Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict
I have another amp/IEM synergy to report on - the AMP3 DAP/Amp from Whiplash Audio
. I post this as a warning to others who may try these customs with the AMP3 without burn-in, as it arrived sounding brighter than my 4G Nano.
However, I have about 75 hours of burn-in on the AMP3 so far and it's treble brightness is taming with time. It does seem fairly spacious and detailed and powerful, so we'll see. I plan to run it another 200-300 hours or more in total. I used 320K MP3 with it on the internal 4GB memory and haven't tried it as an amp only yet, or with WAV files which I don't have (most of my music is ALAC with a duplicate as 320K MP3).
So far - The UE11Pro have the bass completely tamed by the AMP3 but it's still strong, and the mids seem full enough, but there is an increase in treble sparkle with the UE11Pro as with most phones on the AMP3. Anyone who thinks the UE11Pro bass is overpowering would likely enjoy them more with the AMP3 than with what they were using when they complained about the bass. The extra sparkle occasionally comes out as sibilance, but HiFlight assures me the treble will mellow on the AMP3 with a few hundred hours of burn-in. The low volume hiss is mild and only slightly more than with the JH13Pro, but it's not intrusive and a much lower level than with the ES3X.
The JH13Pro don't have quite as much bass with the AMP3 as the UE11Pro, but bass is not lacking at all. They still get the extra sparkle and sometimes sibilance from the AMP3 as well, depending on the program material like with the UE11Pro.
The Westone ES3X and AMP3 didn't make as good of a pairing as the other two customs. The sound was more forward and brighter with the AMP3 than usual, and it wasn't just an added sparkle but rather too much mid and treble energy. This reminds me of the sound of the iBasso D10 with the AD8599 opamp installed which I normally don't like with anything except with my Senn IE8 and HD600. I also found the hiss with AMP3 and the other customs to be much louder with the ES3X plugged in, and maybe even worse than with the ALO Amphora.
I will report back on the AMP3 with these customs in about 10 days, or as soon as I think the burn-in is completed. I will have ripped a CD as WAV by then to try the higher bit rate as well.
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict
I have 275 hours on the AMP3 now and want to report back, although my findings are compelling me to let it burn-in longer. It certainly has improved a little with burn-in, but not by a whole lot. Unfortunately I don't hear an improvement with using a few different 1411 kbps lossless WAV files vs 320 kbps MP3, so it's not the compressed music causing the brightness. My complaint is not with the detail or space/ambience, but with the tonal balance.
The AMP3 as an MP3 player is still a bit bright with the JH13Pro. It's more useable with them now but still not my first choice. It is also still too forward and bright with the ES3X, but not quite as bad as before. With the AMP3 I would prefer the JH13Pro over the ES3X, but the UE11Pro still come out on top with this player. Unlike with some amps or players, with the UE11Pro out of the AMP3 there is no overdone bass or recessed mids. The slightly splashy treble that I heard at 75 hours with the UE11Pro is almost gone now. Despite taming the bass on the UE11Pro, the AMP3 is not bass-lite with JH13Pro or ES3X.
But, I still like my 5.5G iPod video and 4G Nano headphone out a little better than the AMP3. The AMP3 is just a little too brash and unrefined sounding so far with these very revealing IEM (worst with ES3X, best with UE11Pro). The AMP3 sounds a little better as an amp-only using the line-in feature with a nice piccolino cable iMod LOD, but it still suffers from this issue. It's similar in some ways to my 4G Nano headphone out, but still a tad brighter and slightly more forward than the Nano. (and I posted in my main review that the Nano is sometimes bright).
The funny thing is, the AMP3 sounds great with my Sennheiser HD25-1 and I was quite surprised when I popped out my custom IEM and grabbed them to try out. I haven't had time to try other full sizer phones with the AMP3, but that belongs in another post elsewhere.
I will report back in 5-6 days at 400 hours of burn-in. So far I still don't think the ES3X and AMP3 are a good match, but if you have the UE11Pro and think they sometimes have too much bass or too little mids, then the AMP3 might be just what you are looking for. For those of you with the JH13Pro, I'd prefer my 4G Nano or 5.5 iPod video (and obviously my iPhone 3GS which is the best), but the AMP3 is useable.
I put 14 more days of burn-in into the AMP3 and now have over 610 hours on the AMP3
(the 275 plus another 336 or so). I have NOT listened to the AMP3 since the last time I reported on it here. I have to admit that when I plugged in the ES3X tonight to listen for the first time in 2 weeks, I was not looking forward to it and was expecting the same forward bright sound that I've come to expect from it. Well, the AMP3 DAP/Amp sound signature changed as much in 600 hours of burn-in as my RSA Predator, which I also didn't like out of the box and barely at 300 hours. Both amps have set a record for longest burn-in (besides my Woo WA6 and ALO Amphora with Vcaps and Blackgates).This does NOT sound like the same DAP/amp I heard two weeks ago.
It is now useable with all three IEM in terms of sound signature, and the sound quality is probably closer to that of the Meier Headsix now instead of worse than the Nuforce Icon Mobile. I think I will pull that amp out later to compare the two. Before, with only 275 hours or less, the UE11Pro were the only ones out of the three that were useable with the AMP3 because of the frequency response, and even then it was not very smooth or refined sounding. But that has now changed. When HiFlight recommended 600 hours he wasn't kidding.
Other than the hiss with ES3X, which is still far too much (but much better with JH13Pro and UE11Pro), the AMP3 sounds very nice with ES3X now! Gone is the sibilance with Eva Cassidy, Kate Ceberano, and Diana Krall. The too forward nature is also improved and it sounds more open and transparent. This is a huge change, nothing subtle about it. If not for the hiss with the ES3X I could live with this sound. A Westone volume attenuator helps cut the low volume hiss by reducing the sensitivity, but with IEM a very detailed IEM like this I somehow feel like I am missing a little something when I use it.
Switching to the UE11Pro proves that the AMP3 is still a good choice for those IEM - with better tighter bass control without excess or lack, non-recessed mids, and no more sibilance although there is a nice shimmery sparkle to the treble which is not too bright. The UE11Pro have much less hiss with the AMP3, and a volume attenuator is not mandatory to kill the amount that gets through. Out of the three IEM I still feel the UE11Pro are the best ones to use with the AMP3.
The JH13Pro sound better than before as well, with hiss that like the UE11Pro is still well below that of the ES3X. The only odd thing is that the AMP3 brings the JH13Pro bass impact down to the level of the ES3X now, with a little more sparkle in the highs vs the ES3X. I still would not say it is too bright anymore.
So there you have it - two weeks ago I was ready to sell the AMP3 if it didn't improve, and today I don't think I will do that now. It's now a viable option for listening to any of the three flagship custom IEM (although you may need a volume attenuator for hiss)
. Plus it looks very rugged and and could make a decent "toss about" MP3 player and amp. The AMP3 also does very well with portable over the ear headphones like SR-60, HD-25-1 and Nuforce UF-30.