July 14, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA
Headphones

iBasso DX180 Review – Headfonics

Today, Marcus reviews the iBasso DX180, which is a new Android 13 DAP that features a quad-CS43131 DAC and 690mW of balanced output power. Its price is $529.

Disclaimer: This sample was sent to me in exchange for my honest opinion. Headfonics is an independent website with no links or affiliate status. I appreciate iBasso for this opportunity.

Click here to read more about iBasso products We have previously reviewed it on Headfonics.

Please note that this article follows our current scoring guidelines which you can read in more detail here.

iBasso DX180 review featured image

iBasso DX180 Review

Summary

The iBasso DX180 is a very accomplished, natural-sounding Android-equipped mid-range digital audio player that won't break the bank price-wise, which is always something to cheer for these days.

Swipe here to add your team score!30 votes

9

Advantages

Excellent dynamic range and punchy sound signature

Digital filters make a noticeable difference

Battery replaceable by user

Cons

The new Mango app UI is a little confusing

iBasso has just updated its mid-range DAP line with the new DX180, released in recent weeks and priced at $529 for the 4GB/128GB version. Our previously reviewed model in this series was the DX160 In 2019 and even now, in 2024, it continues to perform competitively.

They need to be competitive with the advent of the high-end dongle, which is stealing a lot of market attention and consumer dollars. Fortunately, that seems to be the case with the DX180 with Android 13, a quad-DAC design, and decent power at this price.

The iBasso DX180 also offers a robust, denser sound signature than I'm used to with the previous DX160 and some of its higher-end models, making it a solid choice for modern pop and rock lovers with a tighter budget.

However, they are not the only offer at this price in 2024. hello R5 Generation 2 and Cayin's new N3ULTRA are just two recent examples. How does this updated sound signature and overall performance compare to the competition? Find out in my full review below.

iBasso DX180 Angled Side PaneliBasso DX180 Angled Side Panel

Characteristics

The iBasso DX180 is the company's current entry-level digital audio player. This Android 13-equipped model replaces the DX160 and DX170 with an updated external design and improved internal features.

The device offers several use case scenarios. It primarily works as a portable standalone DAP for local and third-party streaming services over WiFi and Bluetooth BT5.0. You can connect IEMs, earbuds and TWS in balanced, single-ended or wire-free mode depending on your preference.

The DX180 can also assume a more fixed position as a USB-DAC (USB 3.1) from your PC or MAC, as well as a transport for traditional SPDIF-based Hi-Fi equipment and powerful portable amplifiers.

The unit comes equipped with a Cirrus Logic CS43131 quad DAC implementation capable of up to DSD512 natively and PCM 32BIT/768kHz, and up to LDAC for wireless reception. There is no official support for MQA hardware rendering.

Because the DX180's open Android 13 operating system is equipped with “No SRC” at the system level, you get perfect decoding with almost any audio-based app you install.

There's also excellent trickle-down technology from their high-end models, including iBasso's Master 2.0 FPGA digital signal processing and a FIR2X mode to reduce distortion by up to 8 dB compared to older models combined with dual NDK femtosecond oscillators. for fluctuation control.

The DX180 has a maximum PO output power of 690 mW into a balanced 32 Ω load, which is significantly higher than the HiBy R5 Gen 2's 475 mW and slightly ahead of the Cayin N3ULTRA's 600 mW balanced output into the same burden.

This is a competitive level of power output suitable for almost all IEMs and a wide range of dynamic and flat headphones.

iBasso DX180 LCD Screen Set to StartiBasso DX180 LCD Screen Set to Start

Design

The iBasso DX180 has a new design language similar to the DX260 and comes in three color options; black, green and light blue.

The DX180's aesthetic is more angular and modernist compared to the softer rounded and curved buttons of older models. There's also a slightly serrated line on the rear panel below the volume dial for a visual touch.

I have concerns about the sharper contour of the new design, as I found the DX160's more curved design to be more comfortable in the hand. However, aspects such as the awkwardly tight position of the volume dial on the DX160 have been greatly improved with a longer stem on the DX180 making it much easier to access.

Although relatively compact, the CNC aluminum finished DX180 is slightly larger and heavier than older models such as the DX160. It is much closer to DX240 size now.

The dimensional differences are most noticeable in terms of width and depth with only a slight increase in height to 123*75*16mm and 206g weight compared to the 113mm x 69mm x 15mm and 178g weight of the DX160.

Subjectively speaking, it reminds me of the approximate size of the old FiiO X5iii which I always found to offer a good balance between screen size and readability. The DX180 will be suitable for iBasso enthusiasts who find the size of the DX320 too large for everyday outdoor use.

Speaking of screens, I don't see any physical changes from the DX160. The DX180 uses the same 5.0-inch 1080*1920 Sharp OnCell full-screen display with a wide readability angle and good color saturation.

One thing to note is that the DX180 display bezel frame is slightly thicker, so it doesn't have the same borderless effect as older models.

iBasso DX180 Top PaneliBasso DX180 Top Panel

IS

As with previous generations, all of the DX180's analog PO/LO is on the base panel and digital I/O is on the top panel with a single USB-C port. In addition to the USB-C port is the external microSD card slot, although with 128GB built in for this model, there is less need compared to the cheaper 32GB version.

This may seem minor, but moving the memory card slot from the side panel to the top panel of the DX180 makes a big difference in usability.

Of course, the DX160's old silicone case had a small slot on the side to allow you to insert a card, but alternative offerings often didn't have that slot. Moving it to the top could make a big difference for easier access with third-party Miter boxes that previously had no opening on the left panel.

The DX180's volume dial is vastly improved over older models. It looks very similar to the DX300, DX320and DX260, which means the shaft is longer and the one furthest from the side panel is longer and the knurling has more grip, making it much easier to use, even with the unit inside the case. original silicone.

It also has the DX240 multifunction capability to turn the screen on and off, which, in turn, freed up that extra space on the top panel for the external memory card slot.

iBasso DX180 Headphone ConnectorsiBasso DX180 Headphone Connectors

Switching between PO and LO is controlled via the UI from the Android dropdown menu or the main audio settings. You get a 4.4mm balanced port and an unbalanced 3.5mm TRS on the side and note that, like the older models, these are fixed amp output cards that are not interchangeable.

iBasso DX180 Side Panel with Volume WheeliBasso DX180 Side Panel with Volume Wheel

Control S

The main physical difference between the DX180 and older units is the removal of the dedicated power/display button from the top panel and the addition of those commands to the multifunctional volume dial.

Despite its modified appearance, there are no changes to the way the 3 physical playback controls on the right panel work.

However, doubling the RAM from 2GB to 4GB and switching from an Arm Cortex Octa-Core CPU to a much more capable Snapdragon 665 Soc has greatly improved the responsiveness of the DX180's touch controls.

It also means there is no more 720p downgrade option for display resolution to reduce thermal throttling of CPU performance, another factor that tended to create sluggish control performance on the DX160. Now you get a full 1080p experience with the DX180 without lag.

Battery duration

USB-C also doubles down for charging with the DX180, offering an improved tested battery life of 15.5 hours on a low gain balanced output connection that drops to 13 hours on high gain. Using just line-out will give you a whopping 30 hours, which is very impressive.

Since this Android platform has wireless connectivity, these ratings will vary depending on your usage. I found it to be down a few hours with WiFi on, but reasonably close to the parameters listed for local playback using a balanced 10Ω IEM load with 16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC files.

The DX180 still uses QC3.0 fast charging, which was a feature of the DX160, but now also includes PD3.0 (PD2.0 cables will still work as intended), meaning the device will charge from 0% to 100%. % in approximately 80-85 minutes with a charge of 83% possible in one hour.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the battery is not the cycle life but rather its user-replaceable battery, which can be replaced via a removable back panel.

iBasso DX180 AccessoriesiBasso DX180 Accessories

Packaging and accessories

You get the standardized iBasso retail package for the DX180, which is a compact blue-toned retail box, not unlike the previous version of the DX160.

Inside, and distributed in two layers, is the unit, some screen protectors, a USB-C to USB-A charging and data transfer cable and a transparent silicone case. There's no burnt cable or short coaxial IC, but the DX160 doesn't come with those items either, so it's no surprise.

Click on page 2 below to see my impressions of the wireless performance and software.

Click on page 3 below to see my sound impressions and recommended combinations.

Click on page 4 below to see my selected comparisons.

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