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iBasso SR3 Dynamic Tesla Headphones – Magic’s Back

iBasso SR3 Dynamic Tesla Headphones – Magic’s Back

iBasso SR3 is a $ 599 USD pair of dynamic over-the-ear headphones, with an open-back design, tesla drivers, and with a high, 150 OHM impedance. They will be compared to other headphones similarly priced, including OLLO S5X (489 USD), Dan Clark AEON 2 Noire (899 USD), SIVGA SV023 (499 USD), and HIFIMAN HE-R9 (599 USD). 



iBasso keeps coming with more and more excellent products, and SR3 is a really interesting headphone, with a high impedance, high sensitivity, and with a balanced 4.4mm cable included in the package. We also have a good promised frequency response, between 3Hz and 40 kHz, but it will be interesting to put it to test and see how it actually sounds like. iBasso products can be purchased from authorized dealers, and Amazon also. With Amazon, you will have outstanding support, long return windows, just in case you’re not happy with your purchase, and the best overall prices available. 

It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with iBasso, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I’d like to thank iBasso for providing the sample for this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it. The purpose of this review is to help those interested in iBasso SR3 Headphones find their next music companion. 


Product Link

You can grab one from www.amazon.com here: https://amzn.to/3ChzZVz

If you’re in the UK, you can grab one from www.amazon.co.uk here: https://amzn.to/3MQZcLi

And if you’re from Europe, you can grab one from www.amazon.de here: https://amzn.to/3qo0OVb


Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort

It is interesting to see that iBasso SR3 exists and is so well made, but there’s very little information officially available about them at the moment. We do know though, that they are made to be competent, and that iBasso understands well that we, as music lovers and enthusiasts, mostly use the 4.4mm balanced output, so the cable included in the package is ended in a 4.4mm balanced connector, and there is an adapter to 6.35mm single ended connector. This should cover all usage scenarios, and most sources that would have a 3.5mm single ended connector would not be powerful enough to drive SR3 well, so extra points to iBasso for making sure that whoever gets the SR3 will be able to enjoy them properly. 

Speaking of which, those are some extra comfortable headphones that I like to have on my head. There are two pairs of earpads in the package, and they have different tuning and sound, so this time around I decided to replace the earpads and test both. First off, it is super refreshing to see iBasso implement a super clean driver tech inside, as the driver features a silicone suspension in the edges of the diaphragm, using liquid silicone. This allows the driver to vibrate more evenly than the usual polyester used for dynamic drivers, which brings the performance of the SR3 theoretically closer to that of a planar magnetic driver. The bio-cellulose driver diaphragm offers higher rigidity than synthetic fibers, which improve on the resolution and clarity compared to other dynamic driver designs. The Tesla magnetic circuit also allows for a stronger magnetic flux, maximizing the diaphragm performance, allowing it to have a distortion-free sound and more control. 

The higher impedance of the driver, 150 OHMs to be more precise, allows you to isolate yourself from the background noise and problems, and filters out the impact that your source has over the sound. The voice coil is a CCAW or Copper Clad Aluminum Wire to increase the density of the internal voice coil wire and to reduce the inertia of the vibration system, to allow for a more responsive driver, and to improve on detail and how fast the driver can move. 

The headband follows two thin metallic headband parts, and they use stoppers that you can tighten using a t5 Torx screwdriver. I am surprised to say this, but there is some passive noise isolation with SR3, at least the noise of my computer’s fans is concealed, and they offer a secure seal, even for people wearing glasses. The thick and soft earpads surely help, and the earpads with the larger holes in them seem to offer a more open sound, with a more mid centric tuning than the original earpads that seem to have a more natural sound tuning. The earpads can swivel laterally and vertically allowing SR3 to be comfortable for any head shape and size.

The comfort is super, and the headband is soft. It follows the contour of my head nicely, the earpads also help with this. SR3 weights 395g, which on paper would not be light, but while wearing them, they actually don’t feel heavy, as the headband and the earpads distribute the weight evenly and the whole set offers a comfortable experience. 

To drive the Sr3 you will need quite a bit of power, as expected from a headphone that has an 150 OHM impedance, and a SPL of 108dB / 1mw, so any high-end source will do well. I have been pairing SR3 with Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000T, iBasso DX220MAX, Hiby R6 III, Lotoo PAW 6000, and desktop setups too. The desktop setups include EverSolo DAC-Z6 driving Feliks Echo 2, for some tube fun, SMSL Do300 driving an Audio-GD Master 19 Amplifier, a JDS stack setup, with a JDS El DAC II+ and El AMP II+ Balanced, and a HIFIMAN EF400 DAC/AMP amplifier. The source will change the sound of SR3 quite a bit and I recommend checking out sources that have a pleasing synergy for your taste. 


Sound Quality

We already spoke about the sources above, so it is a good moment to mention the earpads, because iBasso includes two pairs of earpads with SR3, and they change the sound a bit. I don’t think that SR3 becomes an entirely new headphone when you replace the earpad, but it does change a bit, and the default earpads will be the baseline for today’s review, although they sound sweeter, warmer, and more fuzzy than the earpads with the larger holes in them. I originally thought that the ones with larger holes would sound brighter, but in reality, they just sound more controlled and colder in the midrange, more neutral, making the whole sound more detailed and more revealing, at the cost of some warmth in the midrange. The earpad change does not affect the treble and the bass, only the midrange and how thick / warm the midrange sounds like. If you find that I’m describing something you’d enjoy but wished it was a bit more neutral, then swapping the pads would fix the issue for you. I personally think that the earpads with the larger holes sound better for my ears, because I tend to enjoy music as detailed and analytical as possible, but the earpads with the larger holes also make the voices a bit more recessed, which for me is a pleasing effect, since I tend to prefer V Shaped / U Shaped signatures a bit more than midrange forward ones. I think this is a natural result, but for driving SR3, the best source to my ears has been iBasso DX320MAX TI, and this is because it has a deeper sound with more low end impact, a smoother treble, that can calm down the top end of SR3, and it has a super nice detail and clarity. 

The overall sound and signature can be described as warm, musical, full, lush, thick and with an open and detailed treble that makes everything balanced, and gives music an edge in resolution and detail. The midrange is more forward than the bass and the treble, SR3 is super impactful, yet natural and follows the signature that iBasso SR2 had, being very similar in many ways, with a superb naturalness in the sound. The weird part is that while iBasso improved the resolution, clarity and overall dynamics compared to the original, the new SR3 still resembles it in tuning, and you can see that the same engineer designed both. 

The bass of SR3 is warm, and has most of the energy in the mid bass and the upper bass, although if the songs calls for it, it can easily show you what a deep punch sounds like in the sub bass, for example when playing Zomboy – Born To Survive, SR3 is able to climb down to 20 Hz, and offer a massage of bass, but it doesn’t impose the same bass for most rock, metal and most other music. This being said, they are super capable for EDM, Dubstep and Rap music, if you pump the volume loud. Distortion control is also super good, you can bring DX320 MAX TI at the absolute maximum volume on maximum gain, and SR3 will have zero distortion, it will still sound incredibly smooth, clean, and crisp, super detailed, without adding anything or taking anything away from your music. 

The midrange is incredibly clean and clear, detailed, but in a musical, somewhat fuzzy way, with a warm, rich and lush presentation. The interesting part is that I’m typically used to calling clean and clear headphones and IEMs that are analytical and colder in presentation, but SR3 has a presentation that draws the advantage of being incredibly clean and well defined, but still warm and rich. Most songs will have a bit of extra thickness and a bit of extra weight to each musical note, things sound weighty and deep, with good presentation of both male and female voices. The midrange tends to have a bit of a peak towards the upper midrange, but it is not very intense, so it won’t bother the hearing, plus the texture presentation is very smooth and relaxed, so SR3 never gets harsh or fatiguing. I was just reviewing the Erzetich Thalia too, so I noticed a difference, SR3 can sound smoother, more fluid, yet bring a bit more energy in mids at the same time. The sound is just a bit more rich and natural, which is super pleasing to hear. 

The treble of SR3 is super crisp, detailed, smooth in texture, but here is a case where I prefer a source that is warmer and a bit bassier, like iBasso DX320 MAX TI, or R2R DAPs like Hiby RS2 Darwin. SR3 is fairly precise and detailed, it brings the energy in the midrange forward, which can be strong, especially if your music isn’t recorded and mastered super well. All in all, I prefer SR3 over SR2, for all music styles, and I think that iBasso did a huge upgrade here, making SR3 a headphone that I could use as a musical pillow, the soundstage is wide, deep, and offers extraordinary instrument separation, all while still sounding rather coherent and clean. The richness in the midrange, and the thicker midrange give sound a very full feeling, so the treble is always well balanced, even harsh and aggressive bands like system of a down are not harsh in the treble. 



iBasso SR3 vs HIFIMAN HE-R9 (599 USD vs 599 USD) – Starting with a headphone that’s exactly at the same mark in pricing, R9 is the kind of headphone that has a similar comfort to SR3, it is actually lighter, with a looser fit on my head, but with harder earpads, making the earpads of SR3 feel softer, more relaxed on my head, but the fit is tighter. It is easier to drive HE-R9 somewhat, and it can even be driven wirelessly with the HIFIMAN R2R module, while SR3 needs a bit more power, having a high impedance. The sonic presentation is different, with SR3 being much more midrange centric, warmer, thicker, smoother, more relaxed, and more detailed. By comparison, He-R9 is more neutral, brings less extra warmth in music, it does sound colder, is less smooth and more aggressive, has more focus on punishment and dynamics, while SR3 focuses on being as laid back, smooth, yet detailed, clean and wide as possible. 

iBasso SR3 vs OLLO S5X (599 USD vs 489 USD) – Starting with the fit, the earpads of S5X are smaller, harder to the touch, and the headphones feel similarly tight on my head. This means that SR3 has much larger earpads that are softer, and it feels more like a musical pillow that you place on your head to enjoy music, than S5X, which has a tighter fitting, being a mixing / music production headphone that should stay consistent with itself across multiple wears, to the millimeter. It is much easier to drive S5X, but it prefers a colder, brighter source as the tuning is also warmer, thicker, and with more bass and less treble than SR3. They both bring the midrange forward, and while S5X doesn’t lack in detail, listening to them side by side, SR3 extracts and presents more detail in music, all whole being more laid back, relaxed and smoother. Ollo S5X focuses more on dynamics and being punchy, has much more bass to back that up, even sub bass, it reproduces square waves more faithfully, while SR3 is always more romantic with music, has more nuance but more focus on mids and on its relaxing presentation. 

iBasso SR3 vs Dan Clark Aeon2 Noire (599 USD vs 899 USD) – Here’s probably the hardest comparison, because Aeon 2 Noire is quite a bit pricey compared to SR3. The earpads of Aeon 2 Noire are larger, but much harder to the touch, and the two headphones are about equally tight on my head, both offering a secure fit. Aeon 2 Noire is closed back, so it isolates much more from the outside noise and leaks much less than Aeon 2 Noire. The overall sound has more focus on details on Aeon 2 Noire, but the presentation is so different, that you’ll be hearing entirely different details with each headphone, and I wanted to add the comparison because this is an important aspect of them, Aeon 2 Noire is super V / U Shaped, and will bring the sub bass and treble much more forward, all while recessing the midrange quite a lot, while SR3 will bring the midrange forward all while recessing the bass and the treble, so while Aeon 2 Noire can focus more on details, it makes the details in the bass and the treble much easier to notice and understand, while SR3 is better at showing fine nuances in voices, and separates instruments better in the midrange. I would pick Aeon 2 noir if you wanted a V / U Shaped headphone and pick SR3 if you want a midrange forward laid back headphone, they are so different that I would recommend owning both as complementary presentations. 

iBasso SR3 vs SVIGA SV023 (599 USD vs 499 USD) – This is a hard comparison, both headphones are the high-impedance type, but they go for very different sonic presentations. Physically both are super comfortable, SR3 is a bit larger in the earpads, has softer earpads, but also is tighter on my head regardless what I do, while SV023 is a bit looser, but has somewhat stiffer and smaller earpads. Both are drivable from basically the same sources, but the sound of SV023 is considerably more neutral, it focuses on dynamics more, and brings the midrange less forward, bass more forward, and treble considerably more forward. By contrast, SR3 brings the bass behind the midrange, and the treble too, sounds more relaxed, smoother, easier to listen to, and emphasizes impact much less than SV023. SR3 is technically more capable than SV023, it pulls out more detail from music, and presents micro details and fine nuances better, but SV023 has a more traditional signature if you don’t want a headphone that is specifically relaxed and laid back like SR3. Overall, SR3 is an upgrade, especially if you want something warmer, smoother, more laid back, and more midrange forward. 


Value and Conclusion

We once again have superb value from iBasso, and SR3 can easily beat the T1 from Beyerdynamic, all while costing less, being more comfortable, and having a better resolution and detail. We have a package that’s super nice, we have a useful 4.4mm adapter to a 6.3mm plug, along with a second pair of earpads for tuning SR3. We have superb build quality, superb comfort, and the sound is simply pleasing. 

In fact, the sound is so pleasing and fun to listen to that I will be adding iBasso SR3 to the Audiophile-Heaven Hall Of Fame, as the best semi open / open back headphone you can get around the 600 USD price point, with a super comfortable and ergonomic design, and with a super high quality cable. 

At the end of the day, if you’re looking for a detailed, resolute headphone, with a superb comfort, and a really natural sound that can reproduce both classical music, rock, but also EDM and pop really well, with outstanding dynamics and precision, iBasso SR3 is a fully recommended headphone that I enjoy and will keep on my head as they’re soft as a pillow and a pleasure to wear. 


Technical Specifications

Driver – Biocellulose Dynamic Driver, Copper-clad Aluminium Wire Voice Coil & Tesla Magnets

Impedance – 150 Ω

Sensitivity – 108dB SPL/1mW

Rated Power – 50mW

Cable Length – 1.6m with a 4.4mm adapter included

Weight – 395g

MSRP – $599 USD


Product Link

You can grab one from www.amazon.com here: https://amzn.to/3ChzZVz

If you’re in the UK, you can grab one from www.amazon.co.uk here: https://amzn.to/3MQZcLi

And if you’re from Europe, you can grab one from www.amazon.de here: https://amzn.to/3qo0OVb


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Full Playlist used for this review

We listened to more songs than those named in this playlist, but those are excellent for identifying a sonic signature.  I recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music! The playlists are different for Spotify, Tidal and Youtube, and based on the songs I enjoy and are available on each!




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  1. Dave

    George, loving your detailed reviews. Note the sentence that starts “By contrast” has a typo – You need to replace SV023 with SR3 somewhere there. Dave

    1. George Dobrescu

      Dear Dave, Thank you so much! I have edited it now!

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