating.

Settings/about DX150/Local update/default


Size

The size and weight of the DX150 is pretty much the same as the DX200.

Sound

The DX150 is enigmatic, mysterious.
It is a dap that comes under the wings of the much celebrated and enjoyed DX200, a dap that might easily rest in its shadows. A few old timers have compared the stock sound to that of the much famed DX100 one of the earliest hi-res playing daps from back in the day.

I did struggle at first with how to present the DX150. I was tethered quite heavily to the DX200 as a daily player and was not sure what to expect, lower price of course and what did that mean in terms of sound? Was I to experience a step down? If so how large?

What can one write about a dap these days? They differ in sound (warm/neutral/bright) in some instances, but these days not overly so. Usually sound quality and reproduction is high and accurate.

Differences in functions and size being the main points.

Of course as one gets higher up the chain layering, resolution etc all increase in quality.

One must not leave the ear/head phones out of the equation either for obvious reasons. An entry level pair of earphones might get a chance to scale up with a decent dap, but with more entry level dap there is always going to be that chokepoint where performance can only reach so far.

Which brings us back to the iBasso DX150, priced at US$499. A price usually reserved for mid tier daps, whilst the DX200 comes in at around US$1000 it has been seen to play easily with the other big boys of the totl dap range.


The iBasso DX150 was a welcome review unit, and not so welcome. I do so love the DX200 and to spend time with its younger sibling was to my mind a possible step down and time away from one of beloved daps in regular rotation.

As usual I gave it the recommended burn in/playing time to please the burn it folks, and as the non burn in crowd do not care everyone (once again) is happy.

What does one write about when reviewing a dap? It is easy to mix in earphone review terminology and confuse the issue for purists but it can make sense to the new comer.

With the DX150 the issue is clouded because of the ability to swap out amp units.
There being (shared with the DX200) 
Amp 1 (DX200 stock)
Amp 2
Amp 3
Amp 4
Amp 5
Amp 4S
Amp 6 (DX150 stock amp)

And the soon to released as I write Amps 7 & 8.


The iBasso DX150 comes with Amp 6. Thats the first thing an owner is going to hear and make or break them on the DX150....perhaps.
For me, I was not a fan of Amp 6, but I tried and tried to like it. It was a tad too smooth and warm for me, in the same way I do not like Amp 3 (which is even more so and dynamic). Everyone has their own tastes and thankfully due to the different amps one can tailor the dap more to ones sonic preference.
I like the stock neutral, nay reference Amp 1 of the DX200 and use it for shows, but find myself using the Amp 4 for on the go.
For the DX150 I didnt exhaustively swap out all the amps as I am prone to do when reviewing but settled quickly on Amp 5 as it gave a hint of sweetness, veered the DX150 towards more neutral spaciousness and provided enough transparency to please my ears.

With Campfire Audio Polaris

The sound can not be pinned down due to the variation present with the ability to change amps.

This points us towards a neutral base which is what one should be looking for anyway imho, so that earphones are presented in the manner of which they are designed, coupled with a low output impedance makes it perfect for even sensitive IEMs.

So generally neutral, most probably with the ability to brighten or warm it up with amps.

Resolution is excellent.
Separation is realistic.
Layering is wonderful.
Sound stage is wide with great depth and height.

All also dependent on the earphones one pairs the DX150 of course.

The DX150 has Dual AK4490EQ. I have had a few AKM dacs in several daps etc and it can tend towards the warm, rich and smooth side with some dap implementations. The stock Amp 6 reveals this to a point. The Amp 5 brings it up to a more neutral point. This is not an excessive thing though, although Dacs still have a certain tilt to them, although the Dac wars are largely over as tuning as a whole has developed and improved from the days of Wolfson vs Cirrus, Sabre bright etc etc.

iBasso has managed to tame the AKM DAC to a decent neutral point so that it can play nicely with the array of Amps they have on offer.

The DX150 has enough power to please and this can be adjusted depending on which amp is chosen.
Ui is snappy enough for me, and one can see my earlier video of the first firmware before they sped it up even more.
I like the large boxes of the touchscreen which makes navigation easy, and the physical buttons are a treat as I ride the commuter train.

The Amps iBasso have to offer all fall below 1 ohm output impedance so they are a great fit for even the most sensitive of IEMs.


Overall

The iBasso DX150 fits well into its price bracket, and like its older sibling punches a bit higher than asking price which seems to be common for this generation of iBasso products.

A solid almost industrial build makes this hefty looking dap ooze coolness. `But the sound` you say. Well that too, but aesthetics also play their part and something visually appealing should not be nosed at.

Looks and sound. A perfect storm.

The stock amp 6 is on the slightly warm, soft and smooth side - but the DX150 like the DX200 can be sonically tailored due to the wide array of iBasso Amps available to swap out with.
The DX150 is a pleasure to listen to:
Resolution is excellent.
Separation is realistic.
Layering is wonderful.
Sound stage is wide with great depth and height.
It is generally a neutral dap, as they should be.

Wifi, Bluetooth, internet connection, SPDIF, Amp 6 is Line out, SE and 2.5mm Balanced, Use as a stand alone player or as DAC with your computer.

I do not stream so I am happy just banging a micro SD card into Daps and enjoying the FLAC attack.

Apps (such as streaming apps) can be loaded via wifi etc, searching for the app and apk. The DX150 does not have the Google Play store so most with have to side loaded onto the unit. Or you can use the custom firmware of Lurker that is so popular and comes with the Google Play store etc.

Noise levels are low, nary a hiss to be found. The DX150 plays nicely with both 2.5GHz and 5GHz.

The DX150 has the Android Mango player, whereas the DX200 has two, Android and pure Mango players.

Much of what can be said about the DX150 can be read on the iBasso site or within the manual.

Its a decent dap. imho.

Once I began to play around with the amps on offer I cam to love the DX150 as much as I do the DX200. The DX200 has that extra little something that can be picked up with attentive ears and accompanying earphones. But for general listening, and even dedicated analytical sessions the DX150 holds it own.

The DX150 - Standing on the shoulders of the mid Dap crowd.

"The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity..." - WB Yeats




Double Helix Cables - Clone Fusion Cable



Thank you to iBasso for sending Head pie the DX150 for review



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