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iBasso IT04

Rating:
4.875/5,
  1. Layman1
    IT has never sounded so exciting
    Written by Layman1
    Published Nov 8, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Gorgeous looks, musical/reference tuning, wide soundstage and separation, detail.
    Cons - Nothing really, except that it could use a smaller and more transportable carry case.
    A review of the iBasso IT04 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 year or so 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, hooking with value and punching above their weight 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).


    I received the IT04 a while back (2-3 months?).

    After accidentally bashing one of the earpieces, it developed a small fault and when I emailed Paul at iBasso he immediately asked me to send it in for checking and repair.

    Note that this was entirely my own fault and no fault of the IEM itself!

    I can only praise the swift and responsive customer service at iBasso and I just received the IT04 back today.


    Now here’s a thing. Since I had it the first time, I somehow managed to divest myself of various pieces of equipment and currently have no TOTL earphones.

    I’ve been listening to the IT03 via the DX200 (using AMP8 and iBasso’s excellent CB13 cable).


    I’ve also just rearranged my on-the-go set up to a DX120 paired with the IT01 (and a CB12 cable).

    I listened to the IT01 extensively yesterday and today for the first time in ages, and it was just like the first time I heard it; I was astonished at the level of quality coming from this $99 IEM and found myself mightily enjoying its extremely musical and engaging sound signature, not to mention the soundstage and gobs of detail (which I just in fact mentioned, heh).


    I had planned to replace the IT03 with the IT04 in my ‘home listening’ set up sometime tomorrow.

    But curiosity got the better of me, and I did a bit of A/B testing of the IT04 with the IT01 and IT03.


    I was immediately blown away by its qualities and remembered why I’d loved it so much in the first place. It has gone straight back to being my favourite IEM.


    Hence, I decided to force myself to make the time to finish writing this review that I began many weeks ago!


    The IT04 can be purchased directly from iBasso (and shipped to many locations) at the following link (correct at time of writing): http://www.ibasso.com/cp_xq_dy.php?id=6962




    The Fit:

    Regarding the fit, I think iBasso have really nailed it this time.

    The IT03 was designed to mimic in some ways the fit of a custom IEM, featuring a heavily sculpted inner surface designed to mold itself to your ear shape.

    A key feature of this was a prominently protruding nodule, designed as an anchoring point that remained mostly unnoticeable when correctly positioned. However, sometimes I had become aware of it digging uncomfortably into my ear, but this is due to me either failing to put it in correctly first time, or fiddling with it unconsciously and moving it slightly out of position.


    With the IT04, I can only say that although it looks similar, the feeling I experience is that this has been dialled back to a slightly more subtle fit, and it benefits from this in my opinion. I don’t feel them at all, and I’ve been wearing them non-stop for 3 hours now.


    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).






    Photos:

    I got the silver model; a blue model is also available. Both look great, but I have to say, I really like 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. Perhaps an extra, more portable carrying pouch (like the leather one which came with the IT03) might be a useful addition, as the metal case, whilst gorgeous and bomb-proof, is not so practical for on the go usage.

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    Note that I am using my own CB13 cable here; the product comes with the excellent CB12s cable, details of which can be found here: http://www.ibasso.com/cp_xq_dy.php?id=6819#page1

    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.

    I have a few tracks which I’ve only found available on MP3; the rest are FLAC or WAV in 16/44 or 24/192.
    As a way to test and benchmark, I have A/B tested the IT04 predominantly with the IT03.

    Regrettably, I do not have access to any IEM’s within the price range of the IT04, although I may have access to some TOTL IEM’s in the coming months, which will be benchmarked against the IT04 as well as each other, so watch out for that! I’ll update this review if I have any significant developments.


    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).


    Preamble aside, let us proceed to the meat and two veg* of this review, namely, the SOUND:


    *vegetarians may feel free to substitute meat with tofu.

    “Or substitute ham with...I don’t know.. chicken..” (Alan Partridge).



    Life in a Northern Town – The Dream Academy:

    Well, this was I think the 5th track I listened to with the IT04 tonight.

    I’d recently discovered this song (can’t believe I’d never heard it before!) and have been listening to it a lot over the last few weeks. So you can imagine my surprise to notice almost immediately some new details in the song that had passed me by in all my previous listenings! Lovely background percussion that starts around 39 seconds in. It’s very subtle but this is a good example of the way in which the IT04 does very well in picking out details.

    In fact, not even picking them out, because that makes it sound analytical.
    Rather, it just immerses you in the sound and you can’t help noticing things along the way.


    Stop Taking My Time – Club 8:

    This track features a driving electronic beat and synths, combined with engaging female vocals. 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 (whereas the IT04's mids are comparatively more forward). 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 tracks too.


    The Coast – Paul Simon (HDTracks 24/96 FLAC):

    This song features what I’ve been advised is probably a hand-struck drum that comes in at around 12 seconds in. The drum has a v-shaped sound and in the space of a second or less, dives deep down into the sub-bass region and then back up again.
    On every IEM that I’ve heard thus far, this sound is not especially remarkable.
    With the IT03 however, this bass effect is visceral, deeply textured, impactful and very noticeable.

    I was hoping that the IT04 would replicate this effect, but sadly, it is the same as all other IEM’s I’ve tried in this regard. Note that “all other IEM’s” in this case happens to include $1’500 - $2’500+ flagship IEM’s, so I wouldn’t say it could be considered a failing on the part of the IT04!

    This is just one specific thing that I loved on the IT03, and I imagine that in order to replicate the same quality on the IT04 would inevitably result in a modification of the sound signature, probably skewing it back towards something more v-shaped again. But this is not the purpose of the IT04, so I can overlook this.


    Hobotalk – Walks With Me (from Beauty in Madness, 16/44 FLAC):

    This song, by a relatively obscure Scottish band, is one of my all-time favourite songs. A piece of pure bliss; warm and wistful, slightly melancholic without being cold or depressing, beautiful and peaceful in equal measure.

    After some extensive back and forth testing between the IT03 and IT04 on this track, this song is helping me to clarify for myself some of the differences I’m perceiving between the IT03 and the IT04.

    The IT03 astonished me with its separation and the size of its soundstage. The feeling that everything was being experience in a wide-open setting.

    Analytically, I could say that these individual qualities are at least equalled, if not exceeded with the IT04. However, there seems to be a touch more body and thickness perhaps with the IT04, which means the soundstage and separation don’t stand out as noticeably as they do on the IT03.

    This song begins with fingerstyle guitar plucking. The IT03 wonderfully brings across the physicality of the sound; the quality confined mostly to expertly-implemented dynamic drivers of being able to let you feel the sound, not only hear it. I can really feel the plucking and twanging of the strings.

    The IT04 does not have this affect, at least not in the very noticeably quantities of the IT03. However, where the IT03 excels in presenting the physical aspects of the sound, the IT04 excels in presenting the timbre of the sound, with wonderful naturalness and musicality. It certainly pulls far ahead of the IT03 in this regard.

    Also, in the beginning of the song, when there are relatively few instruments playing, the IT03 again just presents this beautiful, wide open soundstage, full of separation, clarity and detail.

    In this regard, it does slightly better than the IT04 at this stage, as it enables the slight echo effect applied to the vocals in this track to really increase the feeling of space.
    However, once the full array of instruments are introduced, the more V-shaped sound signature of the IT03 becomes ever so slightly detrimental here, as it loses something of the huge soundstage amidst all the congestion.

    Conversely, the comparatively more linear and reference tuning of the IT04 allows it to maintain its soundstage and keep things relatively more separated and open, whilst still allowing all the natural timbre of the instruments and vocals to shine.


    Ray Lamontagne - A Falling Through:

    This track features a gorgeous drum beat in the background, a delightful deep thump with significant bass weight and presence, that still doesn’t dominate the song but increases its emotion. Along with this, the strumming of the acoustic guitar is a great test for an IEM’s faithful representation of timbre.

    So, again here the IT04 pulled ahead in its performance. It was completely captivating the way in which every strum and ring of the guitar strings were presented, along with the delicacy of the singer’s normally powerful and gravelly voice. Everything just sounds SO lifelike and right.

    Conclusion:


    Compared principally with the IT03, my feeling is that the IT04 offers a more balanced, linear and reference tuning. That’s not in any way to imply that the sound is sterile or analytically dry.

    There’s far too much musicality and gorgeous natural timbre going on for that to occur.

    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.
    My overall feeling regarding the IT04 is one of exceptionally well-executed balance and harmony.

    The remarkable tactile feel (musically speaking) of the IT03 is probably the only thing I could say that I feel is lacking in the IT04, and as I’ve already said, I haven’t found that in any other IEM’s so far that I’ve tried, even TOTL flagship models costing 10 times the price. Doubtless it’s out there; I’ve just yet to hear it.
    This small caveat aside, I cannot really fault the IT04 in any way.

    Memory affords me the knowledge that of course there are much more expensive IEM’s out there that can do things better than the IT04, but I struggle to think of any IEM’s that can compete with the IT04 at anything approaching its price range. By way of disclaimer, I am not very knowledgeable about this section of the market, so it’s not to declare that there the IT04 has no rivals at its price point. However, what I feel I can confidently say is that this is mid-fi level, bordering on hi-fi.
    At the mid-fi level, I’d expect it to hold its own against anything else.

    The Hi-Fi level, as has been much commented on, is currently pushing its way ever higher into the financial stratosphere, with $1.5k - $3k IEM’s pretty much the standard and some recent releases exceeding $5k. In light of this, to get a performance at the level of the IT04 for a ‘mere’ $500 brings joy to the heart, and not to mention the bank account.
    Which I just mentioned.


    Yet again, iBasso have produced a product that offers both terrific value for money and a sound that can compete with products well above the price point they’ve placed it at.
    The slogan of the iBasso company is ‘Enjoy The Music’.
    Thanks to the IT04, I am doing so in abundance :)
    Many thanks to iBasso, and to you all for reading!
  2. ExpatinJapan
    The silver surfer
    Written by ExpatinJapan
    Published Oct 11, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Balanced, coherent, clarity, excellent cable, scales up well
    Cons - slight soft v shape, tight mmcx connectors
    IBasso IT04 Review
    - Expatinjapan


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    iBasso IT04 and iBasso DX200 with Amp 4 and CA02 2.5mm to 4.4mm adapter (not included)

    iBasso IT04 review
    -expatinjapan

    http://www.ibasso.com/cp_xq_dy.php?id=6962

    Stunningly sexy and mysterious to the eye. A Holy Mountain of audiophilia bathed in the Santa Sangre of the blessed audiophile, a traveling mans earphone whilst he goes all El Topo.

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    iBasso IT04 and iBasso DX120, iBassos lastest dap.

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    Unboxing & build etc

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    Beautiful packaging as always from iBasso

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    iBasso did a wise thing. The cable included is their CB12 terminated at 2.5mm (balanced), they also included an adapter (2.5mm Female to 3.5mm male Single ended) that is the same weave and style as the cable (Not the CA01 adapter). Great for the majority of probable customers for this earphone that would enjoy having the options with many of mid to upper range daps of today having 3.5mm and 2.5mm jacks.

    The packaging is gorgeous, the insides are intimate with their unspoken promises of sonic bliss.

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    Tips, tips! Lots of tips to choose from.

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    Splendidly simple lines, from the smooth hard outer of the solid metal carrying circular case, to the velvety inner cushioning the beautiful well designed and crafted earphones.

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    A configuration of three Knowles Balanced Armatures and one Dynamic driver.

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    The whole gang is here!
    The red and blue is iBasso IT01, The middle in black is the iBasso IT03 and finally the IT04.

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    Specifications

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    Sound
    The iBasso IT04 packs three BAs and one DD within its shell, a bit unusual to start with, a break from the old one, two punch of two BAs and one DD, or four BAs and the ever reliable one DD.
    Having previously reviewed the earlier models the IT03 and the IT01 I was curious at what iBasso would produce as the development progressed.

    Looks wise it certainly is appealing, not only as an earphone but the whole package of box, cables, case etc. It does have that premium feel about it.

    As usual I got several hours (well over 100) on the IT04 before I progressed with this review. If you are an adherent to the belief of burn in you are surely satisfied, If not, well no harm done.

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    iBasso DX150, iBasso IT04 and (CB12 style) adapter (included).

    I played with a variety of sources, the three iBasso daps of course and did a bit of amp swapping along the way although my written up notes mainly concern the stock amps for Purity.

    "Be pure. Be vigilant. Behave!"

    Several Nemesis daps of the non iBasso type were also sampled to give a more rounded viewpoint to the conversation and in the hope that an objective summary of the IT04s sound signature might be reached, or partway there at the very least.
    As usual I mostly stuck to common 16/44 Flac tracks they being a fairly neutral non esoteric meeting ground that everyone has access to.
    I also took the time to swap out the stock cable for the iBasso upgrade cable, the CB13 (The IT04 coming with the CB12 as stock) to see what various extra tweaks could be eked out.


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    I found the iBasso IT04 sound to be very complementary with their daps. Not surprising of course.

    Stock cable, black stock tips.
    Music is shuffled through for randomness.
    DX200 on Android 8.1, OREO.


    IT04 with DX200/amp 1: Easy, soaring, natural, tight highs, solid bass, mellow mids, strong vocals.
    Vocals centered within ones skull, nice width and height overall. Massive Attack `Teardrop` was delicious.

    IT04 with DX200/amp 4: Wider, fuller, strident at time, controlled, smooth and natural.
    Bass has great control with this amp in conjunction with the IT04, clear highs. vocals are clearly defined. Shows off the bass and the highs. Ramones made me dance in my chair.

    IT04 with DX200/amp 8: Super wider, full bodied lushness, bass, mids, highs and vocals are united in a pleasurable balance. One could wonder whether the IT04 was tuned especially for Amp 8 (or even amp 7 I presume). Even the Pixies `Brick is red` sounds good. Lana Del Rey `Brooklyn Baby` really shows off what this triple strike combo can achieve. Just pure unadulterated blissful sonics, excellent synergy between the different gears resulting in a truly joyful listening experience.
    Joy Division `Passover` has those drums, vocals and bass guitar really testing what the IT04 can do. Not the best recorded quality but comes across as clear and realistic.
    Neil Young `Down by the river` is just a nice, well balanced and true musical treat.

    In summary the IT04 can reach its peak of sound stage, imaging and performance with the DX200.

    Moving on to the iBasso DX150 with amp 7

    Where is my mind?` by the Pixies comes across as natural, pleasing and realistic.
    I do not know If it is the DX150 or amp 7 but I find something here hits the sweet spot for me whilst using the IT04. I can dribble on about lows/mids/highs but it just is accurate as to how this song should sound. Not a hair out of place.

    Sometimes the highs can be a bit too bright such as with the Cardigans `Junk of the hearts`, on Lana Del Rey `Lolita` it got a bit busy, dialing back and down low to Belly `Low red moon` once again the IT04 shines. Soaring, gliding treble, nice wading in the shallows barefoot with luscious bass that is smooth, deep and forceful. Richard Ashcroft `Everybody` is a coherent match with this particular set up, nice separation and layering.

    In summary the IT04 is a good complement for the more smoother DX150.

    Moving down but not out! IT04 with the DX120. Slow roll off filter, Reference setting. Low gain.

    The DX120 while a beautiful looking dap and a generous performance to match of course lacks the overall resolution of the DX200.

    I tried a few different settings on the Dx120 to try to find the most complementary mix between the digital filters and Sound modes but there being so many configurations I had to in the end just pick two and get on with it. But rest assured between the two modes one can have a decent amount of control over the signature of the earphones albeit in a subtle way.

    The DX120 is perhaps the frill free younger sibling of the DX150.

    Throwing muses `Downtown` was natural and realistic, PJ Harvey `50ft Queenie` needed a bit more air in it.

    Switch to high gain.

    The IT04 sucks up the extra power and seems to enjoy it, more solid edges to the music, clarity and brings up the over all performance that an increase in volume on low gain could not achieve.

    In summary the IT04 with the DX120 the satisfaction seems to differ from track to track, I think the iBasso IT04 needs a dap to match its price point or above.

    Back to the DX200 to complete the circle and the IT04 certainly shines with detail and extension, though I do enjoy the smooth pairing of the DX150.

    IT04 with DX200/amp 8 and CB13 cable and CA02 4.4mm adapter.

    Ooh now this is lush, Neil Young. The CB13 brings up the mids a bit, to create an enjoyable rich sound without over doing it. I use the CB13 often with the Campfire Audio Jupiter to also bring up the mids and turn it into a mini Andromeda.

    Next up Slayer `Altar of sacrifice`, curious how this plays with the stock cable. CB13 seemed too revealing, changing back to CB12 a much better match, bass comes up and treble is controlled. Slayer is better without extra mids :wink:
    PJ Harvey `Happy and bleeding`
    Sonic Youth `Mary Christ`
    The Chemical Brothers `Radiate`
    The Verve `This Time`
    Massive Attack `Lately`
    The Pixies`Down to the well`
    David Bowie `Quicksand`
    The Pixies `Dead`
    Lana Del Rey `Cruel world`
    Dire Straits `The Walk of life`

    In short the IT04 stock cable CB12 seems a decent match for the earphone.


    In summary overall the iBasso IT04 is a well balanced earphone with an ever so slight v shape, It prefers a source that is mid fi or higher, Bass comes across as full and is fast and tight, mids are smooth and natural, treble has a clarity and reach and is also where a lot of detailed is played out, sound stage is large but not massive, the sound not centered within my skull but on the outer skull or just beyond. The IT04 has a nice transparency to it, quite coherent and good separation.



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    Price

    The iBasso IT04 is $US499 and comes in Silver or Blue (Blue/Black)

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    Hidizs AP80 and the iBasso IT04 with Symbio Mandarine tips
    Overall

    The iBasso IT04 is a step away from the previous earphones of iBasso, a relativity new venture on their part.
    The IT03 which we reviewed on Head pie had a standard V shape, the IT01 was a bit more linear and a jack of all trades, quite pleasing and an earphone I would buy as gift for a friend or a budding audiophile.

    The IT04 can not reach the Andromeda performance for instance which understandable as the Andro is over twice the price, but within its price point it could well be one of the Kings of that particular realm.

    It is a well balanced earphone with a slight v shape and shows a certain growth and development within iBassos earphone line up as this leans more towards an audiophile tuning, a touch of reference to it although not absolute.

    I would like to see more of a lip on the nozzle to keep the tip in place or some cross hatching etc, one time a tip came off in my ear and I had to dig it out with tweezers,...home alone.
    Another very personal gripe is the nozzle is too narrow for my beloved JVC Spiral tips to fit on.

    There are luckily a huge selection of tips to choose from. Tips are often under rated by many, but fit and isolation is a must to get the most out of your earphone. One can tailor the sound even with tips.

    The case which is included is an excellent case.
    The CB12 is a beautiful cable and adapter. The MMCX connector is tight fitting so if swapping out cables pull softly and rotate.

    The IT04 is not for bass heads, nor is for those who like the dynamic and musical V shape (get the IT03 for that, If you are after a pleasing jack of all trade choose the IT01.

    In short If one is looking for a fairly balanced, slightly reference tuned earphone with a minor v shape and clarity, transparency and detail then the IT04 might be for you.


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    Thank you to iBasso for sending Head pie the IT04 for review
  3. Zelda
    iBasso IT04 - The Flagship
    Written by Zelda
    Published Oct 5, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Excellent Sound Quality
    Full and Musical presentation
    Build quality and cable
    Custom like fit
    Isolation
    Packaging and Accessories
    Cons - Custom-like shape may be 'hit or miss'
    Large shells not for small ears
    Review - iBasso IT04

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    Website - iBasso Audio
    Overview

    After the huge success of their most affordable IT01 IEM with a single graphene driver, the IT04 arrives as the new flagship from iBasso Audio company. This time with a higher 4 driver hybrid setup keeping the single graphene dynamic driver combined with 3 Balanced Armature units from Knowles. A brand new design with a custom like shape, quality cable and most importantly an impeccable sound quality making a good reference for its $500 suggested price.

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    IT04 info

    Specifications
    • Drivers: Single 10mm Dynamic Graphene & 3 Knowles Balanced Armature
    • Frequency range: 5Hz ~ 40kHz
    • Sensitivity: 110 ± 2 dB
    • Impedance: 16Ω
    • Cable: 8 wire silver & silver plated copper; MMCX connectors and 1.2m length
    • Plug: 2.5mm Balanced TRRS + extra 3.5m TRS adapter
    • Weight: 13g.

    Price: U$500.

    Available in two color themes, blue/black & silver/black.

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    The IT04 arrives in the same impressive and elegant packaging and unboxing as the previous IT01 most affordable IEM. The box itself is larger and expectedly carries more weight, but also the included accessory pack is even wider. The outer paper box holds minimal writings and a picture of the IT04 on the front side and the usual specifications on the back. The inner cardboard box has the same magnetic closure with everything securely arranged inside. This time the two earpieces arrive inside the metal round box within a velvet holder, and the small box carries a wide array of ear tips and the cables.

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    The ear tips' selection consists of 5 sets of silicone tips all of them in the 3 usual sizes, varying in their shape, color and nozzle width, and there're also 2 pairs of foam tips in 2 sizes.

    The main cable is the CB12s, 2.5mm balanced terminated, which is also sold separately, and the extra short cable is an adapter for standard 3.5mm plugs.

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    Design

    The IT04 follows the same solid build quality formula from the main earpieces to the cable section and a similar MMCX connection as the IT01 showed, but takes a more 'flagship' kind of look and form factor. The shells are still made of a thick plastic material with a solid and glossy black color theme and fancier outer faceplates with the "inTune" writing in the middle surrounded by a carbon fiber texture in blue and silver theme.

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    As advertised on the website, the inner section has a custom-like shape, which in theory is made to provide a more comfortable and tighter fit as it should adapt to the natural outer ear shape. However, in practice this unique shape may be a hit or miss for some people, being too large for smaller ears or narrow ear canals giving a shallow or more standard fit instead of a 'custom' fit, and even for those that can get the shells to sit properly, the shape might result too tight for longer listening. I was able to get the suggested custom like fit, but only using extra tips. The nozzle is straight without a lip allowing the included tips to sit very close to nozzle base for a deeper fit and best seal. Nonetheless, despite the two small vents on the inner part, isolation level is quite high among the universal IEMs, which is not too surprising having this particular form factor that may block the whole outer ear part.

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    Lastly, the CB12s cable is of good quality too, consisting of an 8-wire 'hybrid' type of silver and copper wires (4 strands each). The cable is completely braided and despite the multiple 8 wire setup it is quite compact and very soft, and with no added earguides it is very ergonomic and easy to wear around the ears, with practically no cable noise when moving around. The MMCX connectors are the same new ones used on the IT01 IEM that have an extended plug and 4 split in order to provide a very tight connection and avoid unnecessarily rotation around the sockets for more durability.

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    Sound Quality

    After the great success and high popularity the IT01 received with just its single dynamic driver, iBasso went much higher to a 4 driver hybrid setup. The dynamic graphene unit inside the IT01 performed really well, so using the same material is a wise decision when choosing a matching driver for a multiple hybrid way. The IT04 is undoubtedly a much higher contender than the IT01, but yet the overall tuning and technical strengths of their budget option are easily perceived within this current IEM flagship. Even though, the IT04 is not just a huge 'upgrade' over the IT01 model, rather a well done product that stands its ground in its own price bracket with a unique kind of tuning. The three Knowles Balanced Armature drivers (dual TWFK and single ED) are quite popular among different companies and found on various 3BA+1D sets (i.e., Dunu DK-3001). Combined with the iBasso own Graphene driver, the overall sound on the IT04 is very, very full, with great dynamics and depth, and most importantly very engaging and yet detailed in the BA fashion. Neutrality is not what iBasso aim for, but fullness, musicality and natural timbre are good ways to describe the IT04 performance.

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    On the low frequencies side, they are very full, voluminous and energetic. Very rich both in quantity and detail, reaching really good extension up to the sub-bass region, effortless and yet with strong rumble. Overall, the bass is presented in a similar way as the IT01 where the extra boost starts from the sub-bass part all way up to the mid and upper bass. It is not a massive bass but never fall to be neutral; it is most balanced on the whole with high accuracy and good speed. The texture and dynamics are worth praising on the IT04, having excellent control without giving up on the fun factor.

    The midrange has great balance, mixing quality and quantity of the dynamic and armature drivers with high coherence. It is thick and forward but not overdone, and with the good amount of low end the whole midrange is safe from sounding dry or emotionless. The texture is quite perfect with a sweet and full presentation that works very nice with vocals. Male voices are slightly forward and carrying good weight without sounding chesty, while female singers sound very sweet without being sibilant. The timbre is quite natural and most importantly it sounds very engaging. The instruments and voices balance is well done, and in worst scenario the voices may sound a half or quarter step more forward, though source pairing may have some effect in this regard.

    The treble plays nicely on the whole presentation if just a little bit more laid-back next to the bass or midrange. It is smooth up to the higher treble but definitely doesn't sound too dark or dull. In fact, there is enough energy and sparkle and nice texture for upper instruments, just not the extra brightness or aggressiveness to match treble heads or even to classify as a more standard v-shaped sound. It is presented in an elegant and refined way, with high sense of air and resolution.
    Micro detail is easy to notice inside the more musical tuning the IT04 tries to give. The presentation is wide and spacious but not unnatural with very nice imaging and accurate positioning of each element. Technically, the IT04 works well for any music genre, though personally I'd pick it for more acoustic than electronic type.

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    As for comparisons, the most natural rival for the IT04 should be the Dunu DK-3001, an IEM that was released more than a year ago which also uses the same hybrid driver configuration and similar three balanced armature drivers (1 dual TWFK+ 1 single ED). They do differ in the dynamic part and probably in the inner acoustic filter and setup, but more important they take a completely different outer design that has also the expected acoustic impacts. However, the sound presentation is quite close, both bringing a very well balanced and full sound, with a fine sense of warmth and musicality too, open sound and large stage effect within the IEM realm. Differences are still not difficult to perceive between both models even without a A/B critical test. The DK-3001 may sound a bit wider and open, with a very slight livelier signature, putting a more neutral midrange with more energy and sparkle on the treble region. Female vocals are more forward than on the IT04, whereas the IT04 has thicker lower midrange and weight on male singers. If the DK-3001 gives a more spacious right to left effect, the IT04 has a more rounded 3D scene.

    Value

    The $500 retail price may seem like a huge jump from the last IT01, but considering the various options at this range the IT04 holds its ground better than many. A nice box presentation followed by an ample selection of accessories, and then continued by a very solid build quality and elegant design. The unique custom like shape could be a bit risky for some, but with some luck it works like a charm. Of course, the best part of the IT04 lies on the great sound quality that could be one of the best among the mid-tier universal IEM options.
      Dsnuts and DannyBai like this.
    1. DannyBai
      Just reading the titles for the other reviews of this product, I’m immediately turned off from reading it. Thanks for always keeping it real and always an honest, good review.
      DannyBai, Oct 6, 2018
  4. Moonstar
    iBasso IT04: A Black Swan
    Written by Moonstar
    Published Oct 4, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Very detailed treble range,
    Airy Presentation,
    Fast bass response,
    Performance of female vocals,
    Spacious/Open Sound,
    Wonderful faceplate design and hybrid cable
    Cons - Mid-bass body,
    Fullness in the midrange
    Title: A Black Swan


    Introduction:

    Many of us are familiar with iBasso products, especially with their portable audio players, such as the DX100, DX50, DX90 and DX200 etc. and in-ear monitors such as the IT03 and IT01. Following the success of IT03 and IT01, iBasso has released its flagship IT04, which I will now review for you.


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    Disclaimer:

    I would like to thank iBasso for providing me the iBasso IT04 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 IT04 Universal IEM is 499.99 USD.

    Purchase Link: https://penonaudio.com/ibasso-it04.html



    Package and Accessories:

    The iBasso IT01 comes in a rectangular black box which is wrapped with a glossy white card box sleeve that sports the brand/model name and an image of the IT04.

    This box includes the following contents;

    • 1 x pair of IT04 In-Ear Monitors
    • 15 x pairs of silicone ear tips (5 sorts x 3 pairs in s/m/l sizes)
    • 2 x pairs of foam ear tips
    • 1 x 2.5mm Balanced cable with MMCX connector
    • 1 x 2.5mm balanced female to 3.5mm male unbalanced jack converter
    • 1 x metal carrying case
    • 1 x Warranty Card
    • 1 x Quick Start Guide


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    The carrying case that comes with the iBasso IT04 is made of two metal parts. On the top of the top cover is the engraved iBasso Audio branding. The lower part has a velvet interior coating which can protect the IEM from scratches and damages.


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    There is also a round shaped pad that fits into this carrying case where you can put the monitor. This pad has a nice fabric surface that gives the iBasso IT04 a nice look.


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    The iBasso IT04 comes with a lots of silicone ear tips (15 pairs in total) available in 5 different shapes. Each of these silicone ear tip is available in 3 (three) different sizes, which are small, medium and large. There are also 2 pairs of olive foams that are very comfy and in my opinion a nice addition.


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    The accessory box is also including a 2.5mm balanced female to 3.5mm male unbalanced jack converter, which looks and feels very well made and is in my opinion a nice addition, which I also expect form other manufacturers.


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    Design, Build Quality and Fit:

    The iBasso IT04 is a nice looking In-Ear Monitor with a semi-custom like shell. This shell is made of acrylic material and is in black color.

    On the front of both monitor shells is the faceplate, which has a nice silver carbon-fiber pattern and sports the word InTune.


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    On thetop of the Monitor shell is the nozzle and near the nozzle is the model name and left / right markings printed in white color. Near the nozzle is the MMCX (Micro Miniature Coaxial) female connector, which has a robust build quality.


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    On the top of the nozzle is a metal grid to prevent earwax from entering.


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    On the inner side of the acrylic shell is a small vent for the pressure relief.


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    The overall build quality of the acrylic housing and of the connectors is top notch!

    The monitor is ergonomic and has an above average isolation that is quite enough to wear it in the public and fairly noise environments like bus, train etc.



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    The Cable:

    The CB12s that comes with the iBasso IT04 is a hand braided cable, which is made of an 8 core mono crystal silver & silver plated mono crystal copper that is terminated with a 4 pole, 2.5mm TRRS (balanced) gold plug.


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    There is also a 2.5mm TRRS to 3.5mm TRS cable adaptor that allows the IT04 to work as a single ended IEM that is included to the package as standard accessory.


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    The cable and the adaptor are looking awesome. The build quality is great and there is a visible improvement over the stock cable of the IT03 and IT01.




    Features:

    The iBasso IT04 is a hybrid In-Ear Monitor with a 3 + 1 driver configuration.

    The dynamic driver of the IT04 is an in-house developed speaker that utilizes a magnetic flux approaching 1 Tesla with a 10mm grapheme diaphragm.

    The 3 balanced armature drivers of the company Knowles with the model Nr. 30017.

    The iBasso IT04 features also a patented technology called Root Tube Internal Design to bring out the max. potential of the drivers.


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    Specifications:

    • Frequency range: 5Hz-40kHz
    • Sensitivity: 110+/-2dB
    • Impedance: 16Ω
    • Passive noise reduction: -30dB
    • Rated power: 10mW
    • Distortion:<1%THD(@1kHz/1mW)
    • Cable length: 120mm
    • Net weight: 13g
    • Plug: 2.5mm gold-plated plug



    Equipment’s used for this review:


    IEM’s : iBasso IT04, Campfire Audio Polaris, IMR Acoustics R1
    DAP&DAC’s : Sony WM1A, Cayin N5II, Fiio M7, Chord Mojo, Xduoo XD10, Audirect Beam



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    Albums & tracks used for this review:

    • First Aid Kit - My Silver Lining (Spotify)
    • London Grammar – Interlud (Live) (Flac 24bit/44kHz)
    • Laura Pergolizzi – Lost On You “Live at Harvard and Stone” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Minor Empire – BulbulumAltinKafeste (Spotify)
    • Leonard Cohen – You Wnt it Darker (Spotify)
    • Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
    • Casey Abrams – Robot Lover (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (DSF) – Binaural Recording
    • Future Heroes – Another World (Tidal Hi-fi)
    • Lorde – Team (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
    • Tom Player – Resonace Theory “Album” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Massive Attack – Angel (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
    • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
    • Opeth – Damnation (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
    • Megadeth - Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Slayer - Angel of Death (Spotify)



    Drivability:

    The iBasso IT04 is a sensitive and efficient In-Ear Monitor with a relative low impedance of the 16 ohm’s. The IT04 is an ideal IEM for the use with portable sources like phones, tablets, etc. and can be driven to very loud volumes without the need of an external amplifier.


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    The Sound:

    The iBasso IT04 is a relative balanced sounding In-Ear Monitor with a mildly V shaped sound signature. The midrange sounds quite natural and transparent, the bass is fast and gently pronounced and it has a detailed treble range.



    The Bass:

    The iBasso IT04 has in general a slightly pronounced and pretty linear bass character with a sub-bass depth which is on a pretty good level and emphasis that is neither high nor low. The sub-bass rumble in Massive Attack's “Angel” and Portishead’s “It Could Be Sweet” is not very intensive, but has moderate depth and quantity.

    The bass is fast, clean and detailed but the extension/expansion is a bit short. Particularly admirable is that the bass is reproduced fast, tight, detail and in a controlled manner. This mildly emphasized bass character will satisfy most users in many genres such as metal, jazz, blues or acoustic.

    The bass quantity will be sufficient with genres like Edm or Trance music, where the bass need more volume, pressure and good extension than other genres; but those who prefer "bass head-level" performance will not be pleased with the tuning of the iBasso IT04.

    The mid-bass region of the iBasso IT04 sounds tight, quick and with above average quantity and body, but has less weight and volume compared to the lower bass regions.

    To summarize the bass region, we could say that the iBasso IT04 is an IEM with extremely fast, controlled and detail intensive presentation. The IT04 is the opposite to the entreating bass character of the IT03 with its fast, controlled and highly detailed presentation, which is the main attraction in the bass region.


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    The Midrange:

    The midrange of the iBasso IT04 is slightly recessed due to the mildly V shaped sound signature and has in general a pretty natural and transparent presentation, which is also the main attraction of the IT04 together with its treble range.



    a) Vocals:

    The iBasso IT04 is pretty successful with female vocals due to its highly pronounced upper midrange presentation, which shows also great detail, emphasis and extension. One other plus point is the transparent presentation of the vocals without to be harsh or sibilant.

    I found the IT04 very good with mezzo soprano and soprano female vocals. The ups and downs are very gentle and controlled.

    The iBasso IT04 shows a transparent and clear male vocal presentation, without any noticeable muddiness, veil or mixing and sounds quite detailed same as female voices, while I have listened to vocals like Dave Gahan, Leonard Cohen or Eric Clapton. But I would wish that the IT04 have had slightly more mid-bass body and depth, which would make the presentation male vocals even more successful.



    b) Instruments:

    The instruments presentation of the iBasso IT04 is slightly bright, neutral, natural and shows a tonality, which sounds neither thin nor too thick. Instruments sounding detailed and airy, followed with great separation and definition. Instruments such as pianos are slightly bright and emphasized, acoustic guitars are pretty natural, transparent and fast, while violins are slightly bright without to be harsh. Violas are quite successful except for a little lack of warmth and body.

    The iBasso IT04 has a quite precise vocal and instrument placement, while the general performance regarding to instrument separation is above average.


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    c) Upper Midrange:

    The upper midrange of the iBasso IT04 is highly emphasized and shows a transparent and neutral presentation, without any roll-off, while all of these factors are adding detail and airiness to the overall presentation. Instruments in metal music such as cymbals, drums or guitars and also vocals are sounding very clear. The IT04 is showing a great performance with its clearness and detail retrieval in moments where guitars have high distortion, which is really rare to find in this price range.

    Guitar solos and guitars like in Megadeth's “Sweating Bullets”, Slayer’s“Angel of Deaths” and Rush's “Leave That Thing Alone” songs with high distortion are very detailed and successful. Some instruments such as flutes sounding enthusiastic and lively, while pianos have enough brightness and emphasis.


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    The Treble Range:

    The treble presentation of the iBasso IT04 is transparent, neutral and slightly bright in its tonality. The peak of the treble range is around 8kHz and is rolling of slowly after this point, which was a good decision, because a peak around 10kHz could be too much for treble sensitive listeners, while 8 kHz makes the sound detail without to be ear-piercing/fatiguing.

    The treble performance of the iBasso IT04 in terms of extensions, quantity and airiness is above average, while instruments like cymbals in metal music such as hi hats are prominent and countable and crash cymbals have a pretty quick and controlled decay. It is a pleasure to listen jazz music, especially pianos where the IT04 performs very well in fast passages.

    The transparent, airy and spacious presentation of the iBasso IT04 makes it a demanding IEM for many types of music.



    The Soundstage:

    The soundstage of the iBasso IT04 is pretty spacious and could be descript as very large for an In-Ear Monitor. The IT04 lets space between instruments in horizontal array, which makes the overall presentation airy and spacious. The soundstage depth is also pretty successful, but is less impressive compared to the glorious wideness.



    Comparisons:

    iBasso IT04 versus IMR Acoustics R1

    Both the iBasso IT04 and IMR Acoustic R1 belong to the same class and are one of my favorite In-Ear Monitors in this price range.

    Unlike the IT04, the IMR R1 has a variety of filters and tuning options that can chance the sound to neutral, warm or thick, while the IT04 has in general a pretty neutral and transparent tonality.

    Both IEM’s have a fairly deep sub-bass presentation, while the IMR R1 is superior to the IT04 in terms of quantity and emphasis. The bass speed and control of this IEM’s is successful, while the iBasso IT04 has the slightly edge in overall performance.

    The IMR R1 is a bit more detailed in the bass department.

    The iBasso IT04 has a slightly recessed midrange presentation due the mildly V shaped sound signature that I mentioned before. The midrange of the IMR Acoustics R1 on the other hand can vary noticeable by the use of the tuning filters.

    The midrange of the iBasso IT04 is superior to the IMR Acoustics R1 in terms of transparency and airiness. When it comes to the vocal presentation, I can say that the IMR R1 is more successful with male vocals, while the iBasso IT04 performer better with female vocals.

    Both IEM’s have a quite detailed and controlled upper midrange presentation, while the iBasso IT04 is superior to the IMR R1 in terms of upper midrange detail and definition.

    The iBasso IT04 and IMR Acoustics R1 are technically successful in the treble range, while the IT04 is superior to the R1 because of its better treble extension, the quantity and more natural presentation. Both of those IEM’s have an airy and spacious treble reproduction.

    When it comes to the soundstage performance, I can say that both In-Ear Monitors sharing a satisfying soundstage width and depth performance, while the iBasso IT04 shows better width and the IMR R1 slightly more depth.


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    iBasso IT04 versus Campfire Audio Polaris:

    Both of those In-Ear Monitors are sharing an adequate sub-bass depth, with moderate intensity and quantity. The iBasso IT04 shows slightly more sub-bass depth than Campfire Audio Polaris.

    The game is changing when it come to the midrange region, where the Campfire Audio Polaris shows more quantity and intensity. The midbass of the IT04 sounds lighter accented/emphasized than those of the Polaris. But I can say that the iBasso IT04 is superior to the Campfire Audio Polaris in terms of overall bass speed and detail.

    When it comes to the midrange presentation, I can say that the CA Polaris has the more aggressive V shaped sound signature with, while the iBasso IT04 sounds less recessed in the midrange, which is also one of the reasons that the IT04 sounds more detailed. The iBasso IT04 sounds also cleaner and more transparent than CA Polaris.

    Both IEM’s are successful while listening to vocals, but the IT04 sounds lusher with female voices Laura Pergolizi or Aretha Franklin, while the Campfire Audio Polaris is more suitable to listen male vocals like Eric Clapton or Leonard Cohen. The detail of instruments is pretty high with both of these IEMs, while the overall performance of the IT04 is slightly better than those of the Polaris.

    The upper midrange of the IT04 and Polaris sounds quite controlled. The iBasso IT04 has the upper hand in terms of definition and detail, while the CA Polaris is bit more controlled in this frequency range.

    The technical ability and extensions of the treble range of both IEM’s is relative good, but the iBasso IT04 is superior to the CA Polaris in terms of quantity, intensity and detail. The treble range of the IT04 and the Polaris is airy and spacious.

    When it comes to the soundstage performance and separation of instruments, I have noticed that both In-Ear Monitors have enough width and depth for a relative precise separation. The iBasso IT04 has more width, while the CA Polaris is more successful in terms of soundstage depth.



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    Conclusion:

    The iBasso IT04 is a milestone in the evolution of the companies In-Ear Monitor history. It looks sexy with the carbon fiber elements on the face plate, is comfortable to wear and has a quite mature sound tuning that represents a smooth bass response, detailed midrange and airy treble tuning, which is followed by a glorious soundstage performance. All of those elements making the iBasso IT04 to a great option for those, who are looking for something that is rarely found under the 1000 USD price tag.



    Pros and Cons:

    • + Very detailed treble range
    • + Airy Presentation
    • + Fast bass response
    • + Performance of female vocals
    • + Spacious/Open Sound
    • + Wonderful faceplate design and hybrid cable
    • - Mid-bass body
    • - Fullness in the midrange
      karanehir35 likes this.
    1. karanehir35
      Nice review, thank you.

      A complete metal monster.
      Speed, ringing, guitars gorgeous..
      karanehir35, Oct 4, 2018
  5. audio123
    iBasso IT04 - Quad Hybrid Sensation!
    Written by audio123
    Published Sep 30, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Smooth Bass, Details Retrieval, Extended Treble
    Cons - More Mid-Bass Quantity
    Introduction

    iBasso is a Chinese brand that is known for their digital audio players (DAPS). They create their first iem in the IT03 which is followed by the IT01. Their latest iem release is the IT04. I would like to thank iBasso for providing the IT04 as a review unit. At the moment, you can purchase the IT04 from iBasso and Penon .

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    Specifications

    • Driver Configuration: 3 Balanced Armature + 1 Dynamic
    • Frequency Response: 5Hz-40kHz
    • Sensitivity: 110+/-2dB
    • Impedance: 16Ω
    • Noise Attenuation: -30dB
    • Rated Power: 10mW
    • Distortion: <1%THD(@1kHz/1mW)
    Unboxing & Accessories

    The IT04 comes in a black package that has the brand name printed at the front. It has a protective cover that sports the brand name, an image of the iem and the words – “IT04 Four Driver Hybrid In-Ear Monitor”. There are specifications shown at the back of the protective cover. After opening the black package, there are the IT04, circular metal case, packs of tips, detachable MMCX cable, 2.5mm balanced to 3.5mm single ended cable adapter, warranty card and quick start guide.

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    IEM Build & Design

    The IT04 is made up of acrylic and it has a smooth surface. The faceplates have silver carbon fibre design with the words – “InTune”. The shells are black in colour. At the top of the IT04 near the nozzle, there are the brand and model names. In addition, there are L & R marking on the left and right side respectively. There are 2 vents on the inside. The nozzle is slightly angled with metal mesh. The IT04 has a comfortable fit.

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    Cable Design & Build

    The cable has a hybrid 8 core braided design. The MMCX connectors on the cable have a silver housing. There is indication of left and right through the L & R marking on the surface of the housing respectively. There is strain relief. There is no memory wire section. Moving down to the chin slider, it is silver and circular in shape. The y-splitter has a silver housing and it sports the brand name. Lastly, the jack is 2.5mm balanced and it has a silver housing. The brand name is printed on the housing. There is strain relief.

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    Sound Analysis

    Lows

    The IT04 has moderate sub-bass quantity and the extension is good. The rumble is expressed in a natural manner. There is great control to prevent it from sounding too aggressive. Each bass note is articulated with a smooth hit. The bass decay has moderate pace. Bass texture is rendered smoothly. There is tinge of warmth to contribute to the musicality. The mid-bass has fair quantity and the slam is delivered in an agile manner whilst still providing punch.

    Mids

    The midrange has a high level of engagement and it is able to showcase good transparency. There is a moderate amount of body. The leaner approach creates aids in the overall pace. It does not take on a thick or lush manner. The lower mids has good quantity without any signs of hollow feeling. Male vocals are expressed fairly. The upper mids has great forwardness and it helps to accentuate female vocals presentation. There is a strong intimate performance with a teasing bite.

    Highs

    The treble is extended well. There is no sibilance and harshness. It is presented in a controlled manner with nice crisp and there is slight sparkle to inject excitement to the overall sound. It boasts a high level of details retrieval. There is a great amount of air rendered to create an airy feeling at the top end. The treble expression has a good balance of body and sparkle.

    Soundstage

    The IT04 has a natural expansion in its stage. The width magnitude is great and provides a spacious feeling. The depth is not very closed in, Positioning of vocals and instruments is accurate. Layering and separation is at a high standard.

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    Comparisons

    iBasso IT04 vs iBasso IT03

    The IT03 has more sub-bass quantity than the IT04. The IT04 is slightly more extended. The sub-bass reproduction on the IT04 has additional liveliness. The mid-bass on the IT03 has extra body and the slam is delivered with a weighted feeling. Bass decay on the IT04 is faster with a quicker rumble presentation. Bass texture on both is rendered with similar smoothness. Each bass note on the IT04 is articulated with more agility. The midrange on the IT04 boasts better transparency and there is more energy. The lower mids on the IT03 has more quantity and it is able to tackle male vocals effectively. The upper mids on the IT04 has extra forwardness and female vocals are expressed with intimacy. For the treble section, the IT04 has more extension than the IT03. The presentation on the IT04 is more controlled. The crisp on the IT04 is emphasized better. The amount of air rendered on the IT04 is greater and gives an airier feeling. Details retrieval on the IT04 has a higher level. Lastly, for the soundstage, the expansion on both is quite natural. The width on the IT04 is larger. The depth is greater on the IT04.

    iBasso IT04 vs Dunu DK-3001

    The DK-3001 has more sub-bass quantity and the extension on the IT04 is greater. The sub-bass reproduction on the IT04 demonstrates agility which contributes to a higher engagement level. Bass decay on the IT04 is significantly quicker. The bass texture on the DK-3001 is rendered with more smoothness. The mid-bass on the DK-3001 has extra quantity and the slam is expressed with fullness. The IT04 showcases additional speed. Each bass note on the IT04 is articulated in a more clinical approach. The midrange on the IT04 has better details retrieval and the transparency level is higher. The DK-3001 has more body and it is presented with extra warmth. The lower mids on the DK-3001 has greater quantity which benefits the reproduction of male vocals. The upper mids on the IT04 has extra forwardness with additional crisp. Female vocals are expressed with intimacy. Moving on to the treble section, the IT04 has better extension than the DK-3001 and there is additional crisp. The sparkle on the IT04 is emphasized better. The amount of air rendered on the IT04 which contributes to an airier feeling. Lastly, there is a natural soundstage expansion for both. Both the width and depth on the IT04 have greater magnitude. It is able to provide a spacious feeling,

    Conclusion

    The IT04 is an engaging iem that demonstrates great finesse. It is able to provide a detailed sound with smooth bass reproduction, forward midrange and well extended treble. In addition, it comes with a hybrid balanced cable and adapter. There is strong visual appeal with the carbon fibre design. The iBasso IT04 is a brilliant addition to the lineup.

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    For more reviews, visit https://audio123blog.wordpress.com/ .
    1. FastAndClean
      A lot of "moderate" in your reviews.
      Because of that we can only make a "moderate" assumptions about the sound.
      FastAndClean, Oct 1, 2018
    2. audio123
      @FastAndClean For the review above, the word "moderate" is used thrice. The choice of word is due to it being a general term to describe something that is average in amount or quality. Cheers! :)
      audio123, Oct 1, 2018
      karanehir35 likes this.
    3. karanehir35
      Thanks for the review. Everything's super, but if you were a little more bass ...
      karanehir35, Oct 4, 2018
  6. Dobrescu George
    iBasso IT04 - Balance In Everything
    Written by Dobrescu George
    Published Sep 24, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - - Build quality is very solid
    - Price/Performance ratio is good
    - There is a large number of accessories included with them, including an amazing carrying case
    - iBasso's support is quite excellent
    - Quick, punchy bass that is able to keep up with the fastest percussion
    - Sweet, musical, juicy midrange that has a good tonality
    - Excellent overal extension in the treble, even better than IEMs more expensive
    - Smooth texture to the treble means it is not fatiguing
    - Very versatile, can play anything from Jazz all the way to technical death metal
    Cons - - The bass is not made for bassheads given its amount, so while the speed and resolution of the bass is quite good, its quanity is more towards neutral than anything else
    - The treble and the overall signature can be a tad bright, especially given the extra extension in the treble
    - Very first batch had a few finish issues, but iBasso and Paul quickly and promptly fixed it.
    - The midrange is not as quick in its transient response as the bass, making it a little less intuitive than other IEMs, where the bass is slower than the midrange.
    iBasso IT04 - Balance In Everything

    iBasso IT04 is iBasso's Top Of The Line IEM from their current Earphones offering, and we're going to take a look at how it performs, as well as how it compares to other IEMs, both similarly priced, and considerably more expensive.

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    Introduction

    iBasso is one of the most lovely company to work with out there, their PR Paul being a really trusty and helpful gentleman, as iBasso is known for sorting out issues for any customer who purchased products from them, as well as helping their customer pick the best product for them, and even going one step further and offering very accessible and helpful solutions to issues, when and if those arise.

    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 iBasso for providing the sample for this 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 IT04. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in iBasso IT04 find their next music companion.



    About me

    https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.ro/p/about.html



    Packaging

    First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:

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    iBasso has always been great with their package, and has always provided great packages for their products, and IT04 makes no exception. Upon opening the nicely designed package, you are welcomed by one of the most awesome parts of IT04, which is the metal carrying case. This one is better than the case found on iBasso IT01 or HIFIMAN RE2000, being much thicker, heavier and more resilient. Although it may feel a little too much at times, for a IEM priced at 500 USD, this seems like a good fit.

    Other things included in the package are a huge number of spare tips, one of the largest variety included with a IEM in this price range, or any price range really.

    There's also the cable included with IT04, which is a very high quality cable that's worth at least 100 USD or more. In fact, the cable of IT04 has a trick up its sleeve, it doubles as both a Single Ended Cable and a Balanced Cable.

    The paperwork for IT04 is designed nicely and includes an important amount of data about IT04, as well as a color printed handbook, showcasing how much care iBasso has placed into IT04.

    All in all, we are very happy with the package of IT04, and it really has everyone one could need with their IEMs, and iBasso has thought of everyone in every possible way, making IT04 a IEM that once you purchase, you don't really need to look for more accessories, besides a good source, of course.



    What to look in when purchasing an entry-level In-Ear Monitor

    https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.ro/p/what-to-lookl.html



    Technical Specifications

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    Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort

    This is a plac where IT04 also excels, as it is made of the same acrylic that most custom IEMs (CIEMS) are made of. Not only that, but the IEMs have a beautiful carbon fiber finish on the outside, dubbed by an "In Tune" logo that reminds us of the Fender Logo from our guitar cabinets. Really, the aspect of IT04 would work with anything, both the Jazz enthusiasts, metalheads, old rock lovers, and even those listening to some Daft Punk or other electronic music lovers.

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    The cble is an excellent quality braided cable made from OFC (Oxygen-Free Copper), which is ended in a 2.5mm balanced connector. To add to the fun, iBasso includes an adapter in the package, which helps you use IT04 with a Single Ended connection as well, making IT04 a truly versatile IEM in this sense. This also makes it easy to test Balanced and Single Ended outputs of the same DAP, without having to change the entire cable.

    Some of the very early units of IT04 had a little bit of paint bubble, but iBasso promptly replaced those for their fans and lovers, and there have been no build quality issues with IT04 otherwise, making this a really long-lasting IEM.

    The driver flex protection isn't perfect, and sometimes you can get driver flex, depending on how you insert IT04, and how you touch the vent holes, but generally they should be free of driver flx.

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    The cable connectors are solid and reliable, and click into place, they don't spin too freely, but they aren't overtightened either.

    The fit is generally good, a medium-depth insertion fit, making IT04 sit rather comfortably for most ears, with the seal being rather good and not getting broken easily, although we should mention that IT04 is a large IEM with a large body, and that the body even has a little part in the back, making its fit a more personal thing, as in our test group it was great for everyone, but we suspect some users, especially those with smaller ears, may want to test it before purchasing where possible.


    The comfort is generally good otherwise, there is no cable microphonic noise, the IEM isolates well from the outside noise, and they generally do a good job at letting the user enjoy their music without much hassle.

    All in all, aesthetcs and the comfort reach out golden standards, but while the fit worked well for us, IT04 is a large IEM, and we can't guarantee that the fit will work quite as well for those with smaller ears.




    Sound

    The sound of IT04 is quite different from what we experienced with IT01, making iBasso a company that doesn't adopt a house sound, and which rather has a tuning to everyone one of their IEMs.

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    IT04 is a tight IEM, with a neutral, quick, punchy and revealing bass, with a neutral, musical and detailed midrange, and with a bright, energetic, well expressed and smoothly textured treble. This all adds to what could be described as neutral, bright, vivid, dynamic, punchy, detailed, quick and impressive sound. For sure, IT04 isn't fatiguing or too much, but it isn't a basshead IEM either, but let's get into each part.

    The bass of IT04 is quite impressive, very quick, very revealing, and has a really nice amount of detail. The bass is fairly neutral at most times, so if you're a basshead, it won't satisfy you, as its bass is more centered around quality, speed and punchy delivery rather than on quantity. And it does have a really awesome delivery, being one of those kinds of bass that a music lover will enjoy, precise, and tight, with just the right amount of oomph when needed, but not overly smooth or warm. The best part about it is that the bass manages to be quite loud when it is called for, and it can surely reach to the lowest octaves as well.


    The midrange is nice and detailed, voices and guitars are presented naturally and with an amazingly well put tone, although the fact that the bass isn't quite that warm also means that the midrange is fairly neutral rather than warm or otherwise tilted towards any tonality. The detail level is quite impressive, about the same as most 700 USD IEMs, which is fairly good to begin with. The speed of the midrange is slower than that of the bass, which means that compared to some competitors, it may have a touch less transparency in textures, which can be a tad smoother, but this can be a positive thing if one prefers a smoother midrange. In all honesty, it does more than most IEMs in this price area typically do, ar at least used to do in the previous releases, but nowadays more and more IEMs seem to set a new standard. We'll go in deeper about how IT04 compares to its competition in the comparisons part of the review.

    The treble is probaby the most interesting part about IT04, because it defies everything one would think about IT04 without trying them. The treble can be described as a really well-extended treble, which goes as high as you can imagine, even higher than past flagships like IE800. Not only the treble goes high, it is also smooth in texture, and has a good quantity to it, so IT04 works incredibly well with metal and rock music, cymbals having a really good amount of energy, exploding as energetically and frantically as one would want their metal and rock to. On an overall level, the treble is on the level with the midrange and the bass, making IT04 a pretty darn neutral IEM.



    Soundstage

    The soundstage of IT04 is fairly large and well layered, but most importantly, it has a really top notch instrument separation, which means that it is easy to distinguish layers of instruments and especially different instruments from each other.

    The width of the soundstage is on the larger side, meaning that sounds can come from quite far afar, especially in the left / right planes. The depth is also quite impressive, which means that you can feel when a sound is coming from closer, and when a sound is playing further away from the listener.




    ADSR / PRaT

    The ADSR and PRaT (Texturization) is rather interesting. In this sense, IT04 is one of the most counter intuitive IEMs we heard to date, as the bass is actually the fastest element, with the most fine texturization. The midrange is quite a bit slower than the bass, while the treble is a little faster than the midrange, making IT04 one of the rarest IEMs in terms of driver speed ratios. To get an idea, this means that the bass is quite punchy and texture, quick, and really exceptional with death metal and quick music. The midrange is rather smooth in its texture, so details are evident, but micro detailing and textures tend to be a little less enhanced. The treble tends to also be on the smoother side rather than grainy, so you can listen to IT04 for hours in a row without getting tired.



    Portable Usage

    We need to start this part by mentioning that if they fit you, IT04 are one of the best portable IEMs one can wear. We introduced a new test for our IEMs when it comes to their portability, which is a soft running test. We received many questions on how suited each IEM and headphone is for running or jogging, so we're going to review this part for everything that is supposed to be portable.

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    iBasso IT04 is quite excellent for running and jogging, because they aren't quite that open, so their seal isn't broken by movement, their cable is rather flexible and light, it is not microphonic, and you can safely jog or run with them without experiencing any issues.

    The isolation from the outside noise is quite good, thing which means you need pay attention to what's going on around you, as those will make it hard to notice activity around you, be it idle street chatter, or a construction site.

    The cable can be adapted to work with both single ended and balanced sources, iBasso including a sweet little adapter with their IT04, and the cable itself is of a high enough quality to not require upgrading for a long time.


    All in all, IT04 is easily driveable from a lower power source like an ultra portable Player like Shanling M0 or HIDIZS AP80, or even a smartphone, but it sounds better driven from a high-quality DAP like iBasso DX200 or DX150.



    Comparisons

    We have tried to provide comparisons with the most relevant other IEMs we know of, for example IMR R1.


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    iBasso IT04 vs Dunu DK-3001 - Dunu DK-3001 is a favorite of us, and not only because Dunu is an amazing IEM producer, but also because they have one of the sweetest price/performance ratios out there. In all honesty, it is hard to find anything that provides a better price performance ratio than DK-3001, if they are comfortable and fit well for you, but let's start with the start. The package they come in is similar for both, in that both come with a large number of accessories, detachable cables, large number of high-quality tips, and both IT04 and DK-3001 have a high-quality carrying case. The fit is quite different though, in that many users have had good luck with IT04 so far, while many users have met some issues with DK-3001 due to a ridge in the inner side that is part of their design. The isolation is better on IT04, but this may also be connected to the better fit we got with them. The sound is quite different between the two, IT04 has more extension in the treble, with more detail and a deeper soundstage with more instrument separation. DK-3001 has a warmer sound in comparison with more bass emphasis, and it also has a larger and slower bass. IT04 tends to have a much quicker bass, and it is better fit for percussion, technical death metal, and other percussion-heavy music styles, but IT04 also has a smoother texture to its midrange, making it fit for Jazz and slower music. DK-3001 tends to have a similar midrange to IT04 in terms of texture and speed, so both should work similarly with slower music. The treble is extended further on IT04, leading to a more explosive, brighter and more airy presentation, especially useful for music with a lot of cymbal content. All in all, IT04 is almost double the price of DK-3001 as well, making them an interesting option to upgrade to, although we'd like to note our readers that Dunu is working on a new DK-4001, which is supposed to have solved the comfort issues with DK-3001, and which is also supposed to sport an even better sound. We promise to include a comparison between IT04 and DK-4001 once DK-4001 is with us.

    iBasso IT04 vs Sennheiser IE800 - Sennheiser IE800 is at the other end of the spectrum, not necessarily a good price-to-performance ratio, but this is a IEM that's been with us for almost four years now, making it one of the lengthiest IEMs we have, as well as one of the most loved. When comparing the packages, IT04 wins hands down in terms of tips included, as IE800 includes just a few sets of extra tips, and has a proprietary tip mechanism, meaning that you can't use any third party tips with them. IE800 doesn't really have detachable cables either, but Sennheiser will replace the IEMs if anything happens to them, being quite helpful even outside of warranty, always finding a helpful solution for their customers, so we can't blame them for not adding detachable cables, since they supply a customer service that simply makes this work. The sound though, is quite different. First, the bass is much larger, deeper and more impactful on IE800, but it isn't quite as fast, so if you're a speed addict for your bass, IT04 may be worth checking out. If you're a fan of large and deep bass though, IE800 surely has the larger bass, especially in the sub-bass, where it is one of the strongest IEMs out there. When it comes to the upper midrange, both IEMs are relatively equal in terms of amounts, and neither isn't really tuned to be warm. In the midrange, things are slightly different though, IE800 tends to be more textured, but its midrange is pulled back compared to IT04, resulting in a presentation that pushes back some of the vocal forwardness, making IE800 an ideal IEM for certain musical styles, especially instrumentals, metal, rock, electronic, where it may not be at its best with vocal-centric music, especially music that is focused on absolute midrange, as that is the place where most of its dip is located. Even so, IE800 has the advantage of not being colored in the response, so sweet female vocals sound just a bit quiet, not colored, and they don't have their response changed. IT04 tends to be similar to IE800 in those aspects, but its midrange is rather linear in comparison, meaning that where some music lovers may feel IE800 to be a tad recessed in the midrange, no one can really say this about IT04, its midrange not being forward, but neither pulled back. Of course, IE800 is a good example of an extreme U-shaped sound, which means that IT04 feeling natural compared to it, may still be a little U or V shaped for someone coming from a midrange-forward IEM like Etymotic ER4XR or such. The treble is quite something as well, IT04 actually managing to have an even better extension than IE800. Its peak tends to be a little higher as well. Here, IT04's treble texture and overall presentation is slightly more natural than IE800. Some users felt IE800 to be a bit thin in the treble, and this is a place where IT04 feels just right and natural, airy and well-extended. Through the overall sonic presentation, IT04 tends to be a tad wider, IE800 tends to be a bit deeper, with a tad more instrument separation, and a bit more overall texture and detail, but still, some users may prefer IT04's more balanced overall presentation, especially given the wider soundstage. We feel that those looking for a U-shaped or a V-shaped signature that is really intricate may still want to give IE800 a chance, but those who owned, tried IE800, or those who are looking for a less V-shaped signature may have the time of their life using IT04.

    iBasso IT04 vs IMR R1 - IMR R1 is one of the more interesting 500 USD IEMs, as it is one of the very few IEMs that is customizable, both through the sonic filter in the bore tube, as well as through its vent hole, which can be adjusted to your tastes. This doesn't mean that it is instantly more versatile than IT04, but it is simpler to get a wider array of signatures out of IMR R1. Even so, IMr R1's signature tends to float above a certain one at all times, making it quite different from IT04, but let's start with the package and the comfort first. To put it simply, IT04 wins in terms of carrying box, but otherwise, they are pretty evenly matched. One might even argue that the fact that IMR R1 is made of metal is an advantage, but we had good experience with both metallic body and acrylic body IEMs. The comfort is also quite good on both, and both should be comfortable for most users. Now, about the sound, they are rather different. Where IT04 is a neutral - balanced IEM with an excellent treble extension and a speedy bass, IMR R1 tends to be quite the other way around, a warm IEM with a warmer bass (thing which is true with all its filters), IMR R1 has a much slower bass texture with any filter, and with a quicker and more textury midrange, with any of its filters. The treble is amazingly good on both IEMs, but where IT04 focuses on the upper treble and an amazing overall extension, the treble of IMR R1 tends to be quite different, focusing on a little focal point at about 9kHz, after which it tends to drop slowly, offering more of a typical rock signature rather than the utmost treble experience that IT04 offers. All in all, if you're looking for a warmer tone, a warmish thicker sound, with a more textury midrange, but with a slower bass, and with more lower treble emphasis, IMR R1 still makes an amazing choice, while if you're looking for a tighter bass, neutral midrange, and for a more extended treble, especially in the air and the upper treble, then IT04 should satisfy your desires with utmost skill and power.




    Recommended Pairings

    iBasso IT04 is slightly dependent on being connected to a high quality source. It tends to reveal a bit of hiss, and it tends to get better with better sources, but in all honesty, we were able to enjoy it greatly from our weakest source, our Xiaomi Mi Max 2 test smartphone.


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    iBasso IT04 + iBasso DX200 (AMP1) - DX200 is still one of the best flagships we tested to date, and for good reason, it has anything a high-quality DAP should have. We'd even go as far as saying that you can enjoy DX200 to the fullest with its AMP1, but we know some folks really like to tune their sound a little more, and this is where its modular AMP modules come in handy. Now, about the sound of IT04 and DX200 with AMP1, the sound is incredibly good. If we're comparing it to a lower quality source, like our test smartphone, then the sound is considerably more detailed, has more depth, better texture, more crunch, more punchiness and more dynamics, not to mention a much better overall control over the whole sound. DX200 is also able to make the midrange of IT04 pretty texture, given its typical signature, along with making them quite musical and taming the top end a little, resulting in a very enjoyable overall signature. When you factor in the fact that DX200 can play music from Streaming services, and has iBasso's stellar support, this pairing is one we can surely recommend to anyone looking for an exquisite experience.

    iBasso IT04 + iBasso DX150 (AMP6) - Now, if you're at the other end and if you consider that IT04 would sound better if it were a tad warmer, then DX150 will surely come in handy, as its AMP6 is quite a bit warmer and smoother than DX200, passing over this characteristic to IT04, making them more musical, warmer, a tad smoother and a tad more easy to listen to, especially for those who weren't looking for quite that much of an analytical sound. DX150 also has the power to play music from Streaming services, and it also has iBasso's stellar support, making it an excellent choice, especially with its lower price than DX200.

    iBasso IT04 + iFi xDSD - Our review on iFi xDSD is coming soon to Audiophile Heaven and Head-Fi, and it is going to be quite interesting, as if you prefer to use your smartphone to browse your library, then xDSD makes an excellent DAC/AMP to pair your smartphone to. Of course, it isn't quite at the detail level of DX200, and it is not as warm as DX150 either, but xDSD makes a really amazing jack-of-all-trades, that plays along nicely with IT04. You also get iFi's famous support and analogue effects, from which you can add a bit more bass or make the soundstage a tad larger to any IEM or Headphone you pair with it. As a bonus, IT04 doesn't really hiss with it, so you can enjoy it for long periods of time without distractions.



    Value and Conclusion

    Now here's an interesting point, because IT04 isn't very cheap, and it is actually priced in the upper midrange price bracket, at 500 USD. It is able to stand its ground against Sennheiser IE800, which is quite a bit more expensive, though, making IT04 an excellent price/performance ratio IEM.

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    Starting with the package, iBasso puts a lot of thought in the package, and includes a huge number of tips with IT04, and they even include what is probably the thickest, most resilient-looking carrying case we've seen to date, and not to mention a cable that works as both a balanced, and a single ended cable at the same time.

    The build quality of IT04 is quite good, although they are on the larger side, and if you have small ears, they may not fit you perfectly. Otherwise, you'll have a hard time finding anything more solid, since they are constructed on the same basic idea as custom IEMs are (information confirmed by iBasso themselves). The connectors are solid and click right into place, and the IEM has protection against driver flex, although if you're not careful you may introduce driver flex with them, making the anti-driver-flex protection not-quite-that-efficient. On the bright side, this means that they isolate quite well, and so they do, being able to set you free from the noise of Bucharest's street chatter.


    The cables are not microphonic, and they are flexible, making IT04 an IEM good to jog or run with, if you want to.

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    The sound of IT04 is quite amazing by itself, having a really quick bass, with a punchy presentation, deep reach, but with a neutral quantity, while the midrange is less textury, being instead tuned to work well with any kind of music, including slow music like Jazz. The treble is vibrant, bright and vivid, but with a smooth texture, making IT04 work with virtually any music style, from technical death metal, all the way to rock, electronic, or even Jazz or hip-hop. Truly a very versatile signature, that presents music in a wide soundstage, with a good amount of air and space, IT04 will be a favorite for many music lovers, except for those bassheads who'd want more bass, as IT04 doesn't really present music with that large amount of bass.

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    All in all, IT04 is a versatile, well-built IEM made by a well-known company, and it has a very good place in the market, achieved by their detail and overall presentation, excellent treble extension, bass depth, and soundstage width, as well as a really nice midrange texture presentation, which won't be offensive to anyone regardless of their tastes. If you're looking for a IEM (In-Ear Monitor) with an excellent reach both ways, which is versatile and has a nice build quality, along with the stellar support of iBasso, we surely recommend you check out IT04, as it may become a lovely addition for you, like it became for us.



    Playlist used for this review

    While we listened to considerably more songs than those named in this playlist, those are excellent for identifying certain aspects of the sound, like PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you're searching for new most, most of them being rather catchy.

    Bats - Gamma Ray Burst: Second Date
    Eskimo Callboy - Frances
    Incubus - Summer Romance
    Electric Six - Dager! High Voltage
    Kishida Cult - High School Of The Dead
    Dimmu Borgir - Dimmu Borgir

    Breaking Benjamin - I Will Not Bow
    Manafest - Impossible
    Thousand Foot Krutch - The Flame In All Of Us
    Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
    Infected Mushroom - Song Pong
    Doctor P - Bulletproof
    Maximum The Hormone - Rock n Roll Chainsaw
    Rob Zombie - Werewolf, Baby!
    SOAD - Chop Suey
    Ken Ashcorp - Absolute Territory
    Machinae Supremacy - Need For Steve
    Ozzy Osbourne - I Don't Wanna Stop
    Crow'sclaw - Loudness War
    Eminem - Rap God
    Stromae - Humain À L'eau
    Justin Timberlake - Sexy Back
    Metallica - Fuel
    Veil Of Maya - Unbreakable
    Masa Works - Golden Japang
    REOL - Luvoratorrrrry

    Korn - Word Up!
    Papa Roach - ... To be Loved
    Fever The Ghost - Source
    Fall Out Boy - Immortals
    Green Day - Know The Enemy
    Mindless Self Indulgence - London Bridge
    A static Lullaby - Toxic
    Royal Republic - Tommy Gun
    Astronautalis - The River, The Woods
    Skillet - What I Believe




    I hope my review is helpful to you!

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      andkoppel, ValSilva, Dsnuts and 2 others like this.
  7. twister6
    In-Tune with your life!
    Written by twister6
    Published Jul 18, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - hybrid 3BA+1DD design, high resolution, transparent balanced sound, premium balanced cable with adapter, custom-like universal fit.
    Cons - premium case would be nice, mmcx connector is tight.


    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 website: iBasso.


    Intro.

    I'm still getting used to saying, here is a new IEM flagship from iBasso, a company well known for their DAPs. But at the same time, iBasso is probably one of the few companies who managed to expand their original products portfolio and still able to keep a focus and to maintain a very good price/performance ratio with all their releases. The latest DX150 DAP is one of the examples of how much they carried over from DX200 flagship at a fraction of a price. While, IT04 is their new flagship IEM where they did step up in price and performance, relative to IT03, but in my opinion kept it reasonable.

    There is no coincidence why I mentioned IT03 because I have a feeling IT04 will attract a lot of current IT01 and IT03 users, and others of course, who are ready to upgrade to their next flagship without breaking the bank. Don't want to get ahead of myself, but it felt like IT04 started with IT03, upgraded it with an additional Knowles BA driver (total of 3xBAs) and 10mm graphene dynamic driver (found in IT01), added a premium cable with an adapter (CB12s, sold separately for $110), and finetuned the sound to a more mature balanced signature (in comparison to a more fun tuned IT03).

    Here is what I found after spending the last few weeks of testing iBasso IT04 hybrid IEM.

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    Unboxing and Accessories.

    Just like with any other iBasso product, regardless of the price, packaging is premium, and you will find on the cover a reference to "InTune" which is also featured on IT04 faceplate. There could be a lot of interpretations of its meaning, and I will share my thoughts in the Conclusion of the review.

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    Surprisingly, you won't find a leather case with IT04, but the included all metal aluminum puck storage container has a soft velour insert setting to showcase these IEMs like a jewelry on the display. It makes for a great presentation, but I'm sure many will remove it to place IT04 inside with a cable attached, and probably will switch to their favorite pocket friendly slim case when on the go.

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    Furthermore, inside of accessories box you will find a cable and an adapter, and a ton of included eartips. I'm not exaggerating, there were 6 sets of eartips, 5 sets of silicone eartips (S/M/L pairs each), and a set of M/L foam eartips. Finding the right eartip for universal fit iems is important to control the seal and the isolation. The included eartips vary in the springiness of the cap, depth of the cap, diameter of the cap, and length of the stem. Surprisingly, while I'm usually not a big fan of foam eartips, I liked the included ones the most since they were very comfortable and didn't degrade the sound.

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    Included stock cable is their premium CB12s cable which is a hybrid 8-conductor design with SPC (silver plated copper) and Copper wires. The wires are very supple, nice flexible lightweight design that will not weigh down the cable. The plug is 2.5mm TRRS terminated and features the same aluminum housing design matching the y-splitter, chin slider, and mmcx connectors. In addition, they include 2.5mm balanced to 3.5mm single ended pigtail adapter.

    Pigtail adapters give you a flexibility of extending the cable instead of extending the plug (like with a short adapter). Also, for the best performance, it's always important to have matching cable wires in the pigtail adapter, exactly what you find here. And for your AMP4, AMP4s, and upcoming AMP8 needs with 4.4mm balanced connection, you can use iBasso CA02 adapter to go from 2.5mm to 4.4mm balanced, though I wish they would design a pigtail version of it as well.

    Another positive thing about the cable - NO MEMORY wire and no pre-shaped flexible earhook tube either. Wire is very flexible, has a soft non-microphonic shielding, stays put behind your ears, and can be secured further by adjusting the chin slider to bring left/right sides closer together. The standard mmcx connection with the shell is tight and very secure, doesn't spin freely, but keep in mind that cable will not be easy to disconnect, especially since the aluminum housing of 2pin connector is a bit slippery.

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    Sound Analysis and Comparison to IT03.

    In this analysis/comparison section I used both IEMs with their stock cables. IT03 performance does scale up with a cable upgrade, like the latest CB13 or even CB12s, but for consistency I kept cables stock. Ironically, CB12s is a stock cable of IT04.

    The first thing I usually notice when start listening to headphones is the soundstage, and here both have the same staging depth which projects the sound more out-of-your head, while IT04 also adds more expansion to soundstage width. The signature of IT04 is more balanced, with a more revealing, brighter, transparent tonality. In comparison, IT03 is more v-shaped where the mids are thicker, a little warmer, not as forward as in IT04, and you have more emphasis on bass and treble with a little smoother tonality. I do hear IT04 as being more resolving and more transparent when compared to IT03.

    The bass extension is similar, though IT03 has a little more sub-bass rumble and mid-bass punch. IT04 bass feels a little tighter, faster, and more controlled. Also, due to a more forward presentation of mids in IT04, its bass is more balanced and has a perception of less impact in comparison to IT03. Lower mids in both are closer to neutral, where IT03 lower mids are a little north of it with more body, while IT04 lower mids are a little south of neutral, with a leaner body. Upper mids in IT04 are more forward, brighter, more transparent, with improved resolution that leads to a better retrieval of details. In comparison, IT03 mids pushed a little back, have a smoother warmer tonality which leads to a little less resolution and less transparency in comparison to IT04. I don't hear IT04 as more analytical, but rather more revealing, leaner, and balanced with improved resolution and transparency. With high frequencies, both have a well defined crisp airy treble extension where IT03 has a little more sparkle while IT04 has a little more control.

    Imaging in both is pretty good, with a relatively accurate placement of instruments and vocals, sound never gets congested, well separated and layered, though IT04 has an upper hand here due to its more transparent tonality and wider soundstage. Another interesting observation, while testing with lo-fi sources, I found IT04 to have a wider soundstage expansion which makes me wonder if it has something to do with its 16ohm impedance that pairs up better with higher output impedance sources vs IT03 (8ohm) which pairs up better with lower output impedance DAPs.

    Overall, I find IT04 sound signature and tuning to be more mature (more audiophile tuned), more balanced (improved coherency), more revealing, more transparent and with higher resolution. In contrast, IT03 has a smoother tonality with a fun tuning and more emphasis on bass and treble where mids are pushed slightly back, not as forward as in IT04.

    IT04 vs IT03.

    ibasso_it04-x11.jpg ibasso_it04-x12.jpg ibasso_it04-x13.jpg ibasso_it04-x15.jpg ibasso_it04-x16.jpg ibasso_it04-x17.jpg

    Design Comparison.

    In terms of the design, both have a very similar ergonomics with custom universal built, but there is one noticeable improvement. The nozzle of IT04 is a little longer, and as a result you don't have to push IT04 as deep into your ear as you would with IT03. Those who had issues with IT03 shell comfort due to a corner mold piece of the inner side of the shell pointing toward concha symba area of your outer ear, now there is a little more distance between IT04 shell and your ear. I also noticed a finer mesh grill on IT04 in comparison to IT03. I don't accumulate too much wax, but I would expect IT04 to do a better job of keeping small particles away from entering the nozzle.

    ibasso_it04-x25.jpg

    Without a doubt, premium CB12s cable (included stock with IT04) is a big step up as well, in terms of ergonomics (thinner wires), flexibility (more pliable), 2.5mm termination with a separate 3.5mm pigtail adapter, and a design with matching aluminum plug, y-splitter, chin-slider, connectors and adapter connectors. Also, mmcx connectors in the shell don’t stick out as far as in IT03, and connection is tighter, not easy to turn the cable. This is another plus, because when joint is loose, you get dirt and moisture inside, affecting the reliability of the connection.

    The faceplate of IT04 has a more premium design with a carbon fiber artwork and InTune label. I do like it, but also wish the little iBasso triangular logo would have been featured somewhere in the corner of the faceplate. Of course, this is just a personal nitpicking comment based on my preference since I like that little logo. Overall, IT04 shell looks more compact and more premium.

    ibasso_it04-x07.jpg ibasso_it04-x08.jpg ibasso_it04-x09.jpg ibasso_it04-x10.jpg ibasso_it04-x14.jpg

    Comparison.

    4-driver IEMs are not as common, and I have more 3-way hybrids/BAs and 5-driver hybrids/BAs, but the refinement of IT04 sound tuning pushes it closer to higher end performance iems. Here is how it stacks up against different 5-driver IEMs.

    IT04 vs Simgot EM5 – EM5 is less efficient (needs to push volume louder), soundstage depth is very similar with out-of-your head expansion, while width is a little more expanded in EM5. Sub-bass extension and depth, along with mid-bass punch, are very similar in quantity and quality between these two, a typical articulate dynamic driver performance, and that’s where all the similarities end. Lower mids in EM5 are a lot leaner, lacking body in sound, while IT04 is more neutral with fuller body. Upper mids in EM5 are more revealing, a lot brighter and crisper, more micro-detailed, while IT04 is smoother, more natural, still very detailed, but more toward the organic tonality. With treble, both are well defined and crisp, but EM5 is splashier and has a lot more sparkle in comparison to a better controlled and more natural IT04 treble.

    IT04 vs Westone UM Pro 50 v2 – With UMPro being a musician performance iems, I’m not surprised that it has a narrower soundstage with less depth in comparison to a more expanded soundstage of IT04 (both width and depth). UMPro bass hits harder, but it’s not as articulate or controlled as IT04 bass which is tighter and more layered. Lower mids in UMPro are thicker with a lot more body, in comparison to a more neutral lower mids of IT04 which make mids less congested. Upper mids are more laid back and smoother in UMPro, while IT04 is more detailed, more revealing, and more forward in presentation. Both have a nice treble sparkle, but IT04 has a better treble extension. The biggest difference here is presentation and retrieval of details in mids.

    IT04 vs Fidue Sirius – The first thing I noticed is the difference in soundstage width, where IT04 expansion is noticeably wider. The next big difference is in sound presentation and sound signature where Sirius has a lot more bass impact which makes its signature more v-shaped in comparison to a more balanced sound signature of IT04. While lower mids in IT04 are neutral, Sirius is a touch above it, which adds more body to the sound. Moving on up from there, upper mids and treble are nearly identical in tonality and retrieval of details. The main difference here is IT04 mids being more forward, while Sirius upper mids pushed a little back. Aside from a more noticeable harder hitting bass of Sirius, these two have a similar tonality, though you do need to keep in mind that Sirius costs almost twice as much as IT04.

    IT04 vs Campfire Audio Andromeda - While soundstage depth (the out-of-your head expansion) is very similar, IT04 still has more width. With bass, Andro hits harder with a deeper subs and punchier mid-bass, but the bass is not as tight or as articulate as IT04, where IT04 dynamic driver sounds tighter and has more control than Andro's BA drivers. Lower mids of Andro are thicker and with more body, while IT04 is leaner and more neutral. IT04 upper mids have more transparency and more revealing while Andro is a little smoother. Another big difference here is treble where Andro is brighter and has a more noticeable 7k peak, while IT04 has more control and sounds more natural. The most noticeable difference in this comparison is bigger bass and thicker lower mids of Andro which makes the sound more congested in comparison to a more balanced and more transparent and layered sound of IT04.

    ibasso_it04-x19.jpg

    Pair up.

    16ohm impedance and 110dB sensitivity is a good combination for a pair up with variety of sources, which also makes it quite easy to drive.

    iBasso DX200 w/AMP4 - very wide soundstage expansion that wraps around you; balanced revealing layered sound with a little more mid-forward emphasis. Still, very coherent tuning with a transparent sound. Black background, great expansion of dynamics, no hissing.

    iBasso DX150 w/AMP6 - wide soundstage expansion (but not as wide as DX200 w/AMP4); balanced layered sound with a little more sub-bass texture/rumble and a bit smoother mids when compared to DX200 w/AMP4. It's a great pair up, but also a good reminder that as great as it sounds, DX200 w/AMP4 has an edge in technical performance with improvement in transparency and layering, while DX150 w/AMP6 is a little smoother and with a little more bass. Also, I hear a little bit of hissing with IT04, but not too much.

    Hiby R6 - very similar wide soundstage like in DX150 w/AMP6; the sound is balanced but with more emphasis on low end, bass hits a little harder here, mids are a little smoother, a touch warmer, and treble has a bit less sparkle. Overall sound is a little smoother, a little less transparent, and a bit less revealing in comparison to DX150, but it does have a perfect black background and not a hint of hissing.

    FiiO X5iii - wide soundstage expansion; the sound is balanced with a little more emphasis on mids. Overall tonality is smooth, warm, not as layered or transparent, also not as high level of sound separation like in the DAPs above. Plus, hissing here is strong, becoming distracting.

    A&K SP1000 (fw 1.0.8) - very wide soundstage expansion that wraps around you; balanced revealing layered sound which has as much emphasis on bass as it is on mids and treble. Technical performance, in terms of layering, separation, dynamics and transparency, is on par with DX200 w/AMP4, but SP1000 has a little deeper sub-bass rumble. Black background, no hissing.

    L&P L6 - very similar to DX200 w/AMP4 and SP1000, in terms of a technical performance with a high level of layering, separation, great dynamics expansion, but the overall sound is a just a bit smoother and sub-bass goes deeper and mid-bass hits a little harder. Plus, soundstage is wide, but not as wide as DX200 and SP1000. Also, deep black background and no hissing.

    Galaxy S9 phone - surprisingly very wide soundstage, on par with DX200 and SP1000; sound sig is balanced, a little more on a smoother, and even a touch warmer side. Though it doesn't have a technical performance of other high-end DAPs, the sound is on par (if not even better) with some other mid-fi DAPs where I hear a good layering and separation, and good sound dynamics.

    ibasso_it04-x18.jpg

    Conclusion.

    The first time I heard IT04 was at CanJam NYC earlier this year, and got an instantaneous impression of a more mature tuning. I mentioned the word "mature" a few times already, and the reason why I keep bringing it up because I find IT03 and IT01 to be more fun tuned, with more emphasis on low end and treble, meaning they are not as balanced tuned as their InTune older sibling IT04. Actually, I was thinking about the meaning of "InTune" label. It's catchy and could have many different interpretations where your IT04 is in-tune with your sound source, in-tune with your music taste, having in-tune coherency of 4 drivers, or just being in-tune with your everyday life.

    I also don't think it will be out-of-tune with your wallet, since even with a higher price, when you factor in premium CB12s cable ($110) with included adapter, new 10mm DD from IT01, stepping up in Knowles BA driver count, and updated tuning - the price gap between IT03 and IT04 is not that big and quite reasonable, considering today's market of $2k-$3k flagships. IT04 has a great balanced signature, transparent natural high-resolution sound, pairs up well with many sources, and tuned to work with every genre of music I threw at it. Definitely a great example of budget friendly all-rounder flagship IEM from iBasso.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. zeppu08
      Awesome review! How does this compare with the Hifi Boy OS V3?
      zeppu08, Sep 22, 2018
    3. twister6
      @zeppu08 hifi boy os v3 is a lot more smoother, more organic/natural, and not as revealing, and has a narrower soundstage.
      twister6, Sep 22, 2018
    4. zeppu08
      Wow! Thanks for the quick response! Really looking on those hifi Boys.. hope it wont dissapoint.
      zeppu08, Sep 23, 2018
  8. icefalkon
    The iBasso IT04...my impressions...
    Written by icefalkon
    Published Feb 20, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Full sounding, detailed, open soundstage
    Cons - Not much to list except the fact that they stick out of my ears a bit
    Here is my review of the iBasso IT04 Universal IEM.


    To begin I was given a pair of these to show at the iBasso booth at the 2018 NYC CanJam. I was never asked to do a review but here I am…

    First let’s talk about the design. They went with a dark acrylic shell with a conch flange for stability. The shell is slightly bigger than the IT01’s and IT03’s which is due to the 3 balanced drivers and 1 dynamic driver. They come with iBasso’s CB12 braided hybrid copper/silver balanced cable along with a single ended adapter cable. The package is very nicely presented and like all the other iBasso products you get the feel that you’re holding an item way above its price point.

    I have paired the IT04’s up with my iBasso DX200 DAP running the latest Lurker firmware. For song’s I have used my standard FLAC testing playlist consisting of:

    1. Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
    2. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
    3. The Allman Brothers – Dreams
    4. The Allman Brothers – Statesboro Blues (Live at the Fillmore East)
    5. The Allman Brothers – Sweet Melissa (Personal Favorite)
    6. Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb
    7. Rodrigo y Gabriella – Hanuman
    8. Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast
    9. Judas Priest – Living After Midnight (Remastered)
    10. Dio – Holy Diver
    11. Queen – Who Wants to Live Forever
    12. Queen – Another One Bites the Dust
    13. Jesse Cook – Havana
    14. Five Finger Death Punch – No One Gets Left Behind
    15. Dean Martin – The Way You Look Tonight
    16. Pachelbel – Canon in D
    17. Beethoven – Piano Sonata #21
    18. Tokio Myers – Human by Rag’n Bone Man
    19. Kongos – Come With Me Now
    20. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird
    21. Asia – Heat of the Moment
    22. Stevie Ray Vaughan – Little Wing
    23. Simon & Garfunkel – The Sound of Silence
    24. Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven
    25. The Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop
    26. Van Halen – Eruption
    27. Puddle of Mud – She Hates Me

    I use this playlist with every DAP, IEM, and headphone that I sample. I allowed the IT04’s to burn in the entire week before the 2018 NYC CanJam before putting them in my ears again. The difference between the IT01 and the IT04 is wonderful. It sounds more open and detailed without being “airy”. It is definitely a different animal than the IT01’s that’s for sure. The tuning is completely different and I found myself head bobbing more than I have in a long time. I found a smile and with closed eyes I can just imagine what a fool I looked like…

    But that didn’t matter, it sounded good… real good. I was able to discern the positions of the band members in some of the songs and usually I need my higher end JH Angies or my old Tralucent 1Plus2’s for that. So they get another positive check for that. Moving down the playlist some songs were out of this world such as Five Finger Death Punch’s “No One Gets Left Behind”, Queens’ “Who Wants to Live Forever” and the Allman Brothers “Statesboro Blues". Each of those songs took me to another place and time. It was pretty awesome.

    I had these IEM’s in my ears for the entire playlist, not taking them out even once. I was concerned with the little conch flange sticking out…that it would bother me. However, you don’t even feel it and it does sit comfortably in your ear. Where the IT01’s can be slept in, if you so choose, these aren’t so good at that. Because of the added drivers, the shell is larger of course. While small in comparison to other IEM’s, it still sticks out of my ears just enough to be noticeable when you are lying down on a pillow. (I can fall asleep in any position with the IT01’s in my ears).

    In conclusion, I found these IEMs to be very enjoyable. They are lively, addictive, and sound fantastic with the DX200. It is really like they’re made to go together…and you know what…they might be. I’m not an audio professional, I’m a regular guy who loves music, plays a few instruments, and tells it like it is. I think this IEM is definitely better sounding than the IT01 (of course) and the IT03. I also think it sounds better than my Heir 4Ai’s, and it comes right after my JH Angies…I find myself using these more and A/B’ing them more than I expected to. They are supposed to be in the $499 zone of pricing and should be available for purchase soon.

    Thanks for reading.

    images

    1. upload_2018-2-20_23-16-43.png
    1. View previous replies...
    2. icefalkon
      Phuca...take a pic of your IT03's...I think the IT04's are similar to them unfortunately. I just want to make sure...
      icefalkon, Feb 23, 2018
      m800he likes this.
    3. Amberlamps
      They do look very similar, I am just going away to sleep but will take a pic of both the it01 and 03’s when i waken up, not sure if I will be able to post them in the reply box here ? But when I get up I will take a pic of both and send a message to you if it wont allow me to post images here.
      Amberlamps, Feb 23, 2018
      m800he and menuki like this.
    4. vovanopulo
      Nice review. Have you got any idea how IT04 would compare to Dunu DN-2002 and are IT04 worth an upgrade from IT03? Thanks
      vovanopulo, Apr 18, 2018
      m800he likes this.