So my XS finally came in! Here are some quick first impressions, after a couple of hours burn-in, as heard through a PA2V2:
- Great packaging
- Small and compact, pictures don't do justice
- Very sturdy feel. These aren't breaking anytime soon.
- Heavy for their size but only when held in hand.
- Insanely comfortable, you almost forget they're there.
- Clamping is quite light. Sudden head movements will make them move, but won't fall.
- Sound doesn't change if pushed against the ear, so a harder clamp wouldn't affect the sound, just comfort and isolation.
- Cable is sturdy and somewhat thick, but is not too long, inobtrusive and very VERY light. Quality stuff.
- Bass is very present, it's definitely there. Don't fell like I'm missing out anything. In fact, it can be ever so slightly overpresent for certain styles.
- Mids are lush and beautiful. Not forward but not recessed. They're there to support the bass, and don't call any attention to themselves. Perfect.
- Highs are inobtrusive and nicely linear. Sibilance is practically non-existent. I do however miss their extension. I feel like I'm missing out on some of the cymbals and vocal breathyness.
- Soundstage and depth is a bit smaller and more compact, but still more than most other on-ears.
- The loudest I'm comfortable listening at on my PA2V2, is also the maximum that would output from an iPod. They're easily driven, but not the loudest, especially given the non-forward response.
- Isolation is mediocre. Many on-ears have better isolation out there but this is just a matter of clamping force. I prefer the comfort over the extra couple of dB isolation I would get otherwise. It's perfectly fine for anything but the loudest of environments. I wouldn't worry too much about it.
- They can go loud and handle it. You'll go deaf before these distort, but you will need an amp to do that.
These are definitely darker headphones for my taste. I love me my highs and the XS unfortunately don't deliver. The bass can be a bit too much at times, but seriously I'm talking about a dB here. I'm a recovering basshead and wouldn't really say these are bass heavy, but bass is still the driving factor here. Anything more would be overkill. Especially given how the rest of the spectrum is more laid-back. If the mids support the bass, then the treble is "call me when you need me", and then takes care of business wonderfully. They are also accurate enough that one would do well with better mp3s or lossless tracks.
Perfect for: Modern electronic production. Especially DnB. The more forward high end on these tracks come out beautifully on these and the bass goes deep while creating a great foundation for the rest. Turn it up a bit more and you can almost get the head vibrating effect. Hip Hop would also sound great through these.
Not for: Acoustic music. The bass muddy's up the low end and lack the sparkle to define the high end. However the soundstage will still be there, reverbs will come out well and still have depth.
I am still not sure what I'll do with them. They're not what I expected and was pretty sure I would return them due to simply not being my prefered sound signature. However I'm slowly changing my mind, based simply on their comfort, compactness and even looks. I'll give them some more time.