Ikko OH1S are the newest release by the same makers of OH10 – one of the just two $200-IEMs stuck onto Audioreview’s Wall of Excellence, and my personal absolute preferred V-shaped IEM south of 3 times its price.
This new OH1S model is presented as an evolution of its previous siblings in terms of technology, and carrying a quite different intended tuning compared to OH10. Formally positioned at $199,00 list price, same as OH10, it benefits of an introductory price of $139,00 (more on this later) which makes it very appealing for a quick grab. And you can bet it’s currently being hyped around. Which is more then enough to move my critical curiosity and spend quite some time with it to see if I agree with the hype (which, you know, is quite seldom the case 😉 )
Table of contents
|Very nice coherent presentation and tonality.||Weak sub-bass.|
|Nice, fast, technical bass.||Tip selection and fit crucial to best result.|
|Nice vocals.||Inappropriate (though good) stock cable.|
|Good trebles.||Some imperfection on imaging|
|Good layering and separation.|||
|Good value at the current introductory price|||
Full Device Card
Sources: Apogee Groove + Burson FUN + IEMatch / Apogee Groove + iBasso T3 / Sony NW-A55 mrWalkman – JVC SpiralDot and Ikko i-Planet foam tips – Linsoul LSC08 cable – lossless 16-24/44.1-192 FLAC tracks.
|Tonality||General tonality is bright-neutral, timbre is dry-centric. The presentation is a mild reversed-L with rulerflat midbass, mids taking the lead role but without getting too “important”, supported but very nice, airy and quite detailed trebles. Coherence between the DD and BA drivers’ different nature is properly taken care of and the entire presentation is choesive and well merged.|
|Sub-Bass||Sub bass is evidently tamed although not completely rolled off. Rumble is present, not strong enough to impose its presence when the musical passage is crowded though.|
|Mid Bass||Fast, moderately punchy and very clean. Purposefully kept not loud, although much less so than the sub bass, OH1S midbass offers a very pleasant compromise for acoustic music genres.|
|Mids||Thanks to the bass’ flat nature, mids come accross quite easily, although I wouldn’t call them “forward”. Also, their timbre is somewhat dry – which I tend at this point to consider a sort of Ikko “house soundprint” – and I happen to like how well calibrated that is in this situation by the way. Frequencies from 2 to 4 KHz are definitely forward which makes guitars and other instruments, together with female vocals take the show lead easily and with very good authority|
|Male Vocals||I quite like OH1S male vocals although just a tad less than females. Their tone is right, timbre on the dry side, but weight is there and tenors and folk singers get the right amount of justice|
|Female Vocals||Female vocals are definitely well rendered on the OH1S. On the dry side timbre-wise but well bodied and articulated. Wring tips or fit may scant into sibilance or excessive thinness so be warned.|
|Highs||Once properly fitted, OH1S’ 8KHz peak is far from delivering negative results as one may be scared of upon seeing it on its graph. Trebles are well extended, vivid, airy, quite but not overly dry (similarly to the rest of the presentation), and again, once the right housing fit is achieved no shouts nor screeches will come out. Well done.|
|Soundstage||OH1S casts a stage with average width and depth, and very flat in terms of height. The spatial sensation is improved by the airyness granted by the well tuned trebles.|
|Imaging||It’s quite good in general but occasionally degrades on some tracks, mainly in conjunction with high-mid and treble crowded passages.|
|Details||Many, well distinct and pleasant – both on the highmids and trebles and on the bass. Definitely amongst the best parts of the product.|
|Instrument separation||Separation and layering, unlike imaging, are consistently well carried out pretty much in all occasions|
|Driveability||OH1S are relatively easy to drive in terms of power, with some caveats in terms of quality: avoid bright and/or lean note weight sources.|
|Build||Housings are made of two parts, one in resin the other in “aviation grade” metal alloy. According to Ikko this allows for lower eight and better frequency separation between the two drivers installed inside. What’s sure to anyone handling them is their convincing solidity, small size, and light weight. Wether the good sound results depend, or to what extent do they depend on the internal cavity – I admit – I am unable to assess.|
|Fit||OH1S does greatly benefit of finetuning fit / positioning into the ear canal to produce optimal sound results. My recommendation is either wide nozzle silcon tips (e.g. JVC Spiraldots) with drivers pushed in as much as possible, or Ikko’s i-Planet stock foam tips. Both options produce better “combed” trebles without any detail loss; foamies also add further bass volume, again without any detail loss, and much better passive isolation.|
|Comfort||Again, due to their “spot on” physicals, I find OH1S very comfortable, even after realising the best sound results are obtained by pushing them as deep as possible into my ears.|
|Isolation||Passive isolation is quite sub-average when adopting silicon tips, as the housings are not “filling” my concha. Situation improves dramatically by adopting Ikko’s i-Planet foamies.|
|Cable||OH1S comes with a good quality high-purity single crystal copper silver plated magnetic core cable. Sound-wise that’s not ideal: it tends to add further brilliance to the trebles which is the opposite of what want in this case. I got best results with a Linsoul LSC08 (2*44core 6N OCC single-crystal copper) cable, or alternatively with a less expensive NiceHCK 16 core High Purity Copper one.|
|Housing||Resin + aviation grade metal alloy mix, with special designed internal cavity to optimise sound volume, reflection and diffusion angles.|
|Driver(s)||1 10mm deposited carbon nano dynamic coil driver + 1 Knowles 33518 Hybrid BA unit|
|Cable||127μm high-purity single crysstal copper silver-plated cable, single ended termination|
|Frequency Range||20 – 40000 Hz|
|Accessories & package||Leather pouch, 2 sets of 3 size (S, M, L) bell-shaped oval silicon tips, 1 set of 3 size (S, M, L) i-Planet foam tips, 1 Ikko brand pin, 1 MMCX removal tool, 1 pair of spare nozzle filters|
|MSRP at this post time||$199,00 ($139,00 on special introductory deal)|
Some important notes and caveats
For my personal experience, burn-in is way more rarely required than what I read around on a daily basis. That said, this is one of those times when it is compulsory. When I first put OH1S into my ears I appreciated them nowhere near how I appreciated them after a) a couple of days of free burn-in and b) optimising the fit aspect (see below).
So if you do get them, let them play a bit on their own.
Fit is probably “the” critical point with OH1S.
Not in the sense of difficulty. Wearing them is not problematic nor uncomfortable at all per se – the other way around, actually! – but it just takes a brief audition to realise sound, with particular regards to highmids and presence trebles, do change depending on how you position the housings into your external ear.
Given a bit of acquired experience with other equivalently capricious IEMs it took me relatively short to realise I better adopted a pair of shortstemmed, wide nozzle tips (e.g. JVC Spiraldots) and manage to push the drivers as much as possible into my canal: with that done, trebles get “combed”, less hot, the presentation gets less aggressive, definitely more elegant indeed. Thanks to OH1S design the housings are small enough that gently pushing them towards the inside of the concha does not result in an uncomfortable fit. At least for my ears!…
A solid alternative to obtain a very pleasant sound result, however, is using Ikko’s i-Planet foam tips, those bundled inside the box.
I am not a foam lover at all, and that’s possibly the reason why I was so surprised on how well these foams apply to these drivers: trebles are “combed” like it happens with short-stem silicons and deep push, bass gets a bit less edgy, but both extremes do not lose detail in the process. Furthermore, i-Planet foams significantly improve in passive isolation !
OH1S comes bundle with a very nice-quality “high-purity single crystal copper silver plated magnetic core” cable. Yeah almost a tongue twister I know, still, a good cable product, really. Build quality and sound transmission are very good, and way above what in the average you can find bundled with IEMs on this price range.
…Too bad that it does not pair ideally with OH1S.
The stock cable is what I would call a “bright” cable, i.e. a cable facilitating high mids and treble crystalline notes – which is the opposite I would personally choose as a good pair for the OH1S.
As a matter of fact, pairing OH1S with a (equivalently high quality) full-copper cable helps adding a bit of note weight and furtherly helps “combing” treble thinner peaks a little bit. I’m using a Linsoul LSC08 (2*44core 6N OCC single-crystal copper), which is by the way the same I’ve adopted on the OH10 – of course a different sample, with 2p connectors in that case. A less expensive but still very good alternative is the NiceHCK 16 core High Purity Copper cable.https://www.audioreviews.org/ikko-oh10-review-ap/embed/
One key comparison : Final A3000
Final A3000 ($130) is the single IEM that we deemed deserving to be stuck onto Audioreview’s Wall of Excellence in the $80-$200 bracket, and – to my experience – the champ of bright-neutral tonality drivers up until switching over to Oxygen, for twice its price tag. So I find it quite natural to bench the OH1S vs the A3000 and
see hear how they fare.
Sub-bass is much more present on A3000, not tamed let alone rolled off. Mid-bass is also definitely more elevated on A3000, while keeping equivalent speed and definition compared to OH1S.
Mid tones and especially highmids are significantly more recessed on A3000, which brings them to appear “behind” the midbass – exactly the opposite of what happens on OH1S. Mid frequencies with particular regards to vocals have a leaner note weight on A3000 but the overall timbre is less dry on A3000 nonetheless, and the tonality is warmer in comparison to OH1S.
Trebles are a tad airier on OH1S but note definition is more organic on A3000, whereby OH1S sometimes comes accoss a bit thin on some details.
On soundstage and imaging there’s no game: A3000 is holographic and extremely precise. Layering and separation are I would say on par though.
A3000 are way more capricious to bias due to their much lower sensitivity, and higher altogether amping quality demand. On the other hand A3000 are way less tip / fit dependent – they deliver their best result with much lesser effort on that front. https://www.audioreviews.org/wall-of-excellence/embed/Visit our famous Wall of Excellence.
At the bottomline I would say that OH1S – at its current introductory smart price – is 100% a fair contender onto the $100-$150 market bracket. I would surely recommend OH1S for vocal tracks, for example. And in general to get a different flavour of a very well tuned, coherent, affordable driver for jazz and other acoustic / unplugged musical genres.
On the flip side I do humbly suggest Ikko to convert its current discounted price into the regular list price. Raising it to $199 or thereabouts would in fact bring OH1S into direct or close to direct competition with higher tier alternatives, and that I’m afraid would be a pity.
This sample of Ikko OH1S has been provided by the manufacturer free of charge for this review.
You can buy them if you like from their own website, at this link. Importantly enough: if you decide to buy these “soon”, you might still benefit from the introductory special discount by making use of the “IKKOOH1S” discount code.
I am not affiliated with Ikko, and I am not getting commission for any sales happening from the link above, or exploiting the mentioned discount code.
This article has been initially released onto Audioreview.org