Select Comparisons

iBasso DX200

$869

Features

The DX200 is the former flagship and has now been discontinued in favor of the DX220. The price increase is marginal given the considerable upgrades to the original DX200. The DX200 4.2″ 720p IPS panel was good in 2017 but pales in comparison to the borderless 5″ 1080p IPS panel of the DX220. The viewing angles are supreme and perhaps the best looking screen on a DAP in the market right now.

The DX220 is also slightly shorter, with a more refined build and a wireless antenna now just beneath the rear panel instead of stuck inside the main body. Our tests show that the DX220 now seems to be better at picking up a BT signal. Of course, not just signal but transmission over distance has vastly improved on the DX220 with BT5.0 compared to BT4.2 on the DX200. Both will transmit LDAC but the DX220 should be more capable of picking up higher transmission rates and longer distances.

iBasso DX200

Technical

Both DAPs continue to use the ES9028PRO DAC setup, however, the DX220 has expanded on its coding capability with native MQA decoding and a bit-perfect output. The two DAPs will still decode up to DSD512 and PCM 32BIT 384kHz. Both will operate in USB-DAC mode and as of writing the latest DAC driver from iBasso is compatible for both.

Mango on the DX220 is now much better in my eyes. It is easier to use, less drill down clicking on the app version and includes an excellent PMEQ system. The DX200 still only offers the 10-band Graphical EQ and no PMEQ and also requires a bit more swiping left and right to access a fixed library system.

Both still dual boot into Mango but the app experience is more or less mirrored here with the newer Mango OS much more attractive OS to use but missing a few category features at this early stage.

iBasso Dx200

Performance

The DX220 comes with the new AMP1 MKII and a 3-stage gain system. It is just as powerful as the older AMP1 Gen 1 yet has a much lower gain stage and noise floor to accommodate the latest generation of ultra-efficient IEMs.

With that blacker background on the DX220/AMP1 MKII combo, you also get an airier more holographic soundstage compared to the DX200/AMP1 pairing. Actually, it makes the DX200 presentation sound somewhat vague and lacking a little in focus. The imaging on the DX220 stretches out wider and deeper and to my ears sounds a lot more accurate in terms of positioning.

The timbre on the two is also slightly different also. The DX220/AMP1 has a touch more warmth in the lower-mids when we tested it with the Solaris and the IT04. You could argue a slightly softer tone to its instrumental timbre with more bass bloom.

The DX220/AMP 1 MKII combo is more reference sounding with a bit more treble extension and air. It has less lower-midrange warmth or mid-bass bloom with the Solaris instead opting for a more neutral and accurate instrumental timbre and with much better instrumental separation.

Tuning

iBasso DX220

iBasso DX150

$499

Features

The DX150 is the mid-fi version of the DX200 though still an excellent player, particularly at the $500 price point. It shares many of the features of the DX200 so the comparisons are quite similar on a feature and technical level.

The DX150 does have a slightly different build and form factor to both the DX200 and DX220 with a right panel volume dial that lacks the larger DX200 guard and physical buttons that are as big as the DX220. However, it is still not as refined in the CNC finishing as the DX220 nor as sleek in the dial and button integration.

The DX150 uses the same 720p 4.2″ IPS panel as the DX200 so again, the DX220 5″ 1080p IPS panel is just miles ahead, particularly with its high viewing angle, Corning Gorilla glass and almost borderless design. No competition here.

Mango on the DX150 is the same as the DX200 and that means a step behind the new easier UI of the DX220 Mango build for both app and OS. You do not get a PMEQ application either on the DX150.

iBasso DX150

Technical

The DX150 opts a dual AK4490EQ DAC chipset which chews less power than the DX220’s ES9028PRO chipset but is also a lot older and has a lower decoding upper threshold of DSD256. It also does not unfold and natively render MQA nor does the DX150 Android 8 platform have a bit-perfect output like the DX220.

The DX150 also has BT4.2 like the DX200 and all 3 DAPs will do LDAC on Oreo 8 but only the DX200 has BT5.0. The DX150 also only has 2Gb of RAM compared to the DX220’s 4GB making it slightly less stable for high loads.

iBasso DX150

Performance

The DX150 came out of the box loaded with the AMP6 card. Now as far as I know this card is not for sale on its own and only comes with the DX150. We found the noise floor to be slightly higher using the DX150 with AMP6 compared to the DX220 also using AMP6 with efficient IEMs. AMP6 is also not as powerful as the new AMP1 MK2 though I do find it to be a little richer and more musical sounding than the reference sound of the new AMP1.

That being said the level of detail and instrumental separation combined with the black background and 3-stage capability of the DX220 makes the AMP1 MKII the more technically capable AMP card covering a wider base of efficient IEMs and headphones.

Tuning

As for the tonality or tuning the DX150/AMP 6 pairing has more low-end body, a richer instrumental timbre and a slightly musical tilt that I tend to associate with AK4490EQ DAC chip implementations.

The DX220/AMP1 MK2 is cleaner, more reference sounding with a black background and far more headroom also.  You can hear that treble articulation stretch up and out far more than the DX150/AMP6 which tends to just roll off in favor of a smoother more relaxed sound.

There is really no less depth on the DX220 combo staging when testing the Solaris and IT04 either. Rather the DX220/AMP1 MKII pairing sounds much tighter, better defined and more spacious sounding than the DX150’s low-end.

That theme carries right into the midrange performance with these two monitors. Imaging cues are far easier to detect, the dynamic range sounds more convincing and like the DX200 comparison leaves the DX150 sounding a little vaguer and imprecise.

The level of resolution and degree of superior instrumental separation at times can be stark when comparing these two. Sure, you lose a little bass body but the accuracy and perceptible level of nuanced detail from that black background make the DX220/AMP1 MK2 combo just so much more engaging to my ears.

HiBy R6 Pro

$799

Features

As of now probably the strongest competitor to the DX220. This is a slightly smaller DAP but in the case of the Stainless-Steel version a much heavier DAP than the DX220. Some people might find the smaller form factor easier to manage in the hand for day to day use.

Like the DX22o the R6 Pro uses a Corning Gorilla glass borderless IPS screen which is immaculate, one of the best. However, the DX220 screen is now a 1080p with a higher dpi compared to the 720p of the R6 Pro and is also significantly bigger at 5″ compared to 4.2″. Also, amazingly, there is more lower-base bezel on the R6 Pro than the DX220 which I would never have thought possible.

Both DAPs have a single slot microSD card slot though the DX220 has more onboard memory at 64Gb compared to 32GB on the R6 Pro. These two DAPs are USB-DAC, OTG capable for flash drives and digital audio.

HiBy Music R6 Pro

Technical

Both use Oreo 8 and both are LDAC capable though the R6 Pro uses BT4.2 and not BT5. The R6 Pro has no dual boot capability but both DAPs do deploy a bit-perfect output architecture. The one key advantage here for the DX220 is the native MQA unfolding and rendering. There is no native support outside of TIDAL yet for the R6 Pro and decoding stops at DSD256 compared to DSD512 on the DX220.

Both use a dual Sabre DAC platforms, however, the R6 Pro opts for a dual ES9028Q2M as opposed to the ES9028PRO of the DX220. The Q2M is only dual-channel stereo but should draw slightly less power than the PRO version. As such, combined with the smaller 720p screen the battery life on the R6 Pro is longer at 10-12 hours compared to 7-8 hours on the DX220.

Speed wise the R6 Pro is faster with a higher CPU clock rate than the DX220 and the DX200 but it will be interesting to see in the long run how the stability of the DX220 4GB compared to the 3GB of the R6 Pro performs.

HiBy Music R6 Pro

Performance

The R6 Pro comes with a single fixed amp stage unlike the flexible AMP card system of the DX220. True, that means a higher cost of ownership to get all the cards but on the flipside, you get far more flexibility.

The R6 Pro’s new amp stage is powerful at 750mW into 32Ω with a 4.4mm option. This is compared to approximately 1.2W into the same load for the AMP1 MK2 and a 2.5mm TRRS option so not quite as powerful as the AMP1 MKII. Both have dedicated line-outs.

Both DAP amp stages have really low sub ohm output resistance so there is now impedance skew on either. However, the AMP1 MK2 is by far the more refined solution for highly efficient IEMs. The Solaris will show hiss on the R6 Pro’s higher noise floor whereas it has a nice black background using the 3-stage gain on the DX220/AMP1 MKII combo.

Tuning

There are a few differences in the tuning of these two DAPs. The first is the slight roll-off on the R6 Pro top-end which tends to just pull back a little on odd-harmonic overtones in favor of, the second difference, a fuller-sounding lower-midrange ae well as a thicker more even-harmonic biased instrumental and vocal timbre. The R6 Pro is going in for a bit more of a musical and forgiving tone.

The DX220/AMP1 MK2 is more linear sounding, not as punchy but not overly analytical either. It does have a lighter tone, a more neutral timbre but it reaches far more into the upper treble and sounds airier and more open than the R6 Pro.

That blacker background and better instrumental separation on the DX220/AMP1 MK2 also delivers a more holographic soundstage than the R6 Pro. The R6 Pro sounds a touch more intimate to my ears with a closer richer vocal presence. Imaging is way more vivid also on the DX220. Do not get me wrong, the R6 Pro is accurate in placement, but that cleaner harmonic balance on the DX220/AMP1 MK2 makes it easier to pick out the cues with our test IEMs, the Solaris and the IT04.

iBasso DX220

Our Verdict

Ok, lets cut to the chase on this one. At the time of writing, the DX220/AMP1 MKII combo is the best sounding DAP for under $1000. No question iBasso have doubled-down on the already excellent value DX200 from 2017 and produced a stellar sound signature update for a minimal increase in price in 2019.

This is a neutral reference sounding AMP card and DAP combination with a superb low-noise floor, expansive soundstage and incredibly black background for an analog amp stage. Its got the chops for big headphones and a deft hand for sensitive armature drivers alike. It also has impressive EQ tweaking potential such as that PMEQ option in Mango to fine-tune almost any pairing to your personal preference.

Of course, there is a long way to go in the firmware development of the DX220 and as of now, there are some recommendations I think should go into that. Mango OS and the app are by no means the finished article. The category tagging and settings cogwheel icon placement could do with some refining.  We are missing Google Play still if that is important to you and the leather case finishing makes the use of the volume dial more than tricky.

It is still not the fastest DAP in the market as of today and some of that reasoning is down to the battery demands and that lush new big 5″ screen. That superb 5″ 1080p IPS panel will have plenty of people drooling despite the average battery life and overall OS speed.

This is a quality looking visual presentation right now with a stellar sound performance and a price that, in today’s market, that is very hard to find fault with. You are gonna like this a lot!

DX220 Technical Specifications

  • OS: Android
  • DAC: Dual ES9028Pro
  • Output Ports: 2.5BAL, 3.5PO, 3.5LO, SPDIF
  • Screen: 5.0inch 1080P Full Screen 455 ppi + Gorilla Glass + Nano-hydrophobic
  • CPU: Octa Core
  • USB-DAC: XMOS
  • Bluetooth: V5 Support LDAC, aptX
  • USB Port: USB Type-C (Both data transfer and charging)
  • WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n/ac (2.4Ghz/5Ghz)
  • Memory: 4GB RAM, 64GB ROM, 1 microSD(TF) slot
  • Battery: 4400mAh, 3.8V (Supports QC3.0 and PD2.0)
  • Dimensions: 126mm * 70.5mm * 18.7mm
  • Weight: 240g
  • 2.5mm Balanced Output

  • Output Voltage: 6.2Vrms
  • Frequency Response: 10HZ-45KHZ+/-0.3dB
  • S/N: 125dB
  • THD+N: -0.00018% (no load, 3Vrms)
  • -0.0002% (32Ω load, 3Vrms)
  • Crosstalk: -119dB
  • 3.5mm Single Ended Output

  • Output Voltage: 3.1Vrms
  • Frequency Response: 10HZ-45KHZ+/-0.3dB
  • S/N: 123dB
  • THD+N: -0.00031% (no load, 1.8Vrms)
  • -0.00035% (32Ω load, 1.8Vrms)
  • Crosstalk: -117dB
  • Line out

  • Output Voltage: 3.0Vrms
  • Frequency response: 10HZ-45KHZ+/-0.3dB
  • S/N: 122dB
  • THD+N: -0.00035%, -107dB (no load, 1.8Vrms)
  • Crosstalk: -116dB
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35 Responses

  1. André Fernandes

    I would like your valuable feedback and a comparison of the DX220 with the Fiio X7 II in terms of sound. In a personal opinion, I thought the DX220 has more refinement, better treble, more organic sound. But the X7 II has more punch, drier, more aggressive sound. Will the AMP9 have more punch and bass in the DX220? Thanks .

    Reply
    • Marcus

      AMp 9 will be warmer as it is a tube amp and the recent firmware update for the AMP9 will beef up the power. AMP8 is the most powerful.

      Reply
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. Steven Zore

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

    Reply
  7. 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
  8. 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….

  9. 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!

  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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.

  13. 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
  14. 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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