So I purchased the Ibasso DX100 on pre-order and man does it sound good!! It's easily in the top setups I have heard by far. Rivaling many desktop rigs which is saying something. I know the sound will change more over time but I thought I'd give it a review anyway because it is phenomenal! At this point I've probably put around 100 hours or so on it since receiving the unit. As a reference I have owned the Cowon s9 and heard the ipod -> CLAS -> DB2/PB2 setups extensively. I have also heard SR-009s, Orpheus, HD800s and the like. Anyways, onto the actual review.
I tested both some standard 16/44.1 kHz songs ripped using EAC as well as 24/192 kHz songs off of Linn Records and HDTracks and everything in between. ;) I even tried some mp3s. The UI while quirky is highly functional in my opinion though Ibasso does need to fix some items in the next firmware update to make me really happy with this product.
The only things I feel really need to be fixed are not fading in the next song when you change songs in the middle of another one playing and to fix album order and tagging of files. I use mostly .wav for my cd's so there isn't much in the form of tagging for me, however, I still am struggling to get some albums loaded in the proper order. It exhibits behavior similar to the Hifiman products in that it loads the songs based on copy order to the device. I mean seriously WTH, needs to be fixed ASAP.So it's something to take into consideration for future DX100 owners.
Moving on to sound, I've been comfortably using this as my go to portable getting something like 7.5 - 8 hours of battery life which is enough for me. On the go, I've been using the RE0s or modded Sr-60i's with it (I'll post pics on head-fi gallery soon) with it while I home I'm currently using LCD-2 rev. 1s with Moon Audio's Silver Dragon v. 3 (soon to be cabled with Crystal Piccolino :D) It's really a joy to listen and the best I think I've heard either of these. The RE0s were good enough that I'm seriously considering customs. Any suggestions?
The RE0s while it did sound good lacked a lot of depth but the soundstage is getting better day by day. The LCD-2 on the other hand is just indescribable how good this combination sounded. I'm always hesitant to use words like synergize but that's exactly what happened here and I'll try my best to describe the sound.
Overall soundstage was quite good even out of the box, yet the instruments all had a bit of 'harshness' in the sound and lacked decay on the notes. The decay on the notes to me is what gives music that life-like quality through a good source/DAC/amp/headphone. Already this is much improved through the caps just burning in. The soundstage is the best I've ever heard them on LCD-2s and really I think I just ended up with a really good pair of the LCD-2s. The sound after about 100 hours is more organic and life-like to my ears and I'm really enjoying the sound. The width and depth i'm hearing is really quite something. I'd say the overall effect I get from my LCD-2s is they sound like a pair of very good speakers with a bit less on the whole imaging front but stunning nonetheless.
Some recommendations for fellow DX100 owners to try is Susan Wong's 'Someone Like You' and 'Chopin & Lizst' by Annelean Leaneats (Both can be found on Linn Records site in 24/192 kHz). Something I've noticed that I find neat is you can easily tell different concert halls from each other and really get a sense of the depth of the hall with the DX100 -> LCD-2 combination. You can actually really also hear the singer's breath into the mic and things such as fingers moving up and down the frets on a guitar. Definitely adds to the music and quite a neat experience. The next section is going describe the sound as I'm hearing it through the LCD-2s.
The bass was very well extended and very detailed in my opinion. I really enjoyed listening to Hans Zimmer's work to see how the bass sounded. The movie soundtrack for Inception sounded gorgeous. The bass had great impact and the sound was very surround.
The mids on this were very lush and full of micro details that I swear I've never heard before on some cd quality recordings. (To think it gets better :O) I think the sound here can be best described as very open and airy but at the same time highly intimate through the LCD-2s and I can't state enough how much of a joy it is to just listen to the music. I just love how rich and full the mids sound.
Finally, the highs. The highs were sparkly and extended extremely well and on well recorded albums really did just sparkle. There isn't really much else I can say about the treble.
I'm going to have to cut my review short here as I have finals coming up and some homework to finish but once my crystal piccolino's are in and the DX100 has had some more time to burn-in I'll post additional thoughts and add some more to this post. In the meantime, I'm going to get working on some homework and just enjoy my music. :) Pics coming soon as well.