iBasso IT03 review - expatinjapan






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



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