Impressions: iBasso DX240 Digital Audio Player

iBasso is a well-established audio brand that comes out of China and has made several popular lines of portable digital audio players, audio adapters, and over-ear and in-ear headphones throughout their lifespan. I've own some of their products in the past, most recently their entry-level DX160. I covered this DAP, along with its predecessor, the DX150, and their previous flagship DX220, in a review nearly 3 years ago.

One of my biggest gripes with the iBasso DAPs was not really how they sounded, nor how they felt. The DX160 felt great. The DX150, DX200, and DX220 are all well-built, just a little hefty and awkward to hold. Those weren't their biggest issues. It came down to just poor hardware to run Android. iBasso, like many OEMs at the time, used cheaper, and older chipsets and boards that were not well optimized for Android, and it showed. Battery life was very poor, the Android OS's were clearly out-dated, and over user experience was sluggish and frustrating. 

Over the past year, iBasso has released their new flagship, the DX300, which brought an entirely new design with a slimmer, but longer profile, that is more shaped like a modern phone, albeit much thicker to contain the audio hardware. This change also brought Qualcomm Snapdragon system on chips (SoC) to iBasso hardware, which drastically improved Android performance and battery life. I haven't had a chance to review the DX300, and felt it was probably a tad large for my needs, and so I was very happy to see iBasso update the DX2x0 series with a re-design and evolution in the DX240 late last year in 2021.


The DX240's design is quite reminiscent of a re-shaping of the DX160. A top down view shows a very similar size and layout, with a gold-colored volume dial/power button on the right side, with playback buttons just below it. The microsd slot is alone on the left side of the screen. The top has a change however, with the USB-C port still centered, but instead of a power button on top, there is a digital coaxial port for making the player become a digital transport to your favorite DAC unit with the included cable.

That's about where the similarities stop though. The DX240 is thicker, and falls somewhere between the DX160 and the bulkier DX200/220. But despite the added thickness, the sleek rounded back makes this a pleasure to hold, and feels more comfortable than all the aforementioned iBasso products. Despite my relatively small hands, I am able to grip this player very easily and it feels quite natural to handle.

The bottom of the player also features two set screws on either side, which when unscrewed and released, allows the user to swap out amp module cards. Currently, there is one additional card that is made directly for the DX240, which is the Amp 8 MK2, which features 4.4mm balanced and 3.5mm single-ended connections, and a beefier amp than the included Amp 1 Mk3 module. 

For those looking to use any of their older modules made for the older players, iBasso includes faceplates that will attach to the older modules and attach correctly to the DX240. Any of the Amps from Amp 1 to Amp 8 will work fine. Amp 9, which is the NuTube card, unfortunately is too large and won't sit properly in the player, and numbers above are made for the DX300 and upcoming DX320.

User Interface

Like the DX300, the DX240 shares a lot of the similar hardware inside, including the Snapdragon 660, which was a mid-tier phone SoC when it came out a couple years back. For use as a pure audio player, it works wonders. Android usage is snappy and quick, with little to no lag. 

Battery life has drastically improved, but its not anywhere near non-Android-based players which don't have streaming apps. That said, I was able to use a mix of streaming and local file playback with a combination of Roon, Qobuz, Poweramp and Mango Player and still able to use it off-and-on without running out of battery throughout my entire work day, and most of the evening. I could ask for more battery life, but the fact that I can use it for a long period of time away from a charger is fine for me, as I can always charge it when I'm back at home again overnight.

The Android interface is mostly stock and there's very little in-terms of apps installed, which is a good thing. There's no Google Play Store, but APK Pure is pre-installed and I was able to easily use that to install Play Store within seconds. With that, my other purchased and licensed products were made readily available (such as Poweramp, UAPP, and other players I like to use).

Mango Player is snappier than I remembered on the DX160, and while I don't use it often, everything seemed to work well with it. There is also a stand-alone Mango OS mode if you prefer to use this as a pure music player and improve battery life and reduce any android-based interference.

One thing I'll note is Roon works flawlessly on this device. With other players, and android phones, I wasn't able to use the device's hardware buttons with Roon, and had to rely solely on the touch screen controls. Fortunately, this iBasso device has no issues with any of the physical buttons working as they should with Roon. The player also outputs the correct sample rates to the iBasso audio hardware as well! No android re-sampling that I'm aware of.

Sound Impressions

For the purpose of this review, I spent the majority of my listening time with AMP8 MK2, but spent a little bit of time with the stock Amp 1 MK3 as well. The differences are minor, however I found the AMP8 MK2 to have a little bit of a fuller sound, a little better holographic soundstage, and of course, allows me to use my 4.4mm balanced cables. 

I've been using a combination of the Hiby R5 Saber and Chord's Mojo/Poly combo over the past several months as my portable IEM players. My full audio system is pretty much dedicated to headphones and speakers at this point. 

I originally decided to sell my Lotoo PAW 6000 at the beginning of the Pandemic because I wasn't really going to be using it much anymore. I decided, I should probably get a DAP just to have around for IEM reviews. That was the R5 Saber. And ever since I got it, it's just been sitting around and not really used much. I thought I was getting a more neutral DAP, and perhaps it was more neutral than Hiby's typical sound, but it was still quite a bit warm, smoothed over and lacking quality technical ability.

But, I had the Chord set, which gave me a good quality sound, albeit with a clunky usage, that required me to control it via my phone or desktop. It wasn't the end of the world but I enjoyed it.

Now flash forward to more recently and I'm going back into the office more regularly and I can't really use the Mojo/Poly like I want to. The SD Card feature absolutely is horrific to use. The Hiby R5 Saber isn't my cup of tea, though I love everything else about it. And I was hoping to recapture the Lotoo PAW 6000 quality of sound and usage but with streaming capabilities so I can continue to use Roon at home, and Qobuz at work to supplement my local files on microsd.

The DX240 has given me most of that. While it doesn't sound exactly like the laid-back, yet very technical, sweet sound of the Lotoo, it has equal quality in other ways. The DX240 is a little more forward in its presentation, even with AMP8 MK2 installed. It has great extension on both ends and is just north of neutral.

It's punchy, dynamic, and lively. These were things I was drastically missing with the Hiby player, which had plenty of bass quantity, but didn't have that quality of texture, microdynamics, and just a clean transient response that allowed it to slam and punch well. 

Comparing to the Chord Mojo, I find the DX240 to have a similar forward presentation, with added raised lower mids, but it doesn't have the softer presentation that the Chord Mojo presents in comparison. The Lotoo PAW 6000 was a master of this soft presentation with clear quality transient speed that made things just come so naturally and sweet, and the Mojo tries to do this but without the same level of quality. The DX240 comes much closer, but again, is a little more direct with its presentation and is a little more in your face.

It's not sterile like the DX150, DX160 and DX200, which sometimes felt just dead sounding, or just a little too bright (especially in the case of the DX160). The DX240 has a more mature and natural incremental improvements to the more robust DX220's stock sound.

All of this makes me wonder how the DX300 sounds like, or even the DX320 with the new Rohm DAC. But alas, I am quite happy with this purchase so far and looking forward to using this more often in my future listening sessions.

I've spent a lot of time using a variety of IEMs on this player this week: everything from my trusty Empire Ears Odin, Hidition Viento and Unique Melody Mest, to the new MEXT, the Hook-X (pictured above), and the various Dunu IEMs. They've all been wonderful experiences so far, and I really like the extended music experience I get with this, without the overly warm haze I was experiencing previously.

I can't exactly say if this sounds better than or worse than my two other favorite DAPs I've owned in the past. Those being the Lotoo PAW 6000 and the Cowon Plenue 2 MK2 (weird name, I know...). This is mostly due to not having them anymore to do a true comparison side-by-side. But those two don't do streaming, don't do wifi, and in the Cowon's case, doesn't even do bluetooth. So there's advantages to going to a system like this iBasso, even if it were a small trade-off in sound performance. 

All that said, however, there's a lot to like here and I'm glad iBasso has got over the hump of mediocre hardware performance to match their good sound quality finally. It's been a long time coming, and now seeing it in action is really nice.

I purchased the iBasso DX240, case and Amp modules at Moon Audio. This was not a review sample unit.

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