iBasso IT01X

cappuchino

Previously known as sub30
It's a budget IE 400 Pro, tonality-wise, if you put filters in the nozzle~
Pros: Engaging and lively signature
Resolution
Extension on both ends
Basshead bass quantity
Exceptional technicalities especially for a single-DD
Very generous tips selection
Beautiful cable
Cons: Bass quality
Unnatural upper midrange
Lower treble intensity
Fit for some ears
Needs power to sound good – muddy with weaker sources
Disclaimer:

I would like to thank Paul and iBasso for providing a review unit of the IT01X. Rest assured that my impressions written in this review are my own personal thoughts and opinions and in no way influenced by outside parties.

I am not an expert in this hobby nor claim to be an audiophile. I just love listening to music and am fond of writing articles.


Introduction:

iBasso has long been in the audio game. Specializing in DAPs, or digital audio players, they have arguably created the most value for money DAPs with excellent sonic performance and rich features. A few years back, they ventured into the IEM world, with the AM05, IT07, and the IT00 as notable models to mention. We have here the latest iBasso IEM, named IT01x, with its “double-sided beryllium dynamic driver,” of which driver technology/implementation I have never encountered till this IEM. It utilizes an MMCX connection with an impedance of 16 ohms and a sensitivity of 108 dB.

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These were plugged to my Oppo Reno 4/Asus X409 with the Earstudio HUD100 MK2 (bypass, high power) for the review. It sounds muddy and dead with less than 1 Vrms devices. Dynamics, resolution, extension and technicalities improve with more power. Midrange is also brought up, particularly lower midrange/midrange proper. Treble wakes up.


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Build and Comfort: There was no mention of the shell material but it’s definitely not metal. They do advertise the paint used as “premium metallic paint used in luxury imported cars.” I have to say, that paint is both good-looking and not irritating for my ears. Shell is light and would disappear in your ears once you put them on (on the smaller side, as well). Shape is very smooth and have no sharp edges.

Nozzle is of above average length and width which might cause issues for other ears. I did encounter comfort issues, but this is due to switching to third-party tips (“lengthened” the nozzle). With that, I run them with the stock whirlwind tips (needs significant hours of break-in to be less stiff and more comfortable).

Cable is advertised as a 4-core high purity, silver-plated copper cable. Jack, splitter and slider (functional) are all made of metal and feels solid on hand. Handles well with the most comfortable preformed earhooks I’ve ever used. Regular thickness.

Isolation is average to below-average. Depends on tips used. Stock wide-bore tips have poor isolation.

Possible to be worn cable-down.



Package: 4 pairs of white wide-bore silicone tips (S/M/L). 3 pairs of translucent grey wide-bore silicone tips (S/M/L). 3 pairs of black regular-bore silicone tips (S/M/L). 3 pairs of grey/blue wide-bore silicone tips (S/M/L). 2 pairs of foam tips (S/M). Metal iBasso Audio-branded case. User Guide. Warranty card. 1 pair replacement screw-on nozzle w/ O-ring.


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Now, onto sound:

For this review, the IEM was left in stock mode, without mods using the whirlwind tips (small) and the Faaeal Hibiscus cable, with a listening volume of low-medium to medium.

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Bass:
warning – I perceive this as true basshead level in quantity (leaning towards sub-bass, lean-ish mid-bass; ~11 dB boost). Basshead to the point of being distracting when tracks utilize lower bass frequencies due to the tuning favoring that sub-region. Why do I say this? It’s because the quality can’t keep up with the elevation. Response is of the average attack and moderate decay which would have been fine if the IT01X didn’t have an 11 dB elevation, sub-bass focused tuning. One thing worth mentioning is that OOTB, the bass quantity was not this much to the point that I determined the signature as relatively neutral with a slight bass boost. Over time, it significantly increased. I don’t know if this is the burn-in phenomenon or just the driver loosening up or brain burn-in (or silicone tip break-in concerning fit). Extension is excellent for the price and will provide you with that satisfying rumble and movement of the “double-plated” beryllium dynamic driver. Tightness and texture are average which can't keep up with the quantity. Slight bass bleed perceived in drops but usually non-occurring.

Midrange: one more thing – this is not for those that want that natural/neutral midrange. It’s the most resolving midrange I’ve heard of the few IEMs I have sub-150 USD, but the upper midrange tonality is strange/unnatural (approaching nasal). I’m attributing this to the constant rise from upper midrange to lower treble. Very intimate and intense-sounding, especially female vocals - it bites and it growls. Male vocals/lower midrange sound noticeably recessed compared to female vocals/upper midrange (forward presentation) but still wouldn’t fall in the “lost” midrange category due to the technical capabilities. With brain burn-in, you can get used to the tonality. Quite fast actually, in my case. But there is a way better and easier solution.

Treble: crisp and airy. There’s a significant peak at lower treble which plays a huge role in why there’s a lot of perceivable macrodetail (maybe even too much; gets fatiguing over time ~3 hours) and the rather unnatural upper midrange tonality. Interestingly enough, while the treble region is generally energetic and does come close to sibilant and harsh levels, it’s half-a-step away from it. Doesn’t come off as grainy/thin even in badly recorded tracks. Splash is non-existent. I do have to note that weaker sources can’t make the treble alive – sounds muddy/dead with phones and such.

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Timbre:
Beryllium just hits different even if all I’ve ever heard are plated ones (still wondering what pure Be DD sounds like). The timbral characteristic of the IT01X is very organic-sounding.

Soundstage, Imaging, and Separation: Because the upper midrange/lower treble is very intimate, soundstage width suffers. Add in the bass quantity/quality that also eats away the stage width, and what you get is a narrow, longer-than-wide presentation. Thankfully, layering is excellent and there is great perception of height and depth of music. Imaging, due to the technical prowess of the driver, is sharp and separation will be able to handle any track but is adversely affected by bass quality when listening to sub-bass/lower bass-heavy songs.

Detail-retrieval: Astonishing macrodetail due to the tuning of the upper midrange/lower treble but gets fatiguing in longer sessions. Microdetail-retrieval is also excellent but is counteracted by the bass quantity though this does depend on how bass-heavy the track is.

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What you can do to fix the upper midrange:


Add a damping filter (standard density), and you have yourself a budget (highlighting the word) Sennheiser IE 400 Pro. So easy to do especially that the IT01X has removable nozzles.

Though the iBasso is in no way competing to the Sennheiser in terms of technicalities (most especially in soundstage), it now follows a similar tonality. This mod also takes away the fatigue from the IT01X. It was already similar in tuning in the bass department, but with the filter bringing down the upper midrange/lower treble, you get even closer.

In slower and simpler tracks, you can consider the two as a younger brother (teen) and his older brother (adult). They share a lot of characteristics, but what differentiates them is that the former is quite livelier while the latter acts more mature.

However, with more complex tracks, you’ll be able to hear how the IT01X is trying hard to keep up, particularly in bass response. The Sennheiser has way, waaay better and incomparable extension and overall response to the iBasso. Also keep in mind that this is 119 USD vs. 349.95 USD.


It’s not all improvements with this mod. One exchange is that it further highlights my issues with the bass quality especially when things get busy.

I think you can get closer in tuning with a denser filter, but I currently don’t have one to try. Might also “suffocate” the sound . Switching to foam tips is also another option to further remove the fatiguing aspect of the IT01X.



Conclusion:

A V-going-U signature with basshead bass quantity, lively midrange (albeit quite unnatural, for me), and crisp and airy treble, the IT01X is a good option for those that want such signature. Selling for 119 USD, just the package itself is worth it for that price. A great contender from iBasso. Better with a damping filter (preference).


3.5/5 – stock

4/5 – with damping filter

Averaged to 3.75/5, but as Head-Fi doesn't support said rating, rounded off to 4/5.


****If you have other questions/concerns with the IEM mentioned, feel free to message me****​
Last edited:
cappuchino
cappuchino
Dude (@Nazar70 ), check my past posts on the IT01X. I actually perceived them as bright-neutral with a slight bass boost (first days impressions). But then, over time, strangely, the bass quantity just started increasing and increasing. And thus, soundstage width decreased to the point that music is presented in-your-face.

I would so love to go balanced, but it would cost quite a lot 😅

Yeah, I do agree they're not all-rounders. Quite niche if you really want that midrange detail and resolution for ~100 USD.
jamato8
jamato8
I would say that if the soundstage got narrower, even single ended, and not larger with time, then something is wrong with the set of IT01X you have as that is nothing like what I hear on the ones I have here.
Nazar70
Nazar70
@cappuchino - "if you really want that midrange detail and resolution" - This is exactly what I paid attention to. IT01X will complement my collection (and they differ greatly in their signature from the others: ISN H40, Moondrop SSP, Reecho SG-03, Shanling AE3, Tanchjim Tanya and a few others). And in my opinion, the soundstage is also not that small - it is especially noticeable with binaural recordings.
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