iBasso DC03Pro Review


Sound performances

For this review, I chose to pair the iBasso DC03PRO with the HiFiman Svanar, the FiiO FF5, and the lovely Beyerdynamic’s DT 900 Pro X. If the Hifiman is a bit too higher-end for this player, the latter has been my top choice in this price range since their launch now, and the iBasso shall be the perfect pocket companion on the go

As for the source, I kept my MacBook and iPhone, combined with the ddHiFi TC28i and iBasso CB18, to use the USB-C cable solely. For the files, I mainly used Apple Music and Spotify, as I ended up using the DC03PRO almost exclusively on the train, or at the office.

Overall signature

So, how does iBasso’s new USB dongle fare, compared to its smaller brother, the DC05, and big brother the DC06? Surprisingly well, fortunately!

For less than $70, you’d not expect the DC03PRO to sound this good and it seems like all the marketing iBasso displayed, translated in real-life performances, especially when paired with the right phone. Okay, It’s not as good as the DC06, but compared to the old DC05, the new DAC is a clear improvement, both in clarity and preciseness. 

Power-wise, it’s on the lower end of the scale but, honestly, I didn’t expect the iBasso to confidently drive my headphones with such a light body. On the other hand, though, the fact that the DC03PRO offers no less than 100 volume steps is simply perfect for my use: I could switch between each of my three reviews IEM/Headphone, and find the right volume each and every time. I’d have been really curious to try the other gain mode, but as for now, the app seems to be available on Android devices solely.


Fortunately, if not deafening, the small DAC was able to deliver enough punch to push my lovely, Beyerdynamic DT900 Pro X, my all-around headphone. And, paired with this headphone, the result is simply stunning with deep lows, crisp highs, and a wide soundstage, almost comparable to the FiiO KA2, my reference in this price range.

Truth be told, that might also be thanks to the DT900 Pro-X. Once more, I found the combination of iBasso and BeyerDynamic systems almost mesmerizing and even paired with more expensive gear, I kept on going back to this newfound synergy. The same cannot be said with the HiFiman Svanar which craves power and sounded absolutely dull when paired with the DC03PRO – do not recommend it. 

Switching to the FiiO JD7, an IEM that’s almost similarly-price, the soundstage came out wide, as expected, and compared to ESS sound signature, Cirrus-Logic always seems to put voices in front, for a more natural presentation. Head to head with the FiiO KA2, the iBasso appeared a bit more natural sounding, whereas the FiiO seemed to put too much emphasis on the voice. Moreover, I didn’t encounter any channel imbalance even at low volume and everything sounds even good news. 


Cause yes, in case you haven’t listened to any of iBasso’s latest products, you’d be surprised to find out how linear and analytical they all sound. The iBasso DC06 was mostly neutral, with a wide soundstage and a surprisingly good layering – and the DC03 Pro does follow the exact same way, minus some refinements. Paired with the right headphones/earphones you can spot each instrument and each singer with ease and there is no channel imbalance to ruin the experience. It’s usually impressive, and sometimes magnificent. This was especially true with well-mixed tracks like Nara from Alt-J, where the voice completely took me off, as I slowly dove into the music.

For smartphone listeners, compared to Apple’s own dongle, this is a significant improvement, even when opposed to small dongles likeddHiFi’s TC35i, or the FiiO KA1: way better dynamic range, deeper bass, cleaner high-mids, and a leaner sound signature

Finally, as promised, even with the Shanling ME800, I couldn’t spot any floor noise, and the old saying about “noisy-hissy” iBasso, is now completely irrelevant. Hurray!



Highs: clean and sharp. The iBasso DC03Pro offers a very high level of resolution and scales up easily with Hi-Res files. There is a good level of air, outlined by the low distortion and linear signature. Those trebles are sharp, even clinical, but those never get hissy and still sound softer than the ESS Sabre you usually find now.

Good test track : Through and through – Leaving Laurel

Mids: open and linear. Vocals and acoustic tracks are an easy job for the DC03Pro, even more so once paired with a good set like the DT900 Pro X. The soundstage is wide, especially with the balanced output, and I was surprised to spot some small details, unheard of on the DC05, especially when paired with the Shanling ME800.

Good test track: Between a smile and a tear

Lows: deep and fast. iBasso did an excellent job here, even though it couldn’t attain the lowest notes and sub-rumble unless you get bass-head headphones. It’s still quite powerful and like the old DC05 for the size, it’s amazing how much oomph you get!

Good test track: Orbit – Rezz



With the disappearance of the headphone jack on smartphones, every brand is now offering its own solution. Luckily, most brands are not just offering replacements, but real audiophile solutions, for listeners on the go – exactly like the DC03Pro

Let’s make it short: for the price, the iBasso DC03Pro is a very compelling device. Build quality is exquisite, the sound is impressive and, despite its compact size, it packs enough punch to drive most IEM and headphones – but don’t expect to drive HD800S level headsets though. 

For $69, should you get the FiiO KA2 or the iBasso DC03Pro? It’s a good question and in the end, the only real difference – for me – will be the tone signature: warmer with the FiiO, sharper with the iBasso. But, personally, if I had to keep only one, that would be the iBasso!

Pros :

  • sleek design and lightweight casing 
  • low power consumption and good power reserve
  • superb sound!
  • Clever volume control…

Cons :

  • … for android users only
  • maybe a bit too linear
  • not as powerful as its direct competitor
4.4/5 - (65 votes)

A nerdy guy with a passion for audio and gadgets, he likes to combine his DAC and his swiss knife. Even after more than 10 years of experience, Nanotechnos still collects all gear he gets, even his first MPMAN MP3 player. He likes spreadsheets, technical specs and all this amazing(ly boring) numbers. But most of all, he loves music: electro, classical, dubstep, Debussy : the daily playlist.


  • Reply February 27, 2023

    Mayur Gowda

    Is this a neutral dongle dac? I am looking for a dongle dac that doesn’t add any changes to the sound signature. I just want faithful conversion to audio. I don’t mind spending more so could someone point me to the most neutral of all dongle dacs?

    • Reply March 9, 2023


      E1DA 9038S G3 (balanced) or E1DA 9038D6K (single ended) 😎

  • Reply August 24, 2023

    Andrew Tomlinson

    Great review. How do you think the iBasso DC03Pro compares to the Moondrop Dawn at the same price point… Thanks!

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