iBasso DX90 and AKG K550 – Impressive and disappointed

Posted under others On By xpk

Got my hands on a DX90 a couple days ago, what a DAP. Its dual Sabre DAC delivers a lot of details in all ranges. From the high to the mid to the bass, I’m getting supreme quality. I don’t think there are emphasis on any range, they’re equally impressive. But as a little bit of a bass head, I do enjoy the quality and impact of DX90’s bass. unlike the Fiio E18, which has a lot of bass, DX90 offers clarity, even in bass. Sound stage is just right. Keeping things in focus and every music note in the head.

I’m pairing it with JVC HA-FXT90 most of the time. I feel that I’m hearing a lot more compared to directly connecting the ear phone to a phone or to my Fiio E18. The DX90 can drive bigger devices like my AKG K550 and K172. But it doesn’t sound as good as the JVC.

There are only a few options available on the DX90 – gain control, roll off filter, and a subtractive EQ. That’s all I really need. Unlike the software equivalent on a phone, these options do make an obvious difference. Something I really like about the DX90.

Connecting the DX90 to an integrated AMP (NAD 356BEE) gave me interesting result. The line out jack produced more neutral sound but at the same time even more detail. Easily, the dual Sabre beats my Cambridge Audio 640c CDP. I was a big fan of Wolfson but the DX90 changes everything.

Onto the disappointment about the K550. I have it for half a year now. As a more modern AKG, I really think they owe me some more bass. It’s almost absent without a decent AMP. Pairing it with the DX90 kind of proved that the K550 is not my cup of tea. The bass is there but not enough. The vocal are thin and a little harsh. I guess AKG emphasises on the highs and details. Sound is open as a close-back. But hey, if I want open sound, I’d go for a open or semi-open head phone. Buying a close back means I want to trap everything, to listen to every single bit of detail. A more studio experience.

Now I’m on a journey to look for a better head phone to pair with the DX90. Ideally, it’ll have the same signature as the HA-FXT90. I really like the JVC. The Sennheiser Urbanite seems close, but I find it not producing enough detail. And because Urbanite is on the ear, I’m worried about getting ear fatigue after a couple hours of listening. Urbanite XL seems to solve the problem but interestingly, the XL produces much less bass compared to the smaller Urbanite. I’m not sure how’s that possible or is my DX90 lacking the juice to drive them. 16OHM may be a little difficult for portable? Anyhow, it’s a set back. I also find that the XL isn’t big enough to embrace the entire ear. I don’t think I have very big ears. I suppose they want to keep it compact and portable.

Checkout Lurker00’s firmware. When I checked the release notes, there really is no reason not switch to this firmware. I’m using it now. To me, the biggest improvement is the increased buffer for gapless playback. It completely solves the problem of first second played back at abnormal speed.


 1,113 total views,  2 views today

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *