HELM Audio DB12 AAAMP Mobile Headphone Amplifier (Review)


Last month, HELM Audio had announced the release of their new THX-certified headphone amplifier, the HELM Audio DB12 AAAMP. This is an in-line amplifier that rides in between your source device and your headphones and provides your headphones with a noticeable boost in volume.

Well, noticeable is one word for it. We think the word “incredible” is actually better suited because we have one here that we have been playing with for almost a week now, and we can personally say that the boost is more than just “noticeable”. The AAA in AAAMP stands for THX’s high-fidelity Achromatic Audio Amplifier, which focuses on increased volume without distortion and minimized power consumption. With that, you get a +12 dB boost without losing the quality to distortion, resulting in crisp, loud, audio.

So, as mentioned, it rides in between your headphones and your device, and it provides a nice boost to your volume without any loss in quality or clarity. It’s pretty straight forward and even offers enough tail to give your headphones a little boost in cable length.

It is battery powered with a built-in lithium battery that will last you up to 6 to 8 hours worth of use before having to charge it again. This should last the average person throughout an average day. If the battery dies, the headphones will simply revert back to normal volume as the amp simply passes the signal through when not in operation. The same as if you just kept it in “off” position.

There is a small toggle on the side that switches between on and off state, which triggers the extra 12dB boost. You can switch it one step further to also get a 6dB bass boost, in case you need a little more oomph to what you are listening to. Both modes are quite effective.

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The top of the amp features three buttons, including your volume up and down options. The button in the middle acts as a multi-button, with a single press giving you play/pause control over your music files. A double-tap will send you to the next track, while a triple tap will bring you back to the previous one. So quite similar to a normal in-line headphone controller.

 

The level of boost you get is so noticeable, that it was able to drive a pair of 600-ohm Beyerdynamic studio headphones flawlessly and with plenty of volume. This isn’t always an easy feat for small-profile amp solutions, making this a great factor in our scoring of it.

We found that it was the perfect amp for use with just about any genre of rock, while you can of course make use of it for anything that benefits from its bass boost capabilities. It is also great for when streaming movies.

If you are looking for added volume in your headphones, this is your source.

It comes with a USB-C cable for charging the amp with, along with a really nice pinch-to-open carrying pouch to store everything in. There are some very simple instructions that you will likely find yourself not needing.

Currently, it is available via HELM’s website for $199 MSRP. You might see it roll out to other stores later in, but for now, HELM’s website is the place to go (button below).

Conclusion

Our final thoughts led us to really like this amp. It isn’t going to beat out a high-end audiophile USB DAC or tube solution, but it is going to wow just about anyone who simply needs a noticeable and clean volume boost that is on the same level as something you’d expect from a company like Klipsch or JBL. Especially, if you are using a high-impedance pair of headphones. A boost so powerful that you will likely want to turn the volume down. It’s no surprise to see something so powerful come from a company like HELM.

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*Average price is based on the time this article was published

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