iBasso DX240 Review

Sound performance

For the purpose of this review, I used the FiiO FA9  and my good old Onkyo IC-E3 for IEM testing, and the Sennheiser HD800S for headphone comparison. All files were streamed from Apple Music, Amazon Music HD (from the Mac, when available, Spotify, and my own catalog.

Overall signature

Okay, it pains me to say that, but… sound-wise, I prefer the iBasso DX240 over the DX300. Why? Sabre ES9038 PRO. 

Sure, the flagship offers more micro-details and finesse but… the DX240 is more dynamic, with beefier lows. Not only that, but it’s also one of the best players I had the chance to try in this price range, and above. The overall sound quality is excellent and very, very close to its bigger siblings. Honestly, I’m impressed.

In fact, out of the box, I was immediately seduced by the bass, which I found a bit too shy on the DX300, which missed the usual punch of my M15. And contrary to FiiO’s flagships that tend to be relaxed, the DX240 sounds straight and linear, with more extension.FiiO M15 Review

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It’s much closer to the Kann Alpha in this regard, with superb layering, great detail retrieval, and a sharp, rigid, signature.

Dynamic is superb, even more, if you use the 2.5mm output, and with the right headphone, you really feel surrounded by the sound. Paired with the FiiO FA9 and Sennheiser HD800S, the voices were natural, poised, well-controlled, and I could easily pinpoint each voice or instrument. 

My usual pan-test-track, Money from Pink Floyd, gave me the expected level of dizziness I only encounter when listening to very precise gear. And if Cirrus-Logic improved a lot those past years, I still prefer Sabre’s sound signature. Dynamic is out of this world, with better mids, more body, authority, and overall realism.

Every nuance, every sensation is there and, head-to-head against its predecessor, the iBasso DX220, this new player sounds like a deluxe version of a great DAP. You keep the same improvements  found on the DX300 with the DX220 sound signature: what’s not to love? A rich presentation, super layering topped by an exquisite level of refinement.

All in all, this is the perfect upgrade from the « old » DX220., with sharp and tight transients, massive dynamic, and outstanding raw performances. Plus, I can use my old set of amps (I didn’t try it yet, but will do it once I get them back)

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Tonality

Highs: razor-sharp. Linear tonal balance doesn’t mean you boring highs, and the iBasso DX240 is a good example. Even at low volume, the player was able to output a lot of information, and all sounded perfectly sharp. If the previous one tends to be slightly hissy over 8kHz, this time, I was pleasantly surprised not to get those ear-piercing peaks.

Good Track test : Between a smile and a tear

Mids: clean work, awesome dynamic range. If the DX300 remains king here, the DX240 is very – very – close in this regard. Paired with a good set of headphones, like the Sennheiser HD800S, the DX240 displays a massive soundstage and exceptional layering. Orchestral tracks like Dunkirk OST, was outstanding and I was directly engulfed in the movie once again. It’s still a bit too analytical for me, but that’s also the charm of this player. If you want something more forgiving, go for the M11 Plus.

Good Track test:  Corvid Phase – Hedfllux

Bass: deep, liquid, slow. Once again, this is where the Sabre ES9038Pro literally outshines its competition: the bass is exceptional. It’s tight, deep, always on point and comparatively, I even prefer this type of sound to my Astell&Kern Kann Alpha. Low keys and organs feel more natural than on the DX300 – to my own surprise – and on my usual techno track list, I couldn’t find any flaw on the DX240. Very impressive!

Good Track test : Poème sur a 7ème – Johnny Hallyday

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Power and noise

The iBasso DX240 is powerful, but so was the previous DX220. But, unlike its predecessor, this comes at no expense and the player is completely noise-free. Finally!

I tried it with my Onkyo CIEM, the FiiO FA9, and the FiiO FD3 Pro, but none picked more noise than I could hear on other high-end players. In fact, for the second time this year, I’d put iBasso above FiiO and below A&K on this aspect. A massive improvement from before! 

In terms of power, the player drove my Audeze LCD-X with authority, once connected to the 2.5mm output. I used the Meze Empyrean connectors, which came with a 4.4mm plug, combined with a ddHiFi adapter. The power gap between 4.4mm/2.5mm and 3.5mm is, once again, massive and I strongly advise you to stick to the balanced out.Even with my old, but mighty, Sennheiser HD800S, the player managed to deliver powerful kicks and solid lows. Sure, turning on the high-gain knob helps, but even before that, I could already feel how strong the player was.

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Like Shanling, there is now a mid-level gain, plus the two usual low and high-gain levels. And, unless you really need maximum power, you’ll always use the low-gain setting with IEMs and the mid-gain with your headphones. Even more, if you stay balanced.

On Spotify, Qobuz, and Amazon, I was pleasantly welcomed by the same pitch-perfect background I heard with local tracks. Excellent!

Conclusion

The iBasso DX240 does exactly what it intended to: fill the gap between the DX160 and DX300. It’s powerful, dynamic, still a bit too uptight compared to the DX300, but as a whole package, this might be my favorite one in the actual catalog.

Sure at $999, the DX240 is definitely not cheap and leans more toward DX300 than the DX160, but size-wise, the new one is definitely more useable as a daily driver. My main complaint? The lack of a 4.4mm Pentaconn by default and the slightly thick case. But, apart from that, it’s a genuinely good player that should suit every genre and almost every headphone. Keep it up iBasso!  

We are recommending this iBasso DX240 and it has been added to our Best Gear DAP list. We have removed the DX300 in the process as we feel the DX240 has the best complete package.

 

Page 1: about the brand

Page 2: Design, bundle

Page 3: UI, Usage

Page 4: Technical specifications

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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.

6 Comments

  • Reply November 11, 2021

    adam

    I have the Shanling m6 pro (21) . is this a step up in sound quality ? .

  • Reply November 11, 2021

    Ben

    At this moment I can not find any dealer to purchase additional dx240 face plates for amp8, it is a big shame that these are not included in general dx240 package. So what is the point of changing amps if you don’t have face plates to adapt them? Nonsense…

    Price is very similar to dx300 so I hope it sounds near the same level….

  • Reply November 11, 2021

    Rodrigo

    Can you tell me your opinion comparing with an sp1000 or a n8? Is it in the same level?

  • Reply November 11, 2021

    Matias Rubilar

    Is it worth the update from the fiio m11 pro? Specially considering that I want something more sharp and musical specially for rock metal and symphonic music.

  • Reply November 21, 2021

    Gustavo

    Great reviews. A lot of players. What do you recommend on this range? M6 pro 21, M11 plus ltd., Kann Alpha or this?

  • Reply November 29, 2021

    Hiko Olarte

    Which is better overall ibasso dx240 or fiio m11 plus ltd? Thank you

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