OH-10 Obsidian - The Second Effort by IKKO - Audiofool




After reviewing the IKKO OH1 that Patrick sent for review, I was interested in their newest release the OH10.  I bought the OH10 outright so no disclaimer is needed.    If you have an interest in IKKO products, please visit their website, or facebook.  IKKO products can be purchased from Amazon here or purchased from Xtenik here.


Unboxing / Packaging:
The packaging of the OH-10 shows IKKO’s style with the anime character on the front, and the details on reverse.  Even the sides of the box are adorned with either product photos or specs.  (My understanding is the misspelling of hybrid has since been corrected).  Removing the slip-cover reveals a black book fold box with the earpieces resting in a velvet covered foam tray.  Lifting the tab at top reveals a second compartment with tips held nicely in their own foam block, a leather mat to prevent scratching the earpieces, and an IKKO Lapel pin nestled in foam padding.  The cable and carrying pouch are hidden inside the leather mat.   Overall, the kit is what I would expect from a build at this price point as we are approaching the $200 mark.   Some models at this price provide a hard shell case and if you prefer one, you’ll want to add that at checkout as only the soft case is provided.  The soft case is thought out well with 2 pockets to allow separating the earpieces to prevent scratches while in transit.   Two sets of tips are provided (neutral and bass enhanced although no documentation of such).  The block the tips are stored in is a nice touch, but would be appreciated more if it fit in the travel case perhaps.










Build/Fit:
The first two pictures below were gratiously provided by patrick of the copper alloy shell before final plating.  This is one of the hallmarks of the OH-10, so I wanted to show it off.   Due to some proprietary techniques and design of the internal cavity, I won’t be able to share the inside of the cavity.   The Shells are nearly exactly the same shape and size as that of the OH-1 but heft is dramatically different.  The OH-10 weighs in at a bit over double that of the OH-1.  The .78mm bi-pin connector is slightly elevated above the shell but is not the hooded type that has become popular of late.  Vents exist on the inner surface behind the nozzle and on the upper surface near the mid-point of the shell.  Nozzles exit the front of the earpiece with an upward rake and a pronounced lip to hold tips in place (standard T400 tips).  The seam between faceplate and shell is not hidden, but polish is very good with no crisp edges anywhere on the unit and mirror finish throughout.










Internals:
The OH-10 is powered by a pair of drivers, one. 10mm dynamic and one balanced armature.   The dynamic is a dual diaphragm titanium coated polymer model, while the balanced armature used is a Knowles 33518.   Worth noting is the copper alloy shell was designed with an acoustic chamber specifically for this 10mm driver so a lot of work went into reducing harmonics and producing the best sound possible from the drivers.  I note this as I think the same driver in a different shell might not show the same level of refinement as a lot of work went into the pairing of materials.  Nominal impedance is listed as 18Ω with a sensitivity of 106dB/mW.   I found the OH-10 to be reasonably well driven with a phone or a tablet, but it does scale well and detail improves considerably with a better source.  This is a case of scaling in quality rather than quantity as a phone is capable of powering it fully.

Cable:
The provided cable is a standard length (1.2m) made with 4 strands of 5N oxygen free silver-plated copper with a black outer coating.  From the 90º Jack, the cable exits through a proper strain relief as a double twist pattern (two wires paired, then the pairs wrapped).  The splitter is a metal barrel that matches the earpieces closely.  Cables exit as twisted pair but not as tightly as below the splitter.  Pre-formed earhooks are provided without memory wire and terminations are metal encased (again matching the earpieces) .78mm bi-pin connectors.  The right connector has a red ring around it for quick identification.  The earpieces themselves do not identify R/L but only fit one way so matching them up is a pretty straight forward proposition.  The cable has a leather cable tie provided that matches the protective mat.   Again, a nice touch to make all the cable parts closely match the earpieces and accessory kit.






Tips:
There are 2 sets of 3 sizes of tips provided (SML).   They are all silicone, but of two different designs.  I found the narrower bore to be a bit nearer to neutral (not that the OH-10 is ever that) while the wider bore enhanced bass response mildly.  The OH-10 has plenty of bass for my tastes with the standard tips so I stuck with the narrower tips for my sound notes and testing.   Again your views may vary based on tip selection.


Sound:


Bass:
The OH-10 starts off with a mildly emphasized and well extended sub-bass which gives it a satisfying rumble.  If you have used the OH-1, the OH-10 has the same level of control over the bass,  with added umph.  Lower mid-bass is mildly emphasized and falls as it moves toward the mids.  Again control is very good and texture is above average.   The OH-10 is best used at lower volumes as the control over the bass seems to lessen as volumes increase and if listening at above about 80dB some congestion can appear in more complex tracks.  Backing off the volume a bit restores control and the congestion disappears again.    Some mild-mid bass bleed occurs and while it does not obscure the mids, it does provide a bit of warmth to the signature.

Mids:
Lower mids are the mildly recessed but not lacking in detail.  As we move up, the mids move forward and female vocals present in front of their male counterparts as a result.  Timbre of electric guitar is realistic with good growl which makes the OH-10 a fun listen for rock and classic rock.   I found the clarity of the mids to be probably the most impressive thing about the OH-10.  That doesn’t mean I found the mids to be accentuated the most, just that despite starting out slightly recessed, the definition and textures are very clean and precise.   If anything, if you could retain the quality of the mids and push the lower mids just slightly forward it would be near perfect for jazz as well.

Treble:
Lower treble is emphasized but drops fairly rapidly as you move further up creating a signature that has good clarity while avoiding any tendency to get strident.  The bright tilt makes high hats and snare with brushes sound particularly clear and realistic which is no easy task, while cymbals fall just a hair short of sounding lifelike.   The roll-off of the upper treble probably limits the cymbals a bit, but does also make the OH-10 less fatiguing than many with more high end emphasis.    The most treble sensitive among us may find the OH-10 to be fatiguing, but for the rest of us, the detail, clarity, and air this provides will outweigh any aversion to bright signatures (yes, its that good).

Soundstage / Imaging:
Stage is good sized with a touch more width than depth.  I found the stage was large enough that orchestral pieces were seated properly with nothing behind that should be next to or vice versa.   Imaging is very good with directional cues and movements being well represented as well.   Layering is good with the caveat that the bass gets a touch loose as volumes increase and the OH-10 is best listened to at moderate volumes.   I suspect as easy as the OH-10 is to drive, it may well be overwhelmed by too much power.

Comparisons:

IKKO OH-1 –   of course this is the expected comparison.  The OH-10 departs from the OH-1 significantly.  While the OH-1 can be described as mildly mid-centric, the OH-10 is a bigger V shape with more detail throughout the signature.  The OH-1 is a bit more laidback, while the OH-10 is a bit more aggressive in both attack and decay and the resultant sound is a bit cleaner and sharper edged as a result.     Shells are almost exactly the same size wise but the materials used on the OH-10 make it much more solid feeling without feeling heavy or uncomfortable.

Magaosi K5 –  The mid-centric K5 vs the V shaped OH-10.  Both are built very well, cable prefrence goes to the OH-10, and choice of model is going to be dependent on prefered signature as the two have very little in common sonically.  Extension is better on the low end on the OH-10, but the K5 has better mids and arguably better treble extension.  Other than price point, these two have little in common.

Moondrop KP –  The KP is well established and liked at this price point and with both sporting polished metal shells, it again is a natural comparison.  Signatures are completely different as the eKP attempts to be more neutral than the OH-10.  The OH-10 has better low end extension as well as considerably more sub-bass than the KP brings to the table.  The KP has slightly more forward mids.  Both have lively upper mids and lower treble and both roll-off above that and are rather polite.    This is a tough call which speaks well for both models.

Brainwavz b400 –  The b400 is way closer to neutral than the OH-10, but the OH-10 is much more engaging and fun to listen to.  Build quality is night and day different as the 3d printed shell on the b400 is prone to cracking while the shell on the OH-10 looks like it could take a direct hit from a howitzer with only minimal damage.

IBasso IT-01S – These two again are similar signatures with different builds.  Both have good bass depth and an emphasized bass and upper-mid/lower treble region.  I find the OH-10 has better control at lower volumes but yields to the IT-01s at higher volumes as the OH-10 becomes slightly loose and the IT-01s comes out of its shadow.   The OH-10 sounds a bit cleaner at normal listening levels when compared to the IT-01s and has a bit better detail resolution.  The IT-01s is slightly smaller which may be a consideration for some and both are well constructed and polished although the material used on the 01s is lighter and less durable.

Thoughts / Conclusion:
Having enjoyed the signature of the OH-1, it probably comes as little surprise that I really like the OH-10.  The tonality is intoxicating and the detail and texture are very good.   It isn’t the best for those listening at above average volume, but for those that listen at average or lower volumes, it competes very well with most things in its price class.  It is not as neutral as some, but is much more engaging than most.    Even with higher end models available, I find myself reaching for the OH-10 when I just want to relax and listen.  So far Ikko has two models and two solid offerings, that’s not an easy thing to do and shows the level of effort and dedication they are putting into their products.   I can heartily recommend both the OH-1 I previously reviewed and the OH-10 as both are very solid values.  I will also admit to having IKKO’s facebook page bookmarked so I won’t miss their next release.


Summary



Pros: very engaging signature, with above average texture and detail

Cons: not a neutral signature, can get a bit loose at high volume.

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