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Ikko OH5 review : Stunner of an IEM

Ikko has been making IEMs for a while. They have a handful of IEMs under their belt but believe me when I say that in recent times I have not seen an hybrid IEM with higher demand than their OH10. OH10 single handedly took Ikko to another level. There have been many but none of them had a bigger impact than this. It was well received by both reviewers and consumers. My personal impression is a mixed bag but I can see why it attracted the crowd. Ikko hasn’t been able to create similar kind of impact with their newer hybrid and budget offerings but they have launched a single DD based upper mid range IEM named Asgard OH5. This IEM uses a 12mm Lithium-Magnesium DD to produce some seriously impressive sound. I have reviewed a lot of IEMs and the OH5 has something special about it.

In thier words:

“iKKO Audio breaks new ground with its revolutionary use of lithium-magnesium diaphragm technology, offering audiophiles an unparalleled listening experience. With excellent resolution and ductility, the OH5 restores layers of sound, providing a perfect tone and a warm and rich sound reminiscent of classic HiFi.”

Priced at $489 it comes in only one color scheme and goes head on against the Fiio FH7s and QoA Margarita. I will compare it with Sennheiser IE900 and DUNU Zen.

Get one from this Links:

P.S. No affiliation, honest opinion.

UNBOXING AND ACCESSORIES:

OH5 has a premium packaging and ships with a dual layer box (I was unable to figure this it out initially and took out the upper foam padding unknowingly). Open the upper flap and the earpieces welcome us along with the Ikko badge. Just like all Ikko IEMs OH5 too ship with a lot of accessories and all of them are placed inside a compartment on the lower half of the box. We get a red and blue magnetic flap semi-hard carry case which comes with a strap to carry it around. There is 12 pair of tips with various bore sizes and material used (6 pair of silicone and 6 lairs of foam tips) and all of these are build to suit the oval nozzle of the OH5. All these tips are available in 3 sizes, S, M and L.

The cable is placed inside the carry case along with the switch plugs and they conclude the list of usable accessories.

BUILD QUALITY:

OH5 is built like a tank which gives a very solid and stable feel to the hand but has an odd combination of material on its shell. Usually brands use wood and resin blends but Ikko has used titanium and aviation welding grade resin on its shell (I have no idea what this Aviation grade resin is). All these metal and heavier resin make this a heavy IEM.

Due to its metal shell OH5 doesn’t have a semi custom kind of shell but has a reasonably ergonomically designed inner shell which provides very good traction and fit inside the ear. The oval nozzle isn’t big and aptly deep to provide nice stability inside the ear. There is a single vent on the inner shell for the DD to breathe.

All in all this a well built IEM with a premium feel.

CABLE:

The OH5 ships with a 4 core cables which has 24 single crystal silver plated copper strands inside them. Unlike most cables this one has a thick layer of insulation on it which makes it thick and heavy. This is a well behaved cable but it still is a bit on the stiffer side. It has a bit of memory and slight bit of microphonics but is not bouncy or memory prone. It uses a simple push and pull mechanism for swapping the terminations.

Components used for this cables are of high quality metal (I think its aluminum but can be titanium too) with gun metal finish on them. The cable splitter, the jack and 2pin casings are on the heavier side but the compliment the aesthetics of the IEM. The cable guides are on the thicker side but I think they have to be because of the heft on the earpieces.

PAIRING WITH SOURCES:

I will be honest with you guys. I know most of you have decent sources but if you don’t have one, get one. A single DD can handle power like a champ and scales much better with powerful sources. I won’t hold it against someone if it wants to drive this IEM with a mobile phone, it responds well to my Note 10 pro max too but it definitely does much better with the Shanling UA5. As usual the dynamics and sonics are not well developed with the mobile phone but it opens up with much better resolution and definition with UA5.

In any case, use it with what you have and can chill or get a good, preferably an analytical source to bring more balance to the mix and enjoy!!

SOUND QUALITY:

Previously DD were mostly associated with bass but these days single DD drivers too are tuned for excellent balance but OH5 is not the dull or boring type, it doesn’t try hard to do something it isn’t comfortable at. OH5 is on the fun side. It has a lot of emotions and doesn’t hold back while expressing them. The lower end is full and punchy while the mids are dominated by the vocals and treble range is tuned for comfort.

This signature isn’t exactly colourless as it has warmth across the spectrum with a perceivable w shaped signature. I have reviewed the OH10 and OH1 and I can confirm that the OH5 retains the Ikko house sound. It has the juicy and musical touch to it.

In their words:

“IKKO Audio’s OH5 boasts a 12mm large-diameter diaphragm single moving coil sound unit for a balanced and dynamic low frequency display, providing an immersive audio experience. The special titanium and resin chamber enhances performance with a balance between dive and bounce in low frequencies, delivering a powerful and unencumbered sound quality.”

I am using stock narrow bore tips and Shanling UA5 for this review.

BASS:

This single dynamic driver has a very enjoyable lower end. It is neither too heavy nor lean, the dynamic abilities of this driver is very good. It changes its character as per need but never get boomy or muddy. Control shown over notes is admirable. OH5 has the warmth and cozy feeling we all like. This lower end has very good weight, nice punch and depth with a very good sub bass extension, better than the IE600. It isn’t the deepest like the Fibae 5 or QoA Margarita but has very good texture and layered presentation delivering some of the best lower end details under $500. Mid bass has punchy and fuller note which gives the lower end good amount of weight and meatiness without being bloated. What it does is move good amount of air with a sizeable slam. The area of impact is fairly big while being on the softer side. Decay speed is very accurate, it lets softer notes with rumble precipitate, while hard notes swiftly disappear. Unlike the Fiio FH9, OH5 has much better control and dynamics. All of this leads to an excellent mix of fun, Precision and accuracy.

Powered by its superb dynamics OH5 delivers a technically capable lower end that knows where it has to be soft and where it can be hard.

MID RANGE:-

If I haven’t mentioned it earlier, OH5 is a well balanced IEM and this balanced feeling comes from it’s nicely balanced mid range and slightly forward vocals. There are no dips in energy around vocals. Since it uses a single driver it has no crossover and has no obvious drop in energy at lower treble region.

OH5 has no problem with intricate details and separation, the whole mid range enjoys very good clarity and transparency. Instruments do not feel dull and have very good finishing to them, very similar to what we can find with Mest mk2. What it has is a bit fuller notes with fantastic texture. Even with the added weight notes are aptly agile. The biggest plus point here is its technicality, the way it manages to deliver micro details of background instruments is praise worthy. No instrument sounds thin or devoid of life. OH5’s tonality and timber are on the organic side but aren’t over done like the DUNU Zen. The background & foreground contrast is excellent too. Drive it properly and it delivers crispy notes with excellent resolution and transparency even with instruments around the vocals. No need to worry about the upper mids either, they do not have uncomfortable notes to worry about.

Coming to the vocals, what sets OH5 apart is its texture and timing giving it an emotional and involving character. I do dare to say that there aren’t many IEM under $1000 sounds as emotionally expressive as OH5. Both male and female vocals have very good bite giving them a more realistic feeling and better accuracy than DUNU Zen. OH5 is a well behaved IEM that can bite a bit when needed, exhibiting its excellent technical capabilities.

HIGHS:

After delivering lovely and pleasing lower and mid ranges, OH5 is still up for a few swings. The transition phase from upper mid range to lower treble region is excellent with very good transparency and clarity. Lower treble and mid treble to some extend enjoy very good energy delivering very good notes accuracy and details while the upper treble is a bit on the smoother side. OH5 is neither aggressive nor calmer with the treble region as it strikes a nice balance which retains the right amount of energy and sparkle while fending off unwanted peaks and energy but still has a bit of extra sharpness which provides better and cleaner resolution to the instruments. All the instruments have very good definition thanks to better than average transparency and very good treble extension. Layering and separation is very good and we get good amount of air between instruments too. The presence of spark and tingling instruments provide excellent contrast and crispiness making the whole experience agile and lively.

Those who feel they do not want the extra bit of energy up top will enjoy this slightly smooth yet alive treble region. It just blends in effortlessly without being blunt or dull.

STAGE AND IMAGING:-

OH5’s stage is considerably bigger and very close what I heard from the more expensive IE900. It has excellent width, very good height and a well developed Z-axis presence. Its stage distribution well rounded and no area feels busier or cramped. What I like the most is its Imaging. It places most of the instruments and some of the vocals out of the head while bass and rest of the vocals are placed inside the head. One interesting fact is unlike IEMs in this price range both sides of OH5 build a single, well rounded stage providing an excellent stereo sound which has excellent instrumental movement and transitions.

OH5’s floor is clean, allowing very good clarity and the base of the notes. OH5 provides that extra bit of engagement thanks to its excellent instrument placement and excellent sonics while the bigger stage and better air between instruments has its own attraction.

COMPARISONS:

VS Sennheiser IE900:

CONCLUSION:

What a IEM, what a single DD IEM, an absolute stunner, an IEM I am unable to find any flaws unless you are very critical about some niche disciplines. This is an IEM that does everything nicely. Its mid range is glorious while lows and highs are very good. I do not admire DD based IEMs but the OH5 is something really special.

It punches well above its price range and for me it delivers flagship level sound with a mid range price. Ikko OH5 sits high on my list of recommendation for everyone and nearly tops everything else under $800 when it comes to an all-round musical performance. If you want me to convince you more, please read the review and watch the video maybe.

Enjoy the music you have, cheers.

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Suman Sourav Meher

Suman Sourav Meher

My humble audiophile journey started in 2010, when I was in college, where I fell in love with the elements, nuances, and variations of this mesmerizing world. The ability of tiny earphones to recreate amazing sounds made my bad days tolerable and good days better! Now I am a full-time audiophile with a preference for musical tracks, especially vocals and engaging ones. I must admit I am addicted, but not to drugs or alcohol, but to earphones. Come join me as I share my experiences, bad or good, and let’s have some fun!

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3 Responses

  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly. The Asgard are very unique and somewhat special. They have gone under the radar . Possibly the most underrated iem in chi fi world. Price to performance is out of this world. I got these for £300 sterling. Easily my bargain of the year. Very accurate , detailed and concise review. Well done !

    1. Very different sound. One is mid forward and other is V shaped. Their tonality is different too. If you like a fun IEM which is bassy, tingly, and energetic then go for FH9.
      If you like a slightly relaxed presentation with calmer treble region and warmer thicker notes then the OH5 is an excellent IEM.

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