iBasso DC03 Unboxing & Quick Review
A few months back iBasso released the third installment in its highly acclaimed “DC” series of USB Type-C DAC/AMPs, the iBasso DC03. It comes as a successor to the highly famous DC01 and DC02, featuring a powerful CS43131 Dual DAC chipset, 3.5mm headphone out port, high-output power, and many more features. On paper the DC03 looks to be a very promising device but does it really live up to the name of the DC01 and DC02. Today we are going to find that out with today’s blog. I have got a unit of DC03 for myself a few days back, today I am going to share my unboxing and quick review for the DC03. It is priced at 59$, check out more details here.
iBasso Audio is a well-known name in the audio industry. They have a wide range of products from Hi-res Digital Audio Players to Hi-res USB Type-C DAC/AMPs. Famous products include iBasso DX220, iBasso DX160 Hi-res players, iBasso IT00, iBasso IT01s, iBasso IT04 IEMs, and many more. For USB Type-C DAC/AMPs, their DC01 is one of the most-selling Type-C DAC/AMP in the market. Well before wasting any more time, let’s check out how good is their latest DC03.
>Dual CS43131 DAC chips.
>PCM decoding up to 32-Bit/384kHz.
>DSD decoding up to DSD256 natively.
>Ultra-low noise floor: <0.9µV.
>Output voltage: 2Vrms(300 Ohms), 1.61Vrms(32 Ohms).
>Output power: 80mW @ 32 Ohms.
>USB Type-C interface.
>3.5mm headphone output.
>Available in two colors, Silver and Black.
iBasso DC03 comes in very elegant packaging. It is a transparent plastic box in a curvy rectangular shape. The unit itself is directly visible through the transparent front panel. iBasso Audio and DC03 branding are at the top and bottom respectively. The first foam layer inside the package holds our DC03 unit. Below this is the user manual and a USB Type-C to USB Type-A adapter to use the DC03 with laptops and PCs. Well, the packaging is quite simple, comes with only the necessary stuff in the box.
>One unit iBasso DC03 USB Type-C DAC/AMP.
>One unit USB Type-C to USB Type-A adapter.
For decoding the sound signal the iBasso DC03 is equipped with a dual DAC chipset featuring two CS43131 DAC chips. The CS43131 is a next-gen DAC/AMP chip from Cirrus Logic that combines a low-power high-performance DAC with a high-power headphone amplifier providing a high-quality audio performance. It has a low power consumption that results in a low power drain from the source device. iBasso has previously implemented CS43131l DAC chipset in their highly appreciated DX160 Android music player.
The DC03 has excellent decoding capabilities. It can decode PCM up to 32-Bit/384kHz and DSD up to DSD256 natively. It has an output power rating of up to 80mW @ 32Ohm load. It is suitable for in-ear monitors up to 50-60Ohm.
iBasso DC03 is a simple looking device with very good build quality. The previous models DC01 and DC02 were available only in silver color while the new DC03 is also available in black color which looks pretty good. It has a metallic body housing the chipset inside with contrasting golden panels at both ends. The body has iBasso DC03 and 32Bit/384kHz, DSD256x printed on the top. On one end of the DC03 is a 3.5mm headphone port and on the other a high-quality silver-plated cable ending with a Type-C connector.
The overall build quality of the iBasso DC03 is quite good. It looks like a neatly crafted device with a unibody design.
Connecting the Device:-
For this review, I connected the iBasso DC03 with my smartphones, Huawei P30 Pro, One plus 6T, Xiaomi Note 9 Pro, and more. Even though the Note 9 Pro has a 3.5mm jack, the improvement is drastic over the stock output. As compared to the stock Type-C to 3.5mm connector of the 6T, the sound feels more lively and open with the DC03.
iBasso DC03 produces a quite natural output with deep extensions at both ends. It is quite crisp and shows no fatiguing or distortion even at louder volume levels. There is no sign of background noise in the output, micro-details pop out with such pitch dark background. I tried my Moondrop Blessing 2, Kinera Nanna, iBasso IT00 IEMs, and Sennheiser HD6XX headphones with the DC03. IEMs were driven properly with good extension at both the end. The HD6xx has an adequately loud output at just 50-60% volume level on the source device but it shows a lack of extensions and staging as compared to more powerful desktop amplifiers. The Kinera Nanna is quite a demanding pair of IEMs with 64Ohm of impedance rating, it is being driven properly producing amazing detailed output without any trouble.
iBasso DC03 has an impressive lower end with deep extensions and a powerful sub-bass rumble. Sub-bass rumble is quite intensive and satisfying. The lower end is quite tight and punchy with powerful mid-bass slams complementing my music. The bass is controlled really well showing no signs of muddiness in my music. Listening to genres like EDM, Hip-hop is quite intuitive thanks to the strong, punchy lower end.
The iBasso DC03 produces smooth and musical mid-frequencies. The mid-frequencies are neither upfront nor too recessed, they sound quite balanced between the lower and higher end. Both the male and female vocals sound very crisp and rich with natural tonality. Instruments like acoustic guitars, pianos have a good sense of airiness and depth. Listening to vocals, live performances, is pure bliss with the DC03 connected to our source.
The treble portion with the DC03 is quite rich, It is smooth, transparent, and shows good extensions. Detail retrieval is pretty solid with the IEMs that I have tested with it. None of my IEMs show any signs of harshness or sibilance in any way. The upper treble portion is quite natural, it is neither too warm nor too bright, it just produces the right amounts of details being controlled well without any harshness. Listening to fast metal tracks is pure bliss with the DC03 in the chain.
Timbre, Soundstage, & Imaging:-
The DC03 has quite natural tonality throughout the frequency range, instruments, vocals, all have a natural tonality and timbre. The output doesn’t sound colored in any way. DC03 has a good clean power to provide to the connected IEMs producing a super-clean wide soundstage with pretty good imaging capabilities.
The iBasso “DC” series of USB Type-C DAC/AMP’s are some of the finest sounding devices in the market. The DC03 lives up to that name with its natural and detailed sound output. It might not be an optimal choice for demanding headphones, but for IEMs and earbuds, it is a brilliant option with a rich clean output. The iBasso DC03 has an attractive price tag of just 59$, grab it eyes closed if you want to improve the sound quality out of your smartphone or PC.