iBasso DX220 MAX Review

 

 

 

 

iBasso DX220 MAX Review

 

Introduction:

iBasso is a Chinese company that is specialized in the production, development & designing of Portable Audio products such like Digital Audio Players (DAP), Portable Amplifiers and In-Ear Monitors/Headphones.

The iBasso DX220 MAX is a Transportable Digital Audio Player (DAP) and the Top of The Line (TOTL) product of the company. The description Transportable instead of Portable comes from the fact that the DX220 MAX has a fairly larger dimension and higher weight compared to traditional portable classified HiFi Players such like the DX220, DX200 or DX160 and can be classified as a product between desktop and portable.

The DX220 MAX has some really interesting features such like a independent power supply section, with one 4400mAh 3.8V battery that is dedicated for the digital components (DAC, CPU, Screen, etc.) and 4 x 900mAh (3600mAh) 8.4V  batteries dedicated for the Analog department (amplifier). It features also an ES9028Pro Dual DAC Chip, a 5.0” 1080P Full Screen, analog volume adjustment knob and many more.

 

 

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank iBasso for providing me the DX220 MAX as review sample. Please note that I am not affiliated with iBasso and that all these impressions do reflect my true and unaltered opinions about the product!

  

 

Price:

The iBasso DX220 MAX is a fairly pricey High-End HiFi gear with some impressive hardware features that belongs to the league of TOTL DAP’s. The MSRP price for the DX220 MAX is approx. $1888.00 USD.

 

 

Package and Accessories:

The device comes in fairly big box in black color which has the iBasso brand logo on the top.

This box is protected by a cardboard slave in dark grey color without any brandings.

The original retrial package will come with the following items/accessories;

  • 1 x iBasso DX220 MAX HiFi Player
  • 2 x Screen protective films
  • 1 x Leather case
  • 3 x Carry Pouch
  • 1 x USB Type-C Charging/Data Cable
  • 1 x 4.4mm balanced to 3.5mm single ended cable
  • 1x 2.5mm balanced to 4.4mm balanced adapter (CA02)
  • 1 x Coaxial (SPDIF) Cable
  • 1 x 18V AC adapter
  • 1 x Burn-In Cable
  • 1 x User Manual
  • 1 x Warranty Card

 

The DX220 MAX came with a leather case is in orange color which has a nice optic and feel.

The inner surface of that case has small iBasso brand illustrations that do look pretty nice.

The 4.4mm balanced to 3.5mm single ended cable, 2.5mm balanced to 4.4mm balanced adapter (CA02) and the extra burn-In cable which came as standard accessories are some nice additions.

The iBasso DX220 MAX also with 3 pieces of velvet carry pouchs.

 

 

 

 

Design, Buttons and Build Quality:

The DX220 MAX is a device that is produced for semi-portable purposes that contains heavy components such like 5 batteries for two independent power supply section or the stainless steel housing which makes it to a fairly large and heavy Player compared to traditional DAP’s such like the DX220 and even smaller like the DX160.

The iBasso DX220 MAX is a very robust looking device with a pretty clean and minimalistic design language. The dimension of the DX220 MAX are approx L145MM x W86MM x H27MM and has a weight of approx. 700 grams (1.55 pounds).

The DX220 MAX is made of stainless steel which explains the weight beside the batteries. It is a very robust device doesn’t show any imperfections like gaps, burrs or any openness.

On the top of the device is the 5.0” IPS screen with a pixel density of 1920*1080, which is a so called “On Cell” capacitive touch panel.

The screen is pretty bright and visible under direct sunlight conditions.

On the left side of the devices is a single micro SD card slot for storage expansion which supports at least memory cards up to 2TB (MicroSD Cards in SDHC & SDXC format).

On the front of the DX220 MAX are the analog outputs such like the 4.4mm Line Out, the 4.4mm Balanced Out and the 3.5mm Phone output. Here is also the nice looking analog volume knob in gold color. This volume knob has a special designed 4-connected analog potentiometer with a tolerance within 2dB.

At the rear side of the device is the DC in charging port, the power button, the USB Type-C port (Digital Section Charging & Data Transfer) and the Mini Optical/Coaxial Output Port.

Both the outputs and the inputs do have nice looking golden frames.

The bottom of the device features a glass panel in black color that is protected with a pre-installed screen/surface protector (made of plastic). Here you can find the iBasso logo, some brandings and information’s about industrial certifications.

The overall build quality of the iBasso DX220 MAX is very robust thanks to the stainless steel housing that is in combination of glass and parts in gold color that gives the device a special appearance.

 

 

Technical Specifications:
  • Operating System      : Android 8.0
  • CPU                            : 8 Core
  • RAM                           : 4GB LPDDR3
  • ROM                           : 128 GB (118 GB free space / approx 10GB are reserved for the OS)
  • Screen                        : 5.0” 1920*1020 (1080P) IPS Screen
  • DAC                            : Dual ES9028Pro DAC Chip
  • Analog Outputs          : 4.4mm Line Out, 3.5mm Phone Out, 4.4mm Balanced Out (TRRRS)
  • Digital Out                  : SPDIF/Coaxial, Mini Optical Out, USB Type-C
  • XMOS Receiver          : XMOS USB Receiver for Native DSD Support (up to 512x)
  • Battery Digital Part     : 1 x 4400mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer
  • Battery Analog Part    : 4 x 900mAh (3600mAh) 8.4V Li-Polymer
  • Battery Life                 : up to 14 hours DAP section / up to 11 – 11.5 hours AMP section
  • Size                            : L145MM x W86MM x H27MM
  • Weight                       : approx 700 grams (1.55 pounds)

 

 

 

Supported Audio and Bluetooth Codec’s:

The iBasso DX220 MAX supports almost any modern and traditional audio format available on the market including MQA. MQA — short for “Master Quality Authenticated” is a new way to experience high-resolution audio.

MQA encoding folds studio-quality audio into files that are small enough to stream (or store in large quantities on a portable device). But the encoding process doesn’t just make hi-res music files smaller. It makes them sound much better, too.

You can buy a limited selection of MQA downloads now. They play through any equipment that can decode lossless file formats (WAV, FLAC, and ALAC).

The list of supported formats is as follows;

 

  • MQA, APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, OGG, MP3, DSF, DFF, DXD, CUE, ISO
  • PCM: 8kHz – 384kHz (8/16/24/32Bit)
  • Native DSD: DSD64/128/256/512

 

 

Hardware:

The iBasso DX220 MAX is a very sophisticated device with some impressive hardware specs that I will now explain below.

 

A) DAC (Digital to Analog Converter):

The iBasso DX220 MAX utilizes de same Dual Sabre ES9028pro DAC Chip (Digital to Analog Converter) that we have found inside the DX220, which has 8 DAC’s per side. Each ES9028pro uses the 8 DACs in parallel for each channel. This design optimizes the THD+N, Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR), Dynamic Range and Crosstalk performance of the DX220 MAX.

 

The ES9028pro DAC Chip inside teh DX220 MAX features 7 diffrent Digital Filters. Those Digital filters are Fast Roll-Off (Linear), Slow Roll-Off (Linear), Fast Roll-Off (Linear), Slow Roll-Off (Minimum), Apodizing (Linear), Fast Roll-Off (Hybrid) and Brick Wall (Linear).

 

B) USB DAC:

The DX220 MAX is a device with a USB DAC functionality that do allow you to connect it to a Windows PC, MAC Computer and Linux Computer to stream music. A MAC and Linux device doesn’t need any driver installation, while you need to download and install the USB DAC Driver for your Windows PC under the following link:

http://www.ibasso.com/down.php

The XMOS XU208 Chip of the DX220 supports PCM formats up to 32bit/384kHz and

Native DSD up to 512x.

 

C) CPU/RAM/ROM:

The iBasso DX220 MAX features the same 8-Core (Octa-Core) ARM CPU, 4GB’s of LPDDR3 type of RAM we have seen inside the DX220. The main difference is the storage capacity that has been doubled from 64GB to 128GB of ROM.

You can also expand the storage capacity via MicroSD cards with a capacity up to 2TB.

 

 

D) Wireless Connectivity:

The iBasso DX220 MAX has a build in Wi-Fi antenna which supports the 802.11 b/g/n/ac protocols and the 2.4GHz / 5 GHz frequency standards.

The iBasso DX220 MAX offers also two-way Bluetooth 5.0 audio transmission and has native LDAC and Aptx support, which means that you can send and receive your audio from/to external devices like Headphones/Speakers/Phones/Tablets etc.

 

 

E) Amplification:

The iBasso DX220 MAX features a optimized super class A discrete amp circuit, based on the AMP8 module, which eliminates the switching distortion of transistors, while providing the sound signature of a class A amplifier, that also significantly reduces heat generation.

The DX220 MAX features also some versatile outputs that incorporate a 4.4mm balanced line out, 4.4mm balanced phone out, and a 3.5mm single ended phone out. The voltage output of the 3.5mm single ended is up to 4.4V RMS, while the balanced phone out has an even higher output power of 8.8V RMS.

Some additional output information’s are listed below;

 

 

3.5mm Single Ended Output (TRS):

  • Output Level (No Load)          : 4.40VRMS (-105.5dB, 0.00053%)
  • Output Level (@300ohm)       : 4.35VRMS (-104dB, 0.00063%)
  • Frequency Response               : 10HZ-40KHZ+/-0.2dB
  • SNR                                         : 122dB
  • Dynamic Range                       : -122dB
  • THD+N (no load, DAC140)     : -114dB (0.0002%) (2.5VRMS)
  • THD+N (@300ohm)                : -112dB (0.00025%) (2.5VRMS)
  • THD+N (@32ohm)                  : -97dB (0.0014%) (2.5VRMS)
  • Crosstalk                                 : -118dB

 

 

4.4 mm Balanced Output (TRRRS):

  • Output Level (No Load)          : 8.8VRMS (-108dB, 0.0004%)
  • Output Level (@300ohm)       : 8.7VRMS (-107dB, 0.00045%)
  • Frequency Response              : 10HZ-40KHZ (-0.2dB)
  • S/N                                         : 125dB
  • Dynamic Range                      : -122dB
  • THD+N (no load, DAC132)     : -114dB (0.0002%) (3VRMS)
  • THD+N (@300ohm)                : -113.5dB (0.00021%) (3VRMS)
  • THD+N (@32ohm)                  : -101.5dB (0.00084%) (3VRMS)
  • Crosstalk                                  : -119dB

 

 

4.4mm Line Output:

  • Output Level (no load)           : 4.4VRMS (-112dB, 0.00025%)
  • Frequency response               : 10HZ-40KHZ (-0.2dB)
  • SNR                                        : 125dB
  • Dynamic Range                      : -125.8dB
  • THD+N (DAC141)                  : -115.4dB (0.00017%) (2.6VRMS)
  • Crosstalk                                : -115dB

 

 

 

Power Supply & Battery Life:

As I mentioned briefly at the beginning of my writing the DX220 MAX is a very interesting device in terms of power supply. It has two independent power supply sections, one for the analog amplifier and one that is dedicated for the digital components such like DAC, CPU, Screen, etc.

The analog part of the device features 4 pieces of 8.4V Li-Polymer batteries with a power of 900mAh that makes 3600mAh in total. The digital part on the other hand features a single 3.8V – Li-Polymer battery with a power of 4400mAh.

I did found something really interesting; If the battery on the digital side runs out, the DX220 MAX turns completely off. But if the battery on the analog side runs out, you can continue to operate and listen to your music with the battery on the digital side.

The battery time on the digital side goes up to 14 hours while the screen and Wi-Fi / Streaming are off, as iBasso stated, while the battery life goes around 11 – 11.5 hours with Wi-Fi on / Streaming on.

 

 

 

Some Remarkable Features of the iBasso DX220 MAX:

 

  • Kemet polymer tantalum, Toshin UTSJ, Panasonic, Nichicon Audio Electronic, Amtrans PET Film capacitors are used in the MAX.
  • A Total of 5pcs of Femtosecond league oscillators, with 2 of them being Accusilicon ultra low phase noise Femtosecond oscillators.
  • A custom 4-wiper potentiometer that has less than +/-2dB channel tolerance has been selected.
  • Bit for Bit playback with support up to 32bit/384kHz.

 

 

 

Software / GUI (Graphical User Interface):

1.Android:

The iBasso DX220 MAX is a Digital Audio Player with Android OS same as the DX220, DX200 & DX150 which is slightly customized by the iBasso software team. The actual Android OS Version is 8.1 Oreo and the speed of the GUI is snappy and should get better after every new update same as I have experienced with other iBasso devices such like the DX200, DX160 or DX220.

The iBasso DX220 MAX doesn’t comes with some applications such like Play Store, Play Music or Youtube that do need the so called Google Services support.

But this is not the end of the world, because iBasso has installed two “Play Store” alternatives which are the so called CoolApk and APKPure applications.

 

These Google Pay Store alternatives giving you the choice to install online music services (Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, etc.) or any other third party application of your liking.

Beside this Market alternatives are some other pre-installed applications like a calculator, chrome browser, clock, file manager, gallery, settings, video and the Mango Music Player shortcut.

On the home page of the iBasso DX220 MAX is a nice widget of the iBasso exclusive Mango Player application that was also installed on the DX220 and DX160. The widget features the album cover, song title, remaining time and buttons like play/pause, previous/rewind & next/fast forward.

The Android OS offers some nice and pretty familiar benefits like the “Top Navigation Bar” for a quick access to your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection. In addition there are also some helpful shortcuts like optical out (switch on/off) or Battery Saver (switch on/off).

The main difference of the DX220 MAX between the DX220, DX200 or DX160 is the second Battery icon which shows the remaining battery of the analog section. The left battery icon is for the analog section while the right icon shows the status of the digital part of the DX220 MAX.

On the bottom of the home screen are the classical navigation button like the back (triangle), home (circle) and task manager (square).

The settings menu is quite simple and many of us who are using or have used an Android device will feel very familiar with the menus and UI of the settings menu.

The Audio Settings Menu is allowing you to activate the optical out or to switch between low/normal/high gain and to choose 7 different Digital Filters.

 

The iBasso DX220 MAX has the same Dual Boot feature that we have seen on the DX220, which allows you to switch from the Android OS to the Mango OS which is a iBasso exclusive Linux Operating System.

To switch between Android 8.1 Oreo and Mango OS, you need to long press the power button for 3 seconds. There is a pop up window with three options where you can select “To Mango”. To return to the Android System, go into the advanced menu of Mango OS and chose Android.

 

 

2. Mango Music Player:

The Mango Music Player application of the DX220 MAX is very similar maybe identical to does that was installed on the smaller brother the DX220.

It has a nice design and some additional features like the section with 7 digital filters and Parametric Equalizer (in short PMEQ) option under the EQ settings menu.

 

3. Mango OS:

The Mango OS is the Linux based Operating System created by iBasso which allows a Pure Music Experience. Mango OS doesn’t supports Wi-Fi and Third Party applications like Spotify, Tidal Apple Music, etc. but has now a much more modern UI compared to older devices like the DX80.

The user interface of the Mango Music Player is very nice and fast, but it reacts a bit slower than the Mango Music Player application found on the Android operating system.

 

 

 

Equipment’s used for this review:
  • DAP’s                         : iBasso DX220 MAX, iBasso DX220
  • IEM’s                          : Campfire Audio ATLAS, Campfire Audio ARA & Solaris 2020,                                       HiFiMAN  RE2000, iBasso IT04, Final Audio B1, Etymotic ER4XR
  • Headphones              : iBasso SR2, SIVGA Phoenix

 

 

Albums & tracks used for this review:
  • Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • B.B. King – Riding With The King (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say a Little Prayer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • London Grammar – Interlud (Live) (Flac 24bit/44kHz)
  • Laura Pergolizzi – Lost On You “Live at Harvard and Stone” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Spotify)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • No Doubt – Hella Gut (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Twerl – Lishu (Spotify)
  • Photek – The Hidden Camera (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Portishead – The Hidden Camera (MP3 320kpbs)
  • 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)
  • Tom Player – Resonace Theory “Album” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)

 

 

 

 

The Sound Performance:

The iBasso reference sound has never been at a fully analytical level, and the DX220 MAX, presenting an additional warmth and musical tonality that takes the iBasso reference sound signature at the level of flagship DAPs one step further.

The DX220 MAX shows an energetic and deep bass response, transparent, detailed and musical midrange, and well extended, sparkly treble range, and a 3D holographic soundstage.

Please note that the review below is written after a burn-in of about 200 hours and is based on my sound experiences over the 4.4mm (TRRRS) Balanced output mainly with the iBasso SR2 Headphone and some TOTL IEM’s like the Campfire Audio ARA, SOLARIS 2020 and HiFiMAN RE2000, etc.

 

 

The Bass:

The iBasso DX220 MAX is able to deliver powerful, dynamic and energetic bass notes that spreads over a wide area. If the track/song has deep subbass notes the DX220 MAX can reproduce it very well for example with IEM’s like the Campfire Audio Atlas or the Solaris 2020 without to add additional weight and coloration that could ruined the overall performance. This means that the DX220 MAX is tuned to sound close to reference presentation in the lower frequency region.

The subbass region shows a good level of intensity and powerful rumble with the Campfire Audio Solaris 2020 and the iBasso SR2 headphone which was an extremely satisfying experience. The subbass has a nice amount of warmth and is very controlled, while the extension and decay is on a very good level with all IEM’s I have tested with the DX220 MAX.

The Subbass in tracks like Lorde’s “Royals”, Photek’s “The Hidden Camera” and Twerl’s “Lishu” have a distinct emphasis, depth and extension.

The great performance of the iBasso DX220 MAX in the lower frequency region continuous in the midbass area, where it is able to produce a powerful and distinctive presentation with CFA SOLARIS 2020 and ATLAS IEM’s as well as the iBasso SR2 Headphone. The slam effect of this area has been reproduced in a very satisfying manner. It’s impactful, detailed and has a great level of extension. The midbass region sounds controlled, has a good level of decay and doesn’t shows any negative situations like a midbasss hump or muddiness/mixings even in very complex passages.

For example; the drum intros in songs like Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, No Doubt’s “Hella Gut”, Opeth’s “Windowpane” and U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” do show a good level of speed, are pretty pronounced and do sound very detail and full bodied.

The DX220 MAX really stands out with its bass performance in terms of technicality, detail retrieval, layering and control.

 

The Midrange:

The midrange of the iBasso DX220 MAX has a good level of clarity, sounds soft, warmish and smooth. The DX220 MAX has a striking and very detailed sound with its natural midrange that shows no additional colorations.

Both male and female vocals are equally successful, while the instrument timbre is also very natural, clear, soft and musical. The amount of detail retrieval, definition and transparency of the DX220 MAX stands out with its TOP level of performance.

 

Vocals:

The iBasso DX220 MAX is a highly controlled, detailed and lively sounding DAP in every frequency region and the same goes for vocals. Male vocals have good lower midrange depth and unlike most DAP’s on the market, male vocals of the DX220 MAX have the same emphasis and success as female vocals.

The lower midrange region are in harmony with the other frequencies. Neither far ahead nor far behind. Male vocals and instruments such as bass guitars and the contrabass do sound very transparent and clear.

Male vocals have a soft and warm timbre and moderate fullness and do sound vivid, clear and pleasant with IEM’s like the HiFiMAN RE2000 and Campfire Audio ARA. It is possible to clearly hear and follow the emotional changes of the male vocals such as sadness, excitement and softness while listen to Isaac Hayes, Jeff Buckley, Eric Clapton or B.B. King.

Female vocals do show good transparency and a strong upper midrange emphasis especially with IME’s like the iBasso IT04 and Final Audio B1. Female vocals do sound airy, slightly warmish, transparent and lively. The level of clarity and airiness is the best I have experienced with my IEM’s. The iBasso DX220 MAX sound very detailed, lively and also controlled from soprano vocals up to alto level vocals paired with the iBasso SR2.

 

 

Instruments:

The iBasso DX220 MAX shows in general a musical, soft, slightly warm and highly detailed instrument tonality, while one of the main advantages of the dx220 max is that the instruments do not sound dry and too sterile. The instruments have a very lively, clean and transparent presentation.

The instrument and vocal separation & positioning is quite successful and the general presentation is neither thick nor thin and shows a presentation in the middle of the two. Since there is a neutral air between the instruments, the instruments do sound pretty airy and clean especially with the Campfire Audio ARA and HiFiMAN RE2000.

The fact that the instruments do not play too close to each other makes the DX220 MAX to a very balanced and controlled Digital Audio Player. I found it also quite successful in terms of instrument clarity, detail and distinction, and instrument / vocal separation.

Instruments like guitars do sound slightly warm, quite transparent and pretty bright towards the top end. The general guitar presentation can be described as a soft, smooth and easy to listen to. It was especially enjoyable for me to listen the guitar performance of Eric Clapton in his “Unplugged” album. Other instruments like pianos are lightly soft and very fairly shiny.

 

 

Upper Midrange and Treble:

The iBasso DX220 MAX has a soft, transparent, close to neutral, balanced and very controlled upper midrange tuning. The upper midrange is sharp, ear-piercing or sibilant, all IEM’s I have listed above do sound very controlled. The iBasso DX220 MAX shows a good performance in terms of control, detail and clarity in moment where instruments play with high distortion.

For example the cymbals, drums, vocals, and guitars do sound very clear in metal music while I listen the DX220 MAX with the HiFiMAN RE2000, CFA ARA or the iBasso SR2 headphone.

I especially liked the way the guitars sound so clean and clear in moment with high distortion. Highly distorted guitars and guitar solos in Megadeth’s “Sweating Bullets”, Slayer’s “Angel Of Death” and Rush’s “Leave That Thing Alone” are pretty crisp, detailed and very clean.

The iBasso DX220 max has a finely tuned treble range that is neither too much nor too little in quantity, just right in quantity. The treble range sounds soft, controlled, slightly warm/bright, and quite spacious / airy with all IEM’s and the iBasso SR2 headphone.

The treble range do not come to much in the foreground even in the harshest and fastest recordings, and doesn’t tire the ear. The well-tuned treble character is the most important elements that make the treble range of the DX220 MAX so natural.

The DX220 MAX does not have a harsh or aggressive presentation in any frequency group including treble and shows in general a mature tuning with very good detail retrieval.

The DX220 MAX sound very successful in terms of treble extension, control, intensity and detail retrieval while I did listen to cymbals in metal music paired with the iBasso SR2 headphone that offers a great synergy. The cymbals in jazz music do sound soft, detailed and controlled with good level of extension. Neither cymbals nor pianos have additional shine and hardness, everything sounds very natural. In classical music, there is no mixings or harshness in violins and with other woodwind instruments.

 

The Soundstage and Background:

The iBasso DX220 MAX is a successful DAP in terms of separation and placement of instruments and vocals. The soundstage is spacious and airy and shows a holographic almost 3D presentation with very good width and depth.

The DX220 MAX is even more successful in terms of background noise compared to the smaller bother DX220 that does offer an extremely black background. The background of the DX220 MAX is pitch black, clean and noise-free. I did not hear any noise from my very sensitive IEM’s, so that I could focus more on listening to music and to have had hear micro-details more clearly.

 

 

 

Some Comparisons (DAP’s & IEM’s):

 

iBasso DX220 MAX versus iBasso DX220 (with AMP1 MKII):

The iBasso DX220 MAX is a device that differs from the DX220 with its size, weight, two different and separate battery circuits, and it is intended for both desktop and portable, while the DX220 is a more portable Digital Audio Player with its smaller footprint compared to the transportable DX220 MAX.

But what is the difference of both devices in terms of sound signature & performance.

The DX220 MAX is superior to the DX220 in terms of dynamic range, power, soundstage expansion, background (darkness/clarity) and overall detail retrieval.

The DX220 MAX shows a slightly more natural, detailed and soft presentation compared to its smaller brother the DX220.  The treble performance of both devices is pretty close in terms of sparkle, extension and detailed retrieval. But the treble range of the DX220 MAX offers more refinement, is in general softer tonality and is also more controlled, while the DX220 shows slightly more brightness and sharpness in this area.

The midrange of the iBasso DX220 is slightly more colored compared to the DX220 MAX which doesn’t shows any coloration with its natural & neutral tuning

The bass of the iBasso DX220 MAX has a wider range/spectrum and offers also a slightly better level of layering compare to the DX220.

The DX220 MAX has the upper hand in terms of soundstage depth, width and separation. Apart from these differences, both daps have an exciting sound, detail and success.

 

 

Other IEM’s that I have testes with the DX220 MAX:
iBasso DX220 MAX with iBasso IT04:

The stage of the iBasso IT04 has expanded with DX220 MAX. A slightly harshness in the treble range of the IT04 has been softened a little, while the midrange gained more body thanks to the powerful DX220 MAX and gave it slightly warmth. The depth and amount of subbass hasn’t changed dramatically, so I can say that there was no big difference in this area.

 

iBasso DX220 MAX with Final Audio B1:

Final Audio B1 is an In-Ear Monitor with a warm, full bodied and entertaining sound character and is especially successful in terms of bass response and female vocals. With the DX220 MAX, the warmth of the B1 has decreased slightly, that’s why it’s easier to hear some details, especially in the upper treble region. Female vocals gave me more pleasure when listening to the B1 due to the DX220 MAX’s strong and natural sound.

 

iBasso DX220 MAX with Etymotic Er4XR:

The Etymotic ER4XR has a different place for me among all other Ety’s with its slightly reinforced lower bass curve and flat, balanced, upper frequency response. The DX220 MAX didn’t changed much of the reference presentation of the ER4XR, apart from a slightly softness of the overall presentation and a little increase of body and fullness.

 

 

USB DAC Sound Performance:

The USB DAC sound Performance of Digital Audio Players was in general behind of standalone USB DAC devices. This situation changes with the iBssso DX220 MAX which offers a very close sound performance in both operating modes. The DX220 MAX sounds in USB DAC mode very strong, full bodied and detailed with a very black background.

The bitrate values of the playing song aren’t displayed on MAX’s screen, only the text USB DAC is displayed. I would like to see the actual values on the screen with some future updates.

 

 

BT DAC Mode:

The iBasso DX220 MAX supports Bluetooth codec including LDAC and aptX with the latest BT version 5.0.

There is no interruption in the signal up to 5 – 6 meter, while the interruptions do slowly start after a distance of 5 – 6 meters. In my tests with the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, I found that the DX220 MAX do offer a BT DAC sound performance that was quite satisfying, with exception of a slightly loss of depth and rumble in the subbass region. The general sound quality and presentation was quite musical, powerful and detailed. I did also not experience any drop or lose of the BT signal.

 

 

Conclusion:

The iBasso DX220 MAX is the ultimate DAP of the company created for those who don’t want any compromises in terms of sound quality, fidelity and output power. The DX220 MAX offers also a rock solid build quality, good battery life and a desktop level USB DAC performance that is crowned with a gorgeous 5″ screen, fluid UI and rich accessory package.

 

 

Pros and Cons:
  • + Top of The Line (TOTL) Sound Performance
  • + No Compromise in Terms of Detail, Clarity, Musicality
  • + USB DAC performance on a Desktop DAC Level
  • + Very Powerful
  • + Build like a Tank
  • + Good Screen to Body Ratio
  • + Lot of Accessories (Leather Case, Adaptor, Screen Protectors, Pouch’s, etc.)

 

  • – No Physical button for play, pause, etc.
  • – Heavy (But don’t forget it’s not a portable player, just transportable!)
  • – Needs to be charge with two separate adapters

 

 

 

 

 

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