It’s been a while since I’ve done an iPhone/iPod earphone review. The audio industry takes note when a product category like earphones surpasses sales of US$800 million world wide. All manufacturers want a piece of this lucarative and still growing pie. XTZ is one such manufacturer, launching their first earphone product, after a highly successful budget hifi product run. Since this is XTZ’s first earphone product, I am wondering why they called it Earphone-12???
Amusement aside, this is an affordable earphone, which is well built and looks seriously good too, though I still prefer the low profile, yet classy copper tone finish of my reference Nu-Force NE-700X. The Earphone-12 is chrome finished by comparison and has a much bigger (by volume) L shaped body profile. It comes with 3 set of rubber buds to suit diferent ear canal size for superbly comfortable fit. Once plugged in to the ear, one is totally audibly isolated from the outside world.
The sound coming from the XTZ Earphone-12 is savagely fast, dynamic, and clear. The highs have great top end extension, resulting in airiness from MP3 music source. Though fast and clear, the sound is never analytical or rough around the edges. It’s reasonably refined the way an audiophile can appreciate yet one can have all snappy fingers while listeining to music. The mids are crystal clear with excellent vocal diction. Bass is fast and taut, causing the kick drums to give and extra “ommph” that no other in-ear design phones can equal I’ve reviewed this far.
The down side is the bass does not go as low as my reference Nu-Force does. That doesn't mean a clear cut win for the Nu-Force either, as the earphones trying to go too low can result in a certain low octave bass distortion (as I listen to Psy’s ‘Oppa Gangam Style’ real LOUD! or try Nikki Minaj’s ‘Super Bass’ for example) that I’ve never heard with the XTZ. So go pick your preference here. Both earphones have that solid imaging betweeen one’s ears inside the head feeling. I felt the Nu-Force to have an even more refined top end, but that high dynamic factor of the XTZ is just too intoxicating and fun to ignore. Pick your poison is the game here, as both are seriously good affordable earphones.
I must regret to never experienced the Dirac Research DSP Technology app called Dirac HD for iPhone (due to a non-recoverable username/password loss which prevents me from accessing the Apps store), as XTZ claims it would bring the performance of the Earphone-12 to a whole new level. I was unable to download the app on to my iPhone. Even without the aid of the Dirac Research DSP Technology, the XTZ Earphone-12 is a top performer at a highly affordable price of only RM$450.00/pair. Music lovers on the go never had so many choices like now.
XTZ is available at Living Audio, contact Ean Soong at 019-5710383.
Article by WL Low