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Head-fi Review: M12 has now jumped over to 5 Star performers in my book

Head-fi Review: M12 has now jumped over to 5 Star performers in my book

From by OspreyAndy


- Pristine clean and cleat timbre
- Sparkly yet not overly done
- Scalable driving power


- May not always perform great with MQA, may exhibit artifacts
- Picky on power supply from host. The amplification module on this unit is power demanding
With this new update, what was already a great sounding unit now exhibited even better sonic qualities. There’s marked improvements with the top end sparkle and extensions with smooth decays (as tested with FOSTEX T40RP MK3). The overall presentation remained organic and richly textured with amazing technicalities. With this new development, M12 has now jumped over to 5 Star performers in my book. Probably the most well balanced tuned of all ESS Sabre dongles that I have ever listened to

Questyle M12.jpg

DAC Chip: ESS Sabre ES9281AC (Single, Current Mode Amplification)
PCM 24bit - 384khz MQA, SNR: -120dB, Power: Adaptive 2 Vrms up to 600Ω, USB Type-C Female Socket, 3.5mm SE (Microphone: No), 51×16.5×8.1mm, Metal Chassis

Listening Equipment: Etymotic ER4SR, HZSOUND Heart Mirror, VE Monk GO, TIN HiFi P1, Moondrop Aria. Source: USB 3.2 Samsung S20 (Tidal)


  • Stellar neutral and natural timbre with exceptional coherence level
  • Very tight and controlled dynamics, never overbearing, effortless and airy.
  • Reference grade Treble, Mids and Bass extensions, richly textured
  • Reference grade Macro and Micro details, beautiful nuances
  • Surgical technical prowess, exceedingly technical and resolving.
  • Wonderfully crisp percussions, guitars, synth, piano, and cello
  • Mildly intimate Mids, succulent Male and Female vocals
  • Excellent Sub-Bass presence and textures, with great extensions
  • Mind blowing speed and transients handling.
  • Razor edged layer separation and spatial positioning, great imaging.
  • Exemplary sibilance resistance despite being sparkly bright.
  • Particularly useful indicators for source quality
  • Very slimline build and lightweight
  • Great heat management
  • PHENOMENAL performance for instrumental, EBM and modern music
  • Drives Tin HiFi P1 Magnetic Planar at 70/100 Volume


  • Commendable soundstage but should be slightly wider at this level.
  • Too much focus on technical prowess and surgical precision – mildly dry sounding on some songs
  • Prone to picking up RF interferences from mobile phone signals.
  • Does not react too well with some older model USB 2.0 devices (2018 and older). This dongle require strong current from the USB host. Android older than 2019 models may exhibit crackling or distortion - that is a sign of weak power feed. Best with USB 3.0 and above.


Questyle M12. Arguably one the best among the ones tested so far with outright technical prowess and timbre coherence, outclassed Audirect BEAM 2SE and HiBy FC3 on this segment by a step or two. Can be overly pristine when paired with an already ultra-resolving IEMs like the Etymotic ER4SR, but it does not dry the timbre to cause for concerns. For transparency, M12 sets the bar really high for others to follow. However, the somewhat milder velvety smoothness as observed in other TOTL dongles prevented this unit from scoring higher – but by no mean a deal breaker as some may hugely appreciate the stellar coherence especially when paired with an already technically competent and musical IEMs/Headphones. I love this unit the more I listened to it. It is very tidy and disciplined.

A re-run test has been conducted on this M12 due to the fact that my older LG V35 was not providing ample enough power supply for the demanding ES9281AC DAC. I ran the impressions test for the 3rd time on a Xiaomi M9t which audibly allowed the M12 to perform to the fullest potential. Overall the refinement are observed of which the timbre exhibited meatier dynamics and polished edged decays. Performs the best on my Samsung S20 which has stronger USB 3.2 - the better your phone is, the better this M12 preforms.

Best Pairing: Flexible pairing with almost anything




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