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iBasso DC04PR0 Dongle DAC: Review

Does it make sense to spend $120 on the iBasso DC04PRO Dongle DAC? More power, balanced connections, and support for 32-bit/384kHz PCM and DSD256 make it a top option.

iBasso DC04PRO Dongle DAC connected to smartphone

Yet another Dongle DAC. But this one goes to eleven and might be what I take on the road with me for the rest of 2023. I’ve been doing a lot of that over the past 6 months and there is sadly no end in sight. The iBasso DC04PRO has become the topic of conversation in airports and train stations and it is encouraging to me that other headphone users are taking notice.

The asking price is significantly less than some of the competition; FiiO, iFi Audio and Questyle would be the most obvious ones and whilst I really enjoy using their products, the new DC04PRO has become the most logical choice for me with specific IEMs and headphones.

iBasso DC04PRO Dongle DAC Blue

The $119 USD iBasso DC04PRO is a portable USB DAC (digital-to-analog converter) and headphone amplifier. What’s immediately noticeable is the new industrial design that is extremely sleek looking; including a physical volume control. 

The DC04PRO features dual Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC chips and can handle PCM audio up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD audio up to 256x.

iBasso DC04PRO Dongle DAC in Blue and Gray Headphone Jacks

In addition to its DAC capabilities, the DC04PRO also has a powerful headphone amplifier with a balanced 4.4mm output and a standard 3.5mm output. It can drive headphones with impedances up to 600 ohms and has a maximum output power of 280mW per channel into 32 ohms. 

The DC04PRO is designed to be portable and can be powered either by USB or by its internal battery, which provides up to 10 hours of playback time.

There is also an updated version of the iBasso UAC app that works with the DC04PRO.


The DC04PRO is the most powerful Dongle DAC offered by iBasso and it had zero difficulty driving the Meze Audio 99 Classics, 109 Pro, and the FiiO FH5s IEMs. The single-ended output offers less power and was perfectly fine with my Grado SR80x which are not a very demanding load.

I did use the 4.4mm balanced output with the Meze 109 Pro Headphones and the additional power did impact the bass response with almost every genre of music.

The DC04PR0 is possibly one of the most linear sounding Dongle DACs that I have tried so far; the Clarus CODA is probably the closest but it can also sound too cool with some headphones.

Clarity is a major component of the sound with the iBasso and if you’re looking for a Dongle DAC that provides both transparency and a darker tonal balance — this won’t be the Dongle DAC for you.

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iBasso DC04PRO Dongle DAC in Blue and Gray

The treble range is extremely open sounding and detailed, but there is also some hardness with poorly recorded tracks and that will make headphone matching somewhat critical; if you prefer a top end that is mildly sharper sounding with a more forward presentation, the DC04PRO will work well.

With the 99 Classics, that added energy and bite was not a bad thing. With the Grado SR80x, it was too much of a good thing.

Listening to Wayne Shorter, Eric Dolphy, and Dexter Gordon, it was clear that the DC04PRO emphasizes the leading edge of notes and that even the darkest sounding headphones will have added presence with horns.

Compared to Dongle DACs with the ESS Sabre chips, the DC04PRO is not as sharp or clinical sounding and I found it to be more resolving in the midrange and lower treble.

iBasso DC04PRO Dongle DAC USB-C Connectors

Both male and female vocals get pushed forward somewhat of the instrumentation and that was a mixed bag with the Grado headphones versus the Meze Audio that are more laid back and warmer sounding in the midrange.

Listening to Amy Winehouse, Tori Amos, and Natalie Merchant, the DC04PRO pushed all three slightly forward but with greater clarity than other Dongle DACs that I have tried (FiiO, Helm Audio, Questyle, AudioQuest).

Both Meze Audio headphones have a lot of texture and midrange color and the DC04PRO didn’t strip too much of that away to the point that I felt that the music lost some of its presence.

Bass response through all three pairs of headphones and the Fiio IEMs was robust, clean, tight, and very detailed. The iBasso doesn’t add any real coloration in the bass range and will not make a pair of headphones sound “fat” suddenly if that isn’t part of their tonal balance.

This was more the case with the 4.4mm balanced output that delivered greater control, more impact, and an improved sense of pace.

The iBasso DC04PRO is exceptional and rather natural sounding when it comes to soundstage width and depth; imaging is also very precise with everything in its proper place.

Get the synergy right with this affordable Dongle DAC and you might not want to spend any additional funds.

iBasso DC04PRO Dongle DAC in Blue and Gray Top and Bottom


The Dongle DAC market is oversaturated and it has become almost impossible to keep track of every new model; there are dozens of new models that don’t even make their way across the pond. The iBasso DC04PRO is built like a tank, operated flawlessly with my iPhone, iMac, and iPad Pro. The 100-step volume control feels very precise and I prefer that scenario to using the volume control on my smart device.

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The battery life proved to be very close to the specified claim of 10 hours as long as one keeps the volume at a sane level. This Dongle DAC has a lot of headroom and I rarely had to turn the volume up with any of the headphones or IEMs.

For $120 USD, the iBasso DC04PRO delivers excellent sound quality, strong battery life, and both single-ended and balanced headphone jacks. Definitely one of my top picks for 2023.

Where to buy: $119 at Amazon |




  1. Asa

    May 24, 2023 at 8:53 pm

    Mmmm…would you buy this to replace the HELM BOLT DAC/AMP? There’s obviously more power in the iBasso unit. This would sit between my iPad Pro and DT 770 Pro headphones (80 ohm). I also noticed Helm has reduced the price of their units recently.


    • Ian White

      May 24, 2023 at 9:06 pm


      I think the iBasso sounds completely different than the Helm Bolt. I’ve heard from a few Head-Fi folks that the iBasso/Beyer synergy thing is very strong. I don’t own any of their headphones so I can’t confirm that.

      A darker or thicker sounding pair of headphones will be very good with this Dongle DAC. 99 Classics and 109 Pro loved it.


      Ian White

      • Asa

        May 25, 2023 at 8:19 pm

        Thanks for the helpful reply. The BDs are neutral sounding, maybe to a fault for some if you’re looking for a warmer tone. They probably would do well with a little more forward presence + oomph this DAC/amp provides. I’ll let you know how it goes if I pull the trigger.

  2. ORT

    May 25, 2023 at 4:05 pm

    Hmmmm…It has the FARCE, aka MQA. So…FTN.

    I recently bought a new FiiO KA5. It looks cool and it does nothing to detract from the enjoyment of my music.

    I can not say that the “sound stage blossoms” (LOL!) or that “the placement of the instruments was so precise that I was able to pick out the 3rd chair cello” (X2 LOL!) let alone that “with the FiiO KA5 I could easily hear the passing of wind by the 5th chair flautist and the gasping for air by chairs 4 and 6”. That is for others to do the “Mr. Miyagi” (i.e.,wax off) on.

    MQA is a no fooking way for me. And I bought the FiiO KA5 because it was not neutered by Blob Stwefart’s Folly.

    The ibASSo DC04PRO looks nice but again, I ain’t in to getting screwed even if it includes the MQA-Reacharound®. Heck, I do not care for the Schiit Reacharound® (power switch is a bitch on the backside) but at least Schiit does not fuqueyah with MQA!

    ibASSo needs to lose the loser that is MQA.

    ORTson Welles – I will think no whine before its time…

    • Ian White

      May 25, 2023 at 6:18 pm


      I feel you covered a few genres of cinema in that one reply.

      I do agree that MQA isn’t a plus for the product but nobody forces one to listen to TIDAL Master tracks. I pay for TIDAL and Qobuz every month and rarely engage MQA. I don’t even think about it.

      At the end of the day, the iBasso is a really solid Dongle DAC. Better than most.


      • ORT

        May 25, 2023 at 8:20 pm

        Hi Ian –

        I bet it is a good piece of equipment and it does look cool, especially in blue. I “spoke” with FiiO over at Headfi about possible colors (red and green for me!) and they said they might at the least do colored cases for it.

        As for me, well I know I am grumpy about being farced into paying for something. I really do appreciate the freedom to express my self fairly freely here. I also know I am not a “real reviewer” (the many typos I leave up should more than bear witness to my witlessness!). I did see your kind words regarding that and am admittedly humbled by your munificence and wished to say that I am honored by your offer. If the need arise for an ORTish point of view you have but to rub the lamp and I would do my bestest to make my mother proud.

        And hopefully not make too big a fool of mine self.

        Speaking of real reviewers, how is Sir Will of Jennings Esq. doing? Better I was thinking, having seen a posting of his here recently.

        In all ways and for always, be well my brother.

        All in fun and fun for all!


        • Ian White

          May 26, 2023 at 3:50 pm


          We would love to give you a column. I would.

          Will is improving slowly. Not a race when it comes to that.

          I like the iFi stuff. Especially the hip dac2 which is currently on my desktop. It does look really nice in the burnt orange. My wife (industrial designer) loves it.

          She doesn’t agree with me that 007 would have one.

          Sir Ian

  3. George Boutos

    May 27, 2023 at 6:42 am

    …but does it have an internal battery and a ‘convenient clip’? and does it support mqa? probably reviewing something else? (no offense)

    • Ian White

      May 27, 2023 at 1:44 pm


      I actually just figured out how that happened. 103 articles this month, bad flu, zero sleep, and 5 open reviews being edited at the same time. I accidentally pasted that from another Dongle DAC review I was editing at the same time. 100% my fault on that one. That won’t happen again.

      I’m down in FL listening to the iBasso right now and 100% of my review comments stand. I do wish it was less clinical sounding. Still a great product.

      Happy Memorial Day

      Ian White

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