There have been more than a handful of so-called “high end” audio players released by Chinese manufacturers, and they all have a few things in common: horrible user interface and usability, pathetic internal storage size, no support for audio features like gapless playback, Replaygain, playlists, and so on. Not to mention, the claim that those devices sound any “better” than the next quality brand player has yet to be proven.
Leaving the subjective sound quality debate out of the picture, iBasso, well known manufacturer of portable headphone amps, seems to show other “audiophile” brands how it could be done better when it comes to designing a portable player. While still sporting an immense brick form factor like its Hifiman, Colorfly, and HiSound peers, iBasso realized that user interfaces cobbled together by some hacker kids in their spare time are worthless – so they did the smart thing and put Android on their DX100. This should hopefully enable the usage of Rockbox, Poweramp, Player Pro, or other quality software for audio playback. It is not known at the moment if the DX100 will sport Wi-Fi or other connectivity.
Internal storage apparently goes up to a whopping 64GB, and a MicroSD slot is available as well. Here’s where the question about the price of the DX100 should come up. Good question, I know as much as you do – just that it probably will be a bit more than what a Sansa Clip goes for.
As for the “audiophile” features of the DX100, I let iBasso’s announcement speak for itself:
The DX100 is our reference Digital Audio Player (DAP). It can play most of the 24Bit/192kHz Lossless music. The whole design is based on the ES9018, which ESS claim as “The World’s Best DAC Chip”. We are finalizing the DX100 now. We can release it within 20~45 days.
The following are some main features. We will release more information later this month.
• Support up to 24/192 Decoding
• ES9018 DAC Chip
• Built-in +/-8.5V Headphone AMP
• Up to 24/192 Optical/Coaxial Output
• Line Out Function
• 256-Steps Digital Volume Control
• 64G Onboard Flash
• Support up to 32G External MicroSD
• 3-Setting Gain Switch
• SRC Function
• Slow Roll-off/ Sharp Roll-off Digital Filter
On a side note: this quite overkill-ish 8-channel ESS Sabre ES9018 DAC of course isn’t intended for portable use, but for stationary devices. Let’s hope the battery life of the DX100 is measured in hours, not minutes.