Ikko is a company that’s been impressing me each time I get my hands on one of their products. I’ve tried out primarily IEMs from them in the past, including the OH10 and OH1s (Check out my review of the OH1s here). I hadn’t tried a DAC/Amp from them until now, so upon receiving their Zerda ITM01 Portable Headphone DAC/Amp, I hoped it would measure up to the high standards set by their IEMs. For $59, this isn’t a super expensive gadget, but Ikko has so far shown their resourcefulness and ability to deliver a lot more than their prices suggest.
What's in the Box
- Ikko ITM01
- Magnetic USB Cable
- Magnetic Lightning Cable
Look and Feel
The ITM01 is a very small device that could easily sit in your pocket among other items. Its plastic build doesn't make it feel like the most luxurious device ever, but that’s ok given it’s price. The included USB cable is quite long, which is mostly an advantage, though at times felt a bit overkill. The lightning cable (a USB-C version is also available) is a very short length that felt more comfortable, for my purposes at least.
The ITM01 is a 32Bit/384kHz decoder and works as an external sound card for your laptop, phone, Switch, PS5, Xbox, or any other gaming device. It has a simple user interface consisting simply of three buttons: volume +/- and a multi-use mode button. This button functions as play/pause with one click and switches modes when held down. A colored LED glows on either side of the unit to show which mode is being used, yellow for music mode, blue for movie mode, and purple for game mode. There’s a brief pause in sound while switching modes.
I found the usability of the ITM01 very straightforward and hassle free. I like that it could easily be kept in your pocked and switched between modes without really looking at it, as each has its own distinct sound, which we’ll get into next.
This is the most subtle mode, it seems to beef up the low end a bit and clean up/extend the highs. This felt like the most transparent mode that you’ll likely end up using a majority of the time, unsurprisingly. This was a pretty classic DAC clean up to me, adding some clarity and feeling like a comfortable, non-invasive upgrade. There’s also a noticeable boost in volume, as hoped.
This mode felt to further extend the low end in a similar area of the sub range to music mode. It also gave a healthy boost to the mid range, bringing out vocal presence etc. It definitely made sense how this mode would work well with a cinematic sound track as it heightens impact and enhances dialogue. This mode works well for music sometimes too I found, but the stronger low end boost was not always what I wanted for casual listening. I wouldn’t have minded the mid range extension from movie mode included in music mode too, however.
This was by far the most drastic shift of the three modes. It seemed to completely push out the soundstage to a completely new place. The center of the stereo field feels almost hollow as the rest of it is so intensely separated and modulated. It almost had a pseudo-open back feel to it on some IEMs and closed back headphones. This mode would definitely create a heightened sense of immersion if used for a gaming setup, though some may find it too jarring of a change. I also found it interesting to listen to music with at times, just for the sake of how big a shift in spacial perspective it was.
For such a tiny thing, the ITM01 really does pack a punch. Its straightforward usability and varied sound settings give it extra versatility and a unique edge. While it may not be the most transparent, nuanced DAC/Amp on the market, it offers a fun opportunity to play with your headphone's abilities and see how they mesh with different modulations. If you're looking for a cheap DAC/Amp that'll give your music some more noticeable enhancing, you'll have trouble finding a better bargain than the ITM01.
- Flexible, effective sound modes
- Small size
- Easy use
- Great sound quality for price
- Plastic exterior
- Lanky cable
- Not much transparency offered
You can purchase the Ikko Zerda ITM01 here