Getting back to our favorite concern — whenever there is a new player on highly competitve market of IEMs, its initial product would probably be a win due to the will and efforts in aquiring some market share and drawing the attention of the target audience. iKKO brand is not an exception. After spending several days with their first hybrid IEMs — OH1 — we can conclude that it is a great example to support our statement. In this review we would explain what makes us think this way.
iKKO Audio Technology (SZ) Co.,LTD is located in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. As far as we understand it has been established recently, just some time prior to releasing their first product. iKKO slogan is «Free HiFi» which really resembles price to performance ratio of OH1 IEMs. Hopefully, their following products would possess the same qualities.
You can purchase iKKO OH1 at PenonAudio store
iKKO OH1 technical specifications:
- Type: hybrid, 1x Knowles 33518 BA + 1x DD
- Dynamic driver: 10mm polymer composite titanium-plated diaphragm, double magnetic circuit
- Sensitivity: 106dB
- Frequency range: 20-40kHz
- Imdepance: 18Ω
- Cable length: 1.2m
- IEMs connector: 2-pin 0.78mm
- Cable: OFC, silver-plated
- Jack: 3.5mm, gold-plated, L-shaped
- Weight: 12g (6g per channel)
It is good that iKKO jumped straight into relationships with Knowles by incorporating its BA driver (also found in FiiO FH1 for example) instead of experimenting with «noname» or less professional vendors. This already adds much of the potential for the further adequate tuning especially in case if engineers from iKKO are good enough to disclose it. Moreover, OH1 uses a large diameter titanium-plated dynamic driver as a supplementary to BA in order to deliver balanced sound throughout the entire frequency range.
Packaging and box contents:
iKKO has chosen the common approach to packaging — strict black matt box with glossy black logo imprint at the front, company infromation at the back and white sticker describing the product inside.
Seems that this box was developed before iKKO team even realized which product would be enclosed — this explains why OH1 technical specifications and picture are placed on a separate white sticker… Box contents are:
- OH1 IEMs
- 3 pairs of white|blue silicone eartips (S|M|L) + 1 pair of black silicone eartips (M)
- soft pouch
- warranty card and short product description leaflet
IEMs rest on a soft foamy podium and the cable is placed underneath in its dedicated compartment. One extra box for eartips and soft pouch.
Design and materials:
One of the best characteristics of OH1 IEMs is its stunning design. Aluminum top cover consists of numerous polygons, each having a specific angle and curvature, forcing the base color to change from cyan to deep blue.
This reminds us more of a diamond cuts rather than meteorite surface which iKKO insists on. Anyway, lots of efforts from the team and CNC machine extra time to create such impression…
IEMs base has same color and aligned precisely with the top part.
Output nozzles are protruding from bases and covered with aluminum filter grills. There are two compensation openings: one at the top part of the base and another on the inner part, close to the output nozzle. Channel indicators are located at the top part as well and there is iKKO brand logo printed on the back edge.
We love the style of cable connectors which are made of transparent plastic. Tight fit, no free play.
OH1 cable seems to catch up in terms of both — the overall design and technical characteristics.
It is OFC, silver-plated, braided, with transparent and naturally curved earguides. Features aluminum housing, 0.78mm IEM connectors with channel indicators (blue for Left and red for Right), aluminum Y-splitter, 3.5mm, L-shaped, gold-plated audio jack with a combination of aluminum + plastic housing. All joints seem to be durable but even if you’d manage to tear it apart — it is exchangeable.
OH1 fit is nice, very comfortable to wear for a long time, no pain or discomfort, very natural feel. iKKO claims that the shape was developed using some big data collected during their prior research… We tend to believe that after spending 3 days of continuous listening and having no physical issues.
Tested with: Hidizs AP80 (neutral sounding DAP), Hidizs AP200 (neutral sounding DAP)
Lows and midbass:
OH1 show very good extension and resolution of the lower range. Deep bass presence is adequate, clear, not overemphasized and definitely not distructing for other ranges. It is capable not only of creating a good sound but also sending some shivers to your nape beyond hearing ability. Bass textures are evident, disclosing additional details in this range. We would definitely give OH1 IEMs five stars for such extended and gentle approach towards lower end tuning together with its capabilities to deliver full-bodied bass, all mixed at good proportion.
Midbass is another virtue of OH1. It has very good articulation and speed together with necessary volume and air to reproduce drum sections naturally. It tends to exhibit a bit more bright details compared to fully dynamic IEMs with similar midbass perfromance but it never reaches the extremes and not producing any piercing sounds. Seems that 10mm dynamic driver in combination with good design of shell cavities do the job of delivering midbass and lows perfectly. Engaging and powerful sound in this section.
Mids and vocals:
This is where BA driver steps in but in contrary to other IEMs with more neglect tuning OH1 do not suffer from excessive sharpness or overly bright tonality. Mids are neither recessed nor elevated, all instruments and vocals seem to stand in one line. Voices have a good clarity, feel natural, perceived as placed a bit to the front no matter whether belonging to male of female singer. No lisping, no thin sound effect. Resolution on voices and leading instruments is more than average but as already mentioned — not harsh or excessively sharp. BA influence on sound is obvious whilst the tuning is on the softer and gentle side. The only issue we have spotted in this section after switching from very capable pure dynamic IEMs was very rare harsh peaking sounds on female vocals… But the more we’ve listened and got used to OH1 IEMs the less impact it made. Perhaps, this was our own susceptibility to upper mids…
Again, the choice of good BA driver and providing further adequate tuning would evetually result in pleasing performance on treble instead of just having shouting and crisp sounds common for IEMs from less responsible brands. OH1 with its airy, gentle and soft treble reminds us about Kinera IDUN featuring the same approach towards the higher end: mixing in BA driver so that it would not influence the overall tonality but would rather extend the resolution and balance the other frequencies. Kind of safe tuning that would keep IEMs fairly neutral and detailed at the same time… Therefore, OH1 treble has good extension and clarity, not overemphasized, doesn’t create a specific signature. We would say that it is even a bit recessed instead. Don’t get us wrong — it is in good proportion with other ranges — it is just a note for BA fans who love excessively bright and cool sound.
Soundstage and instrument separation:
We are surprised with iKKO OH1 decent instrument separation and soundstage capabilities. Tracks that would usually sound flat suddenly started to exhibit more contouring of some instruments. Moreover, we have discovered new afterglows that would shift on vertical or horizontal planes crating 3-dimentional effect. Kind of new experince… Binaural recordings show more than average distance between instruments which would result in larger depth and width of the stage.
iKKO OH1 sound in overall:
iKKO OH1 sound can be described as fairly neutral, balanced, with no evident coloration of the tonality, great extension of lows, good extension of treble, full-bodied midbass with natural mids. Resolution across the entire frequency range is more than average. The only sharp sounds might show up on upper mids but this would be very subjective. Soundstage and instrument separation are surprisingly good.
Compared to Kinera IDUN:
Kinera IDUN is another good representative of hybrid IEMs. We would say that IDUN have more resolution on treble and mids but less extention on lows and less powerful midbass. It also has a bit cooler and brighter sound in comparison to OH1. IDUN is a clear winner in terms of fit and wearing comfort due to its custom-like shape.
By the way, Kinera IDUN Deluxe Limited is upcoming… The new version is addressing the lack of subbass and midbass extension and presence. Fingers crossed — IDUN Deluxe might show up as the best option available in this price range!
Compared to Anew U1:
Anew U1 IEMs are based on single dynamic driver and have slightly better extension and texturing on lows, even more engaging midbass, but less resolution and presence of treble. Completely free of any sharp sounds in mids, though. And the sound is a little bit warmer in overall. OH1 is a great competitor, balancing lower extension of bass by a better delivery of treble and enlarged soundstage.
The fact that iKKO OH1 are direclty compared to and can compete on par or even surpass our favorite IEMs (Anew U1 is our best and Kinera IDUN is our second best) is deserving our highest concern by itself. Some pros and cons stated in those comparisons but we already understood that iKKO has done a great job and introduced new option to consider. They have placed OH1 among the most demanded products in the most popular budget. What really maters, is that in terms of sound quality iKKO OH1 really deserves such placement instead of just exhibiting similar pricing. We are highly impressed with iKKO OH1 and would definitely recommend to consider those among other neutral and balanced IEMs in this price range.
You can purchase iKKO OH1 at PenonAudio store