iBasso DX160

iBasso DX160 is a mid-end DAP with built-in MQA decoding, Android 8.1, 4,4mm balanced output and it is priced at 399$.

Sound quality

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Build quality

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Price

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Packaging

The DX160 comes in a pretty small package with a minimalistic design, inside you can find a high quality, braided, 60cm long USB-A to USB-C cable, transparent case and three foil screen protectors.

Screen

The screen is 1080P, 5,0 inch IPS. Honestly, this is one of the best screens I’ve ever seen in a DAP. Very bright, colorful and sharp. One thing that’s not so good is minimal brightness, which is too high and can dazzle at night.

Build quality

Overall build quality is stellar, nothing creaks, it is hard to scratch, pretty heavy, but it fits nicely in the hand. Thanks to the small frames the screen fills almost the whole front of the device.
Buttons are a little shaky and too easy to press, I did it many times when I was hiding DX in my pocket. In case it is too hard to press and I have no idea if I pressed it or not, because click disappears.

Software

Software is the worst point of the whole device. I had two DX 160’s to for my own use – the first one was lagging and restarting five to fifteen times a day, which is unacceptable. I was unable to listen to music facing all these problems.
The second unit is better, but still, it’s laggy and muddy, especially in regular android apps like Tidal or Spotify. Every time I go back from the album to the musician it has to load everything once again.
When I was listening to master quality on Tidal and tried to change the screen’s brightness music started to stutter.
I hope that these kinds of software bugs will be dealt with in the near future, as it really could destroy the feeling of using the device.

Battery life

Battery is pretty good, it can easily stand 8 hours of listening to music on balanced output with turned off WiFi. When I was using WiFi (or not, it was just turned on) battery was going down in two shakes.

Sound

I would say that iBasso DX160 is really fun to listen to. So much fun, great dynamics, but it is occupied with not that good scene and holography. Everything is so vibrant, there’s no chance to be bored with it.

Bass is pretty fast and accurate, it can easily douse the listener and let him be inside of the music. I think the best word to describe the lowest frequencies is buoyant.

The midrange is not recessed, but it is quite lazy sometimes. Female vocals are great, full of life, hoarse and pleasant to listen to. Male vocals don’t break through the rest of the sound, maybe the lowest vocals like Dave Gahans are better, but tenors are not present at all.

Trebles are natural, well balanced. I did not notice any sibilances, it is all softened compared to FiiO M11. For me, it should be quite brighter, just a little.

The soundstage is where DX160 falls short in comparison to other DAPs in this price range. It is not bad, but could be better. I love when sound surrounds me, here it is placed nearby, quite intimate.
Holography is better, I am able to distinguish distances easily so that’s cool in this price range.

Summary

For some, this is the best DAP around $500. I bought it because the sound signature was just about spot-on for me. Lots of fun, great dynamics, the whole thing is very pleasant and not tiring to listen to. But unfortunately, I am disappointed with how does the device work. Until the software gets fixed and previously mentioned problems are gone, I can’t recommend the iBasso DX160.
Sound quality is truly great for the price, but it falls short in terms of usability and stability.



Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:

  • IEM – Shozy Form 1.1, Meze Rai Penta, Kinera Odin, Kinera Nanna, Noble Django, Fiio FH1s, Fiio FA9, Lime Ears Aether R, Moondrop Blessing2,
  • DAP – Astell&Kern SR25, Fiio M11, Fiio X7ii, Cayin N5ii

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