Questyle M12 Mobile Headphone DAC/Amp - Review

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Questyle M12 Mobile Headphone DAC/Amp - Review

Questyle’s M12 is their first pocket-sized DAC/AMP, running for $139.99. Questyle has released a couple portable lossless audio players, but until now was yet to release an independent DAC/AMP in the pocket-sized category. While their comparatively much larger, much pricier DAC/Amps have received a lot of praise, what was in store from the moderately priced, extra compact M12 was largely a mystery to me. 

Questyle M12 Mobile Headphone DAC/Amp - Review

What’s in the Box

  • USB-C to USB-C cable
  • USB-C to USB-A cable

Design

The M12’s compact design makes it ideal for using with your phone on the go, or as a very unobtrusive companion for your laptop. Its amplifier uses Questyle’s patented “Current Mode Amplifier” module, which they claim outperforms operational amplifier chips and allows for extremely low distortion levels. The M12 is also an MQA decoder, and has a data indicator that lights up green for PCM, red for DSD, and magenta for MQA. It's compatible with Android 5.1+, Mac OS, and Windows 10 v18.3+. 

The build of the M12 is extremely small, but very sturdy. This thing feels bullet proof, and your main challenge with taking care of it will be making sure you don't lose this petite device. It’s small enough you could leave it in your pocket while walking around with your headphones plugged in without adding any extra weight or awkward repositioning. 

 

Output

The M12 automatically adjusts its gain settings to any given headphones’ impedance, from 8Ohms to 600Ohms. Their gain indicator will light up green for low gain or red for high gain. I found this automatically boosted output was extremely convenient and effective. I found myself pushing the volume of higher impedance headphones no more than that of low impedance headphones, as should be the case with any good amp, but isn’t always with such a small device.

 

Sound quality

The M12 improves sound quality to an extent I think even those without much high fidelity audio experience will be able to notice. It’s not intensely colorful or saturated, but it seems to wash away layer of stuffiness from the timbre of headphones you didn’t even realize was there in the first place. And once you hear this clarity, it’s hard to forget.

On Kinera’s Nanna IEM, the M12 seemed to further expand the sense of space and immersion created by the soundstage and sound separation. The high end felt slightly extenuated and also warmed up, giving it a smoother, more up front presence. The overall clarity of the Nanna just felt upgraded and perfected.

Using the M12 with Sennheiser’s IE 300 IEM, the high end had a similar sparkle bestowed upon it. The IE300 has a very heavy sub response, and I found that when running it through the M12, this low end felt more dispersed and cinematic. I noticed some extra cleanliness on the midrange too with the IE300, though wasn’t as keen about whether or not I noticed this effect with the Nanna. Overall, the M12 does a good job of not overly-inflecting the sound, and offers a very helpful, reliable sonic clean up. 

Overall

The M12 is an incredible DAC/Amp for its size and price. Those looking for a plug-and-play solution they can trust to provide noticeable improvement should definitely check this one out. The longer I use it, the harder it is to go without.

You can purchase the Questyle M12 here.

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