iBasso IT04 review - expatinjapan

iBasso IT04 and iBasso DX200 with Amp 4 and CA02 2.5mm to 4.4mm adapter (not included)


iBasso IT04 review
-expatinjapan


Stunningly sexy and mysterious to the eye. A Holy Mountain of audiophilia bathed in the Santa Sangre of the blessed audiophile, a traveling mans earphone whilst he goes all El Topo.

iBasso IT04 and iBasso DX120, iBassos lastest dap.




Unboxing & build etc



Beautiful packaging as always from iBasso




iBasso did a wise thing. The cable included is their CB12 terminated at 2.5mm (balanced), they also included an adapter (2.5mm Female to 3.5mm male Single ended) that is the same weave and style as the cable (Not the CA01 adapter). Great for the majority of probable customers for this earphone that would enjoy having the options with many of mid to upper range daps of today having 3.5mm and 2.5mm jacks.

The packaging is gorgeous, the insides are intimate with their unspoken promises of sonic bliss.




Tips, tips! Lots of tips to choose from.


Splendidly simple lines, from the smooth hard outer of the solid metal carrying circular case, to the velvety inner cushioning the beautiful well designed and crafted earphones.





A configuration of three Knowles Balanced Armatures and one Dynamic driver.



The whole gang is here!
The red and blue is iBasso IT01, The middle in black is the iBasso IT03 and finally the IT04.




Specifications








Sound

The iBasso IT04 packs three BAs and one DD within its shell, a bit unusual to start with, a break from the old one, two punch of two BAs and one DD, or four BAs and the ever reliable one DD.

Having previously reviewed the earlier models the IT03 and the IT01 I was curious at what iBasso would produce as the development progressed.

Looks wise it certainly is appealing, not only as an earphone but the whole package of box, cables, case etc. It does have that premium feel about it.

As usual I got several hours (well over 100) on the IT04 before I progressed with this review. If you are an adherent to the belief of burn in you are surely satisfied, If not, well no harm done.

iBasso DX150, iBasso IT04 and (CB12 style) adapter (included).

I played with a variety of sources, the three iBasso daps of course and did a bit of amp swapping along the way although my written up notes mainly concern the stock amps for Purity.

"Be pure. Be vigilant. Behave!"

Several Nemesis daps of the non iBasso type were also sampled to give a more rounded viewpoint to the conversation and in the hope that an objective summary of the IT04s sound signature might be reached, or partway there at the very least.

As usual I mostly stuck to common 16/44 Flac tracks they being a fairly neutral non esoteric meeting ground that everyone has access to.

I also took the time to swap out the stock cable for the iBasso upgrade cable, the CB13 (The IT04 coming with the CB12 as stock) to see what various extra tweaks could be eked out.


I found the iBasso IT04 sound to be very complementary with their daps. Not surprising of course.

Stock cable, black stock tips. 
Music is shuffled through for randomness.

DX200 on Android 8.1, OREO.
IT04 with DX200/amp 1: Easy, soaring, natural, tight highs, solid bass, mellow mids, strong vocals.
Vocals centered within ones skull, nice width and height overall. Massive Attack `Teardrop` was delicious.

IT04 with DX200/amp 4: Wider, fuller, strident at time, controlled, smooth and natural.
Bass has great control with this amp in conjunction with the IT04, clear highs. vocals are clearly defined. Shows off the bass and the highs. Ramones made me dance in my chair.

IT04 with DX200/amp 8: Super wider, full bodied lushness, bass, mids, highs and vocals are united in a pleasurable balance. One could wonder whether the IT04 was tuned especially for Amp 8 (or even amp  7 I presume). Even the Pixies `Brick is red` sounds good. Lana Del Rey `Brooklyn Baby` really shows off what this triple strike combo can achieve. Just pure unadulterated blissful sonics, excellent synergy between the different gears resulting in a truly joyful listening experience.
Joy Division `Passover` has those drums, vocals and bass guitar really testing what the IT04 can do. Not the best recorded quality but comes across as clear and realistic.
Neil Young `Down by the river` is just a nice, well balanced and true musical treat.

In summary the IT04 can reach its peak of sound stage, imaging and performance with the DX200.

Moving on to the iBasso DX150 with amp 7

Where is my mind?` by the Pixies comes across as natural, pleasing and realistic.
I do not know If it is the DX150 or amp 7 but I find something here hits the sweet spot for me whilst using the IT04. I can dribble on about lows/mids/highs but it just is accurate as to how this song should sound. Not a hair out of place.

Sometimes the highs can be a bit too bright such as with the Cardigans `Junk of the hearts`, on Lana Del Rey `Lolita` it got a bit busy, dialing back and down low to Belly `Low red moon` once again the IT04 shines. Soaring, gliding treble, nice wading in the shallows barefoot with luscious bass that is smooth, deep and forceful. Richard Ashcroft `Everybody` is a coherent match with this particular set up, nice separation and layering.

In summary the IT04 is a good complement for the more smoother DX150.

Moving down but not out! IT04 with the DX120. Slow roll off filter, Reference setting. Low gain.

The DX120 while a beautiful looking dap and a generous performance to match of course lacks the overall resolution of the DX200.

I tried a few different settings on the Dx120 to try to find the most complementary mix between the digital filters and Sound modes but there being so many configurations I had to in the end just pick two and get on with it. But rest assured between the two modes one can have a decent amount of control over the signature of the earphones albeit in a subtle way.

The DX120 is perhaps the frill free younger sibling of the DX150.

Throwing muses `Downtown` was natural and realistic, PJ Harvey `50ft Queenie` needed a bit more air in it.

Switch to high gain.

The IT04 sucks up the extra power and seems to enjoy it, more solid edges to the music, clarity and brings up the over all performance that an increase in volume on low gain could not achieve.

In summary the IT04 with the DX120 the satisfaction seems to differ from track to track, I think the iBasso IT04 needs a dap to match its price point or above.

Back to the DX200 to complete the circle and the IT04 certainly shines with detail and extension, though I do enjoy the smooth pairing of the DX150.

IT04 with DX200/amp 8 and CB13 cable and CA02 4.4mm adapter.

Ooh now this is lush, Neil Young. The CB13 brings up the mids a bit, to create an enjoyable rich sound without over doing it. I use the CB13 often with the Campfire Audio Jupiter to also bring up the mids and turn it into a mini Andromeda.

Next up Slayer `Altar of sacrifice`, curious how this plays with the stock cable. CB13 seemed too revealing, changing back to CB12 a much better match, bass comes up and treble is controlled. Slayer is better without extra mids ;)
PJ Harvey `Happy and bleeding`
Sonic Youth `Mary Christ`
The Chemical Brothers `Radiate`
The Verve `This Time`
Massive Attack `Lately`
The Pixies`Down to the well`
David Bowie `Quicksand`
The Pixies `Dead`
Lana Del Rey `Cruel world`
Dire Straits `The Walk of life`

In short the IT04 stock cable CB12 seems a decent match for the earphone.


In summary overall the iBasso IT04 is a well balanced earphone with an ever so slight v shape, It prefers a source that is mid fi or higher, Bass comes across as full and is fast and tight, mids are smooth and natural, treble has a clarity and reach and is also where a lot of detailed is played out, sound stage is large but not massive, the sound not centered within my skull but on the outer skull or just beyond. The IT04 has a nice transparency to it, quite coherent and good separation.



Price

The iBasso IT04 is $US499 and comes in Silver or Blue (Blue/Black)

Hidizs AP80 and the iBasso IT04 with Symbio Mandarine tips

Overall

The iBasso IT04 is a step away from the previous earphones of iBasso, a relativity new venture on their part.

The IT03 which we reviewed on Head pie had a standard V shape, the IT01 was a bit more linear and a jack of all trades, quite pleasing and an earphone I would buy as gift for a friend or a budding audiophile.

The IT04 can not reach the Andromeda performance for instance which understandable as the Andro is over twice the price, but within its price point it could well be one of the Kings of that particular realm.
It is a well balanced earphone with a slight v shape and shows a certain growth and development within iBassos earphone line up as this leans more towards an audiophile tuning, a touch of reference to it although not absolute.

I would like to see more of a lip on the nozzle to keep the tip in place or some cross hatching etc, one time a tip came off in my ear and I had to dig it out with tweezers,...home alone.
Another very personal gripe is the nozzle is too narrow for my beloved JVC Spiral tips to fit on.

There are luckily a huge selection of tips to choose from. Tips are often under rated by many, but fit and isolation is a must to get the most out of your earphone. One can tailor the sound even with tips.

The case which is included is an excellent case.

The CB12 is a beautiful cable and adapter. The MMCX connector is tight fitting so if swapping out cables pull softly and rotate.

The IT04 is not for bass heads, nor is for those who like the dynamic and musical V shape (get the IT03 for that, If you are after a pleasing jack of all trade choose the IT01.

In short If one is looking for a fairly balanced, slightly reference tuned earphone with a minor v shape and clarity, transparency and detail then the IT04 might be for you.





Thank you to iBasso for sending Head pie the IT04 for review

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