It has been a while since I’ve checked out anything from Ikko. They’ve produced some great budget IEMs in the past, as well as a variety of accessories. You may be most familiar with their OH10 Obsidian model, which is still one of their best. They also have one of the better lighting DACs that you can find for under a hundred dollars in the Zerda ITM01. Ikko has now released the Zerda ITM02, and I was able to test it out for myself. Like the original, the ITM02 as a generous $59 price point. How does it stack up to other lighting DAC dongles?
What You Get
- Type-C to Type-C 0.1m*1
- Type-C to Lighting 0.1m*1
- Warranty Card*2
While the ITM01 has some size to it, the ITM02 significantly reduces it. The result is a simpler and even more portable device that you can fit anywhere. Aesthetically, the ITM02 is a lot less unique but still carries a multi-colored LED light on its front side. It’s the biggest improvement is the new detachable type C cable. With the ITM01 you only had a proprietary magnetic cable, so it is nice to see the ITM02 be a more universal unit. I can see the ITM02 also having more color variety in the future, but for now, you only get standard white.
It is quite a surprise that the Zerda ITM02 uses an AK4377 chipset. Depending on your tastes you might prefer the ESS chip of the ITM01, but now that the AK chip is rare it is good to see it used here. This design supports PCM up to32bit/384Khz and DSD128. You’ll see the light turn blue for PCM and read for DSD. In terms of power, it can provide 70mW @32Ω. For the price, the ITM02 instills a solid performance all around.
Knowing that the ITM02 came equipped with the classic AK4377 chip, I had some expectations set for its sound. Testing a couple of IEMs with the Zerda ITM02 attached to my iPhone, I got a good sense of its capabilities. The profile of the DAC skews toward smoothness, coating the frequencies quite evenly. Especially with IEMs where the treble is hot, the ITM02 seems to consistently reduce the harshness of the tone. However, it does a good job of not eliminating the character of the sound completely. For example, using the Tripowin Cencibel the highs kept their slight glisten in the highs while significantly reducing the overall brightness of the frequencies. In the bass, the ITM02 boasts some increased depth even with the most linear sound signatures. IEMs that are already bass heavy don’t reveal themselves with much further detail, but the texture is there. Midrange frequencies have good energy but don’t improve spatial definition in any considerable way. For a $59 DAC adapter though, there’s admirable clarity.
The Zerda ITM02 is a great pick if you’re looking for a simple DAC dongle. It is easy to use with both Apple and Android devices and offers a smooth sound for IEMs and low-impedance headphones. The design makes it fit right in with most Apple products, and the detachable type C cable strengthens its usability. There are some minor improvements Ikko can make with this line over time, but it is hard to criticize for the price. Every part of it is an upgrade from their last effort already, so there this line can only get better from here.
The IKKO Zerda ITM02 is available on their website here.