In 2015, I became the owner of a USB DAC, worth $2000 from one Chinese manufacturer. There were a lot of laudatory reviews on the Internet for this device. And in 2015, features like 384Khz/32bit were really a breakthrough in the market. But actually, the built-in sound card of my iMac, which is not of the best quality, beat this device for $2000. And not audiophile power filters and cables could not help this miracle.
Then I realized that all the reviews on the Internet for this box for $2000, are a good job of marketers and have nothing to do with the real product.
But in 2019, I wanted to improve the sound of headphones from my smartphone and computer. And after viewing a large number of reviews, I decided to take a chance on $55 and ordered on Aliexpress in ZK-LICHIFIT Store, a whistle called iBasso DC02.
If you have not yet understood the reason for telling my short story with the previous device, I will tell you directly, iBasso DC02 is a complete failure! And if you really need a decent USB DAC, at the beginning of the review, I can assure you that it is better to pass by and look for something else!
I am not in any way calling you to snobbery. I encourage you to be attentive to the products on the market. Moreover, I know from my own experience that among Chinese manufacturers, there are many brands that offer really high-quality goods!
So, two weeks after the order, I received an audiophile toy. It was a small, square cardboard box containing a compass DAC with USB type-C and an adapter for standard USB.
The design was very worthy. After all, aluminum is a beautiful metal and the shape of the device design looks quite good. But that was the end of my joy and the beginning of my problems.
First of all, I didn't hear this epic sound. On the contrary, the bass was very high and so much so that after 30 minutes of listening, my head started to ache and I thought that soon my ears would bleed. No, do not think that I was listening to music at full volume at this moment, I'm talking about the consequences of listening at a volume not higher than average power. Moreover, at a higher volume, this device produces strong distortion that turns high frequencies into a light whistle, which makes listening impossible at all.
Second, the device has problems connecting. For example, if you have connected the iBasso DC02 to your phone and the left earphone is not playing, you need to reconnect the USB type-C to the other side (flip the plug).
For the same reason or because of driver. Sometimes Windows may not see this device. That is, the DAC is connected, but it is not (Pic.)! I figured out this situation and realized that iBasso DC02 works better without drivers at all, so Windows is easier to recognize the device and all possible settings are available for choosing cleanliness. Just connect and restart Windows.
This kid refused to work through ASIO driver in Frutti Loops and AlbumPlayer at all. The sound is there, but with creepy artifacts and no volume control. Maybe something can be done, but I didn't see the point of wasting time on it.
Of course, after all my suffering, I decided to try to return this miracle back to the seller. We corresponded with him for a very long time, I sent him several videos and screenshots as proof of the instability of this device, and the seller diligently proved to me that the DAC is fixed and the video shows that the DAC sound is high quality. Yes, this is not a typo, it turns out that the seller can determine the level of audio quality from the headphones from the video! Well, if you don't understand, this is just a lie in order not to return the product!
As a result, the seller offered to send me the product back or compensation of $5! Compensation of $5 out of $55 is of course a very heavy joke for the customer and I could not send iBasso DC02 back to China, because the cost of the parcel is equal to the cost of the device!
Of course, after the disadvantages described above, you are unlikely to be interested in the pros. And they are by the way, but really not actual.
As I mentioned earlier, this is the design, compactness and quality of the material. It is worth noting the correct decision to connect the DAC by wire to USB, because in this way the user has little risk of breaking the USB connector of a smartphone or computer. Unfortunately, many other manufacturers sin this and in this case iBasso DC02 has a significant advantage over competitors.
Definitely, the mid-range frequencies feel Hi-Fi class and they can charm you at first. But given the strong distortion of the low and high frequencies, you will soon still return to your built-in sound card and just enjoy the absence of distortion-free sound.
Ibasso DC02 drums are sounding in their own special handwriting, they are very fast and it is the speed, not the rhythm.
But at the same time, not everyone will notice all these changes, for example, many of my friends did not hear the difference in sound when connecting to a phone or computer.
Someone will object to me after reading of my review. He will say that there are many positive reviews and the presence of 384Khz/32bit is a cool filling!
With regards to reviews, I think many people do not know what really Hi-FI is. And just succumb to mass euphoria. By the way, I have seen bewildered comments from people who did not hear the difference and currently use this DAC only as an adapter or amplifier.
As for the availability of AK4490 and 384Khz/32bit, this is not a guarantee of high sound and it is just marketing for similar devices. The fact is that to open 384Khz/32bit, you need a very expensive audio setup, which most buyers simply do not have. In addition to this, you need competent circuitry and power supply for the device. As you can see in the solution for $55-75, it is not possible to do this!