iBasso IT01 – Love for Music
iBasso IT01 is an entry-level priced IEM which comes to redefine once again what can be done for 100$, with iBasso being the creator behind this little gem. We’ll study in-depth whether IT01 can stand against other well-known 100$ IEMs and even more expensive products.
iBasso should be well-known by now for having produced DX200, one of the best DAPs in the world, and for providing excellent support for their customers through the years. They have reached out and helped many people with their audio journey, and DX200 is still one of our favorite DAPs, being able to power not only IEMs, but also flagship headphones, like Audeze LCD-MX4.
It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with iBasso, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by iBasso or anyone else. I’d like to thank Paul from iBasso for providing the sample for the review. The sample was provided along with iBasso’s request for an honest and unbiased review. This review will be as objective as it is humanly possible, and it reflects my personal experience with iBasso IT01. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in iBasso IT01 find their next music companion.
First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:
IT01 comes packaged in a rather tight package, ith just enough space to store it all, but enough to store one of the best gems there are.
It is possible to see from the box that IT01 does not require quite that big amount of power, and that they’ll be ready to rock your world even straight from a smartphone, being quite efficient, and having only 16 Ohm as impedance. This low impedance also makes them slightly sensitive to hiss, if you plan on pairing them with a source that has a higher output impedance.
The box is very stylish and has a very beautiful design, with a blue color on the outside and a rosy red color on the inside. The IEMs and the carry box are seated cozily in a foam cutout, where they sleep until you open them.
iBasso provides a lot of tips along with IT01, enough to make using IT01 fun and easy to use. I found that I like the included tips enough for me to not put on my usual Spinfit tips. The cable included is something else entirely, being one of the highest quality cables we’ve seen included with IEMs, regardless of their price. Especially handy as you probably won’t need aftermarket cables for a good while while using IT01, and it is quite the surprise to find something like this on a 100$ IEM.
The carry case included with IT01 is quite beautiful as well, being one of the highest quality cases we’ve seen included with a IEM, and being, more or less, the same carry case as the one which comes included with the 2000$ RE-2000 from HIFIMAN.
Starting with the outer shell, IT01 is made out of a high quality, highly reflective plastic surface which gives them a very interesting, elegant yet slightly retro feeling. The version we have is the Blue-Red version, but we know that there is a black version out there, for those who might prefer a sleeker and more elegant design.
In person, IT01 feels really high quality all around, and while almost all IEMs we tested to date passed our build quality tests, IT01 feels amazing due to the attention that was given to details, all little elements combining together elegantly and with a gentle curve, creating a very ergonomic IEM. The font chosen by iBasso further gives the bodies of IT01 a feeling of high-end and of quality.
When it comes to their connectors, we know that not all MMCX connectors are made the same, and IT01 has one of the highest quality MMCX connectors we’ve seen, similar to those employed on flagships, clicking right in place and staying fit without spinning freely.
The cables are something else entirely, not only the cables of IT01 are thicker and way too high-quality for their price point, but we never seen or had a cable that looks so good with any IEM, regardless of its price, aftermarket custom cables that are the same quality as the stock cable of IT01 often costing many times the price of IT01.
The 3.5mm plug on the cable completes an elegant and extremely high-end feeling, making the whole build quality and aesthetics of IT01 some of the best we’ve seen, being quite something else in the 100$ price range.
The fit and comfort are quite good as well, as iBasso employed vents on IT01 to ease the pressure inside the IEM body, as they are a single dynamic driver IEM. There is no driver flex if you insert the IEM slowly, and with care, and attention must be taken to not cover the ventilation port, as covering it can cause driver flex and other issues. Although we know a few cases where users reported driver flex, we couldn’t notice anything above the typical driver flex for a vented Dynamic Driver IEM.
The fit is extremely comfortable, IT01 creating a bit of void while worn, this making them not only sit comfortably, but also giving them a fairly good isolation from the outside noise, which works both ways, as they are some of the IEMs that leak less sound from what we’ve tested. While they aren’t quite at the levels of isolation UM Martian and Etymotic provides, IT01 is very much excellent for its 100$ price range.
As per iBasso’s request, we made sure to take impressions both when IT01 was new, and after a 100 and 200 hours burn-in marks. It seems that some components of IT01 do change with burn-in, so we recommend taking at least 100 hours of burn-in before judging their sound. Burn-in should be done with music around 75% to 100% of a listener’s typical listening levels, with pink noise, or with music. Burn-in will happen gradually if they are used while it is happening as well, but it will take considerably longer to notice the effects than a continuous 100 hours of burn-in.
Source used for testing iBasso IT01 has been almost exclusively iBasso DX200, which we reviewed here: [https://goo.gl/HMct9Q], coupled along with AMP5 for DX200, which we will review in the (very) near future.
The baseline sonic signature of IT01 is a relatively organic sound, with a magical and enhanced mid bass, with a good midrange presence, and with a nice sub-bass and treble enhancement, resulting in a V-shaped sound with a quick and very nicely articulated bass, a brighter and very revealing midrange tonality, and crispy and airy treble. The sound is very dynamic in general as well, being a truly fun experience to witness.
Quantity-wise, the bass is enhanced, for those who crave a rather fun presentation. The bass is quite amazing, being quick and very resolving, showing very fine textures in the sub-bass and midbass, having great impact and giving drums and bass notes an excellent body and presentation. Dubstep music has a very deep and strong presentation, while metal music has the right amount of bass for excellent impact and lively presentation. While the bass hits hard, the quantity is not overwhelming, and it doesn’t color the midrange, but it will satisfy those who crave for more bass.
The midrange is quite something else, being tuned slightly brighter, and very revealing. Textures in the music of Mindless Self Indulgence and Muse are resolved quite nicely, and meaty guitar solos in metal music sound emotional and vivid. Voices have a natural tonality, and bear excellent textures, while instruments like trumpets have a good amount of impact to sound realistic. All music, from electronic to Jazz is resolved nicely, IT01 being a nice all-rounder. Although the signature isn’t the most organic one, the transparency of the midrange is really nice to have with metal music and complex compositions with lots of instruments.
The treble of IT01 is a bit enhanced, presenting music with an excellent sparkle, and with an amazingly good extension for this price range, competing even with certain flagships when it comes to the clarity, precision and low distortion of cymbal hits and cymbal trailing. The airiness is also quite nice, and the micro-textures are quite excellent, and IT01 is not harsh, and it is most certainly not sibilant, being a rather fun, uplifting, energetic and realistic listen. The enhanced treble is quite nice for balancing out the rather enhanced bass, giving it a nice V-shaped sound.
The soundstage of IT01 is quite wide, extending very well around the listener, but the depth is a bit more intimate, maybe a few rows in front of the listener. The stereo imaging is quite excellent and you can easily pinpoint every single instrument in the sonicstage, as well as enjoy stereo panning effects in music that presents it, from rock to pop.
When it comes to its portability, IT01 is portable in every way a IEM can be, being lightweight, having an excellent fit, even while walking and running, offering enough isolation from the outside noise, and being rather easy to drive, with its 16 OHM impedance and its 108dB of sensitivity working right even straight out of a typical smartphone. Adding a professional Digital Audio Player (DAP), like iBasso DX200 improves the experience and gives IT01 improved detailing, better soundstaging and finer clarity / details.
The fit of IT01 is quite good for long time wearing, making it a very nice portable option, and the comfort is good enough for them to be taken on a trip (as we did when we went wandering through the lonely streets of Bucharest to explore the less known parts of this beautiful city).
iBasso IT01 vs FiiO F9Pro – F9Pro is is the latest flagship from FiiO, and although it is around 70$ more expensive than IT01, they make a nice comparison, as F9Pro is one of the better IEMs we heard to date. Starting with the construction quality, IT01 has a shallower fit, and both F9Pro and IT01 have an excellent fit, even for long-term usage. The cables are better on IT01, while F9Pro uses a supler cable. The connector quality is a bit better on IT01, but F9Pro isn’t far behind either. The sonics are great on both, IT01 being slightly more V-shaped with a more recessed midrange, and with a stronger bass, larger bass amounts, quicker bass, more impact at the bass level, and with less treble quantity, while F9Pro has a more forward midrange. F9Pro also has a little peak around the 7 kHz area, which isn’t present on IT01, making F9Pro sound a bit more revealing, but also a bit peakier and a bit hot in that area, especially for those sensitive to treble.
iBasso IT01 vs MOOH BE00BT – BE00BT is a full sized BT Headphone that is priced at a similar price point as IT01. While BE00BT is a full-blown over-the-ears headphone with bluetooth, and even with APT-X, IT01 is a single Dynamic Driver IEM, with excellent fit and one of the best cables there are. Starting with the comfort, IT01 tends to be more comfortable, since BE00BT can touch my ears while worn, but there is a good amount of comfort with both. The cable quality is not comparable, IT01 having a much better cable. The sound is quite dynamic on both, but it is bassy and slower on BE00BT, with a smoother presentation and less focus on details, while it is more revealing on IT01, with a more detailed presentation and better instrument separation.
iBasso IT01 vs Astrotec AM850 – This is a harder comparison to make, as AM850 is quite the amazing IEM as well, the biggest difference being the tuning of IT01 and AM850, as IT01 is more V-shaped, with a stronger Sub-bass, stronger bass, less forward midrange, less bright upper midrange, and more treble extension, while AM850 has a more forward midrange, and a brighter general presentation. Despite its general brighter sound, it’d be hard to say that AM850 is more revealing, but instead both IT01 and AM850 are quite revealing. The cable quality is superior on IT01, and AM850 doesn’t come with detachable cables, but AM850 has a smaller IEM body, and it might come off as more comfortable for those with smaller ear canals. AM850 also has a full metal body for its IEMs, while IT01 is made out of high-quality plastic.
iBasso IT01 vs Kinera H3 – iBasso IT01 is considerably more balanced than Kinera H3, IT01 being a V-shaped IEM with a good balance of the overall signature, while H3 has considerably less midrange than they have bass and treble, Kinera H3 having a considerably stronger treble, to the point where it is sibilant to some listeners. The comfort is better on IT01 than it is on H3, as H3 exhibited quite a bit of driver flex during our tests, but both are very revealing IEMs with a good amount of details in their sound.
iBasso IT01 vs Simgot EN700Bass – EN700Bass presents music similar amounts of bass, but less relative speed and less detail, and with less dynamics and impact. IT01 has a quicker, and more agile bass which is also presented with a more enhanced impact. The midrange is clearer, more detailed, more revealing and slightly brighter on IT01, while it seems less detailed on EN700BASS. The treble is considerably airier on IT01, with better crispiness and better extension. EN700BASS feels smoother and leaner, as EN700BASS has a laid back presentation in comparison. The comfort is better on IT01 as E700bass is larger in size, but both should be fairly comfortable.
iBasso IT01 + HIFIMAN MEGAMINI – HIFIMAN MEGAMINI is a great budget-oriented source to drive IT01, giving it a nice soundstage and detail, along with great dynamics, but the pairing also gives IT01 a bit of hiss, in the end Megamini losing a bit there.
iBasso IT01 + Shanling M2s – Shanling M2s is a very healthy-priced DAP from Shanling, with a lot of bells and whistles. The pairing has nice dynamics and a leaner sound, making IT01 a bit more musical and relaxed than other pairing. I couldn’t notice any hissing with this pairing.
iBasso IT01 + Opus #1s – #1s is quite the amazing DAP when it comes to driving hard-to-drive headphones, being able to give life even to amazing flagship-level headphones like Beyerdynamic Amiron and Audeze LCD-MX4. When it comes to this pairing, it is quite interesting, as #1s has quite the amazing dynamics with IT01, sounding very dynamic, and having a wide soundstage.
iBasso IT01 + iBasso DX200 – iBasso DX200 has an amazing power and precision in driving IT01, with an enthusiastic soundstage, an excellent instrument separation, and an amazing general clarity and musical note definition. I can’t say I notice any kind of hiss with this pairing, and the general feeling is that of vividness and of clarity with this pairing.
Value and Conclusion
iBasso impressed us before, when they created their DX200, an amazing DAP with a lot of power and with excellent features, but we didn’t expect iBasso to impress us as much so soon again. It seems that when it comes to being impressive, iBasso does an amazing job, as they did it again, with their IT01, which is a very fair priced IEM, at just 100$, or we could even say that it is unfairly priced, as its cable alone could be worth more than its 100$ price tag, considering the cost of a high-quality aftermarket cable.
iBasso made sure to learn from other IEMs, so they included an amazing carrying case as well, the same case as the one used with HIFIMAN RE2000, which is a true flagship. The amazement doesn’t stop there, as the build quality of IT01 is much more impressive than most 100$ IEMs are in general, with a clear and high-quality overall feeling, the smooth and finely worked IEM shells having a beauty of their own. If one doesn’t like the Blue and Red version of IT01, there is always the fully black version, which looks very sleek and elegant.
The sound is amazing with IT01, being worthy of a little flagship, IT01 being not only one of the most impressive 100$ IEMs, but being also a little gem in this world, a IEM that is really really well-priced and which hits way above its pricing, and being a IEM that has been loved and cherished by many of our friends, from way before we managed to finish posting this very review.
We can only say that we wholeheartedly recommend IT01 as one of the best 100$ IEMs there are, and with proper burn-in, those little gems are sure to satisfy most people out there, and they will always be in our hearts as an amazing product from iBasso, being the second product from them that really impressed us.
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Full Playlist used for this review
We listened to more songs than those named in this playlist, but those are excellent for identifying a sonic signature. I recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music! The playlists are different for Spotify, Tidal and Youtube, and based on the songs I enjoy and are available on each!
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