Review iBasso IT01s Headphones – Bright Shine of Technology

by Kelvin
Review iBasso IT01s Headphones - Bright Shine of Technology

iBasso is another Chinese “pioneer” of portable Hi-Fi. Along with HiFiMan and Colorfly, the company released the legendary player – iBasso DX100. Very large and thick, with a touch screen and Android, as many as two DACs – that's what he remembered, and, of course, iBasso was not going to stop there. By the time the DX100 was released, the company in the arsenal had products of a different category in the face of the DAC and amplifier. But those devices did not take off, and iBasso began to develop another niche more “useful” for their players: headphones.

Today we will talk about iBasso IT01s – the second “bottom” model from the manufacturer’s line. The main feature was the unusual dynamic driver of the model: its diaphragm is made of carbon nanotubes, and DLC (Diamond Like Carbon Coating) coating is applied to the dome. The driver itself is made using Tesla technology. In general, already out of the box, the model aroused interest: did IT01s succeed in justifying it or not – below in the review. The price at the time of the review is 13,900 rubles.

  

Thank you store XChesser Audio for the opportunity to get acquainted with iBasso IT01s.

Characteristics
  • Sensitivity: 109 dB
  • Impedance: 16 ohms
  • Frequency Response Range: 10 Hz – 43 kHz
  • THD: <1%
  • Weight: 8 grams without cable
  • Plug: straight, 2.5 mm balanced (included adapter to regular 3.5)
Contents of delivery

IT01s packaging is the best I've seen from portable audio packaging. Behind the usual dust jacket is a beautiful, vertically opening box of good blue cardboard. Inside – the headphones themselves and a case in the form of a washer, inside of which the delivery set lies. There is also an envelope on the cover, in which lies the warranty card and brief instructions.

Options do not lag behind. In total, there are 2 pairs of foam nozzles, as well as 3 sets of silicone ones: gray and black with a narrow sound guide – a pair by size, gray with a wide sound guide – a couple more medium ones. In addition to the nozzles, there is a convenient “washer”, a wire with an adapter and an ingenious, albeit very simple, find of iBasso engineers – spare protective filters and rubber rings (they do not affect the sound).

In this regard, I definitely have no complaints: the delivery set is absolutely self-sufficient, something else would be strange to expect. It is possible that there is no 6.3 mm adapter and adapter for aircraft, but blaming neglect of centuries-old traditions in our time is somehow inconvenient.

Appearance, convenience

The spectacular appearance of IT01s is undeniable. They are made of plastic, but processing the outside does not have such thoughts: mirror-based spraying is applied on top, which in most cases is associated with metal. On the whole, it’s funny that iBasso followed the classic design “for advertising”: a beautiful glossy case, a bright cable – all this would look great on large stands. But, as you can see, almost none of the audio world shines like this, and iBasso is no exception. In any case, let's already leave a bright appearance and move on to other features of the case.

Since a 10 mm dynamic driver is hidden inside, IT01s didn’t work out with miniature ones: the case is quite large, albeit convenient. One way to achieve this effect is an ergonomic protrusion. It is not as big as the “firstborn” IT03, but it plays its role, making the landing quite comfortable.

I already noted the availability of the possibility of removing the protective filter, and, as I said above, I consider this possibility a good plus. Not only is the mesh much easier to wash with this design, it can also be simply replaced in case of breakage or loss.

The cable definitely deserves a separate paragraph. The complete “cord” is very good: monocrystalline silver-plated copper of this quality is rarely seen in more expensive models. Yes, why go far – even in IT03 the cable is significantly easier, at least in the aesthetic sense. At the ends of the cord – MMCX on the one hand and a balanced 2.5 mm jack on the other. Also included is an adapter for an unbalanced 3.5 jack, made from the same wire.

Alas, oh, but even at the end of the paragraph I’m not going to scold iBasso: the model definitely turned out to be successful in terms of a “shell” – it’s very difficult to find fault. What does the complete cable cost, and yet the company could well give the standard “black copper”, sacrificing the organic design. The only thing that someone may not like is far from a modest look, but a well-made catchiness is more of a compliment than an obvious flaw.

Sound

As I said in the introduction, an unusual dynamic driver is the main feature of the model. The iBasso themselves are not shy in this regard either: according to their statements, it was in IT01s that for the first time three technologies were simultaneously used: Tesla magnetic technology, a carbon nanotube diaphragm and a DLC coating on the dome. And even though so many high-profile names immediately arouse suspicion, one company can be praised for sure: iBasso did not go in the wake of fashion. While many other manufacturers are trying to put the maximum number of fittings into the earphone, IT01s focused on a well-made single driver. And, I tell you, this approach has paid off.

But before moving on to the description of sound, I will talk about several ways to “tune” it. For a start – warming up. It is not surprising, but for them it clearly benefits: in the “out of the box” option there was a very intrusive peak in the HF region. Judging by the reviews on the Internet, this effect of warming is typical for all Tesla drivers. Also, traditionally for single-driver dynamic headphones, the choice of ear cushions has a very big impact on the sound, allowing you to noticeably change the pitch.

In general, the sound can be described as a fused, slightly V-shaped and musical. The sound of the headphones is very comfortable, conducive to long listening.

The low-frequency range is adequately designed, with good physicality and detail. Sometimes aggression may be enough for him because of the higher voiced musicality, but in other cases he demonstrates a good blow and a good study in depth. As an example, let’s be a classic of progressive metal – Dream theater with track Pull me under. Almost all of his 8 minutes have a bright bass part: deep and fast. LFs are well controlled without climbing into other frequencies. They create the necessary “bass backing”, and, coupled with the study of other ranges, create good conditions for a complex composition.

The headphone midrange also turned out: the characters of complex instruments are clearly distinguishable, the detail is also on the level. Yes, this is not a reinforcement driver, but it’s not bad for a speaker. On the other hand, in return we get a very musical and lively presentation, which will often be more natural than inexpensive reinforcing “brothers”. As an example – jazz Marlena shaw with track You Taught Me How To Speak In Love, and again – from the collection for the 75th anniversary of Blue Notes. Like almost anything from the collection, this work is very demanding on the path: many live instruments and vocals do their job. IT01s fully satisfy these requirements, albeit at a minimum level: the scene is well built, the nature of the instruments is well conveyed. In my opinion, this is a good initial level for complex jazz (do not forget about the source).

The high-frequency range is not muffled here; rather, it even has a small peak. In some cases, this can cause resentment, but it affects the naturalness is not critical, and the "spark" is beneficial to many tracks. I also note that for me it was this part that was most affected by the ear pads: from their change, the HF quantitatively changed very much. If we move away from the quantity, then at the output we have excellent dynamic high-frequency, with good naturalness and detail. As an example – Diablo swing orchestra with track Balrog boogie. In addition to the powerful bass part, there is a ton of instruments moving into the treble, and the vocalist’s voice often goes there (although it does come out rarely). Because of this, much has been put to the development of this range: it is important to ensure the right speed and naturalness (yeah, for metal). And here IT01s also do not fail: the instruments are perfectly transmitted, without dirt or overtones, and the vocals do not try to “break” in the middle, which is typical for inexpensive multi-drivers.

Stylistically, these headphones, like any other with a relatively flat frequency response, are neutral, but with a logical caveat: not everyone is familiar with this even supply, so lovers of pumping on the bass need to look for something else. With sources, everything is more complicated: headphones are demanding on the DAC, and not all players will fit it. At me they showed themselves well with the FiiO K3 and Hiby R3, although in the latter case, the feed takes on an even larger V-shape.

You can also make a small comparison, because before IT01s I used the FiiO F9 hybrid for a long time. And even if there is an almost twofold difference in price, on such an example we can show the differences between reinforcing and dynamic drivers. Omitting the difference in the “integrity” of sound between low-cost hybrids and single-drivers, we can say that the F9 reinforcement driver has slightly more “sharp”, shorter attenuations at the “ends” of sounds when the IT01s speaker plays more closely, overflowing from one note to another. Such a difference is quite difficult to describe in words, and listening to it yourself is the best advice. Well, for the rest, IT01s clearly win: a more natural frequency balance does the trick, and for some genres the overpayment will be worth it.

Output

What can be said in conclusion? iBasso IT01s is a well-balanced model with no obvious flaws. It successfully combines a good case, non-standard cable for the price and excellent, organic sound. Yes, Mee Audio Pentacle P1 and DUNU Falcon C remain in this segment, and choosing blindly between them is not a good idea, but even in comparison with such competitors, iBasso does not lag behind, offering a complete and omnivorous solution.

Thank you store XChesser Audio for the opportunity to get acquainted with iBasso IT01s.

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