iBasso IT04

Sound Analysis and Comparison to IT03.

In this analysis/comparison section I used both IEMs with their stock cables. IT03 performance does scale up with a cable upgrade, like the latest CB13 or even CB12s, but for consistency I kept cables stock. Ironically, CB12s is a stock cable of IT04.

The first thing I usually notice when start listening to headphones is the soundstage, and here both have the same staging depth which projects the sound more out-of-your head, while IT04 also adds more expansion to soundstage width. The signature of IT04 is more balanced, with a more revealing, brighter, transparent tonality. In comparison, IT03 is more v-shaped where the mids are thicker, a little warmer, not as forward as in IT04, and you have more emphasis on bass and treble with a little smoother tonality. I do hear IT04 as being more resolving and more transparent when compared to IT03.

The bass extension is similar, though IT03 has a little more sub-bass rumble and mid-bass punch. IT04 bass feels a little tighter, faster, and more controlled. Also, due to a more forward presentation of mids in IT04, its bass is more balanced and has a perception of less impact in comparison to IT03. Lower mids in both are closer to neutral, where IT03 lower mids are a little north of it with more body, while IT04 lower mids are a little south of neutral, with a leaner body. Upper mids in IT04 are more forward, brighter, more transparent, with improved resolution that leads to a better retrieval of details. In comparison, IT03 mids pushed a little back, have a smoother warmer tonality which leads to a little less resolution and less transparency in comparison to IT04. I don’t hear IT04 as more analytical, but rather more revealing, leaner, and balanced with improved resolution and transparency. With high frequencies, both have a well defined crisp airy treble extension where IT03 has a little more sparkle while IT04 has a little more control.

Imaging in both is pretty good, with a relatively accurate placement of instruments and vocals, sound never gets congested, well separated and layered, though IT04 has an upper hand here due to its more transparent tonality and wider soundstage. Another interesting observation, while testing with lo-fi sources, I found IT04 to have a wider soundstage expansion which makes me wonder if it has something to do with its 16ohm impedance that pairs up better with higher output impedance sources vs IT03 (8ohm) which pairs up better with lower output impedance DAPs.

Overall, I find IT04 sound signature and tuning to be more mature (more audiophile tuned), more balanced (improved coherency), more revealing, more transparent and with higher resolution. In contrast, IT03 has a smoother tonality with a fun tuning and more emphasis on bass and treble where mids are pushed slightly back, not as forward as in IT04.

IT04 vs IT03.

Design Comparison.

In terms of the design, both have a very similar ergonomics with custom universal built, but there is one noticeable improvement. The nozzle of IT04 is a little longer, and as a result you don’t have to push IT04 as deep into your ear as you would with IT03. Those who had issues with IT03 shell comfort due to a corner mold piece of the inner side of the shell pointing toward concha symba area of your outer ear, now there is a little more distance between IT04 shell and your ear. I also noticed a finer mesh grill on IT04 in comparison to IT03. I don’t accumulate too much wax, but I would expect IT04 to do a better job of keeping small particles away from entering the nozzle.

ibasso_it04-x25

Without a doubt, premium CB12s cable (included stock with IT04) is a big step up as well, in terms of ergonomics (thinner wires), flexibility (more pliable), 2.5mm termination with a separate 3.5mm pigtail adapter, and a design with matching aluminum plug, y-splitter, chin-slider, connectors and adapter connectors. Also, mmcx connectors in the shell don’t stick out as far as in IT03, and connection is tighter, not easy to turn the cable. This is another plus, because when joint is loose, you get dirt and moisture inside, affecting the reliability of the connection.

The faceplate of IT04 has a more premium design with a carbon fiber artwork and InTune label. I do like it, but also wish the little iBasso triangular logo would have been featured somewhere in the corner of the faceplate. Of course, this is just a personal nitpicking comment based on my preference since I like that little logo. Overall, IT04 shell looks more compact and more premium.

Page 3 – Comparison, Pair up, Conclusion.

29 thoughts on “iBasso IT04

  1. I really appreciate including Samsung S9 phone. I have the S9 plus. This review makes me wanna pull the trigger with IT04 even though it is out of my budget. Hopefully it is worth it. Pls include the Samsung phone during your pair up review.

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  2. Did you ever try Etymotic earphones? I wonder how IT04 compares to ER4…
    I’m looking for a very very transparent, micro detailed, neutral sound. Since you have so much experience what earphones would you recommend with these characteristics while keeping the price < 1000$?
    Thank you.

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    1. Sorry, never tried Etys, too deep insertion to get a proper seal, otherwise sound is not right. My ears can’t handle it lol! They suppose to be accurate, micro detailed, but people are saying more on a brighter side. Could be close to it04, I guess.

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  3. What kind of music? I am interested in these or the Andromedas (I think!)

    I listen to a lot of classical – mostly baroque and neo, Delta blues, synthwave, and heavy/prog Metal (Iron Maiden and Ghost are my most played bands).
    I don’t mind some emphasized bass – just not a fan of boomy bass, esp on those occasions I spin up some hip-hop.

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    1. either one will work, but IT04 will be more neutral, while Andro will have extra slam in the bass and sparkle up top. I know that for Metal music, some prefer more guitar crunch, so Andro treble might be able to give you more of that.

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  4. Great Review as always, Twister. I’m seriously considering this IEM. ATM most of the time using the W50+Bax G2, if I ever get “tired” of low end oomph, i’d briefly use the the Intime Sora (K10 tonality w/ a small stage & scaled down everything). My music is really varied & wide, i.e. Ambient, Chill, Indie, Brit rock, prog., Miles & Nina. What would i be expecting? My DAP is an AK, too. Good old 240. Thank you for your reply…

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    1. Definitely, if you want to take a break from the bass, this is the way to go. It will sound a lot more neutral in comparison to W50, but you will be amazed at all the details that going to pop out. Should be a good pair up with balanced out of ak240. It04 is tuned so well, you can “chill” listening for hours 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. These are three totally different iems, and I mean like night and day different. W80 is warm, lush, full bodied, laid back, P1 is bight, piercing, analytical, cold, precise, IT04 is more neutral and balanced in comparison to other two, it’s revealing, detailed, coherent, non fatigue. Based on your requirement and taste, I think it04 and P1 will suit you better, and I personally prefer it04.

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  5. Could you please offer some comparisons with regards to the Sennheiser IE800S? Would you say the IT04 is more neutral, and would it complement the IE800S (new model) in any way?

    Many thanks!

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    1. IE800S has a thicker, fuller, warmer sound, and more weight in the bass and a lot thicker lower mids. IT04 has less sub-bass, faster/tighter mid-bass, and a lot more neutral lower mids – making sound more transparent (less colored), more neutral, and more revealing. Also, IT04 has more sparkle and airiness in treble.

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      1. Thanks – as I listed to orchestral classical music a lot, it seems like the IT04 is worthy of consideration, and even replacement for the IE800S! I would use them paired with DX200 and AMP4s. Would you recommend stepping up to the AMP8 for my uses?

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  6. Very nice review, but:

    “There is no coincidence why I mentioned IT03 because I have a feeling IT04 will attract a lot of current IT01 and IT03 users”

    wouldn’t this warrant a comparison between IT04 and those two other IEMs?

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    1. Hahaha, you were not the first one to ask this 😉 I had many questions on head-fi where I replied but forgot to update the review. Will have to go back, find my notes, and update the write up.

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  7. When you compared with the Simgot EM5, wow did the EM5 fare in terms of isolation? Is it anywhere near IT04 or at least IT01 levels? Many thanks!

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    1. SD4s are a lot brighter in comparison. I used to be able to tolerate SD4s during longer listening sessions, but not anymore. IT04 is a lot more natural in comparison, as well as being more balanced across lows/mids/highs vs SD4s being more v-shaped.

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  8. thanks for the review, I have asked question about CB12s vs CB13 for IT04 on another thread and thanks to your answer.

    If I want to maintain the neutral signature of IT04, any upgrade cable would you recommend?

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