Today’s earphone to be reviewed is the IKKO OH2. Perhaps many of those who have been aware of budget earphones have heard about IKKO already. IKKO is a fairly new Chi-Fi brand that made a successful debut in the audiophile industry by offering surprisingly cost-efficient IEMs – such as OH1 Meteor and the OH10 Obsidian. Along with a variety of accessories, they’ve later released their first flagship IEM as well, the OH7 Musikv. While later products have improved over the earlier generations, I’d still say the IEM that made the biggest shake is their first and most budget model, the OH1. I still remember the shock I experienced as I compared the price and its outstanding performance. It’s been several years since the OH1 made its way and IKKO has now released its official successor – the OH2. Being priced at $79, let’s now see what has changed, how it sounds, and how it competes against the other earphones.
The OH2 comes in sleek white packaging with an outer sleeve that is customized according to different color variants – in my case, it is Opal White. The character next to the sleeve is a magnet that is meant to be attached to fridges or boards. Quite a nice addition to the IEM packaging since they are also going for the animation concept. The full list of accessories is as the followings: The OH2 IEMs, a 3.5mm cable, 6 pairs of silicone tips, 3 pairs of foam tips, a pair of spare nozzle grids, a storage pouch, an MMCX detach tool, and some paperwork.
It’s quite nice that they’ve also started to include the detach tool that works the same way as Final’s MMCX guide works. For better protection, it would’ve been better for IKKO to include a hard case instead of a pouch but seems like IKKO is going to stick to this for a while. Needless to say, IKKO’s quality oval eartips and i-Planet foam tips fit and sound nice with the IEMs. Nice deal in the packaging overall.
The exterior design of the OH2 is something that deserves a compliment. Combining metal and transparent polycarbonate parts, the OH2 brings a futuristic look with 5 different metal colors available – white, purple, yellow, grey, and green. The transparent plate and ring reveal the inner components, giving that techy vibe to the IEMs. There’s also a circuit board found under the plate, which interestingly has actual functions (which I’ll introduce below).
The IEMs are well built that definitely kicks above their price tag in terms of appearance – as for the sound, we will surely talk as well. The OH2 uses standard MMCX connectors and oval-shaped nozzles that fit with most aftermarket eartips such as Spinfits or Spiral Dots. However, I’d suggest sticking with the stock IKKO silicone tips or the i-Planet foam tips as they seemed to show the best match.
Most importantly, OH2 utilizes a single dynamic driver with carbon nano diaphragms. IKKO suggests that the drivers are set at 32ohm, which in all allows better clarity and treble resolution along with the circuit and housing tuning. The earlier mentioned circuit board tuning also plays a role in the sound. Specifically, it is a 24k immersion gold board that optimizes microcurrent and ultra-low resistance FPC. This additional circuit board allows unique cavity connection and improves transmission rate/efficiency.
The stock cable is made of high-purity single crystal copper with TRS 3.5mm and angled MMCX connectors. It’s a light and flexible cable that is meant for easy use and portability. I wouldn’t say the cable is too soft (as it does feel to be springy) but still compliable enough. It’s only “less soft” to an extent of being unable to stay wrapped nicely without a cable tie. There’s a cable slider that works well and stays well as adjusted.
Sound impressions – Mids, etc.
The first impression of OH2 is that the sound is surprisingly rich. I’m not referring to ordinary aspects like brightness or texture, but the overall sound quality. A quality sound knows how to express the thick vastness without getting dull or beefy, which isn’t easy to find in this price range; most IEMs in this price tend to focus on either one aspect – lean and agile or dark and dark and thick. In the case of OH2, the sound pretty much acquires both aspects at once. The OH2’s sound is full and thick which also retains a good sense of “clearance” for overall vastness.
Mids are where OH2’s such vastness shines the most. Vocals are prominent and quite up-close, creating a sound that scales large and realistic. The width of the vocal is thicker than neutral, yet again as said, it does not get dull or blurry. The crisps are done very naturally and have a sweet, ardent timbre. The vocals flow steadily throughout the range with no visible spikes or dips. It gets a bit drier on the upper mids but it’s a very gradual change that doesn’t cause any disharmony or turbulence, plus the texture remains smooth. OH2 suits well with both male and female vocals, though fuller-sounding vocals would work better than vocals that are meant to remain thin.
Sound impressions – Lows
Next is to talk about the lows. Since the good impression from the mids I haven’t expected much for the lows but turns out the bass is just as significant as the mids. IKKO surely knew how to bring out the luxury vibe to the bass as I could feel it from its tone, texture, and size. Along with being large and high in density, lows carry a mellow tone with glutinous damping that doesn’t loosen up on the reverbs. I love how the reverbs are respected while keeping it well controlled as this requires a delicate balance in tuning.
The bass’s “barycenter” is set very low which sets a good settlement for the lows to dive deep. It’s also very thick in color, showing a strong low-end presence without getting bombastic or excessive in quantity. Speaking of bass quantity, I’d say the quantity is just about the typical slightly v-shaped sound signature. Yet the large imaging of the bass it sounds richer than its actual quantity. The bass tips towards the warm side with good moistness. Overall, I’d say that the bass is tuned to sound most realistic with a slight touch of extra tightness for a cleaner atmosphere.
Sound impressions – Highs
Highs take a mild step backward from other ranges but not to an extent of being hidden behind. It plays along with the music but with less intensity than the lows and mids. The timbre is done very neutrally and non-colored as if it’s a cup of water. The brightness is closer to neutral-warm with a calm and refined manner, so I wouldn’t say the trebles don’t get too vivid. While this may make you feel like OH2 has veiled upper range, that isn’t the case at all once you tune into it. There’s a plentiful amount of airiness that gives adequate splash to the treble notes – plus the upper-mid vastness aids some openness for the highs. Both the mids and highs are able to extend upwards and gain altitude. Overall OH2 offers a fatigue-free environment for the trebles while not giving up the treble details.
Compared to IKKO OH1s:
This comparison was very interesting. That’s because the performance gap is not too significant although OH1s is double the price of OH2. The sound signature is overall similar. The charms of the sound and many characteristics are on the same path for both IEMs. There certainly is a difference in performance though; OH1s has stronger technicality, higher control, treble extension, mid-high vibrancy, and so on. Though these are definitely not dramatic nor twice the better than the OH2. The OH1s is still much valuable in case you are willing to specifically achieve OH1s’ sound and performance, though otherwise OH2 would thoroughly please you without the need to spend more.
Compared to Moondrop New Aria:
The New Aria has a thicker sound with a warmer timbre. To a decent extent, it has more mid-bass quantity and reverbs than OH2. The bass extension is in the same league but with the New Aria, you would definitely feel more bass energy going on in the music. However, the clarity and technicality are superior on the OH2, having more of a reference tuning. Mids and highs are cleaner and crispier along with better openness than the New Aria.
Needlessly to say, I could say that OH2 has improved in basically every aspect. Timbre, extension to both ways, clarity, resolution, accuracy, and so on. The OH1 had an attractive timbre but it did have a touch of that “hybrid timbre” whereas the OH2 achieves even better timbre along the performance. If you’ve enjoyed the OH1 and are willing to make an upgrade without spending more, the OH2 would be the most ideal choice.
Surprising enough, the OH2 is just as attractive as the flagship OH7 Musikv when it comes to the charms. Chances are you may appreciate OH2 even more if you’re into a reference, neutral-bright signature than a basshead signature. Of course, the price-to-performance ratio has been considered into such appreciation, yet it’s the same shock I felt when I first tried the OH1 long ago (or perhaps even more pleasing).
I’d call this one the latest benchmark for budget IEMs. High-quality tuning and accessories, fashionable design, and most importantly, a budget price. The OH2 is a perfect all-rounder that is nearly impossible to go wrong and is easily recommendable to casual listeners that are willing to explore the audiophile hobby. Seriously, look no further if choosing below $100.