BEATS X WIRELESS EARBUDS REVIEW
After a 5 month delay, Beats have finally released their new wireless earbuds targeted at the mass market – the new Beats X wireless earbuds.
Available from the start with a range of discrete colors, black, grey , white & blue, the Beats X fall into that pattern of being wireless earbuds that kind of still have wires on show – but the connection to your phone is by bluetooth. So it’s more ‘less wires’ than ‘wire less’ if you get my drift.
The design is pretty understated considering this is a Beats product, and the buds themselves are super small & lightweight. The Beats X are probably the first Beats headphones that we have seen that look to be a bit less fashion focused & more grown up in style – in our view that’s a good thing.
The materials are all nice soft touch rubberized plastics which feel decent quality, and the nice flat cable also gives that premium touch to the overall build quality. The Beats X come complete with 3 sets of silicone ear tips that you can change out to get the perfect fit for your own ears plus a couple of sets of soft ‘wing tips’ to give a more secure fit when being a bit more active.
There is a soft rubber case / pouch included too, which whilst we quite like that it is easy to stash the earbuds in & adds a bit of protection whilst being stored in a pocket or bag, the large opening flap allows any loose objects that are close by to just drop in too. Probably would be better to look around for a better case (one that actually closes) or a nice soft pouch with a drawstring maybe.
Running over the technicals, the battery life of the Beats X is rated at 8 hours which is pretty decent considering the super slim form factor, and like the Powerbeats 3 we looked at recently, the Beats X also features the smart ‘fast fuel’ quick recharging system which boosts the battery to 2 hours playback use for just a 5 minute refresher charge. It charges using the lightning connector though, so may need to make sure you have one handy if you don’t carry one around with you already.
We found the Beats X really comfortable in use, the thicker rubbery section of the headband part is moldable & felt pretty good to us. Once you form the neckband section it stays in place pretty much spot on, it’s an ingenious take on the neckband approach & it works well, ensuring a comfortable fit no matter what size your neck is. As with all the neckband types it provides nice security & holds the earbuds like a necklace when not in use, we like that the buds themselves clip together magnetically when not in use too.
Beats missed a trick by not adding the magnetic functionality for the Beats X like we saw with the B&O H5, they will not pause the music & power down when connected together which is an oversight – we did flatten the battery a couple of times by leaving them up & running after use. It’s something to be aware of, I guess you would soon get into the habit of clicking the power button when taking them off & be just fine.
Beats X – Sound quality & Performance
So – on to the main event for the Beats X review – how do they sound?
Normally when we look at a set of headphones or earbuds from Beats you know exactly what we are going to say when it comes to sound delivery – ‘unsubtle’, ‘smash you in the face bass’ etc etc.
We were surprised by the Beats X, not only has the ‘look’ grown up somewhat, but so has the sonic delivery.
Sure the audio signature is still bass boosted, but it’s been toned down somewhat & no where near as crazy sledgehammer as we have seen in the past from Beats. So you get strong bass (but not mental), with clear & well defined mids & a crisp top end. The reduction in emphasis on the low frequency range allows the mids to shine through with more clarity than we were expecting – vocals in particular really benefit from this shift in focus & came across very well.
When pushed at high volumes we occasionally saw a touch of harshness to the very top of the frequency range, particularly evident with strong female vocals just coming across with a faint spot of sibilance that became less noticeable with the volume turned down a notch or two. We also had a few problems with ‘cable rustle’ coming through from the flexible neckband, but we could always resolve that with a quick readjustment.
The Beats X will probably be most often compared to the Apple Airpods as both will be on the same shelves next to each other in the Apple store. The Beats X are a clear winner on sound quality due to actually having some decent bass & just better overall sound delivery, add in the extra security / better fit & isolation from outside noises and we would say that the Beats X are a better overall set of earbuds. We look into other airpod alternatives here if you fancy checking out our top recommendations.
It’s a clear sign of the Beats brand maturing since being rolled into the Apple house brand, a big step into the mainstream rather than being purely aimed at the high fashion teenager market – the Beats X has been tuned in every way to be a mass market smash & we the shift makes it much more able to compete on the broader market with the leaders like the Sennheiser Momentum In ear Wireless & Bose Quiet Control 30 that are currently leading the earbuds market.
The use of class 1 bluetooth in the Beats X ensured a superbly solid connection at all times, easily maintaining a link to our test devices even when the audio player was 2 or 3 brick walls away. Leaving our test iPhone 7 in the front room, we managed to go out into the hall, through the kitchen, and even wander the back garden with our tunes streaming uninterrupted throughout. Very impressive, it’s as good as we have seen in that regard.
Not to forget the Beats X also have the apple proprietary W1 chipset baked in, which means for iPhone 7 users & up you just switch on the earbuds near to the phone & get super easy pairing with on screen battery icons for the earbuds. They still work great with every other non-Apple bluetooth device, but you pair them up in the standard way with a few clicks. W1 seems like such a small thing, but it does make life so much easier for the less tach-savvy users – heck – I take that back, it’s pretty smart in general to be honest!
- Feature Set 90%
- Build Quality 86%
- Sound Quality 85%
- Value for Money 88%
- Overall Rating 87%
Beats X Review – Final Thoughts
Beats has only gone & grown up – the Beats X show a whole new touch of maturity both in terms of the looks & the sonic delivery. Great battery life, class leading bluetooth connectivity & range, the Beats X makes a compelling case for being the everyday set of earbuds for someone wanting to step up into the first rung of the decent headphone ladder.
Price at time of review: UK £129 / US £149