Beyerdynamic XP1, XP2 and XP3 Review
Beyerdynamic do not need too much introducing. They are one of the biggest headphone manufacturers out there coming straight from Germany similar to the likes of Sennheiser. However although this is the first product of theirs that I have owned, I am aware that their forte seems to lie with in full sized headphones although they have had some budget IEMs that have been pretty well regarded. They have recently discontinued some of their IEMs and now have released three new IEMs to replace them and these are the XP series. What is rather special about these is that they are physically all the same earphones yet they are all tuned differently for certain peoples needs and tastes. The XP1 is designed for deep bass and of course will appeal to bassheads or people wanting a more fun experience. The XP2 is balanced and the XP3 is for clarity and this makes for 3 IEMs that should all sound rather differently while all sharing a package, a price (nicely set at around £45) and a shell.
I will be reviewing all three and comparing the sound quality of them so all three can be easily determined and distinguished.
Also here is what Beyerdynamic have to say about the three models:
XP1: the beast Bass focus earphone which suitable for bass head and love punchy tight bass.
XP2: Bass reduced compare with the XP1, good balance between treble and low frequency with great handle.
XP3: the most neutral and detail out of 3, suitable for all kind of music.
The set-up I have used is the normal, as I have started using a new portable rig, which is the Hippo CriCri amplifier connected through a LOD to an iPod Nano 3G with Apple Lossless and MP3 on it.
I also used my old set-ups of my iPhone 4, Cowon J3 (with FLAC) and my iMac with my Objective 2 amplifier.
I used the medium stock tips.
The design of these is actually really nice. These take a few things from mainstream IEMs like Beats Tours and throw in a bit them selves. These do take the ever becoming more popular flat cables but these are the first flat cables that I have actually liked strangely; they have a real nice feel to them. They have the angled large dynamic driver housing that I always like because of how it sits in your ear comfortably and also how it looks. I really like the colours also as the silver look very stylish and the black is more subtle, they also have a red and a blue nozzle to easily and quickly differentiate right and left which is really cool.
The build quality is rather impressive. Starting with the right-angled jack that is terminated with gold plating and has a flat housing that is nether flexible or the most solid but is not bad either. We then move onto the flat cable which if you have seen any of my previous reviews you will notice that I hate them but this won me other a bit, mainly because it is well built and strong but also because it feels nice and does actually not tangle all that much. The y-split is just a chunk of plastic but the cable cinch is amazing. I know it is only a little touch but it operates so smoothly and effectively I think it deserves a mention.
The Housings are also very good. The strain relief is nice and effective for the flat cable and the back of the housing is a nice plastic. The rest of the housings is a very well built metal which is finished very plush.
Okay these do not come bundled with the most accessories and I would have like to have seen a sturdier case for these. I say this because although thankfully you do get a case, it is just a little mesh, drawstring pouch that is not doing the most protecting, maybe just against scratches.
Tip wise though you do get quite a nice collection. You get the single flange tips in 4 sizes ranging from an extra small to a large. They are a bit flimsy and also have a large bore but sound nice with the earphones. You also get a pair of dual flanges that is a nice addition for a bit of extra isolation.
Lastly you get an airplane adapter, which I found a bit odd really, but it is something else I guess.
Comfort is something these do well and is a trademark to the large driver angled IEMs. This is because the large driver in the housing mounts on your concha very pleasantly. These also do not insert that deep at all into your canal that is really nice and not intrusive. One thing though is that these are quite heavy because of the metal and you do start to notice the weight after a while and this can not be combated as the large driver does not really allow these to be worn over the ear.
As this ported and has rather shallow insertion depth I did not expect much here from this in this area but these actually block out a fair bit of noise, it was really a big surprise. I mean they are no isolation kings but they are far from shabby blocking out a lot of noise and these really have to be pushed to let any noise in.
Microphonics (Cable Noise):
The one thing that stopped me being completely won over by the flat cable is that they always have rather noticeable cable noise and this is no exception. Wind noise is noticeable and the cable noise is really quite loud with real thud to it. Just something to take in account but I think it is not the biggest of problems.
By what I am about to write I do not want to cause any upsets or arguments as this topic can be seen as a sour subject. These have had roughly 100 hours now of use and burn in combined. As burn in is not scientifically proven this all could be mental and happening in my head but in the case that it does happen I recommend burning them in as in my personal experience I have noted improvements which have a massive impact on my enjoyment factor, so don’t make any irrational decisions after listening to them out the box.
All three are actually rather similar in sound quality and sound signature, are they all different? Yes they are and clearly as well. All three are actually really quite neutral with a fairly flat response with the XP1 having a mid-bass hump. All three have a clear and clean sound with fairly good clarity to it and none have any veils or huge negative points. They all also have a really quite nice sub-bass extension and rumble which really surprised me when I found that the XP2 and XP3 had this as I though the bass would be tuned down quite a bit which it does with the extension remaining nicely. In total for the price we have some great sounds and real contenders.
Soundstage and instrument separation:
XP1: The Soundstage is rather average in size with IEMs in general. By that I mean a width and height that barely gets out of your head but does and the slightest depth to it that is just noticeable. It does not mean that you can get excited about the size of it but the IEMs do not sound stuffy or compressed.
The instrument separation does start to falter at the signs of a fast passage and become a bit of a blurry mess. Before that though it is actually quite good which is nice considering a large bass quantity normally muddies thing up a lot more.
XP2: Soundstage is the same as XP1.
Instrument separation is rather nice and it takes fast passages to start to make a mess.
XP3: Soundstage is the same as XP1.
Instrument separation is actually really quite nice and it manages to keep most instruments apart even when many build up and it takes the real fast passages or faster more aggressive genres such as metal to really show any huge problems or blurry messes of instruments. An example of this is Bullet for my Valentine’s “Last to Know” which overwhelmed it a tad but a slower song like “Polly” by Nirvana is rather clean with most things being clearly apart.
Comparison: Soundstage size does not really differ in any of the IEMs but the instrument separation does. The XP3 has the best with the XP2 being close but the XP1 being a little more a drift.
XP1: These do have a mid-bass hump but not the biggest that I have ever heard. It makes the bass dominate the rest of the frequencies quite clearly and the whole IEM orientates around the mid-bass. Is the bass good in quality though? It is a bit to reverb with lagging decay and fairly slow speed. It can be a bit on the boomy side as well which can be shame but this is fairly rare. However it does hit with huge body and really satisfies with this.
The sub-bass extension is amazing and it really rumbles and groans so well. Will satisfy most peoples needs in this department.
XP2: The XP2’s mid-bass actually seems to take a slight dip behind the mids in a weird sense while still have a really good quantity. It is quite weird and hard to explain. The mid-bass really slams hard but is still pretty fast and never boomy. Although the body is large and hard hitting the quantity is still relatively small (if you get what I mean) it has a nice thick texture as well.
These get really deep and rumble nicely. The sub-bass is very good and although it is not moving crazy amounts of air it is still a pleasant and noticeable amount, not basshead just good!
XP3: The mid-bass is actually very pleasant. It has no additional emphasis to it and the quantity is very nice, enough for most people, a tiny bit more than you would expect with balanced armature IEM if you know what I mean. The quality is actually also rather nice, not to bad speed and the texture could only be seen as a little thin. It is rather tight and the body it hits with is on the smaller sides.
The Sub-Bass is very impressive and the extension gets really quite low. There is a rumble present and the bass seems to extend ruler flat so the sub-bass presence seems to be in line with mid-bass and the mids that is nice. It is nice that a phone labeled as made for clarity can have some real rumble to it.
Comparison: The XP1 of course has the most mid-bass by a fair degree as well as the most thump in the sub-bass. The XP 2 and 3 have similar amounts of sub-bass thump but the 2 has more mid-bass slam but is maybe a little bit more behind the mids.
XP1: The mid-range is veiled and there is bass bleed but not to badly. The mids are still airy though and when the bass calms down in the song, the vocals really shine through but then the bass will take over again. Drums sound really well weighted and have a strong impact but string can be a bit blurred.
XP2: The mids are very pleasant, they are on the brighter side and female vocals excel and male vocals do not suffer. The clarity is excellent and these are actually a bit transparent revealing some nice details. Timbre is typically dynamic though and the weight makes drums really thud.
XP3: The mids are really airy as well as being a tad dry. Vocals sound really natural and true and male or female vocals both sound equally good. Timbre is the same as the XP2 with good weight to it. These do seem to be slightly dropped behind the treble and bass in the slightest of Vs. Clarity is really goo on these but not to revealing.
Comparison: The XP2 has the most forward mids followed by the XP1. Both the 2 and 3 are very free and clear with more brightness on the 2 and a more warm and dry side to the 3. Timbre is similar on both. The 1 is veiled, more muffled and overall less enjoyable than the other two because the bass overwhelms them. The mids are also really thick.
XP1: This is the weakest point of XP1 and the frequencies seem to tilt from the bass to the mids and this leaves the treble rather recessed and really laid back. They are smooth though but do roll of rather quickly and have very little to no sparkle to them and cymbal clashes do not jump out. Details are also rather abundant.
XP2: The treble is a little laid back but still clearly there. Can be a tad harsh every now and again but nothing to bad and the roll of comes a bit early but does so smoothly. The roll of does cause a bit of a lack in the sparkle region and detail is only ok.
XP3: Trebles is really nice and zingy. Has a tad of sparkle to it before the roll of comes and details are there in small quantities. They are mainly smooth through out and have good presence just above the mids and in line with the bass.
Comparison: The XP3 has the most treble presences, detail and shimmer but the XP2 is very close, the XP3 is so much more recessed and a fair bit off of the other two.
We have three IEMs that are all of tremendous value. Beyerdynamic have a great series here as that have something that will appeal for everyone and are going to be up with the Vsonic GR06 for my recommendation in this price range. The XP1 is for you bass heads but the technically best of the three even though all similar in my opinion is the XP3 and I also found the XP2 and XP3 to be extremely similar with only the slightest differences and I think the real choice is between the XP3 and XP1. They come in a good physical package and also look great and appealing to those who are fashion conscious. I really cannot get over the cheap price to be honest. If you want something in this price range then you should really be looking here.
Edited by Swimsonny - 10/4/12 at 4:20am