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

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The editors would like to thank the Era in Ear online store for kindly providing the device for review.

Modern smartphones, especially flagship onesmodels lose headphone jacks and are limited to USB Type-C only. Some people switch to Bluetooth headphones, others use adapters. The third option is to buy a compact DAC/amplifier, for those who want to get a more interesting sound, but are not ready to carry a separate Hi-Fi player with them. The iBasso DC01 is just such a device. The dimensions are not much larger than conventional adapters from Type-C to a 3.5 mm headphone jack. There are not many such solutions yet, 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 is a compact DAC/amplifier thatconnects to the USB Type-C port on a smartphone, or using an adapter to USB Type-A on a PC. It's designed to give you better sound from your smartphone or computer at a fraction of the cost, without the need for a massive separate Hi-Fi player. Inside, the company managed to fit an Asahi Kasei AK4493EQ DAC and an &#8220;honest&#8221; balanced amplification circuit, headphone output - 2.5 mm TRRS with iRiver pinout. They promise a very impressive 113 mW per channel at 32 ohms. Native PCM 32-bit/384 kHz and DSD256X signal processing is supported. The iBasso DC01 is powered by 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 nottake a closer look at the little things, which we will talk about below. The device consists of a Type-C connector and the DAC itself, which are connected to each other by a braided cable. The connecting cable is small, visually similar to iBasso headphone cables. Although in this case it transmits “digital” and not analog signal. Both parts are made of silver-colored metal. On the unit with all the main electronics there is the model name, information about support for PCM 32 bit/384 kHz and DSD256, as well as a proud Hi-Res Audio sticker:

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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 from USB Type-C toType-A, as well as traces of glue. I’m not sure that these little things will have any effect on the performance of the iBasso DC01 (in any case, there were no problems during testing), but I would still 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 area couple of points worth mentioning. With Windows 10 (I assume also with Mac OS) the iBasso DC01 &#8220;starts&#8221; without any problems. Connect to the USB Type-C or Type-A port via an adapter and select it from the list of playback devices. For older versions of Windows, you need to download the driver from the official website.

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With a smartphone, the circuit &#8220;Plug &amp; Play&#8221;it also works, but everything is a little more complicated. Smartphones running Android 5.0 and above support the USB audio class 2.0 (UAC2.0) protocol, but by default the SRC (sampling rate downsampling) protocol is used for compatibility with a wide range 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 smartphone’s music player. As a result, we have noise and distortion. This problem is solved using the proprietary iBasso UAC application: it adds 64-step volume control to the iBasso DC01 itself. We lower the volume in the application and get rid of noise. The application itself is extremely simple: there is, in fact, volume control and several additional features. Saving the selected volume level, auto-launching the application when connecting iBasso DC01 and adjusting the volume in the notification shade. Interestingly, there is an application page on Google Play, but installation is not available, so you have to download the APK from the official website:

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No more &#8220;pitfalls&#8221; No.During operation, the body of the iBasso DC01 gets a little warm, which is to be expected. And, of course, it significantly drains the smartphone. It is difficult to say how quickly the battery will drain; it 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 an Asahi Kasei DACThe AK4493EQ features proprietary VELVET SOUND architecture and fully balanced circuitry, resulting in an output power of up to 113mW per channel into 32 ohms. There is native support for PCM 32bit/384kHz and DSD256X. AK4493EQ replaces the popular AK4490EQ. AK4493EQ can be found in Hi-Fi players Shanling M5s and FiiO M11, the price tag of which is more than 10,000 UAH. We used the iBasso DC01 with Campfire Audio Polaris (first generation), Campfire Audio IO, FiiO F9 and Shure SE315 headphones.

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The compact dimensions of the iBasso DC01 suggestvery modest sound quality. But these suspicions were not confirmed; the sound turned out to be very full-bodied, driving and very detailed (taking into account the dimensions and price). Subjectively, it seems to me that iBasso DC01 outperforms players under 5000 UAH in terms of sound, 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 more expensive devices convey the character of the instruments more interestingly. The middle is not failed (as often happens), rather, on the contrary, it was made a little accentuated and bright, thanks to which the overall character of the sound is energetic, emotional and quite a bit aggressive, which is good in this case. There are sufficient high frequencies, but they are slightly smoothed out: this virtually eliminates the possibility of sibilance and cutting high frequencies appearing on any headphones and with any audio materials. But, as a result, they sound a little &#8220;simple&#8221;, without the desired microdynamics, attenuation and after-sounds. Overall, iBasso DC01 produces an interesting, driving and emotional sound. As they like to write on specialized forums, &#8220;involving&#8221;. It will not be suitable for fans of analytics, but for those who simply enjoy music, it will be very suitable.

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In the dry residue

iBasso DC01 – DAC/headphone amplifier,which for little money will allow you to get high-quality and driving sound from your smartphone and laptop, without having to carry around (or even buy) a separate massive Hi-Fi player. In terms of sound quality, the iBasso DC01 is more interesting than some budget players and, of course, much better than the standard music capabilities of a smartphone. Among the objective complaints, one can only highlight the sloppy assembly of the device. The second point is more likely not a drawback, but a limitation in use due to the 2.5 mm balanced output. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the potential audience of iBasso DC01 is focused on budget solutions, and owners of more advanced headphones with a replaceable balanced cable have already acquired a good Hi-Fi player or are ready to spend money on it. Price iBasso DC01 -1540 UAH, which is very little and clearly cheaper than buying a separate device. And, if rumors are to be believed, DC02 is on the way with the &#8220;familiar&#8221; 3.5 mm jack.

PS:I haven’t listened to Hidizs Sonata, so there won’t be any comparison yet


5reasons to buy iBasso DC01:

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

2reasons 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


&lt;0.001% (32 Ohm load, 1.2 V)

output power
113 mW at 32 ohms

Output voltage
1.9 V (32 ohm load)

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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