iBasso IT01


Review – iBasso IT01

 

Website – iBasso Audio

Overview

iBasso IT01 is the most budget oriented product from a well based portable audio company iBasso Audio. Featuring a single dynamic driver of 10mm diameter of a very thin graphene diaphragm that certainly delivers a powerful yet detailed sound. Priced at just $100 it packs a nice variety of accessories, excellent cable, solid materials, good ergonomics, and most importantly very good sound quality, making one of the best value in-ear options on the market.






Specifications
  • Driver: 10mm Dynamic, multi layered graphene diaphragm
  • Frequency: 10 Hz ~ 42 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 108 ± 2 dB     
  • Impedance: 16Ω
  • Noise attenuation: -26 dB
  • Rated Power: 10mW
  • THD: <1% (at 1 kHz / 1 mW)
  • Cable: 1.2m, 3.5mm gold plated plug, MMCX detachable
  • Weight: 8g (without cable)


Price: U$100

Available in two color themes, all black (semi-translucent) and red & blue (solid).




The packaging and unboxing are quite the deal with the IT01, something that should be found on more expensive options, but rarely found at this $100 range. Right from the start, the iBasso IT01 manages to surprise with a nice yet discreet box and impressive unboxing experience. The outer paperboard cover shows the usual iBasso logo while carrying the whole specifications and extra info of the IT01 model on the back side. The inner blue-gray cardboard box is thicker and presented in a convenient magnetic closure. Opening the box reveals the safely arranged earpieces inside the foam along with the round metal case and all the paperwork inside a small envelope.


The round metal case holds a wide array of 4 sets of ear tips sealed inside individual small bags and lastly, the MMCX detachable cable of very good quality. The ear tips sets consist all of single flange tips, being two sets of narrow bore tips that only differ in their color, gray or black, one set of wider bore tips, and two pairs of foams tips. The silicone tips are all in 3 sizes (S/M/L) while the foam are only in 2 sizes.



Design

The design of the IT01 is a great mix of build quality, aesthetics and ergonomics. The shells are made entirely of a very sturdy plastic material, rather thick and feels durable. Black color theme is a bit translucent allowing to faintly see the inner 10mm single dynamic driver in the middle of the shells positioned close to the nozzle section. The nozzle is stainless steel, it has a thin lip to either hold the tips at the top of the nozzle or all way down to the bottom of the nozzle. The shape is like of triangle with rounded edges and very smooth, and while the shells consist of two parts they’re well attached and nicely finished. The inner part has a good ergonomic shape that gets thinner towards the joint with the nozzle. Lastly, there are two vents that can be easily spotted on the surface, one closer to the nozzle and the other a bit above it.





Despite the single dynamic driver, the IT01 is not the very small or compact earphone, but thanks to the ergonomic shape it should fit most ears. Depending on the tips used the fit can be deeper or shallower, but either case not a too flushed fit. Isolation may depend on the tips used, but in general it is about a bit above average.





The included cable deserves some attention too. It is not the usual ‘stock’ cable found on most IEM options with MMCX connection. The inner wire is made of 4 core copper material (OFC), and from a closer inspection it carries a good amount of copper that usually is found on ‘upgrade’ cables. The cable configuration consists of a four strands that on the lower half (from plug to split) are not twisted but very softly braided. The outer cable jacket is not too thick and gives a much softer touch and flexibility. On the upper half it is twisted, but again soft enough boosting very low cable noise and great comfort. Both the 3.5mm plug and y-split are made of light aluminum and have proper strain relieves. There also soft fixed guides towards the MMCX plugs. The current MMCX plugs have been changed from the previous batches that used the standard MMCX type, instead they take a much tighter type of plugs featuring a 4-split and extended plugs that once connected to the earpieces are very difficult to detach or even rotate. A great feature indeed, though it may limit the possibility to try different cables on the IT01, but definitely worth the extra durability.





Sound Quality

Ear tips selection is very important with the IT01, like many other IEMs. Among the included tips, the best results I found were with the wider silicone tips, but also used similar tips with a wider bore to reach a similar sound presentation.
Overall, the IT01 offers a balanced and full sound in a wide U-shaped type of sound with a bit dark tonality; not a typical V-shaped where the midrange is left behind, but still with some extra dominance on the low frequencies with a slight extra sparkle on the treble region.



The low end is certainly enhanced, but in a very well achieved tuning with great control. It’s not the so typical mid-bass boost that leaves the depth and sub-bass at a lower priority. The IT01 raise on the bass actually starts from the sub-bass and brings excellent balance on the whole bass region where sub, mid and also upper bass sound very even. As such, the layering and separation is nicely achieved for such a $100 priced in-ear set. Texture too, is quite natural, and the speed while not too high has good attack; the decay can be a bit slower with heavier tracks, but the IT01 is far from sounding muddy. Quantity wise, the IT01 has plenty amount of bass, and thus in occasions can sound a bit boomy towards the upper bass region. Surprisingly, the control is very good that there’s very little bleed at the lower midrange.

Strictly speaking, the midrange is presented a little behind next to the bass and lower treble elevation. However, it is not reflected in a sharp V-shaped curve where the mids sound thin or too distant. While the bass control is quite good on the IT01, the extra force does mix with the whole midrange, mostly at the lower midrange where the instruments are fuller and also thicker. Nonetheless, male vocals sound quite clear and good in texture; they do not carry the best texture and emotion, but yes they balance very well in the whole sound presentation. The mids sound cleaner towards their upper region, not particularly forward but do sit in a proper position thanks to the lower treble little emphasis that prevents the IEM of sounding dull or off. Female voices sound detailed though if a bit kind of dry in texture. Aside from that, the resolution and imaging is nicely achieved for the IT01 price tag, with a rather natural tonality.

The highs are well balanced, if just a bit more forward than the midrange and less emphasized than the bass, but enough to save the sound from being overly dark or bass focused. Similarly to the low end, the balance and extension are very good. There is decent attack and sparkle if needed, and enough energy on brighter tracks; still, the IT01 is not my first pick for electric guitars that need the extra bite, nor the most textured for strings or cymbals, but as an all-rounder it is easy to choose. The treble control and refinement is quite excellent and picking up some sibilance while possible is still difficult with the IT01.
Detail is definitely a strong suit on the IT01 around the $100 range, not offered in an analytical presentation but rather flows smooth and musically. Stage is wider than average with good depth and quite good separation and air.



Value

The IT01 might be the most affordable option from iBasso but it is simply the best introduction of the company to the masses. In terms of build quality, design, and accessory pack the IT01 ticks all the boxes with high ratings. Even the package is presented in an elegant way and makes it a nice gift too. The sound presentation with its bit of darkish tonality might not be the first pick for detail freaks that prefer a brighter and most detailed sound or for those seeking the sweetest midrange with forward vocals, but as easy going, fun, yet detailed all-rounder it is a great pick and one of the strongest contenders around the $100 mark.


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