iBasso DX170 DAP Review – Mid-Range Excellence?


With the death of the iPod, digital audio players (DAP) have a new opportunity to seduce music lovers. While certainly not for everyone, there is a dedicated market that demands nothing but the best from their listening devices, but if you are a budget shopper and also want access to the main surfaces of streaming, you should be prepared for sticker shock. The iBasso DX170 aims to tackle the middle of the market, taking on the big boys in terms of power and features while weighing three figures less in your shopping cart. At $469, is the DX170 is it worth buying? Find out in our review.

Thanks for Linsoul for providing the sample for this review.


  • Current price: $469 (Linsoul)
  • Model: DX170 Digital Audio Player
  • Operating System: Android 11
  • DAC: Dual CS43131
  • Output ports: 3.5mm phone out/line out/coaxial out, 4.4mm balanced phone out, USB out
  • Display: Sharp 5.0 inch, 1080*1920p, with on-cell capacitive touchscreen
  • Sampling frequency: PCM: 8 kHz-384 kHz (8/16/32 bit)
  • Native DSD: DSD4/128/256
  • SoC: RK3566
  • RAM: 2G
  • ROM: 32 GB
  • Micro SD: supports SDHC and SDXC, up to 2TB
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz/5GHz)
  • Bluetooth: V5.0
  • Quick Charge: Quick charge QC3.0, PD2.0 and MTK PE Plus, support 12V, 9V/1.5A quick charge and compatible with USB BC1.2 charging.
  • USB DAC function: PCM: 8kHz-384kHz (8/16/24/32bit) DoP DSD: DSD64/128
  • Supported audio formats: MQA, APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, OGG, MP3, DFF, DSF, DXD, CUE, ISO
  • Playtime: 11 hours (Playtime varies with different resolutions and headphone/IEM loads)
  • 4.4mm Balanced Output:
    • Output level: 6.4 Vrms
    • Frequency response: 10Hz ~ 40kHz +/- 0.15dB
    • Signal to noise ratio: 130dB
    • THD+N: 0.00022% (no load), 0.00022% (32 Ω load? 3 Vrms?
    • Crosstalk: -125dB
  • 3.5mm headphone output:
    • Output level: 3.2 Vrms
    • Frequency response: 10Hz ~ 40kHz +/- 0.15dB
    • Signal-to-noise ratio: 125dB
    • THD+N: 0.0004% (no load), 0.0007% (32 Ω load? 3 Vrms?
    • Crosstalk: -115 dB
  • Line out:
    • Output level: 3.2 Vrms
    • Frequency Response: 10Hz~40kHz+/-0.15dB
    • Signal-to-noise ratio: 125dB
    • THD+N: 0.00035% (no load)
    • Crosstalk: -113dB
  • Cut: 124.5mm*70mm*15mm (4.9in*2.76in*0.59in)
  • Weight: 165g (5.82oz)

Why choose a DAP?

Let’s get the elephant out of the room. Here in 2022, digital audio players are a niche market. We know it. You know. Manufacturers know this. At the same time, there’s a still respectable audience of people who want a device dedicated to their listening needs, separate from their smartphone or PC. This becomes especially clear when you dig deeper into the market and find that many of the best headphones and IEMs only perform best when fed more power than the average dongle DAC can supply.

In such cases, many people turn to larger, more capable, and more expensive dongles. But these draw power from your phone and create a pigtail that dangles out of your pocket all day (or risk scratching your phone if it doesn’t). Others turn to desktop amps and DACs and connect to their PC. Or, you can choose to use a hybrid DAC/amp that connects via Bluetooth.

But there’s something special about having a device dedicated to listening to music. This is his goal. It’s built just to deliver the best listening experience and uses components to ensure you get the next-level sound you’re looking for. You don’t have to worry about your phone’s battery or annoying notifications. And there’s that satisfying experience of having your entire music library safely in your pocket, selected, controlled and profiled through a large, phone-like touchscreen.

And then there’s pure ability. DAPs often deliver more power than your average pocket OTG DAC. You want your headphones to have a little After more power than they need to be able to operate with headroom. You want that extra power, capable of driving your headphones to their fullest sound profile. And as a buyer spending hundreds of dollars, you demand the freedom to plug in a wide range of headphones, not just extra-sensitive IEMs, because that’s all the output power you have.

So these devices have their place, but it’s rooted in a desire. DAPs are the domain of people who want dedicated audio hardware, above and beyond the dongle. If you can live without a screen, there are tons of options that can sound just as good. But when you want the full package, like an iPod on steroids, DAPs like the iBasso DX170 are where you turn.

iBasso DX170 – Specifications and Build Quality

The iBasso DX170 is more than a standard DAP, which plays local audio files. It comes pre-loaded with Android 11 and has access to all your favorite streaming apps. Since it runs Android, it looks like a small smartphone, so it’s easy to use and navigate if you’re already using a droid. It also means you have access to the Play Store, so you’ll have access to streaming apps and pretty much every other Android app.

That said, this isn’t a device you’ll want to play on while listening. It has 2GB of memory and a mid-range 4-core SoC. Performance is fast enough for streaming apps and light web browsing, but more intensive tasks will cause the system to slow down. It also happens if you try to run too many apps at once so I would have liked to see 4GB instead of a measly 2GB but it does its job for music that’s why ‘He’s there.

The audio components are really what matters here, and iBasso has done a great job of achieving that. It uses a pair of Cirrus-Logic CS43131 DAC chips which deliver exceptional sound reproduction up to 32-bit/384kHz, with extremely low noise floor and extremely low levels of distortion. The DX170 also supports all major file types: MQA, APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, OGG, MP3, DFF, DSF, DXD, CUE, ISO. Suffice it to say, if you’re wondering if the DX170 can read it, the answer is probably yes.

The DAP is also quite powerful for its size. It has balanced (4.4mm pentaconn) and unbalanced (3.5mm) outputs. The single-ended output is capable of delivering up to 3.2 VRMS of power. The balanced connector doubles that to 6.4 VRMS. That’s enough to drive most headphones you’re likely to come across today and blast every IEM I know of out of the water.

The build quality is also very good! It features an all-aluminum chassis, which is good for durability and heat dissipation (it can get a little hot while in use). There are track controls (play/pause, next, rewind) on the right, as well as a metal volume wheel. On the left is a microSD slot to expand storage from its built-in 32GB up to 2TB.

Then there is the screen. It’s large, reasonably bright, and responsive. It’s not as visually impressive as a smartphone with its 5-inch IPS screen, but it’s big enough to use easily and reliably, and it’s a nice interface to use when scanning tracks on Spotify. .

iBasso DX170 – Performance and listening impressions

When it comes to sound quality, the DX170 is a winner. It offers neutral tuning and doesn’t color your music too much: exactly what you’d expect from a DAP you’ll be swapping headphones with.

Resolution and detail are very good. The low noise floor means you can hear even very faint details that would otherwise be lost. There also seemed to be a little more clarity in the mids, with sharper notes and very good articulation.

The power output of the DX170 is excellent. I was able to drive everything from my Moondrop KATO headphones to the HIFIMAN Edition XS over-ear planar magnetics with no problem. You’ll want to use the balanced connection with demanding earbuds, but 3.5mm is enough for all the IEMs I’ve tested with.

Performance on streaming apps is decent. Navigation through tracks and playlists is decent, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel a little sluggish compared to my Galaxy S22 Ultra. Shockingly, I know, the $469 DAP isn’t as fast as a flagship smartphone. But it matters, because when you swap between devices and two devices with similar OS interfaces, those tiny lags stand out.

It’s not groundbreaking, and DAP enthusiasts were quick to remind me that’s what I should expect at this price. Maybe so, and since it’s still perfectly fine for organizing, controlling and listening to music, that’s not a major downside. Yet it is something newcomer DAPs need to know. The smartphone standard is not the mid-range DAP standard.

The DX170 also exhibited strange behavior with its volume wheel. Rather than scrolling up or down with precision, iBasso cooked in an odd acceleration. When the screen is locked, a quick rotation of the wheel first moves the volume slowly, then increases rapidly. More than once I exceeded the level I was looking for. Volume boost is a weird feature to put in a device like this, and I can only hope it’s a bug.

Final Thoughts

Therefore the DX170 has it where it counts. It sounds great, has tons of power, and is pretty responsive overall. Compared to other DAPs at this price, it’s a solid buy. There are, however, a few quirks that hold it back. Volume ramp-up. Minor lag when running too many apps or loading something too demanding. The included case also makes it hard to feel the buttons move, so I found myself mashing them. These quirks add up and keep the DX170 back to usability.

Overall, if you’re in the market, power, portability, and sound quality will likely win that day. It competes well there. If you are a newcomer, adjust your expectations accordingly.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.


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