iBasso AMP12 Review

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Sound performances

For this review, I chose to pair the iBasso DX300 + AMP12 with the FiiO FD5, SeeAudio Yume, and the AudioSense DT600 . And, for good measure, I also paired my good old Sennheiser HD800S, with ddHiFi adapter to go 4.4mm -> 2.5mm.

Source? Apple Music and Amazon Prime.

Overall signature

So, is the iBasso DX300 louder now that it’s going discreet? Yes, and no. 

Let’s begin with the elephant in the room: yes, the new AMP12 feels like a Class-A amp. The soundstage is wider, transients are faster, and – amazingly for an iBasso player – the noise floor is completely out of the picture.

Contrary to my expectations, the AMP12 didn’t sound louder than the AMP11 but softer. Lows are more refined, with more texture, which isn’t a bad thing as dry low was one of my only drawbacks on the DX300. Paired with the AudioSense DT600, it’s even more godly and bass reaches abysmal notes with ease, but that may also be the balanced output.

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The soundstage is exceptional, but that was already the case before. Head to head, the difference isn’t massive but the AMP12 managed to fill the gap, once unheard with the AMP11. Of course, if you were only using the DX300 with the 3.5mm output, the difference will be massive and it’ll feel like discovering a new room in your own apartment.

If on paper, the highs should have been the ones that benefit the most from this amp swap, I was not blown away by the upgrade. The DX300 was already superb in this regard, but I couldn’t hear any real difference, even after a long trip with the player. 

On the other hand, mids and upper-mids really enjoyed the change. Voices are fuller, warmer and if the stock iBasso DX300 isn’t harsh by any means, the “upgraded” version is mellower. And I liked that.

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Out of curiosity, I plugged my Audeze LCD-X with a set of various adapters (I lost the 4.4mm Pentaconn cable from Meze…), and this time, I preferred the AMP11. The original dryness of the stock module seemed like a better combination with the LCD, unlike the HD800S who felt like a completely different beast with the AMP12.

Long story short: it works well with sensitive IEM/CIEM, and if you want to use dynamic headphones. If you’re more of a planar guy/gal, you could stick to the original AMP11, or the new AMP11MKII, depending of which one you could get.


Highs: sharp and distinctive. There is still some emphasis on highs and high-mids, but the DX300 lost some of its brilliance to avoid the trap of sibilance. Those sharp tone magnifies every details of your songs, but that also make bad recordings absolutely painful to listen to. I’m usually not a fan of this kind of signature, but iBasso did a great job here, to my surprise.

Good test track : Bernard’s Song – Veronique Sanson

Mids: improved soundstage. It was not necessary, but iBasso managed to expand the soundstage even further. In my opinion, this is the DX300 forte, with its airy presentation and delightful voices, each one playing loud and clear. The uncanny effect, where you hear sounds coming from the back of your head could easily be heard, even with small IEM like FiiO’s FD3. Lovely. 

Good test track:  Obama – Dombrance

Lows: deep and solid. Going from the AMP11 to the AMP12 definitely lead to an improvement here too. If the DX300 was already able to reach deep notes and sub rumble, with ease, the new module and its blacker background comfort the DAP lead.  The solid amp section, combined with the new Cirrus-logic DACs gives a fantastic experience, with full, impressive, bass. Even, if paired with my faithful Audeze LCD-X, the result was not as nice as with the AMP11.

Good test track : Flight of the cosmic Hippo – Bela Flack and the Fleckstone

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Power and noise

The iBasso DX300 is powerful, but you will have to play with the gain settings if you really want to get the best of it.

I tried it with my Onkyo CIEM, the FiiO FA9, and the FiiO FD5, but none picked more noise than I could hear on other high-end players. In fact, like last time, iBasso managed to clear out any noise floor.

In terms of power, the player drove my Audeze LCD-X with ease, thanks to the balanced output. Even with my old, but mighty, Sennheiser HD800S, the player managed to deliver powerful kicks and solid lows. Sure, turning on the high-gain knob helps, but even before that, I could already feel how strong the player was.



The iBasso AMP12 is a great addition to the amazing DX300. The discrete design and smart technical choices enhance the player signature in many ways, giving you a more natural approach to the sound.

On most devices, the improvement is real, if not substantial: better soundstage, warmer, cleaner mids and smoother lows. On others, it lacks the razor-like accuracy previously found on the AMP11, but luckily this mostly happened with planar headphones like my Audeze.

Do I recommend this module? Of course. Is it mandatory? I don’t think so, but the whole setup remains cheaper than many TOTL player, so you should treat yourself. At least, out of curiosity.

4.6/5 - (9 votes)

A nerdy guy with a passion for audio and gadgets, he likes to combine his DAC and his swiss knife. Even after more than 10 years of experience, Nanotechnos still collects all gear he gets, even his first MPMAN MP3 player. He likes spreadsheets, technical specs and all this amazing(ly boring) numbers. But most of all, he loves music: electro, classical, dubstep, Debussy : the daily playlist.

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