The biggest IEM manufacturers around have made quite a name for themselves in recent years by pushing technology, and innovative designs. Recently I got to review a pair of open-back headphones from a company called IBasso. In the review, I pointed out how I was unfamiliar with the brand before, and that they were definitely on my radar now. Here now I bring you one of their top IEMs, the IT04 four-driver hybrid. At $539.99 this is their leading earphone model currently in their catalog, so let’s see how it stacks up.
What You Get
The IT04 has the packaging presentation of a prestigious IEM with is organized compiling of contents. Removing the slipcover reveals the rectangular black box with a minimalistic logo font that resembles what you’d see receiving an apple product. Opening the magnetic fold displays two items, a circular, greyish metallic screw top case, like the one you’d see from an Empire Ears product. Holding it you can tell it’s very well crafted, giving you the impression that the earphones themselves are designed with the same quality of care. The earpieces are found inside the case in soft protective padding that you can remove to store the IEMs with the cable attached. That cable can be found in the box containing the rest of the IT04s contents. The stock cable itself uses MMCX connectors with a 2.5mm headphone jack, along with a 3.5mm adapter. IBasso gives you a generous variety of ear tips to choose from with 2 pairs of foam tips and five pairs of silicone tips in various sizes.
Look and Feel
IBasso has given the IT04 an aesthetically pleasing look. The water droplet like design gives the earphones a fitting look, and the glossy black finish mixed with the laminated carbon-fiber faceplates raise the aesthetic quality of the IEM to a considerable degree. The nozzles a quite long but never fell intruding, as the tips are just as tightly secured as a pair with a lip. I found no real issue with this fit, even if the stock cable could use some shielding for the wrap around. The housing fits well in the ear, but insertion goes pretty deep, and the deeper they are, the more the housing becomes a nuisance. However, with the right tips, and the right ear canal placement, the IT04 could have an unnoticeable fit.
As previously mentioned, the IT04 supports a 4 driver hybrid system. The dynamic driver is made with a magnetic flux with a 10mm graphene diaphragm. It also uses 3 balanced Knowles armatures that support their calculated crossover circuit. This system also implements a patented root tube internal design, which helps better the performance of the armatures and dynamic driver. It’s a worthy system that works toward the realization of the IT04s full potential.
You’ll find that the IBasso IT04 is quite easy to drive, as the low 16 Ohm impedance makes these IEMs friendly to use with most PC and smartphone headphone ports. Just make sure you don’t lose that 3.5mm adapter. The MMXC cable uses an 8 wire balance cleans the signal nicely, but harmful amplitudes are still a possibility so watch your input gain because the IT04 will dive a considerable amount of output power.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of width the IT04 kept showing. On first listen, I wasn’t convinced, but on further listening with a bigger variety of albums, I was sold. The image is reasonably expansive, that while maybe not the deepest sound, still produces a decent amount of clarity in dealing with multiple sound elements. On the new Flaming Lips album “American Head” there’s a song called “ Mother I’ve Taken LSD” where at one point a motorcycle whips through your ears. On the IT04, this effect made me better understand the sense of width going on in these IEMs, even as the next track, which starts with sharp tones dispersed all across the stereo field, started to play.
The sub-bass extension proves to be pretty deep at times, as synthetic beats are really able to kick effectively. The track “Ghost” by Mystery Skulls shows off this impressive bass/low-mid response, as the main beat shows a great impact that really lifts you up. It’s a tight sound that amps up the resolution without being anywhere near the bleed territory.
While definitely clean and spacious, the mids sit a bit more toward the back in the IT04. The lower mids definitely help the mids lift themselves up in the sound spectrum, like with certain electronic, synth-wave tracks, but in a dryer timbre. Vocals sound exceptional, with plenty of raw definition and clarity, especially in female performances. The extended low mids also add some crunch to rock and metal tracks, like on the album “Murder of the Universe” which incorporates an orchestra of roaring electric guitars that sounded even dirtier on the IT04.
I never felt like the highs were doing a ton of work on the IT04, but they do show some fidelity in some bands. The highs contain the least amount of extension, even if what’s there is quite nice and forward. However, without any harshness or bright treble, there’s not a whole lot to complain about in the IT04. Even if there’s something to be desired in the highs, it doesn’t make them a low point of these IEMs.
Everybody should have IBasso on their radar. The IT04 is an IEM that does a lot of what some flagship IEMs do from other brands, and this one is half the price. For the quality of resolution and clarity heard on the IT04, this is a great option for those who can’t afford those more prestigious models.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Price, Wide stage, quality resolution
Cons: Not fit for long listening sessions
The IBasso IT04 is available at Audio 46
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