There isn’t a lot about IBasso out there. You might know them best for their DAPs and amplifiers, as they’ve pushed that as their go-to product line. Now, IBasso is getting into the headphone game, specifically semi open-backs. IBasso isn’t just shooting blind, they’ve introduced an innovative new driver design that uses silicone suspension and Tesla magnetic flux technology. I’m here now to review IBasso’s brand new SR2, their latest open back high-definition headphone. Is the SR2 as strong as it looks?
What You Get
Some interesting extra items with this one. Like with most headphones of this nature the SR2 comes with its own protective hard case. The headphones themselves come in a single piece, with their detachable cable nicely wrapped. The plugs are dual 3.5m inputs, while the connectors appear as a quarter-inch jack that screws off into a 3.5mm. The most interesting accessory to be included in the packaging are a pair of spare perforated earpads, an unconventional item to include, but a welcome one.
Look and Feel
These cans look like the real deal. The SR2 sports a sleeker, more sophisticated look than its previous iteration, with a polished silver rim, and a black-grilled honeycomb housing. The cups rotate and can be placed neatly around your neck, and it never feels awkward. One of the things that really stuck out to me was the chunky earpads made from pleather, and just from feeling them, I could immediately tell that this was going to be a comfy fit. The material was light and fluffy. When wearing them I couldn’t notice any pressure coming up against my ears whatsoever, and this being a semi-open back my ears never felt fatigued or overheated when testing them out in long listening sessions. However, what does need some improvement is the headband, which I could always feel never staying in the right place most of the time, and I had to re-adjust them a few times.
As I’ve mentioned, the SR2 features a silicone suspension design, a relatively new concept for the headphone space. What it does is use the silicone in order to create a high level of precision and an even greater transient response. The idea is that silicone has much better stability, and can maintain its elasticity better for a more natural consistency in output. The SR2 uses a dynamic driver that contains a lot of the high-end components, including the silicone suspension system. It also uses a Tesla magnetic flux which increases the driver’s sensitivity and grants an extra level of possible details in your tracks. The diaphragm is also worthy of note, as it’s made from a high-rigidity carbon fiber that aims to smooth out the highly sensitive output from the driver. It acts as a reflective surface that focuses on shaping the greater sound signature.
All of the major technology inside the SR2 make this out to be a decently sensitive headphone with a sensitivity of 108dB at 1kHz. With only a 24 Ohm impedance, the SR2 is easy to drive with any 3.5mm headphone input, and though an amplifier isn’t required, you can still use a quarter-inch connection for a variety of listening experiences. By itself, the SR2 is a capable headphone, with 50mW of rated power, but the signal comes out very clean and controlled. IBasso leaves generous room for potential detail, especially in the low end, with a frequency response of 3Hz-40kHz.
This is an open-back headphone, which has its own air of expectations prior to actually listening to them. I’m discovering more and more how different specific open-backs can sound, and the SR2 boasts it’s own unique sound. IBasso brings a wide and varied stage to the SR2, one that implements an excellent sense of depth and space to a variety of music and game/movie audio. The signature sounds free and floats around the space leaving ample headroom in a way that feels accurate to what you’re listening to. It’s an immersive space that lends itself better to close analysis of each tonal layer. It’s response to dynamic range is impeccable, as quieter, more serene environments balance with the more involved elements with precise layering. The separation leaves room for each element to breathe, shaping the image into a grander stage. I got a lot out of listening to live albums on the SR2, such as Vulfpeck’s Live From Madison Square Garden, which does a great job mixing the band’s performance with audience cheers and sing-alongs. The SR2 brings out the scale of the performance, as the room becomes subtly present, putting you in the center of the space.
The stage takes a lot of depth from the bass frequencies to create a throaty, sub-bass feel that isn’t overbearing, but just subtle enough to be noticeable. Hits from synthetic drum machines appear smooth and buttery, and regular kick drums sound as crisp as ever. Weezer’s “No One Else” had an especially snappy kick that brought out details I haven’t noticed before on that track. The stage keeps things controlled with excellent separation, containing the bands in the jaw of the output. Bass performances are clean, like Paul McCartney on “Oh Darling!” which gives you a real analytical tone to the rendition. Strings come out equally as clean in this range and give you that rustic glow you might look for in classical tracks.
Low mids get an ample push in gain, creating a subtler warm timbre than I’ve heard in some other open-backs like this. They’re boosted just enough to reveal rich, warm textures that do a great service to vocals and acoustic performances. Certain instrumentations possess a good amount of width, as the low mids life the sound to a neat resonance that presents more lively energy. Though the low mids are boosted, the rest of the mid bands exude an equal amount of separation that present needed air between spaces. The upper mids have some attenuation, but what’s there come through in sharp resolution.
Though being a warmer headphone, the SR2 doesn’t lack in the high end whatsoever. Its dynamic nature allows for some significant top-end that stands clear and resonant. Some textures can appear a tad bright, such as in Brian Eno’s “First Light,” where the high notes on the piano melody get really get up there, bordering on harshness, but as far as I can tell this was the only instance of that. They aren’t airy but possess a good amount of headroom to create space for the bands.
I’m very glad I know about IBasso now, as I found their second foray into the headphone world a really pleasant one. I know things are looking up when I’m still thinking about how some tracks that I haven’t tried might sound in the SR2, and I’m dying to try them out with a film or game. The SR2 is an accessible listening experience for those who aren’t looking to spend a fortune, but still are willing to pay top dollar for a nicer set of cans. The SR2 will coast you $549 which I find to be a reasonable price for an open-back of this caliber.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Comfy, excellent stage, warm timbre
Cons: Semi-bright highs, headband
The IBasso SR2 is available from Audio 46
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