The iBasso IT01; Good Sound Small Price
Many of us are familiar with iBasso products, especially with there portable audio players like the DX100, DX50, DX90, DX200 etc. and In-Ear monitor like the IT03. After the success of the IT03, iBasso released a new In-Ear Monitor called IT01 with an in-house designed dynamic driver that is combining three different technologies that I will explain later.
I would like to thank iBasso for providing me the iBasso IT01 as free review sample. I am not affiliated with iBasso beyond this review and these words reflect my true, unaltered, opinions about the product.
Price & Warranty:
The MSRP price for the iBasso IT01 is 99.99 USD.
Package and Accessories:
The iBasso IT01 comes in a small box that is wrapped with a glossy white card box sleeve. The box itself is in blue and has a nice surface texture that gives you a good first impression.
This box includes the following contents;
- 1 x pair of IT01 IEM
- 10 x pairs of silicone ear tips
- 2 x pairs of foam ear tips
- 1 x MMCX cable
- 1 x metal carry case
There are 3 types of silicone ear tips. One is in black that is the softest with medium sized hole and the two other set are in transparent gray color, which one of them has a medium and the other big holes. There are also 2 pairs of olive foams that are very comfy and in my opinion a nice addition.
There is also a metal IEM carry case that has an iBasso Audio printed on the top cover. This case is looks and feels solid in your hand and is big enough to put in all accessories and the IEM itself.
The iBasso IT01 has a 4 wire hand braided OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) detachable cable that has MMCX (Micro-miniature coaxial) connectors for the right and left monitor.
It has a straight profile 3.5mm SE (Single Ended) headphone jack that is made of metal.
The cable is lightweight and has a very soft and transparent TPU coating that is not prone to microphonics. The Y splitter and chin slider are also made of a silver colored metal material that has a nice appearance.
Design, Build Quality and Fit:
The Ibasso IT01 has a simple and very ergonomic design language. It is available in two different color combinations; red & blue and in black. The housing is made of plastic and feels lightweight on your ears.
The build quality of this monitor is top notch. The nozzles on the monitor are made of metal and there are no imperfections. The MMCX connectors are not loose and look like they can last for years. There are also L (left) and R (right) markings near the nozzle and if you buy the red & blue version the color also serves as right and left indicator. There are also two visible bass vents at the inner side of the monitor housing.
The IT01 has a very comfortable fit and it was possible to wear it for hours without to hurt my ears. The isolation of the iBasso IT01 is above average and good enough to isolate you in noisy environments like bus or trains.
- Driver ：10.0mm Dynamic driver
- Frequency response : 10Hz-42kHz
- Sensitivity : 108+/-2dB
- Impedance : 16 Ohm
- Noise Attenuation : -26dB
- Rated power : 10mW
- THD : <1% (at 1kHz/1mW)
- Plug size : 3.5 TRS gold plated
- Cable length : 1.2m
- Connection : MMCX
- Weight : 8.0g without cable
About the 10mm Dynamic Driver:
The iBasso IT01 has a unique dynamic driver that combine’s three different technologies.
The first of them is the 5µm multilayer graphene diaphragm that is an ultra thin diaphragm material, which has 100 time’s higher breaking strength then steel. This material is able to reach high speeds with low distortion. I know that this is not the first driver that is using this material, but the combination with other components makes it unique. The custom made Tesla magnetic flux is able to drive this graphene diaphragm with higher efficient than regular magnets. The result is an improvement in resolution, bass and dynamics. The dual Helmholtz resonators on the other hand are providing a strong and deep bass response.
Albums & Tracks used for this review:
- Future Heroes – Another World (Tidal Hi-fi)
- Lorde – Team (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Daft Punk – Get Lucky (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (DSF)
- Bryan Adams – MTV Unplugged Performance (Spotify)
- Saskia Bruin – The Look of Love (DSF)
- Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
- Aretha Franklin – I Say a Little Prayer (Apple Music)
- Melody Gardot – Who Will Comfort Me (Flac 16bit/44kHz)
- LP (Laura Pergolizzi) – Lost On You “Live at Harvard and Stone” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Mile Davis – Kind of Blue Album (Tidal Hi-fi)
- George Michael – Older Album (Apple Music)
- Dire Straits – Money For Nothing (DSF)
- Emmanuel Pahud (Claude Debussy) – Syrinx (Apple Music)
- Otto Liebert & Luna Negra – Up Close “Album” (DSF) – Binaural Recording
- Alboran Trio – Autumn Mist (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- GoGo Penguin – Fanfares (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Opeth – Damnation (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Flac 16bit/44kHz)
Sources used for this review:
- IEM : iBasso IT01, Fiio F9 Pro, TFZ TEQUILA1, Dunu Falcon-C
- DAP/DAC : Cayin N5II, Chord Mojo, Hifiman HM603s, Audirect Whistle, Nexum Aqua+
Please Note: This review is written after a bun-in process of 100 hours. I have used the stock soft (black) silicone ear tips during this review that are included to the package.
a. Tonality and Presentation:
The iBasso IT01 sounds clear, crisp and powerful. It is an IEM with a warmer than neutral tonality that has a V shaped sound signature. It has great dynamics and good resolution, especially for this price range.
The iBasso IT01 has some nice bass response. The sub-bass between 20 – 50 Hz are well presented and providing a nice sense of power, which is quite noticeable and exiting in “Future Heroes” epic song “Another World”. Also Instruments like bass guitars are sounding pretty natural and realistic.
The bass of the IT01 sound pretty fast and controlled, which gives the overall sound presentation nice dynamics. It has nice texture and good resolution which is quite impressive for a single dynamic driver In Ear Monitor for 100 USD. The bass of the IT01 is also punchy and has a good amount of rumble, without to sound too boomy and causing to muddiness.
As mentioned before; the iBasso IT01 has a V shaped sound signature where the midrange sounds more laid back compared to the rest of the frequencies. But this doesn’t mean that it has a too recessed midrange; instruments still sounding clean and detailed in its presentation with good texture and definition.
I am enjoying both male and female vocals, but male vocals are sounding a bit more intimate to me. Male voices like George Michael and Bryan Adams have sounded a bit more emotional to my ears and I really enjoyed the MTV Unplugged performance of Bryan Adams.
The upper midrange is bright and transparent and has good detail retrieval. Instruments and vocals sounding very vivid and the overall control of the upper register are pretty good for this price level.
The treble range of the iBasso IT01 sounds airy and crisp with nice amount of sparkle. It doesn’t sound too bright or harsh and the overall control is in a good level. There is a good transition between upper midrange and treble with good separation of instruments.
Female voices like Laura Pergolizzi have nice brilliance on the top end and complex passages with high density of instruments, like cymbals in Megadeth – Sweating Bullets sounding pretty nice and controlled at this price level.
c. Soundstage and Imaging:
The iBasso IT01 sounds airy and has a relative wide soundstage. It has not the deepest soundstage presentation but does its job for the asked price. The imaging and placement of instrument & vocals is quite natural and realistic in its presentation.
Vs. Fiio F9 Pro:
Both Fiio F9 Pro and iBasso IT01 sounding punchy and dynamic in the bass department. The iBasso IT01 is a bit faster and has the better bass extension. The bass texture on both devices is good but the IT01 has slightly more bass body. Both IEM’s sharing nearly the same level of bass resolution and there is no clear winner.
The Fiio F9 Pro has the warmer sound and is even more V shaped than IT01, which results to a more distant midrange presentation. This midrange characteristic gives F9 Pro an airier presentation, while the IT01 sounds more intimate. The iBasso IT01 sounds more transparent in the midrange department.
The vocal presentation of the IT01 tastes better with male vocals, while the Fiio F9 Pro sounded good with female vocals. The upper midrange of the IT01 has more forwardness and sounds overall cleaner and crisp.
Both have a well defined treble range with nice a nice sparkle, while the IT01 has additional control and brilliance on the top. The Fiio F9 Pro has some good treble quality for the price and there is a nice level of micro detail with pretty good texture. The iBasso IT01 on the other hand has some good detail retrieval that is on par with the F9 Pro. The main difference is the presentation that sounds more organic with the IT01 that makes the overall sound more natural.
The IT01 has the wider soundstage, while the Fiio F9 Pro has more depth in presentation. The overall imaging of instruments and vocals sounds better with the IT01.
Vs. TFZ TEQUILA1:
The TFZ Tequila1 has nearly the same V shaped sound tuning like the iBasso IT01. The bass on both has a nice presence with good impact. But the IT01 has more sub-bass quantity, while the Teqila1 has more mid-bass impact. Both IEM’s have a well controlled low end, with nearly the same extension, which is slightly better on the IT01.
The midrange on both IEM’s sounds very similar with its crispy and vivid presentation. The detail level is on par, but the IT01 has slightly higher definition. The vocal presentation of the TFZ Tequila1 is a bit more forward especially with female vocals, while the IT01 sound a bit more natural. The midrange detail level of the IT01 is very good for the price, but the TFZ Tequila1 has slightly more micro detail.
Instruments like pianos or guitars, etc. are sounding a bit more natural with the Tequila1, while the IT01 has the upper with its upper midrange control. The TFZ Tequila1 is brighter at the upper midrange register, where the iBasso IT01 sounds softer and more engaging.
The treble range of the TFZ Tequila1 is a touch more present, which results to a slightly brighter presentation. Both IEM’s are nicely textured at the top end, with a good level of detail and clarity. The iBasso IT01 has slightly better control with instruments like piano, violin and cymbals. The iBasso IT01 sounds a bit softer at the upper treble range where the TFZ Tequila1 is a bit more aggressive, which is most noticeable in genres like Metal and Rock music.
The iBasso IT01 has a wider soundstage, while the depth of both IEM’s is nearly the same or identical. The imaging of instruments and vocals is slightly better with the IT01.
Vs. Dunu Falcon-C:
The Dunu Flacon-C is also an IEM with a V shaped sound signature, but has a different sound characteristic in the bass and midrange department than iBasso IT01.
The bass of the Falcon-C is more midbass focused and the quantity is very fit depending. With a deeper insertion and the right ear tips it can archive some nice rumble that is again, not in the same level/amount of the IT01. The bass extension and speed is good but is missing some organic texture, which is iBasso IT01 able to produce.
The midrange of the Dunu Falcon-C is not as thick or full sounding like the iBasso IT01 or TFZ Tequila1. The IT01 sounds warmer and more intimate compared to the very airy but recessed midrange presentation of the Falcon-C.
The Dunu Falcon-C has some nice clarity and transparency which can compete of those of the IT01. The overall resolution and definition of the Flacon-C is in the same level with the IT01 but is missing some micro detail due the distance of instruments. The upper midrange of Falcon-C is well presented but sounds a bit too over boasted in some situation where the iBasso IT01 sounds more controlled. The Falcon-C has a nice transparent female vocal presentation with nice some good clarity, but sounds a bit too thin with male vocals, where the IT01 performs more organic and emotional with its fuller vocal presentation.
The treble range of the Falcon-C sounds bright, clear and has some nice brilliance. There is great amount of detail, but sounds a bit harsh in some bad recorded tracks and treble sensitive genres like Metal Music, where the IT01 excels better with its softer and more controlled presentation.
The iBasso IT01 has also a more natural treble presentation then Falcon-C that sounds a bit more digital.
What iBasso packed in to the IT01 for this price is really fantastic! The It01 has some great sound abilities like good dynamics and a really nice level of resolution. The transparency and clarity of this IEM makes is to a no brainer in this price range Ah, and do not forget to mention that there is also this beautifully built cable, which is also a big plus for the IT01.
Summary (plus and minus):
+ Great Clarity and Tonality
+ Good Comfort
+ Build quality
– Nothing noteworthy for this price