I’m in a bit of a pickle. I never heard about IKKO before and they emailed me about their new product release. The website design clearly aims at anime lovers (I’m not one of them) but there is something strangely satisfying about their Meteor and Obsidian HiFi earbuds. Their PR asked me to test their new product: IKKO ITM05.
What is IKKO ITM05 ?
We are living in times where mobile manufacturers remove ports rather than add it (yes, I’m talking about 3.5mm audio jack) and IKKO ITM05 wants to change this with their Indiegogo campaign.
IKKO ITM05 is a Portable HiFi AMP/DAC that latches onto the back of the phone (available for iPhone and Android) and introduces external DAC to process the music is supposedly better quality than built-in DACs.
IKKO ITM05 comes with 2 audio outputs (2.5 mm & 3.5 mm jacks) and retains a passthrough USB-C or Lightning port (depending on the model). The “turtle” as I call it, is wrapped in nice leather looking material, soft to the skin, and it glues to the back of the phone/case. Don’t worry, it’s one of these sticky gels, this is not a permanent merger.
What’s the pickle?
They sent me an iPhone version as no Android versions are available right now. If you follow me, you know I have not touched an iPhone since iPhone 3G, so the actual testing of the IKKO ITM05 was a bit problematic.
IKKO T5 sound quality
I’m not an audiophile, I don’t obsess over music. I appreciate the cost and convenience over the higher fidelity. While I can tell the difference between a nice Bluetooth speaker and a bad one, I don’t think my hearing is calibrated enough to pick up the subtle differences.
I used the IKKO ITM05 with Google Play Music on iPhone X (I’m not even sure) to compare how it would sound on my Sennheiser PCX550 and on an external amp with stereo speakers vs a Lightning to 3.5mm audio cable and I honestly was not able to tell much difference. There was a bit of a struggle to get the DAC to work, there might be a small start-up time (?), but after a couple of re-plug-ins (is that a word?), it was all good!
Perhaps playing .flac files would be a smarter idea, but I don’t even own an iPhone and something tells me that iPhone user will use the streaming services too.
What I can praise the IKKO T5 for is the actual build quality and the I/O. The cheap USB-C/Lightning dongles are awful. I honestly rather have the “turtle” latched to a separate $5 silicone skin than using these annoying extensions that often block your port from anything else.
I wish IKKO ITM05 the best of luck with their Indiegogo campaign. Clearly I’m not the target audience. Perhaps I could change my mind once the USB-C version is available and give it a go with their Sailor Moon’s stone alike earbuds collection. As per iPhone IKKO ITM05 model, I think I will run a giveaway once the campaign starts. I’m curious to know your thoughts on this matter! Let me know in this Reddit thread.