Disclaimer: It’s always been a big challenge for us to get review samples from iBasso. Luckily for me my friend Haja from the French Audiogarden.fr shop was nice enough to lend me both for an extended time for the review. To thank them for lending me the units, I have inserted a banner going to their iBasso page. Now it’s ibasso DX50 vs DX90 time!
When I listened to the DX50 for the first time over a year ago at Canjam Europe 2013 I really wasn’t blown away with the sound. At this year’s Canjam Europe I received both the DX50 and DX90 and when I got home I started using the DX90 as my daily DAP and oh my, was I impressed.
Just looking at both units it will be extremely hard to distinguish which one is the 50 or 90: they look identical. They feature a 2.4” touch screen (320×240) which isn’t the best. Well it’s quite alright but compared to the Amoled screens of the Astel&Kern DAPS this screen is a long way behind. It’s more like the Fiio DAP screens but with touch screen possibility. On the iBasso DAPs you need the touch screen or you simple wouldn’t be able to use it. Too bad the album artwork is so small.
Size wise I think iBasso absolutely nailed it with these units. Measuring 2.52W x 3.98L x 0.67H (inch) and 64W x 100L x 17H (mm) they fit perfectly in your hand, pocket or hard box (see picture). They only weigh around 140g or 4.94oz as well. Impressive stuff. The lay out is basic: Coaxial out on the top left, microSD slot right next to it and the micro USB connector right next to it. On the left side there is the power and lock button, on the right side the volume controls. On the bottom you’ll find the headphone out and Line Out and the gain switch. The DAP is really easy to operate and at the same time it keeps its cool. I do have to admit that I in the beginning kept plugging my headphones in the Coax connector on top. Habits die hard.
The DX50 and DX90 take 3 to 5.5 hours to charge but the DX90 consumes a lot more power. While the DX50 gets 14 hours of playtime out of one charge the DX90 gets you only about 8.5 hours and that’s under my 10 hour limit. Both units feature an 8GB on board flash memory and the SD-slot will accept cards up to 128GB. Like every other self-respecting player on the market the iBasso’s support: APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, OGG, MP3, DSF . 24/192 is the norm.
Besides the battery life time and a small difference in weight there weren’t any differences between both players so far. Where are the differences then? Well, it’s all different inside.
The DX50 uses the world famous WM8740 DAC chip. Like so many music lovers I was a fan of that chip but I have to admit that, while it still is a good chip, there are so many new and better chips on the market. It’s like iBasso was thinking the same thing and with the DX90 they went for a Dual Mono Design using the ESS Sabre 32 ES9018K2M Dac chip in combination with the OPA1611. What a difference that makes sound? You will find that out in the next part but it’s not a small improvement, I can tell you that already.
Here’s a clear overview showing the difference between both players:
A lot more one page 2