iBasso IT03 review
-expatinjapan

http://www.ibasso.com/


Whats in the box?


Beautiful simplistic packaging




Information about the IT03 on the rear side of the box.



Inside reveals a multi compartment black box



A handy user guide in slip




The iBasso IT03 IEMs safely set in a protective foam base.



The cable on the underside of the foam gently wrapped a circular piece of plastic.



IT03 measurements information also contained within the box.



The leather case for transporting the iBasso IT03 around town.
I would have preferred a simple hard shell box, its a bit tricky to get the IEMs in this one.




A wide array of tips.
Wide bore (short), Small bore (rounded), Large bore (rounded).




Fit

The fit at first looks counter intuitive, `These, in my ears?`.

But rest assured they are very comfortable, I also had my doubts upon opening the box, the IEMs looking like some sort of universal custom hybrid.

They fit very well, the upper pointy looking and rounded flange sits well in the upper portion the ear giving it support.

I had to try to out various tips stock and after market to achieve the seal and isolation I desired, finally coming full circle back to the stocks tips, the low rider, large bore tips.




Build

Well what can I say, its iBasso, they have been building portable amplifiers and DAPs (portable digital players) for quite a number of years now. So they know their stuff.

This expertise was exported to the design and manufacturing of a new product for iBasso and IEM, the IT03. And they have done a stellar job too.

Nice, solid, hard, robust shells.

The cable which like the flange on the shells gave me a double look at first has proven to be a well made, with excellent materials cable.
I thought it looked a bit hard and plastic like at first, but it is supple enough for comfort and does not get tangled. I haven`t be able to detect any micro phonics either.




Nice shiny shells, a good sound filter and solid MMCX connectors.




The iBasso logo is displayed on the outside of the IT03 but is subtle.





The MMCX connectors have a decent amount of stress relief to keep them from breaking.




A nice angled headphone jack with support, also showing the braided cable detail.



Sound

I tested the iBasso IT03 with the Opus#1 Dap, CEntrance Hifi Skyn/ipod touch6G/Flacplayer app and the Shozy Gold Alien.

All tracks were FLAC.

The iBasso was tested at various periods of time from the first minute and just past the recommended 150 hours.

I kicked off with the Opus#1 Dap.

The iBasso IT03 definitely wows straight out of the box as others have also found. Out of the box it displays a dynamic and exciting V shape with lots of detail and soundstage. The V shape eventually tames itself after a period of burn in.

I couldn`t use my treasured JV spiral tips but circled back to the stock tips and found the short large bores to be a great fit.

As mentioned out of the box and up to 60 hours or so the iBasso IT03 has a definite V shape, a traditional form which has wowed many audio types for Aeons past. Thick bass, sharp extended treble but with enough mids present to still please. So not a sharp V, maybe a U or a big WwW.

:)

It is definitely resolving and has great detail within that V/U shape. Add a bit of volume and the overall body of the sound improves and has a larger feel.
I found it too be a bit bright at this early stage for my tastes, with a bit of peak here and there.
the drums were certainly fast and crisp, vocals accurate rig off the bat and not too forward of the music.
A lowering of the volume would tame the occasional volume sparkle in these early days.

The online hype machine for the IT03 kicked in around this time by early in store listeners (not buyers). I found the IT03 at this stage to be very listenable, loved the vocals, clear fast, great clarity and detail.
At times the coherency wasn`t perfect and the music could smear together as the earphones struggled with complex rock music and the aforementioned occasional treble peaks.

Still early days.....


Moving up from 1-60 hours to the 100 hour mark...

The bass is now smoother, faster and tighter.
The top end is still clear and detailed but less moments of harshness or peakiness.
Great detail and soundstage is present.
Coherency is lost with too complex tracks or too much volume. It seems the struggle could be with the mix of a dynamic driver and BAs mixed together. More gain or less gain needed?

Fit is nice and comfortable, light on the ears.
i have now grown accustomed to the cable, at first I thought it had a cheap look but it has upon a closer look overtime revealed itself to be well constructed with excellent materials.
One head-fier (Twister6?) tried out different cables and found the stock to be of premium quality.

I like the design, almost custom. The inner wing defies logic, but it helps the IT03 to stay snugly within my inner ear. i cannot say whether this would the same for all.

Then I took a few days off from listening so i could revisit the iBasso with `clean` ears.


150 hours of burn in have been reached now.

Everything has tightened up. Probably more due the dynamic driver loosing up than the BAs.
The Bass and sub bass are faster, with a quicker decay.
treble has improved clarity and peaks are rare now.

The sound is more even now, less of the pronounced V shape.

the IT03 definitely had a wow factor right out of the box when I first listened to them as others have also noted.
From the journey of 1 hour, to 100 hours and now to the recommended 150 hours+ have yielded a different listening experience at each stage. This is one of the reasons I was hesitant to join the crowd and preach heartily about the IT03 early on.

I decided to try the CEntrance Hifi Skyn with the iBasso IT03.
Gain 1 is always my first choice for IEMs but I found gain 2 to give the IT03 smoother and controlled sound, less peaked highs.
The gain 2 is a bit darker and gain 1 more lighter. Both have their good points.

Coherancy keeps popping up in my mind and could notice this more with the Hifi Skyn than with the Opus#1 Dap. Too much volume can result in the IT03 getting messy or smeared.
With the Hifi Skyn the IT03 could be a bit harsh at times, not as smooth and resolving as the Opus#1 had been. And a little flatter and less dynamic at times.

Onto the Shozy Alien Gold dap for a final days listening.
I found them to be a great match. The Opus, Hifi Skyn and the Alien all bring something different to the table.

The Alien Gold sounded smooth, organic, laid back (but energetic), they are matched in price point which I think is a good thing.
It could get harsh If i exceeded an acceptable listening volume.
Sound stage, width and height are excellent. fantastic detail.




Value

At US$259 the iBasso IT03 is a bargain.
Its a great sounding IEM that improves over time.
Matches well with most devices.








Overall

The iBasso IT03 is their first entry into the world of IEM production and shows promising tidings for future products.

iBasso have hit the ball out of the park with this well priced, comfortable and great sounding IEM.

I had one the iBasso T3 amplifiers years ago and found it to be excellent, along with their other amplifiers I have demoed. I have not much experience with their DAPs though.

The hype on head-fi has been strong with this one, and though comparisons or claims by some that it is a TOTL IEM, but iBasso by their pricing knows better.
Whilst they perhaps could have gone for more money for the IT03, I think the pricing was sensible as they test the waters and enter their first IEM into the under $500, nay the under $300 zone.
This will give them more room to move as they improve and produce more models in any future line up.

The first hit or listen as has been proven on the head-fi forums is noticeably good, I understand the giddiness of some after their first in store listen, but it does have its faults in the early hours, bass is a bit undefined, coherency isn`t always perfect and there is a treble peak at times.
These issues seem to even themselves out once one has got over 100 hours or the recommended 150 hours on the IT03, the bass tightens up, and the highs get smoother.

The iBasso is great IEM in price, design and sound.

It is detailed, almost a dynamic v shape but with a good dose of mids (EDIT: At first they have a strong V shape, after 150 hours they even out more, and get more balanced between the lows, mids and highs).
The vocals are accurate and balanced well with the music. The highs whilst too extended at first tighten up over times.
the bass which can be a bit strong and noticeable in the early stages get faster with better decay after 100 hours.
It excels at detail, and has a well placed soundstage that is satisfying.

The occasional treble peaks and lack of coherency when the dynamic driver over rides the BAs are its main weak points, but these are really minor and only noticeable with critical listening.

To close iBasso have created a wonderful first IEM, whilst not perfect it is heading in the right direction and gets awfully close.

I am excited to see what IEMs they unveil as their experience grows.




Thank you to iBasso for sending the IT03 for review
-expatinjapan




Once again a Head pie exclusive:
Shanling M1 unboxing and first thoughts.
- By Mimouille - Head pies roving reporter

First of all, let me summarize : wow, this seems like a great product.

It is very well designed and finished, absolutely minuscule and weighs nothing. It starts up in a second, scans a 64g card in less than a minute. I have to my knowledge no bugs in the tags and file browsing works seamlessly.



Strongest point on the M1 at this stage, the scroll wheel controls are just brilliant. Quick and efficient, very easy and intuitive to go through many files.

The screen is small but with nice definition.



I gave a quick listen with my SE5. They have quite low sensitivity, but 65 out of 100 is already to loud for me, so I guess most IEMs will be ok. Otherwise, not extensive impressions, but it seems to do nothing wrong, fairly detailed and neutral, good bass extension.



I will bet my pants this is going to be a hit, can't wait to pair it with the Mojo. The golden connector you see on the last pic doesn't come with it, but as you can see in the unboxing it comes with most of the connectors your will need to act as a transport.

- Mimouille




LEAR BTC-01 review
-expatinjapan


I am not experienced with bluetooth gear and am a reputed luddite with wooden ears who both embraces and shuns new technology indiscriminately.
Color me surprised when I quite enjoyed and found the LEAR bluetooth BTC-01 quite a solution to a problem I did not know I had.
Of course this would mean not displaying my finely braided cables to all in sundry on my daily commute, but I can say the sound quality is very good, even great, perhaps excellent even.

Whats in the box?


Simply but efficiently packed. The LEAR BTC-01 comes in a small box.




The back of the box shows all the possible connections variations one can purchase, 
This being the two pin version.



Charger cable, and some over the ear cable supporters to help hold the BTC-01 in place, If needed.


Fit and build

Well this is an easy question. It is light an unobtrusive, fit depends more on your IEMs rather than this device. Needless to say I found it comfortable and didn`t really notice it at the back of my neck.

Build is good. A well made device with rubber support where the cable exits the control panel.

L and R are clearly marked by the connectors.


Value

At HK$499 or US$65 it is an inexpensive solution to many situations, whether you want a more hands free experience, a wireless or have to resolve an issue where your device has no headphone jack the LEAR BTC-01 ticks all those boxes.




Specs
 From their website, see the link at the top of the review.
Some Frequency tables/graphs etc available on their website.

*Specification:

BT Version: BT4.0
Frequency Response:20Hz~20kHz
Output:760 mVRMS  MAX (35mW @15ohm)
Output Impedance:≤ 0.9 mOhm
Operation time:About 3 Hours playback ,≥72 Hours standby time.
Charging time:<50 Mins (DC5V 1A)
Length:Total about 80CM ,Short wire(Left)about 24CM,Long wire(Right)about 51CM
Weight:about 7~8g(Net body & wire, depends on different connectors)
System:Windows/Mac/iOS/Android

*Key features of the BTC-01:


1)Balanced output,usually seen on high grade players such as AK, Onkyo , Cowon etc.
The design of balanced output can help to reduce the crosstalk and improve the clarity of the sound.

2)Internal Class AB balanced amplifier stage, the output is over 30mW@15ohm, even better than a lot of smartphones phone out in the market.
When comparing to some of the similar products, the output is at least one time stronger!

3)Built in Lithium polymer rechargeable batteries, when charged around 50mins, can have over 3 hours of play time. And it also supports playing music and charging at the same time, when you have portable charger with you, you can extend the using time.

4)The use of high quality OFC pure copper cable can improve the transmission efficiency and durability. Comparing to similar products, the number of wires is at least one times more.

5)We've chosen high quality capacitors from Murata Japan, making sure the quality is on point and stable.

6)We have different kind of version in order to fit with all different kinds of plugs!

7)Built in high sensitivity microphone to make sure your calls are loud and clear.

8) Bluetooth 4.0 standard

9)Connects two device at the same time

Detailed picture shows the different connectors available for purchase.
NOTE: It does int come with an array of connectors, each unit comes with one, you select one connector.

*In other news we need an industry standard connector ;)



Some of the possible connectors you can choose.


Volume buttons (double as skipping track), connect, talk, etc.


This unit being the two pin version.


Sound

Using an ipod touch 6G, 128GB with Flacplayer app by Dan Leehr.
JOMO 6R earphones.



Volume is more than adequate at half way/ 50%.

Listening to Massive Attack the sound is quite full, clear and detailed.
The sound stage is quite wide. 
Theres a bit of pops and static, like it has possibly been recorded off vinyl. 
Further tests will establish  a medium.

Next listening to an unnamed 1980s track from a best of album, the clicks and pops are absent. The sound is clear and fluid.

The Jesus and Marychain are next, detailed, nice clarity, perhaps lacking some of the low end it needs. Could be the signature of the JOMO 6R.

Massive Attack again, from Heglioland album. Smooth, spacious, great height and width.

Dance music is deep and bassy - Lana Del Rey - Ride (Special request remix).

Coldplay - Us against the world - general Coldplay sibilance check.
Smooth and even.

The Wind and The Wave - Chandelier sounds exactly as I would expect.

I continued on my shuffling through various tracks and the results remained the same.

Clear, detailed, good sound stage, decent height and width.
It is a generally smooth performance overall, with rock at times...well being rock and roll can get a bit rough - but this is more the recordings than the unit.  

With the Advanced AcousticWerkes W300U earphones the results were relatively the same, a little more low end was present and less airy than the JOMO 6R.
The clarity, detail and smoothness were still present.

There is some static when a track is not being played, this seems to go away once the music starts.


The LEAR BTC-01 connects easily to my ipod touch 6G and my wifes iphone6S.



Bit rates etc

As you can see from the Flacplayer app info screenshots the BTC-01 plays back at 16/44100Hz.
More than enough for on the go.













Overall

The LEAR BTC-01 bluetooth dongle for IEMs is a great idea, one that other companies are also doing. Choose your flavor.

Whilst I am a cable and straight to wired man, I do enjoy this concept and expect it will be adopted by many who buy the iphone 7 and other jack less devices to pair their well priced IEMs with.

Is a wired connection better than a bluetooth one? I don`t know.

There is a bit of static, but this seems to disappear when the music starts.

I do know the LEAR BTC-01 sounds great. It turned me from an inexperienced doubter to one of the faithful. Will I be swapping sides, probably not. I love my cables, but then again I did swear by my stacked rigs and now prefer a single Dap or two in one such as CEntrance Hifi-Skyn.

Also LEARs array of choices for your preferred earphone connector is a plus.

Also when you turn on and off a recorded voice message on the BTC-01 tells you whether is connected, switching on or off. a nice touch.

Light, well made and easy to pair up with my idevice.

Smooth, clear, detailed with a decent sound stage and fast response.

All in all the LEAR BTC-01 gets two pies up from this reviewer. Great job.



Thank you to LEAR for the discount on the BTC-01 cable for review
-expatinjapan