A Clear Difference
- Great quality of the mid zone, of enormous richness.
- Transparency, detail, separation and clarity.
- Ergonomics, comfort and fit, minimum weight.
- Deep sub-bass.
- The cables that reach the capsules appear thin and fragile.
- Lack of greater presence in the bass, from the mid bass onwards.
- Minimal accessories.
Link to the Store
The OH1 are IEMs manufactured by Ikko, a brand based in China, totally unknown and new to me. Looking for information about it I found that it is a recent brand, which has only one product, the OH1, although they say they have quite a lot of experience. My interpretation of their philosophy is that they try to integrate their products in the current digital era, through their particular conception of design, trying to maximize sound quality to offer the best musical experience.
- Type of Drivers: 1 DD + 1 BA.
- 1 Dynamic Driver 10mm polymer composite titanium-plated diaphragm.
- 1 Balanced Armature Knowles 33518.
- Frequency Response: 20-40kHz
- Sensitivity: 106dB
- Impedance: 18 Ω
- Cable length: 1.2m
- Jack connector: 3.5mm angled
- Capsule connection type: 2 pin 0.78mm
- Cable type: 4 strands of 8 high-purity oxygen free copper-plated 5n silver-plated
- Weight: 6 grams per capsule
The OH1 come in a box of dimensions 158*88*49mm. It is completely matt black, with the brand logo inscribed in the centre, in a darker, smoother and shinier black. On the back there is a white sticker with the model name and specifications in Chinese and English.
Inside it is found:
- A black cardboard envelope containing the user’s manual and the warranty card.
- The capsules embedded in a hard foam mould.
- The cable, located inside a soft foam mould, under the capsules. It is wrapped up with a velcro tape, which is attached to the cable itself. The 3.5mm Jack connector is protected by a translucent plastic cover.
- A black cardboard box with the logo on the front, inside which is a velvet simile bag, where you can find a blister with three pairs of tips translucent white silicone, whose core is blue, SML sizes. There is a small bag with two more tips, medium size and dark color.
Although the presentation is soberly elegant, the content is the minimum required. The carrying bag is soft and offers little protection. Only 4 pairs of tips come from a single material, silicone.
Construction and design
As stated in the features, Ikko use an aviation grade alloy acoustic cavity, to reduce the internal harmonic resonance distortion to offer a sound more delicate and natural.
The front shape of the capsule reminds me of the African continent, but somewhat narrower at the bottom. The surface of the capsule has dents of questionable taste. The inside, however, is completely smooth and ergonomically rounded. The capsules are not thick. The nozzles are made of the same material and have a metal filter. Their length seems longer than it really is. The diameter is 6mm.
For the connection a transparent plastic insert is mounted to protect the two holes, both gold-plated.
The cable has 4 fine strands, covered with rugged plastic. It is quite flexible and the memory effect is low. The connector is in L, of mixed material, plastic in the elbow, metallic next to the plug, of the same color that the capsules.
The splitter is a metal cylinder, also of the same colour as the capsules. The connectors follow the same line, metallic and of the same colour, with a blue or red ring to distinguish the side. The two gold-plated pins are also finished in another plastic insert, very similar to those protecting the capsule connections. The cable close to the connectors is protected by a semi-rigid plastic sheath, shaped to facilitate its use on the ear.
The cable is simply good, not microphonic or very thick. It’s easy to handle. But the strands that start from the splitter to the capsules, two on each side, give a fragile appearance, because they look fine and delicate. The ear hooks are fixed, they cannot be molded. There is no ring to adjust the cable under the chin.
In my opinion the cable, as a whole and finished, is of inferior quality than others that can be found in products of similar price.
The capsules, in spite of the particular finish on the front, have been designed to offer the highest degree of fit, isolation and comfort. They are very light, weighing only 6 grams each, despite the fact that they are metallic. The material used gives them a strong sensation of durability, as well as their finishes and connections.
Adjustment and ergonomics
The fit is very good, although the size of the nozzles does not allow deep insertion, but rather superficial. Although it would have improved if they were a little thinner and longer. In this case, the search for the right tips to achieve the best fit is the key. Once the optimal fit is achieved, movement is minimal and no readjustment is required due to its ergonomic shape. As there is no movement the sound is not modified, this makes them very suitable for use in everyday life, in addition to its lightness.
The sound is balanced, with some emphasis on the sub bass, but with more presence of the mid zone and low treble.
The sub-bass is quite linear and compact, it has a good presence compared to the rest of the area. This particularity gives the lows a generous feeling of depth. However, the rest of the bass has no great punch and are very neutral, far from satisfying bass-heads.
Thanks to the sub bass, the bass is not anemic at all and its texture denotes quality and naturalness. Also, the area has great control and articulation, being the speed and recovery quite good.
The notes of the lows are tight and fine, have very good definition and detail, never meddle in the mids.
From my point of view, declared bass lover, as a whole, the body offered is somewhat limited, as well as its global impact, compared above all with the mids. But for those who prefer balanced profiles, this area could be catalogued as very good, since, except for presence and punch, the rest are virtues.
Actually I have something that pushes me to keep talking about the lower zone of the OH1, it’s like a love-hate relationship. I have tried to describe this zone previously in an objective way, starting from my own subjectivity. Something that is really condemned to failure in itself, as well as expressing an opinion about sound. But the idea is to try to isolate the lower zone from the rest of the sound spectrum. And this is easy, and that’s where I have to properly ponder the bass of the OH1s, that’s where the love relationship is born: the deep sub-bass dawns, the dry blow and content of the lower middle, the precise vanishing of the upper low towards the mids… But the hatred appears when the mids pass the hand in front of it…
Clearly this area is the most prominent of all sound. The mids are completely luminous, not brilliant. They enjoy great clarity and are placed above the bass in the presence. The cleanliness with which they are executed is remarkable and the resolution is great. The precision is equally impressive, as is the level of detail. But my feeling is that they show more natural than shamelessly analytical, because the micro detail is revealed moderately. Even so, the mids do not have that point of sweetness offered by other IEMs, but have a hint of coldness. The notes are fine but not sharp, but the origin of a very well tuned BA is noticeable. Technology and design seem to play a fundamental role in this sense, getting the best out of it. But it doesn’t stop sounding like BA, a good BA, but BA after all. And this translates into what has been said, a millimetric sound that is lacking in passion and musicality. Bad? Of course not, it’s another kind of pleasure or like acupuncture needles, which are inserted to heal.
The section on high mids and wheezing deserves extra mention: extra, above all, for control. The wheezing has passed, with a note, the cotton test. And never better said, something else must have been used to keep a prominent area like this stocking at bay.
The reason for this is the treble or the BA, more focused than extensive in very highs, but I do not blame him, I rather thank him. And the descent in the presence of this area can be appreciated above 5kHz, as if it were an aluminium staircase, with very narrow and infinite steps, precise and delicate, which are not soft but neither sharp nor metallic.
Let’s start with the separation: ultra, mega, hyper…? No. Let’s go to the other topic: the sound is crystalline, the separation is obvious due to the thinness of the notes, the transparency is appreciated with the naked eye. But the air does not expand the scene as one might expect, it gives it depth but not so much width. Nor does it enjoy a very evident three-dimensional stage, despite the high dose of transparency. The positioning is good and detailed, but I miss something more dynamic or depth that finally widens the scene.
Both the Fiio FH1 and the Ikko OH1 share the same Knowles 33518 BA driver, but the difference in profile between the two is abysmal. The FH1 have a bass and dark profile, with a very evident and thick bass, The mids are recessed in relation to its low area, in addition to having quite little brightness, definition, detail and air. The difference between the mids of both are night (FH1) and day (OH1), is so great, it seems to lie that they share the same BA.
BQEYZ KB100 (Bass mod)
The KB100 are a triple driver (2 DD + 1 BA) of 50$, whose profile could be reminiscent of the OH1. After applying the Bass Mod to the KB100, the presence of the lower zone is shot against that of the OH1, offering greater presence and body, generating something more dynamic and fun. But again, the sub-bass of the OH1 is there to offer that differential point that the KB100 cannot counteract, at the level of depth and execution of the zone. Regardless of the level of presence of both, the lower zone of the OH1 is shown to be richer in nuances and texture, definition and control.
However, the big difference is still in the mid zone. The voices are presented in a closer plane and stellar, in the OH1. In KB100, voices sound warmer, but do not enjoy the resolution and level of detail offered by OH1, air, definition, luminosity … The big difference in price is clearly noticed here, the qualitative leap to sound level is based on the sub bass and quality in the execution of the low zone, in the mids in general and in the treble too, because they have better definition, a more active and precise presence, especially in the low treble, where they extend clearly more.
But the difference is not only in the sound, but also in the comfort and ergonomics of the OH1, offering a more optimal and pleasant fit.
As a clear plus point, KB100s are easier to move than OH1.
The classic DN-1000, triple drivers that do not need any presentation, use BA drivers also from Knowles.
The first thing that is noticed is the difference of profile, more in V in the DN-1000, more balanced in the OH1. The sinking in the central zone of the mid to high frequencies is accused in the Dunu, offering a dark sound comparatively speaking, lacking in resolution, nuances and details. There is a feeling of musical loss in that area, something that the DN-1000 do not offer, is demonstrated with all luxury of details in the OH1. From this derives a sense of openness, greater scene and separation that is not appreciated in the Dunu.
But if there is one thing I have to emphasize about the DN-1000, it is its low zone, sub bass included, since it offers a global power that the OH1 cannot compete, in spite of its great quality.
The Anew U1 are clear competitors of the OH1 in their price range. But really the decision to buy one or the other is not based on its quality, but on its features: If you are looking for a V-sound with powerful bass, warm and detailed mids, although somewhat distant, with some good treble presence, but under control, you would choose the U1. If on the contrary one seeks a more balanced sound, with mids with greater resolution, presence and richness, as well as greater extension in highs, would buy the OH1.
At scene level, despite the great separation offered by the OH1, is wider in the U1, I have a feeling of greater expansion with them, perhaps due to the greater extension offered by the lower U1.
In ergonomics and adjustment the OH1 are better, fitting in a firmer and safer way than the U1.
As for the cable, the U1 comes with a cable that I love, at the height of the beauty of the capsules. Meanwhile, the OH1 bring a more conventional cable, where the most remarkable are the connections, apart from its great flexibility.
In short, both IEMs could be easily complementary, having both it would be easy to use one or the other depending on the musical genre to reproduce, in order to maximize the qualities of each one.
I’ve needed more brain training time with Ikko OH1 than hours of burning. After enjoying other more visceral profiles, the OH1 require a listening that demands pause and detailed analysis. Concentration to enjoy the bass, to assimilate that its quality is not in quantity or exuberance, but in its depth and other intangibles that we audiophiles appreciate, or begin to appreciate, thanks to IEMs like these. However, the mids do not require anything of that, because their virtues are instantly perceived. Just like that clearly analytical character with a great deal of transparency, detail and refinement.
The Ikko Oh1 are a clear difference, a valuable alternative to de-numb the ears and train them for an exercise of precision and micro beauty.
Sources used during the analysis
- Burson Playmate
- Audio S1
- Sabaj Da3