This year has seen the release of some major new additions to the IEM market, from big-name brands to smaller manufacturers. We’ve just seen Campfire Audio launch a sizable variety of products, but they’re not the only brand that’s made a major impression on me this year. I’ve listened to both the Ikko Obsidian OH10 and Meteor OH1, and have critiqued and compared both models. They are both very satisfying IEMs that contain their own unique sound signature and striking designs. What’s impressive is that none of these awesome earphones cost more than $200. The model we’ll be diving into today, the Gems OH1s only costs $199. These types of brands have been taking over the IEM market recently, so let’s see if the Gems OH1s are another winner.
What You Get
- 6 sizes of silicone ear tips
- 3 sizes of sponge (I-planet)
- storage box
- LOGO brooch
These aren’t your ordinary Final Audio or Comply tips. With the silicone tips, the bore size is oval-shaped and the material is thin. Luckily my Final tips fit fine on the Gems nozzle, so I used those for a majority of my listening.
Look and Feel
Ikko presents a different housing shape for the Gems but sticks to that scaly, jewel-like aesthetic. The shape of the shell is triangular and a lot smaller than the past models we’ve looked at. They’ve also mixed in a translucent mold around its outline, making the Gems stand out even more. The Obsidian and Meteor looked fantastic but they were also the same housing style, so this was a welcome change. For the fit, the supplied tips may seem a bit odd at first. I’m not huge on foam tips, but the ones given here were comfy enough to use for a while. The silicone tips match the Gems oval nozzle and thus felt a bit weird to me. As I previously mentioned, I stuck with my own Final Audio tips, which thankfully fit the Gems without any issue. To me, the housing felt a little too loose but was still well supported while listening for many hours. Perhaps the shell size is too small, but it depends on your ear size.
Various components are provided within the Gems hosing. This is a hybrid system that includes a single 10mm dynamic driver and a balanced armature. The dynamic unit is made from a deposited carbon nano coil, and the armature is a Knowles 33518. These systems are separated by an aluminum alloy which helps minimize interference. Ikko has labeled this structure as Separating Vector Acoustic Systems technology (SVAS), which uses its designed cavity to reflect and diffuse at different angles.
There’s a surprising amount of signal strength coming out of the Gems. In terms of the amplitude, the Gems can get up to a high gain. Finding that sweet spot for loudness is made easy on any system.
I’ve come to appreciate the level of quality these brands keep delivering when it comes to their soundstage. They always seem to surprise me, and the Gems are no different. The width is more than acceptable for this price range, but the level of separation conveyed here is on another level entirely. Instruments appear with great clarity, and the imaging presents them as massive sounds with spatial accuracy. There’s a level of scale with each sound that most IEMs in this price range can’t meet. The layering feels a bit linear at times but still breaks out into a more outward headspace.
The bass on the Gems is very punchy and deep. It resonates with clarity while not shying away from the meaty tone of the lows. The frecencies never felt overwhelming, just properly accentuated in the sound signature. It makes for some fun and engaging bass that’s tight and impactful. The mid-bass also features some nice warmth that adds color rather than muddiness.
With the midrange, you get a mixture of great textures and clarity. Upper and lower mids receive great emphasis while not recessing the midrange as a whole. Certain timbral elements tend to favor the warmer low-mids, but the tonality is stil very full and clean. Vocals are extremely present, with good definition and smooth textures.
The treble portion of the frequency response finished off the sound signature with a shimmery timbre. Some frequencies have a light piercing quality here, but nothing too harsh or overbearing. I’d go as far to say that the highs take the most prevalent appearance in the sound signature, giving you the quickest response with the highest fidelity. Some textures can sparkle, but most of the time the highs are a sheen of brightness that characterizes the frequencies in a way that makes them unique and easy to digest.
Ikko has once again delivered a great sound with an interesting design. Its an affordable IEM filled with rich details and textures, with a strong signal to boot. There’s not much else to say here besides the fact that though there’s a ton of quality here, the Gems still has some strong competition.
Pros and Cons
- Fine treble
- Punchy bass
- Aesthetic design
- Big imaging
- Loose fit
- Strong competition
The Ikko Gems OH1S is available at Audio 46.