The iBasso DX220 is the company’s new flagship DAP and supersedes the older DX200. It comes with Android 8 out of the box and is priced at $899.

Disclaimer: The iBasso DX220 was sent to us as a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank iBasso for this opportunity.

To learn more about iBasso product reviews on Headfonics you can click here.

Tonality
9.2
Build Quality
9.3
Functionality
9.3
Software
8.9
Matchability
9.4
Rate The Gear!8 Votes
7.4
9.2
Score
$899

In 2017 iBasso released what turned out to be one of the best sounding DAPs under $1k, the DX200. It was pitched as the successor to the reference-level but far more finicky DX100 from some years back. It also included a user replaceable amp card system of which there are were around 9 variations though only 3-4 are officially for sale on the iBasso website.

They were not the first to use replaceable AMP cards, both Hifiman and FiiO deployed similar amping eco-systems for their DAPs. However, iBasso AMP cards seem to have more legs than the others and on the whole, a more convincing level of investment. In short, they have been well received by both DX200 and DX150 users alike.

However, nothing is ever perfect. The advent of the super-fast HiBy R6 left many feeling the DX200 could do with some enhancements to keep the “engine’ competitive. Roll on 2019 and iBasso’s answer to that? The new DX220 which should be seen as a competitive evolution of the DX200 rather than a totally different concept.

The price for the improvement? Just $899 which is just $30 more than the original DX200. This could well be a superlative market disrupting device at that price point for all the changes that have been made.

What’s New?

Since the DX220 is more of an evolution than a completely new DAP there are definite enhancements but also some legacy features that have remained from the original DX200.



iBasso DX220

Slicker Form Factor

A bigger 5″ IPS 1080p screen and a shorter more refined body. The DX220 makes both the DX150 and DX200 look almost antiquated with their smaller screens and angular or blockier form factors. The almost borderless approach worked a charm with the HiBy R6 Pro and iBasso seem to agree also.

In the hand, it is a stunning looking upgrade, made all the more attractive with the introduction of Corning Gorilla (2.5D) glass which delivers a lot more “pop” to the display.

Mango Gen 2

Whilst out of the box Android Oreo for the DX220 is nothing new, (Both DX150 and Dx200 have it now), the introduction of a vastly overhauled Mango dual-boot OS and app is a first. This is nothing like the older clunky player, looking far more refined and user-friendly.

It also has a few ace cards up its sleeve in its new settings menu that will provide a lot more user engagement. That includes a debut for iBasso’s first ever Parametric EQ system as well as an in-depth user configuration on how to navigate Mango as an app and what options are available.

iBasso DX220
iBasso DX220

MQA Support

Another big new feature for the DX220 is the inclusion of MQA support. Not just rendering at a software level but also the capability to unfold. The DX220 supports MQA in X4 mode as well as hardware support for streaming MQA via the TIDAL up to 72kHz.

Bluetooth 5.0

The DX220 wireless features get a fairly substantial upgrade to Bluetooth 5.0 from Bluetooth 4.1. I am not entirely sure any DAP currently on the market uses BT5 so the DX220 could be the first.

That should mean a better maximum range (depending on the selected data transfer rate), a faster data transfer rate up to 1.4Mbps net for enhanced audio streaming and a much bigger packet size transfer capability. All of that s thrown in with Oreo’s built-in LDAC capability bringing the DX220 bang up to date for quality audio streaming.

 

iBasso DX220

New AMP1 MKII Card

The DX220 launch ushers in a brand new version of the original DX200 AMP1 card. The new card is based on a more optimized version of the AMP1 Ti card that made its debut with the high-end DX200 Titanium Edition last year though no 4.4mm option.

Combined with the DX220 new 3-stage gain feature ideally AMP1 MKII should deliver a lower noise floor than the original and more spacious sound. This seems to be a direct response to the increasingly sensitive monitors now on the market such as the Campfire Audio Solaris.

The numbers also look better on the new AMP with a lower SNR and a better THD+N performance. A big factor in achieving that lower noise floor.



Legacy features

So, what has remained? Well, the DAC implementation and choice of chips remain the same with a dual ES9028PRO chipset as well as the 8 core 64BIT ARMv8 processor for the CPU. Probably fair at this point to state that the 2GB of RAM has been upped to 4GB which makes it the highest RAM level in any DAP right now in the market.

Importantly, the AMP card system on the DX220 remains backward compatible. That is critical for those thinking of upgrading because some of us have quite a few of the cards we love and cherish as well as the fact AMP1 MK2 does not have a 4.4mm connection making the likes of the AMP8 very relevant. They will work, all of them, and in the same user-replaceable manner.

The last legacy feature to remain is the lack of Google Play services. Bummer. Instead, iBasso has supplied some alternative 3rd party applications such as APK Pure to get the job done.

iBasso DX220

Build Quality

Design

There have been a lot of physical design improvements on the DX220 making it much sleeker looking than the DX200. The chassis is CNC’ed from a single aluminum block and eschews a lot of the bolt-on aesthetics of the DX200 in favor of a more integrated approach.

For example,  the DX200 volume guard bolt-on work in favor of a knob-protector built right into the right panel.  Like the DX200 there is a small convex-like bump on the right side of the panel that houses the power button. However, instead of the bump being part of bolt-on protector it is also part of the main DX220.

Finishing

The finishing is also more refined on the edging work of the chassis and the anodized finish is a lighter gunmetal tone. On the older DX200, it was quite curved and smooth on the cornering, however, the ledge work from the front panel to the side panel was a bit sharper. iBasso have graduated that ledge a little more aggressively this time around on the DX220 with a result that it feels marginally smoother in the hand.

iBasso DX220

The rear panel has also had a bit of a revamp with a new ‘shinier’ or reflective CNC back cover. This material matched on the base of the new AMP1 MK2 card to give the back a continuous or harmonious look. The only detraction from the new styling is that the old AMP cards finishing might look a little out of place on the DX220. I am told by iBasso however that they will be providing new backplates for the AMP cards that can applied or bought with the cards.

The final design change will be of great use to larger fingered users and those are the physical size of all the buttons. They are bigger in size and also a little flusher to the side and top panel. I suspect this is a carry-over from the DX150 which also had larger buttons. However, the metal finishing on the DX220 physical buttons is a lot more refined.

Antenna

Also changed is how the internal antenna is housed. Before on the DX220, it was inside the housing with a plastic section at the top of the back panel to allow for a stronger signal. Now the antenna cavity is right inside the back plate and technically outside of the main body to maximize antenna coverage.

Dimensions

We have added the dimensions and weight to our ever-growing DAP table below. As you can see it does differ slightly to the original DX200 being slightly shorter, wider and not as tall either. The weight is unchanged at 240g.

 HeightWidthDepthWeight
Cayin N6ii121mm70mm21mm290g
Lotoo PAW Gold Touch119mm68.6mm21mm311g
HiBy R6 SS116mm66mm15.5mm275g
HiBy R6 Pro SS119.8mm66.96mm15.7mm285g
HiBy R6 Al116mm66mm15mm190g
FiiO X7 Mark 1130mm64mm16.6mm220g
FiiO X7 Mark II128.7mm67.2mm15.5mm210g
Opus#3117mm74mm18mm220g
iBasso DX150128.5mm69mm19.5mm245g
iBasso DX200128.5mm69mm19.5mm240g
iBasso DX220126mm70.5mm18.7mm240g

The DX220 is still lighter than the likes of the R6 Pro stainless steel and also lighter than the DX150. On a day to day handling it is unlikely you would really notice the size differences over the original, however, the smoother ledge milling work and the lighter weight is noticeable. The longer screen also brings a lot of the repetitive functions on the OS closer to your thumb making it a bit easier to operate the DX220 from one hand.

iBasso DX220

Screen

Wow, what a transformation from the DX200 and if anything the single most eye-catching physical change on the DX220. Gone is the heavily-bezeled 4.2″ IPS Screen (768x 1280) of the DX220 and in comes a brand new 5″ IPS 455ppi 1080p (1920 x 1080) capacitive screen, (Sharp OnCell FHD).

Further, the screen completely dominates the front panel with an almost borderless design and encased in protective Corning Gorilla (2.5D) glass. The bezel is almost gone, much like the HiBy R6 Pro and that Corning Gorilla protector really gives the screen display an attractive visual ‘pop’.

This is a bigger and higher resolution IPS panel than the 4.2″ 720p alternative inside the R6 Pro. It is also a higher resolution than AK’s might SP1000 5″ IPS screen. In fact, I can’t think of a DAP out there right now that boasts of a better performing large screen than the one currently on the DX220. The viewing angle is just superb, I can almost read it flat at eye-level. The color depth and saturation just fly off the screen, especially if you dial-up the brightness to 100%.

 

Click On Page 2 below for Controls & Hardware Impressions

Click On Page 3 below for Software Impressions

Click On Page 4 below for Sound Impressions & Matchability

Click On Page 5 below for Comparisons & Verdict

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33 Responses

  1. Will

    Any comment on how Qobuz runs on the dx220? I have Bluetooth 5 (the dx220 appeals in this sense compared to rivals) Dali headphones and a fiio m6 and find the fiio is terribly slow responsively and has issues with importing songs for offline play. I find Qobuz to sound better than tidal so it would be great to know if the APK runs better on the dx220 as it will make buying a no brainer.

    Reply
  2. Craig

    How does it compare to the Astell and Kern players, I have the SR15 the sound is great with my 64 Audio A12t’s but the firmware and support is crappy

    Reply
    • Marcus

      A bit difficult for a quick reply as there are so many AK players and 9-10 different amp cards for the DX series. Sadly, I have never tested the SR15 but if it is as bad as you say then maybe time to change?

      Reply
  3. Jose

    Hola podéis indicar la duración de la batería y para mí es una de las cosas más importantes gracias

    Reply
    • Marcus

      Please go to page 2 and scroll halfway down and you will find our section on the battery life. thanks

      Reply
  4. Ivan Kovac

    Hello great and full review.
    Could please be so kind and tell me what app are you using to show bitrate at top right corner?
    Best regards
    I.

    Reply
  5. Steven Zore

    Can any one comment: which has “better” sound, A&K SE-100, or DX220?

    Reply
  6. Edwin

    If comparing ibasso dx220 and SONY WM1A(black), just in terms of pure sound quality, not taking into account of other factors such as battery life and versatility, which one would you recommend?

    Reply
  7. Mark

    I’m trying to decide between this DX220 and the SONY NW-WM1A. Can you offer advice?

    Reply
    • Marcus

      Depends on your usage needs, what you will stick into the DAP to listen to and what’s important in terms of sound and OS. Lots of factors.

      Reply
      • Mark

        Sony MDRZ7, AudioQuest Nighthawk, Sennheiser HD 630V, Ultimately SQ and Amplification are the focus for me….

  8. George

    Dear Marcus, super review as always.

    I am new to the audiophile world, have been listening to Spotify Premium on my PM-1 and Solaris with iPhone X + Mojo. I’ve been looking for a DAP and had settled on the R6 Pro. Then I saw the DX220. I’m now torn between the R6 Pro and the DX220.

    The DX220 seems to have a better SQ and (key for me) no hiss on the Solaris. But the R6 Pro seems to have a smoother UI and Google Play, so likely less issues with Spotify. I wonder if you could confirm that Spotify should work well on the DX220 w/o any painful way-arounds. Unfortunately I will pick up the DAP from my hotel in a short trip to the US, so no real time to test and compare both.

    Thanks, George

    Reply
    • Marcus

      Spotify worked just fine for me on the DX220. Also, Audiomack was excellent and of course TIDAL. Of course, the R6 Pro will be a touch faster but in its own right, you won’t find the DX220 laggy.

      Reply
      • Jorge

        Excellent, many thanks for the fast reply! DX220 it is then!

  9. Guy Lamaar

    Were you able to pair it with the Final D8000 and if so, how does AMP 1 mkII compare to the HPA-01M?

    Reply
    • Marcus

      The AMP1 MKII should have enough power for the D8000 but I enjoy even more power with the D8000. The D8000 scales really well. I believe amp 8 with DX220 is the ideal pairing if you ask me.

      The HPA-01M output power is good and if just current output I would say a similar neutral sound but these days I like the slightly juicier sound of the voltage output.

      Reply
      • Kenzel Jones

        Currently have a r6 pro, thinking of picking up a dx220. Is it that much of an improvement? Using the IT04s.

      • Marcus

        If you check on page 5 we have done an extensive comparison of the R6 Pro and Dx220 which should help.

    • Marcus

      FiiO has not sent out any review sample to sites yet, I believe next week they will start doing that. Also, the M11 replaces the X5iii indirectly which is a step below the DX2XX series and closer to the DX150.

      Reply
  10. Augustus

    Was wondering how it compares in terms of sound to the N8?

    Reply
    • Marcus

      Sadly we had to send back the N8 right after the review earlier this year so we can’t compare but from memory, the tube output is going to sound a lot warmer than the AMP1 MKII output.

      Reply
  11. Billie

    How much of a jump, do you feel, in quality would there be going to the DX220 from the Cayin N5ii? I didn’t see a comparison, and I get paranoid when spending money.

    Reply
    • Marcus

      If we are talking about the original n5ii it’s a huge jump, stronger output, faster os, more app compatibility, more dynamic range. Neutral sound on both but the DX220 is more refined and spacious sounding. You can also expand via amp cards and have ldac BT output.

      Reply
      • Billie

        All I care about is sound. All other extras are unimportant. It will be strictly offline for me.

      • Marcus

        Right, but if you are not happy with Mango do you intend to download a different app since its a bit-perfect platform for output? That affects sound quality in the positive. I also presume you are using IEMs, you didn’t mention how you are using it. Anyway its a big jump in the technical domain from the N5ii to the DX220. By that I mean detail, staging including imaging.

  12. Brent Murphy

    I also own an RHA DacampL1, and am looking for a new dap. Am wondering how the Dacamp sounds compared to the dx220?

    Reply
    • Marcus

      Yeah, I have that L1 here also. I think the signatures are quite different. The L1 is punchy, more so with the EQ dials and very quick to go up in volume. I find it hard to control with sensitive IEMs but excellent for headphones.

      The DX220 is much more refined for me, not as punchy but more holographic and detailed sounding and of course as per our review can do sensitive and demanding gear alike.

      Reply
  13. Pumin

    To use as player or just transport, may you please give some thoughts about line out, SPDIF and as external DAC between R6 Pro and DX220. Thanks again for your review.

    Reply
    • Marcus

      It is a superior DAC as it uses a complete Femtosecond clock system (please see page 3 with our USB-DAC impressions).

      I don’t use the SPDIF on either, to be honest as they tend to have decoding limitations compared to USB audio.

      The DX220 has a stronger lineout rating at 3.2Vrms compared to 2.6Vrms of the R6. To be honest you only need 2V for line out. You will find it will sound livelier at 3Vrms on good amps but might distort on some analog amps that need to be 2V or lower.

      Reply

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