iBasso CF01 and IT00

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.

ibasso_it00-05

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.

ibasso_it00-07

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.

ibasso_it00-06

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:

iBasso IT00

  • 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_cf01-x17

Conclusion.

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.

13 thoughts on “iBasso CF01 and IT00

  1. Thank you for the informative review. I own the IT104, which I like very much. For convenience, I find that I am listening mostly to my iPhone with Qobuz or Amazon. Since BT devices are mostly about convenience, can you help me with a question that I never really understood. Given that the CF01 has a built in amp, shouldn’t I expect to get essentially the same sound quality from my iPhone using the CF01 compared to my Hiby R5? ( I don’t understand how a BT device in the chain is amp dependent. )

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    1. Yes, when it comes to Bluetooth, it will be the same. It’s a digital signal you encode on your phone or dap and then receive and decode on headset. So, you are not using dac and amplifier in your source. So, the difference will come down to which codec you are using. Your iPhone doesn’t support aptx which is higher quality, lower compression while R5 will support it. So, on theory R5 pair up might sound better.

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      1. Hi, thanks for the review. Not sure if you have (otherwise I suppose you would have probably compare them) but kindly compare this iBasso combo to something like Sony WF-1000M3 and Samsung Galaxy Bud (original or plus)?
        Thanks.

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      2. sorry, don’t have either one. TWS is a new “territory” for me 🙂 I agreed to review CF01 because it gives me a chance to convert my audiophile iems to TWS, instead of using wireless dongles and connecting cables.

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  2. Thanks for the review.
    Can you comment on the lack of app or update features?
    Also, I read from some Asian friends that the output impedance is very high (~40). I’m not sure if that’s correct. Can you confirm this?

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    1. I’m not aware of any app. With output impedance, don’t think it is that high but it could be on a little higher side (maybe 5-10ohm?) because Andro bass got attenuated which happens with higher output sources.

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  3. Does this have multipoint audio? i.e. Can you connect to your computer and phone at the same time so that you are streaming from your computer and then a phone call comes it stops the streaming music and allows you to answer the call.

    If it does multipoint how many devices can be connected?

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    1. i tried connecting two devices, but it doesn’t work, so I assume multipoint connection is not supported. The spec doesn’t say anything about it, and this is really designed for audiophiles so don’t think multipoint was the priority.

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  4. I just bought the CF01 and paired to my ibasso T04s. Just want to add to your review that I have used several of the around $200 high end Bluetooth IEMs. I was really impressed by how much better—way way better, the pairing with the CF01 sounded. Of course, when you add to the price of the CF01 with an excellent IEM, it’s several times more expensive than the stand alone BT IEMs. But..way better sound. I have no affiliation, etc. Just a customer.

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  5. I have an embarrassing amount of bluetooth headphones and rate the CF01/IT00 combo as outstanding. I’m currently using my CF01’s with my DD/BA Magiosi’s with really good effect. Superb sound quality with excellent comfort. Not as good as cancelling out noise as my Sony WF1000XM3’s or as portable as the excellent Lypertek Tevi’s but outstanding nontheless.

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  6. Thank you for the concise review. I was wondering if you had the opportunity to try the Shure TWS adapter with the Solaris 2020. The ability to take calls and have ambiance mode sounds interesting.

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    1. Sorry, haven’t tried that one yet. I thought someone mentioned it hisses a lot, but I would prefer to draw my own conclusion when I get a chance to hear it. But in general, Campfire audio Andro/Solaris hiss with many sources.

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