<b>Description</b><br /> <ul> <li>High Voltage Swing ,Balanced Amplifier Card</li> <li>+/-8V voltage swing, equal to 32V voltage swing when compared to single ended. This is significantly improves the dynamics and headroom.</li> <li>Patented...

iBasso AMP3

Average User Rating:
4.75/5,
  • Description
    • High Voltage Swing ,Balanced Amplifier Card
    • +/-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.
    • 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.

Recent User Reviews

  1. H20Fidelity
    4.5/5,
    "iBasso Amp3 Module Review"
    Pros - Excellent control and performance, bang for buck is present, great for those who demand high power output from a portable device.
    Cons - No 3.5mm jack option, brings out a lot of bass with the only IEM I could try.
    Its been almost a year since iBasso DX200 released, with that comes additional support, features, firmwares, and add-ons. Today we're looking at the latest amp module for the player 'Amp3'. Its quite an unusual amp for those who aren't up to date with the latest and greatest ways of enjoying portable audio, the amp only supports 2.5mm balanced outputs without the well-known 3.5mm jack everyone is familiar with. DX200 has miles of potential, its been the player that created a true upgrade for me from my previous set-up, if you haven't had the chance to hear one I'd highly suggest taking time to do so, the sound is really excellent.

    Amp3 was provided to me as a review sample, I'd like to thank iBasso and especially Paul for reaching out to test one.


    Price: $199 USD

    Availability: http://ibasso.com/cp_xq_dy.php?id=5696#page1

    Specs:

    Amp3 site pic 3.png

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    Unboxing:


    Greeted by a similar box the earlier iBasso DX50/90 players came in Amp3 is enclosed inside a padded out insert, its simple without anything over the top. Also inside is some paperwork and a flat head screwdriver for installing the amp. Nothing overly luxurious, it gets the job done.

    box 2.jpg

    box 1.jpg


    Installation

    Connecting Amp3 is reasonably simple, there are two flat head screws located on either side of iBassos amp modules, by unscrewing them half way they back out from 2 tabs located on the players frame allowing it to slide away completely. There's no need to unscrew these completely or remove them as they only need to be backed away from two tabs slightly. On the player itself and amp modules, there are also some guidance segments which make installation fairly foolproof, the amp will only connect one way and always insert straight due to the way its been designed.

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    If I was going to nitpick it would be the use of flat head screws, they're quite small, hard to see, especially for older people in low light, what I've found is it can be a hassle to keep the screwdriver in position, it can slip away from the screw when turning and end up scratching the paintwork over time. I would have preferred seeing Allen key type grub screws, they slot straight in, have less chance of coming away and would suit the player more overall with the type of fixtures it uses.

    Amp Outputs:

    Using Amp3 there aren't any options to use standard 3.5mm headphone/IEM cables, what you use must be configured for 2.5mm balanced output, that includes the optional 2.5mm line out. Those wanting to use their regular headphone cables must take a look at the Amp2 module from earlier in the year. I'm not sure how I feel about this, I understand the amp has been designed with some special architecture and its going to appeal for many die hard portable audiophiles, I just wonder if the absence of 3.5mm outputs entirely on amps is ready for the market, could the amp have sold more if the modules iBasso release all had a 3.5mm option? I guess that's up to them and not me to decide.

    Battery Life:

    From my testing I was averaging very similar run times as Amp1, around 8-10 hours, I cannot speak for how Amp3 will fair when running 24bit files constantly and full-size depending headphones but I really couldn't detect much difference between the stock Amp1 module with the IEMs I was using. I do know Amp3 throws out a lot of power when called upon so it might just be my IEMs were very easy to drive.

    Sound impressions:

    IEM used: Tralucent 1Plus2.2

    All files: FLAC 16/44

    I find the tonality of Amp3 on the slightly smooth/warm side, it has excellent refinement and control right across the board especially throughout the low end, speed and note separation makes many older single ended output players sound underwhelming when I try switching back, its very impressive in this regard coming from a portable system and more reminiscent of a desktop amp. The levels of detail around the mid-range while smooth are superb along with instrument separation and treble extension, you really feel the additional power Amp3 is outputting to good use in technical areas. Other aspects such as vocal sibilance with spitty IEMs was almost reduced to nothing due to the amount of control the amp has.

    The amp is also rather organic/natural sounding, it loses some of the typical Sabre instinct many would be familiar with sounding more laid back for easier listening. I won't say the detail or resolution suffers at all, its just a smoother sound trying to lose that processed timbre and tonality many Sabre DACs are tuned for. Areas like soundstage are wide with great layering, when the separation, control, and layering work together you certainly perceive strong images of each instrument playing individually. There have been times I've heard small micro details I hadn't before with songs I've known for years, they just come through more obviously.

    At the other end of the string I also find Amp3 brings out a lot of bass with the IEM I'm using, it can sound intrusive at higher volumes and overpowered, mid-bass in particular comes forward while the mid-range drops behind, what I end up hearing is bass taking the leading role and this affected my overall experience with the amp and enjoyment, I wouldn't say my IEMs are extremely bass heavy by default and with stock Amp1 balanced output I don't have this same issue. Because I've not been able to try any other headphones or IEMs I'm stuck wondering if Amp3 has too much power for some low impedance IEMs or its just a synergy issue between my IEMs. Regardless I'm still able to hear the amps strong features and think with the correct headphones I could take full advantage of Amp3.


    Comparison to Amp1:

    Amp1 in comparison is more vibrant and revealing with that crisp bright(ish) edge the iBasso players are known for, maybe slightly digital sounding and less organic than Amp3 but for those who enjoy an energetic in your face load of detail I still prefer Amp1 personally, its closer to what the iBasso players have always been to me and my preference for the Tralucent 1Plus2.2, even though I hear Amp3 is stronger technically, especially in control the tonality of Amp1 wins for me, If the bass wasn't so forward with the only IEM I had to try here I might be more divided between the two but that's the outcome I experienced and need to be honest. I would, however, like to try Amp3 with some full-size headphones, maybe a nice bright Grado would make me feel differently.

    Conclusion:

    I think Amp3 has miles of potential with the right headphone, after 5-years on the audio scene its simple to hear that, not only has the amp taken things up a level on what portable players can achieve technically wise and performance its shown it doesn't need to be extremely expensive all the time either. I'm always boasting how iBasso are about bang for buck, they're one of the good guys trying to keep audio affordable and that's becoming rare around these parts each day. As I mentioned though I'm stuck between feeling maybe Amp3 has too much output power for some low impedance earphones or the synergy with my Tralucent IEM just wasn't suited and I won't know that answer until I get the chance to try Amp3 with something else. I'm also undecided about amps being released without 3.5mm jack options and whether the market is ready for that, its that very reason I couldn't test more IEMs. The amp was pleasing to use and expresses great potential as all iBasso products have, the bang for buck is present so I'm granting 4.5 stars for this review. I'd like to once again thank iBasso for sending out Amp3 and look forward to eventually trying it with other headphones with balanced cables.

    images

    1. amp3 paperwork.jpg
    2. IMG_4107.JPG
  2. audio123
    5.0/5,
    "iBasso AMP3 - Brilliant Upgrade to DX200"
    Pros - Soundstage & Extension
    Cons - No Pouch
    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 .
    upload_2017-9-6_9-52-25.png

    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.png

    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.

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    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.
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    Mshenay, ryanjsoo, JaeYoon and 11 others like this.

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