Actually it should be DX150 instead of the DX160 in that photo! Hopefully @taronlissimore or @Torq can fix that for me, and also update the store listing link for the DX160 when that comes available.
Anyway, yea I didn’t go into too much detail on comparing the R5 to the DX160. I was going to post that on this thread instead as I wanted to focus on the iBassos in the article.
First thing, I am planning on ordering a DX160 after having spent time with it – the main reason is exactly what you just asked – I like the ergonomics of it!
The DX160, despite having a large screen, is actually really easy to hold in the hand since it is essentially bezel-less. The volume wheel is a nice touch and is perfectly placed and is really the biggest thing I’ve missed since using the R5 as my daily DAP – owning A&K, Fiio, Pioneer, and Onkyo DAPs with wheels previously.
The DX160 is also a little thinner than the R5 and much thinner than the SR15 and ends up being just a little bit thicker than a cell phone or approximately same size as a cell phone with a TPU case on it.
The screen on the DX160 is bright and vivid, and while the R5 also has a nice screen, the 160 looks more appealing, and that could be due to the larger size.
Now as far as UI goes - the R5 wins it for me. The stock android experience is just more familiar and tidier. I am not a fan of iOS’s layout where app icons are on the homescreen. My Android phone and the R5 is void of apps, except the nav bar at the bottom where I have my app links to Poweramp, the menu, and Spotify on the R5. With the DX160 and all iBasso’s there is no android launcher menu so every app is on the desktop. The quick fix for this is to install a new launcher so not the end of the world.
I prefer Hiby Music over Mango, by a long ways. The only winning edge is Mango has Parametric EQ and Hiby doesn’t really. It’s got the Mage Ball EQ which itself is nice. It’s all a moot point though, since I use Poweramp and Spotify for my main offline and online players, respectively.
Now, I’ve been browsing the HeadFi thread and there’s two things that made me sway my path towards the DX160:
Lurker Firmware – this is mod that adds magisk and system-less root to the DX160 and allows other features.
Google Playstore - with the latest firmware, you can install Playstore from APK Pure without the Lurker Firmware. (the firmware has it built-in).
Those two things could make the DX160 top the R5 for me. I didn’t try either on this loaner unit since I don’t own it, but I plan on buying one from as soon as it becomes available on headphones.com and get going on modding it. I love doing this type of stuff so it ends up being an experimental device for me. I did this with the Pioneer XDP-300R as well.
The R5 - well it has a smaller desing and feels really nice in hand and fits easily in my pocket, more easy than the DX160. The screen is smaller so typing is a little more challenging, but still easier than the 3.2 inch screen of the SR15 and Fiio M9. The R5 is a much warmer experience, and laid back tuning. It’s definitely more musical sounding and there’s just something about it that brings me back when I A-B the two.
It’s not the same type of warm experience as the A&K SR15 but it’s almost there.
The DX160 provides are more neutral reference, while the R5 is a warmer engaging tuning. They compliment each other and you can pick your poison that way or just get both.
Not sure what I’ll do for the long term, but for now, I am planning on playing with both for different situations until I declare a true winner in the future.