BONUS – IT00 w/CF01
I have reviewed iBasso IT01 and IT01s in the past, and IT01s made sense as an upgraded and more premium version of IT01. But here, they surprised us with a “prequel” version of IT00, an entry level $69 single 10mm DD (graphene 5µm diaphragm) IEM.
With a very similar shell shape as IT01 and IT01s, IT00 shell material looks plastic, but has a solid build quality, all white, with a similar venting and even removable/replaceable screen filters as in a more premium IT01s. Also, IT00 comes with a removable high purity OFC cable, mmcx connector, and 3.5mm termination. It is a nice looking and sounding IEM with 106dB sensitivity and 16ohm impedance, and despite being an entry level model, besides a removable cable it also comes with storage case, 9 pairs of silicone eartips, an even 2 spare threaded screen filters.
For the reference, relative to its big “brothers”, IT00 Sound Analysis:
IT00 vs IT01 – similar soundstage expansion, IT01 has more bass impact, IT01 mids are a little thinner while IT00 have a fuller warmer mids body. IT00 treble is smoother and more controlled while IT01 treble is brighter, with more sparkle and airiness. Overall, IT00 sounds smoother, warmer, more laidback, and more balanced in this comparison.
IT00 vs IT01s – IT01s soundstage is wider than IT00/IT01. IT01s is more neutral relative to IT00. Mids are actually very similar, especially when you are analyzing vocals, IT00/IT01s have a similar natural tonality. IT00 treble is smoother and more controlled vs brighter and more energetic IT01s treble which is similar to IT01.
While being lower end model, IT00 is actually tuned somewhere between IT01 and IT01s. Overall, IT00 is a balanced tuned IEM with a smooth natural tonality and a little more emphasis on bass. It has great analog quality bass impact, smoother natural clear mids with a slightly laidback presentation, and a more natural smoother treble with a good definition and enough clarity to keep the sound balanced. Its soundstage is similar to IT01, while both are not as wide as IT01s. The bass is more elevated than IT01s, closer to IT01 but a little lower in quantity. IT00 mids are more natural like IT01s, having more body than IT01, but not as layered as IT01s. With treble, IT00 is smoother than IT01 and IT01s.
While iBasso has IT00 ($69) positioned as their entry level model relative to IT01 ($99) and IT01s ($199), in terms of the value and the tuning, in my opinion IT00 has a higher price/performance ratio. It’s not tuned to be superior to IT01s, but rather as smoother and less revealing variation of it.
But the big surprise happened when I decided to pair it up with CF01. Here is the same pair-up comparison with wired and wireless sources:
- DX160 – no hissing, average width soundstage with more depth, very smooth warmer natural tonality with deep bass impact, smooth warmer mids, and nice natural treble sparkle.
- CF01 – no hissing, wide 3D soundstage (nearly on holographic level), a more transparent natural layered sound, more balanced signature with articulate punchy bass, transparent layered mids, well controlled airy sparkle.
- UP4 – no hissing, wide 3D soundstage (close to CF01, but not as wide), smoother warmer natural tonality with deep bass impact, smooth natural mids, and nice airy treble.
- BT2 – no hissing but I do hear some EMI noise, average width soundstage with more depth, smooth warmer natural tonality, very similar to DX160 pair up.
With IT00, I found wireless pair up to be even better than wired, and while both CF01 and UP4 had a great pair up synergy, CF01 stepped it up with a more balanced and transparent sound. It was a deviation from bigger bass impact as I heard with UP4, but here the sound was more audiophile quality, and of course, CF01 provided a true wireless connection. For me personally, I will be keeping CF01 + IT00 as my “permanent” TWS pair up.
iBasso didn’t reinvent the wheel of TWS adapters since I have seen a few other companies offering similar solutions. But they did fine-tune it to make this “wheel” look and feel like a true TWS. I haven’t had a chance to test all TWS adapters, but seems like some have a bulkier design, many still require usb charging cable, and some don’t even support aptX. CF01 is very slim and lightweight, comfortable to wear, and doesn’t look like a hearing aide. The included charging case is a HUGE plus, and I’m surprised why others don’t offer the same. The big advantage of TWS solution is automatic pair up with your source when taking out of the charging case, and after the use placing it back to disconnect and re-charge on the go.
Because it was designed and tuned by an audiophile company, this is not just a consumer gadget. It is a wireless audio source, tuned to be a little more revealing, slightly brighter, more transparent, with less coloring. The biggest surprise was how wide it expands the soundstage, and with an exception of CFA iems, I was hiss-free in most of the pair ups. In my testing, I found CF01 to pair up great with many in-ear monitors, having a better synergy with more neutral and warmer tuned IEMs, adding more clarity and transparency to the sound. And, while you can use 2pin short adapter with it, I still hope iBasso will consider 2pin version in a future.