I’ve been loaned a privately owned iBasso IT07 sample and here’s my experience with that, reported following my usual review format.
IT07 is iBasso’s flagship featuring 1 DD + 6 BA, costs a pretty penny – $899,00 – and was released some 3 years after IT04 (1 DD+3 BA), which I also will publish a review for in the next days.
I did not get the entire package so I couldn’t properly assess some secondary elements like the black and gold nozzles or the stock tips, but I reckon what I got is more than enough to form a solidly educated opinion on what we are talking about. Here we go.
Table of contents
|Spectacular tonic-muscular, detailed, engaging, clear presentation.||Somewhat too slim mids and vocals.|
|Beautiful, powerful, dry bass.||Imperfect horizontal timbre coherence between DD and BAs.|
|Very pleasing unique musicality in spite of a modest timbre mismatch.|
|Very good technicalities|
Full Device Card
Sources: Apogee Groove + Burson FUN + IEMatch / Apogee Groove + iBasso T3 / Sony NW-A55 mrWalkman – Sedna Earfit Light Short tips – Stock High Purity Silver Litz cable – lossless 16-24/44.1-192 FLAC tracks.
|Tonality||Adopting silver nozzles IT07 has a frantastic dry-natural timbre, with some thin treble nuances on top depending on accessory (cable, tips) selection. The presentation is a W, with a note body that I’d call “muscularly tonic” both on bass and trebles, while mids and vocals stay by a whiff on the “slim” side. The DD presiding to the bass section is masterfully tuned for speed and punchiness, however the Knowles BAs quite often overpace it, resulting in some degree of timbre incoherence. Dismissing critical listening and just following the music flow, however, the comprehensive result is nothing short of gorgeous, especially when highly rhytmical genres eg funky, jazzrock, fusion are involved.|
|Sub-Bass||Elevated in quantity yet very dry, rumble is present at all times when percussions are involved and it reaches deeeeep down.|
|Mid Bass||Mid-bass is strong, fast, intense such as to fill the place, yet perfectly “dry”, missing any form of haloing let alone bloat or veiling power. As mentioned above the bass driver comes accross “not perfectly homogeneized” with the 6 BAs taking care of the rest of the spectrum in terms of note body, yet I would say manly due to the dryness of the bass tuning such “mismatch” is far from being fastidious like it happens in so many other cases, it rather comes accross as an acoustic band featuring an uncommon instrument mix, which may make you raise an eyebrow at first glance, but catches your appreciation right after the second tune, and you never want the show to end.|
|Mids||IT07 mids sound quite natural but not 100% organic. They are greatly articulated, nuanced and all, but they do lack that last 5% of “fat” to let my brain “recognise” guitars, or vocals, as “the real thing”. In short, they are a whiff too slim, although I would not call them “lean”.|
|Male Vocals||Males are well presented, never covered by the bass, never congested, articulated and nuanced. Just a bit too dry to sound fully real.|
|Female Vocals||Similarly to males, female voices too are restituted with great technicality with just a veil of artificial varnish on top, due to the lack of some “skin grease” so to call it, some butter is missing. IT07 are many great things, just not the best vocal driver you can buy.|
|Highs||Trebles are very vivid, sparkly, clear and detailed. Presence is airy, and although brilliance is definitely tamed, IT07 at all times offers the impression of delivering fully extended trebles. Depending on accessories selection you may make them a bit hotter, or a tad more “combed”. After quite a long selection I “think” I prefer a more energetic variation like the one offered by widebore silicon tips, yielding in a perfect balance between subtlety and not body up there – for my taste of course.|
|Soundstage||IT07 have a very wide stage, with good height and depth.|
|Imaging||Imaging is spectacular thanks to the general presentation clarity and the bass being so sharp while at the same time not even remotely shy|
|Details||The level of detail is very significant, both in the bass and (even more) on the high mids and trebles, without scanting into the fatiguing extra-thin excess.|
|Instrument separation||Separation and layering are very well executed, possibly not the absolute best I ever heard in this price range but – at the very least – in line with the expectation I would have from a product of this class|
|Driveability||IT07 are not a boulder to move in terms of amping “power”, but that’s not the correct point to make here. Their capacity to draw on space, and resolve details and layers strongly calls for the adoption of a “non-basic” DAC + AMP at the very minimum.|
|Build||Housings are bulky. Lightweight enough, they are shaped in a CIEM-like style similarly to IT04.|
|Fit||After the usual long rotation session I identified two tip alternatives offering different fits and quite different presentation results: 1) Foams, and a quite deep insertion to get slightly softer edges on the bass, and some of the extra-thin treble details combed down, and 2) Sedna Earfit Light Short, leading to a “hotter” delivery accross the board: bass is razor sharp, mids are brought a 10% forward, and trebles are left unbridled but somehow still kept substantially inoffensive.|
|Comfort||As mentioned above IT07 housings are CIEM-like shaped but nozzles are quite long and this does not help them stay perfectly firm into my outer ear. Too bad. Foam tips do help a bit on this too. Short-stemmed silicons are, alternatively, key.|
|Isolation||Housing shapes, their long nozzles and the adoption of foams make passive isolation at least decent.|
|Cable||IT07 come with iBasso’s High Purity Silver Litz cable, offering splendid construction quality, dual connectivity (2.5mm native + 3.5mm daisy chain adapter), and crystalline sound, pairing with IT07’s BA drivers to deliver that extra tad of brilliance and subtle detail retrieval. Reeeeally good. Of course a more laid back alternative may be wanted in some cases, or by some in all cases – it’s all a matter of preferences as always. To get there I tried to pair a CEMA EA RX (6N OCC + SPOCC) as an “intermediate” choice, and guess what… a final C112 (a.k.a. E4000 stock cable) being one the absolute best OFC cables I ever tested. IT07 resolving power makes justing of the subtle, but absolutely hearable differences amongst the 3 cables resulting in 3 different variations, all 3 so good that’s really difficult to pick one as absolute best.|
|Housing||Resin housings with an internal four-way frequency division using iBasso’s own patented acoustic tube structure to ensure best sound quality experience free from any kind of multi-driver distortion or frequency overlapping issues. Supplied with 3 interchangeable nozzle filters: Silver for neutral rendering, Black for mid + bass accent, Gold for treble accent.|
|Driver(s)||1 high magnetic flux Tesla moving coil DD + 6 Knowles BA (2 x 30017 2 x 31785 2 x 30989)|
|Cable||High purity silver Litz cable, with 2.5mm termination and 3.5mm adapter|
|Frequency Range||5 – 40000 Hz|
|Package and accessories||N/A (assessed a privately owned unit)|
|MSRP at this post time||$899,00|
Some quick comparisons worth mentioning
iBasso IT04 ($499,00)
The key here is not being mislead by model naming: IT07 are not the direct upgrade to IT04, their intendend tuning and presentation being different. IT07 is indeed “technically superior” to IT04 on a few aspects, vis-a-vis an 80% higher price of course, but the tonal profiles are very obviously not the same and make up for two very different musical outputs.
IT04 is a warm-balanced open-V, instead of a dry-neutral W. IT04 has slower, meatier and more flowery bass, vs more elevated, more extended and way faster and punchier bass on IT07. Mids on IT04 are tonally more organic then on IT07, where they are better detailed though. Most of all, IT04’s trebles are combed, relaxed, very carefully finetuned to always come accross perfectly coherent with the DD in charge of the bass part, while oppositely IT07 features livelier, sparklier, way more detailed and airier trebles, indeed presenting a timbral incoherence with their DD for the purists though.
IKKO OH10 ($199,00)
Of course the comparison is totally unfair on the technical proficiency level – and better be, considering a 4.5X price gap! – but I’m mentioning OH10 precisely due to their almost identical tuning compared to IT07.
As a matter of fact, OH10 can easily be called “less expensive IT07” by anyone looking for a powerful, engaging, and most of all unforgivingly dry, ubleeding bass, paired with very lively and well tuned highmids and trebles. Mids are dry and slim on OH10 as on IT07, but they go as far as being “lean” on OH10 in comparison. OH10 are equipped with a single not-TOTL Knowles BA so we can’t reasonably expect the same IT07 proficiency in rendering anything above 1000hz, nor on detail retrieval – it being understood however that, conversely speaking, OH10 does wonders on those registers for the exact same reason! IT07 technicalities are also obviously more refined and downright “better” than OH10, while OH10 comes out a bit better in terms of timbre coherence between their DD and their (sole) BA compared to IT07’s 1+6 scenario.
DUNU ZEN ($699,00)
IT07 extract more highmids and treble thin details; cymbals are crystally adamant when they need to be, unlike on ZEN where they are somewhat “polished”, “matte” in a sense. Midbass are equivalently articulated on either, while perceivably oomphier on IT07, which is not necessarily better depending on taste and track. On ZEN mids are obviously airier, more bodied and totally organic. Piano notes offer the impression of spreading in an infinite space on ZEN. On IT07 mids are defintely slimmer, bringing them to the edge of unrealism, and sort of confined inside a room – a big room at that, but I do perceive the space as “finite”, whereas it is almost not on ZEN. Finally, ZEN offers a totally coherent timbre accross the entire spectrum, unlike IT07 as detailed above. Such very last point is what keeps me personally from granting IT07 360° “Excellent” status, but that’s a millimetric flaw when cast against the full product panorama.
IT07 impressed me a lot. I guess it comes from me liking OH10 tuning so much that my ear and brain really rejoyced in hearing that presentation’s direct evolution and sustantial refinement on the IT07.
IT07 offer a literally spectacular, energetic and at the same time very refined musical experience. While one may count their slight internal timbral mismatch as a coloration, which it is, the practical result is nothing short of lovable, and I’m up to strongly recommending it as a high-end driver ideal for a wide extension of different genres.
As mentioned above the sample I auditioned was loaned to me by a private owner, who paid for it off his own pocket.
This article already previously appeared here.