disclaimer: I requested the ibasso IT00 for review from iBasso. I had previously purchased the IT01, 01s, and 03 for review and had heard that the IT00 might eclipse the IT01 in the sound quality department so was more than a little interested to try it out. IBasso kindly provided the IT00 for purposes of this review. I have no financial interest in IBasso or any of their resellers, nor have any of those had any input in this review. If you are interested in the IT00, visit the IBasso Website or follow them on Facebook. The IT00 can be purchased directly from the IBasso website.
Unboxing / Packaging:
Those familiar with Ibasso products will recognize the packaging immediately. A white slipcover with picture and name on front and specs on reverse covers the standard blue understated box inside. Lifting the top reveals the warranty card and beneath that the earpieces in the upper section of the foam surround and the soft clam shell case in the lower portion. Inside the clam shell you will find the cable, 9 pairs of various silicone tips, and a set of replacement nozzle filters. Let me state right up front, these are not tuning filters and swapping them wont alter the sound unless the original pair is pretty clogged up, still its a nice idea to provide these with a budget product like the IT00. The cable does have a velcro tie as well which is another nice touch. About the only thing missing in the kit is a shirt clip and honestly I have a drawer full as I very rarely use them so it won’t be missed in my case, but some may be more upset over the omission.
Shells on the IT00 are white polymer with aluminum nozzles. The faceplate has ibasso IT00 in small black print on the lower edge while the inner shell has an L/R indicator on the top edge over the nozzles. Shape is quasi semi-circular with the curve fitting against the rear of the ear and the flat housing the mmcx connector at top front. Size and thickness are both about average with the IT00 riding partially in and partially on the ear. Nozzles have a removable screen for replacement or cleaning if/when they get dirty. This screen also doubles as the lip retention device as it is slightly larger than the nozzle body and has knurling to improve retention. There are two vents on the under side of the shell, one immediately adjacent to the nozzle and the other at the rear edge of the inner face. Nozzles exit the lowest point of the shell with a distinct forward rake similar to the it01 and it01s that precede it. I found comfort to be very good with no rough edges or fatigue from long term wear, but did find isolation to be limited at best as they sit fairly shallow and do not obstruct the ear canal very solidly.
Inside the shell, the IT00 relies on a single 10mm dynamic driver to do its work, but almost every aspect of this driver has been tuned and customized by iBasso. The driver utilizes a customized high flux magnet, dual Helmholtz resonators surrounding the magnet to improve bass, and a 5um multi-layer graphene diaphragm for enhanced stiffness, lower distortion, and enhanced speed. Nominal impedance is listed as 16Ω with a sensitivity of 106 dB/mW. Those numbers suggest the IT00 should work well from lower powered sources and I found it to work quite well from a phone, but to scale considerably with higher quality sources as well.
The provided cable is listed as oxygen free copper and is a double twist pattern in black casement from the 90º 3.5mm jack up to the splitter. Fixtures are all polished metal with a black gloss finish. A chin slider (rubber bead style) rests neatly on top of the splitter. Twisted pairs run from the splitter to the earhooks and mmcx connectors at the north end. The mmcx connectors are also gloss black with L/R markings on the sides and red/blue rings around the actual connector for easy indexing. Earpieces also have a large L/R labeled immediately above the nozzles for quick reference. The cable is fairly pliable but does have some tendency to tangle so the addition of the cable tie is welcome as it helps (but does not eliminate) the tangles.
The IT00 comes with 3 different styles of tips that I define as wide bore black, wide bore white, and narrow bore black. All are silicone and all share similar construction other than bore diameter. I traded tips around several times while listening and impact is subtle to the treble but more notable in the lows by ear, kind of the exact opposite of what the FR shows in my comparison below. I chose to use the black narrow bore tips for my review notes as they gave the most neutral signature of the three for me. As always, your mileage may vary.
Sub-bass is elevated on the IT00 with good rumble when called upon, is fast enough to avoid getting muddy, and has good extension. Like the models before it, the IT00 isn’t for those seeking a perfectly neutral reference as the bass is big even at lower volumes. It isnt lose or sloppy, but it is prominent. There is some mild bleed and decay is a touch slower than attack, the combination of which adds a little warmth to the sound. The IT00 is a good option for movie watchers on cell phone as it doesn’t take a ton to drive it and get those deep rumbles and booms as cars slam into each other or bombs go off on-screen.
As previously mentioned, lower-mids are colored by a bit of bleed and warmth, but retain good clarity in spite of it. Lower vocals are a touch thin so the extra warmth is welcomed. The IT00 does seem to give up a little detail in favor of a smoother presentation and the mids are where, to my ear, that is most evident. Guitar growl is good, but edges are not quite as ragged as perhaps they would be in real life. Acoustic guitar timbre is a bit better as it tends to be less aggressive in its presentation anyway. Strings are well voiced, although I found the higher strings lacked that last bit of energy needed to really sound natural. Vocals are a step in front of the instrumentation with good clarity and the ability to cut through even heavy/complex passages.
FR charts will show a mild climb in the upper mids/ lower treble but honestly it is gradual enough that it doesn’t listen like a big V and doesn’t feel particularly treble forward. Lower treble does have good energy and detail is good but again that smoothing is in effect. Snare rattle is slightly blunted on the attack but finishes well, and cymbals lack any hint of metallic click to them, but again fall a hair short of lifelike due to the tuning. I found no tendency to stridency or sibilance and even tracks that are inherently somewhat harsh were generally cleaned up slightly and a little more palatable as a result. This is probably a great tuning for entry level as it is very source forgiving, but it wont please those looking to get massive detail retrieval. Extension is good with it easily reaching past the limits of my hearing. Air and sparkle are quite good for an iem at this price point.
Soundstage / Imaging:
Stage on the IT00 is wider than deep with some height, but it stops a bit short of feeling 3D. Seating the orchestra is fairly straight forward as well with no large anomalies. Instrument separation is good, but not spectacular and this is one place the IT00 falls just shy of the IT01s in my estimation. Movements around the stage are easily tracked but at times placements are more area than spot in nature. There is some compression as well as tracks get overly complex and a tendency to thicken particularly the mid-bass as a result.
Well we have to start off with its siblings so first up, how does the 00 compare to the 01 and 01s.
IBasso IT01 – this is the one that started the line and while the two share some similarities, there are some distinct differences as well. Shells were a bit more polished and upscale on the 01, while they look a bit more mass production on the 01. The cable was a bit higher end looking on the 01 as well with heavier strands and the copper visible through the clear casing. I also think the 01 cable was a bit less tangle prone. Sound wise, bass is bigger on the 01 and cleaner on the 00, Mids are a bit fuller on the 00 as well as being a bit tighter, and treble is more polite on the 00 while the 01 is brighter and a bit more lively up top. Overall, the 00 is smoother, warmer, a bit relaxed, and better balanced than the 01. In this case 0 > 1.
IBasso IT01s – Build notes from the 01 compare still hold true here so no need to repeat. Sound wise, the 01s and 00 are more like fraternal twins. While they share a lot of common DNA, they have definite personality differences. The similarities between the 01s and 00 are a shared tonality and similar mids. The big differences is the 01s is a bit brighter up top, more detailed, and has slightly less boost in the mid-bass. Stage is larger on the 01s as well and while still not perfectly dimensioned, it comes closer to depth equaling width.
Now on to the competition: I tried to gather the best current sellers with single dynamic drivers (or close) and similar price points and came up with the KBear Diamond, the BGVP Zero, and the Moondrop Starfield that fit the bill.
KBear Diamond – both have single dynamic drivers, both have similar shell shapes, both have similar price points and both are packaged with similar bundles. These couldn’t get more directly aligned at the same market. Shells on the Diamond are slightly larger and heavier due to their metal construction vs the 00’s polymer shells. Cables are a wash with both being acceptable and neither spectacular. Sound wise, the 00 has more sub-bass quantity, and slightly better overall bass quality when compared to the diamond. Mids are more recessed on the Diamond as well and a bit thinner compared to the 00. While mids are more forward on the 00, they have a touch more clarity on the diamond. At the top end, the diamond has a much larger upper-mid/lower treble push giving the diamond a more V shape and the 00 a more neutral listen in comparison. This is a double edged sword as the diamond can have more detail in the treble, but also can get a bit bright at times. The treble sensitive will likely prefer the 00 for that reason alone.
BGVP Zero – The Zero is a bit more of a departure in that it is a hybrid with both a dynamic driver and an electrostatic but it otherwise fits the bill here. Kit is similar, shape is similar, cost is within a few dollars of each other, and both are definitely gunning for your dollar right now. The BGVP is thinner front to back and slightly taller than the 00 so while the 00 sits on the ear, the Zero sits mainly in it. Sound wise, the Zero is much more mid-bass oriented and a larger V shape by far than the 00. The Zero does show off more top end with its eletrostat and has a more detailed treble but is also considerably brighter than the 00 which may put some people off. The mids are better on the 00 vs the Zero with better clarity and a more natural tonality as well. These two share almost nothing in signature so personal preference will decide the choice.
Moondrop Starfield – This has been the darling of the <$100 market of late (deservedly or not depending on who you ask) so without doubt the question will come up as to how the 00 compares. Shells are roughly the same size with the starfield being slightly heavier with its metal vs the 00 polymer shell. Cables are about the same with neither feeling particularly special. Bass is more extended on the 00 and a touch faster to my ear, particularly on decay where the starfield has a bit more lingering decay and a bit smoother sound if less textured as a result, the 00 has more clarity in the low end. Both have good mids with the Starfield having slightly better lower mids but a bigger upper-mid push and vocals stand out more. The 00 has slightly thinner lower-mids but female vocals more inline with the rest of the instrumentation and a bit more detail than the starfield can muster. The IT00 has more top end extension but a thinner less emphasized presentation than the starfield which has more lower treble emphasis. Stage is wider on the 00 but deeper on the starfield so that will come down to personal preference as neither is perfectly dimensioned.
Thoughts / Conclusion:
I’ll have to admit a bit of confusion as I write this and if you stop and do the math, I think you’ll understand why. The IT00 is cheaper than the 01, rivals the o1s in many respects in sound quality, has a premium kit but is billed as entry level, has really good bass impact but is not heavy or dark, has good detail but is fairly laidback. You can see where the confusion comes in, right? The good news is that identity crisis only benefits the consumer as you get all those things mentioned for entry level money. So yet another quandary comes up, 0 is greater than 1 at least in this case. To my ear the IT00 has the highest cost/performance ratio of any of the Ibasso in-ears to date (I’ve owned or tried, it00, it01, it01s, it03, and it04). At $69 it makes a compelling argument as one of the best budget offerings available to date and is highly recommended for those looking to take that first step into better audio. It is forgiving of poor source material and at the same time brings enough detail to the mix to please seasoned audiophiles. I had declared the Starfield as a potential product of the year candidate earlier in the year, turns out Ibasso may well have something to say about that as the IT00 makes a compelling argument for taking its throne. You owe this one an audition, if nothing else to show just how good budget audio has gotten, it will surprise many and please even more.
- Bass - 8/108/10
- Mids - 7.5/107.5/10
- Treble - 7.5/107.5/10
- Soundstage - 7.5/107.5/10
- Imaging - 8/108/10
Pros: good build quality, great sound, forgiving of poor source, VALUE
Cons: cable is average, not as detailed as 01s (but almost)