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iBasso DX320 DAP Music Player Review

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An In-depth Look and Comparison with the DX300

iBasso is a staple brand here at Moon Audio - and for good reason too. They just released the latest flagship player, the DX320 – a follow-up to their previous flagship, the DX300. It was a popular music player, as it features one of, if not the, best screen on the market for a portable music player. We’ll get to that in a bit, but I like to call them the iPhones of the DAP world. They go aesthetically in the opposite direction that say, Astell&Kern does, with smoother edges and stunning colors.

So let’s not waste any time and see if the DX320 makes enough improvements over the previous flagship to warrant an upgrade for existing users or a must-buy for new ones.

Riff

Notes

Riff Notes  

Pros

  • More dynamic and engaging sound
  • Updated AMP11 MK2
  • Android 11 and many flagship features

Cons

  • Not enough upgrades for current DX300 owners
  • Less battery life

About iBasso

iBasso represents the middle-of-the-road sound signature between Astell&Kern and Sony. An incredibly resolute and neutral sound, iBasso DAPs are also known for their extreme customization options. Their products incorporate a replaceable AMP card design that can switch out I/O, amplifier, DAC, and more to customize your music player to how you want to listen to your music. They represent an incredible value as well for the price point.

iBasso Audio Logo

"Founded in 2006, iBasso is a manufacturer dedicated to the R&D and production of high-quality portable music equipment. Products cover headphone power amplifiers, digital audio decoders, digital music players, in-ear headphones, headphones, high-end cables, and other audio fields. Since its inception, iBasso has insisted on focusing on research and development as the highest demand, and strives to provide better audio equipment for every HiFi player.

Since its establishment in 2006, iBasso has developed into a well-known brand in the global HiFi circle by virtue of word-of-mouth communication. Its products are exported to more than 30 countries overseas, and it has become a high-profile professional audio product company in recent years."

-iBasso

Materials & Quality

I’m a big fan of the design of the DX320. They didn’t really change it much from the DX300, and they didn’t have to, to be honest.

I/O

Up top, you’ll find the USB-C charging port and the coaxial port. On the left side the microSD card slot. The right side is the volume knob – which is really the only visible difference from the DX300, as the new one is silver, whereas it was gold on the 300. I actually preferred the gold color personally as it matched with the gold on the headphone jacks on the Amp card. There’s also the play/pause button and the track skip forward and back. On the bottom is the Amp11 MK2S card with a 4.4 balanced, 2.5 balanced, and 3.5mm unbalanced headphone jack. We’ll talk more about the amp card in a minute.

The screen is a gorgeous 6.5-inch bezel-less design sporting a 2340 by 1080 resolution. It’s snappy, the colors are vibrant, and it's just an absolute joy to use. There is also an indicator light on the top of the screen that displays the working status of the player. It’s worth mentioning that the screen specs are no different than the DX300, but that’s not a complaint by any means, as it’s hard to find another DAP out there to match it.

I think it’s starting to feel on the large side when it comes to hi-res DAPs. I mean, with the removable amp cards it’s hard to work around that, but I do appreciate the fact that it doesn’t weigh like a brick despite the size. I really like the size of the DX240 for example, but the 240 can’t fit a 6.5-inch screen either. So either way, it’s a trade-off.

DX320 DAP with Elite Headphones

Sound Quality

These days I'm always a bit wary of a new flagship. In the age of annual device releases, it can sometimes be hard to tell if a new device is a true upgrade or if it's just an incremental new chip here or there packaged in a shiny new box. The DX320 music player does have a lot in common with the DX300 when it comes to hardware - same CPU, same battery life, same storage capacity, same design, and more. But there is one thing that is very, very different with the new DX320, and that is the DAC chip. The new flagship is configured with dual BD34301EKV ROHM DAC chips, rather than the previous quad-DAC Cirrus Logic setup in the DX300. This is the main event.

ROHM's high-grade MUS-ICTM series emphasizes "spatial reverberation", "quietness", and "dynamic range" when it comes to sound reproduction. In short, it's a pretty substantial upgrade in sonic fidelity over the Cirrus Logic chips. I'll get to more A/B testing between the two in the comparison section coming up.

DX320 DAP with Celestee Headphones

For my testing setup, I paired the iBasso DX320 DAP with the Focal Celestee headphones with a Silver Dragon Premium Cable and the Meze Audio Elite Headphones with a Silver Dragon Premium Cable.

iBasso's implementation of the BD chips is impressive. The first thing out of the gate is the natural, yet dynamic personality of the DAP sound. The timing just happened to be right when the new super deluxe edition of the Beach Boy's Sounds of Summer just released this past week with some updated mixes for 2022. California Girls really sets the mood for the summer, and the 2001 stereo mix included on the record is one of the best to date. The DX320 really brings out the saxophones in the second verse that always get covered up in every other mix or setup. The mids have a surprising clarity to them that the ROHM DAC accentuates. The kick drum is nice and punchy with the more modern mix, and the imaging is great - especially when the song gets a little crowded towards the end of the track. Usually, the backing harmonies compete and overpower the saxophones and other instrumentation, but I'm impressed with the overall balance of the sound.

The DX320 handles every genre I listened to with ease. The ROHM chip is very natural sounding, and with Rock, Jazz, Alternative, and Blues, it's the depth of the sound that stands out to me. I can really make out and feel the lower extension with bombastic movie soundtracks. The clarity in the mids and the slight roll-off on the higher frequencies make for a smooth listen. Whereas the DX300 was more analytical in signature, the DX320 is just that much more enjoyable to use. Again, the imaging is superb, and classical music combined with the soundstage and natural tonality of the DAC makes for livelier performances no matter what headphone you decide to pair with the DX320. Between both the Focal Celestee and the Meze Elite, there was more transparency and definition with the Elite, but that is to be expected given the driver technology and price difference.

Sounds of Summer album
California Girls
by the Beach Boys
(The Very Best of the Beach Boys: Sounds of Summer - Deluxe Edition)
Harry Styles album
Sign of the Times
by Harry Styles
(Harry Styles)
A Rush of Blood to the Head album
In My Place
by Coldplay
(A Rush of Blood to the Head)
John Williams Plays Bach album
Lute Suite in E Minor
Arranged By John Williams
(John Williams Plays Bach - The Four Lute Suites on Guitar)

Features

There are some notable features of iBasso's flagship digital audio player that are exclusive only to iBasso. One of the most prominent ones is the patented dual battery supply. iBasso has designed the DX320 (like the DX300 before it - see our DX300 review for more) with separate amp and digital power supplies. The power system is one of the most significant parts of a player and has a decisive influence on sound quality. SoC, DAC, AMP, and other components all have strict requirements for transient power supply. When a single battery is powering the entire system, a large demand of current by the digital section and the analog section can affect each other, which can cause distortion degrading the sound quality. The DX320 utilizes a patented dual battery structure with the AMP and digital section being powered by independent batteries. The independent battery provides a sufficient power supply to ensure the stability of the AMP section and it isolates the digital section interference to achieve better overall sound quality.

A staple of iBasso music players is the design of removable amp modules, allowing you to switch out the amplifier section for various power and I/O configurations. A replaceable AMP Card Design provides for more variety, personalization, and enjoyment of your music. Currently, there are: the AMP11 MK2, and super-class A discrete balanced AMP card AMP12. In addition, the Nutube AMP card AMP13 was just released. There is no need to replace the player, just replace the amp card and you can freely switch between the transistor with sharpness and crispness based AMP and the vivid tube sound quality. The DX320 music player comes pre-configured with the AMP11 MK2.

The DX320 also comes equipped with the latest Android 11 operating system. The faster system response and smoothness rank the DX320 at the forefront of the HiFi players. You can freely install most apps and enjoy online streaming. A switch from previous iBasso players, the DX320 bypasses the SRC from the system level, whether it is the built-in Mango player or the third-party steaming APK, you can enjoy the system-level “Non-SRC” feature. At the same time, the DX320 has a Linux-based system specifically developed for pure audio playback, the Mango OS. With the powerful GPU acceleration of Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, the fluency of the Mango system is close to that of Android. This Mango OS has accumulated a lot of optimization results for music decoding and underlying driver algorithms. Also, Mango OS disables Bluetooth and WiFi to reduce EMI interference. It has also minimized the CPU and RAM usage to maintain the system purity to achieve excellent sound quality. You'll need to reboot to select which OS to boot in, which you can select on the power-off screen.

Comparisons

So let’s get a few things out of the way, the DX320 shares the same 8-core Snapdragon 660 as the iBasso DX300, the same 128 GB internal storage, same 6GB of RAM, same screen, same Bluetooth 5.0, same I/O, same size, same maximum output of 7.1 Vrms, same batteries, and similar enough measurements across the board.

This is not to say that there aren’t some major differences between the two, because as we already discussed, the new DAC sound is substantially improved over the DX300. Hands down. The Amp11 card has been revamped too for the DX320. The only downside of this better sound tradeoff is the battery life. The DX320 has an average of 10 hours on battery whereas the DX300 had almost 15. Now 10 hours is nothing to shake your head at, but in this hobby I’ll gladly trade a few hours for better sound. It’s not a tough decision by any means.

The other perk is that the DX320 is updated to the latest Android 11. It’s snappy and responsive and allows for a lot of APK compatibility since it’s a completely open system on the iBasso players. Install apps at your own discretion.

DX300 with the DX320 DAPs

Comparisons with other DAPs

Astell&Kern KANN Max Music Player: The KANN Max is Astell&Kern's powerhouse of a DAP, offering an astounding 15Vrms of output in balanced mode on the max gain setting. That's the real draw with this music player: the power. The DX320 is nothing to sneeze at, offering 7.1Vrms, but the KANN Max is the most powerful music player on the market, being perfect for those with hard-to-drive headphones. The DX320 is more of an open-source OS, with Android 11, whereas the Max uses AK's overlaid UI. Both are great, but the DX320 is going to offer more customization options. However, it's worth noting that in terms of music streaming services and applications, both devices are the same.

Sound-wise, I personally prefer the more natural signature of the DX320's ROHM DAC, offering more lower extension than the KANN Max's quad-ES9038Q2M DAC chips. However, in the interest of the fact that everyone hears differently, the ES9038Q2M chips are incredibly dynamic and resolute, offering great layering, imaging, and soundstage. Both DAPs sound great, but I would divvy them up for the following genres if I had to pick between the two (of course there is some natural crossover):

Astell&Kern KANN Max: Great for Classical, Rock, R&B, EDM, Synthwave, and Classic Rock

iBasso DX320: Great for Jazz, Cassical, Folk, Country, Rock, Alternative, and Blues

Astell&Kern SE180 Music Player: The SE180 DAP shares a lot of comparisons with the DX320. Astell&Kern steals a play out of the iBasso book and designed their music player with removable DAC cards, like iBasso's players. Switching out DACs actually gives the user much more variation in sound signature than changing the amp section. So, if you're wanting multiple distinct sound signatures rather than cashing out for multiple devices, then the SE180 is a great choice. The amp sections do adjust the sound, especially in the case of the AMP13 and the nutube design, but not nearly as noticeable as the DAC section in my opinion. If you want a true signature change go with the SE180. If you want an already great and natural tone but want more nuances or I/O variation, go with the DX320.

Flagship vs. Flagship: Astell&Kern SP2000 Music Player: I'll keep this short. The SP2000 is one of, if not the best DAPs on the market. Its features are getting a little dated, as I suspect there's a 3000 just around the corner, but it's one of the fullest and dynamic music players I've heard. Of course, you pay a premium for that kind of sound too, and ultimately if you dont have the budget for it then the DX320 is an excellent flagship DAP in its own right. No, it doesn't sound as good, but you can also argue that at this level there are diminishing returns - if you're not the pickiest audiophile on the planet. Would I love to have a DX320? Absolutely. Would I love to have an SP2000? Absolutely. It depends on your wallet and level of fidelity you're willing to live with.


- CAUTION - Only download APK packages from well known sources. Please be aware that if any app is installed, the device may be damaged and personal data compromised. If you install an app from an unknown source, despite the warning, iBasso or Moon Audio is not responsible for any damages to the device and data resulting from the application's installation. Downloading and installing such applications may limit the scope of after-sales services provided by iBasso or Moon Audio. Installation of any application is under the discretion of the user.

AMP Cards

Let’s talk about the new AMP13 that just came out. iBasso has packed this card with a 6th gen Korg Nutube. A lot like what Astell&Kern did with their SP2000T music player, the vacuum tube sound might appeal to some out there who like a lot of warmth and toastiness in their music. I wouldn’t consider the vintage sound for everyone, but it would certainly be a good sonic option for Jazz, Blues, Folk, Classic Rock, and more. The AMP13 also has different I/O, adopting dual 3.5mm single-ended jacks, one designed with a low noise tube output and the other with maximized output, so that you can fluctuate between your preference of how strong you want the tube signature.

Dragon Cables

Generally, stock audio cables are manufactured with subpar materials, metals with impurities, poor geometries, and an overabundance of layers to make them look and feel like a fire hose. Inconsistency and lack of quality control in stock cables can lead to poor sound quality and a veiled sound vs what the musician intended for you to hear and feel from the music. Dragon cables are handcrafted with the highest standards and made to order according to your specific needs. At Moon Audio, we create a custom cable for you using the highest quality UP-OCC silver or copper conductors that can be manufactured. UP-OCC metals are void of impurities and are optimized for signal transfer and sound quality. We have one of the largest collections of audio and headphone connection options available online and we create limitless audio cable options depending on your specific gear and needs.

Silver Dragon Sound Signature: The Silver Dragon is the original cable. Silver strands clarify instrument separation, increase the soundstage, and find previously lost high and mid-frequency sounds. Transients appear more cohesive and the bass tighter for a more controlled sound. The detail and clarity of the Silver Dragon make it a perfect match for classical music and other genres with many nuanced instruments.

Black Dragon Sound Signature: The Black Dragon is warm and smooth with a musical presentation. Copper strands enhance the body, shape, and immediacy of the music. The detail and expansiveness of the Black Dragon make it a flexible fit where a broad range of musical genres are played. It can also improve bass frequencies on bass-light headphones. The smooth, musical quality makes it a perfect fit for headphones that tend to sound a bit edgy or bright. Despite its warmth, the Black Dragon does not have a laid-back, lush sound. It is much closer to neutral, making it a very natural-sounding cable. For more information on finding your signature sound, visit our Sound Signature Guide.

The Verdict

The DX320 DAP from iBasso is a true flagship audiophile music player. The new ROHM DAC sounds absolutely amazing and I’m a huge fan of the removable amp card design, allowing you to swap out modules to help customize your player to how you want to listen to your music.

The DX320 sounds better, has more depth, better imaging, better low-end presence, the high-end roll-off is smooth and yet the clarity is still present and detailed. Sound-wise it’s a definite upgrade from the DX300. Now, is it worth an upgrade for those who already own the DX300? I don’t think so. The Android 11 is a smoother and more refined experience, but I’d say wait – the incremental upgrades don’t justify a completely new buy.

But, for those who aren’t familiar with iBasso or have one of their earlier models, say like the 200 series, then the DX320 is an absolute steal for flagship-level performance, build-quality, and sound for a very un-flagship price. Like I said before, iBasso represents amazing value for what you get and how much you spend, and the DX320 music player is just that.

DX320:

  • more depth
  • better low-end presence
  • high-end roll-off is smooth
  • clarity still present and detailed

DX300:

  • more analytical
  • less height in the sound
  • more top-end sparkle
  • the low-end is much tighter but less refined

Featured Products

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What's in the Box

  • DX320 Player
  • AMP11 MK2s
  • USB-C cable
  • Coaxial cable
  • Burn-in cable
  • Leather case
  • Screen protector

Videos

iBasso DX320 DAP Unboxing Video

Coming Soon!

iBasso DX320 DAP Review Video

Coming Soon!

Specs (with amp11 MK2s)

Model: DX320

Color: Black/Green

Screen: 6.5" IPS full screen (2340x1080,

Audio Format: MQA, APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, ACC, ALAC, AIFF, OGG, MP3, DFF, DSF, DXD, and DST

USB C: USB 3.1

Output Port: 4.4 mm/2.5mm Balanced Phone out (Line out)/ 3.5mm Single Ended Phone out (Line out)/ 3.5 coaxial output/ USB OTG output

WiFi: 802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4Ghz/5Ghz) 2x2 MIMO

Bluetooth: V5.0

RAM+ROM: 6G LPDDR4X, 128G ROM

Battery: 3.8V 4000mAh Li-Polumer battery for the digital section and 3.8V 2000mAh Li-polymer battery for the AMP card section.

Charging Time: 2.5 hours

Average Play Time: 10 hours (The play time varies with different resolutions, volume used and headphone/IEM loads.)

Size: 162mm*77mm*17mm

Weight: 205g

Contents: DX320 Player+AMP11 MK2s / USB-C cable / coaxial cable / burn-in cable / Leather case / screen protector

4.4MM/2.5MM BALANCED PHONE PORT:

Maximum Output Level: 7.1Vrms

Output Power: [email protected], [email protected]

Frequency Response: 10Hz~40kHz +/-0.3dB

S/N: 125dB

Dynamic Range: 125dB

THD+N: -112dB (no Load, 2.8Vrms), -110dB (300R Load), -103dB (32R Load)

Crosstalk: -120dB

Output Impedance: 0.38ohm

3.5MM SINGLE ENDED PHONE OUT:

Maximum Output Level: 3.5Vrms

Output Power: [email protected], [email protected]

Frequency Response: 10Hz~40kHz +/-0.3dB

S/N: 125dB

Dynamic Range: 125dB

THD+N: -112dB (no Load, 2.8Vrms), -110dB (300R Load), -103dB (32R Load)

Crosstalk: -120dB

Output Impedance: 0.38ohm

 

4.4MM/2.5MM BALANCED LINE OUT:

Maximum Output Level: 7.1Vrms

Frequency Response: 10Hz~40kHz +/-0.3dB

S/N: 125dB

Dynamic Range: 125dB

THD+N: -110dB (no Load, 2.8Vrms)

Crosstalk:-120dB

 

3.5MM SINGLE ENDED LINE OUT:

Maximum Output Level: 3.5Vrms

Frequency Response: 10Hz~40kHz +/-0.3dB

S/N: 122dB

Dynamic Range: 122dB

THD+N: -108dB (no Load, 2Vrms)

Crosstalk: -110dB

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