Because of the DX160’s neutral, slightly bright voice, I find the more optimal pairings to be with headphones and IEMs of sufficient warmth and body.
The DUNU DK-3001 Pro ($470) married to the DX160 is my choice for best mid-range system money can buy. You need to spend a whole hell of a lot more before finding a worthy upgrade. These pieces play so sweetly together. The warm, expansive DK3001Pro is cleaned up and energized by the brilliance of this DAP. DUNU’s organic tonality is unspoiled, thanks to iBasso’s neutrality and transparency. It’s as if each respects the strengths of the other, letting them shine to their fullest. This setup could be any rational person’s end-game. Though of course, audiophiles are not known for rationality. Hence, a thousand dollar mobile setup is barely mid-tier.
The Kennerton Magni ($750) is another kinda-sorta mid-range headphone which achieves a state of relative perfection. It’s expensive, no doubt, yet compared to the prices required to beat Magni, it’s a steal. Magni is so rich and wholesome, while providing speed, dynamics, and immaculate resolution. The DX160 feeds Magni everything it needs to be its best. Listening to this combination, I have a hard-ass time convincing myself better even exists, let alone is worth the cost.
Now, to leave reasonable things behind, look no further than the Empire Ears Legend X ($2,299, Review HERE). If you’re in the market for true top of the line in-ears, these are my ultimate faves. Killer bass, sweet, sparkly treble, tight, detailed mids, LX does it all. I’ve never found an audio player that makes these sound bad. Although, contradictorily, LX is quite skilled at revealing the quality of the player. iBasso’s DX160 displays it’s beauty like few can.
iBasso gives you more than enough driving power for the likes of even the Meze Empyrean ($2,999). While they are not super high impedance, they are full-size headphones and require a decent amp to sound correct. The DX160 delivers a satiating Empyrean experience. The deep, otherworldly lushness flows forth unhindered. Micro dynamics and textural color are resolved to the finest degree. Yes, these cans are best suited to a desktop rig, but if the mood should strike, it’s good to know there’s a mobile device to do Meze the justice they deserve.
For the closest thing to an IEM version of the Empyrean sound, I’d recommend the JOMO Audio Quatré ($1,500, Review HERE). It’s every bit as lush, and without sacrificing the noble pursuit of technical prowess. DX160 sounds best from this breed of tuning, and Quatré is just about the best at what it does.
Of course, there are other philosophies. Perhaps you want the king of neutral to pair with a DAP which shares this royal bloodline. Empire Ears used to sell something called Spartan ($749, Review HERE). I believe they have a replacement somewhere in the EP Line. Still, for those who have Spartan and are looking for purity, detail, and robustness from a player, rest assured, this system to awe-inspiring. The DX160 takes these IEMs to a new level.