AM05 has an average impedance (32 ohm) and a little higher sensitivity (115dB), still quite efficient and easy to drive from any portable source I tried it with.
iBasso DX220 w/amp8 – wide soundstage expansion; in this pair-up the signature is more balanced due to a stronger response of the bass, and mids/vocals are more balanced relative to lows and highs. Bass is not too elevated, but it has a stronger mid-bass impact. Mids/vocals are detailed, resolving, and sounds very natural. Treble is well defined and controlled. I hear some waterfall hissing when idling or during quiet song passages.
iBasso DX160 – wide soundstage expansion; the signature in this pair up is spot on balanced due to a stronger response of the bass, and mids/vocals being more balanced relative to lows and highs. Bass is tastefully elevated with an articulate punch. Mids/vocals sounds natural, detailed, with a good level of resolution. Treble is also well defined and controlled. This was one of my favorite pair up, giving the sound a little more natural tonality.
Lotoo PAW Gold touch (LPGT) – wide soundstage expansion; a slightly more mid-forward signature with an overall neutral tonality, especially in low end. Mids/vocals in this pair up have more focus, quite detailed and slightly more revealing. Treble is well defined and controlled. In this pair up the sound was a bit less natural.
Cayin N6ii w/E01 – wide soundstage expansion; while tonality is still neutral, the signature is more balanced due to a stronger low end response. In this pair up I hear a little more bass impact, and mids/vocals are more leveled with lows and treble, still detailed and more revealing. Treble is well defined and controlled.
Hiby R5 – wide soundstage expansion, a slightly more mid-forward signature with an overall neutral tonality. Bass has a good quality, but more neutral quantity. As a result, mids/vocals have more focus, pushed a little more forward, still detailed, and more on a revealing side. Treble is well defined and controlled.
Samsung Galaxy S9 – this pair up caught me by surprise since it turned out to be yet another favorite. The soundstage here is wide. The signature is very balanced, and the tonality has more energy with emphasis across entire FR. Bass has a nice articulate punch and I even hear a little more sub-bass rumble. Mids/vocals are natural, detailed, resolving and also with a nice retrieval of details. Treble is well defined and controlled and has extra sparkle.
I mentioned in the intro of my review that AM05 adds something different to iBasso existing IEM line up. iBasso started with a more fun tuned single DD and hybrid 2BA+DD IEMs. Then, a hybrid IT04 (3BA+DD) took a step toward a more mature audiophile tuning while still holding on to its fun roots. AM05 takes DD out of the equation with an all BA design which bring more attention to the vocals with extra clarity and details and has a more neutral bass presentation.
Overall, AM05 has a nice non-fatigue sound which you can enjoy during extended listening sessions. With a more neutral bass and less aggressive treble, the tuning of AM05 is more enjoyable when listening to vocal tracks, though it’s not exactly limited to a specific genre. Just be aware, if you want more bass, these might not be for you, and you might want to look into iBasso single DD or hybrid models.
But what makes AM05 stand out is not only the sound, but the design and the build quality. Every new IEM release from iBasso takes the best of the previous designs and moves forward with it. In AM05 the custom-universal shape was refined, the ergonomics of the cable and connectors was improved, and the shell material has a higher quality. I hope when the next iBasso flagship is released, it will inherit AM05 flagship quality build and design.