Equipment Used : iBasso SR1, Massdrop X Focal Elex, Sennheiser HD 800 S, RME ADI-2 DAC, iFi Pro iCan, Tidal Hifi.
Build : These are fairly well built and feel solid. No creaking to be found. I have a couple of issues though. The edges of the yokes are very sharp. This means that the paint is very likely to wear when rubbed against anything. I learned this the hard way when pad swapping. That leads me to my second issue. These pads are pleather. They have that unpleasant pleather smell to them, but their worst offense is heat. My ears were sweating within 15 mins of listening and I’m not someone this happens to often. The choice of MMCX is something I wasn’t too fond of either. They have made a fairly competent system to combat damage, but this limits your ability to use your own cables or go balanced unless you buy first party. I understand that they make IEMs mainly and this was likely a tooling choice, but it is a sore point.
Comfort :These sit nicely on the head, and the leather comfort strap is very nice. They don’t feel heavy on the head. They’ve done a good job with weight distribution. Where they fall short is the pads. As mentioned before, my ears were sweating within 15 mins. I ended up putting on some sheepskin pads AFTER I was done getting my sound impressions.
Sound : I Listened to these for a good 4 hours without listening to anything else first. At first listen I was very pleased with the sound. Treble is a bit less than I’d like. This became much more apparent once I put the HD 800 S and Elex on to do some A/Bing. There have been rumblings that perforated pads fix this, so I’ve ordered some sheepskin perforated pads. It does a good job at detail retrieval. Much better than I expected. Vocals and mids seem recessed when compared to the Elex and HD 800 S. Overall, I’d say it’s just missing some sparkle. Where I really like this headphone is in the bass dept. The Elex tend to bottom out at volume levels I’d consider normal. This is not an issue with the SR1s. In fact, the impact is very pleasant. Boosting them just a bit w/ my iFi Pro iCan makes them a very fun headphone.
I had read some impressions comparing them to the Focal Utopia, but they are not on the same level, don’t have the same sound signature, and you’re setting these up for failure making that comparison. I think it was just because of the driver technology that Utopia comparisons were floating around.
Conclusion : These are a fantastic first outing. I’m excited to try pad swapping them and even more excited to see what iBasso will do with their next over ear. I had a hard time with writing this because they have so much potential, and I don’t want that to seem like a bad thing. These were a joy the entire time they were on my head.