Tuesday, April 10, 2012

iBasso DX100 DAP Audio Bliss?.. at least till something smaller arrives.

I am one for amps but have been putting off for very long. Main reason because it has been always a pain to carry around something clunky without carrying a bag around. Other reasons being not many portable players with line out nor supports common lossless formats and still sound great. Yeah I could use an iPod, however, I AM NOT A FAN of itunes. Besides, my collection of songs are in FLAC. Reconverting them to ALAC would be a pain and storage would then double with the concurrent collections of FLAC and ALAC. Then there would be also the almost impossible feat of getting the player and amp tied together. Don’t even have to mention the LOD sticking out like a sore thumb. Don’t get me wrong. Playing with different LOD cables to tweak sound signature is great. But I just do not like the way it sticks out.

Why did I still get the DX100 even though it’s still a chunky monkey? I did consider for a while. However my decision is based on the fact that it’s a player with a built in amp. What’s not to like? No more trying to get the portable amp and player secured. No more LOD. Oh yeah, I need to replace my Cowon S9 too :P.
It supports FLAC!! Doesn’t come as a surprise but it’s always something I look for a player. The DX100 also supports most lossless audio formats, even ALAC, which is a plus point.


1st – 5th day on the DX100: The bass was precise. Was way more precise then the Cowon players I had. Treble is forward..very forward. At times, I would think it can be tune down abit. Sounds great on female vocals, however it tends to drown out the background instruments.

Few points I can think of which might change.

-         - Burn in? I was told it requires about 200hrs. I doubt my player is even on a quarter of it yet.

-        -  EQ? EQ on default player doesn’t seem to change drastically. Gotta take a bit of time to play around with it and fine tune. Have not tried PowerAmp yet. PowerAmp EQ generally works better on any Android devices. Then again, PowerAmp down samples 24bit files. So.. decisions decisions.

There have been slight skips here and there but have noticed it happens only initially. After a while, the skips stops. Its kinda like the player is trying to warm up or something. Need to more testing to determine if the skips are after a device startup or everytime we start using the default player.

~ 8th day: Soundstage definitely not as colourful as the Ray Samuel amps. Would be good for one who likes it clean. "as it is" kinda sound. Also very contained but at the same time not sound like its in a box. Every aspect like voice, instruments, etc are very controlled.

~ 10th day: Dance tracks actually sounds really good on this. I'm actually liking dance albums which I do not really fancy previously.

~ 20th day: Changed back to the JH13Pro default cable. Trebles not as forward. Everything sounds more synergistic. Maybe its just me. Or maybe its just the burn in.

User Interface

Very beta feel! Default audio player feels like a “version 0.x” if you get my drift. Browsing through a long list can be a pain. Example, if I were to scroll all the way down from Artist search to say N. Select an artist from there. Then I decided, Nope.. I hit on back button. Guess what? It goes back to the start of the list.
EQ has custom but doesn’t let you save. And if you were to select another preset EQ, the custom actually follows the EQ settings you have selected.  I like to customize my EQ and change around depending on the genre of songs. In this case, the default player totally fails in this. I guess I have to wait for some new updates from iBasso, hopefully soon. Or just go for PowerAmp.

Android UI is very basic. Nothing to brag about here. Nothing I would like to customize here since this is a DAP and I already have an Android phone to play with. I wouldn’t even wish for ICS. Just hope they dedicate their time to improve on the default audio player.

Battery and Power

It gives and average of 7hrs play time. That is already setting backlight to lowest and networks to Off. Good enough of an average 1 day use.

Too bad USB doesn’t charge the device. Else 7hrs wouldn’t be a bother for many people. Now, to get a spare charging adaptor.  


This player is getting better as time goes by. The new firmware, v1.1.0, fixed the popping or skipping bugs. Even the UI issue which I have mentioned about above is gone..WOO HOO. There seems to be a slight change in audio quality. Can't get my finger on it. Only on it for less then a hour after the firmware upgrade.


10 April 2012, 8:30pm (GMT +8):
I have decided to play around with PowerAmp. Seems to have less skipping. In fact I only encountered once. This was after I have transferred files, disconnected and then playing it. Too early to tell I presume. More tests in the next few days.
- I kinda forgot to include the rig I'm using. DX100, JH13Pro fitted with Whiplash TWag cables.

11 April 2012, 9:38am:
Seem pretty obvious that PowerAmp doesn't skip. Tried restarting device and playing immediately after reboot completes. This was tested a few times then playing from PowerAmp for a while. No skips encountered.

12 April 2012, 9.11am:
Device seems very picky on 24bit audio files.

14 April 2012, 7.53am:
Found out yesterday that it works fine with my Sandisk 64gb Micro SDXC. Extremely good news. 100+gb of flash storage!.. woohoo!!..I've already filled up the internet storage to the max. Now have filled up more then half of the 64gb Micro SDXC already.

20 April 2012:
Reverted back to the JH13Pro default cables as it seems to sound better.

26 April 2012:
Firmware v1.1.0 is out. GO UPDATE!! It seems to have fixed the popping sounds during play, on the built in player.

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