iBasso DC04 Unboxing & Quick Review: Balanced Type-C DAC/AMP
iBasso DC04 is the latest balanced USB Type-C DAC/AMP from the brand released just a few weeks back. It is the fourth product in the highly acclaimed “DC” series of portable USB DAC/AMPs from iBasso. I have previously tested other products from the DC series including the DC01, DC02, and the DC03. While the previous models feature 2.5mm(DC01) and 3.5mm(DC02/DC03) outputs, the latest DC04 houses a balanced 4.4mm headphone output port. I grabbed a unit of DC04 for testing and have spent almost 20-25 days with it now, I feel like I should share my unboxing and sound impressions for the DC04. So let’s begin.
The iBasso DC04 is a high-performance portable DAC/AMP that greatly enhances the audio quality from our smartphones and other USB devices like Windows/MAC PC’s. It is glittered with a high-definition chipset housing dual CS43131 signal decoding chips providing excellent audio decoding characteristics. It can decode PCM up to 32-Bit/384kHz and DSD up to DSD256 natively. For output, the DC04 features the latest 4.4mm Pentaconn Balanced output port. The device has got a power rating of up to 4Vrms, quite interesting for a device this size. It is available in two different color options, Black and Silver, and can be grabbed for just 74.99$ check out more details here.
>High-performance Dual CS43131 DAC chips.
>Elegant Unibody design.
>iBasso Mobile App support.
>4.4mm Balanced Headphone Port.
>Decodes PCM Up To 32Bit/384kHz.
>Signal To Noise Ratio(SNR): 133dB.
>Output Power: 195mW @ 32Ω.
>Output Power: 4Vrms @ 300Ω.
>Background Noise: <0.9μV.
>Output Impedance: 0.12Ω.
>USB Type-C Interface.
The iBasso DC04 has exactly the same transparent packaging as that with the DC03. It’s a small transparent plastic box. The DC04 itself can be seen directly through the transparent front panel with iBasso Audio and DC04 branding logos at the top and bottom areas respectively. The bottom also has Hi-Res audio certification logos. Our unit of DC04 sits firmly in the first layer inside the packaging. Below is our user manual and a USB Type-C to Type-A adapter. With this adapter, we can use the DC04 with PCs and Laptops. Overall the packaging is simple. There is nothing fancy or extraordinary, it just comes with all the necessary stuff to get us going.
>One unit iBasso DC04 USB Type-C DAC/AMP.
>One unit USB Type-C to Type-A Adapter.
The DC04 shares its design and build with the DC03. They look quite identical with their metallic chassis, the only difference being the 4.4mm balanced output port on the DC04 and the 3.5mm single-ended port on the DC03. The metallic body has contrasting golden-colored panels at both ends, with a 4.4mm port on the top and a high-quality silver-plated cable terminating with a Type-C connector at the bottom. Overall, The build quality of DC04 is top-notch just like with the DC03. It looks well-built with a premium finish.
Technology Inside DC04:-
iBasso has carefully chosen the best suitable components for the DC04. They have combined a low-power high-performance DAC/AMP chipset with 2xCS43131 DAC chips. The CS43131 is a premium signal decoding chipset from Cirrus logics that delivers unmatchable audio performance with ultra-low distortion. The DC04 provides excellent sound quality output with very low power consumption from the source device. For output, the device features the latest Sony designed Pentaconn 4.4mm balanced output port. It has an output power rating of up to 4Vrms more than enough to power your IEMs and Headphones easily. The iBasso DC04 supports PCM decoding up to 32-Bit/384kHz and up to DSD256 natively.
The DC04 supports iBasso’s self-developed custom application for smartphones that allows precise volume adjustment with up to 64 levels of volume. About battery drainage from smartphones, In my usage experience with my One Plus 7T, Redmi Note 9 Pro, I never faced quick or heavy battery drainage while using the DC04. It's quite interesting to see such clean and powerful output from such a small device.
Pairing & Output Power:-
For the purpose of this review, I connected the DC04 with two smartphones One Plus 7T, Redmi Note 9 Pro, and also with my Windows PC via the USB adapter in the box. Headphones/IEMs that I tested with the DC04 are iBasso SR2, Hifiman Sundara, and Kinera Nanna, all with obviously a 4.4mm balanced cable. The DC04 powers them very easily, I never had to go above 80% volume even with the Hifiman Sundara.
The iBasso DC04 has quite a powerful output for its size. With such output comes great liveliness to the earphones. The Kinera Nanna is fairly difficult to drive with its 60Ω impedance but the DC04 makes it shine with all its glory. The DC04 brings out everything from a punchy bass to lovely beautiful vocals and detailed yet smooth instruments from our music. The overall sound signature is uncolored and feels quite natural to me and has a super quiet background. Hifiman Sundara, my personal favorite pair of budget planar driver headphones show powerful bass slams that feels excellent and leave their impact. Overall I am super satisfied with the well-detailed, natural sound signature of the iBasso DC04.
iBasso DC04 provides ample juice to your IEMs/Headphones to produce a punchy, powerful lower end with good extensions. Your earphones/headphones can breathe properly with the power and provides you with a great sense of energy in the lower end. It complements the other frequencies and makes the output lively.
The midrange shows a natural, lush feel to it with a touch of little warmth. Both the male and female vocals sound astounding and are presented really well with no sibilance or harshness to them. Mids section has a very musical and natural response thanks to the excellent layering and airiness.
The treble portion shows a very smooth response and brilliant detailing. Even in complex tracks, the separation and layering feel simply perfect. It doesn’t tame the treble in any way and presents the output as naturally as possible.
Soundstage & Separation:-
The DC04 outputs quality power that let the earphones/headphones connected breathe properly. This allows ample power and provides an amazing soundstage with a pitch dark background. I simply loved the DC04 as the output feels very rich and astounding with a quiet background. Separation and layering are simply on another level with excellent detailing.
Comparison DC04 Vs DC03:-
>Both the devices have a similar natural response.
>Both the devices are identical with almost the same design, same DAC configuration.
>The DC03 provides 3.5mm SE output while the DC04 provides 4.4mm Balanced headphone output port.
>The DC04 sounds quieter with a darker background.
>The output through DC04 sounds more cleaner and powerful as compared to the DC03.
Both the DC03 and DC04 are very good devices, you can choose between them easily depending on the termination port you have for your IEMs.
Lastly, I must say, I am super impressed with the DC04. I am gonna keep it with me for some more time as it acts as a superb source connected to my smartphones. At just 74.99$ it delivers quality performance at a budget-friendly price. If you are looking to buy a new USB Type C DAC/AMP and also looking for 4.4mm bal connection, You can consider getting the DC04. Check out more details here.