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iBasso IT01s

Rating:
4.83333/5,
  1. twister6
    Scale it up!
    Written by twister6
    Published Apr 9, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - balanced tuning with a natural resolving tonality, great soundstage expansion, compact design with ergonomic fit, high quality cable, lots of eartips.
    Cons - nozzle screen can loosen up during tip rolling.


    The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion. The review was originally posted on my blog, and now I would like to share it with my readers on head-fi.

    Manufacturer/product website: iBasso, Available for sale directly from iBasso or retailers like Penon Audio.


    Intro.

    After IT03, IT01, and IT04, I’m no longer surprised to see new IEMs and even headphones (SR1) from iBasso. It seems that with every new release they are stepping up in design and sound quality, sending a clear message these products should be taken seriously, and that iBasso is not just one trick pony specializing in DAPs. Also, I noticed the pricing is still at a reasonable level, like in their latest release of IT01s which came as a surprise since I didn't expect them to release an update to the original IT01 model.

    But it turned out to be a pleasant surprise once I started testing it. Perhaps, I have been spoiled by many flagship releases which do raise the bar in sound quality (and pricing), and I haven't tested too many "budget" IEMs, relatively speaking since different people have a different budget threshold. But I’m glad I had a chance to hear this new sub $200 release and was able to appreciate not just its sound tuning, but also the technical performance and the ability to scale it up with different sources.

    IT01 was their entry level $99 budget release, IT01s steps it up to $199. So, let's take a closer look at what has been changed and improved in this latest iBasso release and how it stacks up against the rest of iBasso line-up and other IEMs.

    ibasso_it01s-19.jpg

    Unboxing and Accessories.

    IT01s arrived in a smaller size compact secure packaging box, like IT01. While there is nothing fancy about the box, I do appreciate the detailed description and the spec of the product on the back of it.

    ibasso_it01s-01.jpg ibasso_it01s-02.jpg ibasso_it01s-03.jpg ibasso_it01s-04.jpg

    Inside you will find a very comprehensive selection of accessories, including a high quality replacement 2.5mm MMCX terminated balanced cable, 2.5mm to 3.5mm pigtail cable adaptor, round “puck” storage case, 3 sets of S/M/L silicone eartip pairs with slightly different bore opening, 2 pairs of M/L foam eartips which I personally find less irritating then Comply tips, 2 pieces of spare replacement screens with extra o-rings, and a quick start guide and warranty card.

    ibasso_it01s-05.jpg ibasso_it01s-06.jpg

    I will talk more about the cable and the adaptor in the next section. The case is lightweight, cover stays on secure while protecting the content, but some might find its size not exactly pocket friendly. Eartips provide a great selection to find the perfect fit with the best seal. While I have accumulated quite a collection of eartips in the last few years, I use all iBasso IEMs with their stock eartips since they fit me very well. The removable/replaceable screen is part of a new design, and I think it was a good idea to include spares, along with extra rubber o-rings – those are small and easy to lose. Plus, during frequent tip rolling (eartips replacement) they can get a bit loose.

    ibasso_it01s-07.jpg

    Cable.

    IT01 surprised everyone by including a high quality pure copper cable. IT01s stepped it up with a brand new 5N purity Mono Crystal copper cable with a silver-plated shielding. Pretty much it’s a higher purity silver-plated copper cable manufactured using a more advanced mono-crystal tech. The cable is soft, pliable, non-microphonic, has only a pair of Left/Right twisted wires terminated by 2.5mm TRRS gold plated balanced plug, and splitting into a single wire on each side going to earphone’s MMCX connector. One noticeable improvement, IT01s cable is a lot easier to remove from the shell in comparison to IT01 where I've struggled a bit with its copper cable.

    The housing of headphone plug, y-splitter, chin slider, and housing of earphone connectors are all have a matching aluminum design, the same one used in their premium CB12s series cables. Each side has a pre-shaped flexible transparent earhook going to earphone connector, and each connector, besides R/L printed marking, also has a Red/Blue ring for a clear visual id of the sides. I think it’s a great idea to use color rings since printed marking sometimes is not easy to see.

    In addition to the cable, you also get a matching 2.5mm TRRS (balanced female socket) to 3.5mm TRS (single ended male plug) pigtail adaptor which extends the cable, without adding extra bulk to the connector, and gives you an option to drive IT01s from either single ended or balanced sources. Today with so many DAPs using 3.5mm, 2.5mm, and 4.4mm connections, the only way to ensure full compatibility is to have 2.5mm balanced terminated cable with either 3.5mm or 4.4mm adaptor.

    ibasso_it01s-08.jpg

    And speaking for 4.4mm adaptor, iBasso just introduced CA04, using their 2.5mm balanced female socket and new 4.4mm right angled balanced male plug. It’s the same 4.4mm connector as in new CB12s-44 cable. The wires of this pigtail CA04 adaptor are the same as the one used in IT01s cable, a perfect match including the same aluminum finish connector housing.

    ibasso_it01s-17.jpg ibasso_it01s-18.jpg

    Design.

    The shape of IT01s shell is very similar to the original IT01, small, compact, ergonomic. It has two vents, closer to the nozzle and next to the dynamic driver. I hear absolutely no driver flex with IT01s in comparison to an occasional one with IT01 (even with the same eartips). The difference here is probably due to a new nozzle design with a removable screen (threaded) and o-ring for a better seal when you tighten the screen at the tip of the nozzle. It’s a clever idea to be able to clean and replace the nozzle screen, but also makes you wish for one of those sound filters. Maybe iBasso can consider that in the future.

    The shell itself is made from an electroplated lightweight material and comes in two flavors – blue mist and smoke grey. The smoke grey version I received has a mirror reflection finish, making it more interesting as you look from different angles. Each shell has L/R marking. The nozzle is made from 304 austenitic stainless steel which has a non-magnetic property, probably a good idea since IT01s uses a very strong (high Tesla magnetic flux) driver magnet. The shell is very light, with each piece being about 8g.

    While IT01 used 5um multi-layered graphene (carbon) diaphragm, IT01s steps up with a new 10mm Carbon Nanotube Dome diaphragm which is even thinner at only 3.8um. Plus, the driver uses Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) coating on the actual dome. For sure, these are all big words and at the end of the day I just care about the sound performance while treating any IEM like a black box. But it’s hard to ignore the fact of how much R&D work iBasso put into development of these new drivers, even giving them a specific name: DiNaTT Dynamic Driver - Diamond-like coating (DLC) on a domed Nanotube driver, with Tesla Magnetic Flux Technology.

    ibasso_it01s-10.jpg ibasso_it01s-11.jpg ibasso_it01s-12.jpg ibasso_it01s-13.jpg

    The fit.

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    Sound Analysis.

    I analyzed IT01s sound performance using DX200Ti w/amp8 and LGPT sources while playing a variety of my favorite test tracks, such as Agnes Obel “The curse”, Sandro Cavazza “So much better” (Avicii remix), C-Bool “Never go away”, Ed Sheeran “Shape of you”, Galantis “Hunter”, Iggy Azalea “Black widow”, Indila “Boite en argent”, Robin Schultz “Oh child”, David Elias “Vision of her”, and Michael Jackson “Dirty Diana”.

    IT01s has a nicely balanced signature with a neutral natural tonality with a decent retrieval of details. Depending on pair up, in a few cases a noticed the presentation of mids being pushed slightly forward, giving vocals a little better definition or slightly back, giving the sound a mild v-shaped signature with a little more impact in low end. But overall the sound sig is relatively balanced with all frequencies being equally represented.

    The soundstage is wide, with a nice depth, pushing it closer to holographic expansion depending on source pair up, suggesting that it has potentials and will scale up depending on a quality of the source. The same with layering and separation of the sounds where it can scale up/down with a source, meaning it's never a limiting factor and will exhibit an excellent layering and separation of instruments and vocals, as well as great imaging to pin-point accurate sound position.

    Bass has a nice low-end extension with a deep textured sub-bass rumble and a fast mid-bass punch, linearly tuned, not too elevated, but certainly above neutral level. Its quantity also scales up depending on the source pair up (covered in Pair Up section of the review), demonstrating how low and deep it can get when pushed harder. Also, the effect of bass quantity variation was noticeable between SPC, pure copper, and hybrid SPC/copper iBasso cable pair-ups.

    Mids are neutral, with lower mids having a decent body, while upper mids being natural, detailed, not exactly micro detailed, but with plenty of clarity and resolution. In some pair ups it could get a little brighter where mids presentation was a little more forward, but it stays closer to its natural detailed tonality.

    Treble has a nice controlled sparkle, never gets too bright or splashy, and don't expect the treble extension to be too airy. Treble is well defined, but also more natural in tonality and presentation.

    ibasso_it01s-14.jpg

    Comparison.

    In the following comparison I used the same sources and music selection as in sound analysis, while volume matching ever pair to ensure the accuracy of this test.

    IT01s vs IT01 - there are improvements in soundstage expansion, width specifically, when comparing these two. Sound signature is another noticeable difference where IT01 is more v-shaped, while IT01s is more balanced in tuning. I'm hearing a more coherent balanced bass in IT01s below 200Hz, not as elevated as in IT01. The rest of the tonality is very similar, though IT01s mids do have a little more body and sounds a bit more organic. I also hear IT01s as having a better technical performance with improved layering between the sounds and a clearer separation. It's obvious that IT01 is tuned with more bass, but even when I reduce it by about 6dB around 60Hz, IT01 tuning still doesn't exactly match a more balanced sig of IT01s, and IT01s layering/separation of the sounds is still ahead of IT01 performance.

    IT01s vs IT03 - I'm hearing IT01s to have a slightly wider soundstage with a more intimate depth, while IT03 has a more out of your head soundstage expansion which pushes mids further away. IT03 has a more V-shaped tuning with more sub-bass rumble, leaner mids, and a bit more aggressive lower treble peaks, while IT01s tuning is more balanced with a more linear bass tuning, more neutral lower mids and more organic upper mids, and more control in lower treble. In terms of technical performance, IT01s dynamic layered sound is not too far off.

    IT01s vs IT04 - I know these are in a different class, but it's hard to ignore that IT01s sounds like a scaled down version of IT04, perhaps due to some similarities in bass tuning and mids presentation. IT04 soundstage is wider, giving that IEM a more holographic soundstage, while both have a similar soundstage depth. In terms of signature, both have a similar balanced tuning, with a nice sub-bass rumble, more neutral lower mids, and organic detailed upper mids. IT04 mids are more transparent, more layered, and have a better retrieval of details, but IT01s is not too bad either, just scaled down. One noticeable difference is in treble, with IT04 having more control in lower treble, making it more natural, while IT01s is a little brighter, with higher peaks. If you had your eyes on IT04, but your budget can take you as far as IT03, I would recommend looking into IT01s.

    IT01s vs Simgot EM3 - Both IEMs have a very similar soundstage expansion. In terms of tuning, it's quite different. With EM3 being noticeably v-shaped, the bass is more elevated, lower mids noticeably more recessed, upper mids brighter and thinner, and treble is a little harsher. In comparison, IT01s tuning is more balanced and more coherent, bass has a similar quality with a more balanced quantity, lower mids are more neutral, upper mids are more natural and more layered, and lower treble of IT01s has a more controlled sparkle.

    IT01s vs Oriveti New Primacy - IT01s soundstage has more width, while depth is similar with NP. NP mid-bass has more slam, while both have a similar sub-bass rumble, though IT01s bass has more control and sounds more layered. In lower mids, NP has a thicker body, while IT01s is more neutral. Upper mids are warmer, thicker in NP, while IT01s is more revealing, more transparent, more layered/separated. NP treble is also smoother and more rolled off in comparison to a brighter and crisper IT01s treble.

    IT01s vs Mee Audio Pinnacle P1 - IT01s and P1 have a very similar soundstage expansion, both in width and depth. With bass, there are also similarities, where lower end is more balanced and not as much elevated. Lower mids are a touch leaner in P1, while IT01s lower mids are more neutral. Going up from there, P1 upper mids are much brighter and more revealing, while IT01s is more natural in tonality. Treble is where I hear the biggest difference where IT01s has a more controlled well-defined sparkle while P1 is elevated, spikey, and harsher. P1 treble has a lot of energy while IT01s treble has more control.

    ibasso_it01s-15.jpg

    Pair up.

    With an average sensitivity of 109dB and impedance of 16ohm, IT01s is easy to drive, but as I mentioned many times already - the performance scales ups depending on the quality of the source. I know it's expected with many high end IEMs, but not always the case with budget monitors, creating a bottleneck in performance due to their limitations. Contrary to that, I found IT01s to scale up quite well with higher end sources.

    iBasso DX200Ti w/amp8 - very wide, nearly holographic soundstage expansion. Balanced sound signature with a slightly elevated low end that has a deep sub-bass rumble, above neutral mid-bass punch, neutral lower mids with just a little extra body, natural detailed upper mids, and controlled treble sparkle. No hissing.

    Lotoo Paw Gold Touch - wide soundstage expansion. Balanced sound signature with just a touch forward presentation of mids. Sub-bass rumble and mid-bass punch are linear, nicely balanced, above neutral for sure, lower mids are neutral, upper mids are natural detailed, treble is well controlled. This pair up makes IT01s a little more revealing without being harsh or loosing its natural tonality. Hiss free.

    A&K SP1000 SS - wide soundstage expansion. Balanced sound signature, with a mild hint of v-shaped sig due to a little extra rumble in sub-bass and extra punch in mid-bass, with neutral naturally-revealing mids, and well controlled treble sparkle. Bass in this pair up hits a little harder. Hiss free performance.

    iBasso DX120 - wide soundstage expansion. Sound sig is mostly balanced (w/setting of original sound mode and sharp roll off filter), just a little hint of a mild v-shape since I hear a slight elevation in sub-bass rumble and a little stronger mid-bass punch, natural detailed mids, and a well defined treble sparkle. It's a good pair up, though technically not on the same level as DX200Ti or some other flagship. Also, there is some hissing when the volume is down to zero, or in a quiet passage of the song, but less noticeable at a normal playback volume.

    Hiby R6 - wide soundstage expansion. Balanced sound signature with a deep velvety sub-bass rumble, hard hitting mid-bass punch, neutral lower mids, revealing detailed upper mids, and crisp treble sparkle. Here, mids are a little brighter, but never getting too harsh. Connected directly the treble is a bit too crisp as well, most likely due to high output impedance of R6. When used with iEMatch, upper mids and lower treble sounds more natural and under better control. No hissing.

    Shanling M0 - wide soundstage expansion. Sound signature is more balanced, though tonality is a little more on a warmer side. Nice bass extension and punch, neutral warmer lower mids, natural organic upper mids, well controlled treble. The warmer tonality of the sound affects the technical performance here, making the sound not as layered and having less revealing retrieval of details. This is more of a smoother, warmer pair up example where the performance scaled down, relatively speaking. No hissing.

    Samsung Galaxy S9 - wide soundstage expansion. Balanced sound signature with a warmer tonality, maybe even with a hint of a mild v-shape sig. Bass is linear with a nice balance between sub-bass and mid-bass, though the low end is less articulate. Mids are neutral, warm, smooth, detailed, but not as layered in this pair up. Treble is well controlled with less sparkle. This pair up reminds me of M0, nice smooth balanced natural sound with lesser technical performance. No hissing.

    ibasso_it01s-16.jpg

    Conclusion.

    When I started to listen and compare IT01s to IT01, it felt like deja vu because it brought back memories of listening to a balanced tuned IT04 after switching from v-shaped IT03. But in that (IT04 vs IT03) comparison there were more design changes with a different dynamic driver and additional BA. IT01s accomplished a similar sound transformation by replacing a single original DD with an all new dynamic driver type, creating a more mature balanced tuned IEM.

    But it wasn't just the new signature which I find closer to my sound preference, but also the technical performance and the ability to scale it up with different sources which impressed me the most. Every IEM has its limitations, but IT01s surprised me how well it scales up to a higher level of sound performance when paired up with higher end flagship sources, something which many of my other "budget" IEMs can't handle. Of course, I'm not up to date with all the latest flavor-of-the-month sub $200 IEMs, but based on what I have access to, I find IT01s performance to be quite impressive, and already starting to have a wishful thinking of IT04s with IT01s dynamic driver!

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      iBo0m, Dsnuts, Layman1 and 1 other person like this.
    1. TYATYA
      Your comparision IT01s v.s IT04 tell extractly. But the amount of difference is night and day. Who using it01s should not listen to it04 as a demo bcs there is a shock when come back to his/her it01s...
      One word : Blurry.
      (01s is too blurry against 04).
      Addition, printed letters on the earpiece fastly wear out
      TYATYA, Apr 13, 2019
    2. szore
      Whenever I see the marble counter top, I know I'm in for a Twister review!
      szore, Apr 15, 2019
      Colors and twister6 like this.
    3. iBo0m
      Good impressions! Which ear tips did you like the most paired with IT01s? :)
      iBo0m, Apr 21, 2019
  2. Layman1
    The IT Guys - Episode 4: iBasso IT01s Reviewed
    Written by Layman1
    Published Apr 9, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Excellent power and control in the low end, soundstage, separation, detail
    Cons - none really
    A review of the iBasso IT01s In-Ear Monitor (IEM):


    Introduction:


    As one of the original and well-respected old-timers on the DAP (Digital Audio Player) scene, iBasso raised a few eyebrows a couple of years ago when they decided to venture into the congested and competitive IEM market. They released the IT03, a hybrid IEM featuring a dynamic driver combined with two balanced armatures, priced at $259 at the time of writing.


    Since then, in a devastating one-two combo, they have released the IT01 (a single dynamic driver, priced at $99), followed by the IT04 (1 DD plus 3 BA’s, priced at $499).


    And now, in a final roundhouse kick to the chops, they have upped the ante yet further with the release of the IT01s! Priced at a competitive $199 :)


    The IT01s can be purchased directly from iBasso (and shipped to many locations) at the following link (correct at time of writing): http://ibasso.com/cp_xq_dy.php?id=7763


    Photos:

    IMG_5238.JPG IMG_5239.JPG IMG_5241.JPG IMG_5243.JPG IMG_5244.JPG IMG_5245.JPG IMG_5246.JPG IMG_5247.JPG IMG_5248.JPG IMG_5249.JPG

    I got the smoke grey model; a blue model is also available. Both look classy, but I have to say, I reallylike the silver one! It looks extremely classy and well done, and I’m very happy with the build quality. I personally find the MMCX fittings to be very well done. I’ve swapped the cable on these several times now and never had any problem doing so.

    As with previous iBasso products, the packaging and attention to detail are a credit to the company and a delight as a customer. A wide selection of tips, a premium cable and a metal carrying case all add to the feeling of getting terrific value for money.



    The Fit:

    Regarding the fit, I found them to be very small, light and comfortable to wear for long periods with no fatigue.


    Tip Selection:

    This is an important factor with these IEM’s that should not be overlooked.

    The amount of bass impact and presence will be directly affected by this, so I highly recommend spending time to try different sizes, materials and styles. You may find that you get the best results with something you’ve not previously been much of a fan of.


    Whilst I’d certainly encourage one and all to try the Symbio wide-bore tips, the key take-home point/valuable life-lesson here is simply “Tips Matter” – experiment and go with what you know works well for you (allowing for the fact that an ear tip that works well with one IEM may not fit so well on another).





    The Sound:


    As ever, my preferred method of testing is to try out the product(s) in question with a selection of songs from various genres and to let that process draw out the comparative strengths and weaknesses of each product.

    Also, for the purposes of this review, I have used my main DAP to play the music on for testing; the iBasso DX200 (with AMP8 and CB13 cable).



    Chan Chan – Buena Vista Social Club (HDTracks 24/96 FLAC):

    Again, the timbre stands out here. The song is a smouldering slow and deep mix of acoustic bass, guitars and hand-struck percussion. A bunch of world-class musicians playing with synergy and passion. This is presented with authority and excellent separation, imaging and placement by the IT01s.

    A trumpet comes in at 2:37 and this is a good test for an IEM. On some, it can sound (for me) wince-inducingly sharp. However, when presented well, it is jaw-droppingly emotive.

    I’m delighted to report that it was just a moment of bliss here with the IT01s.


    The Gulf of Mexico – Shawn Mullins (16/44 FLAC):


    This is one of my go-to review songs.

    I felt that whilst the IT01s is fairly bright in the upper end, it didn’t have as quite as much sparkle as (for example) the IT04 or some other high-end IEM’s I’ve reviewed. However, this is not to say it’s lacking in this area; it’s just not as pronounced in the sound signature as with other some IEM’s I’ve heard.

    Conversely, I’ve heard many that lack the sparkle of the IT01s.

    This is a song that shines with an IEM that has brightness and the ability to accurately present the timbre of the vocals and instruments. While the IT01s is not exceptional in the quality of sparkle, it does indeed represent the timbre of the guitar and vocals on this track beautifully.

    I could just lie back and sink into it; it’s a pretty special feeling.

    Oh, there’s a brief section at the end featuring hand-struck drums (bongos? I’m not too knowledgeable about percussion!). The IT01s handles this terrifically well; it’s where the dynamic driver in this hybrid IEM really comes into its own. Wonderful timbre, captivating sound, deep and rich.



    Life in a Northern Town – The Dream Academy (16/44 FLAC):



    Things that struck me as I listened to this song:

    The sense of spaciousness engendered by the expansive soundstage.

    The very impressive balance; it has a powerful bass with great impact, but without sacrificing speed and responsiveness. It’s excellent but does not bleed into the mids or suffer from any boom or bloat.

    The low end brings a richness and depth to the songs that benefit from it, without any unwelcome intrusion into the songs where it would be a negative thing to do so.





    Stop Taking My Time – Club 8 (16/44 FLAC):



    This track features a driving electronic beat and synths, combined with engaging female vocals. A brief quote from my review of iBasso’s IT04: “After listening to this track plenty over the last few months, the first thing I noticed when plugging in the IT04 today was how much better the vocals sounded.

    I love the IT03, but its V-shaped signature means that whilst it does some things spectacularly, there are areas in which is relatively lacking. The mids have been described as being somewhat recessed. I can’t say I’d noticed this in any great detail previously, but listening to this track today, what struck me was the IT04’s significant improvement in rendering vocal timbre and character.

    It really brought out the qualities of her voice, and it does the same with male vocals on other track too”.


    What struck me in listening to the IT01s is that whilst it seems to have a low end that matches the original IT01 in power and authority (but without bloom or any colouration of the sound signature), with regards to the rest of the sound signature, I feel it most closely resembles the IT04 in both character and performance, which is no mean feat for an IEM at around a third of the price!



    Marit Larsen – Faith & Science (16/44 FLAC):


    This is a spectacular pop track from the Norwegian former member of teen girl group M2M.

    One of many things I love about this track is that the drums are gorgeously mastered, with a really solid thump. The IT01s delivers this with terrific authority and percussive force.

    I can physically feel it in my head. Which is obviously what I want, always :p

    On this track, she pitches her already naturally high voice even higher, but there’s no hint of sibilance or sharpness.



    Conclusion:


    Compared principally with the IT01, my feeling is that the IT01s offers a more balanced, linear tuning. That’s not in any way to imply that the sound is sterile or analytically dry.

    It has a too much of a subtle musicality and natural timbre going on for that to occur, although I would say it doesn't attain the levels of cohesiveness and musicality that made the IT04 so special for me. On the other hand, should I expect it to at one third the price?

    These qualities also help the deep and wide soundstage and the separation to blend in with the overall presentation, rather than standing out obtrusively. Add to this superior transparency and resolution and what you end up with is really quite something.
      SteveOliver and HungryPanda like this.
    1. SteveOliver
      Great review. I couldn't have said it better, no I literally couldn't have said it better.
      SteveOliver, Apr 9, 2019
      Layman1 likes this.
  3. Zelda
    iBasso IT01s
    Written by Zelda
    Published Feb 5, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Build quality
    Great sound quality; nicely balanced and very natural tonality; control
    Comfortable and ergonomic design
    Removable nozzle screens
    Quality cable; strong MMCX connectors
    Review - iBasso IT01s

    Website - iBasso Audio

    it01s (3).jpg

    Official IT01s info

    Specifications

    • Drivers: Dynamic 10mm; DiNaTT
    • Frequency range: 10Hz ~ 43kHz
    • Sensitivity: 109 ± 2 dB
    • Impedance: 16Ω
    • Cable: 5N Mono crystal silver-plated copper; MMCX connectors, 1.2m length
    • Plug: 2.5mm Balanced TRRS + extra 3.5m TRS adapter
    • Weight: 8g.

    Price: U$200.

    Available in two color themes, Smoke Grey & Blue Mist.

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    The box is the same as the original IT01, discreet, compact and hassle free, with the iBasso logo at the front and specifications and extra info on the back. The earpieces are securely placed inside foam material and all the accessories snugly stored inside the round metal case. The ear tips selection is wide, 9 pairs of silicone tips and 2 pairs of the own iBasso foam tips. With the new nozzle design featuring removable screens there is an extra pair of screen with spare O rings if needed.

    it01s (9).jpg

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    Design

    The iBasso IT01s follows the same design as the previous IT01 model. It is good that iBasso decided to keep the same shape and compact form factor for this new model, as the fit and comfort was already pretty good with the IT01. There are just a couple of obvious innovations on the 01s, though. First, the shell material, while it seems to be the same polymer (plastic) component, it is now finished by electroplating process on the outer part, and probably on the inner side for acoustics effects. It may or may not be a huge improvement on the overall build quality and durability, but definitely gives a much nicer look on the earphone with a shiny, mirror like finish. Moreover, while the nozzle is made of stainless steel (304) like the IT01, the 01s features now a removable threaded screen; the main idea is for easier cleaning, which indeed is very easy to replace. There is a small rubber o-ring at the base of it, probably to avoid scratching the nozzle. The package includes an extra pair of screens and a few rings too.




    Fit is great with the IT01s, just as it was with the IT01. Same fixed over-ear IEM fit and seal, very lightweight and ergonomic shape. If anything, the removable screen does add an extra thin layer on the width of the nozzle and a bit more length; differences are practically null, but help a bit for extra tip rolling. Isolation is good, above average for a dynamic in-ear despite the two small vents (like the IT01).



    it01s (15).jpg

    A more obvious change is on the included cable. It's a mono (5N) crystal copper silver plated wire, now consisting of just two strands, instead of the four wire configuration of the IT01's cable, but thicker and also heavier. It appears to be of higher quality, though not as soft as the copper cable of the IT04 and IT01, and does carry a bit more weight. Like the IT04 cable, this one is also terminated in a 2.5mm balanced straight plug and arrives already attached to the short 3.5mm plug adapter. Using the IT01s with the extra 3.5mm cable makes is bulkier and not compact enough to fit into the included round case.

    it01s (16).jpg

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    The MMCX connectors are the same used on the other iBasso sets, with extended plugs and 4 split for tighter connection to the earpieces which avoid sudden disconnection and rotation.

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    Sound Quality

    While the IT01s is practically identical in the outer design and also utilizes a single dynamic driver of 10mm diameter, the actual driver technology is very different on both models. The IT01 uses a graphene, multi layered Tesla 5um diaphragm, whereas this new 01s is even thinner of about 3.8um. Moreover, the new model mixes Carbon Nano tube (CNT) for diaphragm with Diamond like coating (DLC). In short, iBasso called this DiNaTT. Yes, it sounds like very cool high tech for a single yet affordable earphone, and while what really matters is the sonic performance, it may give a rough idea on what to expect.

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    iBasso suggests to have at least 100 hrs of use on the IT01s for better performance and 200+ for best results. Out of the box the IT01s already sounds very good for the price, but still had them running for the recommended time in order to give more solid impressions.

    The IT01s brings a very well balanced signature with nice musical presentation. It could be described as being kind of neutral as it doesn't show a particular emphasis on any certain frequency region, but it is not a flat neutral reference type of sound by any means. Rather, the IT01s has a very natural tonality with a delicate sense of for warmth that plays very well for any genres, and might be one of the most natural and coherent IEMs at this price range I've tried so far.

    Bass is very well weighted with great balance from sub to mid-bass. Quantity-wise it is definitely north of neutral but never overwhelming, with quite effortless extension and good depth. Speed is high but not aggressive in attack and the bass decay is very natural. Capable of showing strong punch and rumble when the track asks for yet remains true to the source. Dynamics and control are great on the IT01s with a smooth texture; it gives enough weight to lower instruments and yet maintains very good layering and separation.

    Midrange is fairly neutral, smooth in texture, rich and with a slight touch of warmth without adding much color to the sound. There's great balance of fullness and air on it, neither too thick nor too lean, good weight and body. The instruments separation is remarkable and also puts vocals a tad forward; female singers sound sweet, and while having some brightness the control is very good, less prone to sibilance even on lower quality recordings.

    Highs have a small elevation for extra brightness. It is definitely not a treble oriented IEM, just a bit brighter than neutral compared to the other iBasso earphones, though it is still much smoother than some contenders like the Dunu Falcon-C or ADV GT3. Ear tips have more effect on the treble part, but it always balances very well with the lows and mids. The natural timbre is well noticed on the highs and despite the extra brightness it has a smooth flow. Treble control is excellent and very refined. Clarity, resolution and extension are very quite good; at least no roll-off to be noticed, and while micro-detail won't be very forward it is more due the less aggressive nature of the IT01s.

    Soundstage has good width and depth for an IEM at this price point, and as usual improves with more dedicated sources. The IT01s is spacious and gives very good imaging too. Transparency is a strong characteristic of the IT01s, and the overall presentation might depend on the source used, either reaching a wide u-shaped signature or a bit more midrange forwardness. Nevertheless, the IT01s keeps a very enjoyable balance in a smooth yet detailed and resolving sound.


    IT01 & IT04

    Technically speaking, the IT01s is a solid upgrade over the original IT01 in every single way. It has better bass control without the strong mid-bass lift, more forward and richer midrange and much better treble control, even though sounding brighter. Soundstage is a bit wider and mainly has a more coherent imaging with natural tonality. However, they do sound different to be considered a true upgrade in sound presentation, as the IT01 has a more fun, v-shaped signature while the IT01s is more balanced and all-rounder. While the IT01 is still a good offer for the $100 price, the IT01s is a strong rival for the higher $200 options.

    Similarly, the IT04 flagship offers a different presentation than the more affordable IT01s. The IT04 is on a higher level in terms of sound quality, with a much bigger, powerful and spacious sound, more immersive 3D imaging and extension. The bass on the IT04 is much stronger and deep, midrange is richer and detailed and treble reaches a further extension. Even so, the IT01s shares a very similar natural tonality with a very elegant timbre that reminds of the hybrid IT04 top model. Also, the IT01s has a more friendly design that should be less challenging for most users, unlike the very custom-like design of the IT04. So while the IT04 is a strong contender for a mid-tier IEM option, the IT01s could be still a safer bet.

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    Main gears used:
    iBasso IT01 & IT04, FLC 8N, Dunu Falcon-C, Advanced GT3, Lear Kaleido, Symphonium Audio Aurora, final E4000.
    iBasso DX120, Aune M1s (both 2.5mm Balanced), Fiio M3K, Shanling M0, Lotoo Pico.