Skip to content

iBasso DC04 PRO Full Review

Introduction

The iBasso DC04 PRO is the latest USB DAC/amplifier dongle released by iBasso, a company known for making quality digital audio players and accessories at reasonable prices. Priced at $119, the DC04 PRO packs impressive technology and delivers excellent sound quality that punches well above its price bracket. In this detailed review, we will take a close look at the features, sound signature, app integration, comparisons to other products, and help you determine if the iBasso DC04 PRO is the right pick for you.

Disclaimer: This review reflects my honest opinions only. I haven’t received any compensation to influence my thoughts. All ratings consider the product’s price point.

iBasso DC04 PRO

Image of iBasso DC04 PRO DAC And AMP (Image via linsoul.com)
Image of iBasso DC04 PRO DAC And AMP (Image via linsoul.com)

Specifications

  • 4.4mm BAL Output
  • THD+N: 0.00013% (3000 load)
  • Output Level: 3.0Vrms (320 load)
  • 4.0Vrms (3000 load)
  • S/N: 131dBA
  • Dynamic Range: 128dBA
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz~40kHz #0.5dB
  • Output Impedance: <0.40
  • 3.5mm SE Output
  • THD+N: 0.00018% (3000 load
  • Output Level: 2.0Vrms (3282 load) 2.0Vrms (3002 load)
  • S/N: 127dBA
  • Dynamic Range: 126dBA
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz~40kHz #0.5dB
  • Output Impedance: <0.20
  • DAC Chipset: Dual Cirrus Logic CS43131
  • PCM: Up to 32bit/384kHz
  • DSD: Native DSD up to 256x
  • Size: 59mm*23.4mm*12.1mm
  • Weight: 21g
  • DAC Chipset: Dual Cirrus Logic CS43131
  • PCM: Up to 32bit/384kHz
  • DSD: Native DSD up to 256x
  • Size: 59mm*23.4mm*12.1mm
  • Weight: 21g

Individual ratings

Build Quality

The iBasso DC04 PRO features an elegant, minimalist design with a premium aluminum body and tempered glass panels. The attention to detail, precise CNC machining, and flawless assembly showcase excellent build quality that feels much more expensive than its price point.

0/5
Technology

Featuring two flagship-grade CS43131 DAC chips in a true dual-mono configuration, along with advanced technologies like synchronous DC-DC power conversion and FPGA control, the DC04 PRO offers impressive decoding capabilities. It supports up to 32-bit/384kHz PCM and DSD256, catering to high-res audio formats.

0/5
Sound Quality

The DC04 PRO delivers stunningly transparent and natural sound quality, with a slightly warm tonality. It offers excellent technical performance, with a wide and deep soundstage, accurate imaging, and a remarkably black background. The detailed and nuanced sound signature across the frequency range belies its price bracket.

0/5
Power Output

With a maximum output of 550 mW into 32 ohms, the DC04 PRO offers class-leading power delivery, easily driving demanding planar magnetic headphones and high-impedance loads. Its low noise and distortion levels ensure a clean and dynamic sound even at high volumes.

0/5
App Integration And Usage

While the DC04 PRO offers seamless plug-and-play connectivity across various devices, its customization options are limited to Android users through the UAC control app. The hardware volume buttons and intuitive operation contribute to a positive user experience.

0/5
Unique Features

The innovative power-saving mode, which disables unused circuitry to improve efficiency without compromising sound quality, is a standout feature. Additionally, the efficient heat dissipation management and the inclusion of a Lightning-to-USB cable for iOS users add value and convenience.

0/5

Overall Rating

0/5.0

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that the iBasso DC04 PRO is an outstanding USB DAC/amp dongle that punches well above its price point. With an elegant yet durable build, cutting-edge technology, superb sound quality, class-leading power output, and unique features like power-saving mode, it offers exceptional value for audiophiles seeking a portable high-fidelity audio solution. While app integration could be improved for non-Android users, the DC04 PRO emerges as a top choice in its category, delivering an impressive combination of performance, versatility, and affordability.

Pros

  • The superb sound quality exceeds its price range.
  • transparent, natural, with a wide soundstage
  • class-leading power output and current delivery  
  • innovative power-saving technology 
  • Stellar builds quality with elegant aesthetics.
  • The UAC app unlocks further customization (Android).
  • works seamlessly with iOS, macOS, and Windows.

Cons

  • Android-only apps limit flexibility.
  • gets slightly warm during high power usage.

1. Packaging

Image of iBasso DC04 PRO DAC And AMP (Image via linsoul.com)
Image of iBasso DC04 PRO DAC And AMP (Image via linsoul.com)
  • iBasso DC04 PRO
  • cable
  • paperworks

2. Design And Build Quality

The DC04 PRO sports an elegant, minimalist design with an aluminum body and glass panels on either side. Attention to detail is excellent, with precise CNC machining and flawless assembly. The tempered glass sides and volume control add a touch of luxury. At 59x23.4x12.1mm and just 21 grams, the dongle is compact and easily pocketable. 

Available in grey or blue, the build quality is simply stellar for the price. The anodized aluminum feels premium and durable, while all sockets and buttons have satisfying tactile feedback. The DC04 PRO shape makes it easy to stack with a smartphone or DAP. Detachable cables add convenience, and it ships with a short USB C to C cable along with a USB C adapter. Overall, the DC04 PRO looks and feels much more expensive than it is.

3. Technology and Decoding Capabilities

At the heart of the DC04 PRO sit two flagship-grade CS43131 DAC chips from Cirrus Logic, arranged in a true dual-mono configuration. The sophisticated architecture employs multiple technologies like synchronous DC-DC power conversion, ultra-low-noise LDOs, FPGA control, and femtosecond oscillators for low jitter. 

Helping drive the hungry planar magnetic headphones is a powerful dual op-amp stage designed by iBasso, utilizing two RT6863 chips per channel in fully balanced mode. This beefy output stage delivers up to 550 mW into 32 ohms, with impressively low distortion even near full power. For sensitive IEMs, an innovative power-saving mode bypasses the amplifier section, reducing power draw while retaining sound quality.

With PCM support up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD256 decoding, the DC04 PRO handles all high-res music formats with aplomb. Other features like digital filters, three gain levels, and channel balance allow customization for optimal performance. The UAC control app for Android unlocks additional options like 100-step volume control.

4. Sound Quality

Image of iBasso DC04 PRO DAC And AMP
Image of iBasso DC04 PRO DAC And AMP

Pairing excellently with the included CS43131 DACs, the DC04 PRO delivers stunningly transparent and natural sound. The overall tonality leans slightly warm, while the technical ability punches far above its price bracket. The soundstage is wide and deep with believable imaging, while the background is inky black.

Bass digs surprisingly deep, with excellent texture and slam. Sub-bass rumble extends down into the northern regions, easily matching dedicated desktop DAC/amps. Mid-bass impact hits hard yet stops short of muddiness or bloat. Bass guitars and drums sound dynamic yet controlled.  

Mids showcase wonderful clarity and transparency, with accurate timbre conveying sonic realism. Guitars and strings sound natural, with a realistic bite and airiness. Vocals display intimacy as singers take center stage, surrounded by a quiet background. Small nuances emerge easily without pushing detail into listeners’ faces.

Treble strikes a careful balance by avoiding stridency while retaining plenty of air and microdetail retrieval. Cymbals sound realistic with an appropriate bite rather than an etched or sterile presentation. Better recordings showcase the resolving ability, while average tracks remain non-fatiguing.

Soundstage projection impresses in all three dimensions, conveying a holographic image beyond the DAC's diminutive size. Instruments inhabit natural-sized spaces with a sense of air between them rather than sounding congested. Imaging lets listeners pinpoint musicians’ positions accurately. The DC04 PRO showcases surprising technical mastery despite its price tag.

5. App Integration And Usage

For Android users, the UAC control app helps configure options like digital filters and channel balance while providing seamless integration. Windows, macOS, and iOS users simply plug and play while leveraging system volume control. Unique to the DC04 PRO are hardware buttons that provide 100-step adjustment independent of source device volume. 

This proves handy when paired with devices like iPhones, which lack fine-grained control. LEDs indicate selected functions, like DSD playback or standby mode. The intuitive operation, plug-and-play nature across devices, and customization options ensure an exemplary user experience.

6. Unique Features

While excellent sound and fine build define the DC04 PRO, a few special features set it apart from competing dongle DAC/amps. The innovative power-saving mode is a first in its category, improving efficiency by disabling unused circuitry, thereby cutting power consumption in half without compromising sound.

While delivering high power from USB alone exceeds typical dongle capabilities, efficiently managing heat dissipation is just as critical. This enables enjoyably long high-res listening sessions without excessive warmth ruining the experience. For ultimate flexibility, iBasso bundles a handy Lightning-to-USB cable for iOS users.

8. Power Output and Drivability

With 280 mW from its balanced output into 32 ohms, the DC04 PRO drives demanding headphones with aplomb. Subjectively matching some entry-level desktop gear, this handy dongle has no issues partnering with planar magnetics or even power-hungry HIFIMAN models. Noise and distortion values are impeccably low for the category.

The nuanced power delivery ensures sensitive IEMs don’t suffer from channel imbalances or hiss even on the lowest gain setting. On the flip side, engaging high-current turbo mode helps extract additional dynamics suitable for orchestral music or congested metal guitar riffs. With flexibility tailored to both low and high impedance loads, the DC04 PRO achieves sonic nirvana.

9. FAQs

Q. Who should buy the iBasso DC04 PRO?

The iBasso DC04 PRO makes for an outstanding audiophile upgrade over a smartphone or computer audio, being able to drive a wide variety of headphones with grace. Enthusiasts wanting to experience superb portable sound quality without breaking the bank will cherish it.  Owners of power-hungry headphones also stand to benefit from its high-current balanced output stage. Fans of iBasso's musical house sound will feel instantly at home while welcoming the dead silent noise floor. With flexibility tailored to audiophile usage scenarios yet not demanding steep compromises in practicality either, the DC04 PRO caters broadly to personal audio enthusiasts seeking great sound for a reasonable price.

Q. Who should avoid the iBasso DC04 PRO?

Listeners wanting MQA decoding, streaming functionality, or Bluetooth support will need to consider alternatives like the FiiO BTR7 or Qudelix 5K, which include those capabilities. Similarly, fans of warmer, more laid-back sound signatures could prefer competing USB dongles that cater to that preference over the neutral-leaning DC04 PRO. Buyers prioritizing smartphone-matching aesthetics or ultra-compact form factor again may need to weigh tradeoffs as function takes slight precedence over form here. Yet outside these narrow caveats, the iBasso DC04 PRO satisfies handsomely as an endgame USB DAC/amplifier for tonality, technical ability, versatility, and value.

Q. Does the iBasso DC04 PRO support native MQA decoding?

No, the DC04 PRO currently lacks native MQA decoding. You will be able to enjoy up to 24-bit/384kHz PCM and DSD256 files, which encompass the most available high-res music choices except MQA.  

Q. What is the output power in balanced mode?

You get a mighty 280 mW into a 32 ohm balanced, which should suffice even for planar headphones like Audeze or HIFIMAN models up to moderate volumes.

Q. Does the DC04 PRO work properly with iPhones?

Yes, using the supplied Lightning to USB-C cable ensures proper 'Made for iPhone' functionality. You will be able to leverage the hardware volume buttons seamlessly.  

Q. Can I use the DC04 PRO as a USB DAC for my computer?

Certainly. The DC04 PRO implements USB Audio Class 2.0 drivers, allowing plug-and-play connectivity with Windows, macOS, or Linux machines. This frees you from the need to download additional drivers.

Q. How do I control volume on iOS or macOS devices?

You can conveniently leverage the side-mounted hardware volume buttons on the DC04 PRO to control levels independent of system volume. This gives far finer control compared to standard iOS devices, which can otherwise only alter volume in coarse increments.

Conclusion

With superb technical mastery combined with organic tonality, the feature-packed iBasso DC04 PRO raises the bar significantly for USB DAC/amplifier dongles. The innovative operation, customization options, and exemplary versatility ensure it pairs wonderfully with IEMs and headphones alike. Unless you specifically need MQA decoding or Bluetooth connectivity, the DC04 PRO handily emerges as a top choice for audiophiles listening on the move. Given everything it manages at a palatable $119.

Become an audiophile pro! Master the key terms and discover the secrets of high-fidelity audio. Go to the Answers section to start your learning adventure.

Overall User Rating

4.5

Read More Reviews On iBasso DC04 PRO: Headfonia

Please Share!