As a music lover, I have never been one for things that claim to boost sound or signal external to the music device itself. I even hummed and hawed when Ari asked, but hesitantly agreed to try out Helm Audio’s newest DB12 AAAMP Mobile Headphone Amplifier. The DB 12, at least in my vision of things, is meant for smartphones where one is seeking increased clarity, bass and volume, but could also be used in PCs or with anything that uses a 3.5mm headphone connector.
The DP 12 AAMP is a simple connect between your music player and ear bud, headphones or what have you… and it provides a +12dB sound boost from simply turning it on. Its cable is 24″ in length. It is also chargeable and a 90 minute charge, via its USB-C port, will get you 6-8 hours of operation on the DB12. A heads up though… make sure you turn your stereo volume down before turning this on or you will be in for a shock. Inside the package is the DB 12 AAAMP Mobile Headphone Amplifier itself, instructions, a Helm Audio emblazed leatherette case and a USB-C to Type-A cable for charging.
Looking at the DB12 AAAMP, it has an on/off switch on one side which can be slid one spot further for a bass boost, power being displayed by a single green LED and the bass boost is identified with a blue LED. The bass boost is obvious as it is 6dB. On the other side is a single USB-C port for charging with a LED that is red for low battery, green when charging and blue when fully charged.
On top, we have large volume up and down buttons centered by a button used for play or pause (single tap), next track (double tap) and previous track (triple tap). The construction of the DB 12 itself is very nice being a brushed metal plastic design. Something that surprised us was that the DB 12 has pass through which means that if you ear buds are in and the DB12 is turned off, the original signal from the smartphone still passes through and onboard microphone operates during calls.
Last but not least…sound itself. In testing through the smartphone and PC, sound is much clearer. It should be. The DB12 is THX certified and contains THX AAA Amplifier Tech for higher fidelity and low distortion. I truly enjoy the bass boost and volume, however buyer beware… As clear as the sound is, volume of the Db12 when combined with your sound device enables a level that could easily damage ones ears due to the sound intensity. One place that we can definitely recommend these is for flights that include movies. How many times have you become frustrated at the aircraft noise making movie dialogue hard to hear?
At the end of the day, the Helm Audio DB12 AAAMP Mobile Headphone Amplifier won me over with very clean sound and a pure and noticeable bass boost. Its build quality is beyond reproach and it is actually hard to believe such sound is possible from such a compact device. As much as we would like to have seen an adapter included, Helm Audio’s thought process is such that everyone has the exact adapter for their phone in any case…why add to that?
Checking Amazon, we see the Helm Audio DB12 priced at $179.99 with a $30 off coupon right now bringing it to $149.99. For what you are getting, that is a very good price point. Myself, I listen to music through my smartphone constantly and can think of so many times when these would definitely be of benefit. Listening to the quality of sound straight through my PC with the DB off and then turned on; there is a world of difference. Gold Seal!