General Information


Meticulously Handcrafted

ADV. M5-12D in-ear monitors are expertly handcrafted using only the bespoke and highest grade components. Each unit goes through a specific set of procedure that includes 3D printing, hand-poured mould, grinding, laser-cutting, sanding and polishing. This meticulous production procedure requires 4-6 weeks of lead-time from preparation of the material to the final assembly. Once assembled, every M5-12D goes through a rigorous quality control process by the master technician, before finally getting approved and packaged.

Proprietary Multi-Driver Technology
The M5-12D blends 12 individual balanced armatures in a perfect harmony with our proprietary active crossover. Each armature is precision-tuned to reproduce the original record to the last drop of detail as artist intended, regardless of genres or production methods. Not one region of frequency response has been left unchecked to ensure that no one region is accentuated over others. The resulting audio is an ultimate expression of total neutrality with wide and expansive soundstage.

Designed to Fit You
The M5-12D is crafted with medical-grade acrylic, which is one of the safest material to use for a wearable device that comes in contact with your skin. Universal version of M5-12D is ergonomically designed after studying the shape of thousands of custom in-ear monitors. We've taken a common denominator from all the different ear shape, and morphed them into the universal shape it is now. Furthermore, the M5-12D is also offered in custom-fit, crafted to fit only your ear, should you decide to send us your ear impression.

Interchangeable 2-pin Silver-Plated Copper Cable
Included premium quad-braided silver-plated copper cable with a 3.5mm gold-plated plug uses 2-pin (0.78mm) termination that allows the cable and the monitors to be easily detachable.

Driver unit: 12 BA with active crossover
Impedance: 9ohm+/-15%
Sensitivity: 109dB+/-3dB at 1kHz
Frequency response: Ultra Wideband 10Hz – 40kHz
THD: <0.2% at 1kHz
Input power: 5mW
Cable composition: Silver-plated copper
Cable length (SPC): 1.5M
IEM connector: 2-pin (0.78mm)
Plug: 3.5mm gold plated

Latest reviews


New Head-Fier
ADV M5 12D "The Thousand Dollar Shimmer"($1,299.99)
Pros: design
Clean Neutral Tonality
Natural timbre
Good bass
Good mids
Great treble extensions
Cons: Drum placing
Potentially Scratch Magnet requires a thousand dollar caring
Mid bass bloat on some badly recorded new metal tracks
Not quite an all rounder
ADV M5 12D

The Thousand Dollar Shimmer($1,299.99)


This happens to be my first entry for the Top-of-the-line Tier In-Ear Monitors, I got the opportunity of trying out ADV products thanks to PH Review Circle. I am not reviewing under any form of directives, incentives nor any honorariums thus you can expect my utmost honesty in all of my reviews.

Welcome again to my reviews and this time we be talkin about ADV M5 12D. I'm freshly coming out from a quick hiatus from reviews and have prepared my ears for some critical listening.

As per ADV, M5 12D is their Neutral entry in their M-series. Offering 12 Balance Armatures on each side with an Active Crossover technology for near perfect harmony(I said it). 1 of the most uncolored IEMs that really wants to show transparency and perfect notes from the artists' masterpiece.


Is it worth investing $1,299.99 for an IEM? Yes and No for me. I will tell you more about it in random order cause my train of thought isn't working quite well right now. It's caused by this TOTL IEM in my ears now..

To start with, I remember inquiring about the M5 12D last year because of its appearance but got disappointed for its value, like you saw something in the mall and realized your wallet will never be prepared for it unless you're playing with stocks and futures. So much about that, 4 ADV best selling models were sent to me all with no boxes to unbox but came with their respective inclusion from water tight cases, tips, brush cleaners and clothes.


Driver unit 12 BA with active crossover

Impedance 9ohm+/-15%

Sensitivity 109dB+/-3dB at 1kHz

Frequency response Ultra Wideband 10Hz – 40kHz

THD <0.2% at 1kHz

Input power 5mW

Cable composition Silver-plated copper

Cable length (SPC) 1.5M

IEM connector 2-pin (0.78mm)

Plug 3.5mm gold plated



1 pair of M5-12D IEM

1 2-pin silver-plated copper quad-braided cable

3 pairs of black foam tips

3 pairs of black single-flange silicone tips

3 pairs of black dual-flange silicone tips

1 CNC-machined aluminum carrying case

1 leather cable tie

1 microfiber cleaning cloth

1 cleaning brush




Clean Neutral Tonality

Natural timbre

Good bass

Good mids

Great treble extensions


Drum placing

Potentially Scratch Magnet requires a thousand dollar caring

Mid bass bloat on some badly recorded new metal tracks


Not quite an all rounder

The IEM shells use recessed .78pins 2 pins which I love the most btw. Shells are made with high end 3D printed shells. One that would make you rethink how IEMs should be built, solid, smooth and weighty. It has this rigidity that you would get from a real gem. Meticulously handcrafted with high class taste. It's like witnessing a McLaren F1 showroom unveiling their newest engine type of feeling, like you can actually see how neat the cables inside are laid out despite its small size. Like engine valves. The shells are extravagantly huge but doesn't bother but could be decreased for more comfort. Furthermore I am truly satisfied with its obsession to please the eyes.


It has long semi aggressively angled nozzles which penetrate well and sits deep for more sealing and details. The model and serial # are actually embedded on each pair. No L and R markings but has this cool writing wrapped around the nozzles that says Designed for Musicians, one cool way to tell the disclaimer haha. Cause it is mainly for musicians and not for those wanna be ones. Some parts of the whole experience does not suggest it for easy listening where you'll find yourself being lectured by everything around you almost like watching motivational videos to keep positively high for 6hours but at some point you would feel being nagged on or just left baffled with all the questions you formulate in your head.

SPC Cables are pretty much bad.. It can be better. Feels a few steps classier than the typical chifi stock cable that has the ultimate similarity in requiring mental fitness in untangling them every single freaking time you need to use them. Seriously, I have seen mid tier IEMs where you can see the value even from the cables only.


Freebies compensate for how bad the cables can be. Fresh bright colored water tight cases.. And some premium tips like Sedna Xelastic clear tacky tips that I find bad since day 1, you can see my review on that from an old post, it just lacks sealing and makes harsh and congested quality. Despite that I am pleased with their intentions to please the upper level audiophiles spot on for the iem cleaners and cloth too which are important in taking care of your iem and to prolong its life.

Moving on to the real deal about how it sounds.


Bass has the weight and punchiness of a finely tuned Dynamic driver. Its neutral tonality comprises clean and fast attacks with quite an excellent texture, considering it's built with purely BAs. Bass is properly tamed to release heavy rumbles when required but doesn't go overboard bassy. It almost sound like real DDs and I guess that's where most your money will go for making BAs sound like DDs, that's enough to brag about.


Mids on the other hand sounded great at first or so in male vocals. But for vocals that hit the upper mids, that's where all the questions start popping up. That's where you notice a little bit of ghosting where you can tell some BAs aren't harmoniously blending with each other. After all 12BAs are notoriously hard to tune, more drivers, more chances to miss. But it's not my biggest caveat yet. Still mids are totally enjoyable, big, lean and clean despite my observations. Acoustics will make you feel you're inside the chambers.


Trebles are its main selling point. For me it has the best treble extension so far. It can be bright at times but never harsh. Strings, wind and cymbals are true to the tone making it feels like you're in the actual record. It really makes everything for this IEM really. It makes your listening experience with M5 12D really soulful in every note the treble hits, it hits it in the right spot! Perfect micro detail performance.


Imaging can be better. Prolly my 2nd most concerning caveat on this IEM next to its stock cable. Imaging is finely laid out evenly but the drums… cymbals extend behind the ears but floor toms, snares and kicks and mid and high toms seem compressed in the middle for some cosmic reason. To compare with, I can tell Toneking T4 and CVJ CSN wins that part of the segment giving off truly holographic feeling. Speaking of which it also has the Sonion signature of having subtle and smooth transitions from 1 channel to another. It can be good or bad depending on the listener's preference.


Soundstage. It is noticeably 1 of the biggest I've heard. It creates this illusion of making things easy to conceptualize a music video. It helps you lay out images in your head for story telling. The images consist of well separated layers of big sounds, this mostly leaves me in awe but sometimes I find it awkward for some genres like new metal where things remain big and get on top of each other creating bloats and congestion.. Nevertheless, the soundstage is truly what this IEM is trying to sell.


Bass ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mids ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Trebles ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Imaging ⭐⭐⭐★★

Layering ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Microdetails ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Soundstage ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Spatial Panning ⭐⭐⭐★★

Timbre ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tonality ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Affordability ⭐⭐⭐★★

Overall rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Additional Comparisons: based on similar set up, price range and tuning

ADV M5 6D - 4BA + 2 EST. In low impedance mode there's not much of a competition but in High Impedance mode on my V50, M5 6D won in every segment. It just scales way better. Best texture in micro details. Better and snappier spatial pannings. Better treble extension and leaner and airier mids. More accurate drum placing than 12D. For USD 300 less, I'd go for this instead.


Toneking T4. Both all BA set up. Sells at 200usd. M5 12D makes everything big and overwhelming compared to T4 which makes sounds more like needles that are well spaced from each other but penetrates quite well in laying out the imaging compared to M5 12D.

T4 has its metallic timbre vs a DD quite like experience from M5 12D.

BQEYZ Spring 2 - similar sensitivity and both are clinical in all aspects of being neutral. Spring 2 has better technicality for me which I will still recommend for hard core sound engineers. I would recommend this over 12D and have a thousand dollar more to invest on other sound engineer gear instead.


CVJ CSN - at a fraction of what M5 12D is currently sold at, CSN stands tall with its 1dd 5ba set up that has quite the similar characteristics but of course not at par. CSN excelled on drum placing for 1 and has more visual spatial pannings. M5 12D sounds so much more realistic tho.

Tested on LG V50 Quad Dac, UAPP with some local DSDs and Flacs and Tidal Masters on iFi Zen Dac

Final say:

First of course thanks ADV for letting us test their products. Marlowe you're the man! Well this Top of the line IEM will truly leave a mark in my preference once I send it back to ADV. It holds the best treble performance for me. It gets really clinical at some point making it feels so natural but not in the extent of coloring the sounds. Also the bass performance from an All BA set up truly sets the standards on any IEM I will be trying out.

This is truly easy to drive but scales even better with more power where the noise floor remains low while making the details pop even more.

Also, I noticed that the black tips are somehow taming the mids in an unusual way so I would highly recommend wide bored tips like those cheapo bgvp w01 to retain as much details as possible. Replacing the cable with any upgrade cable would be required too, not to alter the sound but to avoid ruining your listening experience even before plugging it in your ears. I really hate the untangling part.


So for $1300 is it a yes? Yes only if you're the type of that well off to prove that BAs should sound this way. But No in most practical situations like not putting your eggs in 1 basket. I would invest on Spring 2 for clinical listening and buy a Tforce YL for musicality then invest the rest on more professional gear for audio mixing. It sounds very analogue on my LG V50 and that's truly something anyone would enjoy.

Thank you again PH Review Circle!

These are all my honest opinions and I only hope that my audience may find my reviews credible and somehow inf


Watch my video reviews on YT



New Head-Fier
Pros: -Well Tuned 12 BA Drivers
-Sound quality in on par with its price
-Natural Sounding
-Above Average, Great 3d-ish Imaging
-Nice width & depth extension
-Premium Build Quality
-Luxurious Accesories Includes
Cons: -Shells are big due to its driver configuration

Driver unit: 12 BA with active crossover
Impedance: 9ohm+/-15%
Sensitivity: 109dB+/-3dB at 1kHz
Frequency response: Ultra Wideband 10Hz – 40kHz
THD: <0.2% at 1kHz
Input power: 5mW
Cable composition: Silver-plated copper
Cable length (SPC): 1.5M
IEM connector: 2-pin (0.78mm)
Plug: 3.5mm gold plated


-Product was provided for review units for some PH audio enthusiasts/hobbyists & reviewers. Thanks to sir Marlowe Cruz for giving us the opportunity to try the best ADV products.

-Your mileage may vary.

Source Used:
Ibasso DX160 ( Dual CS43198 DAC)
XDuoo X3 (CS4398)
Realme 6 (Normal Smartphone DAC)
(MP3 320kbps, FLAC 16bit,FLAC 24bit,WAV,DSD256)


The M5-12D is crafted with medical-grade acrylic which stated that one of the safest materials for your skin contact which is same material used in the M5-6D.
Shells feels bulky but not that annoying at all,They also use the same cable just like from the other model which is the 4-core Silver Plated Copper. White Faceplate looks clean, not the type of "Chifi-grade" materials looking.

Sound Quality;


Lows has fast attack & fast decay bass. This model belongs to Clean & lean bass compared to the M5-6D. It is There is enough amount of
Sub-bass and i think its enough for most of the tracks. I think this is works better on Metal, Acoustic, Classical, Jazz, Alternative. Tried listening to EDM and i think M5-6D is the pair for this genre.


For me, mids is the main attraction of this IEM since I've notice how it delivers the track so clean and natural while not being too flat/boring sounding adding needed quantity and impact, yet it stays very controlled, with above average speed.
You'll be appreciating the mids on these if you pair it with your warmish source based on my exp. This is one of the best mids i've tried and i still cant get enough of its resolution on how it delivers the track.


I describe it as analytical with tickling highs and sometime i heard it spatial and airy depending on the track. It has a above average of shimmer that may sound aggressive sometimes but enjoyed it unlike on other iems that makes my ear irritated to peircing highs. I love how BA Drivers sound on these which makes me amaze on how they implement the 12 Drivers.

Soundstage & Imaging:

Imaging is really precise and clear. With some minor signs of congestion on complicated tracks, layering and instrument separation are above average. The stage is slightly larger than typical. The width receives far more attention than the height.


Analytic, Sparkly, Revealing. These are the words I’d use to describe the M5-12D. The ADV M5-12D overall timbre appears to be reasonably balanced, with a slight elevation in the upper midrange and treble. However, it ends up sounding more like a midcentric? to me which I'll go through some more listening. Again i'm impressed how ADV TOTL ( Top of the line) sounds. As of this moment I've done listening to 2 ADV Models which is M5-6D and M5-12D. These are both good at their price range im my opinion and im grateful that i had experience how good these pair sounds.

Test Tracks

Getting Older - Billie Eilish
Foxey Lady- Jimi Hendrix
First of the Year - Skrillex
The Husk - Rings of Saturn
Airplane Mode - Cory Wong
The Crying Machine - Steve Vai
Take the "A" Train - Nikki Yanofsky
A Little Piece of Heaven - Avenged Sevenfold
PLUR POLICE (Jauz Remix) - Knife Party
It's Oh So Quiet - Björk

Thank you for reading!


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100+ Head-Fier
ADV. M5-12D Universal - What a matured IEM is all about
Pros: • Neutral balanced tuning with great details
• Spacious sound stage and spatial imaging
• Punchy bass and mid-bass response
• Technical and organically balanced
• Sparkle and shimmer are desirable for treble heads
• No amp required
• Mids offers rich textures and exceptional tonality
• Incredible details retrieval
• Fast attack and decay performance drivers
• Intimate and engaging vocals presentation
Cons: • Bulky build can feel weird on fitting. Consequently, customize fitting for this model is available.
• Price tag is not for everyone.
I would like to give my thanks to Marlowe Cruz for giving the Philippine circle of reviewers a tour of ADV products. Special mention to a co-reviewer who made this tour possible also, Adrian Yambao. For more details on this product, please visit this link


I did not buy this product. It was provided as a review unit for the Philippines reviewer circle tour. Manage your expectations as what works for me, might not work for you. We all have different perception when it comes to sound.

My Background

I am a gigging musician on the keys and saxophone. I do live streams with my band, some studio work, mixing and mastering and musical directing/arranging. I listen to a lot of genres as my work requires me to be versatile. And how I listen to music is critical for me. I am no pro in this hobby. I am still on the learning curve on the terms. Still I hope you will find my reviews informative and helpful.


As my second review on ADV’s TOTL line up, a comparison between 6D and 12D is to be expected. The 12D is the technical brother of 6D. For more information on 6D check my review here.

12D’s target market is for mature listeners and audiophiles. Hence its neutral balanced tuning. If you consider yourself belonging to this class, do read on.



The 12D looks and feels like its twin brother, the 6D. Big and chunky yet light. Both are made of medical grade acrylic. Do check out their promotional video here . The 6D has a more transparent design while the 12D has a white print on the outer part of the shell.


Trebles are sparkly and with shimmer. 12D’s configuration is purely BA’s, a tamed treble is expected. Hi hats and cymbals are well defined and lively. They never felt shouty and sibilant free. Treble heads will be pleased. Though on Bombtrack by RATM, I felt the cymbals a bit piercing. This is due to my own preference as I am not a rock head kind of guy. Trebles are still very open here albeit the BA configuration.


Bass heads might stay away from this one. Compared to 6D, 12D has a mature sound. The lack of rumble on the sub-bass is noticeable. However bass and mid-bass response is desirable. Punchy, clean and tight. Fast attacks and decays and no bleeds here. Bass department never felt congested on busy tracks. Listening to Daft Punk’s Fragments of Time gave me well-balanced drum kicks. Bass guitars felt rich and thick but not bloated.


Mids are the star of the show here. Lush and well textured. Elements that are laid back on 6D are forward here. As a detail freak that I am, this is beyond pleasurable. As a pianist/synth player, instruments like piano, Rhodes, organs, brass sections, strings, chromatic percussions, bells are my roles. And 12D offers much details and resolution on these instruments. 12D is gratifying for the mid-centric.


The human voice never felt so engaging like this. Both male and female articulations are detailed and intimate. Many times, it felt like I’m listening to the artist up front in a recording studio. I imagined myself to be right in front Diana Krall on her East of the Sun, in a jazz club. Honestly, she sounds so good I didn’t want the track to end. Anyone who loves vocal tracks, regardless of genre, will deeply appreciate this one.



A common trait shared by 12D and 6D. to avoid redundancy, I will quote my statement from my review on 6D.

I used to think that sound stage is merely just a bonus among IEMs. M5-6D changed that. Without proper sound stage and imaging, what we hear in a musical track can possibly be all over the place. M5-6D offers a very generous sound stage. Instruments never felt congested because of this. I can say that this is one of 6D’s key strength. Be it studio recorded or live recorded performance, sound stage is superb here. Marlowe Cruz provided and proposed some well mastered tracks. One of this is an album from Balmorhea. An instrumental album, full of different lushfull instruments. Banjos, authentic pianos, guitars, cellos, violins, flutes, percussions, timpani, and many many more. Mostly acoustic instruments. All sounded astounding and organic. Instruments were naturally placed, and the has a place of its own. It gave me a new level of listening pleasure.


Reference grade tonality here. Instruments are well presented on different frequencies. Diana Krall prefers her pianos warm while Jamie Cullum loves his bright and tacky pianos. The 12D delivers true without any additional color.


Instrument definition is on point/accurate here. They sound as truthfully as they should.


Another exact same attribute shared by 12D and 6D. Allow me to quote myself again.

“So now we come to one of 6D’s unconventional part. The fitting is not bad at all. But it felt weird for me on the first day. This is subjective. Though the shell build, given its size, is not heavy at all, the fitting is not perfect. The nozzle fits just right though. It holds pretty well for a big a** IEM. It never fell off my ears nor did my ears pushed it out. Safe to say the 6D is suited well for stationary listening rather than on-the-go or live performances. ADV offers ear impression on this model for a customize fit.”



As a review unit, I did not get the original packaging. Not that I’m complaining. Check out the official product link provided above. It comes with the essentials and much more like a cleaning cloth and brush to maintain your gorgeous IEM.

Here are some TRACKS that I used for reference. Allow me to share you some notes I’ve taken. My playlist consists of jazz, reggae, alternative and classic rock, soul, RnB, top 40’s, and some billboard top charts. My apologies in advance to metal heads. Don’t fret, my mates from the Philippines circle of reviewers have some exquisite taste on metal music. Stay tuned for their reviews on ADV product line up (BA2, BA3, 6D and 12D)

1. Fragments of Time by Daft Punk – offline FLAC 24 bit
  • Drum kicks are tight and punchy.
  • Synths are rich well textured.
  • Since this is a synth-oriented track, the guitar sits well at the back
  • Piano at the end of track is well presented. I swear I didn’t hear this before. Proves 12D’s reference grade details retrieval.
  • Synths have a panning effect. Spatial imaging at work here.
  • Bass guitar is well rounded and smooth.
  • The talk box solo at the end has great resolution.
  • Rhodes are crisp and well toned.
  • Track never felt congested even with all these elements.

2. My Future by Billie Eilish – Apple lossless 24 bit ALAC
  • Vocal presentation is superb. Very intimate.
  • Rhodes are warm and rich.
  • Sub bass is present but very minimal due to very neutral tuning.
  • Backing vocals sits where it should be. At the back of the melody.
  • Electronic drum kick is punchy yet with nice depth.
  • Electronic snare has sparkle.
  • Reverb is prominent. Sound stage scaling is splendid.
  • Synth Bass is round and smooth. Gives a subtle rumble.
  • Guitar plucking is still audible. Very subtle but adds that magic flavor to the song.

3. Holocene – Apple lossless 16 bit ALAC
  • Steel guitars are well panned and well textured. Forward as it is the main instrument for this track.
  • Pads nicely placed on the sound stage. As intended a backing instrument.
  • Skins of the snares are audible offering great details.
  • Vocals are yet again very engaging. You can close your eyes here and feel the emotion of the artist.
  • There is a part here where it feels like you’re in a play ground. With squeaking metals of a swing. Very audible and gives an authentic feel.
  • Astonishing dynamics on this track.
4. Peel me a Grape by Diana Krall– Apple lossless 16 bit ALAC
  • Upright acoustic bass presents outmost details. Vibrations of strings and plucking of the player is audible.
  • Diana Krall’s never sounded so sweet here. Yet.
  • As a piano player, I instantly knew Diana Krall is using her Steinway piano. I had the chance to play on one when I was in Hong Kong. Warm with superb dynamic range.
  • Jazz guitar sits at the back as a backing instrument and still I can hear the odd scales and modes the player is playing. In a jazz piece, odd scales are often use. The jazz guitar was placed at the right back just as a guitarist will be behind Diana Krall.


  • Iphone 7 plus and Ipad Air gen2 with apple dongle
  • offline flacs played via VOX app
  • Apple lossless



Right off the bat, I knew the 12D is aimed for hard core audio enthusiasts. The 6D remains the king for consumer taste and casual listening. For the technical and analytical audience, the 12D is unprecedented. For those who loves mids and vocals, this one is a true keeper. Again, the price tag is not for everyone costing 300$ more compared to 6D.

Honestly, I find the trebles a tad bright, especially on rock genre. But then, this is just me. Over all, the 12D remains true as ADV claims it to be balanced neutral. Technically capable in every aspect. The lack of rumbles on bass will leave bass heads hanging. But then again, we all have our own preferences. The mystery still lies on how your ears will perceive.

For its price, a personal audition is a must. The 6D is easier to appreciate for the consumer market.

For now, this concludes my ADV line up reviews. Check out my take on their mid-range products as well.

Mid-range IEMs from ADV

BA2 -

BA3 -

TOTL/High end range IEMs from ADV

M5-6D -


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Keep it up man!
Thank you providing a great review on this set.


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