IKKO Audio, a forward-thinking brand based in China, is at the forefront of a new generation of audio innovation. With a primary mission of advocating “freedom” and high fidelity for music enthusiasts amidst the rapid evolution of modern digital music, IKKO Audio sets itself apart with its distinct design concepts, offering a superior audio-visual experience.
Among their standout products, the OH10 OBSIDIAN stands tall as their flagship model, now two years old. This exceptional earphone showcases a unique and striking design, incorporating impressive materials and meticulous craftsmanship, resulting in a truly eye-catching product. Beyond its aesthetics, the OH10 OBSIDIAN boasts an equally impressive sound quality that captivates listeners.
In this review, we will delve into the performance of the Obsidian, questioning whether it truly lives up to its namesake, the volcanic glass known for its strength, and whether its audio prowess matches the beauty of its appearance.
Driver: 10mm Dynamic Driver (Polymer Composite Titanium Diaphragm) + Knowles 33518 BA
Frequency Response: 20-40 KHz
Impedance: 18 ohms
Plug Size: 3.5mm
Cord Length: 1.2m
Table of Contents
- Leather carry case
- 2 different sets of 3 pairs of ear tips
- A cable
- Warranty Card
- IKKO Badge
The packaging felt very premium in hand. The matt finished slip on cover is very soft to touch and the additional Anime art may be favorite of some. Inside the slip-on cover there is a black box with Ikko branding on the top which had a magnetic enclosure and felt very premium. Upon opening there is a cover which had the warranty card in it. Below that there are 2 different sets of 6 pairs of eartips and the earpieces itself is nicely and securely placed in the foam tray with Ikko Pin badge in the centre.
DESIGN AND BUILD:
Built like a tank, period. This thing literally feels like a rock in hand and of course the naming says that THE OBSIDIAN which is a naturally occurring volcanic glass. The OH10 looks stunning in hand and it’s crafted to perfection with no flaws in the craftsmanship. This genius piece of craft is completely made out of copper and the ergonomics of the ear pieces are god level. The copper cavity is responsible for that humongous weight factor where each piece weighs around nearly 16gm which is quite heavy in hands but once after you wear it you can’t even feel the weight since they fits very well due to that nice internal shape of the ear piece. The outer look is very glossy and IKKO said that they have added a resin layer to give that glossy look and they may wear out if not taken care of.
The dented faceplate creates a unique look to it and it’s very eye catchy. Below the resin layer there is a titanium coating to prevent the further scratching of the copper body. The internal cavity is coated with platinum which has a unique character of providing a fuller sound with less resonance. The copper cavity helps in retaining the sound within the cavity thus helps in delivering spacious sound with extra fullness.
The body is overall very curvy and no sharp edges are found. They are very premium to touch and need to be taken care of well to prevent the scratches and resin layer. At the top there is a 2 pin socket for connecting the cable and coloured separately to identify the sides to connect the cable. There are two vents facing the top portion and the inner portion of the cavity. The nozzle is good in length and shaped ergonomically based on the shape of the ear canal. The joints are seamlessly attached and no creaks are observed. The nozzle just seamlessly extends from the body and there is a lip for holding the ear tips.
The cable is however average in quality where it’s a silver plated OFC cable with 2 pin 0.78mm connections and a 3.5mm termination. They are quite supple but highly prone to tangle hence an aftermarket SPC cable is advised for premium experience.
The case is the worst part here. IKKO just included this case just for namesake. I agree that they have tried to do something different but it should be in a practical way! The case is very small in space hence the case gets protruded very much after placing the earphones in them. Placing them inside is another big task since the opening is very small. The locking mechanism is finicky where a single leather piece is included to tie them which is impractical. The case material is genuine leather but the implementation is worse.
The eartips do change the sound signature of the earphones but this may be very subjective and you need to try it yourself to observe. They haven’t mentioned any special names over the eartips box but i found that black coloured ones sound more fuller and had upper mid clarity over the grey coloured tips.
The whole sound signature of the OH10 is mild V shaped with neutral tonality to me. They didn’t bother to focus much on boosting any of the frequencies, instead they just focused on bringing out the definition and clarity in each frequencies. This approach is excellent in my opinion because this brings a whole different level of experience. The expansive soundstage accompanied with the excellent instrument separation with those awesome detailing and resolution gives pure audio experience. The neutral tonality sound approach made me get attracted towards OH10 very much, due to this approach whatever the genres you throw at them, they just played them perfectly and it’s an absolute ALL ROUNDER. In this review let’s dive into each frequency response of the OH10.
SOURCE: Iphone > Fiio Q3, Apple Lightning 3.5MM Dongle
This earphone is very easy to drive and even with a separate dac amp I didn’t find any improvement over the sound directly via the apple dongle.
Just one word and it’s AWESOME! The strongest aspect of this OH10 is the low end where it just meets all the requirements for a jaw dropping low end quality with its BEEFY, THICK AND A FULLER SOUNDING LOW END. They have the best speed, attack, slam, texture, resolution and separation based on all the earphones I have tried. The previous pick was the Kbear Believe but now the OH10 just appears to be the upgraded version of the Believe. The POP genre sounds excellent and this just blows away other earphones in this price range especially for POP.
The low end is boosted quite a bit but the thing is while listening they were able to maintain the neutral tonality despite the presence of the BA driver which just blows away my mind! The sub bass goes as deep as possible and the mid bass gives a nice body to the mid section thus providing a nice body and fullness to the track. The instrument separation even in the busy tracks is very nice and the bass don’t get muffled or congested. The sub bass however slows in the decay but that’s what i liked a lot about this earphone. That slow decay gives that nice skull rattling rumble in the low end.
The internal platinum coating helps a lot providing that fuller sound in the low end and the pure copper cavity character just did it work by making it fuller sounding one by making the sound to be condensed inside the cavity.
The texture is nice and the layering is phenomenal. The Believe was the only earphone which gave me that exceptional layering capability and now this OH10 just took that up a notch. The drum kicks and the bass guitar sounds very natural and strikes precisely. Very well controlled and it’s tight enough to listen even to small nuances in the low end. The whoomp in the low end is mesmerising! It just thumps my heart and rattles the skull while listening to my favorite 90’s orchestral music.
Another important aspect of the OH10’s low end is that it provides a nice cinematic experience, just like a full sized can experience. The massive soundstage helped a lot in creating this experience of pure eargasm.
- WHY DO WE FALL – HANS ZIMMER
This is my go to track to test out the sub bass extension, control and resolution in the low end. This just made me listen to these tracks more than 100 times! Such a beautiful sounding one this gem is. While listening to this track via other earphones and even the believe the sub bass kicks only when the 1:31 mark hits but this one just begins its work from the start of the track. A mesmerising earphone this is to me. It’s just a god sent gift to the Bass Heads! After the 1.31 mark I just entered the audio heaven and only came to this earth after the track ended.
- ANYTHING YOU WANT – HANS ZIMMER
From the start of the track that sub bass kicks can be felt evidently. Excellent control and layering. Just a pure orchestral experience. The sub bass never interferes with the mid section and sounds as clean as possible. The tonality of the overall tracks is pretty natural and neutral even after the bass boost which is incredible tuning by IKKO team. At 2:02 I just closed my eyes and went into a hyper state!
- I’M BUSY – BOOTSY COLLINS
The low end is well separated from the midsection and the vocals. They sound very clear and well separated. No mid bass bleed or the congested feeling. The sense of air between the instruments is just at different level. The level of layering and the separation is whole another level and yeah it’s even better than the Believe.
- MEADOWS – MENUAL
The low end kicks and the raindrop effects are clearly separated out and the interesting thing is the bird chirps in the background. I initially thought that the actual birds were chirping outside my home and I literally went outside and checked. What a piece of engineering from the IKKO team! The level of separation, layering and the soundstage is FANTASTIC.
- INSTANT CRUSH – DAFT PUNK
A review without a daft punk track is not worthy in my opinion. This track has excellent drum hits which I use most out of my earphones and the OH10 is just a king in delivering that drum kicks. Just clean, precise, tight and spot on. The drum just hits very naturally and no robotic or anemic sounds, just PURE NATURAL. The bass guitar and the drums are separated nicely and the placements on the instruments are precise. At 3:05 when the guitar strings hit and it sounds very smooth and not even a hint of harshness or congestion. The piano is very natural and that tightness and control is bliss.
Overall the low end is FAST, CONTROLLED, RESOLVED, WELL LAYERED, NICELY SEPARATED, WELL EXTENDED,. The mid bass has nice elevation and doesn’t sound thin thus providing a nice tonality and body to the sound. The low end in this just gives a nice Fullness feel to the track which just makes me feel everything is COMPLETE.
The mid section feels pretty neutral to me again, As I told previously the IKKO didn’t focus on boosting any frequencies instead just focused on macro dynamics, resolution and the texture. The string instruments now get natural tone and precise placement. The nice texture in the mid section brought the airiness in the vocals and in between the instruments. The mids are not as forward as the BQEYZ Summer but they don’t feel hollow and are very lacking. They are adequately placed and still I can feel the singer standing in front of me. I neither prefer a more forward mid section or much laid back, the Oh10 just brought out the sweet spot of mid range placement to me.
The separation and the airiness are nice here and the vocals are very tight and fuller. No thin mids are observed and the guitar strings have a natural tone and no timbre issues are seen. Now I can listen to my favourite Taylor Swift and John Meyer tracks more enjoyable than ever before.
- CARDIGAN – TAYLOR SWIFT
Her voice is always pleasant to hear and the OH10 brought out precisely and accurately. The vocal placement is in the sweet spot and I can feel she is just standing before me. The background instruments are layered very well and separated out nicely. The massive soundstage just made this track to listen to numerous times. At the end of the track the background instruments sound freaking real and that soundstage is the key factor here to bring out the realistic feeling.
- PERFECT – ED SHEERAN
The mid section sounds sweet! The guitar and the piano combination along with Ed’s voice is sweet to hear. That separation is very nice and the background instruments are placed accurately and nothing sounds tiny or missed out. A fuller sounding experience is guaranteed in this earphone. No harshness and provides an excellent listening experience for a longer period.
At 3:15 the acoustic guitar has a natural tone and the guitar strings are very natural too and precisely. The piano sounds tight and beautiful.
- NEW KID IN TOWN – EAGLES
The instrument placement is just wonderful. The mid section are placed slightly neither forward nor laidback thus a sweet spor for me. The guitar strings are pleasant to hear and the drums are sweet to listen to. The guitar is placed on both the sides and the drums are placed centre while the piano just sweeps nicely in both the directions. What a track to hear while relaxing! At 2:32 the guitar sounds just WOW!
- SEXUAL HEALING – MARVIN GAYE
The piano on the left and the cymbals on the right, the vocals in the centre with some background instruments are layered and separated very well. The Oh10 just excels in the technicalities for me. They sound well detailed, textured, resolved and CLEAN.
Overall the mid section is well layered, resolved, nice enough detailed, precise placement and mainly the tonality is natural. No colouring of the sound is seen which is very difficult to see in many earphones. Despite the BA driver in them they just maintain the natural tonality of the single DD earphone which is pure engineering by IKKO team.
The high end in the OH10 is very nicely extended and detailed yet sounds very smooth and clean. They are slightly brighter but nothing sounds shrill or sharp in the high end. Even though they are bright they are very crowd pleasing.
The cymbal crashes very nicely and naturally. It’s not even a sibilant earphone at all, they have nice coherent sound with beautiful tonality. The brilliance is nice and the Knowles BA did a good job in the highs department. The brightness in the treble just brings out the brilliance and the shimmer and yet keeping the harshness and sibilance out of the way which just made any specific sound signature people to get addicted to its sound output.
- DREAMS – FLEETWOOD MAC
That cymbal crash in this track is freaking natural and clean. Most of the earphones I have tried will sound somewhat congested or slight crackling but this sounds absolutely clean. The female vocal is smooth and no harshness is observed. The acoustic strings in the background sound natural and placed accurately. The background vocal sounds well separated out from the main singer.
- ABARIBBA CUMBIAREMOS
The trumpets sound very pleasant and the piano in the background is well layered and sounds very natural. It’s more of a complex track with a wide variety of instruments in the background yet this earphone is able to separate them out very well and brings the definition out of them. At 1:45 the sharp strings start and they sound not harsh at all with a nice realistic tone.
- COLOURED GLASS – DRAPER
The highs are well controlled and tight. The details are brought out well. There is no congestion when lots of instruments collide with each other. Even when the cymbal crashes at 2:30 they were able to maintain the detail and didn’t lost the control
- WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS – LED ZEPPELIN
The electric guitar strings and that mouth horn sounds very pleasant and natural. The drums in the centre of the track strike spot on. Overall the OH10 has null harshness or sibilance during my testing which is a welcome package to me.
Overall the treble section is well extended, slightly brighter, resolved yet no sibilance or harshness which is quite interesting to see. Even though they are slightly brighter they only helped in bringing out the details thus pleasing the mass consumers.
SOUNDSTAGE: It’s the king, Hands Down. What an expansive soundstage it has! MARVELLOUS. The height and width is massively bigger and hands down this is the most bigger soundstage earphone I have ever tried. Nice sense of air in between the instruments and the deep sub bass extension brought out that massive soundstage effect.
This massive soundstage helped in providing that cinematic experience and it’s my NO 1 pick if you are a soundstage seeker.
- MOUNTAINS – HANS ZIMMER
Excellent stage presence and the varied instruments are portrayed out very well with nice separation. At 2:01 the stage presence can be felt evidently and the size is very massive.
- LOST AND FOUND – HANS ZIMMER
The sense of space between the instruments is immersive. The stage presence is very wide and the depth is very well portrayed. The instruments travels as long as possible and even a small distant sounds can be heard very clearly and no instruments are missed out
- LOST BUT WON – HANS ZIMMER
This track while listening via the oh10 just brought me back to that race track where Nikki Lauda was racing. That stage width and the height is very nice and immersive and makes us feel literally in that place.
- SCREENING – MR BILL AND FUNI
The child laughing in the background has nice separation and it’s depicted very well in this track. The giggles are very pleasant to hear and the placement is accurate. The birds chirping along with the bee buzzes sounds way nicer and awesome with a nice sense of space between each sound thus providing excellent staging.
IMAGING: They really do a good job in imaging too. The transient movements of the instruments are very smooth and nicely sweeps from one direction to the other with precise placements. It goes from extreme right to extreme left with no hiccups. Mostly in earphones with more sub and mid bass the imaging tend to be very hazy but this one is exceptional in this case where they are tuned very nicely
- CROSSING – YOSI HORIKAWA
The Macro Dynamics turned out to be great when compared to the micro details which might be preferred by many people and this is how the earphone is tuned to be.
The OBSIDIAN OH10 –from IKKO Audio is a 2 year old model yet still relevant in current times. They have Warm V shaped sound signature with nice neutral tonality, neither frequency seems to be boosted or tamed out during my listening. Instead they just tuned it to bring out the excellent macro dynamics, resolution, layering and texture in the low end. The bass is excellent and sounds better than the Believe which was my previous pick for low end, it’s tighter, faster and slams hard and slower in decay hence provides that nice rumble. The mid section has a nice body due to that spectacular Bass performance. The instruments are slightly laid back and relaxing but the vocals stand at a sweet spot. The treble is brighter and detailed yet no sibilance and harshness and is tuned to be very smooth and nice.
It has natural tonality and timbre despite having a BA driver. Overall this is my favorite earphones now since i’m a bass head and a soundstage seeker. If your preference is the same as mine then this is a legit choice. But if you need something with forward vocals and a bit more aggression than the BQEYZ Summer is going to be your pick. Under 200 USD if I want to rank the earphones based on my experience then it would be OH10>BELIEVE>SUMMER. Kudos to the IKKO team for making such a gem and the Obsidian really has a magic in it. If i’m going to reply to the IKKO Team about their OH10 gem then it is going to be “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY IKKO BECAUSE I LOVE THIS GEM TO THE CORE”
PROS AND CONS:
- Monstrous Soundstage and Bass
- Excellent Macro Dynamics
- Natural Tonality and Timbre despite having a BA
- Fantastic Technicalities especially layering and separation
- Solid build
- Tangle Prone Cable
- Impractical Case
This Review is Written By KATHIRAVAN.C
I’m Kathiravan from Tamilnadu. A budding audiophile here with high love towards music and audio equipment. My first experience of enjoying the hifi audio came when I started to use budget chi-fi gears and now it came all along the way of reviewing the gears with high end stuffs. I love reviewing audio products.