iBasso DX170 DAP Review
iBasso DX170 DAP Review
The new DX170 is the latest Digital Audio Player (DAP) of the company and the successor of the original DX160 that has been released back in 2019, which was a pretty compact device and one of my most favorite Mid-Range HiFi Audio Players. The DX170 share a quite similar design with slightly changes such like the finish of the volume button and housing of the design, while the main changes have done to some critical internal hardware components in order to archive an even better performance.
The new DX170 comes with some interesting hardware features such like Cirrus Logic’s 32-Bit CS43131 Dual DAC chipset, the latest RockChip RK3566 SoC, Dual Independent NDK Crystal Oscillators, a FPGA Master Audio Architecture, 1080P 5.0” Sharp On Cell display and many more.
I would like to thank iBasso for providing me the DX170 Digital Audio Player. I am not affiliated with iBasso beyond this review and these words reflect my true and unaltered opinions about the product.
Price & Availability:
The MSRP price fro the iBasso DX170 is 449.00 US$. More information’s can be found under the link below;
Package & Accessories:
The iBasso DX170 came inside a rectangular yellow box that was wrapped with a cardboard in grey color that has some brandings on the top.
This box is containing the following items/accessories;
- 1x iBasso DX170 Digital Audio Player
- 1x USB Type-C Cable
- 1x Transparent Silicone Case
- 2x Screen Protectors
- 1x Print Material (User Manual, Warranty Card)
Design & Build Quality:
The iBasso DX170 is a quite compact and pocket friendly device that is easy to navigate with one hand. The design shares many similarities with the original DX160 with some minor differences such like the surface finish that looks more premium than its predecessor. Another difference is the color of the volume wheel that is now silver instead of gold.
The device has dimensions of 124.5mm*70mm*15mm and weights just about 165grams.
The DX170 is available in three different color options, which are black, blue and grey same like my review unit.
On the front of the device is a pretty vibrant looking 5” 1080P (1080*1920) Full HD Sharp On Cell-Touch Screen with a pixels density of 445PPI (Pixels per Inch), which shows a decent screen to body and nice 2.5D curved corners.
The rear surface of the device sports the DX170 branding and some industrial certificates (CE, FCC, etc.), while the left and right areas are slightly curved for a better overall grip.
At the bottom of the device are the 3.5mm Single Ended and 4.4mm Balanced headphone outputs. The 3.5mm SE output doubles as Phone Out, Line Out and SPDIF output.
The left surface is equipped with a single Micro SD card (TF Card) in order to expand the storage capacity of the device.
The right side of the DX170 features a multi functional volume wheel to power On/Off and volume control.
Here are also a Hi-Res Audio label and three physical buttons for next/fast forward, play/pause and the previous/rewind actions.
On the top of the device is the USB Type-C Data & Charging port.
The overall build quality of the devices such like the metal frame, buttons, lamination of the screen and volume wheel are pretty good like on all other devices of the company.
- Model : DX170
- DAC : Cirrus Logic Dual CS43131 DAC
- Processor : RockChip RK3566 Quad Core SoC
- OS : Android 11
- RAM : 2 GB
- Storage : 32 GB + Micro SD Card Slot
- Display : 5” 1080P Full HD Sharp On Cell-Touch Screen
- WiFi : 2.4 & 5 GHz (b/g/n/ac) with WiFi6 support
- Bluetooth : BT 5.0 with LDAC and aptX output
- USB : 3.0
- MQA Unfold : up to 8x
- Output Ports : 3.5mm Single-Ended and 4.4mm Balanced Output
- Output Power : 3.2Vrms (3.5mm SE), 6.4Vrms (4.4mm Balanced)
- THD+N : 0.0004% (3.5mm SE), 0.0022% (4.4mm Balanced)
- SNR : 125dB (3.5mm SE), 130dB (4.4mm Balanced)
- Frequency Response : 10Hz – 40kHz ± -0.15dB (3.5mm SE & 4.4mm Balanced)
- Battery capacity : 3200mAh 3.8V
- Playback time : up to 11 hours
- Dimensions : 124.5mm*70mm*15mm
- Weight : 165grams
Hardware & Software Features:
The new DX170 comes with some interesting hardware features such like Cirrus Logic’s latest 32-Bit CS43131 Dual DAC chipset, RockChip’s RK3566 SoC, Dual Independent NDK Crystal Oscillators and a FPGA Master Audio Architecture.
CPU, RAM & Storage Capacity:
The new iBasso DX170 DAP comes with RockChip’s latest generation RK3566 SoC (System on a Chip), which relies on four ARM Cortex-A55 CPU cores clocked at 1.8 GHz, a Mali-G52 2EE GPU and an NPU that offers up to 0.8 TOPS of performance that should have a higher AnTuTu score compared to Qualcomm SoC’s like the SD425/430 found in similar priced devices.
The RK3566 is a fairly capable midrange SoC also found inside Raspberry Pi clones such like the Compact3566 or some new Retro handhelds such like the Abernic RG503 and GKD Mini Plus.
The DX170 is equipped with 2GB of RAM and 32GB internal Storage (partly reserved by Android OS) that can be expanded up to 2TB via Micro SD Card slot.
Digital to Analog Converter:
The iBasso DX170 features Dual Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC chips that offers a decent Signal to Noise Ratio of approx 125dB over the 3.5mm SE and 130dB over its 4.4mm Balanced output. The THD+N results are also quite solid with 0.0004% from the 3.5mm SE, which are even better over the 4.4mm Balanced output with 0.00022%.
The iBasso DX170 supports almost any traditional and modern audio formats that are listed below;
- MQA, APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, OGG, MP3, DFF, DSF, DXD, CUE, ISO, M3U, M3U8, MQA Native DSD: DSD64/128/256
USB & Bluetooth DAC Mode:
The iBasso DX170 offers a decent USB DAC function that supports a wide variety of devices including Windows PC’s, MAC Computers and Linux Computers. On Windows OS, the USB DAC function supports WASAPI.
The DX170 supports up to 32 bit/384kHz PCM, and DSD DoP up to 128x when be used as a USB-DAC.
The DX170 can also be used as Bluetooth DAC that is compatible with Bluetooth devices such as a mobile phone and tablets, etc. Please note that the devices supports only the AAC and SBC codec’s when used as Bluetooth DAC.
DX170 supports also the MQA technology, which enables you to play back MQA audio files and streams, delivering the sound of the original master recording, while the DX170 offers 8x unfold.
Outputs/Inputs & Amplification:
The iBasso DX170 is a pretty powerful device that offers many output and input options that should be found on a modern portable Digital Audio Player. The device is equipped with a 3.5mm Single Ended and 4.4mm Balanced headphone output, while the 3.5mm output doubles as Phone Out, Line Out and SPDIF/Coaxial output.
The DX170 has a very silent and dark/black background even when the WiFi antenna is active, which makes it ideal for the use with sensitive IEM’s such like the Campfire Audio ARA.
The device is also powerful enough to properly drive full sized planar headphones such like the HiFiMAN Edition XS to pretty loud volume lives.
A detailed list of specification is listed below;
|4.4mm Balanced Output:|
|Frequency Response||10Hz~40kHz+/-0.15 dB|
|THD+N||0.00022% (no load) / 0.00022% (32Ωload，3Vrms）|
|3.5mm Headphone Out:|
|Frequency Response||10Hz~40kHz+/-0.15 dB|
|THD+N||0.0004% (no load) / 0.0007% (32Ωload，3Vrms）|
|THD+N||0.00035% (no load)|
The iBasso DX170 is equipped with a build in Wi-Fi antenna that supports the 802.11 b/g/n/ac protocols and 2.4GHz and 5 GHz frequency standards. The antenna has a pretty good shielding so that it doesn’t shows any interferences while streaming music from online music services such like Tidal, Spotify, Qobuz, Deezer, Apple Music and many more.
The DX170 offers also LDAC and AptX Bluetooth output for TWS IEM’s, Headphones and other sources such like Soundbars and Speakers with BT connectivity.
The DX170 is equipped with a 3200mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer batter and supports QC3.0, PD2.0, & MTK PE Plus Quick Charge standards. The battery durations over both the 3.5mm Single Ended and 4.4mm Balanced outputs are listed below;
Low Gain / Volume 60 / iBasso IT07 / Screen Off
- 3.5mm Single-Ended Output : 10 Hours Flac 16 bit/44.1kHz / 9 Hours Flac 24bit/192kHz
- 4.4mm Balanced Output : 9 Hours Flac 16 bit/44.1kHz / 8 Hours Flac 24bit/192kHz
Software (FW Version 1.03, Dec 12th, 2022):
The iBasso DX170 comes with a slightly customized UI (User Interface) based on the Android 11 operating System (OS) that is pretty close to a Basic/Vanilla Android experience. The UI is relative bug free with the latest FW Version 1.03 (Dec 12th, 2022) that can be updated over the setting menu. The transitions are in general smooth but not as snappy like on its bigger brothers like the DX240, DX300 and DX320 that do benefit from more RAM and a higher end Snapdragon 660 SoC. But please keep in mind that the DX170 is not a device created for Multitasking Purposes such like a Smartphone or Tablet; this is a portable Digital Audio Player with Android OS that works pretty fine with Streaming services such like Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz, Spotify, Apple Music and many more.
The DX170 does not come with Google’s Play Store. However, applications such like Online Streaming Services and other APPs can be side loaded via APK files or with the APK Pure APP that came pre-installed, which is a quite efficient Play Store alternative.
The DX170 came with some pre-installed applications like a Calculator, Clock, File Manager, Gallery, Video Player, Chrome Browser and iBasso’s very good implemented MANGO player. The “Top Navigation Bar” gives you quick access to settings such like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane Mode, Screenshot and Brightness toggling. Bu the best part is the easy access for quick toggle of Gain, Digital Filters and Output Mode modes. The iBasso DX170 offers 5 Digital Filters that you can select over the Audio Settings Menu or quickly over shortcut on the Top Navigation Bar.
The Mango Music Player application looks similar to those of the DX240 and has a nice looking UI design with some settings shortcuts Gapless (On/OFF), Gain (Low/High), Play Mode, Equalizer (supports Parametric EQ), L/R Balance, Digital Filters etc.
Equipment’s used for this review:
- DAP’s : iBasso DX170, iBasso DX160
- IEM’s : iBasso IT01X & IT07, Meze Rai Penta, BQEYZ Winter, 7HZ Timeless
- Headphones : HiFiMAN Editions XS, iBasso SR2
Albums & tracks used for this review:
- Adele – My Little Love (Spotify)
- Randy Crawford – On Day I Will Fly Away (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Hayley Westenra – Odyssey Album (Dezzer HiFi)
- Dionne Warwick – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Sarah McLachlan – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
- Aretha Franklin – I Say A Little Payer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Sonya Yoncheva – (Giuseppe Verdi) II Trovatore, ActI (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- George Michael – Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- David Bowie – Heroes (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Elton John – Rocket Man ((Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- B. King – Riding With The King (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Hysteria – Muse (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Rush – YYZ (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Red Hot Chili Peppers – Nobody Weird Like Me (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Bro Safari, UFO! – Drama (Deezer HiFi)
- Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Daft Punk – Doin’ it Right (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Jo Blankenburg – Meraki (Spotify)
- Lorde – Royals (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
- Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Gogo Penguin – Murmuration (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
- Max Richter – On the Nature of Daylight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Ferit Odman – Look, Stop & Listen (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Deezer HiFi)
- Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Lunatic Soul – The Passage (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove it) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)
- Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
- Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)
The iBasso DX170 offers a nicely natural and pretty close to reference sound profile like almost all previous DAP’s of the company that I have reviewed and/or listened before. The level of clarity and resolution is outstanding and the pitch black background with its ultra low noise floor helps to catch finest details from your music, which is excellent for that price point that is only better on higher models like the DX300 or DX320.
The iBasso DX170 review has been written after a burn-in period of approx 100 hours. My sound impressions below are mainly based to my experience with IEM’s like the iBasso IT07 & IT01X, Meze Audio Rai Penta, BQEYZ Winter and 7HZ Timeless.
The lower frequency response of the iBasso DX170 is impressive both in terms of musicality and technical performance. The bass highly dynamic and has a good level of fullness, extension and resolution, while it doesn’t shows any audible compromised in terms of clarity and authority even in complex bass passages when I have pair it with IEM’s like the iBasso IT07, Meze Rai Penta and BQEYZ Winter.
The subbass region is produced with a great level of depth and rumble when I have listen to songs like Lorde’s “Royals” or Massive Attack’s “Angle” especially when paired with IEM’s like the iBasso IT07, 7HZ Timeless or QoA Margarita.
The midbass region is nicely textured and offers a decent grade of body and impact when called upon. Fast and complex passages such like Red Hot Chili Peppers “Nobody Weird Like Me, Gogo Penguin’s “Murmuration” or “Hysteria” from Muse. The sense of authority and clarity is again top notch followed with a decent grade of resolution.
The iBasso DX170 shows a pretty rich, natural and detailed midrange presentation with great sense of airiness and clarity from the lower up to the upper midrange area, while listen to female and male vocals or to a wide variety of instruments.
The lower midrange is shown with excellent grade of fullness, while it still transparent and on and detail level that is above this its price tag. Both male voices and instruments from snare drums and toms to violins and pianos. Male vocals such like Dave Gahan, Sting and Elton John are reproduced with decent body and realism especially when paired with IEM’s like the Meze RAI Penta and BQEYZ Winter.
The iBasso DX170 is able to produce a pretty vivid and detailed upper midrange response with good sense of brightness and extension that was pretty audible while listen to female voices such like Adel, Dionne Warwick or Diana Krall as well as instruments such like electro guitars, mandolins or side flutes.
The iBasso DX170 has a nicely energetic yet controlled treble presentation with slightly more presence in the lower treble area. The transitions from the upper midrange towards the lower treble area are quite controlled, which is one of the main attraction for me in this part of the frequency region.
The lower treble range is produced with an excellent level of presence and clarity that was pretty audible while listen to female voices like Sonya Yoncheva and Sertap Erener. Percussions such like Hi-Hats and Kick drums on the other hand are reproduced with a good sense of attack and extension.
The upper treble range of the iBasso DX170 sounds pretty natural and detailed, especially when paired with IEM’s such like iBasso IT07 and Meze RAI Penta. The device is able to produce an excellent sense of airiness and sparkle when I do listen to soprano voices and instruments such like a pianos and cymbals.
The general treble intensity and quantity will satisfy most listeners while listen to a wide variety of genres from pop to jazz, from metal music up to electronic music. The authority and detail retrieval of the DX170 in this area is quite impressive for a device at this price.
Soundstage & Imaging:
The iBasso DX170 surprised me with its pretty spacious and holographic soundstage atmosphere for a product at this price level, which shows decent conditions for a pretty natural and precise placement of instruments and vocals. The sense of depth and wideness is on an above average level that fulfilled my expectation from a device at this price range.
iBasso DX170 versus iBasso DX160:
The DX170 shows a slightly warmer tonality and a fuller overall presentation, while the DX160 is on the brighter side of neutral with a more energetic top end.
The lower frequency region of the DX170 has more body and extension with most IEM’s and Headphones I have listen. This was quite audible with the HiFiMAN Editions XS that gained some extra body in this area. However, both devices do show are relative close performance in terms of resolution and authority in this area.
Both the DX170 and DX160 do offer a pretty transparent and detailed midrange presentation, while the DX170 sounds a bit warmer and musical while listen to both vocals and instruments. The lower midrange of the DX170 shows a bit more body and depth when I have listen to male vocals and instruments such like a viola or cello. The upper midrange of the DX160 is slightly brighter and energetic compared to those of the DX170. I prefer the more balanced upper midrange character of the new DX170 over those of the DX160 when I do listen to female voices and to instruments.
The treble range of the DX170 sounds a bit smoother and natural than those of the DX160 that sounds slightly more energetic and sharp in this area. The DX160 has the slightly edge when it comes to the treble extension, while both area successful in terms of overall resolution and technical performance.
Both devices do offers a decent performance, especially for their price tag when it comes to the separation and placement of instruments and vocals. The DX170 has the slightly edge when it comes to the sense of depth and transparency thanks to its very dark and clean background, while both are relative equal when it comes to the wideness of the stage.
I highly enjoyed the gorgeous looking display and the very compact and pocket friendly design of the new iBasso DX170, which makes it ideal on the go. But the most important selling points for me are the powerful yet very clean outputs and the overall sound performance of the device that is quite dynamic, musical and detailed. All these features do make the DX170 to a highly versatile Digital Audio Player that is suitable for sensitive IEM’s and relative demanding Headphones as well for a wide variety of music genres, which I can highly recommend at this price level.
Pros & Cons:
- + Overall Sound Performance (Resolution, Dynamics, Technicality)
- + Powerful & Clean Outputs (both 3.5mm SE & 4.4mm Balanced)
- + Compact & Lightweight Design
- + Gorgeous looking Touch Display
- + Easy to Navigate with One Hand
- + Good Battery Life with Quick Charge Support
- + MQA Rendering
- + Bluetooth DAC and other extra functions
- – Needs some Software improvements
- – No 2.5mm Balanced Output (I don’t miss it!)
- – I don’t like the appearance of the silicone case, which is otherwise a useful addition
Thank you for the Read!