There are so many online shops on the web, and there are even more independent audio brands trying to reach out to the consumers. Not every company has the resources to market and distribute their own products. That is where stores like Xtenik Audio provides value. In this article, Xtenik sent me the ikko OH1 in-ear monitor earphones ans request me a review.
About Xtenik Audio Shop
Xtenik was established in 2016, at Shenzhen, China. The goal of the website is to help consumers make purchase decisions through their blog. They started distributing DAP brands like Xduoo, SMSL, Fiio, Shanling, then grew to include IEM product line in 2019. Some brands available include Dunu, Oriolus, TFZ, BGVP, Ibasso, IKKO.
Xtenik shares with me that before putting up the audio product, they would go through a process of testing the sound quality by their appointed engineer, often through blind test. They would also search for reviews online, or send samples to selected audiophiles. In short, they make sure the products are good enough before listing them on their store.
Ikko was founded in 2018 by two audiophiles from China. When one of Xtenik owner’s friends recommended ikko IEM, he got in touch with the brand owners, tried out the products, and decided to sell the OH1 on their website, an affirmation that the OH1 is of standard.
Despite just a startup, the OH1 showcases the brand’s commitment to details and design. Blue is the colour of the earphone shell and is colour-coordinated at the ear tips as well as the detachable cable. 6 pairs of eartips of 3 sizes provide alternative listening preferences. A soft velvet case provides adequate protection.
The OH1 earbuds weigh just 6 grams each. Made of lightweight aviation-grade alloy, the shape is ergonomically moulded to fill the ear auricle. The 3D pattern creates an attractive and unique identity to ikko OH1.
As the audio industry rushes to develop and sell true wireless earbuds, the demand for wired earphones remain unwavering. This is because nothing compares to physical transmission of audio signals from prime-grade audio players to the equally-crucial earphones. The 2-pin 0.78mm connectors is a common standard allowing consumers to purchase third party cable upgrades.
And for this review, I did exactly that: I bought a TRN balanced cable so that I can experience the potential of the OH1 against a formidable DAP – the Astell&Kern KANN CUBE.
The ikko OH1 uses 2 drivers to deliver audio: a Knowles 33518 balanced armature for upper frequency and 10mm polymer composite titanium-plated diaphragm dynamic driver for the lower frequency. This is considered one of the more appealing combination for earphones as normal dynamic driver handles bass response better, while balanced armature driver delivers higher frequencies with better precision.
Indeed, the ikko OH1 achieves the dynamics and excitement that I have grown to like. During my initial review, I fitted the blue “balanced” eartips, and found the treble slightly hazy and less bright. After switching to the black “vocal” eartips, the treble extends and opens up. With either eartips, the bass provides deep full-body sub-bass. Mid- and upper bass is not bloated which help maintain an overall clean sound, but the bass lines arent as easily discernible. The midrange is also slightly elevated to satisfy the audiophiles yearning for details in this area, though it is still not as prominent. The mid treble (vocals) turn out sweet and sparkly but does not get overcooked with sibilance nor do they sound too forward and pushy. Finally, the upper treble provides the icing with presence and brilliance, like the hi-hats and shakers, without sounding too bright and overpowering.
I would describe the overall character of the OH1 as powerful, embracing, articulated, providing substantial bass while retaining space for treble to deliver controlled clarity. In other words, bass has presence but not too bloated, midrange has details and subtle warmth, and treble has a beautiful shine but not too overbearing. Compared to the Klipsch X12i, the OH1 is more exciting, more bass, less midrange, more trable. Compared to the Creative Aurvana Trio, the OH1 is less bassy, more midrange details, less treble clarity.
On sound staging, the OH1 largely follows the source without any exaggeration, so instruments are generally close and well positioned. When playing on normal smartphones, the sound stage is close to my face and spread close to a narrow line path. On the KANN Cube, the sound staging has more depth, with the vocals more forward, bass is more wide and towards the ground, and other instruments at the sides and towards eye level. This spreading of instrumentation helps me to enjoy the OH1 at louder volumes without sounding cluttered and messy.
The ikko OH1 is one of the better good-looking in-ear headphones in the market. Its elegant design reminds me of the Beyerdynamic Xelento, and feels like I am wearing a polished jewellery in my ears. The cables are lightweight and loop comfortably behind the ears. The materials used and the accessories provided reflect the quality that ikko is portraying.
I enjoy the listening experience with these earphones. Paired with premium DAP like KANN Cube will drive the OH1 to reveal impressive musical details. The strong bass never overpowers the sparkling but not-metallic treble. Excellent for extended listening.
- Ergonomically attractive design
- Appealing sound quality with full bass, matching mids and bright treble
- Detachable cable for upgrades
- Great sound across most genres
- Earphones are quite revealing: if your audio player uses normal DAC, the lack of resolution might reduce the enjoyment.
ikko OH1 Specifications
- Drivers: Balanced Armature Knowles 33518, 10mm polymer composite titanium-plated diaphragm dynamic driver
- Sensitivity: 106dB
- Frequency range: 20-40kHZ
- Impedance: 18ohm
- Connector: 2-pin 0.78mm
- Cable type: 4 strands of 8 high-purity oxygen-free copper-plated 5n silver-plated
- Cable length: 1.2m