An Improvement of 10
- Very transparent and airy sound.
- Resolution and definition capacity.
- The mid zone is close, very detailed and rich in nuances.
- Quality of the sub-bass.
- High separation capacity.
- Excellent design and construction.
- Weight of the capsules.
- The cable has margin for improvement.
- The transport bag, although made of leather, is not very practical.
Link to the Store
Ikko is a Chinese brand, which became known with its first IEMS, the OH1. Currently they have released several products since then: The Zerda Dongle, the DAC/Amp for mobile ITM05, the present IEMS Obsidian OH10. Then there are a couple of products, whose output will be close: the ArcITB01 Bluetooth headset and the top of the range IEMS Musikv OH7.
The OH10 is, practically, a special edition of the OH1. Its external shape is the same, using other materials and slightly improving the cable. The drivers are the same, but what changes, are the materials used for the capsules and its internal structure. This time, Ikko has used pure copper to manufacture the cavity, which, in turn, is equipped with an iron ring structure. The presentation of the product has also been improved, offering a more careful and exquisite packaging.
- Drivers type: 1 DD 10mm polymer composite titanium-plated diaphragm dynamic driver + 1 BA Knowles 33518
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-40kHZ
- Sensitivity: 106dB
- Impedance: 18 Ω
- Cable length: 1.2m
- Jack connector: 3.5mm Gold plated audio
- Capsule Connection Type: 2-pin 0.78mm
- Cable type: 4 strands of 8 high-purity oxygen-free copper-plated 5n silver-plated
The packaging of the Ikko OH10 reminds me of a review of «The Little Prince», in a female version. On that occasion, the little princess, sitting on a small obsidian rock, loves music and listens to it with her favorite IEMS, the magic Obsidian OH10, which comes flying from outer space. This mini story is nothing more than a free representation of the existing drawing on the main side of the packaging. On the back, there is an introduction to the features of the OH10, in multiple languages, including Spanish, as well as a photo of the capsules. Following the description of the external box, on one of the sides, the specifications are shown. Finally, the overall dimensions of the box are: 201x134x62mm
After removing the cardboard cover, a completely black box can be seen, with the brand logo inscribed in shiny black, in the upper left corner. The lid opens like a chest and is held in place by two magnets. Inside are the beautiful capsules, embedded in a dense black protective mould. Under it there is a leather case, rolled up; a foam mould, in which are the silicone tips and a pin with the brand logo, in gold on a black background. Finally, there is the cable, attached to a leather pin. The silicone tips are of two kinds, one of white silicone, black the other. In total, 6 pairs, in sizes SxMxL.
The presentation is appreciable, the differentiating style is recognized, with the inclusion of the leather case and the pin. But, on the other hand, the case is not very practical, the pin is merely decorative, the tips, except for the color, are similar and no foam tips are included.
Construction and Design
The shape of the OH10 is practically the same as that of the OH1, except for the materials used. On this occasion, pure copper has been used for their manufacture. The result is an IEMS that is clearly heavier than its previous counterpart. On the outside, the shape is maintained, reminiscent of the African continent and the classic dents on the outside. The entire surface has been coated with a special resin, to improve the contact with the skin, looking for a better feeling. The interior of the capsules is very smooth and soft, finely polished, as if it were a jewel. The beauty is thus maximized, enhancing the premium character of the capsules. The capsules are not thick. The nozzles are made of the same material and have a metal filter. Their length is not very long. The diameter is 6mm.
For the connection of two pins, there is a transparent plastic insert that protects the two holes, both of which are gold-plated. On the left side it is black, on the right side red.
The cable consists of 4 strands covered with black plastic, twisted together. Also, it is extremely similar to the OH1, but slightly improved: the cable is somewhat thicker, the metal cylinders are better finished, very much in line with the material of the capsules. Although, it also lacks a pin for the adjustment under the chin.
The weight and the manufacturing quality of the capsules give it an excellent solidity and appearance. Although the cable could be improved, given the importance that this element is having lately, in the new IEMS models.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
The fit is superficial, but the ergonomics are still excellent. The friction is really pleasant and, although the capsules are heavy, the ease of fitting and inserting with the right tips, guarantees a great fit, firm and long-lasting, with no feeling of detachment. These qualities allow the best sound to be achieved easily, without the need for any readjustment, to improve its quality.
The profile could be described as a balanced and smooth W. That is, emphasis on the sub-bass, the mid-high and the high end.
The OH10 repeats excellent linearity in the sub-bass, releasing the mid-bass, as the W-sound canons command. The quantity, is not worthy of the qualification: «suitable for Bass-Heads», but surely they will be able to enjoy without complaint, unless you look for a bloated bass or more emphasized in its middle zone, characteristics that these Ikko do not possess. Extending the power, towards the lower end, guarantees the notable cleanliness that the OH10s demonstrate in the low range, but also limits the greatness of the sensation obtained. But it is still a rule of the game, which Ikko wanted to perpetuate in this new model. Because, the sensations that continue to persist, are the control and the desire to want to remain long sounding in our ears. That’s why the bass never feels invasive, nor excessive. Its purpose is to give the listener softness and mystery, desirable oscillations of very low frequency, which strike docilely, without reverberating more than is convenient, generating wide planes of unfathomable depth. With all this, the idea that remains in the environment, is the generation of a sense of presence, against a feeling of quantity or greater power. The bass sounds fast and concentrated, well defined and laminated, minimally rough, just enough to provide the sweet texture it has, as well as a dark color, but cold: that coldness, which characterizes the sound of the OH10, in the rest of the ranges.
The midrange enjoys a great sense of openness and clarity. The transition between the lower and mid areas is clean, very surgical and well-defined. The OH10s respect, in a remarkable way, the confluence between both zones, providing light, resolution and definition. In addition, they generate an excellent sensation of width and separation. It is worth noting the enormous transparency in the range, as well as the large amount of air that can be perceived. This favors that the mids are distinguished very delicate, fine, analytical, but also somewhat cold. The level of resolution and definition is similarly remarkable. In such an airy and open atmosphere, it is normal that the sound lacks a rounder body or denser mids: it is something diametrically opposed. But, when I speak of coldness, I do not mean a completely digital sound or one that is devoid of total warmth or naturalness. Rather, I want to refer to its sound as neutral, balanced, with a detailed profile and sharp in nuances. The voices are perceived as close, with a more accentuated feminine voice, with that clear and luminous air that slims down their complexion. His nature turns towards an analytical aspect, but without ever falling into artificiality. If something can be attributed to her, it is hyperrealism, due to their remarkable expressiveness and descriptive capacity. In the same sense, the instrumentation is very detailed, free, rich in nuances, with great distance and separation, but also marked and energetic. The sensation of veil is null, the range never appears weak or pale.
I cannot finish describing the range, without mentioning the emphasis on its upper part, a fact that contributes, together with the tonality produced by its BA driver, to generate a high resolution sound, but somewhat lacking in emotion, not too organic, but more direct and clinical.
The upper zone of the OH10, again, offers more quality than quantity. The energy of the treble is quite restrained, but at the same time the expressiveness and definition is very well balanced. These Ikko manage to sound abundant and rich in detail, without being too crisp, too bright or too sharp. In this sense, the idea of wanting to be suitable for long listening is totally evident in the way the high notes are presented.
The perception of the trebles is smooth and quite fine, with notable extension and a great feeling of air. They bring a lot of clarity and never sound excessive or hurtful, due to their delicacy and control.
Due to the large amount of air that the OH10 is capable of generating, the scene is built very wide, leaving the depth and height in the background. In this way, the sensation of three-dimensionality is not very great, despite the excellent separation existing in all the ranges. The sound is very atmospheric, very diluted, almost gaseous and volatile, where the most recognizable qualities are transparency, clarity and the enormous width.
Ikko Meteor OH1
Although this is a recurring comparison, I wanted to give my opinion on the two models. Both share a very similar frequency response, same design, same drivers, but different materials have been used in the construction of the capsules. Is this enough to improve the sound? Well, there’s no doubt about it. The OH10 has a more delicate, wide, smooth and transparent sound than the OH1. The previous model offers the same profile, but with less air, a more direct, sharp and penetrating sound, also narrower and flatter.
Comparing the lower zone, the amount and power is practically the same. The Meteor, however, offers a flatter bass, with less layers, a simpler texture and less precise and detailed definition. The Obsidian offers a richer, very descriptive low zone, with a more exact drawing and a wider, longer and deeper development. The OH1 presents a very compact hit, but without much information. The OH10, on the other hand, are capable of recreating the bass with higher resolution, fuller and bigger. The execution is more realistic and is perceived with greater fidelity, during all its development, obtaining a sensation of greater depth, fullness, richness and complexity.
With the midrange it’s almost the same: the profile is tremendously similar, but the OH1’s are not able to reproduce as much detail, nor the texture as descriptive as the OH10’s. The comparison becomes obnoxious: Meteors offer a more direct, sharper, not-so-close sound. While the OH10s are clearer and more present, very diaphanous, clean and explicit, with a level of resolution, precision and detail that is simply higher. It’s as if we were in front of the HD copy of the previous model.
The upper zone of the OH1 is sharper, crunchier, but also more crisp and a little more uncomfortable, comparatively speaking. The OH10s recreate more pleasant, smoother, more delicate, softer and more condescending highs. The amount of air is also superior, its sound is more extensive at both ends.
As it could not be otherwise, the scene and the separation, are clearly better in the new version, distinguishing a greater width, greater depth, better instrumental positioning, more accurate and realistic.
Leaving aside the sound and going into other aspects, in the Obsidian, the cable has improved slightly, the capsules are more elegant, being polished and shiny, but its weight has increased dramatically.
NS Audio NS5MKII Bass Enhanced Version
The new NS5 are one of my favorite IEMS, I love their technical ability and balance throughout the range. Maybe I miss a little more emphasis on the low end, but then, maybe they would lose neutrality and the goodness of their sound. The OH10’s have a less balanced, livelier and more fun profile. The comparison is going to be tough…
In the lower zone, the Ikko show their greater depth and power in the sub-bass zone. Their lower zone is darker and rougher, with a complex and descriptive structure. The NS5 basses are a little simpler, their route does not leave so much sediment and it is perceived as lighter and with a little less information, which is a sign of neutrality. Even so, the bass are more linear and extend more towards the midrange, without ever being invasive. Its hitting is tighter and more compact, very dry. Meanwhile, in the OH10, the hit expands more, especially towards the deep side, being more protagonist and enjoying a larger and bulky body. In this section, the good lover of the low area, would be inclined towards the OH10.
The middle zone of the NS5 is even colder than in the Ikko, and the latter even sounds warm, comparatively speaking. Something that can be appreciated in the male voices. They, however, have a very prominent approach in the NS5, sounding very isolated from the rest, receiving a treatment that focuses on and positions them at a higher height and centering them in the scene, showing almost zenith. In the OH10, this treatment is not so exquisite and favorable, they place the male voices in a more distant area and without as much height. But, on the other hand, it widens their presence, slightly blurring it and giving it a point of warmth and softness, recreating a bit sweeter. With the female voices, the above mentioned is repeated, but the distance is no longer so great and the Ikko improve their performance, getting closer to the treatment that the NS5 propose. If we talk about instrumentation, that certain warmth that the Ikko have, provides a more dynamic and fun, with a little more body in the lower midrange. The NS5 are more complete and linear, but cooler, although more detailed, if possible, both in the lower and upper part of this central range. Its interpretation is more direct, defined and fine, following that pattern of greater focus. The OH10, on the other hand, tend to widen the scene, but showing themselves somewhat flatter, with less three-dimensional projection.
The high zone of the NS5 is difficult to beat, since they have a large extension, along with a very high delicacy and finesse, without losing the naturalness. Its power of definition, detail, description, complexity and precision is almost excellent. The OH10 is also good in this range, but the level of resolution and the ability to reveal micro details is surpassed by the NS5. In addition, their highs have more sparkle and a very, very sharp, but also more penetrating crunch… In contrast, the OH10s end up being quieter in this respect and softer in the long run.
The scene is perceived differently in both, the width of the Ikko is greater, but its recreation is flatter and lower. The NS5 has a more surround representation, with more height, its sound is able to travel back and forth and up and down: it is more three-dimensional and spherical, although narrower.
The NS5 are very small, light and comfortable, the closest thing to having nothing on. The OH10 has a weight that you can feel in your ears, but it does not displease, its ergonomic shape helps a lot in this aspect. But perhaps people with the smallest hole will appreciate the tiny size of the NS5.
The presentation is very careful in both, but without going beyond the remarkable neither of them. The NS have more tips and a much more useful box. The cable, of similar thickness in both, 4 strands, silver plated, with transparent coating for the NS, black for the OH10.
Hard to choose between both IEMS. One has to be clear about what one is looking for and what one likes about the sound, when it comes to choosing one or the other. It’s true that they both offer some different things, one from the other, but I wouldn’t say they are complementary profiles, because they also have similarities, especially in the midrange instrumentation and in the pre-treble area.
Ikko has created something special: he has started from the same base, which he knows is very good and still has potential for improvement, and has iterated the sound, making small but wise optimizations. The result is irrefutable: the OH10 has grown in all technical aspects, producing a qualitatively superior sound, very refined, highly transparent, wide, deep, delicate, soft, rich and with a higher resolution. In this way, the Obsidian has become an IEMS very suitable for long listening, also based on its great ergonomics and ease of adjustment. For all this, these new Ikko, deserve an «Ohhhh» of «10».
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Burson Audio Playmate
- JWD JWM-115
- Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus
- ACMEE MF-01