iBasso IT00 Review

iBasso have been a dark horse within the audiophile industry releasing compelling products from DAPs, headphones, and entry-level IEMs. The manufacturer has a particularly high affinity for quality products and has seen the launch of affordable earphones in the form of the IT01, IT03 and finally the iBasso IT00.

The $69 IT00 serves a 10mm graphene single dynamic driver following the footsteps of the diamond-like coated diaphragm of its elderly sibling – the iBasso IT01. The pitch here is that graphene delivers a great stiffness to weight mass aiding overall low levels of distortion. In addition, iBasso have incorporated a customized magnet and dual helmholtz resonators to provide impactful bass amongst an extended frequency response.

iBasso IT00

The Packaging

The iBasso IT00 arrives in a compact box featuring a white slide out insert and an inner lift lid textured blue box. The box houses the pearly white IT00 in-ear monitors along with the black cable.

Other accessories include an above average selection of tips (9 pairs of silicone eartips – S/M/L), a carry case, a set of replacement nozzle filters, user guide and warranty card.

The Design & Build

The iBasso IT00 heralds a unique design in the form of a glossy white polymer with aluminum nozzles. While not a seamless housing, the overall aesthetic is minimalist and clean looking. There are two vents on the under-body of the shell with one next to the aluminum nozzle and the other approaching the edge of the shell. It is nice of iBasso to have included replacement nozzles which is an unheard-of accessory item at this price point.

The IT00 adopts an MMCX connection which can be used with the standard cables provided or as a wireless solution in the form of iBasso’s TWS adapter – the CF01.

Inside the IT00, iBasso have heavily been involved to extract the best performance from the single 10mm dynamic driver. As mentioned, the company have featured a customized magnet to provide high magnetic flux and a dual helmholtz resonator to prevent standing waves while allowing ‘deep and powerful’ bass to flourish.

The graphene drivers have been chosen for their speed, low distortion factor and thin design to aid in overall sonic acoustics. iBasso have very much straddled along the same path as FiiO with their entry-level FD1; both IEMs make use of rigid materials with magnetic circuitry designed to provide a full bass response. The difference, here, being that FiiO have opted for beryllium while iBasso have used graphene.

Comfort, Isolation & Cable

The IT00 are a relatively weightless pair of earphones and can be worn comfortably for hours on end. This is helped by the shape of the outer housings which rest neatly against the conchae. One caveat, however, is that the IEMs have a rather shallow insertion point and hence isolation levels are not the best.

The cable provided is fairly standard and has oxygen-free copper as part of its topology. It adopts a dual braided design with a plastic sheath for part of the ear hooks. It would have been better to see the use of a memory-type cable given the fact that the IT00 inserts at a shallow depth.  

Sound impressions

Tonality

The IT00 has a very natural sound with a tonality rooted in a warm-inclined tilt. It is a signature that errs on the more relaxed side of things with more emphasis on musicality as opposed to analytical prowess. It is a set of IEMs that is easy to enjoy music for what it is without worrying about the extra details.  

Bass

Rich and prominent, the IT00 holds no prisoners when it comes to the lower frequencies. There is more of a sub-bass compared to mid-bass bias which lends some warmth to the overall sound. The IT00 does not seek to be a neutral-reference monitor and hence the bass is not the fastest nor does it decay on the dime. Instead, there is plenty of heft and depth owing to the superior magnetic flux and dynamic driver design. The tonality here is organic and lies in parallel with the rest of the frequency spectrum. The only caveat being that the bass does tend to intrude into the lower midrange and hence purists may have to look elsewhere. Nevertheless, the IT00 is a versatile monitor and does sound good with a range of music.

Midrange

There is a mild u-shaped imposition on the frequency spectrum allowing vocals to stand slightly further back in the overall mix. The overall sound here is natural with a pleasing timbre that is devoid of stridencies and fatigue. While there is an upstroke towards the upper midrange frequencies, the IT00 maintains composition with a sound that does not get overly energetic. Despite the warmth and u-shaped frequency profile, the IT00 emanates clear and intelligible vocals with a smooth overtone.  Compared to the Fiio FD1, the IT00 is less forthright and vivid with a relatively more laidback tone.

The Treble

In keeping with the rest of the frequency spectrum, the treble is smooth and laidback. It is not the most extensive pair of IEMs but again does have the tendency to portray an organic sound without edginess and grit. To this extent, the IT00 achieves a relatively smooth and forgiving character that plays well across a variety of genres.

The Soundstage & Imaging

The IT00 has a slightly above average soundstage with a width greater than height and depth. It is a relatively airy staging despite the warm tonality and voluminous low-end. Spatial cue localization is not the best, however, and hence users should look elsewhere for better instrument separation.

iBasso CF01 – TWS Adapter

The iBasso CF01 is iBasso’s version of TWS Bluetooth IEM Adapter designed for providing a wireless solution for monitors with an MMCX connection. While not a new concept, iBasso have incorporated Qualcomm’s QCC3020 BT5.0 chipset as well as an additional amplifier with support for AAC, SBC and aptX codecs. The adapters have a battery life of roughly 4.5 hours each which totals to more than 24 hours of playtime.

When paired with the CF01, the IT00 scales surprisingly well with a more focused and clearer sound as well as a better balance between precision & musicality. Owing to the rather shallow tip insertion, however, the IT00 does not have the greatest fit out of the box. This is somewhat overcome with the choice from a large selection ear tips.

Competitors

FiiO FD1 IEM ($59.00)

Despite both incorporating a single 10 mm dynamic driver, the tonal profiles of the FD1 and IT00 are quite different. While the FiiO FD1 has the greater speed with more energy in the upper midrange and detail across the board, the IT00 has a smoother and more naturally laidback sound.  

Rock-it Sounds R-50 ($129)

The R-50 has a classically BA-driven sound with rapid decay, great delineation of sound and a more analytical approach to tracks. The IT00, on the other hand, employs the strengths of the dynamic driver with its weighty and authoritative sub-bass with a more musically tuned sound.

Conclusion

Overall, the IT00 strives to target those in favor of a smoother and more laidback sound where details and speed may not be the greatest of priorities. Instead, the rich and hefty bass gives way to a natural and organic sound which is very tonally pleasing. The sub $100 IEM market is a competitive place but the IT00 still does well to bring value to the forefront. When paired with the cable-free CF01, the IT00 adopts a more ‘audiophile-grade’ sound with a clearer and balanced tonality. For what it is worth, however, the $69 IT00 does not a lot wrong with its original tonality. It plays well with a wide variety of genres and is particularly forgiving of less well mastered tracks. With that said, it certainly deserves an audition for those who seek its sound profile.

iBasso IT00 – $79

iBasso CF01 – $166

Available from Audio46

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