iBasso AM05

vAMOS!

PROS: custom-like universal design, comfortable fit, quality removable balanced cable and adapter, neutral detailed sound tuning, wide soundstage.

CONS: bass light (the bass is neutral), stock cable mmcx connector is tight.

The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.

Manufacturer website:  iBasso.  Available for sale directly or from Penon Audio.


Intro.

I’m no longer sure which is a bigger surprise, a new IEM from iBasso or its price tag.  I wasn’t expecting an all BA design from them and thought the next release will be a flagship hybrid above IT04.  When All Music AM05 was announced, I also didn’t expect this 5BA to be priced way below IT04.  Based on their recent IEMs, USB DAC, and DAP releases, iBasso made it clear that you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to get a quality sound.

When I received AM05 and after the initial listening, I quickly realized the intent of this IEM tuning was to add something different to iBasso existing in-ear monitor line up.  And now after spending the last month testing these IEMs, I hope my review will let you discover what makes this IEM different, how it stands out, and if it’s the right one for you.  So, let’s proceed!

Unboxing and Accessories.

The product arrived in a nice compact box with a magnetic flip cover and an exterior sleeve with a logo and a product name on the front and detailed spec on the back.  Inside was a soft foam insert with cutout for AM05 and the case, keeping everything secure inside the box.  Accessories were placed inside the case.

The storage case is iBasso traditional lightweight aluminum ‘puck’ with a soft lining to protect IEMs.  Also included were a detachable SPC cable, balanced terminated (2.5mm TRRS) with a bonus matching pigtail 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter.  A huge selection of eartips were provided as well, including foam tips (M/L), whirlwind tips (S/M/L), white silicone (S/M/L), black silicone (S/M/L), and grey silicone (S/M/L).  Each type of eartips has the effect on the sound which I will cover in Sound Analysis section.  Quick start Guide and warranty card were included as well.

Interestingly enough, the case was green colored, and I’m not sure if that was to match green color shells of AM05 design I received.  AM05 also comes in blue, and I’m wondering if a blue matching cases arrives with it.

ibasso-am05-07

Cable.

The detachable cable was not exactly the high end, but it looks nice and feels quite durable.  iBasso makes their own cables, and I like how they update cable hardware with every release. The silver-plated oxygen-free copper wires are very flexible, non-microphonic, twisted on left/right sides, and then twisted again above the split.  The headphone plug is 2.5mm TRRS balanced terminated with a slick aluminum housing, matching y-split, and chin-slider.

Closer to the earpiece, you have a pre-shaped heat-shrink flexible earhook going into a custom slightly angled (probably 135deg) transparent housing with mmcx connector.  The angle of the connector puts less strain on the cable at the joint, unlike most of their previous straight connectors.  Also, you have a color coded red/blue ID rings to distinguish right/left sides.

One thing to note, I found mmcx interconnect between the cable and IEMs to be very tight, not easy to turn when adjusting cables behind your ears and requires extra force to pull apart.  I thought this was due to a cable being new and maybe will loosen up, but even after multiple disconnects and re-insertions the connection was still tight.  At the same time, a secure tight connection could be a plus since mmcx connector are prone to dirt and moisture getting inside.

The included pigtail adapter is very convenient since it allows you to use AM05 with both 2.5mm and 3.5mm port DAPs, and you can use optional adapters to go from 2.5mm to 4.4mm.  Plus, pigtail adapter doesn’t extend the plug itself, making it bulkier.  Instead, it just extends the cable.

Design.

iBasso uses a custom-universal shape with all their IEMs, but it feels like with every release they are making small adjustments to fine tune the shape, to make it more comfortable and less fatigue to wear during extended listening sessions.  Seems that a lot of these adjustments are not only in overall shape but also in the protruding inner part of the shell which goes into your concha-cymba outer area of the ear.  IT04 had it deeper, IT01s was shallow, AM05 is somewhere in-between, probably the most comfortable shape, at least for my ears.

IT01s, AM05, IT04

ibasso-am05-25

The shells itself look like higher-end CIEMs, a very impressive design and build quality.  According to iBasso, they are using resin inverted mold tech during their production, not the same as other empty shell designs.  The inner part of the shell is crystal clear, you can see all the inner guts of AM05; even the colored faceplate is translucent.  My review unit was green, while a blue faceplate option is also available.  The left earpiece has “All Music” silver print, while the right one has “AM05”.  Each earpiece is about 6 grams.

Inside, you will find 5x Knowles balanced armature drivers, partitioned into: 1x BA for lows, 1x BA for mids, 1x BA for high-frequency, and Dual BA for ultra-high frequency.  Based on this partitioning, iBasso used 4-way crossover with higher quality thin film capacitors.  This 4-channel design also translates into 4 sound tubes going from BAs to individual bores of the nozzle.  The nozzle itself is reinforced with a metal sleeve tip and uses a threaded replaceable wax-guard mesh which you can remove, clean, and put back.  Unlike IT01s, no rubber o-ring was used.

With the right selection of eartips, in my case using whirlwind tips, I was able to achieve a secure fit with a good seal and a decent level of isolation.

ibasso-am05-23

The fit.

ibasso-am05-30

Page 2 – Sound Analysis, and Comparison.
Page 3 – Pair up, and Conclusion.

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