4-driver IEMs are not as common, and I have more 3-way hybrids/BAs and 5-driver hybrids/BAs, but the refinement of IT04 sound tuning pushes it closer to higher end performance iems. Here is how it stacks up against different 5-driver IEMs.
IT04 vs Simgot EM5 – EM5 is less efficient (needs to push volume louder), soundstage depth is very similar with out-of-your head expansion, while width is a little more expanded in EM5. Sub-bass extension and depth, along with mid-bass punch, are very similar in quantity and quality between these two, a typical articulate dynamic driver performance, and that’s where all the similarities end. Lower mids in EM5 are a lot leaner, lacking body in sound, while IT04 is more neutral with fuller body. Upper mids in EM5 are more revealing, a lot brighter and crisper, more micro-detailed, while IT04 is smoother, more natural, still very detailed, but more toward the organic tonality. With treble, both are well defined and crisp, but EM5 is splashier and has a lot more sparkle in comparison to a better controlled and more natural IT04 treble.
IT04 vs Westone UM Pro 50 v2 – With UMPro being a musician performance iems, I’m not surprised that it has a narrower soundstage with less depth in comparison to a more expanded soundstage of IT04 (both width and depth). UMPro bass hits harder, but it’s not as articulate or controlled as IT04 bass which is tighter and more layered. Lower mids in UMPro are thicker with a lot more body, in comparison to a more neutral lower mids of IT04 which make mids less congested. Upper mids are more laid back and smoother in UMPro, while IT04 is more detailed, more revealing, and more forward in presentation. Both have a nice treble sparkle, but IT04 has a better treble extension. The biggest difference here is presentation and retrieval of details in mids.
IT04 vs Fidue Sirius – The first thing I noticed is the difference in soundstage width, where IT04 expansion is noticeably wider. The next big difference is in sound presentation and sound signature where Sirius has a lot more bass impact which makes its signature more v-shaped in comparison to a more balanced sound signature of IT04. While lower mids in IT04 are neutral, Sirius is a touch above it, which adds more body to the sound. Moving on up from there, upper mids and treble are nearly identical in tonality and retrieval of details. The main difference here is IT04 mids being more forward, while Sirius upper mids pushed a little back. Aside from a more noticeable harder hitting bass of Sirius, these two have a similar tonality, though you do need to keep in mind that Sirius costs almost twice as much as IT04.
IT04 vs Campfire Audio Andromeda – While soundstage depth (the out-of-your head expansion) is very similar, IT04 still has more width. With bass, Andro hits harder with a deeper subs and punchier mid-bass, but the bass is not as tight or as articulate as IT04, where IT04 dynamic driver sounds tighter and has more control than Andro’s BA drivers. Lower mids of Andro are thicker and with more body, while IT04 is leaner and more neutral. IT04 upper mids have more transparency and more revealing while Andro is a little smoother. Another big difference here is treble where Andro is brighter and has a more noticeable 7k peak, while IT04 has more control and sounds more natural. The most noticeable difference in this comparison is bigger bass and thicker lower mids of Andro which makes the sound more congested in comparison to a more balanced and more transparent and layered sound of IT04.
16ohm impedance and 110dB sensitivity is a good combination for a pair up with variety of sources, which also makes it quite easy to drive.
iBasso DX200 w/AMP4 – very wide soundstage expansion that wraps around you; balanced revealing layered sound with a little more mid-forward emphasis. Still, very coherent tuning with a transparent sound. Black background, great expansion of dynamics, no hissing.
iBasso DX150 w/AMP6 – wide soundstage expansion (but not as wide as DX200 w/AMP4); balanced layered sound with a little more sub-bass texture/rumble and a bit smoother mids when compared to DX200 w/AMP4. It’s a great pair up, but also a good reminder that as great as it sounds, DX200 w/AMP4 has an edge in technical performance with improvement in transparency and layering, while DX150 w/AMP6 is a little smoother and with a little more bass. Also, I hear a little bit of hissing with IT04, but not too much.
Hiby R6 – very similar wide soundstage like in DX150 w/AMP6; the sound is balanced but with more emphasis on low end, bass hits a little harder here, mids are a little smoother, a touch warmer, and treble has a bit less sparkle. Overall sound is a little smoother, a little less transparent, and a bit less revealing in comparison to DX150, but it does have a perfect black background and not a hint of hissing.
FiiO X5iii – wide soundstage expansion; the sound is balanced with a little more emphasis on mids. Overall tonality is smooth, warm, not as layered or transparent, also not as high level of sound separation like in the DAPs above. Plus, hissing here is strong, becoming distracting.
A&K SP1000 (fw 1.0.8) – very wide soundstage expansion that wraps around you; balanced revealing layered sound which has as much emphasis on bass as it is on mids and treble. Technical performance, in terms of layering, separation, dynamics and transparency, is on par with DX200 w/AMP4, but SP1000 has a little deeper sub-bass rumble. Black background, no hissing.
L&P L6 – very similar to DX200 w/AMP4 and SP1000, in terms of a technical performance with a high level of layering, separation, great dynamics expansion, but the overall sound is a just a bit smoother and sub-bass goes deeper and mid-bass hits a little harder. Plus, soundstage is wide, but not as wide as DX200 and SP1000. Also, deep black background and no hissing.
Galaxy S9 phone – surprisingly very wide soundstage, on par with DX200 and SP1000; sound sig is balanced, a little more on a smoother, and even a touch warmer side. Though it doesn’t have a technical performance of other high-end DAPs, the sound is on par (if not even better) with some other mid-fi DAPs where I hear a good layering and separation, and good sound dynamics.
DX200 w/AMP4 & CA02 vs DX150 w/AMP6.
The first time I heard IT04 was at CanJam NYC earlier this year, and got an instantaneous impression of a more mature tuning. I mentioned the word “mature” a few times already, and the reason why I keep bringing it up because I find IT03 and IT01 to be more fun tuned, with more emphasis on low end and treble, meaning they are not as balanced tuned as their InTune older sibling IT04. Actually, I was thinking about the meaning of “InTune” label. It’s catchy and could have many different interpretations where your IT04 is in-tune with your sound source, in-tune with your music taste, having in-tune coherency of 4 drivers, or just being in-tune with your everyday life.
I also don’t think it will be out-of-tune with your wallet, since even with a higher price, when you factor in premium CB12s cable ($110) with included adapter, new 10mm DD from IT01, stepping up in Knowles BA driver count, and updated tuning – the price gap between IT03 and IT04 is not that big and quite reasonable, considering today’s market of $2k-$3k flagships. IT04 has a great balanced signature, transparent natural high-resolution sound, pairs up well with many sources, and tuned to work with every genre of music I threw at it. Definitely a great example of budget friendly all-rounder flagship IEM from iBasso.