One important note is this DX90 was tested with firmware, V2.0.0.
iBasso played a smart one by not trying to throw out a brand new OS and GUI for the DX90. Given the fact they borrowed much from the DX50 in terms of physical appearance it would only seem logical to throw in the same OS also given the amount of time the team has spent revising and upgrading it in the last year or so. Those who care to remember the DX50 coming out with V1.0 will not have fond memories of multiple freezes, illogical menu flow and gimped cul de sacs when using the DX50 as their regular DAP. Many typical features seemed missing that should have been there during the initial launch.
Today we have version 2.0 and upwards and boy things are very different now with the OS on the DX90. With the DX90’s superior number crunching power over the DX50 you a much more settled, mature and responsive OS. With the DX90 it feels a little snappier, screens are loading faster and media is loading up in a jiffy. Gone are those irritating playback freezes, long media file scanning times are shorter and the lack of decent playlist support has been fixed. Whilst is not quite Rockbox and I still think the X5 has a slightly deeper and more involving settings menu I do believe everything you need is right there now and most importantly it just works on the DX90 out of the box.
Some minor quibbles
The DX90 still boots up into the playback screen so you do still have to go from there to any sort of central menu system by either clicking My Music or Settings. I would honestly prefer if it booted up into one central menu and from there select your music or your settings. Also given the rather shorter battery life on the DX90 I would still also like to see the battery shift from the far right to an omnipresent icon in the middle of the top row. As per the DX50 experience it is really only on the playback screen that I can see if the DX90 battery is about to run out of juice.
Some new features since I last checked out the DX50
I am also super delighted iBasso actually added my beloved Genre – Artist – Album drill down library feature after much incessant nagging on the original DX50 firmware by my good self. I have been hankering after this feature in the new wave of DAP’s from FiiO and iBasso for about 2 years now and they finally agreed late last year to do it. There it is and it works great. If you have any issues check your tags as I only had one Null tag out of something like 2000 tracks loaded up on a microsd card.
Previously I would have a ton of Null files on the older OS versions. I also religiously tag my files so I do not have to rely on hard drive folder searches on large capacity memory cards so working a flat file system like the X5 and DX50 was a bit of a pain. Working through the Genre system on the DX90 had zero pain and once all was scanned on initial loading everything felt pretty snappy. For those getting more than 1 or 2 Null files a “wipe and factory reset” should help to lower or get rid of the null orphan files. Once reset try the scan again to remove the Null files.
DSD compatibility of sorts is onboard also with the DX90. Whilst the DX90 Sabre32 DAC does not decode native DSD it will convert DSD to PCM 24/88 which is pretty darn good actually. Just make sure your files are using the DSF (Not DFF) extension rather than the native format. Korg Audiogate’s snappy conversion process is pretty handy also for converting to the DSF format and ensuring you have the right bitrates. As far as I am aware DSD64 is the highest level of bit depth you can use for the DX90 but correct me if I am wrong here.
Click on next page for sound impressions…