FiiO 4.4mm Balanced Amp AM3B impressions
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Visit FiiO for more information on the AM3B Amp module.



Unboxing












Installation






FiiO AM3B 4.4mm Balanced Headphone Amplifier Module for X7/X7II/Q5 Music Player

Specifications via Penon Audio  https://penonaudio.com/fiio-am3b.html

Description

Bask in the beauty of 4.4mm balanced

Enhanced balanced/ Single-ended amplifier module AM3B

The AM3B 4.4mm balanced/3.5mm single-ended output amplifier module is based on the AM3A,but has received key enhancements over it. Like the AM3A, which has proven to be a hit among audio enthusiasts, the AM3B also uses the highly-acclaimed AD8620 wide-bandwidth precision JFET operational amplifier in conjunction with two tailor-made OPA926 op-amps.
However, from here the differences begin. Exterior-wise, due to the extra length of the 4.4mm socket we could not use traditional layout techniques as this would result in the jack undesirably protruding from the rest of the amp module. In order to resolve this issue, FiiO engineers came up with some clever packaging involving two stacked PCBs that not only ensures we can fit a 4.4mm socket within our amp module, but also allows for further protection of the audio circuit contained in the module itself. In addition, a metal ring surrounding the 4.4mm jack also adds further strength to the connection.

Interior-wise, due to the two stacked PCB design's space savings the AM3B audio circuit design has some key enhancements over the AM3A. With the AM3B, we have been able to fully isolate the amplification and power supply sections, further optimize the power supply, and increase post-amplification stage operating voltage to 4.5V. All of these changes result nearly 100mW more of power in balanced operation.

Using the screwdriver included in the accessories of X7/X7 Mark II/Q5 to unscrew the T5 screws and exchange the headphone amplifier module. Although protection circuits are installed on the X7/X7 Mark II/Q5, it is still recommended to perform module exchange while the unit is turned off.
X7 Mark II (with AM3B) +F9 PRO: Due to physical size differences stemming from the 4.4mm jack, the AM3B does not fit into the X7 Mark II's original silicone case. Thus, included in the AM3B is a specially-made silicone case.

Specification

Balanced headphone out specifications (4.4mm balanced headphone out jack)

Output power ≥420mW (16Ω/THD+N<1%)
              ≥498mW (32Ω/THD+N<1%)
              ≥70mW (300Ω/THD+N<1%)
Frequency response:7Hz-57kHz (-3dB)
Output impedance <3Ω(32Ω loaded)
SNR ≥119 dB(A-weighted)
Channel separation >106dB(1 kHz)
THD+N < 0.001% (1 KHz)
Peak output voltage >11.8 Vp-p
Max.output current > 150mA (For reference)
Driver ability: 16-300Ω
Noise floor <6.5uV
Headphone out specifications (3.5mm headphone out jack)

Output power  ≥296mW (16Ω/THD+N<1%)
               ≥158mW (32Ω/THD+N<1%)
               ≥18mW (300Ω/THD+N<1%)
Frequency response:7Hz-57kHz (-3dB)
Output impedance <1Ω(32Ω loaded)
SNR ≥118dB(A-weighted)
Channel separation >72dB(1 kHz)
THD+N < 0.001% (1 KHz)
Peak output voltage >6.4 Vp-p
Max output current > 150mA (For reference)
Driver ability: 16-150Ω
Noise floor <4uV



Price 

Around US$100 



Impressions

Is it impressions or a review? Well a bit of both really. The AM3B being an amp and a part of a whole system the Q5, X7 and X7ii. 

The FiiO AM3B amp DOES have single ended and balanced outputs, but I am going to go out on a limb here and guess/assume most will be buying this particular amp module for its 4.4mm. So I will mostly concentrating on that.

The 4.4mm wave is upon us...
"We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better, stronger, faster."

I tend to use 4.4mm more and more recently. I like the amps I have that have 4.4mm. Many cables now are terminated to 4.4mm and Sony daps and iBasso amp modules are all surfing the excitement.

Is it better in sound than 2.5mm, some say yes, others no. Both camps agree that it is stronger plug and has more connective surface. I myself have not had any 2.5mm plugs break on me yet "touch wood".

so onto the FiiO AM3B amp module. It certainly is affordable at around US$100. Can`t complain there. And with several companies making decent 2.5mm to 4.4mm adapters one can maneuver around buying more cables or re-termination.

FiiO BL44 2.5mm female to 4.4mm male plug adapter

So whats the secret sauce? is it the 4.4mm? the insides of the amp its self, a synergy between the aforementioned and also including the FiiO X7/X7ii daps or the FiiO Q5?

Well no use delving too deep as it is an add on, I find amplifiers to color the sound more than dacs these days, especially as many companies are moving towards a more neutral sound and low output impedance - even the AKM/Sabres differences are less prominent than earlier.

Which brings us back to these marvelous daps with changeable amp modules. One can tailor the sound to one liking more easily within one system, and also choose a termination that one prefers and also the power output whether one is using sensitive IEMs or full sized headphones.

The FiiO AM3B tries to straddle both camps.
The specifications tell the story, but to many readers its all incomprehensible gibberish. So lets break it down as usual into readable bullet points now that my usual initial ramble has passed.

The FiiO AM3B is a clean, fairly neutral amp with a slight warm tint to it, mostly in the mids.
It has an output impedance of 3ohms on the 4.4mm which did give me a bit of surprise as 1ohm or less seems be the industry standard these days, or 2ohms at a stretch. I did not notice too much, just a bit less bass at times with some IEMs. (The SE OI is lower).
As mentioned before it has more power than the stock amplifier. As a result it may have some hiss with more sensitive IEMs.
The main plus is a larger sound stage than the stock amp, it also has more dynamics although slighter smoother so there is some loss of definition although this is compensated by better texture, layering and more separation overall.
It has better control and more of a sense of space and spaciousness over the stock amp.

It is quite similar in sound to the stock amp but just goes the extra step further and with it bringing the main units more up towards a totl sound.

I enjoy it and now have it permanently in the X7ii.






Thank you to FiiO for sending the AM3B for impressions and review









Three years of word salad reviews, crappy ipod touch 6G photos (oh yes!) and funny then regressively more and more salty memes

#headpiesucks


Symbio W Peel by Mandarines


Also avaliable on ebay


Symbio W Peel by Mandarines

Symbio W Peel by  Mandarines have arrived!

It was suggested first of all on one of the Campfire Audio threads on Head-fi  by Head-fier Dsnuts to try removing the foam from the Symbio W Mandarines (its main selling point being thick foam within silicone).

What!? Doesnt that defeat the purpose and turn them into Spinfits? Well, no. The silicone is quite thicker on the Symbio and is similar to the JVC Spiral Tips. It holds the lows and with the W tips allows more spaciousness. A very clean sound.
And the fit is excellent.

I will still use some of the Mandarines with foam for a few of my IEMs.


A few of us tried and adopted this method using the Campfire Audio Solaris with stellar results.

Later I got back in touch with Symbio and told them of the popular mod and suggested the name ‘Peel’. Soon this new edition borne from the community became an official release.

Give the people what they want :)

Symbio/Mandarines are also planning to release new sizes soon XS and XL.
I am looking forward to that.













Symbio W (bore diameter 4.5mm)
Symbio N (bore diameter 3.8mm)
Sizes: S, M, L


Symbio Wa eartips!

The Symbio Wa has bore diameter cca. 2-2.5mm, neutral influence to the IEMs sound signature. Allows high frequency details and energy. Perfect seal for best bass.
No more seal problem.
These eartips comes with adapters for IEMs like Shure SE846 (…) Westone UM Pro 50 (…) and all In Ear Monitors with 2-2.5mm stem diameter.


Symbio Peel – Simple Single Flange Silicone Eartips

Symbio Peel Wide Bore – Simple Single Flange Silicone Eartips.
Bore diameter 4,5mm. Price for one set.






Thanks for sending Head pie the  Symbio W Peel by Mandarines (again).



Ok, I finally moved into the Brave New World #holdout








Shun/ShoonTH is fairly new to the earbud scene and this is their first attempt at the crowded budget ≤$10USD price range. Let’s find out how it fares against other buds.




P.S. I was sent a demo unit from them. As always, take everything I say with a bucket of salt.









Build:





Comes with clear Sennheiser MX760/ Beyerdynamic DP100 shells! Not your typical MX500 type! It's a brave new world! Seriously, earbud manufacturers should experiment with other shell types in the budget range. Other than the Qians, there’s the one that has PK shells on the EMX500 AliExpress page (confusing, I know). YOU GUYS, THERE ARE OTHER TYPES OF SHELLS! And I know a lot of people who prefer smaller shells *wink wink*.




They also come with white cables. Simple, nice and sturdy. Reminds me of those Apple EarPods and those that come with Monks and Hi-z buds for their simplicity and durability. COMES WITH A CHIN SLIDER! Y3S!




Packaging is subpar with a plastic ziplock and my unit comes with no foams. But that’s ok. Hey it’s $10. And I feel like the sound will be too muffled with even some donut foams. Oh, I’m getting ahead of myself.









Sound:


As stated above, I prefer em without foams. Even though I have elephant ears, the foamless mx760/dp100 shells somehow have nice fit on me conchas. The unit has been burned-in for more than the recommended 50 hours.




Chain: 

PC > Chord Mojo > Schiit Magni 2 playing songs from Spotify. Oh no, lossy.




Playlist:


Link: https://open.spotify.com/user/12145528379/playlist/0idNpezdgSSnUWMcexc8p9?si=bwu-ObZaQ_yG3I8cimWTCg



James Blake - Limit To Your Love

Ohio Players - Sweet Sticky Thing

Hanna - Stranger

Blondie - Heart of Glass - Remix

Belle Epoque - Miss Broadway

M & O - House

The Seshen - Oblivion

Sonic Youth - Teen Age Riot

Golden Rules - Never Die (feat. Yasiin Bey)

PREP - Cheapest Flight




Bass:


Bass is enough. There’s depth to keep things thumping but not a lot of quantity to satisfy bassheads. There’s thickness on the mid-upper-bass that makes the whole signature sound warm. Fast attack and clean texture.




Mids:


The upper bass hump carries on to the lower mids to give vocals some bodayyy. T H I C C. The thiccness makes it a bit unforgiving to poorly-recorded songs just like Belle Epoque’s Miss Broadway listed above.




Treble:


Early treble roll-off which gives the sound a non-fatiguing , some would say veiled nature and makes the soundstage a bit intimate. Cymbals and other percussives are a bit recessed.









Comparisons:





VE Monk+ w/o foams:


Also not for bassheads. The extra hump on the midbass makes songs like Ohio Players’ Sweet Sticky Thing more enjoyable with the Shunbuds. Mids on the monks are a bit more recessed on the Monks. Brighter trebs on the Monks make it more fatiguing to listen to when coming from the Shunbuds.




TY Hi-Z HP-32 w/ thick foams:


More quantity and extension on the bass with the Hi-z’s. Mids are more recessed on the Hi-z’s. Cymbals take a backseat with the Shunbuds. The clap thing on The Seshen’s Oblivion is a bit glaring with Hi-z’s heightened treble.




Vido w/ thin VE Monk foams:


More quantity and extension on Vido’s bass. Vido's upper bass emphasis makes it sound a bit warmer and slower. Vido’s mids are clearer in comparison. Details and bells and whistles are more upfront.




EMX500 w/ green cables & full foams:


More quantity and extension than the Shunbuds. Mids are about as warm. As with Vido’s case, mids are clearer and the more balanced tuning of EMX500 makes the overall sound presented in a more coherent way.








Conclusion:




Everything about Shun/ShoonTH’s attempt to infiltrate the very crowded ≤$10USD price range is looking good. It’s a departure from convention; from its shells to the kind of sound it wants to present i.e. warm and non-fatiguing.

End of year and New Year Head pie perhaps overly optimistic projection of possible reviews completion 




FiiO BTR3



Brianwavz B400



iBasso DX120



FiiO M9




Yaxi earbuds



Plussound X-Series cable



Campfire Audio Solaris



iBasso SR1 headphones



Shozy 5BG