In this article we review the $149 USD iBasso’s CF01 Bluetooth DAC & AMP adapter and pair it with iBasso’s IT00 budget in-ear monitors.
Disclaimer: iBasso sent us the CF01 & IT00 for the purposes of this review, free of charge. I only covered the import taxes and fees. All thoughts and experiences with the product are naturally my own. Headfonia and iBasso are not related in any way.
iBasso is a professional audio equipment manufacturer and iBasso was founded over than 10 years ago in Shenzhen, China. They specialize in high performance portable audio equipment. iBasso is well-known among audiophiles because of their high performance DAPs and they have been increasing their portfolio of devices every passing day.
The brand recently developed a complete range of interchangeable modules of AMPs, IEMs and headphones. You can check our iBasso reviews here. You can check their website as well. Today I’ll be reviewing their new Bluetooth adapter, the CF01. iBasso was kind to send the IT00 with it as a bonus and we will be checking how they pair up!
If you’ve been following our reviews, you know that we reviewed quite a number of adapters lately. Why is that? Are the wired earphones coming to an end? I doubt that. Although…
Technology is full of surprises. This week I experienced a gaming mouse that uses a new kind of wireless technology which features the same specs of a high-performance wired mouse, but wireless without any added latency whatsoever. We’ll see if they can actually come up with a technology to prevail against the good old hifi cables. The wireless war will never be completely over if you ask me, so you better get used to this kind of products. The first examples were not great, however they are improving day by day. For example we awarded the Shanling’s MW200 neckband Bluetooth adapter with a HFN Recommendation because it sounds and works really well. Fostex’s TM2 is another good product in this class. Companies are designing great wireless products, they know what the consumer wants, an most importantly, what an audiophile wants. iBasso is one of those companies that pays attention to the feedback. Perhaps that’s the grand arcanum behind their success, who knows?
I know what is on your mind. I am well aware that Bluetooth audio capabilities are still somewhat limited but if you’re aiming for casual hifi listening sessions on the go – which may include some kind of streaming service such as Tidal – it should/could be enough. LDAC is currently the best codec available, and its cap is 990 kpb/s which is around the level of CDs, but it’s not quite there yet. I have faith that we’ll get there, eventually. Until then, we’ll have to make the best out of what we have. So let’s see what the iBasso CF01 has to offer us.
The iBasso CF01 is an adapter to liberate your wired MMCX-socket IEMs. It has integrated DAC & AMP along with Qualcomm’s well-known QCC3020 Bluetooth 5.0 chip-set.
Specs & Technical Data
Bluetooth Chipset: Qualcomm QCC3020
Bluetooth version: Bluetooth 5.0 – 10m Range
Bluetooth Codec Support: SBC, AAC, aptX
Output power: [email protected] – SNR: ≥98dB
Playing time: 4.5 hours (earhook) + 20 hours (charging box)
Charging time: 1.5 hours (earhook) + 2.5 hours (charging box)
Charging interface: Type-C
Waterproof level: IPX5
MSRP: 149 USD
Packaging & Accessories
iBasso’s Bluetooth adapter comes with a rectangular hard box. The white cover is designed in a simplistic way, iBasso listed features and specifications on the back side. Removing the top cover reveals the black cardboard box. Upon opening the lid you immediately see the CF01’s case. The case is definitely not small by any means but there is a reason for this. We’ll talk more about it in the design section. There also is a USB-A to USB-C cable other than the charging case and the modules themselves in the box and that’s pretty much it. Basic.
Build & Design
The modules look very modern & chic. Silver and black complements each other very nicely. They are not big at all and very lightweight. Each module has a multi-purpose physical button with a LED on top of them. However, it is not very easy to push. The bendable cable part on the other hand, has a smooth coating and looks just as premium. iBasso opted for x4 more durable, longevity focused gold-plated MMCX sockets for the modules. The magnetic charge dots are also gold-plated for durability.
When it comes to the case, iBasso designed it very practical and useful so big kudos to them. The case has enough clearance to store even the big shell multi-driver IEMs. These spaces are covered in velvety plastic to protect your IEMs during transportation. The inner side of the top lid also features this velvety texture to prevent scratches on the face plates of the IEMs. The case is quite lightweight thanks to the plastic construction. It also features a battery inside, unlike Fostex TM2’s cradle.
Frankly, I really liked the iBasso CF01’s design altogether.
Fit & Comfort
As I mentioned it in the design section, the modules are not big at all. I wear glasses and I had no problems with the fit. The cable part is smooth to the skin and this contributes to the overall comfort. You can bend them however you like, find a comfortable position for the IEM you desire. I used the CF01 for two consecutive weeks both inside and outside to test the fit. Everything was great, no discomfort of any kind.
iBasso says it delivers [email protected] which is not too shabby for a device that is pinky finger long. It successfully drives every IEM in my inventory. I doubt you’ll have problems driving your IEMs! There is no volume control on the modules so be aware. I actually like this a lot, okay controlling volume via buttons is nice and all that but you get 2 different sliders that way. Your phone volume and the separate device’s volume. I personally don’t like that. Of course it is subjective, like many things in this industry.
Connection Stability & Latency
iBasso’s adapter features Qualcomm’s QCC3020 Bluetooth 5.0 chip. It is one of the popular chip-sets among Bluetooth audio devices. It also supports Qualcomm’s TrueWireless Stereo Plus (TWS+) feature. TWS+ is a great technology that helps increase battery efficiency for both of the earbuds. Normally, BT earphones and adapters work in a master-slave configuration. The master side handles the connection and the slave stays connected to the master. This means higher battery usage for the master one. TS+ means that both of the chips left and right stay connected to the source and use less power to transmit & receive. TS+ optimizes the master-slave system to equalize the battery usage between sides.
I used the CF01 for a couple of weeks before this review and had no issues with it at all. I conducted several tests to check the latency subject but I had no latency issues with YouTube and Amazon Prime. There was a slight delay issue when playing games on Android however. All testing was done via Poco F2 Pro (Android 11). The Bluetooth range was also great, with no drop-out from 7 meters far.
Let’s talk about battery life. The modules let you listen for about 4.5 hours and I managed to get solid 4 hours of continuous playback. It is not bad when you judge by the form-factor.
The charging cradle offers you 20h worth of juice so in total you can listen to them for around 24h. the cradle features the latest USB-C port and it also supports Qi wireless charging so you can place it on your Qi pad to charge it. It takes around 2h to charge the case and 1.5h to fully charge the modules. The modules are also IPX5 rated so if you combine them with an IPX5 rated earphone, you will have no problem using them under rain. However, these are electronic devices and everything has a limit so I’d be careful about that. Just know that you’re completely safe from sweat damage.
As I mentioned above, the iBAsso CF01 has a physical button on each side and that button gives you limited control over your phone. You can play/pause the playback, skip to the previous or next track, activate your voice assistant, answer or reject calls. You won’t have an accidental touch problem with these physical buttons. iBasso does not mention any app support for FW updates and I am a little bummed out about it not supporting aptX HD. Other than these, the CF01 offers a solid set of features.
During my testing I’ve tried it at several places and the CF01’s performance was above average. You already know that capturing voice and transmitting it, clearly is a very difficult feat when it comes to these adapters but the CF01 stood its ground very well. I had absolutely no issues when there was limited chatter around me. I had no problems in a not-so-crowded cafe but once I found a place with wind + background chatter, things got messy. Honestly if you’re not a person that takes calls very very often, the CF01’s performance will be sufficient for you.
The iBasso CF01 article continues on the next page. Click here or use the jumps below.