Wireless earbuds with smart charger case that deliver superb sound quality
Retail price normally $250, now on temporary offer for 110 euro
Wired iPhone earbuds have come a long way since the tinny sounding original ones. They are relatively linear, they have respectable bass and don’t sound anywhere as thin as the originals that have been supplied for so long. Of course, they are supplied at no cost and that is commendable. Personally, however, I only use them now and then for hands-free phone calls, never for music listening. The reasons? They are not exactly of audiophile quality, they don’t stay put very well and they start irritating my ear canals within 15 minutes. But maybe I’m just a wuss.
Above: iPhone earbuds are sort of a common standard but they’re not exactly audiophile
Then again, I am used to using full-size over-ear headphones from the likes of Sennheiser, Sony, and AKG for my home system and use a Sennheiser HD 238i with the iPhone 6 for on the road. While die-hard audiophiles won’t assume that tiny wired earbuds, let alone Bluetooth ones, would be true rivals for a big over-ear headphone such as the Sennheiser HD650 it is also true that technology has not stood still. For the longest time, wired earbuds were incapable of proper bass but this has changed, with the best designs pumping out bass of similar quality as the aforementioned over-ear headphones. But overall, I’ve not yet been convinced by these designs, all too often still finding them to sound too bright or otherwise unnatural. Wireless Bluetooth earbud variants, in my experience so far, have always been worse, adding hiss and dynamic compression to the aforementioned aspects, as well as sounding slightly synthetic meaning that their tonality, or timbre, is unnatural. Even full-size Bluetooth headphones such as the Beats, and even their more expensive ones, ones suffer from this. Not that this is stopping people from buying them, apparently.
xFyro xS2 wireless earbuds
After unpacking, the xFyro earbuds impressed me right away. Everything about them oozes class and the mobile magnetic dock/charger is a very neat solution. This is a really clever design in which the earbuds attach magnetically and then charges them and doubles as a universal power bank for other devices. In addition, the case offers sturdy protection for the earbuds and the package is so small that you can simply tuck them in your pocket or anywhere you please and not worry about it.
The buds come with three sizes of silicone covers to fit all ears. For me, the middle size, which was already fitted, turned out to make for the best fit. They are quite comfortable, much, much better, in fact than the aforementioned iPhone earbuds. When fitted, the xFyro buds absolutely do not fall out. They create what seems like an airtight fit and although I don’t personally like being closed off from my environment so much (hence my preference for open back over-ear headphones), I know that many people expect precisely that from a pair of headphones, especially in public places. The upside is that there is no sound leakage even when playing very loudly. With these earbuds, in any event, I can listen for much longer before they start annoying my ear canals (wuss, remember) but a big contributing factor to this is also their great sound quality.
The earbuds’ Battery life is rated at 3-4 hours on one charge. When used in conjunction with the charging case, Battery life jumps to a total of 30 hours and when depleted, it takes 30 minutes for the charging case to reach 75% of its capacity. According to my tests when listening to the earbuds for 1,5 hours and attaching them to the charger case again, it indicated their battery charge to be at 50-75% which seems more than adequate indeed.
Oh, did I mention that they are water-proof? Well, they are. In addition, they have noise suppression and isolation technology as well as Hands-Free Calling using the built-in microphone and integrated buttons with which to take, make, and redial calls as well as to pause and play the music.
Much as I like the cleverness of their packing, soundwise, the xFyro’s impressed me even more. The deep bass is truly remarkable, not in a thumpy or overly fat Beats, B&W, or Bose kind of way that may impress some people but in a highly linear fashion, articulate and precise yet trustful and not rolling off in the slightest, replaying even on the deepest notes that I could find in my collection with even-handed pressure. The combined delivery is powerful but not at all shouty and the overall balance is very linear, just very slightly warm in the midrange, perhaps, which I personally find very welcome, as long as it doesn’t affect the clarity or induces a synthetic quality. There’s none of that with the xFyro earbuds, though, and I even if they appear slightly warm, I find that they are also surprisingly transparent yet decidedly non-fatiguing. There is absolutely no hiss and, perhaps most importantly, there is entirely no sense of dynamic compression, which I find quite remarkable for any wireless headphones, let alone such tiny earbuds. They do have to be inserted properly to get the best bass. Insert them into your ear canals too lightly and the sound will also be a little lightweight.
At my workplace, a TV broadcast center, the co-workers use Sennheiser HD437’s and HD408’s for quick monitoring of signal feeds, chosen by the company, I guess, because they are affordable and seemingly indestructible. I grabbed an HD437 for a quick comparison but as it would turn out, it really is no comparison at all. Not to bash the Sennheiser but it is a very affordable headphone and, well, it sounds like it. If you like bass and nothing else and are not too critical then you may be able to live with these but they’re far from linear, very dark and quite rough in the higher frequencies. Going back to my usual Sennheiser HD238i was a big improvement across the board. Actually, these were some of the best-sounding phones that I could find for around 100 euros at the time. Still, switching to the xFyro was quite revelatory, rendering my old favorite still a little boomy and rather undifferentiated in comparison. The xFyro, by contrast, is much more linear and transparent and its bass is much cleaner yet every bit a powerful. In this comparison, the Sennheiser is more comfortable to wear but the xFyro is clearly the more audiophile offering. If this is starting to look like an easy victory, that’s because it is! Certainly, at its introduction price, I think this is absolutely a no-brainer.
To be honest, I did not expect too much from these earbuds. After all, there are many companies claiming audiophile quality and not really delivering on the promise. The xFyro’s, however, truly produce a very high-quality sound. Of course, they don’t create the wide soundstaging that the best open back 200+ euro designs are capable of but other than that, they do provide the best sound I’ve heard yet from any type of headphones. They are so good, in fact, that they come out winning against respected wired headphones such as the Koss Porta Pro and Sennheiser HD 238i.
Worth noting is that on Amazon, seemingly similar products can be found by Lowelltek, Bier Tek, and Vib0. xFyro makes it clear that these are all counterfeits from cheap Chinese manufacturers that do not have the same quality sound, battery life, and Bluetooth connection.
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