iBasso 3T-154 Review

 

iBasso 3T-154 Review 

 

Introduction:

iBasso is a well-known Chinese company that is specialized in the Portable Audio products such like Digital Audio Players (DAP), Portable DAC/Amplifiers and In-Ear Monitors.

The iBasso 3T-154, the company’s latest In-Ear Monitor (IEM), gets its name from its two key features. “3T” references the powerful 3 Tesla magnetic flux, while “154” signifies the large 15.4mm dynamic driver equipped with a high-quality beryllium-coated diaphragm. This driver is powered by a unique, ultra-strong magnetic architecture featuring N55 NdFeB magnets, delivering up to 3 Tesla of magnetic flux for easy drivability and low distortion and a CCAW Voice Coil of the Japanese DAIKOKU. The 3T-154 is equipped with a lightweight magnesium alloy monitor housing, crafted with a high-precision CNC machining process. Moreover, it comes bundled with a high-purity stock cable featuring silver-plated copper wires, along with iBasso’s “Quick Switch” design swappable 3.5mm and 4.4mm termination plugs for versatile connectivity.

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank iBasso for providing me the iBasso 3T-154 review sample. I am not affiliated with iBasso beyond this review and these words reflect my true, unaltered opinions about the product.

 

Price & Availability:

The actual price for the iBasso 3T-154 is 149.00 US$. More information’s can be found under the link below;

 

Package & Accessories:

The iBasso 3T-154 came in a rectangular box in blue color that was warped with a white cardboard sleeve that has some the visuals of the T3-154 and some product related brandings on the top.

The box of the contains the following items;

  • 1 x pair of 3T-154 In-Ear Monitor
  • 1 x detachable cable with 0.78mm dia. 2-Pin connectors
  • 1 x 3.5mm Swapable Headphone Plug
  • 1 x 4.4mm Swapable Headphone Plug
  • 12 x pairs of silicone ear tips (1 pair came preinstalled)
  • 2 x pairs of foam ear tips
  • 1 x pairs of Speare Nozzle Filters
  • 1 x Leather carry case
  • 1 x Screw Drive
  • 1 x Warranty Card & Quick Start Guide

 

 

Design & Build Quality:

The new iBasso 3T-154 IEM features a sleek and modern design with a magnesium alloy shell that is both aesthetically pleasing and lightweight. Magnesium alloy is approximately 36% lighter than aluminum and about 78% lighter than stainless steel. Additionally, this material boasts greater impact resistance and exhibits less resonance compared to aluminum and stainless steel. The monitor features a sleek, rounded design with an angled nozzle. This design deviates significantly from the company’s previous monitors in terms of aesthetics.

The 3T-154 comes in two color options: black and silver, with the silver version being the one I am reviewing.

The front of the monitor housing, also known as the faceplate, features a circular plate in the center. This plate displays the iBasso and product-related branding.

The rear surface has a slightly angled profile. It features a removable sound nozzle, which comes with a spare nozzle of similar design included in the package. This is a nice addition from iBasso.

The gold-finished nozzle features a metal mesh on top to prevent the entry of particles like dust or ear wax, which could damage the internals over time. The back part also sports L (Left) and R (Right) markings and five small openings. Three of these openings are near the nozzle, while the other two are located in an area close to the edge of the monitor.

At the top of each monitor is a 0.78mm diameter, 2-pin female connector that offers a secure fit with the male connectors. This is the first time iBasso has used 2-pin connectors instead of MMCX, which I believe is a positive design choice.

The Ibasso 3T-154 comes with a high-purity silver-plated copper cable featuring a unique “Quick Switch” design for the new interchangeable headphone plug mehcnisim.

The cable utilizes black PVC insulation, minimizing microphonic effects (cable noise transmitted from movement).

It boasts 0.78mm diameter 2-Pin male connectors housed in plastic with L (Left) and R (Right) markings for easy identification.

For enhanced comfort, especially during active use, heat shrink ear guides are located near the connector housings.

The cable features a sleek, circular metal y-splitter that looks pretty fancy.

The “Quick Switch” design allows the use of interchangeable headphone plugs, including 3.5mm Single-Ended and 4.4mm Balanced options that come included in the package. There is a screw on the plug, which provides an option to secure it to the connector on the cable. However, changing headphone adapters is quick and easy, and I don’t think using the screw is necessary. While it offers an additional layer of security, it’s ultimately an optional feature.

Overall, the iBasso 3T-154 impresses with its lightweight magnesium shells and a high-quality cable featuring interchangeable plugs.

 

Technical Specifications:

  • Driver Type            : 15.4 mm Beryllium Plated Diaphragm Dynamic Driver
  • Freq. Res.              : 7Hz-41 kHz
  • Sensitivity              : 116dB ± 2dB
  • Impedance             : 16 ohm
  • Rated Power          : 10mWTHD+N                  : < 1% (@ 1kHz/179mV)
  • Plug Size               : 3.5mm Single Ended + 4.4mm Balanced (Swappable Plug Design)
  • Core length            : 120cm
  • Weight                   : 18.8g without cable

 

Fit, Comfort & Isolation:

The iBasso 3T-154 has a very solidly built monitor housing that is on the larger side compared to the company’s previous models. This is a result of its 15.4mm large dynamic driver and its special acoustic room structure. The shape fits my ears comfortably with the right ear tips, while I must say the nozzle could be a bit longer for a better overall fit. The passive noise isolation is at an effective level, which was pretty fine for use in relatively noisy environments such as a metro or train.

 

Pairing & Drivability:

The iBasso 3T-154 is a pretty efficient In-Ear Monitor in terms of drivability thanks to its low impedance of 16Ω and a sensitivity of about 116dB. This makes it highly compatible with relative weak sources like Smartphone’s, Tablet’s and USB Audio Dongles and DAP’s with a weak amplification.

 

Sources used for this review: 

  • IEM                 : iBasso 3T-154, Whizzer HE03D
  • DAP/DAC       : iBasso DX260, iBasso DC06 PRO

 

Albums & tracks used for this review:

  • Norah Jones – Come Away With Me (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Adele – My Little Love (Deezer HiFi)
  • Sarah McLachlan – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say A Little Payer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • George Michael – Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • David Bowie – Heroes (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Elton John – Rocket Man ((Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Radiohead – Live in Berlin “Album” (Deezer HiFi)
  • Radiohead – Pyramid Song (Deezer HiFi)
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Muse – Hysteria (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – Nobody Weird Like Me (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Bear McCreary’s – Valkyries (Deezer HiFi)
  • Bro Safari, UFO! – Drama (Deezer HiFi)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Daft Punk – Instant Crush (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Daft Punk – Doin’ it Right (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Lorde – Royals (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
  • Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Gogo Penguin – Murmuration (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
  • Max Richter – On the Nature of Daylight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Tchaikovsky – Symphony No. 5 (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Ferit Odman – Look, Stop & Listen (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Clair de Lune – Claude Debussy (Spotify)
  • Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Deezer HiFi)
  • Miles Davis – So What (Deezer HiFi)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Lunatic Soul – The Passage (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove it) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Metallica – Dyers Eve (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Rush’s – Tom Sawyer (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
  • Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)

 

 

The Sound:

The iBasso 3T-154 offers a relatively neutral and balanced sound with a touch of warmth and emphasis on presence. This translates to a sonic experience dominated by extreme clarity, natural timbre, and a touch of intimacy in the music, all without sacrificing resolution. From the subtle rumbles of the sub-bass to the delicate shimmer of the treble, the 3T-154 delivers a well-balanced presentation for its price point.

This review has been written after a burn-in period of about 120 hours. I have used the stock Silicone Ear Tips with a large opening, combined with the stock cable with a 4.4mm Balanced headphone plug termination. My sound impressions below are mainly based on my auditions paired with devices like the iBasso DX260 (DAP) and iBasso DC06 PRO (USB DAC).

Please note that an intensive Burn-In of approx. 100 – 120 hours, a proper fit and the right ear tips selection affects the final performance of the 3T-154 dramatically.

 

Bass:

The iBasso 3T-154 imbues its sonic signature with a touch of harmonic warmth. This subtle coloration enhances the presentation, offering a richness that reveals the underlying details of the music without sacrificing neutrality.

While the sub-bass, though not overpowering, remains undeniable, imbuing percussive elements with a rumbling foundation. The kicks in Daft Punk’s “Doin’ it Right” or the propulsive bassline in Lorde’s “Royals” – the 3T-154 delivers them with a controlled rumble that reinforces the music’s energy without overpowering the melody.

The midbass has a good level of resolution and articulation, which translates to a well-defined and controlled presentation of percussive elements, as exemplified by the impactful thumps in Bear McCreary’s “Valkyries” and the nuanced bassline in Gogo Penguin’s “Murmuration.”

 

Midrnage:

The iBasso 3T-154 excels in the midrange, a region crucial for accurate vocal reproduction. A subtle harmonic coloration adds depth and intimacy to vocals, enhancing their emotional impact. This is evident in the captivating presentation of Norah Jones’ delicate vocals in “Come Away With Me” and the alluring richness of Diana Krall’s voice in “So Wonderful.” Isaac Hayes’ baritone vocals in “Walk On By” retain their soulful intensity and power, delivered with a palpable presence. David Bowie’s vocals in “Heroes” are rendered with impressive texture and richness, contributing to the building tension in the song.

String instruments like violins and cellos in Vivaldi’s “Le Quattro Stagioni” are shown with a natural timbre. The presentation creates a realistic and immersive experience, reminiscent of a live string quartet performance. As we move into the upper midrange, a touch of controlled brightness emerges, adding presence and sparkle without introducing harshness. Sibilance, a common issue with many IEMs, is effectively managed, ensuring a relative smooth and fatigue-free listening experience.

 

Treble:

The iBasso 3T-154 shows a slightly relaxed approach to the treble region compared to the upper midrange, resulting in a smooth and airy presentation. It delivers sufficient detail to resolve the intricacies of hi-hats and delicate chimes, adding a touch of airiness to the soundscape without introducing harshness or sibilance. This creates a listening experience that is both detailed and fatigue-free especially for an IEM at this price range.

In Opeth’s “Windowpane,” the cymbals and hi-hats shimmer with a subtle brilliance, complementing the overall sonic image without becoming overly prominent. Even in tracks like Megadeth’s “Sweating Bullets,” where the guitars take center stage and the treble energy potentially increases, the 3T-154 maintains control, preventing the high frequencies from becoming harsh or piercing.

 

Soundstage & Imaging:

The iBasso 3T-154 offers a spacious and well-defined soundstage, exceeding expectations for its price point. Instruments and vocals are effectively separated, occupying distinct spaces within the mix. This creates a sense of openness and airiness, allowing listeners to appreciate intricate details in recordings. Notably, the 3T-154 achieves this spaciousness without sacrificing imaging accuracy, as each element remains well-positioned and discernable.

 

Comparison:

iBasso 3T-154 versus Whizzer HE3D:

The iBasso 3T-154 and Whizzer HE03D offer distinct sonic experiences, catering to different preferences.

While both deliver controlled bass, the iBasso boasts slightly deeper sub-bass, adding a touch more weight and rumble to the low end without overwhelming the sound signature. This translates to a fuller and more impactful foundation, particularly noticeable in bass-heavy genres. However, the iBasso’s true strength lies in its balanced approach. Its mid-bass presence is tight and articulate, delivering punchy kicks and bass lines without bleeding into the mids and muddying the overall sound.

The iBasso truly shines in its exceptional clarity and resolution. Its neutral midrange presentation ensures that every vocal and instrumental detail is reproduced faithfully, offering a transparent and analytical listening experience. In contrast, the Whizzer HE03D adopts a warmer tonal balance, which can be pleasing for listeners who prefer a smoother sound. However, this warmth comes at the expense of some detail and airiness compared to the iBasso’s superior resolution.

Both IEMs emphasize the presence region for clear vocals and instruments, but the iBasso maintains a smoother response, avoiding potential harshness. The Whizzer’s peak around lower treble register region might introduce sibilance for some listeners. While both IEMs aim for brightness and airiness, the iBasso achieves this balance more effectively, preventing excessive brightness or fatigue.

The iBasso 3T-154 boasts a wider and more expansive presentation, effectively placing the listener within the musical environment. This approach allows for greater separation and precise positioning of individual instruments within the mix, creating a slightly better sense of immersion and airiness. In contrast, the Whizzer HE03D prioritizes a more intimate and focused soundstage, which some might find preferable for a more personal listening experience.

 

Conclusion:

The iBasso 3T-154 IEM combines innovative technology with premium materials to deliver exceptional sound quality. The large 15.4mm beryllium-coated driver and powerful 3 Tesla magnetic flux provide excellent clarity, natural timbre, and a balanced sound with a rich sound signature for an immersive listening experience. The lightweight magnesium alloy housing ensures a comfortable fit and reduces unwanted resonance, while the swappable terminations offer versatile connectivity options. Catering to audiophiles seeking high-fidelity sound, the iBasso 3T-154 offers a compelling combination of features and performance in a stylish and well-crafted package at a competitive price.

 

Pros & Cons:

  • + Overall timbre & detail retrieval across the frequency spectrum
  • + Natural and controlled Bass Response
  • + Accurate and detailed Midrange presentation
  • + Extended and resolving Treble tuning
  • + Spacious and well-defined soundstage
  • + Durable magnesium alloy housing
  • + Interchangeable headphone plugs
  • + Rich set of accessories (cable, storage case, 2x headphone plugs, and various ear tips)
  • + Competitive price

 

  • – Burn-in: require approximately 120-150 hours for optimal performance
  • – Fit: Proper fit and ear tips for optimal sound performance and comfort

 

Thank you for the Read!

 

 

 

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3 Responses

  1. Благодарю автора статьи за подробное изложение данного продукта !!!

  2. Michael Gunin says:

    Many thanks for reviewing. How would you compare the sound of a new model with IT05?

    • Gökhan AYDIN says:

      Thank you. The two IEMs have quite different sound signatures. The IT05 has a W-shaped sound signature with more pronounced and energetic highs and lows. The 3T-154, on the other hand, has a more balanced and close to reference turned sound signature. The price difference is also noteworthy.

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