GoldPlanar GL-AMT16

General Information

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Eddie Knows

New Head-Fier
AMT16 review with comparisons to the U12t
Pros: Rich, detailed sound
Good soundstage
Cons: Lacking sub bass
Can sound soft
About me
This is my first time giving impressions on an iem. I've owned and listened to quite a few iems in the past 10 years but perhaps my critical listening isn't up to par with people who review often. The most recent iems I've owned are the 64 Audio U12t, Campfire Andromeda and the Raptgo Hook. I'll compare primarily to the U12t because I currently still have it in my possession.

Source
Unfortunately my only player is an Asus Rog Phone 5. It has a higher end Ess Saber dac but it's still not a dedicated audio player. It's able to power the Goldplanars but I have to play my music at 80 - 100% volume whereas I listen to the U12t between 60 - 80%. There's no way to bypass the DSP on this phone. I keep it on the most neutral setting. Apologies for the subpar conditions. Please keep this in mind whilst reading.

Quick notes on build quality
The metal shell feels very solid - even more so than the U12t or Campfire Andromeda. Marketing advertises this as aircraft grade aluminium and I can believe it. I've no idea how fragile the Amt drivers themselves are and I hope I don't have to find out. Cable is solid - perhaps a bit thick for my tastes but it's high quality.

What's Special
Before I get into the details I have to point out what makes these iems special - the amt drivers have an amazing analogue quality. They can trick my brain into thinking that I'm listening to an actual instrument or voice better than any iem I've tried. The U12t might reproduce music excellently but it feels like the GoldPlanar Amt16 removes a barrier between myself and the music. Percussion especially can sound close to the real deal. The emotion present in singing hits harder because it sounds like it's physically emitting from somewhere.

Don't get me wrong I'm not saying it sounds like reality. The amt driver can sound soft at times. Still, because it has that analogue quality I feel more connected to my music.

Bass
This set doesn't have much sub bass rumble. The bass is nicely textured so I wouldn't call it thin. It's like someone took a DD driver then cut down its sub frequencies. Comparing to my U12ts - the U12ts have more sub bass while the Goldplanars have better upper bass detail. I think I prefer the U12ts bass but the Goldplanars bass is nicely cohesive with the rest of its sound signature. This set comes with different nozzles which can alter the sound signature though none seem to boost the sub bass very much. I don't usually EQ but I tried out of curiosity - it's possible to add some rumble back in but you won't be tricked into thinking that this is a bassy set. I don't like messing with tuning so I'm going back to flat. Overall I'm satisfied with the bass but I can see bassheads being disappointed.

Mids
The mids are the best thing about this set and the hardest to write about. I have no complaints. I quite like that the mids have a forward presentation, placing most instruments and vocals close to me. I like how the decay naturally fades off into the distance, giving a sense of space. I think the slight softness of the Amt sound helps here - the mids are very present without being too much.

Treble
I went hunting for a new iem after owning the U12t for two years because its treble kept hurting me; I finally threw in the towel. I really like the U12t but I can't deal with it any more. It's strange because I've seen other people describe it as non-fatiguing. I might just be particularly sensitive to its treble peak. No such issues with the goldplanar. The treble is still nicely extended. According to graphs it trails off right where the U12t spikes upwards. This is pretty much ideal for me but perhaps others might miss some sparkle? No idea. I don't find much pleasant in that region. The Campfire Andromeda sparkle could be fun but even then I wasn't completely enamoured.

Technicalities
To compare - The U12ts are impressive and detail-oriented but the music feels a bit far from me. I'm a couple of rows back from the stage. I'm thinking about how great the sound is rather than feeling. With the Goldplanars, I'm in the studio. I have a clear picture of where the studio mics are placed. In Doris Days rendition of 'Dream a little dream of me' I can hear the piano plucking away below me whilst Doris is singing to the mid/top right. It feels like I'm a studio exec standing in the room as they're recording. I don't think I'd call the sound stage intimate. Rather, the sound stage extends out into a spacious room but because the mids are prominent it sounds like the instruments are relatively close to me within this big room. Sense of space is impressive for an iem. The U12t wins in depth whilst the Goldplanars win in both width and height. U12t edges the Goldplanars out in separating micro details - maybe because of the speed of ba drivers. Both are TOTL in terms of resolution and dynamics. Speaking of Doris Day these iems are amazing on well recorded vintage tracks. Modern music sounds great as well but real instruments recorded on vintage equipment are a treat. I've shifted my music listening habits recently because of these.

Ending thoughts
Are the Goldplanars perfect? No. I would add a bit of sub bass, a bit more stage depth, remove a touch of softness. That said? This is the first time I'm asking if I own the perfect iem after about a decade of enjoying this hobby. These are something special.
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johnchpark

Head-Fier
AMT16 - Finally an IEM New and Worthwhile
Pros: Great analog-like texture that is unique from traditional BA, DD, or EST driver IEMs
Great resolution
Good tuning
Great imaging
Cons: 2kHz pinna is a bit peaky and makes sounds too forward
Note attack speeds are slower than BA drivers, but this attributes to its analog-like texture
Cable feels plastic-y and stiff
Disclaimer: I am an IEM engineer and am heavily involved in the industry. I have been involved in the tuning and engineering of numerous IEM’s from numerous different popular IEM brands. I did not purchase the GL-AMT16, and tested it as a distributor sample from the factory. I do not profit from any GoldPlanar sales.

I go through A LOT of IEMs every year, but I am hardly ever bothered to write a review.
Furthermore, I considered most of GoldPlanar's previous headphones to be flops.
However, the GoldPlanar GL-AMT16 ("AMT16" from here on out) was surprisingly pleasant enough to be deemed worth a review.



Packaging:
Put simply, this is one of the most extravagant unboxing experiences I have ever had, period. I have never seen an IEM packaging be this nice from any brand. Inside the cardboard box is a solid, genuine wooden case with a sliding lid. The insides are layered with velvet packing. As someone involved in the industry, I was jealous my own brands couldn't match this level of product presentation. The Pelican case is also a huge plus.

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Cable:
The cable is one of those modular cable, similar to the Dunu or Thieaudio cables, with 3.5mm, 2.5mm, and 4.4mm connectors. The cable is an 8-core with 6 strands of copper and 2 strands of gold plated copper cables. My only gripe is that the cable feels a bit plastic-y and stiff, especially the ear hook.

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Fit:
The AMT16 isn’t too big and fits perfectly in my ears. It’s relatively slim so it doesn’t stick out obnoxiously either. It’s a really comfortable and slick fit and look.


Nozzles:
The AMT16 comes with five different nozzles. As an IEM engineer, I was really excited to see what they did with their nozzles. Normally, IEMs with exchangeable screw-on nozzles change the sound using different types of dampening filters. However, the AMT16 nozzles don’t have any dampening filters. Instead, they change the treble frequency by adjusting the nozzle diameters. Nozzle diameter on frequency changes is a fundamental component of IEM tuning, but you hardly ever see it utilized as an active way for users to adjust the tuning. It’s incredibly clever, and effective, as you can see by the frequency measurements.

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In short, the nozzle diameters (indicated on the nozzle holder) change the 1kHz ~ 15kHz range up to 5dB. It’s not a gimmick, and this is classical knowledge utilized innovatively. A huge applause to the GoldPlanar team.


Sound
:
As an IEM engineer, I believe the IEM industry is at a stagnant point, mostly due to the lack of new driver types. From a technicalities point of view, there is only so much you can do with typical BA, DD, or even EST drivers to make them really stand out. Most of the successful “traditional” IEMs lately were great mostly due to their tuning strategies rather than their technicalities compared to what's already out there. However, the AMT driver that the AM16 utilizes may be a fresh revitalization for the IEM industry.

I usually will tear apart such IEMs I receive to see the drivers, but I like the AMT16 so much that I will keep it intact. But what I can tell is that it seems to be the real deal and not a gimmick. The sound definitely has an analog-like quality, reminiscent of ribbon transducers. The texture sounds very relaxed, as if the driver is putting out sound with ease. Directly compared to an all BA IEM such as the Thieaudio V16, the BA drivers sound plastic-y and strained while the AMT drivers sound much more relaxed. In fact, this is probably because the BA drivers have faster transients and attacks compared to the AMT. Notes on typical BA or Tribrid IEMs end up sounding tighter while the AMT16 feels more laidback. For this reason, it's a little hard to directly compare perceived resolution. While the AMT16 definitely has great texture and smoothness, the attacks definitely feel blunted compared to the transients of BA drivers, which makes the AMT16 feel hazy in the notes. But overall, I would say it's as resolving as any of my other TOPL IEMs, albeit the differences in attack and decay speeds.

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The tuning is surprisingly good for a new driver type (I was half expecting it to be a complete tuning mess). I don’t have any significant complaints about the tuning except that it does have a very sharp 2kHz pinna peak, which is audible. It makes a lot of instruments and voices very forward and slightly honky. Putting a black dampening filter sticker (like those found on Moondrop or Tanchjim products) does reduce this pinna, but also does so too much. The bass doesn’t slam, which is also evident by the frequency graph, but it is quite punchy and well balanced. I would say the mids on the AMT16 are its highlight, which are very rich and lush, and have a great analog quality to them. The good treble extension also provides a nice airiness to the overall sound and helps with the resolution. Imaging and depth is excellent with most tracks. Jazz was simply a delight to listen to with these. Brushes on drums never sounded so good.


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(AMT16 with a Tanchjim Dampening Filter on the nozzle)

AMT16 with EQ.png

(AMT16 with EQ; light adjustments at 2kHz, 3.1kHz, 5kHz, and 8kHz)


Overall, the tuning of the AMT16 is acceptable, but not perfect to my ears. It does need some physical adjustments or EQ to reduce the 2kHz pinna. But apart from that, the AMT driver utilized definitely gives a unique textural quality that is refreshingly new in the IEM industry. It’s truly an analog-like sound that stands out from the typical BA, EST, or even planar timbre. Rather than simply "the best single IEM out there", I believe the AMT16 stands out as a technological innovation that is worth its place in a collection. Because of its textural characteristics, it's not suitable for stage or studio use (plus, I don't think it will handle drops well due to the driver). Instead, the AMT16 is perfect for audio enthusiasts who have other IEMs and want a product that is strictly unique and refreshing. I’m sure in the coming future, we will see more of these AMT drivers used by other manufacturers (like what happened with IEM planar drivers), and I’m really excited to see if this will turn into a new era for the IEM industry.
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o0genesis0o
o0genesis0o
Very nice to read a review from someone with engineering knowledge about IEM!
Bitsir
Bitsir
Can't wait for AMT & MEMs to ravage the IEM scene in the coming years. The diamond age of IEMs is yet to come.

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