It hasn’t been long since I reviewed iBasso’s latest flagship DAP, the DX320. Since then, it has been one of my go-to choices for high-end players. There aren’t many budget audiophile players on the market, but now iBasso is looking to change that with their latest DX170 model. This new player is available for $449, one of the most inexpensive DAPs on the market. Does it uphold iBasso’s standard for quality players?
What You Get
- DX170 player
- USB type C charging cable
- TPU case
- Screen protectors
- Quick start guide
- Warranty card.
While not as sizable as iBasso’s high-end players, the DX170 fits nicely in your hand. Even though the device is smaller in size, the structure of the player is in line with the high-end, using similar materials for its chassis to produce an equally striking product. I particularly like the slimmer bezzle that makes the 5-inch screen appear bigger. The sides of the DX170 is smooth and doesn’t make itself busy adding a ton of extra buttons and headphone sockets. 3.5mm and 4.4mm plugs are supplied, as well as playback buttons, a USB C charging port, a MicroSD slot, and a sleek volume dial.
Even at its lower price, the DX170 is designed with flagship power. That power is bolstered by FPGA-Master and Dual fs NDK oscillators to manage the player’s signal flow, reducing noise and jitter. Dual Cirrus Logic flagship DAC chips are used to shape the DX170’s sound signature with transparency and realism.
No matter the price, iBasso maintains a strictly neutral timbre as its main sonic profile. I mainly used the player’s 4.4mm balanced headphone jack with some IEMs to test the properties of the sound. In my experience with the DX170, I felt that even with its neutral signature, this specific player did have its own quirks. For instance, one of the first things I noticed with the DX170, using Tidal streaming, is that it had pluckier details in the mids and highs. While other iBasso players, particularly the DX320, keep an accurate and pure output, the DX170 does a great job providing more texture to the sound. Those pluckier elements highlight acoustic instruments in a colorful way while asserting a steady dynamic response throughout the sound signature.
Its treble receives the most notable extension, appearing more sparkly and alive in the mix without being too dominant. These details are concise, but they might not have the depth that the mainline iBasso players can deliver. This is especially apparent in the bass and soundstage, where most headphones and IEMs show only their surface-level response. The low-end is still quite fun and exciting in some cases. but their staging is more linear. As for the imaging, the DX170 likes to keep the sound elements closer to you. Instruments and vocals display accuracy in the sound field, but will not enhance their spatial properties. Rather, the stereo imaging is uncompromised, left alone to showcase the tracks as they are.
The iBasso DX170 is without a doubt one of the best DAPs you can get that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Many of its best qualities put it up to the level of higher-end DAPs, minus the smaller size. Some of the purity in the sound signature is missing, but the DX170 makes up for it in texture and dynamism. It is a better match with IEMs than it is with higher-impedance headphones, so its power can vary. All in all, this is a fantastic entry-level DAP with a lot to offer.
The iBasso DX170 is available at Audio46.