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iBasso DX160 Review: Endless perfection

It seems that the display problems with the release of the first batch of DX200 prompted iBasso to come up with a rather sensible idea – if in smartphones people want a bigger screen, and preferably on the entire front panel, then why should the players graze the back ones? This is how the top DX220 was first upgraded , and then in the 160th they made a similar decision. Of course, this is the first thing that attracts in the fresh iBasso player , but not the last. After all, the sound of the player has something to show, and in terms of usability, it does not graze the back ones.

Packaging and equipment

The iBasso DX160 comes in a black cardboard box. But it is hidden under a gray-blue dust jacket, on which the manufacturer’s logo, model name, and even wrote that it is a high-cut player, so that the buyer does not expect something else. On the reverse side there is a traditional list of characteristics, from the interesting things from there you can find out that a pair of Cirrius Lodgic CS43198 acts as a DAC.

But in order not to read too much, we take out the box itself from the dust jacket. It opens like a book, on the inside of the lid there is an envelope with printing, and on the lodgement made of foam material we will find the player itself. In general, nothing unconventional, the approach to packaging is the same as that of their headphones. And this is understandable, after all, not top. Not so top that even stick the protective film on the screen yourself.

There are already two of them in the set. Also from the useful we will find a transparent silicone case. It fits snugly to the device, looks pretty good, but personally I don’t like the fact that pressing the buttons becomes indistinct (the case covers them). But in general it gets used to it.

Design and ergonomics

The player is a solid aluminum block with slightly rounded edges. Thanks to this, the device lies comfortably in the hand, the controls are accessible and intuitively felt. The color, by the way, can also be chosen when purchasing – the model is one of the few presented in several colors instead of the usual black and white / silver.

On the right, closer to the top, there is a volume knob. It is quite compact and flat, with a pleasant diagonal notch and is distinguished from the general range in gold color. There is absolutely no backlash, a high-quality encoder is used, so the clicks are pleasant and clear, it is not difficult to set the required volume level. In addition, the clicks are tactilely very pleasant and sticky.

Breaking away from this activity, we find small protrusions on the case at the top and bottom for protection, and below on the same edge of the playback control button. They protrude enough from the body to be felt, and the clicks are clear and pleasant. What you can’t find are the Hi-res stickers, which are located on the same edge below. And if you thought that the right side is infinite, then no, that’s all. A pair of outputs (3.5 unbalanced, combined with a linear and SPDIF and 4.4 balanced) are located on the bottom edge. The right side (of course, not all) is occupied by a slot for a microSD memory card. Scanning is fast enough, there were no problems with reading 256 and 512 GB cards.

The upper side contains the on / off button for the device and USB-C for charging and everything the player is capable of – working as an external DAC, for connecting external DACs and for accessing memory. The player has only 32 GB of its own – not so much, but enough for some test disc in the redbook. The player does not take too long to charge, about 2 hours, but it certainly did not detect. Fast charging is supported, which is also a plus. The player works depending on the load – 7-8 hours for balance and 10-15 for unbalance. And if the first numbers for a device of this level are a little modest, then the second ones are more than excellent.
The back panel is also slightly rounded, it is glossy and collects fingerprints, but let the case help you. And, of course, given the presence of wireless modules, they could not make it metal.

Over the years, it has been licked and brought to condition, now it does not look like an alien since the days of Windows 98 and is a very convenient logical application. I will not dwell on the description of functions and control logic in detail. I guess everyone is familiar with Android. The separate Mango-mode was abandoned and, for my taste, the player only benefits from this in terms of features.

Sound

In terms of sound, iBasso remain true to themselves. Excellent detail, fairly even analytical presentation without special peaks and anti-aliasing, and a wide scene.

LFs  have good control and detail, they are contoured, variable and textured, the bass is a little dry, devoid of a quantitative accent and does not have additional weight. But we cannot say that there are problems here – on the contrary, the blows have sufficient density and massiveness.
The transfer of textures is given to the player very well, a slightly dry presentation makes them a little more effective and expressive, but this does not harm the overall picture.

The midrange  can also be called neutral, they are slightly displaced natural in the macro.
Of course, the detail does not suffer from this, but more attention is paid to the overall composition, its mood and emotions, so the sound is very engaging. At the same time, of course, resolution, transparency, timbres and emotions are fully conveyed, as you would expect. The instruments sound expressive, bold and full-bodied.

The high frequencies  have good detail and control, they are not prohibitively long, but of course, they cannot be called crushed, so the sound is quite open, detailed and airy. No anti-aliasing, but no accentuation, peaks or sharpness. The attacks have a good speed, each tool can be distinguished in the general front. The attenuation is long enough and does not get confused with each other. Of course, the player does not convey all the elegance of barely noticeable overtones, but this is not his lot – only the tops are supposed to cope with this.

The scene is  more than average in width and depth, the separation of the plans and the three-dimensional nuances of the recording are fully played out. The division and interaction of plans is quite good, without surprises, but also without revelations. The positioning of the instruments is quite correct, there is enough air and space between them for interaction, and the general structure has a slight bias in scale, so sometimes the recordings sound a little wider, but the edges of the stage do not put pressure on the listener and do not limit the performers.

Conclusion

In terms of criticality for recording, iBasso DX160 is about average, in terms of the selection of headphones – to your taste, good power and good control allow it not to tear and throw, but calmly swing any adequate iem and non-stationary full-size . As for the rest, the player turned out to be one of the best in its price category, leaving no chances for competitors in terms of quality.

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