KGUSS BH3

General Information

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Latest reviews

cappuchino

Previously known as sub30
Pros: LDAC-capability
Low noise floor (can be used with more sensitive than usual IEMs to a degree)
No popping noise/s when inserting/removing jack nor any random “electronic” noises when music is playing
Bluetooth 5.0 connection
Hot-swappable dual op-amp design
Quality components
Build
Price
Cons: Not a transparent sounding DAC/Amp at all
Nothing else
Disclaimer:

I would like to thank sen hu audio/bangle.ph for providing a review unit of the KGUSS BH3. Check their store out on Lazada and Shopee. Rest assured that my impressions written in this review are my own personal thoughts and opinions and in no way influenced by outside parties.

I am not an expert in this hobby nor claim to be an audiophile. I just love listening to music and am fond of writing articles.


Introduction:

I have no idea what to put here. Before the BH3, I wasn’t even aware of KGUSS’ existence. They seemed like one of those unknown audio companies that focus on DAC/Amps. But that changed when I received the BH3 – IMO, they should be put on the map. Selling for around 40 USD, the BH3 is a Bluetooth desktop DAC/Amp, that uses an ES9038Q2M chip, CSR8675 for BT 5.0, and JRC 5532DD op-amps. I can stop here and say that these are a steal deal with a warmer-than-neutral signature, but do read on for more details.


These were connected to my Oppo Reno 4 and Asus X409 for the review.

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Specification:


  • Brand:KGUSS
  • Model:BH3
  • Chip combination:ES9038Q2M+CSR8675+JRC 5532DD*2
  • Bluetooth version:BT5.0
  • Support Bluetooth format:LDAC、APTX-HD、APTX-LL、APTX、AAC、SBC
  • Transmission distance:About 10M
  • Bluetooth input selection:Bluetooth priority, pause bluetooth automatically switch to USB audio source playback
  • Bluetooth sampling rate:16-24Bit 44.1-96KHz
  • COAX sampling rate:24Bit/96KHz
  • USB DAC:16Bit/48KHz
  • headphone matching impedance:16-300Ω
  • USB powered:TYPE-C DC5V(DAC+ powered)
  • Product Size:L:105mm W:85mm H:33mm
  • Package dimensions:L:198mm W:155mm H:70mm
  • Product color:Silver 、Black
  • Weight:About 0.4kg (including packaging)


Package: USB-C cable. Antenna. BH3 unit.


Design and build:

Not a lot to talk about. The KGUSS BH3 won’t win any design awards. Nothing special with it, though I do have to give them a round of applause for providing an all-metal build (even the volume knob), with included rubber feet OOTB, sub-50 USD. The BH3 itself feels pretty solid given the materials, roughly the size of an adult male palm, and about the weight of what you’d expect with said size and materials. Volume knob is satisfyingly smooth turning. Power switch also snaps. 3.5 mm output jack has no wiggle.

Powered by USB-C cable which is included in the box (5V)

Uses WIMA and Nichicon capacitors.


Connectivity:

It’s either Bluetooth 5.0 or wired via USB-C. I can’t see a reason to use the latter as it doesn’t have any advantage over Bluetooth. My phone detects it can transmit SBC/AAC/APTX/APTX-HD/LDAC. Latency is negligible in media consumption but I have not tested it with FPS games (only NBA 2K21 and no hampering delay observed, though 2K21 is not a decent game to test this 🤣). Honestly speaking, it is pretty comparable to wired when just watching videos on YT.

The Bluetooth connection in LDAC mode is very stable – I didn’t get any disconnection throughout the time of my testing. Distance from source to DAC/Amp is also exceptional thanks to the external antenna. I can walk all around our house, phone in pocket, and still be connected to the BH3. As context, our home is 2-stories tall, with walls built to support 3 floors (about 200++ sq. m).

> Was not able to test APTX-LL due to device limitations.



Now, onto sound (using stock operational amplifier):
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The KGUSS BH3’s sound is characterized by a warm-neutral signature. There was a noticeable increase in bass quantity, particularly in mid-bass (warmer), added weight in the midrange (addicting “fullness”), and a smoother treble response. No observable decrease/increase in extension on both ends of the spectrum.

Find your midrange thin? Get the BH3. Too harsh treble? Get the BH3. Want a DAC/Amp that will take away upper frequency fatigue from your transducers? Get the BH3.

BUT, if you are chasing for that transparent and resolving listen, stay away from the BH3. Because of the effects of the DAC/Amp to the transducer, it does remove a bit of texture across the spectrum (especially in the bass department) and smoothens macrodetail. There’s also minute distortion around the edges which increases depending on listening volume and how sensitive the transducer is.

Audible soundstage depth increase due to the effect of the BH3 to the bass region (subjective).


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Bluetooth vs. USB:


I recommend to always go wireless. USB is also limited in sampling rate with Bluetooth having access to the max sampling rate of the ES9038Q2M DAC chip.


Hiss Amount:

Testing with all of my IEMs, at my listening volume range of low-to-medium, there was no hiss heard. Going past really high volumes, without music playing, and slight hiss starts to manifest with only one of my IEMs (KZ DQ6).


Battery Drain:

Not applicable with this product.


Distortion/Clipping:

Only observable with the two headphones I tested (HIFIMAN Deva and HE400se) at medium-high loudness [volume source (system and MusicBee) at max, adjusted via BH3 knob]. Understandable, as this is pushing the BH3 to its limits. As I am a low to low-medium listener, this was not a problem for me. YMMV.

To avoid this as well as to achieve better volume control with my IEMs, I have the source set at 50/100 and do the volume adjustments via the KGUSS BH3.



Volume Knob Position at listening volume (just estimates as there is no marking/s):

HIFIMAN HE400se - 9.8

HIFIMAN DEVA - ~8.5

KZ DQ6 - ~7 (exception as it is at medium volume)

Moondrop SSP - ~7.7

* Interestingly, there is a noticeable big loudness jump from the lowest volume, ~6 o' clock and 7 o'clock when source volume is maxed out. Also, perceivable channel imbalance in that "gap" but disappears once you get past said gap. With the planar headphones, they do wake up the drivers to an extent, better than a phone, but as is obvious, is nothing compared to a “full-blown” amplifier.

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Conclusion:


Highly recommended if you are in the market for a warmish-sounding Bluetooth DAC/Amp. It’s not resolving nor transparent-sounding in any way at all, the design doesn’t look appealing (subjective), and it doesn’t have the blackest background. HOWEVER, you can find it for ~40 USD, has hot-swappable op-amps, build quality appears to be durable and should survive falls (not advisable, of course), and it also uses quality chips (ES9038Q2M & CSR8675) and components (WIMA and Nichicon capacitors). Very “bad recording” friendly. I, personally-speaking, will not be using the BH3 for my reviews. But for casual listen, it has usurped the HUD100 MK2.


** I am a firm believer that the DAC does not influence the sound in any way, but the amplifier does. The two terms, as I have observed, are usually interchanged by many which causes misconceptions to the people that read/see it.

*** Tested with my favorite gears. Please check my signature 😊.

**** Back part gets very slightly warm with continuous use (>5 hours). Negligible.



****If you have other questions/concerns with the DAC/Amp mentioned, feel free to message me****​
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