iBasso DX320 review - expatinjapan



iBasso DX320 review and general impressions

Short and sweet. I like it.The DX320 is a step up from the DX300. Whether its the new Rohm dac or smexy new amp11 version…The tonality appeals to my ears and agrees with the majority of my music choices.
The ability to swap out amp modules for a different sonic flavor is a plus.
Fast and snappy ui, Android 11, oodles of power, several outputs, black low noise floor and a nice sized screen all add up to an excellent experience.


!!!  NEW FIRMWARE - July 26th !!!!

V4- 
-Great sounding, full and dynamic
- video and audio syncing issues fixed.
- usb dac audio sync fixed


————————————————

Product page:

Manual: 


As usual the oodles of pretty pictures, copy and paste specs and made up word salad for the hungry publick.



Coherent, organic, resolving, orchestral, neutral-ish & analog. Vibrant, immersive, radiant, understated splendiferousness. 

The DX320 has over 200 hours on it prior to review - because those who care about burn care and those who dont, dont. So whether 200 hours or zero hours both camps are happy although eternally at war.

Is the DX320 an upgrade to DX300? I would say yes in sonic performance. To my ears it is more pleasing and i found i myself wanting to listen to music more often. I especially loved the sound of the first firmware -
Liquid, natural, analog. 
The second firmware seemed a bit more faster and aggressive with vocals more forward and upper mids, sub bass and perhaps bass pulled back a bit.
The third Firmware 2.02.834 was closer to fw1 and quite pleasing.

There is an option to roll back firmware if one wishes. Each has their own sonic preferences, also different ears, earphones and choices of music etc etc

660 Tool with instructions:

http://www.ibasso.com/uploadfiles/download/660playerupgradetools.zip

DX320 Original Firmware. It will not have the updates of the latest firmware. 

http://www.ibasso.com/uploadfiles/download/DX320_20220512_2.00.707_128G_img.zip



Lots of pictures as usual and product information via iBasso as you dear reader are certainly not a simpleton who needs me to spoon feed everything via text as you have eyes to see

Better than me making a video with magic hands and/or showing my ugly face on youtube and thrusting the product at the camera leaving you with sweaty nightmares of Head pies haunting visage…

Words on paper. We is goin ol skool!



I am going to dive into it. No mess, no fuss. Well a bit of fuss.
Online there is all sorts of back and forth information and misinformation from early adopters of the DX320 - its a bit hard to see where reality starts and magics appears.
The sciency types dont want to do any tests and the subjectivists (well a minor few) seem to be change their minds several times a day on what configurations sounds best. Its all a bit Alice in Willy Wonkerlandish.
Whether one is firmly entrenched in their world viewpoint and disallow any others entry,  or on the other hand bouncing around so much that each new viewpoint becomes meaningless within a sea of subsequent  audio revelations as a new discovery moment to moment. Both make conversation impossible unfortunately.

I decided to detox myself from it all for a bit to gather my thoughts more independently (for better of worse).

iBasso DX320. Do i like it? Yes.
Is it an improvement on the DX300 sonically. To my ears, yes. (How do you know- i did a bit of a volume a/b with two amp11mk2s, plus other tests and i have unobtanium ears). Source: trust tryst me.

Issues. There are three firmware releases so far.

2.00.707
2.07.792
2.02.834
July. 18th - 4th firmware. Super excellent

Firmware 1. 
The first is a magical unicorn rainbow sounding pleasure fest of sound. Which had me reaching for all sorts of IEMs with much success. Breaking my usual review rule of sticking with one IEM until the end of the review (where i start a rotation) for consistency.
Firmware 1 - i love it for the sound. Matches well with the stock amp11k2s.
There are some battery issues.

Firmware 2: meh something is missing. Its in my notes i will dig out and add in later. A bit peaky and lost that nice low end and sub bass. It was for amp13 compatibility so i guess the sound had to be tweaked a bit for tubes to work. Some bugs.

Firmware 3. 2.02.834 Seems to be a kinda of middle ground. It works well with the amp13 and complements it.
Most bugs are cleaned up.

July 28th - firmware 4. Video and audio sync is fixed. Excellent sound.

Onwards
Lets summarize my copious notes. Usually i type em out near in full and unedited for the hungry detail orientated audiophile. But as i reach the end of this review and am typing whilst in bed recovering from a recent illness, well brevity is…what do they say?

I was gonna skip all this as i often over do it when i could just be a lazy ass and get away with it. But my brain and conscience wont let me.

Stupid brain this is all your fault

Day one, ground zero herogasm

Out of the box it was very good. Full with density, weight and clarity. Could do with a slight opening up. But i am happy with it. Fast roll off or slow roll off filter?

Friday
Sounding nice and soulful. A precious clarity.

A bit warm when I left it on burn in in the morning.

(I find daps usually warm up for the first 1-10 hours on average then settle down).

It is cool now later in the day.

Later in the day. Hot again. Perhaps because i had left in its case on a hot day playing all day. Case off. Cooling down now.

Saturday.
Analogue battery was charging fine, digital slowly trickling using a ipad charger.
Changed to my main multi charging station- much better. Charging normally.

Next day? Moved onto DX320 versus DX300 quick comparison.
Volume matched using stock amps amp11mk2s and amp11mark2.
Sandisk pro sd card
Firmware 1 (dx320)

Quite close at first look.

DX320
A bit clearer in the low end
Sound creeps out from the center to the edges.
Separation and density.
More micro detailing.
Amp11mk2s a bit more balanced and even.
Symphonic, natural.

DX300
Center and edges. Not bridge between them.
More flatter.
Subdued in a way, less dynamic.
A bit more blurred together.
Sub bass?
Low end a bit of a dull thud (comparably).
Amp11mk2 a bit v shaped, vocals forward.
Artificial, unnatural (compared to dx320).

Sunday
Minimal listening, family time.

Monday
Let it playing. Still nice and cool temperature. 67 hours on it now.

DX320 vs DX240(amp3mod)  vs DX300
Quick look

DX320
Full, natural, analogue sounding across the board

DX240
Lighter, airy, 

DX300
Vocals more forward, nice low end.



Monday
Seem to be at a good place.
Bass is hitting a bit harder, although now a bit uncontrolled.
vocals are excellent and have a nice weight to them.
My listening volume levels are less.
Sound seems to have changed slightly.

Tues
Did i listen. Maybe not.

Wednesday 
Train commute test.
Bass hs settled.
Something sounded a bit off. Cant pinpoint it.
Vocals have come forward a bit.
Treble a bit forward.
Mids have recessed.
A funny stage. Been here before.

Thursday evening

Left it on burn in again.
It seems to have settled since yesterday. Yay.
Could do with a few micro sonic improvements still. 
On the correct path though.

Around 140 hours?


Friday comparison


DX320 vs DX240 (stock amp this time) vs DX300 redux

DX320
More sub bass
More full sound
More consistent between different genres of music.
Fast?
Congruent 
More subtle directionality

DX240
A little lighter sound
Polite
More air
Vocals and music more even than DX300
Different
Fast
changeable 

DX300
Nice smooth clean bass
Vocals forward of music
More treble than DX320?
More aggressive
Delicious 
Slow?
Changeable
Recessed mids at times
Pinpoints around the head



As you can see above the volumes were matched using a Spl meter. Even a db or two can fool the listener into thinking one device sounds fuller and /or better than the other.
Plus a switcher box for instant changing towards some kind of accuracy as best as it can go.

Sat

Sun

Mon

Tues

Updated to new firmware. V2
Sonics have changed.
Vocals seem forward
More v shaped
Smaller sound stage
I like it less
More DX300 style

Tues further
Got an amp13
Slight ping sound as the music is about to start.
Seems ok. Rather reference neutral for a tube amp
(Note: fw 2 was not good for amp13, fw3 cleared up some compatibility issues).

Weds
Amp 13 volume is inverted. (Fixed in fw3)

Reverted back to fw1 for that delicious magical sound sig. ah thats the stuff :)

Then i took a hiatus for a bit…..




Back on track.
Date unknown

i did a comparison between DX300 and DX320 with amp11mk2s - as i had access for a time to two amp modules.

FW 3 - pleasure has returned.

Slow roll off filter, internal memory

DX320
More sub bass 
More control
Density 
More full
Goes deep

DX300
A bit tighter than stock amp
Adds some central density
Less just sides and middle
Vocals pulled down a bit
More ‘hifi’
More transparency 

Very close. DX320 wins
DX300 plus amp11mk2s slow roll off is similar to DX320 amp11mk2s fast roll off.

———————————————————————

DX320

Amp11mk2s versus Amp11mk2(DX300 amp).

The amp11mk2s is more full, dynamic and has a nice density to it. Clearly superior.

I have not tried the amp11mk1 or amp12 in the DX320 so far. And would not like to surmise how it might play out. Either amp did not get much air time with me on the DX300. Different strokes for different folks.

—————————————————————

Use as a DAC for pc /mac

As seen below you turn on or off charging option.
- most prefer charging off as it can interfere with getting less  interference and a more pure audio signal and sound. But people ask for both so iBasso delivered.

- music is fine, with gaming or video there are some sync issues. Which iBasso has said will be fixed in the next update.



Battery life

Battery life is less than the DX300 due to more hungry dac. Ten hours or so - still pretty good.
Battery life has improved over the three firmware updates.
At a bare minimum/ maximum you are looking at around ten hours roughly with local files and screen mostly off.
- if you stream, play games, mess about too much with the screen on, play more higher res files or dsd the battery life will be less.





Summary

There is not real summary.  
I think i have written enough, but in case there is too much information.
At the end of the day the DX320 is superior to the DX300 where is counts in its dac and stock amp. Twister6 will probably do some tests as to which cpu ui etc is faster but as this point it is a moot point - both have excellent ui, wifi, bt speed and ability - under the hood all is good.
It is powerful enough to drive most headphones as some on head-fi have shown. DX300 was no slouch in this dept either.
Is it better than DX320max? Dunno, i will probably do that comparison at some stage but they are different beasts - one portable one transportable and most likely to stay at home.

It is a multi media device - at this point there seems a mismatch between sound and video synch which i guess they are working on atm. (Meant to be fixed in the next update ) - FIXED - firmware 4 july 28th.

Sound: i  think firmware v3 is fairly close to v1 and i enjoy it. No doubt they are still looking into it. But this is where it is at. A device for listening to music with other options also. In that realm it is a stunning device and i will be using it over the DX300 and DX240 (still got to do the versus with DX220 and amp8EX for fun).
-July 28th - v4 firmware is excellent.

The DX320 has an exquisite density (not muddiness) to the sound. In that the sound is full, not just centered, or out to the sides but all of that and in between. Sound stage is largely up to the earphones but a dap can also choke, set free or even enhance an earphones natural capabilities and the DX320 does this with a natural tonality. It is easy and enjoyable to listen to, balancing a certain musicality with neutral delivery. 
Its all there.

The DX320 (fw 1 & 3) makes me motivated to swap out different earphones for different sonic experiences with different musicians. Even digging out a few forgotten ones. And thats a rare thing for me.

The DX320 is a stellar dap in a sea of daps. iBasso staying true to their lower prices where other companies charge much more for a fraction more and at times even less performance.

In short the DX320 is a dap with excellent sound for listening to music, fast ui, great wifi and bt. Android 11, android side mango player and also pure mango player. Several outputs (4.4mm, 2.5mm, 3.5mm, PO/LO, coax/spdif). All in a manageable size and a decent case.

DX320….”enjoy the music”  🎶 


Test tracks

Though not exhaustive to all the music used. This is what i loaded up to each daps internal memory to have a constant between them. Each track has a certain something (bass, mids, treble, timbre, tonality, dynamics, height and width, centeredness etc etc…) that i am looking to see whether each can produce it properly or not.




Fujiya Avic Show Tokyo

I first heard the DX320 briefly at the show. Here were my thoughts way back then after a short listen.






Double trouble 

Two amp11mk2s !!!




I did want to do further comparisons, DX320/amp11mk2s/amp13 versus DX220/amp8EX/amp9 versus DX240/amp3MOD and DX320Max. Perhaps i will before this review is finished. But as regular readers of my irregularly updated site know i often do exhaustive comparisons to answer most peoples questions before they know they have them.
Its a heat wave here in Japan, i have been busy with work, ups and downs of different firmwares, highs and lows of the head-fi DX320 thread and also coming down with a fever or something.

Who reads this stuff anyway. lol.

Note july 24th. Subtle difference between the first review amp (100+ Hours, more low end, fuller, intimate  vocals)….and the later amp I listened to  in sound (0 hours, bit less low end, more faster, transparent etc)…. After the second amp module got 100 hours on it they resembled each other quite well…
———————————————————

Internal versus Micron sd card

Internal is less dynamic
Micron offers more separation and cleaner sound, details and space.
But it a marginal small improvement compared to a greater noticeable improvement on DX320max and DX240.

I found a similar result with DX300, Micron cards offered a minimal tweak.

On the DX320 i noticed more improvement on the Android aide using the Micron card than the pure Mango side.


——————————————————

Android side versus pure mango side (accessible by holding down the volume/power button).

With amp11mk2s i prefer the pure mango player side.

—————————————————————

Additional amp swapping 

Finally dragged out the:

Amp12
&
Amp11mk1


As you may know i was never much of a fan of the amp12. That carried onto the dx320. Earphones can achieve a big soundstage with it. The sound sig just is not to my taste, a bit too clean and transparent.

Amp11mk1 - with the DX300 i did not like it. I was firmly on team amp11mk11…

Well… whitigir on head-fi mentioned that it oaired well with the DX320 and i trust his opinion. He was even on team amp11mk2… but still it took me this long (July 12th to try it). Its a good match for me. A bit reminiscent of amp11mk2s with firmware1 (??) on the DX320 by faulty audio memory.

Amp11mk2s and amp11mk1 on the DX320 arent leaps and bounds apart. But the Amp11mk1 seems to dial it all back a bit - a bit  more relaxed at the expense of some detail and dynamics, but i kinda like that.

Each to their own.

If you have the different amps give em a spin and see what you like of course.

I am going to sit on the amp11mk1 for a week or so and then spin back to the amp11mk1s and see whats up.

Amp11mk2s - a good match. (With DX320)
Amp11mk1 - a good match. A bit more subdued.
Amp11mk2 - a bit more aggressive and dynamic than amp11mk1 with DX320 vocals forward.
Amp12- kinda ‘hifi’, more transparent, detailed, vocals and highs.
Amp13 - two ports . One more tube-ish, one amp and tube - i think it might improve with more firmwares. Needs to get a bit more tubey.left (side) more tubey, right(middle port) more of a mix. Both are good and give some variation.


Densha 



Amp13

Amp13 pairs well with the most recent v3 firmware 
2.02.834

I recommend using 5G for quietest result.

The left side port (closest to the edge of the dap) is mostly all tube

The middle output is a tube with amplification - kind of a solid state tube mix - but not exactly. But you get the idea

Softer smoother than amp11mk2s.
Not an extreme jump into tube world. Not rich or overly warm etc.

Android side
Left tube
Deep and full
Rounder sound than stock

Middle
Bit lighter
More focussed
Details and clarity 

Pure mango side
Pleasant 
Tube like
Not overdone

Left and right are more similar than on android side

I prefer Android side for the amp13.

* there is a slight ringing for three seconds when earphones are plugged in. The tubes resonating due to lack of space for sufficient padding this is reduced if one just simply pushes play straight away.

*with wifi. I just used youtube with 5G (many daps recommend 5G over 2G). Slight hum as the wifi connected then it went away.

*versus stock amp amp11mk2s: stock has slightly more forward vocals, a bit more of a v compared to the rounded and smooth amp13.
Much of the information about amp 13  is below in the first illustration.
















As of the end of June there have been three firmware updates

2.00.707
2.07.792
2.02.834
Fw v4 - july 28th. Very good

* some times via wifi updates on daps can be layered. You may have to update each installment or it might just go to the most recent.

It is recommended to do full reset to clear out any last artifacts.

- also for v3 it is said to to do 4 restarts to get the most recent firmware working right. (I did the restarts, then later accidentally pushed the volume button in hard when it was on my lap and it rebooted and the nice low end was back - voodoo sex dap magick).

*also if doing an update manually you download the update , THEN unzip it. The update and the READ ME is inside.

One can also roll back to the original firmware using the tool

There is an option to roll back firmware if one wishes. Each has their own sonic preferences, also different ears, earphones and choices of music etc etc

660 Tool with instructions:

http://www.ibasso.com/uploadfiles/download/660playerupgradetools.zip

DX320 Original Firmware. It will not have the updates of the latest firmware. 

http://www.ibasso.com/uploadfiles/download/DX320_20220512_2.00.707_128G_img.zip




HORATIO: 
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange.

HAMLET: 
And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.


Download snazzy internals pic for your wallpaper from the first page of the head-fi thread.



Fuzzy photo from my broken iphone camera which i have dropped too many times




Whats in the box etc etc



Usb charge cable and burn in cable.

I have found a second party cable is sometimes better for transferring files from my macbook to the DX320. Or i use a card reader.





The new case has more of a cut out for the volume wheel. The volume wheel is a bit more solid than DX300. It is firm and rotates slightly more easy in time. But still firm and safe.



The new amp11mk2s (thats with an ‘s’)







Side by side on my piano, keyboard, oh lord…



Purty little lights - cue bangos




Random specs copy and paste to show i care





Screen and general UI/Menu etc

Use APK pure app to download the Google play store etc

iBasso Mango music player app at bottom





Slide down Android menu for quick look and changes





Basic settings quick look

A few differences here and there from DX300









Two filters on the DX320





Introducing DSD settings



Scanning is fairly fast. No complaints. Plus other settings





Hold down the power/volume to go to the pure Mango player side. Which is non Android and Linux. Less power consumption and just music.



Screen rotation and double tap to wake

You spin me right round baby like a record baby







Jebus






More iBasso product page info to make it a one stop shop for any questions

Also see the link to the Manual:

Boom! Spam! Sam i am





















WB. Yeats 

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.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?





Thank you to iBasso for sending the DX320 for review.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post