iBasso SR2 Headphone Review

 

 

 

 

 

iBasso SR2 Headphone Unboxing

 

Introduction:

iBasso is a Chinese company that is specialized in the production, development & designing of Portable Audio products such like Digital Audio Players (DAP), Portable Amplifiers, In-Ear Monitors & Headphones.

The motto of the company is “in Pursuit of Perfection”.

The iBasso SR2 is Semi-Open Back headphone and the successor of the SR1. The Dynamic Driver of the SR2 has some interesting features like a Bio-Cellulose Dome Diaphragm, Silicone Suspension and Tesla magnetic flux design. The SR2 comes also with a high quality detachable cable with 3.5mm connectors to 3.5mm headphone jack.

 

 

 

Package and Accessories:

The iBasso SR2 Headphone came in a relative big cardboard box with a nice looking glossy surface in silver & grey color. On the front of the box is the illustration of the SR2 Headphone and branding, while the rear side shows again a picture of the SR2 and some technical details.

This box contains the following items;

  • 1 piece x iBasso SR2 Open-Back Headphone
  • 1 piece x Detachable Cable with 3.5mm Headphone Plug
  • 1 piece x 3.5mm to 6.30mm Adapter
  • 1 pair x Spare Perforated Earpads
  • 1 piece x Storage Case
  • 1 piece x Quick Start Guide (Manual)
  • 1 piece x Warranty Card

Inside the box is a nice Storage Case (Hard Case) in black color that sports plate in silver color with iBasso Audio branding on the top which gives it a nice premium feel.

The detachable cable with 3.5mm headphone plug comes also with a nice addition which is a 3.5mm to 6.35mm Adapter with a screw system.

iBasso was generous and sent the SR2 with additional headphone pads which were stored in a second cardboard box with iBasso branding on the top.

Update: The second pair of earpads should offer according to iBasso a diffrent sound signature. I will update my experiences after some listening.

The Warranty Card and Manual was also stored inside of this box.

 

 

 

The Design, Build Quality, Comfort:

The iBasso SR2 is a full sized Semi-Open Back Headphone with a Dynamic Transducer which shows an appearance that is very impressive with its ear cups in silver color and the stylish headband in black color.

The ear-cups are made of metal in silver color while the metal grilles do shows a painting in black color.

Both ear-cups do sport the branding “High Definition Headphone SRII – Designed by iBasso Audio” in white color.

Each ear cup has a 3.5mm female connector that offers a tight and secure connection.

The headband hangers are made of metal in black color and do have L (Left) and R (Right) markings in white color at the inner surface of the holders.

The SR2 offers a rotating mechanism which can be rotated up to 180 degrees.

The headband has a rigid metal wire structure and comes with a leather band with iBasso Audio branding on the top.

The headband size is adjustable while the clamping force is on a moderate level for my head with an average size.

The ear cup holders are made of metal and are also of the same black color.

The earpads are user replaceable and do have a pleather surface in black color. The earpads have an angled design which has a bump on the rear side.

The padding is extremely comfortable and makes the SR2 to an ideal headphone for long listening periods.

The iBasso SR2 offers a very comfortable wearing experience thanks to the ultra-comfortable earpads and moderate level of clamping force.

The overall build quality of the SR2 headphones is pretty good, while I can only complain about the ear cup holders that do feel a bit too loose.

 

 

The Cable:

The iBasso SR2 comes with a detachable cable and to be honest, it is the best looking cable that I have seen on any full sized headphone.

The cable has a nice braided design and features a soft – transparent insulation with very low amount of microphonic effect.

The cable material is a mix of silver and copper and it took some time for iBasso to get the ideal formula.

The cable comes with 3.5mm TRS headphone connectors for both channels and features a metal housing in silver color.

Both connectors do have color indicators for each channel which is Red for the right and Blue for the left channel.

The detachable cable has a Y splitter made of the same metal material that we have seen on the connectors.

The cable comes with a 3.5mm TRS (single ended) headphone plug. The headphone housing shows a straight profile and is made of metal material.

The housing sport the iBasso brand logo and has a plastic strain relief in black color for extra durability.

 

 

 

Isolation:

The iBasso SR2 is full sized Open Back Headphone while it shows an isolation of a Semi-Open Back headphone like the SIVGA Phoenix or Philips Fidelio X2 rather than a HiFiMAN Deva or Sennheiser HD600/650. The reason could be the use of a damping material that is placed under the grille that I have also seen with my SIEVGA Phoenix.

This semi open design makes the iBasso SR2 more effective against noise/sound leakage on both directions, from in- and outside.

 

 

 

Some Technical Specifications: 
  • Driver Type                             : Dynamic Driver with Silicone Suspension & Tesla Flux Design
  • Operating Principal                : Open Back
  • Frequency Response              : 3Hz-40 KHz
  • Sensitivity                               : 108dB @ 1 KHz
  • Impedance                             : 24Ω
  • Rated Power                          : 50mW
  • THD                                        : <1% (@ 1 KHz / 1mW)
  • Plug Size                                 : 3.5mm (Gold Plated)
  • Cable Length                          : 180 cm
  • Weight                                    : 395g (without the cable)

 

 

Albums & tracks used for this review:

  • Casey Abrams – Robot Lovers (Spotify)
  • 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)
  • Elton John – Rocket Man (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • London Grammar – Interlud (Live) (Flac 24bit/44kHz)
  • Laura Pergolizzi – Lost On You “Live at Harvard and Stone” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Spotify)
  • Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Twerl – Lishu (Spotify)
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Portishead – The Hidden Camera (MP3 320kpbs)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)
  • Tom Player – Resonace Theory “Album” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)

 

 

 

 

The Sound:

I have listened to many full sized headphones in the past 10 – 12 years form the Sennheiser HD650 up to the Fostex TH900 and to be honest the iBasso SR2 is subjectively the headphone with the most impressive timbre that is very easy to love. You will immediate notice the warm and rich tonality, which has its own flavor and that will mesmerize you more and more. It is highly detailed for a headphone at this price class, but is also very musical and forgiving at the same time.

What you will hear in terms of frequency response is a surprisingly deep and impactful bass response for an open-back (semi open) headphone. The midrange on the other hand has a warm tonality that retrains a great level of transparency and detail retrieval, while the treble range is fairly bright and shows a great level of clarity and definition.

 

Please Note that I have burn-in the SR2 for about 150 Hours and my sound impressions below are mainly based to the pairings with the iBasso DX220 MAX and DX220.

 

 

 

Bass:

The iBasso SR2 is able to produce a fairly amount of subbass rumble for an open back headphone that was sufficient in terms of depth and intensity with most genres I have listen to. The SR2 is not a subbass monster while it gives a nice sense of power that will satisfy most listeners with exception of bass-heads. The tonality here is slightly on the warmer side without to affect the overall clarity. The rumble that is produced by the Dynamic Driver is quite exciting while it is petty controlled at the same time. The SR2 have been shown an impressive performance in terms of speed and control in the subbass region with some of my reference songs like Gogo Penguin’s “Raven, Massive Attack’s “Angel” and Lorde’s “Royals”.

The midbass region of the iBasso SR2 is significantly more highlighted compared to the subbass area and shows a solid performance for an open-back headphone in terms of speed impact and control. Midbass tuning adds a nice feeling of warmth without to affect the overall definition. Instruments from acoustic guitars to the electro guitar form the tom up to the hi-hat do have a nice sense of body/fullness.

I recommend burn-in the iBasso SR2 at least for 100 hours so that it will yields far better low end decay. I found the softness and naturalness of the bass that is produced by the Dynamic Driver with Silicone Suspension very successful.

 

 

Midrange:

The iBasso SR2 offers a rich, full bodied and musical midrange presentation with a mesmerizing timbre. The midrange has a warm tonality that is produced by the lower midrange while it doesn’t show any remarkable compromises in terms of clarity and detail retrieval.

 

Vocals:

The vocals of the iBasso SR2 do sound more upfront compared to the instruments that are placed slightly behind them which makes it successful  in terms of definition and separation of instruments and the vocals.

It shows also a good performance in the lower midrange region that shows good body and depth which is an advantage for the presentation of male vocals. Epic voices from Barry White to Isaac Hayes, from Elton John up to Sting do sound very emotional and intimate.

iBasso has chosen a safe tuning in the upper midrange to tame any possible sibilance and harshness that could caused around the 3 kHz region. Here is a slightly roll-off that was audible but that doesn’t affects the overall clarity and detail retrieval of female vocals that is mainly generated in the lower treble region. For example, Edith Piaf sounds pretty lively and emotional in her song epic song “Non Je Ne Regrette Rien”.

What I really like about the vocal presentation of the SR2 is that it is possible to hear every emotion and details such as sadness, enthusiasm, sharpness and softness of the vocals in a pretty natural and realistic way.

 

Instruments:

The iBasso SR2 shows an instrument tonality that is in general slightly warmer than neutral, vivid and smooth. Instruments with thick tonality like the saxophone or the tuba are very successful in terms of thickness and depth thanks to the well-tuned lower frequency response.

The pianos on the other hand are mildly bright, pronounced and pretty lively, while acoustic guitars are warm, a bit bassy and very musical. Other instruments like violas are quite emotional, while the violins do show a good level of brightness & extension and are reproduced in a fatigue-free way.

 

 

Upper Midrange & Treble:

The iBasso SR2 has an upper midrange presentation that is silky smooth warmish and with moderate intensity. The transitions are in general controlled and fatigue-free and doesn’t show any unwanted situations like sibilance or harshness. The extension of the upper midrange is on a moderate level.

The treble range of the iBasso SR1 is pretty highlighted with focal point in the upper treble region. The lower treble range of the SR2 is less pronounced compared to the upper treble area, while it offers an above average level of clarity and definition. The extension here is a bit short while the detail retrieval still decent for a headphone at this price range.

The upper treble range of the iBasso SR2 shows a decent performance in terms of intensity and sharpness and is also pretty controlled and fast at the same time. For example the cymbals in genres like trash metal are fast and accented, while crash and ride cymbals are produced with a pretty natural decay.

Other instruments like violins do sound quite vivid while the bow tractions are pretty fast. Woodwind instruments like the side flute do sound detailed, emotional and controlled.

The treble region of the iBasso SR2 offers in general a pretty good level of extension, a decent amount of sparkle and detail retrieval from female vocals up to treble intensive instruments like the piano, violin or any sort of cymbals I have listen to.

 

Soundstage:

The iBasso SR2 is a semi open-back headphone that offers nice sense of space, openness and airiness. The separation & placement/space between instruments and vocals is decent. The soundstage has an above average wideness and height, while the depth is on a pretty good level.

           

 

 

Comparison:

 

iBasso SR2 versus HiFiMAN Ananda:

The iBasso SR2 and the HiFiMAN Ananda are both full sized headphones; but one of the main difference is the driver implementation. The HiFiMAN Ananda comes with a planar magnetic driver, while the iBasso SR2 features a dynamic driver with Bio-Cellulose Dome Diaphragm.

The second difference is the open-back design; the HiFiMAN Ananda has a fully open-back implementation due to the use of the planar-magnetic driver and shows very low to non-isolation. The SR2 on the other hand has a semi open-back design that offers a far better level of isolation.

When it comes to the sound, both the iBasso SR2 and HiFiMAN Ananda do have a very open and spacious presentation with a musical and warmer than neutral tonality. The SR2 shows slightly more warmth and a noticeably fuller presentation. The iBasso SR2 is more genre friendly and sounds more musical and entertaining with a wider variety of genres, from EDM and Pop music up to Metal and Classical music.

The HiFiMAN Ananda has less subbass depth and intensity compared to the iBasso SR2 which shows also more rumble and a slightly better level of extension. The Ananda is the headphone with the faster subbass decay, while both headphones do offer a decent performance in terms of control in this region.

The iBasso SR2 is the headphone with the higher midbass intensity compared to the HiFiMAN Ananda which shows a pretty linear midbass response. The Ananda has a more neutral and less colored midbass character. The iBasso SR2 shows more midbass depth and is also more impactful/punchy. The Ananda has the upper hand in terms of midbass speed thanks to its planar magnetic driver, while both are very successful in terms of bass control and layering.

Both headphones do have a warmer than neutral midrange tonality and do offer a great level of airiness and detail retrieval. The midrange of the iBasso SR2 is more forward oriented, full bodied and does produce more warmth, while the midrange of the HiFiMAN Ananda is slightly more neutral, a bit recessed and thin in its tonality. The Ananda has the upper hand in terms of upper midrange brightness and extension while both do offer a detailed presentation in this area. Instruments like snare drums, violins and pianos do sound slightly crisper with the HiFiMAN Ananda, while instruments like the acoustic guitar or the viola are more natural and musical with the iBasso SR2.

Male vocals do have sound fuller and more detailed with the iBasso SR2, as well as female voices. The SR2 offers also a more emotional and intimate presentation while listen to female vocals like Aretha Franklin up to soprano vocals like Sertap Erener.

The lower treble range of the iBasso is able to produce a higher level of clarity, detail and definition. The treble range of both headphones is quite successful in terms of control and extension, while the HiFiMAN Ananda shows a slightly higher amount of airiness and sparkle due to boost in the upper treble region.

Both Headphones do offer a decent performance in terms placement and separation of instruments and the vocals. The soundstage of both the HiFiMAN Ananda and the iBasso SR2 is huge, while the Ananda has the upper hand for both soundstage depth and wideness due to the fully open back design that was pretty audible while listen to classical songs.

 

 

Conclusion:

I didn’t have had the opportunity to listen to the predecessor SR1, but what I can say about the SR2 is that it is a very successful open-back headphone in terms of comfort, esthetics and sound performance. It offers a pretty easy to love sound character and a quite unique timbre. It is highly detailed for a headphone at this price range and will mesmerize you with its highly musical and forgiving presentation. What I also like about the SR2 is the high quality Silver Plated Copper cable and the rich accessories package that includes even a second pair of earpads and a nice protective case.

 

 

Pros & Cons:
  • + Tonality and Timbre
  • + Great Bass Response (Speed & Extension)
  • + Midrange Clarity & Overall Detail Retrieval
  • + Treble Extension, Control and Sparkle
  • + Very Comfortable Headband and Earpads
  • + Great Stock Cable & Rich Accessory Package (Second Pair of Earpads, Carry Case, etc.)

 

  • – The Ear Cup Holders are a bit loose
  • – A slightly roll-off in the upper midrange area (3 kHz region)

 

 

Thank you for the Read!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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