IBasso DC01 Review: Turning a Smartphone into a Hi-Fi Player

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The editors thank the online store Era in Ear for kindly provided for the review device

Modern smartphones, especially flagshipmodels, lose their headphone jacks and are limited to USB Type-C. Someone switches to Bluetooth-headphones, someone uses adapters. The third option is to buy a compact DAC / amplifier, for those who want to get more interesting sound, but a separate Hi-Fi player is not ready to carry around. Just such a device is iBasso DC01. In terms of dimensions, it is not much more than conventional adapters from Type-C to a 3.5-mm headphone jack. So far there are not so many such decisions, but their number will definitely grow.

  1. What is it and why?
  2. What is in the box?
  3. What does iBasso DC01 look like?
  4. How convenient is it to use?
  5. How good is iBasso DC01?
  6. In the dry residue

What is it and why?

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iBasso DC01 - a compact DAC / amplifier thatconnects to a USB Type-C port on a smartphone, or using an adapter to USB Type-A on a PC. It is designed to get better sound from a smartphone or computer with minimal financial costs, without the need for a massive separate Hi-Fi player. Inside, the company managed to fit the Asahi Kasei AK4493EQ DAC and an “honest” balanced gain circuit, a 2.5 mm TRRS headphone output with iRiver pinout. They promise a very impressive 113 MW per channel at 32 ohms. Supports native 32-bit / 384 kHz PCM signal processing and DSD256X. Eats iBasso DC01 from a smartphone or PC.

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What is in the box?

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iBasso DC01 comes in a small white box with a picture of the device. Inside - the minimum set: the USB DAC itself, an adapter from Type-C to Type-A for connecting to a PC and a small instruction.

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What does iBasso DC01 look like?

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iBasso DC01 looks pretty decent if notlook at the little things, which we will discuss below. The device consists of a Type-C connector and the DAC itself, which are interconnected by a braided cable. The connecting cable is small, visually - similar to the iBasso headphone cables. Although in this case the “digit” is transmitted over it, and not the analog singal. Both parts are made of silver metal. On the block with all the main electronics there is a model name, information about PCM support 32 bit / 384 kHz and DSD256, as well as a proud Hi-Res Audio label:

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On the front is a 2.5-mm balanced headphone jack and a power LED. Fitting parts and assembly is not the highest quality:

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This is also visible on the adapter with USB Type-C onType-A, like traces of glue. I'm not sure that these little things will somehow affect the performance of iBasso DC01 (in any case, there were no problems during testing), but I would like more attention to the quality of workmanship. Moreover, iBasso can do well:

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The weight of the iBasso DC01 is 11 g, the total length is 120 mm.

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How convenient is it to use?

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Using iBasso DC01 is very simple, but there isa couple of things worth mentioning. With Windows 10 (I suppose, as with Mac OS), the iBasso DC01 “starts up” without any problems. We connect to the USB Type-C or Type-A port via an adapter and select it in the list of playback devices. For older versions of Windows, you need to download the driver on the official website.

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With a smartphone, the “Plug & Play” scheme also works,but it's a little more complicated. Smartphones on Android 5.0 and higher support the USB audio class 2.0 (UAC2.0) protocol, but the default SRC protocol (downsampling) is used for compatibility with a large number of devices. As a result, when connected to a smartphone, the hardware on iBasso DC01 is set to maximum volume, and adjustment occurs only in the music player of the smartphone. As a result, we have noise and distortion. This problem is solved with the help of the proprietary iBasso UAC application: it adds the 64-step volume control of the iBasso DC01 itself. Lower the volume in the application and get rid of noise. The application itself is extremely simple: there is, in fact, a volume control and several additional features. Save the selected volume level, autostart the application when iBasso DC01 is connected and adjust the volume in the notification blind. It is interesting that there is an application page on Google Play, but the installation is not available, so you have to download the APK from the official site:

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There are no more “pitfalls”. When operating, the iBasso DC01 heats up a little, which is quite expected. And, of course, significantly discharges the smartphone. It is difficult to say how much faster the battery is discharged, it already depends on the specific model of the smartphone itself and the capacity of its battery.

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How good is iBasso DC01?

The iBasso DC01 uses the Asahi Kasei DACAK4493EQ with proprietary architecture VELVET SOUND and fully balanced circuit, so that the output power reaches 113 mW per channel at 32 Ohms. There is native support for PCM 32 bit / 384 kHz and DSD256X. AK4493EQ has replaced the popular AK4490EQ. AK4493EQ can be found in the Hi-Fi players Shanling M5s and FiiO M11, the price tag of which is more than 10 000 UAH. We used iBasso DC01 with Campfire Audio Polaris headphones (first generation), Campfire Audio IO, FiiO F9 and Shure SE315.

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The compact dimensions of the iBasso DC01 suggestvery modest sound quality. But these suspicions were not confirmed, the sound was very full-fledged, driving and very detailed (taking into account size and price). Subjectively, it seems to me iBasso DC01 wins by the sound of players up to 5000 UAH, including Cayin N3, Shanling M1 and, especially, M0. There is a slight emphasis on low frequencies: they sound massive, dense and powerful, without losing too much speed and detail. Although the devices are more expensive convey the nature of the tools. The middle is not failed (as is often the case), rather, on the contrary, it was made slightly accentuated and bright, so that the general character of the sound is energetic, emotional and quite a bit aggressive, which is good in this case. The upper frequencies are available in sufficient quantities, but they are slightly smoothed: this virtually eliminates the likelihood of sibilants and RF cutting on any headphones and with any audio materials. But, as a result, they sound a bit “rustic”, without the desired micro dynamics, attenuation, and harshness. In general, iBasso DC01 produces an interesting, driving and emotional sound. How they like to write on profile forums, “involving”. Lovers of analytics, he will not go, and lovers just to enjoy the music - very much so.

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In the dry residue

iBasso DC01 - D / A Headphone Amplifier,which for a small amount of money will allow you to get high-quality and driving sound from your smartphone and laptop, while not carrying with you (and not buying) a separate massive Hi-Fi player. The sound quality of the iBasso DC01 is more interesting than some budget players and, of course, much better than the regular music capabilities of a smartphone. From objective claims can be distinguished except inaccurate assembly of the device. The second point is rather not a disadvantage, but a restriction on use due to the 2.5 mm balanced output. I may be mistaken, but it seems to me that the potential audience of the iBasso DC01 is focused on budget solutions, and the owners of more advanced headphones with a removable balanced cable have already got a good Hi-Fi player or are ready to spend it. Price iBasso DC01 - 1540 UAHThat is very little and obviously a budget purchase of a separate device. And, if you believe the rumors, on the approach of DC02 with the “usual” 3.5-mm jack.

PS: Hidizs Sonata did not listen, so far there will be no comparison

5 reasons to buy iBasso DC01:

  • high-quality and driving sound;
  • ease of use;
  • impressive output power, support for 32 bit / 384 kHz PCM and DSD256X;
  • compact size and nice appearance;
  • low cost (compared to the players).

2 reasons not to buy iBasso DC01:

  • You do not have headphones with a balanced cable and do not plan to buy;
  • not the best build quality.

iBasso DC01

Compact DAC / Amplifier with USB Type-C Connectorfor connecting to a smartphone and USB Type-A PC Adapter. Equipped with an Asahi Kasei AK4493EQ DAC and balanced gain circuit, a 2.5 mm TRRS headphone output with iRiver pinout. Supports native 32-bit / 384 kHz PCM signal processing and DSD256X. It is powered by a smartphone or PC.


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Technical characteristics of iBasso DC01


<0.001% (load 32 ohms, 1.2 V)

output power
113 mW at 32 ohms

Output voltage
1.9 V (load 32 ohms)

Frequency range
20 Hz - 40 kHz +/- 0.5 dB

up to 32 bit / 384 kHz

native DSD up to 256x

120 mm

11 g

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