Fiio E7, Meet Your Rival: The Ibasso D-Zero

ibasso_dzero_01

It’s pretty amazing how easy it is to get quality gear these days. Just recently I was raving about the $80 Fiio E10 DAC/Amp, and now I find myself with another great entry level DAC/Amp product from Ibasso that is the D-Zero. This thing comes loaded with everything I could want in a portable, entry level DAC/Amp box. USB DAC and headphone amplifier in one box, rechargeable batteries, USB charging mechanism, Aux In/Out, Gain Selector, all packaged nicely in a very small and slim enclosure. This is indeed truly amazing.

From left to right: Headphone out, Aux In/Out (more on that feature down below), Power ON/OFF, and Volume Control.

 

USB port works for charging and for USB DAC feature. On the right side is charging and gain switch.

 

Versus the Fiio E7 and the E10

The technicalities are generally good. Very black background with a good instrument separation. Soundstage depth is not as deep as on the Fiio E10, but there is a good tradeoff since the background on the music is blacker on the D-Zero. The tonality is generally neutral and slightly dark. Everything sounds good and in place, very orderly. Comparing the D-Zero to the E7, there really is no contest, at least in my view. The D-Zero has a more linear frequency response (the E7 is slightly boosted on the treble), the background is much blacker on the D-Zero, grain levels lower, and the sound is smoother on the D-Zero as well. Oh, and the amp is punchier on the D-Zero as well. I don’t think I’ve ever given this much praise to an Ibasso product before.

One thing I wish was different is the midrange, which I find to not have enough body hence not as full sounding than the E10 Fiio. Again a trade-off thing since the music is more orderly, each instrument taking a clearer stance on the D-Zero. So I would put a plus on the D-Zero for technicalities, while I would give a plus on the E10 on fun factor.

 

Thinner than the Fiio E7.

 

And also smaller than the E7. Sounds better too!

 

Continue to the next page…

  • no one

    The E7′s FR is in fact pancake flat. Maybe the D-Zero has rolled off treble? 

    • Anonymous

      Maybe, but the D-Zero sounds flatter to my ears. 

      • Jpdoyle3

        Thanks for the great review, you’re right this is a good time to be in our hobby! Dumb newbe question… how would i connect the d-zero to an iphone if I wanted to use the DAC and amp? Is there a 30 pin apple connection to usb mini cable out there?

  • http://www.facebook.com/lewisleong Lewis Leong

    Hey, Mike. Just checked out the D-Zero on the iBasso site and they wrote, “Even it is an entry level product, it still has the well-known Wolfson 24bit Hi-performance DAC WM8740 as the DAC chip…” 

    Does that mean it supports 24 bit tracks instead of only 16 bit as you stated in the review? 

    Thanks for the review on this awesome product. I’m super tempted to get this or the E10 but I can’t find the E10 anywhere yet.

    • Anonymous

      Yes the WM8740 supports 24 bit but the PCM270X receiver chips don’t. Since the receiver chip is what picks up the signal from the USB connection, if it can’t do 24 bit then the data sent to the D/A chip (WM8740) also won’t be a 24-bit.

  • Chris

    “The WM8740 supports data input word lengths from 16 to 24-bits and sampling rates up to 192kHz..” One time I also tought i can pick up the difference between 16/24 and 24/96. Then i realized that my DAC is only capable of something like 18 bit. The Player resampled the data.Don’t underestimate the placebo. 
    And thanks for the rieview.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks. There is actually a valid difference between 16/48 and 24/96. I have observed it in many many different gears. 

  • Donunus

    So with the hd600, the amp section here is too weak I take it.

    • Anonymous

      It would be okay for the HD600. It’s quite punchy and has plenty of current for 300 ohm Senns. Obviously not desktop-amp level. 

  • Phil Reece

    “Isn’t it a great time to be a headphone user these days?”

    Yes it is indeed!

  • Fabio Rocco

    Hey Mike, Nice review as always!
    I bought The Sennheiser hd25 and now i need an amp, I am pretty sure to buy the pa2v2 but i am wondering about this ibasso.I will use an iphone 4 for listening music and a macbook air 2011 to compose with ableton live.Which is the best buy for me? The dac inside ibasso makes a huge difference in sound quality? there are differences using the iphone 4 and macbook air?Before this review i was pretty sure to buy first the pa2v2 but maybe i need the ibasso? I am confusing lolAnyway I emailed Gary The guy that makes the pa2v2 and He is amazing! Very nice guy that answer all the questions.Sorry if I made some mistakes writing in EnglishLove headfoniaFabio “crazywipe” from Salerno Italy

    • Anonymous

      Hi Fabio,
      If you need a DAC too then the PA2V2 is not going to give you that, so it seems the D-Zero is the more logical choice in this case.

      • Fabio Rocco

        That’s the question I dunno if i need a DAC :D

        • Anonymous

          Lol I can’t answer that Fabio.

          • Eric_C

            If you’re composing/mixing music, I would imagine an audio interface would serve your purposes better.
            –Eric.

      • JB

        Hi, I have the PA2V2+iPhone 4+LOD+Hd25 for my portable setup. Is the iBasso DZero a major upgrade to my PA2V2? Thanks sir!

  • Obli

    Thanks for the review! Can you tell what has better amp – d-zero or fiio e10? 
    By the way, did you hear about Audiotrak maya u5? 

    • Anonymous

      I don’t know, I haven’t quite compared the amplifiers individually. I think the DAC section is the most important part here and the amplifier is just an extension of the DAC.

  • Gurusv

    hi Mike, like u asked i am posting my question here. I am looking for a portable amp/dac to replace my e7. my budget is around 150pounds. I have the d2000′s which i use with my laptop and my phonak pfe’s 122 with black filters used with my ipod touch 4th through a lod.  I listen to trance.

    How do the e10 and d-zero compare against the e11? Was considering the d-zero but you said it dint go well with the dt1350′s which i plan on getting later on. How does the e10 pair with the dt1350′s?  Would you have any other recomendations for my needs?
    Regards!

    P.S great review

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000709124030 Chevon James

    jesus christ ! everytime i come to this site your raving about another product lol. you told me to get the e7, e11, schiit asgard, and now im thinkin about this. geez ! -___-. i need something in the 100 dollar range, for rock music. please !!!!! help lol

    • Guest

      wait till you hear him rave about the HM-101. he’s stoked about it I heard :)

    • Anonymous

      Yo James I know you didn’t say it intentionally but I’d rather you not swear by the name of Jesus Christ. :) 

      $100 for Rock, I think the D-Zero is perfect. Just add the HD25-1 and you’re set!

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000709124030 Chevon James

        i apologize and thank you for your input.

        • Anonymous

          You’re welcome, James.

      • Scottie

        Yeah I’m enjoying my HD-25 with D-Zero combo (being fed by an iPod Touch and either Fiio’s L9 or iBasso’s LOD) for mostly rock, some metal, some hip-hop, rap, pop.  They really do sound good together!  As Mike has mentioned, it’s not a particularly warm amp and that’s the only thing I would like maybe is a bit more midrange warmth.  And maybe a switchable bass boost for the odd track here and there.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Scottie,
          The C421 would give you everything that you ask for. More mids, bass boost, and the amp section is actually better than the D-Zero’s.

  • Mistertaz

    Hi! Just wondering…

    Wouldn’t it make *much* more sense to get a Fiio E10 AND a Fiio E6 for roughly the same money? Then you’d have a better portable DAC/amp for the computer that could run higher res files AND an even smaller and similar quality amp for a DAP…

    • Anonymous

      Good point.

      I don’t know but perhaps some people would prefer to have a one-box that does both functions.

      • Mistertaz

        And www.***nation.com does free shipping too… I know which option I’ll probably be going for! :)

        • Anonymous

          You know I don’t mind people typing the full URL ;)

      • Mistertaz

        I’m also eagerly waiting for an HM101 review… People seem to say it adds a nice touch of warmth, and it’s dirt cheap! An HM101 and an E6 would be the real “starving student” combination… No need to live on instant noodles! ;P

        • Anonymous

          The HM-101 is another very good entry level USB DAC, though based on a much lesser chip.
          Superb sound staging that’s better than the D-Zero and the E10. Very analog sounding, though noise and grain levels are higher than the D-Zero and E10. Another mid-centric sound like the HM-602/601. A little loose on bass but it’s a $39 product.
          I’m loving the HM-101 with bright and resolving headphones like the HD25-1 and the Beyerdynamic T1. With the HD800 it’s smooth but lacks a little sparkle.

      • Cce

        Hi mike,
        Is E6 amp comparable to d-zero’s built-in amp?both of them looked ridiculouly slim and portable though… 

        • Anonymous

          Comparable though different tonality.

  • JB

    Hi, I have the PA2V2+iPhone 4+LOD+Hd25 for my portable setup. Is the iBasso DZero a major upgrade to my PA2V2? Thanks sir!

    • Anonymous

      In terms of DAC resolution yes it would. Amp wise, I think the PA2V2 is special in its own terms, though the Ibasso D-Zero is also a pretty good amp.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=544535328 Roland Leth

    Hi Mike, nice writeup(we talked abit in the Q&A section about the HD598 vs HD600). After reading this review, guess I won’t be canceling the E10 order after all. You seemed much more impressed about the E10 than you did about the D-Zero, so guess I’ll stay with the Fiio. I won’t be using it as a portal amp anyway, so I need almost 0 portability.
    Now I just hope it will be enough for the HD600′s if I’ll stick with those, heh :)
    Best regards.

    • Anonymous

      Okay Roland. :)

  • Andy

    hey^^
    thanks for your amazing reviews! I was wondering personally which one of the d-zero and the e10 you prefer? I would be using an ED 8 and just want better sound than my computers quality.

    Thanks

    • Anonymous

      Well.. I sort of like them both for different music, but for the ED8 I think the D-Zero would pair better.

  • Jimmy

    Hey Mike, right now I’m using  an ipod nano 3rd gen(soon to be replaced by a rockboxed ipod) > e11> HD25-1 II, and I’m wondering as a portable amp for electronica, dubstep, etc would the D-zero be better than the e11 I have now? Also, for my laptop I’m wondering if the E10 or if the D-Zero would be a better DAC/amp.

    • Anonymous

      The bass section on the D-Zero is tighter and has a better low bass than the E11. Other than that, the E11 excels in other areas as in having a fuller mids. For electronica and dubstep I would opt for the D-Zero though.

  • Azrizainurin

    Coming from this last write up, Comparing the D-zero, cmoyBB and Fiio E10, which one would still come out on top? 

    just wondering //still looking for a sweet portable

    • Anonymous

      Briefly:
      D-Zero: best low bass of the three. Clean sound, not so much midrange body. CmoyBB: smoothest sounding, most spacious soundtage, best midrange quality. Pretty weak on bass except if you turn on the bass boost. Fiio E10: Good mid and bass, not as clean as the CmoyBB.

      • Azrizainurin

        exactly what i needed to know. thanks a lot buddy!

        • Anonymous

          You’re welcome!

  • Guest

    Hi mike does the d-zero tend to tame sibilance of srh840? and how does it compare to musiland 02?

    • Anonymous

      No it won’t. The issue with sibilance on the SRH-840 is that it’s a monitoring headphone and all monitoring headphones SHOULD reveal sibilance if there is any in the recording. Otherwise it won’t make a good monitoring headphone.

  • Rx

    Between fiio E10 and D-Zero, which one do your recommend for use with HD 202? I think HD 202 is a fun portable headphone, will any of these portable DAC benefit any improvement to this “fun factor” or will I just wasting money?

    Thank you.

  • Guest

    mike..which one is more colourless, e10 or this???

  • Guest

    mike..which one is more colourless, e10 or this???

    • Anonymous

      This one is.

    • Anonymous

      This one is.

  • http://twitter.com/DodgersKings323 DodgersKings323

    Dangit! I’m getting HD-25 but i didn’t hear about this combo until after i bought my CMoy.

  • Guest

    are you receiving the new D7 from ibasso ? Fiio did great marketing by sending the E10 to a reviewer before hand and with great reviews you can generate alot of pre -orders before the product comes out. I hope ibasso does the same thing :)

    We are going to release the D7 “Sidewinder” after about two weeks.

    The following are the main features.

    1, True 24Bit/192K USB-DAC, supports bit for bit decoding. (in other words, it isnt upsampling)

    2, Asynchronous USB transfer

    3, Up to 24Bit/192K coaxial output

    4, RCA output and Line out.

    5, Built-in headphone amplfiier that run off of USB power.

    6, Measures 93*60*22mm.

    I hope you would be able to review this mike :)

    • Anonymous

      Thanks. I haven’t had any talk with Ibasso about doing a review on the D7.

  • http://twitter.com/DodgersKings323 DodgersKings323

    Hey guys, what do you think would be a good AMP-DAC combo under $400 if i were to eventually buy a Beyer DT880?

  • Fabio Rocks

    Hi Mike, When i connect the D0 with a lod cable to the Iphone 4 Do I bypass the Iphone internal DAC?  Thanks

    • Anonymous

      Nope. You will bypass the D-zero’s internal DAC.

  • Applevalleyjoe

    What’s its op amp set-up? Are they interchangeable?

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think the opamps are interchangeable, and it uses an AD8656 opamp for the amp section.

  • naruse

    hey mike , can i use D zero dac section for mya ipod nano ?how? thnx 

    • Anonymous

      No unfortunately you can’t. 

      Next time please take the time to read some of the other comments. Fabio just asked the same question two lines down. 

      • naruse

        sorry, i have read that too and i thought its different in iphone… my bad….

  • Dirako

    I wish you’d add a bottomline on the competitors and the ones you compared them too.

    FiiO E10 vs D-Zero.

    If you could have one, and only one, which would it be?

    • Anonymous

      mike can’t do this – has to play both sides so both brands win :)

      • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

        Well personally I like the E10 a lot more than the D-Zero, but that shouldn’t be taken into the buying decision factor since people listen to different music and have different taste. It’s like saying I like Burger King, really.

        • Anonymous

          Thanks mike! your opinion as an expert, however subjective, has heavy weight since most of your readers are budding audiophiles. :) 

  • Morio

    I wonder if this amp/dac can power the orthodynamic Yamaha HP-1 + Beyerdynamic Dt77o pro 250 ohm , smoothly

    I ,generally, listen to Sarah Mclaclan  and this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfNyivZN0I0

  • Michael

    Could you track down that loaner and sell it to me? I have been refunded my previous D-Zero purchase, and I’d like to get my hands on one that works as you’ve claimed.

    I sent an inquiry, the response I got was “It is in perfect working condition”.
    my inquiry here http://i.imgur.com/oGrd8.png

    I used the Sleek Audio SA6 for listening which has a sensitivity of 112dB while your JH5Pro has 119dB and lower impedance.

    • Anonymous

      Sorry Michael but I can’t do that.

      Is this a big issue with the D-Zero? I mean is a lot of people having the same problem?

      • Michael

        Another reviewer had mentioned I was the second person to bring up interference, I’m not sure who the first guy was or if our problems were related but my problem centered around the USB port. Silent when it was being feed in battery mode as an amp but when it was hooked up to a USB wallwart that whine came back.

        Thank you for your reply.

        • Anonymous

          Awww.. that is indeed an issue. I don’t know what to say though, my D-Zero doesn’t have that problem so it seems that they are having problems only with certain batches.
          And I can definitely say that I definitely love this Ibasso more than the previous models. Even the higher up PB, D, or P-series.

  • Jianwen_gundamseed

    Hi Mike, I’m looking to get an amp for my UM3X. Hoping to have a bit more bass impact and to improve the treble and mids. Which amp would you recommend? The D-Zero or the E11? 

  • Jianwen_gundamseed

    Hi Mike, I’m looking to get an amp for my UM3X. Hoping to have a bit more bass impact and to improve the treble and mids. Which amp would you recommend? The D-Zero or the E11? 

    • http://www.facebook.com/yH.dTheo Chiang Yi Herng

      hi mike! i’ve also got a um3x… would wonder how this compares to the T3D!

      • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

        Chiang Yi, 
        I think the D-Zero is significantly better than the T3D. 

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Somehow your question missed my attention. 

      Try the AMB Mini3. It should improve the treble, mids, and bass impact. 

      The D-Zero will help with treble and bass impact. 
      The E11 more with mid and bass body.