iBasso AMP3

Introduction
iBasso is a Chinese brand that is known for their digital audio players (DAPS). They have released the iBasso DX200 not too long ago to mark their 10th anniversary. The iBasso DX200 allows the change of amp modules for different sound signatures. Recently, iBasso has released the AMP3 module that features balanced phone out and line out. I would like to thank iBasso for providing this AMP3 module as a review unit. You can purchase the AMP3 module from their official website, http://www.ibasso.com/cp_xq_dy.php?id=5696#page4 or https://penonaudio.com/iBasso-AMP3 .

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Description (From Official Website)

+/-8V voltage swing, equal to 32V voltage swing when compared to single ended. This is significantly improves the dynamics and headroom

Patented balanced amplification circuit, that retains all the benefits of a balanced design, such as higher output voltage and better separation. At the same time, our patented design has even harmonics that keeps the sound full and musical. [With the traditional balanced amplification circuit design, there is a positive signal and a negative signal. They together reduce the harmonics, including both of the odd harmonics and even harmonics. On this amplification design, even though sound is more powerful, the sound is often flat and less musical, as even harmonics are reduced. On the iBasso balanced amplification design, we successfully reduce the odd harmonic, while retaining the even harmonics, thus keeping the sound full and as musical as single ended but with added benefits of a balanced signal]

Topology utilizing voltage feedback and current feedback, utilizing the benefits of both types of feedback

OPAMP + BUF architecture, optimized for both high voltage demand and high output current demand monitors

Average play time:7.5 hours.

The play time varies with different sample rate/bit rates and headphone/IEM loads.

Specifications

2.5mm Phone Out

  • Output voltage: 6Vrms
  • Frequency response: 10Hz-45KHz-0.5dB
  • SN: 124dB
  • THD+N: 0.00025%—112dB(32Ω@2.4Vrms)
  • DNR: 124dB
  • Crosstalk: -123dB

2.5mm Line Out:

  • Output voltage: 6Vrms
  • Frequency response: 10Hz-45KHz-0.5dB
  • SN: 124dB
  • THD+N: 0.00022%-113dB
  • Crosstalk: -114dB

Unboxing & Accessories
The AMP3 module comes in a simple black package with a translucent wrapper. On the wrapper are the names of the brand and model in black colour. At the back of the box, there is a sticker at the bottom right corner sporting the model name and serial number. I took out the wrapper and lifted the lid. Inside the package, you will get a screwdriver, instruction manual, warranty card and the amp module itself. The screwdriver is used for removing the amp module to change to another one. The overall package is quite nice for just an amp module.

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Module Design & Build
The AMP3 module is similar to the AMP1 module with the exception of the output. The AMP3 has 2.5mm balanced phone out and line out. The build and design is exactly the same.

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Sound Analysis
I use the iBasso IT03 with iBasso CB12 cable to test the AMP3 module.upload_2017-9-6_9-55-39

Lows

The AMP3 module extends the sub-bass and it goes more deep with a tighter rumble. The mid-bass picks up pace and it is more authoritative. This allows it to have a moderate slam that gives more punch to the music. The decay is much quicker and each bass note is being articulated with precision. Accuracy of the bass helps to enhance the overall imaging. The bass performance rises to a new level. Overall, I feel the bass is more clean and tight.

Mids

The AMP3 module lightens the lower mids and I find it has an appropriate amount of body to it. The upper mids is more controlled. The midrange has an organic feel to it and the details retrieval improves. The resolution is at a higher level. I feel it is crystal clear with exceptional layering. In addition, the upper mids has less aggression. The midrange performance is musical and detailed which is good for vocals presentation.

Highs

The AMP3 module helps to control the treble and maintain the extension. There is no sibilance and harshness. The extra air from the AMP3 helps to lighten and present the sound with less aggression. There is great dynamics and it sounds natural. The sparkle is similar to the AMP1 module. The nature is faster and packed with more details. The treble is clear and clinical. I find the treble to be quite complete. It has the body and clarity.

Soundstage

There is an increase in the width of stage but the depth is maintained.

AMP3 2.5mm Balanced Phone Out vs AMP1 2.5mm Balanced Phone Out
I use the Campfire Audio Andromeda, Fidue A91 Sirius and Noble Kaiser Encore to test the amp modules.

The AMP3 is able to extend the sub-bass more than the AMP1 with similar quantity. The bass on the AMP3 is tighter and more refined. The quality is better. The mid-bass on the AMP3 takes a step back and does not have as much slam as the AMP1. The bass note on the AMP3 is more clinical and each note is presented with ease. The decay is faster and the improvement in bass performance is substantial. The bass articulation is sublime. The lower mids is very similar and presented well although it is on the leaner side. In this area, male vocals does not sound thick, instead, I would say it is rather neutral. The upper mids is more forward and clean. It feels more focused and controlled. Female vocals are more sweet. This allows the midrange to be more organic sounding. The treble articulation is approximately the same and there is more sparkle. Amount of air is around the same. In terms of soundstage, the width increases while the depth is being maintained. Layering and separation are slightly better. The increase in width helps to enhance the imaging and improve the positioning of vocals and instruments. The definition is slightly better. Overall, there is a good balance of musicality and technicality.upload_2017-9-6_9-56-5

Conclusion
The AMP3 module is an excellent upgrade to your iBasso DX200 if you want more extension on both ends and extra clarity in the midrange. The versatility of DX200 allows one to experience different amp modules for different sound signatures. I am impressed with the AMP3 module as it helps to elevate the overall sonic performance.upload_2017-9-6_9-56-24

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