Strong of Arm and Fist – A Review of the iBasso DX150

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Thanks to the skill with which iBasso handles its warmth and revealing qualities, I could find no bad pairing. And I doubt you will, either. Whatever the tuning of your transducer, this DAP worms its way into perfect symbiosis. Don’t believe me? Here’s a shit-load of pairings for you…

The Empire Ears Legend X ($2,299, Review HERE) is sort of like the DX150 in IEM form. Everything I wrote about this player, is very much how I described LX in its review. Warm, but clear. Powerful in the low-end, but detailed and articulate. Spacious and resolving. The DX150 helps LX in every one of its strengths… and it has a bucket full of them. Does that make this my favorite source for LX? Oooo. Almost. But in the end, LX scales well with TOTL gear, and it deserves the best.

So just how powerful is this DAP? To test this, I ran the 300Ω Sennheiser HD6XX ($200). Single-ended, playing a quiet album; Amber Rubarth’s SESSIONS FROM THE 17TH WARD. The result? I can get ‘em good and loud. But the DX150 is nearly maxed out. Not much headroom. Fortunately, iBasso sells high-current modules, such as AMP3, AMP4, and AMP5. Pick your poison. Either of these will give you enough OOMPH to never hit the ceiling. Oh yes! Almost forgot. Sound-wise, this pairing is most enjoyable. They really complement each other well.

Now let’s flip to the opposite end of the spectrum, and see how much hiss my most sensitive monitors pick up. The Empire Ears Spartan IV CIEM ($749, Review HERE) picks up a nearly inaudible amount of hiss on Low Gain. So “nearly” I can’t honestly say there is hiss. I think I heard very low-level noise, but it’s quiet enough that I wouldn’t worry about it. On High Gain, however, there is legitimate hiss. But you’ll never need to be on high gain with sensitive monitors. Spartan got painfully loud at a mere 70/150 on LG. And lest we forget again… this couple is a fabulous mix of neutral and musical. Minimalistic. Simple. Honest. If that excites you, you can’t go wrong with DX150>Spartan. And let’s throw in a Thor Silver II for good measure.

For ultimate clarity, insane detailing, and a voluminous soundscape, look no further than the 64Audio tia Fourté ($3,599, Review HERE). It reveals your DAP’s full potential. Through this means, I know DX150 is mighty. It brings a delightful wickedness to the fight, with its savage low-end and untamable dynamism, Fourté rolls with these punches like water around a stone, keeping up with ease and asking for more.

Final Audio’s new e5000 dynamic IEM ($279) is a breathtaking little creation. It’s so smooth and warm, liquid and lush. So natural, with a wealth of richness. iBasso increases detail-retrieval and clarity, while encouraging its other tendencies. The e5000 requires serious driving-power, and the DX150 manages just enough. The bass is so goddamn physical. You feel it in your soul. This coupling produces amazing extension at both ends and a soundstage to die for. It’s a succulent setup, and one which oughtn’t set up back by too much.

The AudioQuest NightOwl ($400, Review HERE) loves this DAP. It has a tendency to come off a little dull on some sources. But when DX150 throws gobs of energy at NO, it really comes to life. Powerful output helps, too. This pair makes for a deep, fulsome listen, with remarkable tone and texture, lush yet clear vocals, and warm yet sparkly treble. Soundstage is delightfully grand, resolution, pristine. For under $1K, I can’t think of a better system.

The Meze 99 Classics ($309, Review HERE) is actually my reference transducer when performing A/B comparisons between DAPs. They always sound sexy, yet possess the capacity to illustrate the slightest change in source. Meze achieved a special balance of low-end richness, crystalline mids, and glittery highs. DX150 adds fierce substance to the notes, and grounded realism. Together, the soundstage is beautifully large, displaying sonics that never fail to give me goosebumps. Once again, Meze proves it’s never met a source it didn’t like.

iBasso’s IT01 ($99, Review HERE) is fun and capable. Bright highs, deep lows, and detailed mids. Large soundstage. Decently resolving, too. I can’t think of a better DAP for them. The DX150 adds weight and authority, giving these IEMs something to really chew on. This pairing is more natural than most.

Noble Audio created a gem in their Sage IEM ($599, Review HERE). It’s tuned to perfection. Warm, sweet treble. Large, lush vocals. Chasmal bass. DX150 delivers a shot of adrenaline, boosting all these qualities, while assuring a clear, articulate rendition. This setup has a peculiar magic, and I can’t help but play another track, and then another.

ÆON Flow Closed by Mr. Speakers ($799, Review HERE) is neutral-smooth. Very clear and revealing. Lovely tone. DX150 turns the energy up a notch. Thickens the notes and gives ÆON all the depth it craves. It’s easy listening, producing genuine and accurate audio. Incredibly pleasant!

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About Author

Pinky is an artsy twat. Illustration, graphic design, writing. Yet music escapes him, and always has. He builds his own cables, and likes to explore the craftsmanship of others. He's a stabby one, also. At the first hint of annoyance, out comes the blade. I say he's compensating for something... in a big bad way. If we all try really hard as a collective, maybe we can have him put down.

8 Comments

  1. Michael on

    Hello Pinky, thanks for another great write-up. Speaking of #1S/N5-II/DX150, which one you’d recommend as a better pairing for Periodic Be? These are my main IEMs.

    • Pinky Powers on

      The Be has a signature which works well with virtually everything. So none of them will sound bad.

      It really depends on what traits you wish to emphasize about your IEM. If you want to push clarity and detail, go with the N5ii. If you want the most bass energy and fun, go with DX150.

      Or if you just want the best all around player, I consider the DX150 a step up from both the N5ii and 1S.

  2. Shaan on

    Damn! I just got the 1S. I can’t afford to pay for another one.

    • Pinky Powers on

      Be at peace, Shaan. The 1S remains a brilliant device, and worthy of your affection for a long time to come.

      Plus… 2x microSD slots. The DX150 ain’t got that!

  3. Matthew W on

    Hi Pinky, were you running the Aeon Flow Closed single ended or balanced in your pairing?

    Cheers on another fantastic review!

    • Pinky Powers on

      Single-ended, my man. Don’t have a balanced cable for these things. I should look into that.

  4. Gary Griffiths on

    Great review. I’m pondering between this and the dx200 ….

    • Pinky Powers on

      Thanks. Both are worth their asking price. So I say, buy the best your budget will allow.

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