IBASSO DC06 Review

Sound performances

For this review, I chose to pair the iBasso DC06 with the Shanling ME800 and Beyerdynamic’s DT7900 Pro X. Those two have been my top choice in this price range since their launch now, and the FiiO shall be the perfect pocket companion on the go

As for the source, I kept my MacBook and iPhone, combined with the ddHiFi TC28i, to use the USB-C cable solely. For the files, I mainly used Apple Music and Spotify, as I ended up using the DC06 almost exclusively in the train, or at the office.

Overall signature

So, how does iBasso’s latest USB dongle fare, compared to its older-but-smaller brother, the DC05? Does size matter and is bigger… better? Actually, yes. At least for the DC06.

On paper, the DC05 and DC06 are awfully close: same DAC, same output level, and same distortion levels, through the 3.5mm port. But, once I’ve plugged the DAC into my computer, and paired it to the Beyer, I was pleasantly surprised to feel a clear difference between the two devices.

First and foremost, the new DC06 is much more powerful than the previous model. Head to head, paired with the DT900 Pro-X, there was a distinct difference, the new DAC delivering a beefier, cleaner presentation. This was especially true with well-mixed tracks like Nara from Alt-J, where the voice completely took me off, as I slowly dove into the music.

Truth be told, that might also be thanks to the DT900 Pro-X. I was absolutely stunned by the combination of the two systems, and even paired with more expensive gear like the Chord Mojo or players like my DX300, I found the synergy less impressive. For some reason, the pairing is quite magical, and in this price range, this might be one of the most interesting setups I would recommend, at the moment.

But, getting back to the main subject, the DC06 is a real upgrade from the DC05. Like the FiiO KA3, it’s extremely powerful – even more via the 4.4mm output – and even if the new MacBook enjoys a better audio chipset, the iBasso is a real step up. The same goes for smartphone listeners, compared to Apple’s own dongle, this is a significant improvement. The same can be said when opposed to ddHiFi’s TC35i: way better dynamic range, deeper bass, cleaner high-mids, and a leaner sound signature

Cause yes, in case you haven’t listened to any of iBasso’s latest products, you’d be surprised to find out how linear and analytical they all sound. The iBasso DC05 was mostly neutral, with a wide sound stage and a surprisingly good layering – and the DC06 does follow the exact same way, with some refinements. Paired with the right headphones/earphones you can spot each instrument and each singer with ease and there is no channel imbalance to ruin the experience.

To the usual question: is it noisy? I’ll answer: not at all! Even with the Shanling ME800, I couldn’t spot any floor noise and the old saying about “noisy-hissy” iBasso, is now completely irrelevant. Hurray!


Head to head against the EarMen Eagle, another dongle equipped with a new ESS Chip, the iBasso DC06 took the lead. It didn’t exhibit the same tonal difference I encountered with the KA3, quite the opposite, yet the iBasso sounded fuller and crispier. Flat? Yes, but musical at the same time. And for the same price, I think that iBasso offers a bit more, especially for balanced cable users.

The FiiO KA3 offered a good counter-part, as the DAC shows the usual FiiO signature, with softer mids and punchier low-mids. It’s not much, but if you need some groove in your music, you may prefer the KA3. On the other hand, if you favour accuracy, go for the DC06, which portrays each and every nuance, at every given volume.

Paired with the Audeze LCD-X – one if not my favourite planar – the iBasso gives you the perfect balance between dryness and linearity, a mix that might be a bit tougher to love than usual, but I loved it. And if bad recordings are not welcome, compared to the FiiO KA3, there is not much difference. Again, in my opinion, for people that own the DT 700 Pro X and DT 900 Pro X this is the perfect dongle for on the go.

Last but not least, to be sure, I tried various sources to check if EMI shielding was okay too. And, 99% of the time, I was pleased to hear the same pitch-black background. The only time I heard some parasites, was when my phone had to catch up with the old edge bandwidth, but that only occurred once, not twice.

All in all, another great addition to the dongle mania!

Highs: clean and sharp. The iBasso DC06 offers a very high level of resolution and scales up easily with Hi-Res files. There is a good level of air, outlined by the ultra-low distortion and linear signature. Those trebles are sharp, even clinical, but those never get hissy, and I could feel the usual Sabre touch, even more than the DC05.

Mids: open and linear. Vocals and acoustic tracks are an easy job for the DC06, even more once paired with a good set like the DT900/DT700. The soundstage is wide, especially with the balanced output, and I was surprised to spot some small details, unheard of on the DC05, especially when paired with the Shanling ME800.

Lows: deep and fast. The iBasso did an excellent job here, easily reaching the lowest notes and sub rumble, even with moderately hard-to-drive headphones. It’s much more powerful than before, and Ike the FiiO KA3 – again – for the size of the thing, it’s amazing how much oomph you get. Hurray


In less than a year, the market has been flooded by USB DAC dongles, all because smartphone makers are all ditching the classic headphone port. Luckily, most brands are not just offering replacements, but real audiophile solutions, for listeners on the go.

And in this pool of dongles, iBasso somehow managed to offer something really catchy with the DC06. It looks and feels sturdy enough to outlast me, offers a wide compatibility – like every other models now – and most of all sounds impressively good. Sure, the 4.4mm Pentaconn is the piece of resistance, but the 3.5mm should suit most users, especially if they have nice cans like the Beyer – which is, sorry to repeat, marvelous with the DC06.

Should you get the FiiO KA3 or the iBasso DC06? It’s a good question and at the end, the only real difference – for me – will be the tone signature: warmer with the FiiO, sharper with the iBasso. And, all in all, both are outstanding devices, making the DC06 a possible must-have, if you want pocketable power.