Tonality & Presentation
The IT01 is a full-on musical v-shaped presentation with a very clean and relatively cool tonality. What’s more, it is highly impressive for detail and clarity and has a really good turn of speed for a single DD at this price point.
All power is drawn from a fairly elevated sub-bass response with the low-point of the V-shaped dip actually more around 2-4k meaning regular pitching and male vocals have a much better presence and do not sound overly veiled.
Since it has a fairly steady downwards dip right around 50Hz to 1k you won’t find any excessive warmth in the IT01 signature nor will you find mushy bloom. It avoids dipping in the lower mids also so instrumental positioning is not that diffuse and recessed, at least not compared to the upper mids. Instrumental timbre is neutral to natural though note balance is good as the IT01 avoids sounding overly thin with solid fundamentals.
Staging is more depth and width dominant then tall. One thing about the IT03 that you will not get with the IT01 is high energy well-extended treble response though it is not a rolled off treble performance. It does have a tiny bit of hardness in its attack but nothing distracting. There some tiny but well-controlled peaks at 5k and again 8-10k that prevent it from sounding dark. This also injects a little sparkle without it ever sounding strident or harsh.
Overall this is a really nice V-shaped tuning for $99 and something that will really turn on the fun for modern genres such as EDM and anything beat-centric.
Strong, deep but pacy and well defined. That just about sums it up. The most elevated aspect of the IT01’s response is in the low-end and it is pretty much it’s calling card when you listen to them with anything hard-hitting.
There is something like a 10-12dB difference between 20-50Hz and its lower midrange and up to 15dB before it hits its most recessed point around 3-4k in the upper mids. You can pretty much tell by that difference where the power and aggression on the IT01 come from. The dip through to the lower mids is quite well controlled and certainly, I would not call this an uneven low-end. It drops but in a linear fashion to around 800Hz and holds fire until 2k before it really does its final dip.
As a result, you will not find any unwanted bloom nor too much warmth in its lower-pitched instrumental timbre. However, there is still some elevation, decreasing as it may be, so the note body is just enough for guitar work to sound natural rather than brittle.
Lower-mids to around 1k is further forward than 2-4k so lower-pitched male vocals will have a bit more presence than higher-pitched and female vocals.
That being said you do get more instrumental presence which sits closer to vocals. It is not that vocals are hugely recessed or veiled but rather lower mids instruments, the ‘bread and butter’ of rock, are not that far behind. You tend to get a much better performance when you have a stripped-down backing band with modern RnB and EDM tracks which have more of a bass and treble focus leaving more space in the mids for vocals to breathe.
Upper mids are fairly subdued and recessed in comparison to the rest of the range. That dip also produces a little more 5k prominence even though the jump in energy is relatively mild in its own right. Two things out of that. First, percussion is a bit soft and lacking in presence and second, you get a nice sibilant free response from the IT01.
Treble on the IT01 is a little more restrained than the IT03 and does not get that tizzy. It is thus a more forgiving signature but delivers enough contrast to the hard-hitting low-end.
There are some minor peaks for sparkle and presence around 5k, 8-10k and a little hi-fi bump at 12k that deliver some good articulation and sparkle. The odd time you get a harder feel to the IT01’s attack on hi-hat but nothing that crosses the line into sibilance or coming across as brittle.
The IT01 is rated at 16Ω and approx 108dB which is actually fairly efficient for a dynamic driver. Certainly compared to the 16Ω/101dB SIMGOT EN700 Bass it will get louder slightly quicker and sound a little snappier at similar volumes.
Across the majority of portable sources tested the IT01 did not have to be driven that hard and was quite happy with a low gain setting on the likes of the X5iii, the new HiBy Music R3, and Shanling’s M1s.
It also ran just fine on some of the smartphones tested such as the Quad-DAC LG G6 and my older BB Passport. This is also one of the few single DD IEM’s that I actually think pairs really well with the G6.
With regard to noise, the IT01 is a strong performer with a black background on the following tested DAPs: HiBy R3, Shanling M1s, Fiio X5iii, Shozy Alien Gold and the Cayin N3. There was only the faintest of background hiss on the ALO Audio V5 portable tube amp that betrayed its 108dB sensitivity rating but not a deal breaker.
To be honest you do not really need to go beyond a good DAP with the IT01. Certainly, if you decide to go with portable amping it will be primarily for tonal tweaking or getting the last few percent out of the potential dynamic range of the IT01. Something like iBasso’s own $199 PB3 analog balanced amp or even the FiiO Q1 Mark II will pair just fine for DAC/Amp duties and produce a nice snappy bass response.
The F9 is priced the same as the IT01 at just $99 but is a hybrid triple driver consisting of one DD and dual BA. The single DD is a touch smaller at 9.2mm compared to the IT01’s 10mm driver.
The material finish is a little higher on the F9 with CNC aluminum over acrylic but the IT01 is a touch lighter and has a slightly better shape for additional comfort and seal. The F9 is very comfy also but the larger vents in the rear reduce the level of seal slightly.
The IT01 cable is a better-built cable than the supplied single-ended cable from FiiO. On the flipside, FiiO does supply a 2.5mm TRRS balanced cable as an additional extra. The tip selection on both is good, though the IT01 has foam tips whereas the F9 just has a wider range of single bore silicone tips.
The F9 is rated at 28Ω and 106db sensitivity compared to the IT01’s 16Ω and 108db and does require a little more juice and gain to perform. It does, however, have marginally better noise control though with most DAPs the difference is negligible. It is only when you scale up does the noise control difference step in on portable amps such as the V5 which is lower on the F9.
The IT01 has a significantly more elevated sub-bass presence compared to the F9 which roll-off in favor of a politer but warmer mid-bass elevation. The F9’s v-shape dip is more in the lower mids than the upper mids. Instrumental body is thinner and positioning is a little further behind vocals producing a slightly more holographic staging quality than the IT01.
The F9 also has an elevated vocal presence from 1-2k that is more prominent than the IT01’s plateau and warmer lower mids. There is certainly more energy from 2-5k in the mids of the F9 compared to the more muted IT01 upper mids. The single DD does a good job with speed also but the BA design of the F9 just has a touch more pace with its more focused frequency range.
Treble on the IT01 is a little softer, smoother and not quite as hot as the BA-infused delivery of the F9. It is a little harder sounding and more forward than the IT01 with more sibilance.
SIMGOT EN700 Bass
The EN700 Bass is a single dynamic driver rated at 16 ohms and 101dB and priced the same as the IT01. Its design is perhaps more unusual or unique but its seal and comfort levels are not quite on the same level as the IT01. The IT01 is more unassuming in looks but has a better form factor for comfort and superior seal to the EN700 Bass.
The EN700 Bass uses a non-detachable OFC braided wire with 400D DuPont KEVLAR fiber measuring around 1.2m in length and terminated with a straight 3.5mm gold-plated stereo jack. It looks nice but the performance is a bit flatter than the detachable cable on the IT01. It also has slightly higher microphonics during use.
Noise wise the EN700 Bass lower efficiency rating will mean background hiss is non-existent and will perform better on higher noise floor portable amps than the IT01. However, the IT01 does not need as much gain as the EN700 Bass and will pair better will play better on weaker sources. Honestly, there is no difference for noise on DAPs just a little volume fiddling to match.
The tonality fo the EN700 Bass is also V-shaped but it is much milder for me with less sub-bass presence, more mid-bass warmth and a tapered top end that lacks the sparkle and air of the IT01.
The IT01 is cooler sounding and cleaner by comparison with better clarity though a far more agile sub-bass presence and sparkling top-end. The EN700 Bass by comparison just sounds a little more laid back, less airy and less well defined in the low-end. People might find the EN700 Bass top-end to be a bit smoother though, ultimately it depends on how you like your treble presentation.
Like the IT01, the Oriveti BASIC is a single dynamic driver (10mm) IEM with detachable MMCX 4-core OFC cable and rated at 16Ω and 108dB. Volume matching between these two is more or less the same with very little difference in terms of efficiency. If anything the IT01 is just a tiny bit more efficient. What works for the BASIC will work for the IT01.
That also means noise levels are the same, background hiss if any will be low on most if not all DAPs and smartphones with only the tiniest levels of hiss from the portable amps such as the V5.
Both are musical v-shaped IEMs but the BASIC is not quite as pronounced with a milder dip and a little more vocal presence as a result. However, the BASIC top-end does not have the same level of air and sparkle so it comes across as a little darker than the IT01. Both draw a lot of their power from an elevated and rumbling sub-bass presence. The IT01 does sound the more defined and harder hitting of the two. I also prefer the transient response and dynamic range on the IT01.
The BASIC also has a little less of a pronounced dip in the lower mids to the upper mids and feels a little more balanced as a result. However, the clarity and note articulation in the IT01 mids is better with a cleaner presentation and superior instrumental separation than the BASIC.
The IT01 is very good value indeed for $99. It does seem that the V-Shape is the tuning of choice for IEMs in this price bracket because of it’s instant “fun-sounding” presentation. It does gel well with modern pop and EDM no doubt and the IT01 is no different in that respect.
What is a clear winner though is the performance. It is tight, pacy and clean with excellent instrumental separation and nothing too harsh to dark sounding. The tuning on this is just on the right side of exciting. It pairs pretty well with most budget DAPs and even my smartphone though the more juice it gets the tighter it sounds.
Throw in a wonderful fit and seal in your ear as well as nice package presentation box, and a top-notch cable and I honestly can’t fault the IT01 for what it is. This is a fun-sounding but very credible budget IEM.
IT01 Technical Specifications
- Driver：10.0mm Dynamic driver
- Multi-layered graphene, which is Ultra-light and stiff.
- Frequency response: 10Hz-42kHz
- Sensitivity: 108+/-2dB
- Impedance: 16 Ohm
- Noise Attenuation: -26dB
- Rated power: 10mW
- T.H.D.: <1% (at 1kHz/1mW)
- Plug size: 3.5 TRS gold plated
- Cable length: 1.2m
- Connection: MMCX
- Weight: 8.0g without cable
- IT01 IEM
- 3 pairs of silicone ear tips(S/M/L)
- carry case
- S/M foam ear tips