>>I am brazilian and I speak portuguese, so forgive my english, I’ll use translator tools to help<<
Today’s review is going to be about a bluetooth receiver with two earphone outputs, the IKKO Heimdallr ITB03. ITB03 is a bluetooth DAC/AMP similar to FiiO BTR5, Qudelix 5k, Radsone ES100, and etc. The difference here is that the ITB03 is already part of this new wave of equipment with a 4.4mm balanced output (a product with a 2.5mm output is getting rare). The product was released in the second half of 2022.
Previous reviews (only in portuguese): OH1S, ITM01, ITM02
Official price: $149 USD
Actual price: $92 – $99 USD
– Bluetooth Chip: QCC5125
– Bluetooth version: 5.0
– Codecs: SBC/AAC/aptX LL/aptX HD/LDAC
– Bluetooth : 10M (in straight line)
– NFC connection
– Display: OLED Screen 64×128 pixels
– Controller: XMOS XU208 (Octa-Core Chip)
– Op Amp: Ricore RT6863 (1x)
– DAC Chip: AKM AK4377 (2x)
– Input: USB type C
– Output: 3.5mm (SE and fiber optic) + 4.4mm (balanced)
– 3.5mm output power: 32mW@32Ω, 53mW@16Ω
– 4.4mm output power: 125mW@32Ω, 180mW@16Ω
– THD: -110dB
– SNR: 118dB
– 4 filter modes
– 4 sound modes: HiFi, Game, Movie, Music
– Batery: 650mAh
– Batery time: 8h
– Charging time: 1.5h
– Sampling rate: PCM 32-Bit/384kHz; DSD128
– OS compatible: Android, iOS, MacOS, Win10, Switch, PS5, Xbox
– Body material: Glass and metal
– Cables: USB-C>USB-C. USB-C>USB-A, USB-C>Lightning
– Size: 7cm[L] x 4cm[W] x 1.5cm[D]
– Tin HiFi P1
– Shozy Form 1.1
– MotoZ3 Play
– Dell Inspiron (W10)
This type of equipment has a lot of function and it’s kind of impossible to detail everything, I will try to comment as much as I can and at the same time try not to make the evaluation too extensive…
Let’s start with the construction of the product. Really a very beautiful product in the aesthetic part, it has glass coating on the front and back, and on the sides and ends, metal coating. I was very impressed with the quality of the product, now in my hands I understand why the amount charged at the release was higher, the ITB03 is a premium quality product, IKKO spared no efforts in this project.
The product doesn’t have sharp corners, is very ergonomic, the buttons don’t make noise when you shake the product. The ITB03, compared to the dongles I tested, is heavier, and compared to the Radsone ES100 (which I remember) it’s also heavier, however, in my opinion, for a device with the amount of functions it has, it’s still within acceptable limits, neither too light nor too heavy.
Cables. The included cable kit was spot on, here you’re covered with the three main connections: USB-C, USB-A, and Lightning (Apple). Whenever it’s like this – in my opinion – it generates a very positive point for the product, it’s great when you buy a product and you don’t need to buy another cable/adapter outside. The USB-A cable that accompanies the product still has the advantage of being longer (120cm), thus allowing the person to connect the cable on one side of the computer and pass it to the other side. For my taste, the cables could have been paracord style, but honestly that didn’t change my experience with them at all.
Display: The main screen shows the title of the song that is being reproduced, in addition to other information such as the sample rate of the file, the codec that is being used, the battery level, the established volume, which sound mode is selected, and the bluetooth signal notifying that it is connected. It’s possible to turn the screen off and on (without turning off the device). It’s through the display that you can decrease the brightness in 6 levels (the adjustment is subtle, I leave it at max for example), change the sound mode (4 types: HiFi, Games, Movie, Music), change the gain (Low or High ), and etc.
Bluetooth signal. The company informs that the range of the signal goes up to close to 10 meters in a straight line. In my tests here I found that really in a straight line and without impediments (walls), the signal was stable. For a distance of less than 10 meters and with only one wall between the smartphone and the ITB03, the result was OK, with no cuts in the signal. Using the ITB03 through the rooms of the house, I found that with two or more walls the signal was cutting a little. I did the test of putting the smartphone in a backpack and walking away with the ITB03, and the result was satisfactory, without cuts. I also did the test to see if the device had delay (latency), and I didn’t find any delay between sound and image (YouTube videos).
I realized that the ITB03 has a volume control that is independent of the smartphone, that is, I can increase or decrease both one and the other. The most ideal thing for me is to let the smartphone fixed at maximum volume (100%) and control it using the ITB03 volume. ITB03 has 60 adjustment steps. It is a very precise volume, without big gaps.
Battery consumption. In this equipment, was more difficult to analyze the battery consumption, because it doesn’t deliver the values in percentage, but through “traces” that decrease according to the use of the battery. The smartphone (Ardroid) is who shows the battery level of the product in percentage (below in the bluetooth connection icon). So I did it like this, I used the Tin P1 on the 4.4mm output with 50% vol., LDAC codec, High Gain, and the ITB03 screen off during 1h of music playback, and the result was that consumption didn’t change in any of the two devices (smartphone and ITB03). I left it playing for an hour longer and at the end of 2 hours there was a change to 80% (Android) and a “trace” less in the ITB03. It is understood that 80% is an approximate number by Android. I started the test with the IT03 load at 100%.
Heating test. While I’m doing the battery drain test, I’m also touching the surface of the device to see if it’s heating up is too severely. In my tests here I didn’t notice signs of excessive heating, the product remained slightly warm at the end of 1 hour of playback. In 2 hours of playback, the state of the device was the same as mentioned before. Room temperature can make a difference in this test, I did it on a day considered hot in my region.
The 3.5mm SE output of the ITB03 can also be used as an optical output, so you can use the product connected to a Receiver/Home Theater if you have the mini toslink/toslink cable (although I haven’t tested this function in practice). The product also has a built-in microphone on the left side (I haven’t tested it either). This equipment can be used as a wired DAC/AMP, and for that it has two USB Audio Class modes: UAC1.0 and UAC2.0, similar to what the xDuoo Link2 Bal has.
Some considerations that I didn’t find so positive about the product. It doesn’t have a case to be stored – for this type of product that doesn’t make much difference, okay – but it also doesn’t come with any protective cover, or even a glass film. As the product has glass on the front and back, we know that this makes the equipment more susceptible to scratches. Also remember that glass always generates a lot of fingerprint marks on the surface. Another issue is that the ITB03 doesn’t have that clip that attaches to clothes, this is usually an item that is commented on by users of this type of equipment. ITB03 also doesn’t have an application (App). The device’s processing speed is also not the fastest, at times I had a delay in the command, or the command was not carried out.
Something I noticed during the evaluation was that this product has a lot of cross-information on the internet, and when I say that I’m talking about information straight from the company’s official sources, such as the website, the AliExpress ad and the product manual. Each place was given a different one or written in a different way. I had to collect together the available information I found and put it all together. I think this is not very nice, it gives the impression of a certain lack of communication within the company. For you to have an idea, I told them to make available the output power numbers of the equipment, because before I mentioned it, I didn’t have this information anywhere.
It must be remembered that this analysis is subjective, based on my experience with the product and also on the synergy with the other equipment I used here. I also already inform you that the more objectivist part of the hobby is not really my beach, so it may be that some information can be limited, I don’t have much knowledge about the technical side of this type of product.
I did the whole ITB03 sound test connected to my smartphone’s bluetooth, and as everyone knows, bluetooth has the codec question – but that’s a discussion beyond this review – so I used the LDAC codec to listen to the songs here, which for me was pretty easy because I only use 16bits 44.1/48kHz FLAC files and more common streams (Spotify, YouTube).
The ITB03 has 4 pre-EQ modes that change the sound, they are: HiFi, Games, Movie, Music. Basically my experience with these modes was like this: The HiFi mode didn’t come out with any sound (because it’s the exclusive mode just for connecting via cable, using the ITB03 as a DAC/AMP, as I said in the paragraph above, I did all the sound tests using the product via bluetooth). The music mode I found the most “correct” and with a warmer side to the sound. The game mode I found to be very similar to the music mode, although it had a slightly bright sound and more spatiality. The movie mode I found very bad, left the sound very muffled and totally without definition, even presenting distortion. Remember that there will always be a mode selected, so I only have two modes left as an option. The product also has the option to apply 4 different filters, but in my tests here, I didn’t feel any difference from one filter to the other.
The audio quality of the IKKO Heimdallr ITB03 I found very good. According to the company, the product is implemented with two DACs from AKM, model AK4377, and an Operational Amplifier (OP-AMP) from RICORE, model RT6863. So, the sound of the ITB03 for me was very satisfactory, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, I had two modes left to which I could stick to, music and games. The music mode I saw as the desired sound, since the game mode presented a small coloration in relation to the music mode (something very very subtle).
The interesting thing is that when I started listening to the ITB03 with Shozy Form 1.1 I felt the sensation of using again one of the first products I could acquire when I started the hobby, the Radsone HUD100 MK2, and oddly enough when I looked at the specifications of the product, the DAC used was the same in both. Curiosities aside, apart from the movie mode, I didn’t notice any noise, distortion or strange sound during the time that I was testing the product.
Low Gain and High Gain Mode. The gain difference is indeed audible, but I felt a more subtle difference between one mode and another. I say this because it wasn’t something like what I’ve seen in some dongles that had the gain option, and that there I saw (heard) an energy delivery almost doubling the sound. Here on the ITB03 the sound is just a little stronger and fuller, so by choice I already left it on High Gain mode.
Amplification. In the case of the Shozy Form 1.1, the analysis is even unnecessary, because the OEM is very simple to push, any cheaper smartphone or dongle will do the job. As for the Tin P1, I thought the sound was good, with this configuration: balanced 4.4mm output, High Gain, and volume starting at 50 (of the 60 steps available).
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