PROS: mildly U-shaped signature, elevated bass impact with a deep sub-bass, natural detailed tonality, very compact shell design, quality removable cable.
CONS: tight mmcx connectors.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
After my review of IT01s two years ago, I got yelled at by calling these $199 IEMs a budget model. It is true, I haven’t been keeping up with many popular budget releases, and sometimes even refer to $1.5k IEMs as “budget” relative to mega kilo-buck IEMs and cables I had a chance to hear lately. But luckily, no matter how big or small your budget is, you can always find something you like in different price brackets. As a matter off act, I think the budget price category is more interesting because everybody expects high level of performance from flagship money-is-no-object releases, while you never know what to expect from entry level models.
It’s undisputable that iBasso is better known for their DAPs, but in the last few years they had quite a few IEM surprises that have been improving with every release, going up to IT04 and the latest IT07 flagship which I still hold in high regards. IT01s also has a rather good tuning, and when I heard about upcoming IT01x release, I assumed it will be a more expensive next gen. Instead, its pricing of $119 positioned that model between IT00 and IT01s. But as you know, neither the pricing nor the model number tells you the whole story of what to expect and how it will sound. So, here is what I found after spending the last month with iBasso IT01x in my ears.
Unboxing and Accessories.
iBasso IT01x arrived in a small compact packaging box, and despite its price, still offers a rather nice unboxing experience. You will find a sturdy carboard sleeve with swirling colors and a very detailed spec on the back. With sleeve off, you are looking at carboard box with a magnetic flip cover and a foam lining inside to keep everything secure during the shipping. IT01x were sitting in separate pockets, while all the accessories were inside of the storage case next to it.
Despite IT01x being one of their entry level IEMs, you still get a nice collection of accessories. First of all, you get a ton of eartips. While the included Quick Start guide mentions nine pairs, I counted 12 pairs of silicone eartips: 3 pairs (S/M/L) of black silicone narrow bore tips, 3 pairs (S/M/L) of while silicone wide bore tips, 3 pairs (S/M/L) of grey silicone wide bore tips, and 3 pairs (S/M/L) of whirlwind silicone tips with blue core and grey cap. Plus, you get 2 pairs (M/L) of foam eartips.
In addition to that you get a pair of spare screen mesh filters for the nozzle. And also, an aluminum puck-shaped storage case with iBasso Audio name on outside and soft protective lining on inside. This puck case is not too bulky, actually slim enough to fit in your pocket.
The included cable feels and looks premium, definitely high quality. It uses 4 braided conductors, each one with high purity copper wires and silver-plated shielding you can see underneath of a transparent soft jacket. Cable is non-microphonic, pliable, and light weight. It comes with 3.5mm TRS singled ended gold-plated plug with stainless steel housing and short strain relief. The braided part of the cable goes up to a short matching stainless steel y-split and chin slider.
From there, wires are twisted in pairs, going up to clear pre-shaped earhooks and mmcx connectors in a smokey grey rubbery housing which extends into a slightly angled end cap mold with colored red (right side) and blue (left side) rings. The angled part of the housing mold guides the cable into the pre-shaped flexible earhook for wires to sit comfortably over your ears.
My only comment about the cable, something I also mentioned in my other iBasso IEMs reviews, is how tight the connection of their mmcx connectors. Sometimes you have to use a finger nail or something flat to pry it open to disconnect the cable.
While some might assume that all these single DD iBasso iems use similar drivers, in reality they are all different (IT00, IT01x, IT01s). For IT01x they picked double-sided beryllium-plated diaphragm drivers with a high magnetic flux mounted in 3D suspension. This type of diaphragm offers a superior rigidity, low distortion, and wider frequency bandwidth. And to further reduce resonance and distortion, iBasso applied the principal of Helmholtz resonator to design a custom internal cavity from brass.
The shells are very small and lightweight, only 7g. And when I say small, I mean they are so compact that go right into concha area of my ear, and I can put my head/ear down on a pillow with IT01x in my ears without any discomfort. We all have different ear anatomy, but I found it impressive since my ears are not that big to begin with. The faceplate comes with InTune label and available in either black, blue, or red, and the paint itself has a very rich and deep color; iBasso refers to it as metallic paint.
Inner side of the shell has IT01x and L/R marking on corresponding sides. That inner side shape is bulbous and extends into an all-metal slightly longer nozzle with a replaceable mesh screen filter with a rubber o-ring. iBasso adapted this replaceable mesh filter in all of their latest models (IT00, IT01s, IT07), making it very convenient to remove and to clean it. But it is also compatible with IT07 silver/black/gold mesh filters, meaning you can micro finetune the sound. Just something for iBasso to consider in the future since they can sell these filters separately as an accessory.