- Great general wireless performance
- Extra easy for iPhone owners
- Fun sound
- Unrefined upper mids
- Not that detailed
- Review Price: £129.00
- Apple W1 chip
- Battery life up to eight hours
- Lightning-port charging
What are the Beats X?
As an Apple-owned company, you may expect Beats to make a product that has an Apple AirPod-like quality but with a Dr Dre flavour. But at first sight, the Beats X appear to be far more conventional wireless earphones.
These £129.99 earphones use a Lightning charger, a sign that they’re aimed squarely at iPhone owners. Sound quality is good, if slightly flawed in a few areas, but they’re easy to use and offer excellent wireless performance.
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Beats X – Design and comfort
The Beats X are wireless headphones sporting a neckband. All the electronics – and weight – sit in the two plastic ingots that will end up resting by your collarbones, leaving the rest of the band a skeletal but highly flexible rubbery outline.
It’s a decent design, one that doesn’t leave the neckband feeling as though it’s pinching your neck as others do. The Beats X also don’t bounce around as you run. However, I did find that they gradually rotate to the right after a while, likely because one side of the earphones are slightly heavier than the other.
Not a perfect design, then, but it works. The finish is a mix of hard plastic and rubber throughout. The ‘lozenges’ and main bulk of the earpieces are plastic, and the neckband and end of each earpiece sport a rubberised finish for added friction.
If you find they start working their way out of your ears – I didn’t – then you can attach Beats’ wingtips. These are little silicone earhooks that use your ear cartilage to further anchor the Beats X. Alongside the wingtips, the Beats X earphones also come with four pairs of tips and a carry case.
Virtually all wireless earphones such as these are charged using a micro-USB cable – the Beats X use a iPhone-like Lightning cable instead. One of the neatest features of the Beats X is quick charging, getting you up to two hours of listening from a quick 15-minute charge. It’s perfect if you want to go out for a run, but see the dreaded ‘low battery’ LED light when you try to turn them on. Unusually, the Beats X have a completely exposed Lightning socket that rests by your neck.
Looks like a one-button remote, but it actually has three
It seems a sure-fire way for them to fizzle out as soon as you start sweating, but I’d bet the socket is water-resistant – even though, officially, the Beats X offer no water-resistance at all.
One popular extra they do have is magnetised earpieces. They cling together, back-to-back, to stop them wobbling about too much when you’re just wearing them around your neck like a techy fashion accessory.
Beats X – Wireless
The Beats X are only the third pair of headphones we’ve used to feature the Apple W1 chipset, the others being the Beats Solo 3 Wireless and Apple AirPods. It’s a chip that lets an iPhone recognise, and talk to, these earphones more quickly than a standard Bluetooth pair. However, they also work just fine with an Android phone, which is what I’ve been using.
Wireless stability is excellent, with virtually no drop-outs or Bluetooth blips. These are among the most reliable in-ear wireless headphones going.
Beats X – Sound Quality
Beats headphones are well known for their bass, but the Beats X show their continued evolution to a slightly more nuanced style, slowly nudging closer to the sort of signature you hear in a Bose earphone. The earphones don’t sound as good as the Bose SoundSport, but there are some interesting things to note about the audio.
First, the classic Beats bass lift is now carefully localised. Kick-drum hits receive extra power, but spoken-word podcasts don’t have the unformed low-end that results from a more general bass boost. I do find that the bass can sound a little disconnected from the rest of the sound, though. This typifies the Beats X sound. It’s enjoyable, and has satisfying impact.
The Beats X’s treble is reasonably well defined and is neither sibilant nor harsh; the mids are full, if not all that well textured. There’s a general lack of finer detail in these earphones that makes them forgiving, but not exactly high-end. I also find that the upper-mids become a bit abrasive when you increase volume to a higher level. It’s a clue that these headphones don’t use particularly great drivers.
Soundstage width also isn’t particularly impressive, limiting the scale of sound that these earphones can recreate.
There are negatives then – several of them. However, I do find that the Beats X output enjoyable sound that should appeal to the majority of folk drawn to Beats-brand headphones. They’re not audiophile-quality, but they do manage to balance clarity and solid bass impact well.
Should I buy the Beats X?
The Beats X earphones have iPhone-specific features – namely, the Apple W1 chip – that you just don’t find in other manufacturers’ pairs. They’re fairly comfortable, the fit works for runners, and wireless reliability is excellent; they should please the Beats crowd .
If you care more about sound than the convenience of the Apple-specific features, however, then there are better choices out there. The V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless are a good example of similarly priced earphones that deliver a more refined sound.
iPhone owners will find the Beats X a dream to use, but you can get better sound at the price.