A solid pair of wireless headphones with precise and accurate audio, lengthy battery and good comfort levels. The Austrian Audio Hi-X25BT aren’t best equipped to deal with the hustle and bustle of everyday life though, lacks the feature set of other options in their price bracket.
- Clear, precise and insightful sound
- Comfortable to wear
- Lengthy battery life
- Strong wireless connection
- Average passive isolation
- Sparse feature set
- Very sensitive touch controls
- High Excursion driversFor clear, low distortion audio
- Wired or wirelessBluetooth support along with 3.5mm and USB-c wired cables
Austrian Audio was born from the ashes of AKG with the aim of challenging the big-name brands. What manifested from the re-birth were a series of headphones with a focus on professional use, sound-mixing and high-resolution audio.
The Hi-X25BT are their most ‘mainstream’ product so far. It’s currently the only Bluetooth headphone in the range, but unlike its rivals, it keeps the feature count low with the focus on quality sound at a wallet-friendly price.
Considering the wealth of headphones with noise cancelling, Austrian Audio’s mantra to keep it simple may not give it as much visibility as others, but it might yet win admirers.
- Plush earpads
- Not the most effective noise isolation
- Sensitive touch controls
The Hi-X25BT are a dead ringer for Austrian Audio’s PG16 gaming headset, the only differences being that a little less red and the lack of a boom mic.
The headband is quite soft and pliable with some flex to fit a wide range of heads, though the centre of the headband is stiff to ensure it doesn’t lose shape. I like the red and black finish, the red styling adds something different from the legion of black attired headphones on the market, though some more white would not have gone amiss like the X15 model.
The earcups are bigger than I’d have expected with a nice big space for the ears to sit in, and the slow retention memory cushion for the earpads are very soft. I find the headphones easy to wear for a few hours at time without discomfort, with the headband adjustable to make the clamping force tighter or lighter.
The area where I feel the Hi-X25BT suffer, is in their ability to block out external noises. While the clamping force is good, the headphones can’t quite curtail every bit of noise I encounter on the way to work. At home I found them useful, which of course they would be as there’s little noise to disrupt. On trains there were fine with some sounds leaking through but not enough to distract; but in the busy thoroughfare of a city like London, the noise found its way through often, making it difficult to hear what was playing without raising the volume.
There are touch controls, which is about as flashy as the Hi-X25BT get. On the right-hand earcup are controls for playback, track skipping, volume and activation of a voice assistant (there’s no built-in voice assistance). The controls prove very sensitive, and usually I’d say that’s fine – I’d prefer sensitive over unresponsive – but they are sensitive to the point where even the slightest brush would raise the volume or restart playback.
The headphones can be collapsed and there is a pouch for safe keeping (it’ll be generous to call it a case as the Austrian Audio website implies). On the left ear-cup is a button for power, a battery level indicator and a USB-C connection that doubles for charging the headphones as well as listening via a wired connection (a 1.4m 3.5mm cable with 6.3mm adapter and 1.2m USB-C cable are provided). Austrian Audio like to keep things simple.
- Strong wireless connection
- Limited feature set
- Decent call quality
- No app
Austrian Audio keeps things so simple the feature set for these headphones is best described as sparse. There’s no noise cancellation, which would have helped in batting away environmental noises, but I suspect Austrian Audio didn’t add it in case it altered the headphones’ audio signature.
No ANC means no transparency mode, with no wear sensor activation (which may be a blessing depending on your feelings) and no app. What you see and what you hear is what you get, with no means to update the headphones or change how they sound. Some may prefer that level of simplicity; others may bristle at it.
Battery life is 30 hours, and that’s acceptable for the price though you can get more for similar cash. To compare it’s not as much as the Urbanista Miami (50 hours), Final UX3000 (35 hours) or Cleer Enduro ANC (60 hours with ANC). There’s no mention of fast-charging or indeed how long it takes to fill up the battery from dead.
Bluetooth connectivity is v5.0 and there’s only room for the SBC codec. It’s worth noting that having SBC Bluetooth is not the end of the world, and that the way the drivers are tuned has more of an effect on how they sound than codec support.
The wireless connection between the headphones and my smartphone has been excellent with only a few wobbles walking around London. Heading through the concourse at Waterloo station during a busy Royal Ascot week and no stutters were experienced.
Call quality is solid enough, the person on the other end mentioned that the quality of voice was good, but the headphones tended to pick up background noise – although not to the level where vocal quality was affected. Consider these headphones’ call quality decent for the price.
- Restrained bass output
- Plenty of midrange insight and clarity
- Persuasive dynamics
The Hi-X25BT are powered by Austrian Audio’s 44mm High Excursion drivers the company say offers improved airflow and more responsive frequency response. Listening to the Hi-X25BT and it’s clear to see where the headphones strengths and weaknesses lie.
The most obvious strength/weakness to my ears is the top-end sharpness and midrange clarity that comes at the expense of weighty bass. The low end of the frequency range is handled in a manner I’d describe as disciplined – the bass in Massive Attack’s Teardrop or The Neptunes’ Frontin’ (feat. Jay-Z) is punchily defined as opposed to being warm or rich.
Bass is punchier at higher volume levels than it is at default, the Austrian Audio are like a number of headphones I’ve tested in 2022 that sound reticent at normal volumes. There is a clear demarcation between the midrange and bass frequencies, which is good, avoiding the issue some headphones have where bass can overspill and muddy the midrange. I would say that bass enthusiasts may not appreciate the diplomatic approach taken here.
The stereo image is clear and precise, and tonally the Hi-X25BT sport a crisp, clean and neutral approach to representing voices and instruments – the Hi-X25BT pride themselves on an analytical approach.
They show good skill at describing the difference between quiet and loud notes. They’re not as bright or as sharp as pair of Bose headphones – I’d say they pitch themselves similar to the Ausounds AU-XT ANC in that they’re very forthcoming with midrange detail. They’re spacious (once the volume has been pushed up) and transparent; a performance with minimal fat on the bones and a refusal to add colour across the frequency range.
Plugged into a Lenovo laptop via the 3.5mm adapter for some wired listening and the Hi-X25BT sound their best. All the characteristics I mentioned carry over when listening to Takuya Kuroda’s Fade (feat. Corey King) – the disciplined bass, wide soundstage and analytical approach to unpicking a track – the wired connection grants more insight and definition over wireless.
The Austrian Audio Hi-X25BT aren’t the most exciting headphones, but for those who favour clarity and precision, these are a pair that emphasizes accuracy and neutrality in welcome quantities.
Should you buy it?
If you crave neutral, precise sound: If big bass, warm midrange and over-emphasized treble is not what you want from a pair of headphones, the Hi-X25BT’s neutral, balanced approach might win your favour.
If you can’t live without ANC: In bustling, noisy metropolitan areas, the lack of noise cancellation becomes a persistent problem as external sounds have a habit of dominating what you’re listening too unless the volume is raised.
I have the suspicion that despite kowtowing to the mainstream wireless market, the Hi-X25BT are a pair of headphones that favour wired over wireless listening.
The passive noise isolating aspect of the headphones’ design isn’t strong enough to resist the noisy landscape of a city, and the lack of comforts such as noise cancellation puts them at a disadvantage to similarly priced models that boast the technology.
But they do sound very good for those who prefer an accurate, precise sound; while comfort is well judged too, and battery life is lengthy. A solid pair of headphones, although they are perhaps too low-key to make as much noise as a brand like Austrian Audio warrants.
How we test
We test every headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry-standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Tested across a month
Tested with real world use
Assessed in wired and wireless modes
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There’s no aptX Bluetooth supported on this model, nor is AAC included. The headphones only have support for the SBC codec.
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