Echobox Finder X1: A Tuneable Titanium IEM
When I’d first heard of Echobox, I was intrigued — A startup, bright-eyed with many big promises, especially regarding their new titanium IEM and their upcoming flask-shaped DAP. I was lucky enough to get a chance to try out the IEM, the Finder X1. It has tuning filters, and is powered by German-made PEEK drivers. Looks good on paper, but how does it sound?
The Finder X1 can be bought from Echobox’s official website here for $200.
Disclaimer: This review is based upon a sample unit provided to me by a manufacturer in exchange for my honest opinion and un-edited words. I do not profit in any way from the writing of the review. I would like to thank the team at Echobox for providing me with this unit.
Preference and Bias: Before reading a review, it is worth mentioning that there is no way for a reviewer to objectively pass judgment on the enjoy-ability of a product: such a thing is inherently subjective. Therefore, I find it necessary for you to read and understand what I take a natural liking to and how that might affect my rating of a product.
My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, bass. The mids should be slightly less pronounced than the treble, but still ahead of the bass. I prefer a more bright upper range.
Source: The X1 was powered off of a Nexus 6P -> Creative Sound Blaster E3. All music was served as FLAC, ALAC, or as 320Kbps Mp3. I found the standard DAC/Amp inside my phone and PC to be adequate to drive the X1 at near-peak levels of quality.
- Housings: Solid titanium
- Drivers: 9.2mm PEEK (Polyether Ether Ketone) Dynamic Driver
- Cable: SPC (Silver-plated copper)
- Cable style: Down or over-ear
- Cable length: 1.2m
- Impedance: 22 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 96dB/mW
- Frequency response: 15 Hz — 35 KHz
- THD: <1%
- Plug: 3.5mm stereo, gold-plated
Please note the above specifications were taken directly from the Echobox official website.
Initial Impressions: These impressions were taken before I’d seen any FR response graphs or measurements. Impressions are taken off of random songs in my music library. As per Echobox’s recommendation, I’ve burned the X1 in for 60 hours.
Black filters (neutral): These are my favorite filters. It balances out what I would consider a slightly lopsided bass, that the silver filters have. The X1 extends quite well, giving a noticeable level of volume to the 20Hz-200Hz band. The 250Hz range could get more love, but isn’t causing any major problems at its current response levels. It seems to me as though there is a boost at the 1.6–2.2KHz range which may be responsible for the somewhat sparkly highs the X1 has.
Silver filters (bass): With the silver filters installed, you get a balanced sound signature with a slight emphasis on the treble, and a moderate emphasis on mid and sub-bass. However, even with the bass boost, I still find myself wishing for more fleshed out lower-mids. This is the filter with the most tamed treble.
Red filters (treble): These are my least favorite filters, despite the fact I am a self-described treble-head. When using the red filters, the Finder X1 is sibilant 30% of the time, and just bordering it the other 70% of the time. Furthermore, these filters dampen the bass further than it is already. This makes the red filters very unappealing for me, so much so that I won’t be including them in the future parts of this review. If you are dying to know a more about the red filters, check out this review and this review from Head-Fi.
Treble is very present, but never sibilant. The boost in White Flag lends the X1 a slight boost in retrieval and resolution, at the cost of drying out the sound a bit. The vocal echos are well resolved and fade out evenly. Attack and decay is good.
Midnight City’s intro sounded a bit thin. Furthermore, the drums burst through the song in a piercing manor, giving them a very aggressive tone, even with the silver filters installed.
The violins of Outlands sounded tense and poised, a new, but interesting presentation. They have hard edges, and separate themselves well from the rest of the song. It doesn’t sound too natural though. I feel this is due to some missing lower-frequencies. This stands true for both the silver and black filters.
The piano and violins of the Drift are presented well, and resolve without any distortion, but do seem to be brightly colored. The deep chugging sound that normally sits in the lower-mids has a greatly scaled-back presence, suggesting a valley between 150Hz and 350Hz.
Jars sounded a little washed out. The depressed lower mids make it difficult to distinguish the guitars from one another during the chorus. However, the vocals did remain in control for the entire duration of the song.
I Am Then Highway didn’t fair much better than Jars. Even with the silver filters installed, I found the Finder X1’s reproduction to be too harsh and dry. To put it in perspective, I had to reduce the upper-mids by 7dB in order to get the X1 back into a relatively uncolored state.
The Finder X1 performed passably on Lights. While I would have appreciated a wetter bass, I don’t think the overall performance of the X1 was all that bad. The X1 extends quite far into the sub-bass, and emphasizes it approprately.
However, the story changes for Kyoto which did not play nicely at all with the Finder X1. The lack of bass response really made it hard to listen to at anything higher than a moderate volume level.
Hugo’s 99 Problems did fair slightly better. The sub-bass and mid-bass response’s evenness with the black filter really helps balance out the low-end of the song.
Leave Me was a surprisingly good. Since the Finder X1 has a decent level of sub-bass response, what could have otherwise been a dry and flat song behaved quite well. There was a good amount of rumble, with appropriately timed decays.
Throne performed well. While there was some harshness to it, I didn’t hear any distortion. I’m impressed considering the very emphasized upper-range. Upper-treble clarity is top notch.
The good news continues into Map of The Problimatique. There was no smudging in the mids and lows, with the upper-treble being dynamic and articulating, regardless of how far back it was in the mix.
I’m Not Alright performed decently. The the background did become cloudy in the upper-mids, and the song had generally low transparency.
High-pitched male vocals do tend to be a little veiled in songs and strained on the Finder X1. There a lot of detail, but it seems to too cloudy, almost as if there is a layer of smudge over it.
Lower-pitched male vocals, such as those of Ashes of Eden, do fair better as they aren’t as veiled. However, they still lack a natural sound, and feel metallic — a common problem with titanium-treated drivers. The Macaw GT100s has the same issue.
Female vocals are generally more transparent than male vocals, but have the same metallic sound to them. The most natural sounding song out of my three testers is Need Your Heart, which ironically, has the most post-processed vocals.
The Finder X1’s sound stage is wide, and of a mediocre depth. There is little to no height, so expect to be up close and personal with your music. If the X1 had a little more air to it, its sound would be greatly enhanced.
Finder X1 v.s AAW Q ($200)
The AAW Q sounds tame when compared to the unbridled brightness of the Finder X1. However, that’s not a bad thing, as the relaxed treble and fuller lower-mids and bass really do make the Q sounds miles more natural. Since the Q is so much smaller and of comparable build-quality, I’d say the Finder X1 looses this round.
Finder X1 v.s RHA MA750i ($130)
The MA750i has a much better midrange and lower-mids. Bass production is about the same. The Finder X1 easily bests the MA750i in upper-mids and treble, but fails to achieve a more transparent sound signature. It’s difficult for me to declare a solid winner here, as these two IEMs have vastly different sound signatures that can appeal to two different camps of listeners. However, I see the RHA’s as a better value, with a sound signature that would appeal to the masses better. Sorry Echobox, this one goes to RHA.
Packaging / Unboxing
Echobox did a really good job redesigning the X1’s packaging. It feel very premium, and is befitting of the $200 price tag.
My favorite feature of the X1 is by far its construction. Made from an ultra-durable titanium housing, the X1 will last a long time. The cable is SPC, and coated in a protective layer of clear plastic. The stress relief on the driver housings and the Y-splitter looks to be very competent. Both the inline controls and the 3.5mm jack have metal housings, though I’m not sure if they are made from titanium as well. My only complaint is that it is hard to distinguish the right side from the left, as the markings are etched very lightly into the driver housings.
The X1 is very comfortable. Since it is so light, I find that I often forget I’m wearing the X1 during extended listening sessions. The included silicone tips are also very high quality, and the first ones I actually feel comfortable using. The X1 can be word both cable-down and over-ear style. I didn’t notice any enhancement to the fit while wearing them over-ear, other than a slight reduction in microphonics.
The Finder X1 is equiped with a pair of iOS compatible inline controls. The controller’s housing feel rugged, as do the buttons. Basic pause/play and forward/rewind functionality is available on Android and Windows Phone.
Echobox ensured that even the Finder X1’s accessories feel premium. A touch I really appreciate is the oval tip tray. Since it is the same shape as the case, you can easily slip it in and store it with you IEMs — a nice touch for someone who likes to switch eartips around.
The Finder X1 is a durable, bright-sounding IEM not for the treble shy. While it can make some songs sound dry, the durable titanium driver housings and tough cable make it a good buy for those looking for a durable and detailed IEM. For everyone else, there are better-sounding IEMs out there.