In fact, iBasso's main strength lies in the ability to create effective amplifiers. Their portable solutions in this area are a bit overlooked by mass attention, but in fact very vain. However, today we will talk not about them, but about the replaceable gain module for the DX200 player plus as a bonus I'll talk about their cable for headphones CB13.
It so happened that the characters of today's review are incompatible with each other. The smartest copper-silver hybrid wire is designed for amplifiers with a balanced output, and the plug-in AMP2 module is made "conventional" (I do not know the appropriate translation of the English term single-ended). And although AMP3's alternative balanced AMP3 amplifier is already moving in my direction, I do not want to postpone the cable review for another time. Doing a separate article from him, perhaps, will also be too wasteful. Therefore, a "hybrid" will go by the locomotive to this review, and already with the arrival of AMP3 – I will test it with him.
If we talk about the gain module, iBasso here tried our best. Despite the "unbalance", it uses a four-channel architecture with separate ground, which makes it possible to achieve channel separation comparable to balanced solutions. Did not begin to save and on trifles like condensers Nichicon, fast ОУ and so on. In general, it's nice, they did not bend the price, it's possible to buy AMP2 for about $ 160 quite humanely against the backdrop of the price of the player itself.
- The output voltage: 3.2 Vrms
- Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz (-0.1 dB)
- Signal to noise ratio: 117 dB
- Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise: 0.00056% (-105 dB) @ 32Ω, 1.8 Vrms
- Dynamic range: 117dB
- Channel separation: 109 dB
- Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz (-0.1 dB)
- Signal to noise ratio: 118 dB
- Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise: 0.00018% (-115 dB)
Installation of the
A module is delivered (well, where without telling about it?) In a conventional box of black cardboard, traditionally iBasso covered with a paper tape with the name of the model. Inside is the amplifier itself, spare screws and screwdriver for installation.
Unlike the Fiio X7, the DX200 does not need to completely unscrew the screws to make a replacement, just loosen them 2-3 turns and carefully pull out the module. Note that the DX200 has two L-shaped protrusions that fit into the slots of the amplifier, so do not exert any extra effort. In general, the procedure is very simple, all you need is a little caution.
After replacing the module, it must be accurately fixed by tightening the cogs back.
By the way, I did not spend strict time measurements, but approximately AMP2 player works as much as with AMP1. I think this is due to the fact that the new power module is very close to the old one.
iBasso likes to tell users about the need to warm up their devices for hundreds of hours. The player is even accompanied by a special posting with a load, so that the suffering audiophiles can warm AMP1. I do not believe in this warming up, but it's strange that the developers left the buyers of the second module without the special equipment for warm-up (what is included in the player's kit is made for a balanced 2.5 mm output). How to live without warming up the amplifier is a mystery.
Since miraculous wires for warming up to the second module are not provided, I had to write a review on the unheated (it's unfortunate that the Internet can not convey the sarcastic intonation in the text).
I would laugh very much if AMP2 was indistinguishable from the sound of the "unit." In fact, the complete DX200 amplifier is more than good, to remove the balanced output from it and to sell for some money, leaving the "hearers" to enjoy various nuances of sound – it would be a very effective joke. Fortunately, developers did not joke so cruelly, the difference is still noticeable (yes, I did a blind test to make sure that this is not self-deception, but without this the difference is audible.)
I got the feeling that AMP2 did for all those who were dissatisfied with the neutral technicality of the first amplifier and caused by it problems with poor-quality material. The sound of the "two" softened a bit and added to it a bit of warmth, shifting from "neutral-technical" to "neutral-musical". Yes, I understand that "musicality" is a word-filler, into which everyone puts something of his own, but in this case we are talking about my understanding of this term: the unity, the integrity of the pitch, the solidity of the instruments – that's what gives This effect is for me.
If you imagine an imaginary timetable for "softening" the AMP2 sound with respect to AMP1, you will get a slightly straight line tilted to the right. The greatest effect is observed on the lower half of the range, however, in any case it can not be called large, since iBasso with their experience simply could not take it and make a very smooth-muddy pitch. The second amplifier module has more deep LFs, and they are normally monitored, although I still remain at the opinion that the initial part of the sound range in certain styles is not only not necessary, but also hinders (naturally, in portable technology).
The midrange is also fed more intimately, due to this the player builds an imaginary scene slightly less than with AMP1, but it is less dependent on the quality of the recording. This is the main and almost the only change in the delivery of this range, fortunately, iBasso showed an endurance and did not smooth the midrange so much that it was noticeably lost in detail. So if you compare the separation of tools, the development of plans, a microcontrast – all this remained very close to AMP1.
The HF range has retained clarity and unadorned pitch, for the sake of WFbobs, attack aggression is a little removed here, but the player is still very critical to the quality of the recordings and still serves the HF without trying to hide them. However, due to the increase in the lower part of the range, the accent is still slightly shifted, but this is exclusively the effect of perception.
A separate plus of the amplifier – low noise level. Of course, Andromeda (ah, this Andromeda) will still make a little noise, but making noise from less sensitive headphones will be unrealistic.
The bonus section of the review is dedicated to the silver-copper hybrid wire from iBasso. Having released some headphones (IT03) and planning several more models, the company could not stay away and not pamper lovers of audiophile ropes. They made a CB12 wire from silver-plated copper and a harsh Sviborg-like version of pure copper and silver CB13 wires. At the same time, the company's cable products are significantly lower than those of companies that exclusively deal with wires. For "silverbeard" asking for about $ 100 for "trumpet" hybrid – about 200 .
In my opinion, the main characteristic of the cable is its convenience. Even if it is made from a hybrid of vibnium with unobtany – if the wire is inconvenient, there's no sense in it. CB13, despite the thickness, is very comfortable: soft, not hardening in the frost, not prone to entanglement. Due to weight, despite the absence of zaushin, the microphone effect is not pronounced. The wire also looks like a sight – bright, solid, with quality connectors (using MMCX and 2.5 mm balanced TRRS, respectively).
And, of course, the sound. If you have still used the 3.5mm output of your DX200 – definitely go to the balance, even if you do not want to spend money on the CB13, I think even the CB12 will be more than enough to get a noticeable difference in sound. I was also interested to understand if there is an effect from the CB13 itself, so I compared it to a few simple balanced wires, which I have in my collection (unfortunately, I do not have CB12). To be objective, I conducted a blind test with an assistant, and the difference is (though very small), this wire gives a more collected bass and slightly better attacks on the HF. The effect is not great, but still I heard a difference in 14 tests out of 16. So, if I say "in general" – I'm still skeptical about the "huge difference" that the wires for the IEM supposedly give (well, if there is not Screwed something with the impedance of the cable itself), but there are some small nuances "in particular". Although there is already a logical question of price, especially against the background of the cost of IT03. I think, however, the CB13 in iBasso is reserved for future, more expensive models.
A very good amplifier, offering exactly what many lacked, with AMP1 allows you to get a less whimsical pitch, although in some cases, AMP1 will at least not be worse, or even better. I'm also looking forward to AMP3 and the release of the newly announced AMP4 for sale.