Review : iBasso IT01S – Shine right like a diamond

Sound performance

For this review I used a mix of DAPs and portable DACs from FiiO and iBasso to stay in the same price range.

I chose three players : FiiO M6 / iBasso DX120 / iBasso DX150 and paired them to the IT01S in random orders. Most files used were FLAC 16bit/44kHz streamed from Qobuz/Spotify or from the internal storage.

Overall signature

It’s been a long time since I reviewed a mono-driver IEM. The last time I did, it was the Final Audio E4000 & E5000, two good IEMs but technically outdated now. So I was very curious to hear how the IT01S would sound.

The sound signature is pretty linear, so if V-Shaped sound is your thing, look elsewhere. If the IEM is non-impressive at first, the longer you use them, the better it gets. The bass is accurate, the highs non harmful and the sound stage is surprisingly wide.

Layering isn’t as good as with multi-driver IEMs and that was to be expected. It’s still way above what you get from most similar priced IEMs but after the BGVP DM6, I became picky.

The downside comes from the voices which are too laid-back for my taste. If you only listen to vocal jazz, you won’t have any issues, but on more complex styles it can get rough. That’s a bit sad as the IT01S offers a lot of detail for a single-driver : on Sway from Diana Krall, you can distinctly hear the lips un-tightening when she begins to sing.

Dynamic and transients

Once paired with a good DAP, the iBasso IT01S gives you a run for your money. Going from single-ended to balanced really made a difference and honestly, I was very surprised. In a good way. Transients felt faster and using the same volume on the player (DX120) I got much more information processed.

On my new “definitive test-track”, Aulos from the Ed Banger 15 Album, the first part was lacking in terms of resolution. Fortunately, the great dynamics made up for the rest of the track, once every instrument played fortissimo, you really get immersed in the sound.

It’s kind of a mixed bag, on some tracks the IT01S sounds amazing thanks to the new driver, on some others it just sounds plain.

Tonality

Highs : clean and non-harmful. When most of the IEMs I tried put the emphasis on high frequencies, the IT01S were very keen to my ears. There is a lot of detail but it doesn’t pop-up to your face, and I want to thank iBasso for that. If you like classical music, and want to hear this little flute at the rear of the band, without the bleeding 8kHz spike, this is a very good choice.

It gets explosive when you need, but it’s never tiresome.

Good test-track: Tetra – Orchestral Version – Ed banger 15

Mids : a bit too laidback for me. Mids are the Achile’s heel of the IT01S in my opinion. The definition is very good with lots of micro-details, especially when playing piano or brass, but vocals seems to be far away most of the time. As if a veil was covering a part of the frequencies when the sound gets too complex.

It’s a bit sad because when you play acapella or acoustic tunes with the IEM, it sounds absolutely terrific.

Good test-track : San-Francisco Street – Sun Rai

Lows : deep and clean. As most dynamic driver IEMs, the IT01S really outshines its competitors in this section. If the BGVP DM6 sounded clean and courteous, the IT01S goes much deeper and outperforms them in every way here.

Sure, if you don’t like bass, this might be an issue for you. For me, it’s just perfect.

Good test-track : Hydrogen – M.O.O.N

Sensitivity / Hiss

The iBasso IT01S isn’t hard to drive and isn’t prone to hiss. Even with the iBasso DX120 and DX150 I had no noise whatsoever, so if it’s really important to you, this is your solution.

I always found iBasso DAPs to be somewhat hissy, but that’s clearly not the case for their IEM. Or at least, this one !

Association

iBasso IT01S + FiiO M6 : the perfect lightweight combo, every one should have one of these in their pocket. The Sabre DAC gives plenty of dynamics and the IT01S plays along very well. Technically, it’s not the best combo you could get but once the bass begin to play… You’re on !
iBasso IT01S + iBasso DX120 : Unsurprisingly, the best results were obtained when I paired the DX120 and IT01S in balanced mode. If those were not made to be paired, I don’t know what should be. It’s the Brangelina (before their divorce) or a baguette with some butter : whatever you listen to on this combo, it sounds… amazingly good.
iBasso IT01S + iBasso DX150 : technically, it’s the best combo. Musically ? Not so much… Sure you have the dynamics and a deep bass, but it lacks the magic I had with the DX120.

Comparisons

Last time, some of you complained about not having a comparison section. Here it is now :

BGVP DMG : the IT01S sounds more musical than the DMG, all thanks to the great work iBasso achieved in term of dynamics. Toms and kicks sound more natural, even if at the end of the day, the DMG seems faster.
BGVP DM6 : overall, I have to confess I prefer the DM6. It’s technically superior with sharper mids and astounding accuracy overall. Where the IT01S gives them a run for the money, is the bass section and dynamics. I think the iBasso IEM is a bit above on orchestra and electro tracks thanks to that.
Hidizs NF-3u : the NF-3U are the polar opposite of the IT01S in term of signature. If you listen to them them just after the IT01S, the highs will make your ears bleeds. Still, this remains one of my favorite IEMs of all time thanks to these highs, precisely. It’s amazingly detailed but it won’t suit every one…

Conclusion

The iBasso IT01S are a great IEM. The design is suberb, the comfort is top-notch and the overall signature should suit every genre. Dynamics are outstanding and the DiNaTT Driver outperforms the direct competition in this regards, making them one of the most natural sounding models of the moment.

Compared to the BGVP DM6, they can’t match the amazing accuracy of that IEM and if details are your top priority, get the BGVP. If hiss is a concern and you prefer wide sound stage, deep bass and dynamics, get the iBasso IT01S, it’s as simple as that.

For 200$, you can’t go wrong with the IT01S.

Review : iBasso IT01S – Shine right like a diamond
4.8 (95.56%) 9 votes

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A nerdy guy with a passion for audio and gadgets, he likes to combine his DAC and his swiss knife. Even after more than 10 years of experience, Nanotechnos still collects all gear he gets, even his first MPMAN MP3 player. He likes spreadsheets, technical specs and all this amazing(ly boring) numbers. But most of all, he loves music: electro, classical, dubstep, Debussy : the daily playlist.

    2 Comments

    • Reply March 7, 2019

      wilmer parada

      What you recommend between this and de fiio 9 pro, i listen classic rock, funk, disco, deep house, etc. thanks…

    • Reply March 8, 2019

      Michal

      Thank you for fantastic review. How would you compare IT01s to LZ-A4? I can get them both in good price and can’t decide. I’m looking for fun sounding signature to use them on daily basis, with lg v30.

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