We are finally looking at the iBasso’s flagship In Ear Monitor, the iBasso IT04, and it surely is a great step forward for the brand.
Disclaimer: The iBasso IT04 was sent to me by the company itself for this review and iBasso is not affiliated with Headfonia in any way. The official price for the IT04 is 499$. I did not receive the consumer box so I can’t comment on the package content. The Sony WM1A Walkman is the source used for sound evaluation.
When iBasso came out with the IT03 it was an encouraging entrance to the market. Since then, their IEM business has been quite influential. The IT03 was great and impressive for a “first effort” from the company. Unfortunately we couldn’t review that one before because of some shipping problems, but we managed to get the IT04.
Before we go with it, I would like to remind you again how good their budget model is. I reviewed the entry level IT01 here. Obviously I was impressed from that little IEM, and we put it into our recommended list right after.
iBasso wanted to elevate things with this model. It’s not easy for a company to prove themselves in this crazy IEM market, but in my opinion iBasso is one of those brands which is capable of such a challenge. With this latest flagship they managed to improve every aspect after the IT03, and I’ll go into the details very shortly.
Configuration-wise the iBasso IT04 has one more BA driver inside compared to the predecessor. It is intended to achieve a more “true” sound signature, together with a very nice cable which is called CB12s. That cable goes for 110$ if you buy it separately. So when you consider the obviously improved sound, one more Knowles BA Driver, the fit and build with a better cable in the package, then I think the price increase over the IT03 is not unreasonable.
The iBasso IT04 looks like a universally shaped custom monitor. The shell material is acrylic and it’s very very smooth overall. The sample I received has a blue/gray faceplate design with the carbon fiber look. The other choice you have are silver face plates, but the base color is always black. I liked this version as it looks more complete and one piece, but that’s just a preference.
The earphones have MMCX connectors and nozzle filters. The custom-like shape is as generic as possible so that it can fit all types of ear shapes out there. As you might be able to spot in the pictures, there is a little vent in the shell for the dynamic driver.
The IEM feels like one piece and it ticks all the boxes regarding build quality. The nozzles are seamlessly brought together with the shells. The filters on the tips of the nozzles are quite sturdy and they should hold on there for a long time. Careful with the earwax thing though, clean them up every once in a while.
The face plates don’t have any apparent joints with the shells, so the IEM looks pretty much unibody. Therefore I should say they’re closed perfectly. The MMCX connectors are quite tight, which is a problem when you try to remove the cable at first, but that’s a good thing for long term reliability.
It is a perfect fit for a universal. That’s all I can say. I feel very very comfortable with it. As a guy who almost uses his CIEMs all the time, I really appreciate this kind of a shell design to achieve a great fit. Of course I can’t be sure for everyone but I don’t think you’ll have a problem plugging these into your ears.
Once you find the right tips, it’s very comfortable and they isolate very well. I love isolation. I don’t want to hear anything but my music when I’m in a noisy environment. Actually I did not expect it to isolate very good since it’s a hybrid monitor. As you know hybrid monitors don’t block outside noise very well with their air vents for dynamic drivers. But the iBasso IT04 fits your ears outstandingly, so you have a very nice isolation level.
Fit was one of the strong suits of the previous model, the IT03. But the IT04 fits even better then its predecessor, so I should congratulate the iBasso team for coming up with this kind of a design.
Before going on with the sound quality, I should talk about the cable that comes with the IT04. As I mentioned you can buy this one as a separate accessory if you have a monitor which utilizes MMCX sockets. It’s a cable made of both copper and silver wires which have high purity grades. The ergonomics are very nice as it’s very lightweight and flexible overall. And the fact that it doesn’t have memory wires is very cool as well. The braiding is quite good but a little loose. I don’t think it’s going to be an issue though, just don’t use it like a cheap item and store it in the carrying case.
The plug is 2.5mm so it’s a balanced cable. Actually the only difference with the regular CB12 is the 3.5mm adapter supplied. It costs 20$ more with it, hence the 110$ price. Cables are a very important topic with IEMs, so it’s very nice to see iBasso including a very ergonomic, premium type of IEM cable in the package.
The review continues on PAGE 2 with sound impressions