Got my X1's earlier today and have been doing lots of listening! Here are a few of my initial early thoughts...
I'll preface this by saying while I paid £121 for these, I would have happily paid upto £350 for them (non-removable pads taken into consideration).
Ok, got them and first had to marvel at the design/construction of them. One of the most beautiful phones I've seen along with the AKG K550, Pioneer HDJ-2000 and a few others which escape me at this point. Anyway, plugged them all up, pressed play and started cycling through my usual playlist. Wasn't too impressed and thought a good contender for the £100-£150 bracket. As I wasn't too taken aback by the sound I sarted contemplating returning them or selling them as I'm more than happy with my K701's and K240's. I started to proceed with my sibilance test as I figured may as well see how they stacked up in that department considering that is the number one thing that I just can't tolerate! I'm super sensitive to the stuff and I returned my Senn HD650's, HD558's and too an extent my Fischer FA-003's because of that. I began to A/B with my K701s and K240s (which, incidentally I find less sibilant than the K701s)
My impressions on sibilance needs a whole topic to itself as to this day I've never encountered a headphone or IEM that handles sibilance this proficiently. The HD650's and HD558's while not traditionally sibilant like the K701 did seem to possess some sort of glossy very high frequency shimmer that gave a slight metallic sound on some songs where the K701 will give a more traditional sibilant sound that while still aggravating not as earache-inducing as tha almost soundless shimmer the Senn's exhibited. The X1's have neither the traditional sibilance like the AKG's or the shimmer present on my former Senns. Unless I know I'm walking into a poorly mastered recording, with the X1's I can pretty much relax my ears and not have to worry about those 'eeeeek' moments where I know a sibilant sound will occur!
At this point I figured 'ok, maybe not as bad as I thought'! Anyway, I started doing some more A/B'ing and came to the following conclusions:
1.) The X1's are the most engaging and dynamic headphones I have used to date. My problem with both the Senns (particularly the HD558's which would smear neutral-ish songs with midbass) was that they both had a tonal balance that was a bit too far for me on the bassy side. The opposite with the AKG's The Fischers were perfect in this regard but they just didn't carry enough weight in sound notes (lacking energy of the Senns/X1). I wouldn't call the X1 bass or treble heavy. For me, they have hit that sweet spot where nothing is clouded but can pack a punch in either direction if needed.
2.) The soundstage and separation on these are nothing short of amazing! While both AKG's (though moreso K701's) have the edge in physical width (L/R channels). The X1's have a far greater advantage in perceptive depth. It sounds like there is much more air available on them and music notes have a perception of travellling much further distances than the physical distance of the AKG's. The decay on these are on a different level. Again, it almost feels as the X1's render each track within the song separately with clear boundaries from each other. I'm hearing rhythms that I never heard with the Senns or AKG's. Full orchestral crescendos where this is most needed are now done justice. I wish I had the fischers to see if this an issue of tonal balance but I;m not sure they would have had enough energy/weight of sound to carry each track with the conviction the X1's do it with.
3.) Not related to SQ but they are amazingly comfortable (comparable to the AKG's though with slighter greater clamping force) though the velour pads did itch for the first hour or so though that has stopped.
4.) They leak sound like nobody's business!
Oh, going back to tonal balance I wouldn;t say the mids are recessed at all and this is all with the stock cable. I was going to get a pure silver cable made up but if it led to a brighter sound and thus possibly inviting sibilance into the mix then that would be a gamble I'm not willing to invest in seeing as the stock hits the perfect FR for me. Points 1 and 2 less so 3 are the greatest assets I believe the X1's to possess. Those are the things I'm sure most people will notice first. Not everyone is plagued by sibilant sounds so that may be less noticeable but for those that cringe at even the mere thought of its anticipation will love the X1's.
So far so good and I gotta say kudos to Philips. On atleast a superficial level they seem to have delivered. I wouuld have paid upto £400 if they just had removeable earpads though!! :(
Edited by communic - 10/3/12 at 1:27pm