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iBasso DC03 Headphone AMP Review

iBasso DC03 Headphone AMP Review

Author:Andy.EF

DAC Chip: Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC (Dual)

PCM 32-384kHz DSD256, SNR: 127db , Power: 80mW 32 Ohms, USB Type-C Female, 3.4mm SE (Microphone: NO), Metal Chassis with SPC Cable

Firmware: 20210319_v1p0_EE_9302_R06_R15 (V1.1.0 April 2,2021)

 

Strengths:

  • Neutral and natural smooth, crisp timbre, uncolored tonality
  • Vibrant sparkly dynamics, well controlled articulation
  • Reference grade coherence with pristine clarity all over, very transparent
  • Balanced Mids with rich textures and definition, crisp Male/Female vocals
  • Silky smooth Treble with matured finesse, depth, extension, and textures
  • Punchy richly textured Mid-Bass with crisp decay
  • Deep, richly textured Sub-Bass with great decay
  • Excellent details retrieval, Macro and Micro. Well nuanced
  • Realistic guitar, piano, cello, and bass guitar tones, vivid yet smooth
  • Realistic sounding percussions (chimes, bells) and drums and taps
  • Massive soundstage with great depth and spacing.
  • Reference grade imaging, razor sharp precision with spacious spatial staging
  • Reference grade speed and transients handling, no congestion
  • Completely black background, zero floor noises
  • Zero signs of coarseness or grainy edges, at any frequency
  • Great sibilance resistance even on peaky songs
  • VERY forgiving on Lo-Fi and lower quality sources
  • Powerful drive at 55/100 for Monolith M565c & Tin HiFi P1 Magnetic Planars
  • Flexible synergy with wide variety of IEMs and Headphones
  • Beautiful, lightweight, and cute metal construction
  • Easy to update firmware: https://ibasso.com/dcseries2/

Weaknesses:

  • Sub-Bass seismic response not as strong as the top 3
  • No hardware volume adjuster
  • Available only in 3.5mm Single Ended Audio Out

VERDICT:

iBasso DC03. This DC03 has been in the market for a while and have established a good fanbase. And I can understand why it is a no brainer choice. It is easy for us to be excited with newcomers and often we will be WOW-ed by the new players. But this does not mean that the older players are suddenly redundant. The good thing is iBasso has been able to provide up to date Firmware updates to keep these DC series relevant. What I am hearing is fidelity level that is still relevant and oozes quality. A very refined implementation of dual CS43141 that is very tidy and clean sounding, especially with the latest April 2021 Firmware release. In contrast this DC03 definitely have an edge over the Tempotec Sonata BHD which is similarly configured with dual CS43131. The Tempotec Sonata BHD while offering some silky smoothness, it also can be regarded as too relaxed. DC03 will score remarkably high on my rating because it is very well balanced on every element of sound quality, exhibited matured finesse and fidelity. Not forgetting how it stood the test of time as iBasso seemingly not forgetting to provide the much-needed updates.

 

OVERALL RATING: 96/100

Recommended Pairing: Anything up to 250Ω or above 94db sensitivity.

 

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