Hey Friends, we have an urgent announcement: this city needs a new hero, and we know his name!
And now, after all - hi friends! We will definitely give an explanation for such a sudden reference to Gotham and its inhabitants, but not immediately (yes, we love to intrigue). For now, let's continue the introduction in a more familiar form. Last time we had a lot of fun with iBasso's new DX320 DAP and AMP13 tube amplifier module, now we've got our hands on another new addition - the DC06 miniature balanced DAC/headphone amplifier. And it seems that we just recently told you about the first-born of the line of "audio dongles": DC01, DC02, DC03 and DC05, but here we have the sixth number, and it's a miracle how good it is!
The DC06 has incorporated the virtues of all its audio brethren, as it has both a balanced 4.4mm Pentaconn and regular 3.5mm headphone outputs on board. It is built, like its predecessor DC05, on two Saber ES9219C DAC chips. But, despite the selection of audio components similar to the "five", its appearance and voice are significantly different. In fact, iBasso somewhat rethought and re-invented their own device, leaving in it a strong foundation from previous developments and laying the foundation for the further development of their engineering. Maybe it's time to stop fogging, put our "audio dongle" in the ignition and fly forward to audiophile heights!
Text: Alexey Kashirskey (aka Hans Barbarossa)
Dual ES9219C DAC chips
Self-developed Quad DAC+ Technology
Frequency range: 20 – 20 000Hz
Compatibility: PCM up to 32bit/384kHz – DSD up to DSD256 – MQA 16x
SNR: 123dB (4.4mm) / 120dB (3.5mm)
THD (4.4mm): 0.00035% (600 ohm load) / 0.0005% (32 ohm load)
THD (3.5mm): 0.00056% (600 ohm load) / 0.0007% (32 ohm load)
Output voltage (4.4mm): 3.2Vrms (32 ohm) / 4Vrms (300 ohm)
Output voltage (3.5mm): 2Vrms
Size: 50 mm x 25 mm x 10 mm
Appearance and kit
Already through the transparent box, you can see that the DC06 began to look much more solid than its "forefathers". However, let's get back to the outstanding appearance of this DAC a little later, but for now let's deal with the packaging. All the necessary information was placed on the cardboard tab: brand logo, support icon for the currently extremely popular MQA audio format, model name and its features (4.4 mm balanced / 3.5 mm single-ended USB DAC & AMP). Detailed specifications are listed on the back. Inside, in addition to DC06, we find a USB type-C / USB type-C connecting cable, an adapter from type-C to type-A and instructions, which in combination is a warranty card. Another short USB-C/Lightning cable is placed in an anti-static bag attached to the box.
As far as I know, the DC06 is available exclusively in black. Its retrofuturistic body is an absolute design success. Before us is both a brutal and noir device (50 mm x 25 mm x 10 mm, weight - 23 g) made of aluminum alloy with longitudinal ribs on the front plane, which could perfectly fit into Batman's arsenal. Such a kind of radiator, in addition to a stylish appearance, serves to remove excess heat from electronic components. And the inscription on the outside again reminds of the seriousness of the device: 32bit/384kHz DSD256x. Not without the mandatory status of the golden sticker "Hi-Res Audio".
Headphone outputs are located on one of the ends: TRRS 4.4 mm balanced (Pentacon) and single-ended TRS 3.5 mm. In the same place, a little lower, there is a tiny LED that changes color depending on the audio format being played or lights up during operation, indicating that the DC06 is functioning properly. On the opposite side, there is a type-C connector, which connects to a smartphone, tablet or PC (a USB type-C / type-A adapter is included for this). And this is another distinguishing feature of the DC06, since the type-C cable of its predecessors was non-removable. Now users can connect cables of the length they need, and owners of Apple gadgets do without additional adapters.
By the way, as we remember, a short USB-C/Lightning connecting cable is already included.
Connecting the DC06 to anything is quite simple, but let me once again give a couple of tips. To correctly adjust the volume on Android or iOS, you should download the proprietary iBasso UAC application either from the Google Play Market / App Store (I assume that the program has already been added to the apple store?), Or the apk file from the manufacturer's website (relevant for Android devices). I recommend adding Hiby Music software as partners to it. Everything is clear, understandable and regulated by default without problems. Also on the iBasso website, you can take a special USB driver "DC-series" for ASIO output on Windows devices and activate it in the settings of the foobar2000 program.
The device is powered by a smartphone / tablet battery, but it does not suffer from “gluttony”, so you should not worry about increased battery discharge on your phone. Well, in the case of a PC and a laptop, there is nothing to worry about at all.
What else I would like to note from the distinguishing features of the DC06 from its predecessors is that it heats up much less during operation. Well, at least that's how it seemed to me.
Well, the design and technical potential of the device hint to us that the next part of the review will be even more interesting, so let's get down to it immediately.
iBasso DC06 is based on two SABER ES9219C DAC chips from ESS Technology using a miniature NDK femtosecond oscillator.
We used: 64 AUDIO A12t, Vision Ears VE8, VE7, InEar PP8, FIR Audio M5 и XE6, Softears RSV, Phonon 4400 & Beyerdynamic dt 250 (250 ohm).
Digital signal sources: Huawei P20 Pro smartphone and ASUS Zephyrus M16 laptop.
With all the headphones / IEMs, the device played more than adequately, without experiencing any difficulties with the variety of musical genres offered to it.
The sound of our today's audio hero is harmonious, noble and melodic. This is a thick and smooth manner with bodily filling of audio images, a slightly darkened background and a subtle transfer of the emotional part. The DC06, like its counterparts, has a good tonal balance, but has a slightly warmer picking style, which gives the played compositions a special charm and musicality. There is detail and comfort, picturesqueness and charming charm.
Unlike the “five”, DC06 delivers sound material a little more densely and smoothly, paying more attention to timbres, reverberations and transferring the volume of virtual audio space. Although the general character of the sound they have is a bit similar. Well, it is worth noting the fact that the hero of our review boasts more power.
The bass is thick, energetic, well-defined and well-controlled. He has a tight accurate shot, and relief, and good speed. He, perhaps, lacks a bit of texture transfer to draw volume, although a lot here depends on the headphones.
The sub-bass region is delivered evenly and deeply, clearly complementing the low-frequency register, and the mid-bass region, in turn, is slightly forced. In general, the low-frequency range and lower mids in the DC06 are charming, they perfectly fulfill their due, darkening the general background and filling the middle with a vital substance, giving it a velvety, physicality and naturalness.
Mids are even, smooth, distinct, with good detail, good resolution and even tonal balance. The midrange register is delivered smoothly, cleanly, surprisingly musically and naturally. Stringed instruments sound very naturalistic, where each pinch and touch of the strings is drawn clearly and colorfully. Vocal parts sound lively and moderately expressive. There is a drive here, and a game with contrasts, and good detail - and all this without unnecessary embellishments.
High frequencies are reproduced cleanly and harmoniously. They are energetic, moderately restrained and charming. This is a embossed, precise and comfortable manner with a slight unobtrusive "spark" that slightly tints the overall sound. Yes, there is some simplification here, but at the same time, DC06 conveys this register quite clearly, without excessive aggression and artifacts.
A huge plus of the DC06 sound is that, in principle, you absolutely don’t want to split it into separate frequency ranges, it is so whole, harmonious and noble, a single and harmonious audio array. Well, the truth is, the device “sings” just fine: cheerfully, melodicly, harmoniously, smoothly and balanced!
In terms of genre preferences, the newcomer did not have any serious problems. He skillfully handles both instrumental music, jazz, electronics, rock music, and brutal genres.
In my opinion, iBasso's new miniature DAC amplifier is another evolutionary step towards perfect portable sound. Skillful technical implementation has made it possible to stuff into this engineering miniature a sound that does not try to confuse the listener with tricks and tricks in order to seem like something decent, but in fact is adult, extremely interesting and, moreover, truly charming. DC06 easily turns a phone or laptop into a full-fledged audio device that can compete even with players in the entry-level and mid-range segments, and its tiny size allows you to take it with you anywhere: from a morning run to a long trip.
I have repeatedly praised the "audio dongles" made by iBasso and each time it was completely deserved. DC06 has absorbed all the best from its relatives, while becoming even more beautiful (of course, a subjective opinion, but I can’t help expressing it), more powerful and stylistically “tastier”, and its price tag is still very democratic. At the time of writing the review, the recommended retail price for the device was $119. If you want to get into the wonderful world of Hi-Res filled with audiophile pleasures with the least effort, then you have one of the right paths in the desired direction.
Sound, design, size, price.
No (not at this price)