I first heard of the Ikko OH-1 when I was surfing Reddit. Next I saw folks writing about it on Head-Fi. But wherever I saw them, folks raved about the bang-for-buck nature of the OH-1. It sparked my interest. Could they really be that good? I reached out to Ikko, and they were happy to send along a demo for me to review. So does the internet’s ramblings match the real quality of the OH-1? Today, let’s take a closer look with this Ikko OH-1 Review.
A Great Bang-for-Buck IEM – Ikko OH-1 Review
In the Box
-Ikko OH-1 IEMs
-detachable 2-pin cable with 3.5 mm connector
-balanced silicone eartips (s, m, l)
-vocal silicone eartips (s, m, l)
-soft buttoning carrying case
Look and Feel
The Ikko OH-1 has a striking, beautiful look. As I hold the cool blue shells in my hand, I notice they have a sense of weight to them. As a result, they feel strong and durable. The housings have a shape that seems to follow the shape of the ear. From a distance, they look a bit bigger than they actually are when close up because despite the length and width of the front face plate, they are actually quite thin.
The easy blue color of the Ikko OH-1 looks gorgeous under light because of its soft, matte shine. However, the uneven surface of the face plate gives it an edge that aesthetically contrasts with the otherwise smooth look.
Fit and Comfort
The shape of the driver housings of the Ikko OH-1 give them a fitted feel, even for my smallish ears. They fit and stayed in my ears super easily, in part because of the shape and angle of the nozzle, and in part because of the tight curve of the ear hooks on the cable.
Additionally, the Ikko OH-1 is comfortable. When I first put them in my ears, the metal of the driver housing felt cold. However, after just a few minutes I didn’t notice them at all.
The unbalanced, braided cable of the Ikko OH-1 consists of 4 OFC, silver plated conductors. The tightness of the braid of the cable gives it a little bit of stiffness, however it is still easy to manipulate in space.
Additionally, they connect to the Ikko OH-1 earpieces via 2-pin connectors. Next to the connector is a plastic jacket ear hook. It is malleable, and can bend into different shapes. However, when you let it go, it returns to its original shape.
Lastly, the connector on the other side of the cable is an L-shaped 3.5 mm connector. As a result, the cable contributes to the sense of durability of the Ikko OH-1 because of this strain relief. And, as a little aesthetic bonus, it shares the same cool blue color as the driver housings.
The Ikko OH-1 has a hybrid driver design, sporting one Knowles balanced armature and one 10mm dynamic driver. The balanced armature is dedicated to the high and ultra high frequencies. By contrast the polymer titanium dynamic driver is dedicated to the lows and mids.
The low frequencies of the Ikko OH-1 have a wonderful sense of subby energy in addition to their general sense of fullness. To my ear, it sounds like there is a boost around 40 Hz and around 100 Hz. As a result, low frequency instruments like kick drums, for example, come through with tons of full energy with a sense of extension. Kick drums, bass synths, low bass guitars and other low frequency dominant instruments sit a bit louder in the mix than usual. However, I was super impressed because, despite the bigness of the energy of the lows, the IEMs maintained a sense of clarity there. As a result, low-mid rich instruments don’t feel stamped out by low frequency instruments.
For example, when I was listening to the song Prince Johnny by St. Vincent with the Ikko OH-1, the kick drum sounded punchier and slightly louder in the mix than usual. It had an extension to its character that usually doesn’t reveal itself. Meanwhile, the low pieces of the kick drum maintained good separation from both the bass guitar and bass synth. And all of these full, low instruments were able to avoid cloudiness and crowding as they sat alongside the midrangy synths, vocals, and guitars.
The middle frequencies of the Ikko OH-1 have a nice thick low-mid response. Low-mid rich instruments take a step forward in the mix level-wise and depth-wise. The middle part of the midrange sounds even, revealing harmonic complexity. However, a boost in the high-mids along with the boost in the low mids makes the middle part of the midrange feel quieter in the mix by comparison. Therefore, the mids leave a space in the middle which provides a sense of separation but also changes the tonality of midrange instruments a bit. Vocals, for example, lean toward the face and throat of the voice as opposed to the chest of the voice.
For example, when I was listening to the song Elzick’s Farewell by Old Crow Medicine Show, the low-mid energy of the upright bass was nice and big. Each note of it felt strong, even, and detailed. Additionally, the fiddles and mandolins lean forward toward the high mids. The space between those high-mid instruments and the low-mid upright bass felt expansive, providing separation and groovy energy as the bass moved. However, the fiddles felt a bit sculpted to the sound signature, and therefore slightly less realistic. However, they did maintain the elements of their harmonic foundation, but they were just quieter in the mix.
The high frequencies of the Ikko OH-1 are pretty and have a sense of harmonic richness. They have a boost, it sounds like to me, right around 7kHz or 8kHz. As a result, they have both a sense of articulation and texture. Additionally, I heard another boost right at the bass of the upper octave, which provided a sense of audible air. As a result of both the upper treble and upper octave, there is a sense of spaciousness between the high-mids and high frequency rich instruments like cymbals and percussion. However, it also skews the realism of instruments that exist in both areas of the frequency spectrum (like acoustic guitars and strings which have both high-mid energy and high energy).
For example, when I was listening to the song Miles Runs the Voodoo Down by Miles Davis, the cymbals sounded full and rich, yet leaned slightly toward their upper treble texture. Additionally, there seemed to be a sense of stringiness from the electric guitar that it usually doesn’t have. This made it less realistic sounding, but brought it more to life than usual.
Additionally, there seemed to be a nice sense of space between the high-mid rich trumpet and the cymbals which were able to exist in their own space.
The soundstage of the Ikko OH-1 has a wonderful sense of contrast in its sense of height. Between the sub emphasis and the upper octave boost, low frequency rich instruments feel super low in the chest and brighter instruments sit up above the head. Midrange instruments have nuance in the sense of height. However, they are skewed to crowd up by the head. The high-mid sits in the height there.
The Ikko OH-1 has a nice sense of depth as well. The difference between instruments set back in space and other, more intimate instruments is drastic. However, the sense of realism is slanted a bit. The high-mid boost brings midrange instruments forward in the mix when they might have sat further back without the boost.
For example, when I was listening to the song Djadja by Aya Nakamura, lowness of the 808 contrasts wonderfully in height from the highs in Aya’s voice, the high-hats, and brighter synths. Additionally, the intimacy of Aya’s voice contrasts wonderfully with the darker keys which sit further back in space. However, other melodic synths that usually sit further back in space are actually closer in depth to the vocal because they have more high-mid energy.
Overall, the Ikko OH-1 is a great option for audiophiles on a budget. It has a gorgeous look, easy fit, and a fun sound! Its sound signature favors a big bass with a good sense of separation and detail between each area of the frequency spectrum. As a result, they sound best with pop, hip-hop, electronic music and other genres with lots of synthesized instruments. If you need an IEM with ultra realism, for classical and jazz music for example, these won’t be for you. But if you like a big, solid bass and a sense of energy and detail, you’ll really enjoy the Ikko OH-1.
The Ikko OH-1 is available for the best price here: