The comparison was done using IT07 with a stock cable, MAX and LPGT sources, CA04 balanced adapter, and also volume matched in every comparison.
IT07 vs IT04 – quite a noticeable step up going from 04 to 07. Starting with soundstage, the depth and height are similar, but width spreads a little more to the L/R in 07. The presentation of the sound is more laidback, neutral, natural in 04, and more forward, W-shaped, and more energetic in 07. The improvement in bass performance is probably the first thing you will notice. 04 bass is more neutral, more relaxed, not as tight or articulate, while 07 scales up in both quantity and quality. From a deeper and more elevated sub-bass rumble to a tighter, punchier, and faster mid-bass the overall bass performance is a lot more articulate, better layered, and with more control. The tonality of mids and treble are not too far off, but 04 mids/vocals are pushed slightly back while 07 is more forward, and 07 treble also has a little more sparkle and air. Technical performance is what sets mids more apart in these two, 07 mids have better resolution, layering, and improved separation of sounds. Treble in 07 has a little more sparkle which improves the resolution and the layering. Overall, 04 sounds more laidback, mellow, slower, and more coherent, while 07 is faster, tighter, and more fun, especially thanks to its enhanced bass performance.
iBasso did a big step up going from IT04 to IT07, doubling the amount of genuine Knowles drivers (those are not cheap), implementing new bass driver, adding pure silver cable, introducing optional screen filters, having a serious improvement in bass performance, and while mids/treble are not too off, their technical performance (resolution, retrieval of details, etc.) scaled up as well.
IT07 vs Campfire Audio Solaris ’20 – maybe not exactly an upgrade, but definitely a very interesting side-grade based on this comparison. Both have a very similar soundstage expansion. The sound sig of these hybrids is also quite similar, being W-shaped, though Solaris is a little more balanced. While they have similar sub-bass rumble, the mid-bass impact is lower in Solaris and a little more elevated in 07, giving its bass a faster punch. Mids/vocals between these two IEMs have a very similar tonality and presentation, maybe with Solaris being just slightly more forward. The biggest difference here is in treble where 07 is more natural and with a better control while Solaris upper mids/lower treble are brighter and splashier in a relative comparison. I already mentioned that going between these two is more like a side-grade that will depend on a personal sound preference. If you want more punch in your mid-bass and more natural and still well-defined treble, IT07 will be the one for the job. But if you want more relaxed bass and more treble energy and air, Solaris ’20 will fit the bill.
IT07 vs Meze Audio RAI Penta – another interesting hybrid comparison. Here, the first thing that stood out to my ears was how much wider 07 soundstage sounds in comparison to average width Penta; it becomes quite apparent when you go back’n’forth between these two IEMs. Bass of Penta is closer to 07, sub-bass rumble extension is as deep but mid-bass punch of Penta is slight less in quantity and not as tight or articulate like a faster punch of 07 mid-bass. 07 mids/vocals are more forward, more revealing and have better layering, while Penta’s mids are more distant, being out of your head, and a little smoother in comparison. Treble has a similar tonality and quality, but for some reason I felt it was a little distant just like Penta’s vocals. Overall, RAI Penta has a different presentation of the sound, being more distant, more out of your head, and with a little narrower soundstage, while 07 brings the sound closer and more forward, expands soundstage and improves the imaging.
IT07 vs 64 Audio Trio – this was another comparison which I found to be interesting. Soundstage expansion between these two was quite similar. Now, starting with bass, finally we have a matching quantity and quality, though to my ears 07 mids-bass is a little tighter and faster. Presentation of mids is a little different, with 07 bringing it more forward, giving the sound W-shaped sound sig while being pushed a little back in Trio which gives its sound a more V-shaped sig. I also noticed 07 lower mids having more body which gave vocals a little fuller tonality while Trio vocals are a little thinner. Treble is where I hear the biggest difference since Trio is brighter, crisper, and even a bit splashier in comparison to a more natural and smoother 07 treble. Both of these IEMs do sound like hybrids, these are not super coherent IEMs where all the drivers blend in. But their signature will differ and those who find Trio treble energy to be a bit overwhelming for their taste will appreciate a more natural yet still detailed treble of 07.
IT07 vs 64 Audio Nio (w/N0 module) – didn’t expect these two being not too far off. Soundstage expansion here is very close, I would be splitting hair looking for a difference in width, depth, and height. Of course, if you are using other apex/atom modules you can get bass more elevated, but with N0 which is my preferred module here it’s very close in sub-bass rumble quality and quantity and also matching mid-bass quantity, maybe with IT07 having just a touch faster punch. I hear a bigger difference in mids/vocals where 07 is more revealing and layered while Nio has fuller body and smoother tonality. The same with treble, IT07 having just a little more sparkle in comparison to a smoother Nio treble. Fuller body mids vs more revealing brighter mids is the biggest difference here, while everything else is pretty close when comparing IT07 to Nio w/N0.
Source pair up.
In each of these pair ups I was using IT07 w/stock cable and whirlwind eartips. With impedance of 16ohms and sensitivity of 108dB, IT07 is very easy to drive. Also, haven’t noticed any hissing. Another thing I would like to mention, my pair up analysis doesn’t go into a deep sound analysis, that’s what sound analysis and comparison sections are for. Here, I take quick notes for you to see if any of the sources affect the overall sound signature and what changes you can expect due to source variation in power, output impedance, or selection of DAC.
LPGT – wide soundstage, natural detailed tonality, W-shaped signature, deep bass impact, natural vocals tonality, clear detailed non-harsh treble. This is usually my baseline sound analysis.
DX220 MAX – very similar sound to LPGT, but with a little stronger mid-bass impact and more air and crunch in treble. Also, relative to LPGT, I hear a blacker background with MAX.
DX160 – very wide and even more holographic soundstage, but the sound presentation is a little different, with the overall sound being more revealing, a little brighter, faster, and mids/vocals being more forward which takes away a little bit from bass impact and also gives treble more crunch.
DX300 – here the sound is somewhere in between DX160 and MAX. Soundstage is still very wide. Overall sound sig is W-shaped, balanced, with bass impact being similar to MAX and LPGT, but mids being a little more revealing, closer to DX160, and treble having more crunch and air which is more typical of DX160 pair up.
Hiby R8 – wide soundstage, natural detailed tonality, W-shaped sig, deep bass impact, maybe even a little more sub-bass rumble, natural vocals tonality with more organic texture, and a little more crunch in treble. This is a smoother pair up example.
FiiO M11 Pro – wide soundstage, natural detailed tonality, W-shaped sig, deep bass impact, detailed mids with natural vocals tonality, clear detailed non-harsh treble.
Shanling M6 – very wide soundstage, natural detailed smoother tonality, W-shaped sig, slightly elevated bass with more sub-bass and mid-bass impact, natural organic mids, and clear detailed non-harsh treble.
A&K SR25 – wide soundstage expansion, natural detailed tonality, W-shaped sig leaning a little more toward V-shaped since mids are slightly pulled back. Bass is deep and punchy, mids are natural, smooth, detailed, treble is clear detailed non-harsh.
Cayin N3 Pro tube output – wide soundstage expansion, natural detailed smoother tonality, W-shaped signature, deep bass impact, natural organic mids and vocals, and clear detailed treble with a little more airiness.
Samsung Galaxy S9 – to my pleasant surprise this was a good pair up, wide soundstage, natural detailed fuller body tonality, still W-shaped signature, deep punchy bass, fuller body natural mids and vocals, and clear detailed non-harsh treble. Overall sound was a little more laidback and a touch less resolving, but still very enjoyable.
DC03 + Galaxy S9 – in this pair up with a volume limiting UAC app (from iBasso), the sound quality scales up to DX160 level with a more articulate faster bass, more revealing detailed mids and vocals, and crisp and airy treble. It was nearly on the same level as listening to DX160, a big step up in tonality, soundstage, and technical performance when compared to being connected directly to my phone.
iBasso is not the first DAP manufacturer who added IEMs to their product portfolio. But based on what I have heard in the last 4 years from their debut IT03 and follow up releases, iBasso did come a long way. IT03 and IT01x were focused on a more “fun” tuning, IT04 pushed it toward a balanced audiophile tuning, AM05 took a side step to appeal to audiophiles with more focus on vocals. IT07 demonstrated a very mature W-shaped balanced audiophile tuning that can compete head-to-head with other more expensive IEMs from manufacturers who only focus on designing earphones and headphones.
Personally, I find it impressive for a company who is well known for their audio players to pay as much attention to IEMs design and tuning as they do to their flagship DAPs. I did enjoy IT07 natural and rich tonality with a good retrieval of details and a spacious wide soundstage sound. The balanced W-shaped tuning of these IEMs does stand out with a powerful, deep, yet well controlled bass impact complemented by a detailed natural tonality of mids and a clear natural sparkle of treble. Especially for those who felt IT04 were lacking in bass, they will really enjoy IT07 tuning.