XTZ Headphone Divine

General Information

The World's first DSP Enhanced Bluetooth Headphone, which taking advantage of the Dirac Software overcomes its own limits to reach an incredibly detailed sound which is at the very top of the actual Bluetooth Panorama.

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Sound Science Forum Moderator
Pros: Proof of concept, affordable, pretty well balanced sound with the DSP app.
Cons: the apps could use an added EQ or at least more presets. Doesn't bypass all audio on android. usual background hiss for a BT headphone.
Warning, Grumpy guy in ponyland!
 Please don't misread my reviews simply because I'm not your usual shoe shiner singing along the “everything is awesome” Lego song. the review is done so that people can know what to expect, and see if the pros&cons make it worth it for them as it does for me. I'm actually making very few reviews compared to the stuff I own/demo, so me writing anything at all is already my seal of approval.

Why get this BT headphone?
I'm a wire guy, I would never get a wireless mouse or keyboard(old school gamer habits), I always favor Ethernet over wifi even at the cost of 30meters of cable going through the house. I didn't even think I could enjoy using a bluetooth headphone, TBH I never understood the point.
Yet here I am now taking the “divine” out for a walk like a puppy instead of my usual IEMs.
 I certainly don't need it when I have like a dozen IEMs already, I tend to dislike anything “on ear” for headphones, or simply portable headphones, so this adventure wasn't starting with high expectations. but it's been a year now since I received the Divine for demo, and I've been using it to go for a walk ever since, I ended up asking to buy it so that I could keep using it. Me buying a BT headphone... “he's been replaced by an alien, shoot him!”.
So why? Well instead of looking at it in term of “what's the best device ever?” #upgradatis #neverhappy, I'm thinking in term of “when would I use that?”
I like speakers, at home I use them when I can, when night comes I have neighbors so I move on to using my hd650. The hd650's role is to let me enjoy music even when I need to be quiet about it.
When I go outside, both the speakers and the hd650 lose their purposes, and I don't have that (yet!)
so I get a vented IEM I enjoy when I need to stay aware of my surroundings, and a strongly isolating IEMs when I get on the train or other noisy places. It's not just about sound, it's about serving a purpose.
I honestly thought I didn't need a BT headphone or any portable headphone because I was doing fine without. Then I tried, and it grew on me. like a cellphone, or internet, we lived just fine without, but it's really cool to have them.
Cables have their own problems, mechanical noises, some static noises when rubbing against some particular clothing materials, pulling on your ear when inside the jacket, makes you paranoid when outside and you're getting anywhere near door knobs or agitated people.
BT isn't perfect, far from it in fact, but there is something special about the no cable maaaagic. I use the divine when it's getting a little cold and IEMs in frozen ears isn't fun anymore. when I may need to take it off and on often, and when I want to go for a walk but couldn't be bothered to get both my phone and a DAP even though my cellphone's HO really sucks. That's when having a powered source can go from a downgrade to something practical.
And overall I can't deny the appeal to stop the all hifi nonsense for a sec and just chill. So this little bad boy ends up being one of my many options to listen to music and has it's very own moments when it wins me over.


XTZ divine headphone:
Specification: lame copy/past from the web page http://www.xtz.se/headphone-divine
  1. Cable-free with Bluetooth 4.0
  2. Bluetooth interface: HSP, HFP, A2DP, AVRCP
  3. aptX® audio coding delivers CD-quality wirelessly over Bluetooth. 
  4. Up to 10 meters connection range
  5. NFC pairing - just touch the devices
  6. If the battery is low, you can still use the headphones by connecting the by-pass cable (3.5mm jack) 
  7. Works as a headset with built-in microphone
  8. Optimized sound quality with DSP technology from Dirac
  9. 40 mm Neodymium drivers
  10. Output level 97dB / 1kHz
  11. Frequency Response 15 – 32.000 Hz
  12. Impedance @ 1kHz: 59 ohms
  13. Multifunction key (volume, play, pause, answer)
  14. Large battery that can handle 14 hours of continuous playback at full volume.
  15. Strong construction to handle indoor and outdoor use
  16. Ear-cushion and headband cushion in Korean leatherette
  17. Weight is 170 g, lightweight and rigid construction.
Function details and buttons:
  1. International standard Micro USB cable
  2. Shows On/Off Status
  3. 3.5mm Passive Connection 
  4. Volume Control Up/Down 
  5. On/Off Switch 
  6. Microphone for phone-call and sound recording

For some reason they don't mention “next” and “previous” buttons on the headphone, but you have them.
User manual for users and curious people http://www.xtz.se/product-assets/headphones/headphone-divine/manuals/headphone-divine_manual.pdf
We get a paper version of this with the headphone.

So yes it's a BT headphone. You turn it ON holding the power button for about 3sec, or 5sec if you want to make it detect a new device(as in, never paired to it ever before). On one of my old sony DAP I have it to pair automatically as I don't use that DAP for anything else, and the pairing is done in a few seconds once both devices are turned ON.
On my sony A15, I chose to use the NFC connection instead, so that I can just use the DAP with my IEMs without changing anything the rest of the time. I just pass my A15 gently over the left ear, get a multi tone sound from the headphone signaling me “I taw a puddy tat” in his own language, and a few seconds after, the DAP is connected.
On my cheap tablet, or cellphone, it also only takes a few seconds,

With some devices I've tried(my sony A15), I could block the signal with my butt. they say the range is about 10meters, and it's about right in empty space. With a chunk of castleofargh standing in the way, it can be a lot less.^_^  But that really depends on the device used with it more than on the Divine. With my cellphone and tablet I've had zero issue. In fact a few times I went out without them and wondered why the music had stopped

The headphone can be wired, basic male mini jack to male mini jack, one is provided but looks a little cheap. The only thing looking cheap IMO, and as it's not dedicated to the basic use of the headphone, I find it ok to go cheap on something we may just never use.
I tried it with my computer, setting the Dirac program to output to my odac/o2 and plugged the headphone to that. the sound is actually better than used wireless, if only thanks to a way lower noise floor. Which was kind of a good surprise even though it's logical. I'm so used to headphones with internal amps like those with noise canceling, to sound like crap once you turn off the amp, that I was expecting bad stuff. No such thing here.
The ability to get nice sound wired is great, and to be able to still use it without crying when it goes out of juice is clearly reassuring. I just keep a cable at the bottom of my bag and it gives me peace of mind. In practice the headphone lasts consistently more than 15hours in my case(sold as doing 14hours at max volume playing continuously). How many of you have a device that will have more than that using BT? ^_^
So I only ever used it wired to test the headphone. I got myself a BT headphone and I use it as such.

The headphone turns OFF after about 10 or 15mn(didn't time but it's in that ballpark) when you disconnect/turn OFF the device that was paired to it.
When the music is stopped, the amp section is turned OFF, but the headphone is still very much alive and paired to the DAP. You have the led to tell you if it's ON anyway, so there is no reason to stress over “did I turn it OFF?” if you're really paranoid about that, you can just turn it ON and off again, the tones are different for ON and OFF so there is your last way to know.



Software apps and other options:
Let's make this clear, the headphone has no on-board DSP!!!! To benefit from the optimized sound, you will need an iphone with the free app, an android phone/dap with the free app, and for windows, you need the dirac software the isn't free(price changes depending on if you buy it with the headphone 20euro, or separately 39euro).

For windows, the Dirac software shows up as a virtual device in the sound settings, so you can set it as output for whatever software you want like foobar, or simply as default output for windows and have everything go through it. That way you get your movie on the Divine headphone using the DSP. Pretty sweet and rather easy to set up IMO.

The android app is a music player, the obvious problem with this, when you're not playing music with it you can't engage the DSP. So no fine sound for movies, utube, spotofy etc. because of android, the only way to do it would be to make people root their phones and make a specific app to overtake the audio of the entire phone. The guys at XTZ didn't want to take that road, and do not plan to take it in any foreseeable future. From a consumer perspective, of course I always want more and I want it yesterday. But I put myself in their shoes, let's say they did develop an app that needs root access to work, they would have all the people who fail to root harassing them for help when it's not their problem. And then those who would root their device just for that app without knowing too much about android, and get in trouble at the next android update, those guys may blame XTZ for their troubles.
So while it's obvious that a reasonably low latency, system wide DSP would add value to the Divine, I believe they decided not to do it for peace of mind and avoiding getting sued or at least spammed for help by people who never RTFM(my opinion, they didn't tell me this! Only that they didn't plan to provide such app).
Meanwhile I use the player with the “reference” sound setting(supposedly the neutral setting), and viper4android(because I'm already rooted) to add some little crossfeed. Yeah I know, first use something to make a headphone as transparent as possible, and then use something else to ruin it all might seem a little contradictory, but I like crossfeed ^_^,


As I said I'm not a fan of on ear, when I remember the hd25, the image that comes to mind are forceps. To my surprise I find the Divine to be fairly comfy(for an on ear headphone!!!!!!!!!). The clamp isn't like you'll forget it, but it's also not a problem and I use it for about an hour every other day without pain.
Still it's not the kind of solution to go spend a full day with. I start hurting a little after about 2 hours. I admit to be a sissy about that kind of things, and having a pretty large bald head probably doesn't help for the clamping force or the headband comfort(a little thin IMO). So most likely plenty of people would be fine longer, I'm just saying it like I experience it.
The weight is 170g, very fine for that kind of device. B&W P5 BT is 213g, bose soundlink 153g, for reference a wired hd25 is 140gr. So even for a non BT on ear it's a very reasonable weight and you really aren't bothered by it.
It doesn't fold but you can turn the drivers 90degrees to wear it around your neck, and IMO it looks fine enough not to become a fashion hazard. So in practice I take it to go out, meet someone, put it around my neck, spend from 30sec to half an hour with the person, move on with the headphone back on my head, arrive at destination and put it in my bag or in a desktop drawer. Works well for intended purpose.
Overall, I would not suggest it for 4hours a day, and instead go for anything over the ear(circumaural) and clearly known for comfort. But for short commutes it's a very fine headphone. I bought one after demoing it for a few weeks, and I'm not into S&M.

I have very very slightly bent the top of the headband inward to get a little more surface in contact with my skull as I could feel a pressure point it after some times with the default shape. that pretty much did the trick for me, but again, I'm bald so I lack the usual hair cushion.

Isolation is fine too, not etymotic IEM level, but good enough for most uses. No complain on that topic.


-Without using the DSP app, it's average but not horrible, in fact just reducing the 4khz area with an EQ is all I really do when I use it with a source that can't use the DSP. You can also chose to lower the bass level that is exaggerated from an “audiophile” perspective, but that's a matter of taste. So nothing complicated, almost all DAPs with BT will have a good enough EQ to deal with the 4khz and enjoy the sound.

-With the DSP turned ON to the reference sound, the bass has gone down and sounds better. In both cases it extends pretty low(in fact as low as I can hear!). In comparison my hd650 does sound rolled off in the subs when I don't EQ it. Using the “bright” setting which is really just a gentle slope in the low end, the bass gets that familiar sub roll off that some enjoy so much on most Grado headphones for example.
Obviously all my comparisons with other headphones here are only to try and describe the frequency response. Not that a closed bluetooth headphone actually sounds like open headphones.

The app then offers a few bass boost options. Well I didn't like any of them, but the bass heads can certainly get their skull shaken when the bass drops and the max bass boost is ON. ^_^
Here is where my very inexperienced attempt at measuring a headphone got me(warning I'm not showing the signature of the headphones!!!!!!!):
I measured the headphone with all the effects and because I have no clue what I measured(I'm set to measure IEMs not headphones), or what compensation to apply to give actual meaning to the curves, here are instead showing the differences between the reference DSP(shown as flat) and the other settings. As what I'm showing are variations, they should be relevant to what really is happening(at least I hope so ^_^).
to make the reading easy, I've also aligned the graphs at 1khz, in reality the maximum bass boost does not increase the signal by almost 15db, it boosts about half that while the rest of the signal is attenuated.
Last precision, the value in db you can read at the bottom with the name of each graph, those are given for 50hz(where you can see the vertical line).


Placement on the hear must not be disregarded. on my ears there clearly is a sweet spot, outside of it the sound can go from bad seal losing bass, to some sibilance. So if you notice excessive sibilance, maybe move it around a little or change the setting, the headband position and length etc. it took me about a week before figuring that I could get an even better sound(subjectively). It was already nice so I didn't look. I was wrong.


Hiss: if you know me you were expecting this one.
There is an audible hiss, it's not like I can be annoyed by it or even really notice it when I'm walking on the street or in the train and music is playing, so in no way this is a problem outdoor. But at home listening quietly, ultra radical hiss haters like myself will certainly not be ok. This is a problem I've had on all the BT headphones I've tried so far.
Again, I'm mentioning the facts, I'm just not using them at night in my bed to listen to quiet music. But was that the purpose of that headphone? Not really, at least not for me.

To summarize:
the sound of the headphone without DSP is ok for a random BT headphone, not audiophile level. Even thought it does extend well both in bass and trebles, so with an EQ you can already make for an interesting sound.
With the DSP, IMO you really get a tool that will let you enjoy music. I know I'm supposed to be the big bad objectivist, but at the end of the day I kept that headphone because I enjoy the sound I'm hearing.
I don't know about neutral, because I don't think there is such a thing on headphones that would fit all ears. But not having a chaotic frequency response is in my opinion, the starting point to getting the music to sound good. and that's exactly what they tried to do with that headphone, reduce all the ugly spikes and dips as much as it's reasonable to do. And the headphone having good extension from the start, is the ideal kind of headphone to work with when EQing.
So is the result neutral? Decide for yourself. IMO there is still too much low end for perfect neutral to my own ears, but that's exactly what I enjoy. I do love me some good rumble, not loud, but palpable.  I also have a pair of ER4SR that are amazing small IEMs IMO. they both target some idea of neutral, but when you try them side by side, you feel like the er4 is one of those cheap speakers that roll off at 400hz and have no sub frequency whatsoever. Of course it does have low frequencies and the roll off in the sub is in fact pretty subtle, but the comparison it just that strong. Both because of headphone vs IEM, and because the Divine does have really solid bass and subs(the bright setting gives a closer general feeling IMO and will have some supporters). For casual listening I have no doubt in my mind that most people will have a lot more fun using the Divine even if the trebles might not ultimately be as clean as on the er4.
All in all I believe the guys working on this headphone did know what they were doing, they didn't start with a porta pro and try to get the sub back to 0db or other nonsense. To me this headphone is a proof of concept! It's not the pinnacle of technology/possibilities, and it will not make you give up on your hifi gear. That wasn't ever the point, the primary objective was to keep the price reasonable and offer a well balanced BT headphone(for a change). But it doesn't mean the concept couldn't go hifi some day. And I sure hope it will.
Only retrograde audiophiles can still reject DSPs as a way to further improve a headphone or a pair of speakers in a room. While it can't compensate everything, it can do a lot and no transducer is perfect by default. The XTZ Divine headphone is a step in the right direction, and fun enough that it decided me to get one when my opinion on BT headphones was … “meh”.
I personally would love to see a few more settings, like recessed mids, and rolled off trebles, to get a more relaxed sound when I need to concentrate. And of course a crossfeed option, and some replay gain. I can just encode my music with some crossfeed and replaygain, or use viper4android(cure tech setting), but it would be nice to have something like that by default with the headphone app someday.
Maybe in the future, the same thing in a circumaural version for added comfort but that's another story and I'm getting off topic.

It has become my main choice to go out for a walk, cool sound and ease of use, that's just my kind of gear. I'm a horrible audiophile, but I like nice and easy a lot. ^_^



- cons:
“I'm glad my BT headphone has some bright leds flashing all the time” said nobody ever!!!!!
I had to put some black duct tape on the leds after 10mn of trying it in my bed. Being able to call batman at night isn't why I bought a BT headphone.

Another element of bluetooth, not all your sources will have the best streaming options or signal output. I'm not blaming the headphone here, it offers a bunch of compatibilities and does fairly well in most situations. But the limits of BT are still very real so it's best to keep that in mind when picking a source or a headphone, and maybe ask around for people who have the combo how they feel about it.

No vertical tilt for the drivers. Surprisingly I still find them comfy enough to wear for about an hour or 2 per day. But you clearly get a feeling that vertical tilt and a more cushioned headband could have improved the comfort aspect. I wouldn't recommend those to wear for long trips.

DSP requires to use the app/software, while a good ideas when it comes to cost and avoiding extra stuff/space/weight to the headphone, this does limit the possibilities in practice. For example I can't get the improved sound with my non android sony DAP, and I can't use spotify and the DSP at the same time on my tablet.

Too hissy for really quiet listening in a quiet house IMO. I'm a hiss maniac so I never ever let that go. But as always it's only really a concern for people like me who like to listen at really low volume levels when possible(think 50 ~ 60db). I can't tell anything about hiss as soon as I'm outside walking on the street, so the headphone stays totally valid for the use I have of it and I'm mentioning this only as a service for the 3 maniacs who like me would get mad because they'd notice a hiss while in a perfectly silent room at night with quiet volume setting.



+ pros:
Fair price IMO, at the kickstarter price it was really an incredible bargain.

Weight: 170gr

Sound with DSP or a little EQ: While not HIFI and not at the level of serious wired systems + TOTL headphones + EQ, the sound quality was a pleasant surprise for a BT headphone. A well balanced signature is really a plus subjectively and the Divine does that well.

you have the commands on the headphone to change track, volume level and pause. less reasons to take the DAP out of the pocket. It may look like nothing but those are the things that really improve a nomad experience. it's not a parrot zik with all the fancy tricks, but it has most of what I could ask of a BT headphone to do, including NFC pairing that I end up loving as I do own way too many devices for my own good.

Long battery life (at least 14hr).

No wire? ^_^







in conclusion: me likes!
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Formerly known as Res-Reviews
Pros: Excellent Sound Quality, Comprehensive Controls, Good Battery Life and Bluetooth Range
Cons: Inconsistent companion apps, uncomfortable for some people, mediocre isolation, all-plastic build
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]IMG_0363.jpg[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]I first heard about XTZ two weeks back. A Head-Fi’er was asking for suggestions on a home-audio system, and someone mentioned stylish, yet minimal, surround sound systems that would fit his budget — an XTZ Dolbe 5.1 system. From there, I looked into this “XTZ” company. Turns out, they also make headphones, and brought all of their sonic mastery to the table when designing them. The Headphone Divine, the product I am reviewing today, is a culmination of said expertise, and it really shows.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]You can buy the Headphone Divine from XTZ’s for $180 on official website here.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]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 Berthold at XTZ for providing me with a review unit of the Headphone Divine.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]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.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]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.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Source: The Headphone Divine was powered via Nexus 6P -> Creative Sound Blaster E3 -> HP or over Bluetooth. All music was served as FLAC, ALAC, or as 320Kbps Mp3. In general, the Sound Blaster E3 configuration sounded the best.[/color]

[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.439216)]Sound Signature[/color]

EDIT: I configured my DSP app wrong. Not only was it configured for the wrong headphone, it was on the wrong preset — boost 1 instead of reference. The paragraph below is now outdated and wrong. While it’s barely been a day since I’ve put out the preview, I believe I owe my readers and XTZ an apology. My lack of attention to detail compromised the reliability of my review, and I’ll do my best to rectify my process to ensure this does not happen in the future.
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)][The Headphone Divine has a compatible smartphone app. It allows you to apps certain modifications to the firmware and adjust the way the Headphone Divine sounds. The feature is refereed to as DSP. I found DSP to make the listening experience for me generally unpleasant, and cut out a lot of the detail I was hearing without the DSP. The following analysis is done with DSP off. I will provide an additional section where I give my general thoughts on the sound with DSP on].[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Bluetooth Performance[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]The Headphone Divine performs so well over Bluetooth, I almost don’t want to use the included cable. It’s far superior to my Ghostek SoDrops (but costs almost twice as much), and outperforms many wired in-ear solutions I’ve tested such as the First Harmonic IEB6, Accutone Gemini HD, and Mee Audio M6 Pro. A mentionable example of such sonic prowess is the treble retrieval inHappy Song by Bring Me the Horizon. Frankly, it’s great. Background details that don’t come through on the Gemini HD are present and clear on the Headphone Divine, even with the treble filters installed on the Gemini. Long story short, while listening over a good DAC via a wire will bring you the best performance the Headphone Divine can offer, its performance over Bluetooth isn’t anything to scoff at.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Treble: Songs used: Supermassive Black HoleAriseFade Into Darkness[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Treble performance is, in my opinion, the highlight of the Headphone Divine. Retrieval is really good, and provides a large amount of detail, even in the higher frequencies. It also doesn’t sound like there are any harsh peaks in the treble’s frequency response, making listening for extended periods of time rather easy on ears. The treble of Supermassive Black Hole meshes well with the rest of the song, but can sometimes smooth out too much.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Arise was fun to listen to. General transparency was good, but faded away during the chorus. The high-hats became cluttered and one dimensional; a real shame considering how well the rest of the song was being reproduced.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Fade Into Darkness really showcased the Headphone Divine’s ability to reach into the oft-ignored frequencies of the treble and pull out details that just aren’t audible in lower-caliber setups.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Mids: Songs used: The DriftJarsI Am The Highway[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]I Am The Highway had detailed strumming of guitars, and a good focus on the vocals. The flange effect on the lead guitar resolved well, but tended to move back and forth in focus rather often. I’m unsure if this is a phenomena related to the actual mixing of the song, or is a result of the particular frequency response of the Headphone Divine.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]The Drift’s violins and piano were pleasant and textured, if not a tad too thin. I found the reproduction to not be any better on the with DSP enabled.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Jars fared similarly. While overall reproduction was nice, the guitars seemed too rigid, and decayed too slowly. The vocals of Jars were slightly veiled. I found the mids to be rather one-dimensional.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Bass: Songs used: LightsBangarang99 Problems (Hugo Cover)[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Lights performed well. The mid-bass was able to compliment the other higher-pitched elements of the song well, but never stretched too deeply into the sub-bass (which it should have).[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]99 Problems fared better. The knee-thumping rhythm of the drums was as wet as in needed to be, and rather full-bodied. Good attack and decay made it very fun to listen to, without ,giving the impression that the bass was too shallow.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Bangarang’s reproduction was a little more quirky than 99 Problems and Lights. Since Sonny Moore (aka Skrillex) utilizes a copious amount of sub-bass in all his songs, Bangarang included, the song sounded shallow and surfacey. The bass was veiled where it should have been deep. However, the lack of impact and sub-bass did not correlate to a lack in detail, and much of what is present in bassier headphones is present when listening to the Headphone Divine.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Clarity: Songs used: ThroneMap of The ProblimatiqueI’m Not Alright[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Unfortunately, the Headphone Divine suffers in separation and clarity when reproducing Throne. This is due to the tinge of warmth in the lower-mids that blows out detail that’s normally there in flatter sound signatures. Ironically, even with DSP enabled, those same details were still not present.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Luckily, it’s not all doom-and-gloom in the clarity department; I’m Not Alright performed very well, with the exception of guitar detail. The lead electric guitar becomes blown-out and boomy. DSP helped regulate this to some extent, but degraded the song in other ways. The increase in clarity was not worth the cost of general detail.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Male Vocals: Song used: Hotel CaliforniaAshes of EdenSunday Bloody Sunday[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Male vocals were consistently a little too thin. Engaging DSP helped a little bit, but cut out much of the small details that were present in the vocals using the standard tuning.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]As with most headphones that produce male vocals too thinly, Ashes of Eden did pull ahead of the rest of the pack. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, this is because of the lower average pitch that Breaking Benjamin’s lead singer uses when compared to many other male vocalists.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Female Vocals: Songs used: Stupid GirlSweet EscapeNeed Your Heart[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Female vocals, when compared to male vocals, were phenomenal on the Headphone Divine. The timbre, attack, and decay of the vocals is better thanevery single headphone I’ve tested to date. This is not to say it will outperform every headphone you throw at it, but rather that it’s my first experience with a truly great reproduction of female vocals of this caliber. The Headphone Divine powered through every female vocalist I threw at it, regardless of genre or tempo. Kudos to XTZ, you nailed it.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Sound Stage[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Sound staging is average. There is a decent amount of left/right separation, but very little width. There is some height, but conversely, a low amount of depth. Overall, the majority of instruments adopt a center-stage position, with the occasional outlier. I found the upper-right position of the soundstage to be the most likely position for instruments to occupy, barring the center-stage. There is a good amount of air between each instrument, with the exception of high-hats and similarly-pitched instruments. They tended to bunch up and overlap each other.[/color]

[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.439216)]Packaging / Unboxing[/color]


[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.439216)]Build[/color]

[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Connectivity and Battery Life[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Connectivity is pretty darn good. The Headphone Divine features NFC pairing and Bluetooth APTx. Connectivity range is good enough to the point where I could leave my laptop (which has a poor Bluetooth reception) in my room, use the restroom, get a snack, and them come back to my room without ever loosing connection.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Battery life was similarly impressive. XTZ was being rather conservative with their 14 hour battery life rating — I got 19 hours of Bluetooth out of it at a rather high volume. The headphones charge over a standard micro-usb cable.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]XTZ also included a 3.5mm cable that you can use to convert the Headphone Divine into a wired headset. A feature, or engineering decision, I’m rather happy with is the 3.5mm cable completely bypassing the built-in DAC, allowing users with high-end DACs to get the most out of their hardware.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]IMG_0355.jpg[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Construction Quality[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]I’m a little torn on the subject of construction quality. On one hand, I’m impressed with the rigidity of the frame and driver housing. On the other, I’m salty that a pair of $180 headphones is built entirely from plastic. Yes, that’s right. Even the chrome swivel-heads you see in my pictures are plastic. I would expect at the very least those high-risk components to be built of aluminum, or a similarly strong yet premium-feeling material. Oh, and speaking of swivel-heads, they are way too loose. It makes them feel cheap, and lends me little confidence in the longevity of the connection.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]IMG_0350.jpg[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]The ear pads are made from leather, or a convincing synthetic replacement. The top of the headband is made from a similar, but harder, material.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]The headband adjustment system is a simple pull-to-extend mechanism. I feel that, while good in theory, the system is far too tight and difficult to adjust while on the head. If this were slightly looser, I would be much happier.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Comfort[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]I do not find the Headphone Divine comfortable. It exerts far too much pressure on the ears and scalp. I think that if a vertical swivel was added to the driver-housing, it would help distribute the pressure more evenly. Also, add more padding to headband — it started to hurt after an hour. This is the first pair of headphones I’ve tested that made me take them off within an hour and a half of listening. I’m pretty disappointing with this, as I enjoy the way they sound.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Sound Isolation[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Being a pair of on-ears, I don’t really expect very good isolation from the Headphone Divine. It does an okay job cutting out my mechanical keyboard, but ultimately fails to completely isolate it during lulls in my music. Similarly, anyone having a conversation near you won’t have too hard a time of penetrating into that epic Mozart composition you’re listening too.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Controls[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]The Headphone Divine has a 5-button control scheme, arranged in a circle on the right driver housing. The buttons have a satisfying click to them, and are covered in a rather premium-feeling soft-touch plastic panel. The buttons are as follows: volume up, volume down, fast forward, rewind, and pause/play. My only concern is that it is difficult to locate the buttons on the panel when you are wearing the Headphone Divine. If the actual pressure point was depressed slightly or textured differently, it would be much easier to accomplish what you are trying to do without fumbling around too much.[/color]

[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.439216)]Accessories[/color]

[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]XTZ stocked the Headphone Divine with a micro-usb cable, a male-to-male 3.5mm jack, and a leather carrying pouch. I find the pouch to be big enough to comfortably hold both Headphone Divine itself, and the cables. It also has a rather novel snap-to-close mechanism where the pouch closes itself once once you let go of it.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]IMG_0349.jpg[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)] [/color]
EDIT: The following paragraphs has been edited. My original impressions of the app were wrong, and based on the my incorrect configuration of the app at the time. All the sentences that are new or edited are bolded.
There are also companion Android and iOS apps for the Headphone Divine. I find it to be rather useful, allowing you to change the sound signature of the Headphone Divine on the fly. However, I won’t go into too much detail with them, as many other reviewers such as Brokoo on Head-fi have done a rather good job covering that base.


After getting my act together regarding the DSP app, my opinions regarding the Headphone Divine have gotten more favorable. The flexibility a correctly configured DSP app provides is really outstanding. I recognize that not everyone will experience discomfort like I did. And even if you do, I think that the daredevils of you out there who are wiling to weather the storm will surely be impressed with the performance of these Bluetooth champions.
Sonic Defender
Sonic Defender
I didn't find the Divine uncomfortable. I wouldn't call them comfortable, but for me they weren't uncomfortable (different head shapes perhaps?). My biggest quibble was that you needed the DSP processing to really make the Divine sound it's best. Using the XTZ app it could sound very, very good, but I really didn't like the app, and it didn't support Apple Lossless format when I used it. Not sure if that has been updated. Still, with the DSP it is a surprisingly good sounding headphone. Thanks for the review.
You know what? I just noticed that my DSP was configured for the wrong headphone... meaning everything I said about DSP in this review is wrong. I'm in the process of updating it. I want to give myself a good amount of time through, so I can actually absorb the different modes correctly. So far, reference mode is pretty darn good.
Pros: Sound quality (divine), size, portability, Bluetooth quality, build quality, XTZ app, battery life
Cons: Long term comfort, ear-cup swivel (needs up/down), app still buggy
For larger views of any of the photos (1200 x 800) - please click on the individual images


The last twelve months have been a journey of discovery for me with wireless technology getting better, and the ease of mobility with music (and no cables) slowly coming to fruition. I haven’t tried a lot of wireless gear so far, and my brief forays with wireless ear or headphones has been with the Brainwavz Blu100 IEM, Axgio Sprint IEM, and more recently the Ausdom M05 Bluetooth headphone.  I’m not an expert – but I know what I like, and while each of these audio products has some really strong points, none of them have compelled me to forgo my usual IEMs to switch to a portable for mobile listening. Headphones like the M05 have wonderful Bluetooth, and really amazing comfort, but their tuning hasn’t gelled with me (too much of a bass tuned consumer sound – but plenty of potential).
Then I was contacted by our own Joseph Yeung (Joe Bloggs), and he gave me a contact for a company I’d never heard of before. Apparently he’d already been talking to the company CEO about getting me a pair for review, and next thing I know I have a courier package arriving with a pair of headphones.
So what is special about the XTZ Divine, and why did Joe suggest me?  Well Joe knows I have no fear of using EQ to get the sound I want, he knows I like a relatively neutral sound, and the XTZ Divine just happens to have a world class DSP in-built, and is tuned to be pretty neutral. XTZ was looking for a little more exposure, and Joe thought it might be a good idea if I got a chance to hear these headphones.
But before I let too much out of the bag, let’s lay the groundwork, and I’ll explain why I regard the XTZ Divine as one of the best sounding truly portable headphone (wired or wireless) I’ve ever heard.
For more discussion on the XTZ Divine - please also check out the Head-Fi Discussion Thread
Before Joe contacted me, I didn’t know this company existed.  I’d be willing to wager that in the next few years a lot of audiophiles are going to know them pretty well.
XTZ was founded by Olle Eliasson in 2004, after more than 30 years working in the HiFi industry designing speakers. Olle has always had a passion for music, and since he was 13 years old has used this passion in a quest to continually innovate and find that ever elusive perfect sound. So Olle brought together an international network of engineers, technicians and producers who all have very long experience in the Hi-Fi business. And since 2004 XTZ has built a diverse product range including stereo speakers, home theatre, professional cinema, commercial, computer speakers, amplifiers, measurement systems and headphones.
After reading this review, if you are interested at all in their products, I would urge you to click the following two links, and read a little more about the company and their philosophy on sound.  I found them both fascinating, and a real window into what they are trying to achieve.
About XTZ
XTZ Sound Philosophy
I’ll leave this section with a couple of quotes from the website which resonated with me:
“Music is a source of enjoy, inspiration, energy and pleasure”
And from Olle himself:
“Our design is modern yet timeless and we simply want more people to afford and enjoy the highest quality of sound - to enjoy life a bit more! My brand is an extension of my personality, who I am and what I stand for! Life is short and this time should be carefully spent!”

The XTZ Divine was provided to me gratis as a review sample.  I have made it clear to XTZ that I still regard any product they send me as their sole property and available for return any time at their request. But I thank them for the ability to continue use of the XTZ Divine – both for follow up comparisons and also for my own personal use.
I’d like to thank Joe for the introduction, Anders for arranging the delivery, and Olle for giving me the chance to listen to and evaluate their product.
The XTZ Divine is available from their website for USD 179
(This is to give any readers a baseline for interpreting the review).
I'm a 48 year old music lover.  I don't say audiophile – I just love my music.  Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up.  I vary my listening from portables (Fiio X5ii, X3ii, X7 and iPhone 5S) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > USB > iFi iDSD).  I also use a portable set-up at work – either X3ii/X7 > HP, or PC > E17K > HP.  My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Beyer T1, Sennheiser HD600, and AKG K553.  Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs, and lately it has mainly been with the Jays q-Jays, Alclair Curve2 and Adel U6. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).
I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock.   I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock.  I am particularly fond of female vocals.  I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences.  I am not treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880.
I have extensively tested myself (ABX) and I find aac256 or higher to be completely transparent.  I do use exclusively redbook 16/44.1 if space is not an issue.  All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line).
I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables, and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences.  I am not a ‘golden eared listener’.  I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 48, my hearing is less than perfect.
Over the last two weeks – I’ve used the XTZ Divine both wired and wireless from mainly my iPhone 5S and Fiio X7 (mainly for the Bluetooth), but also from my other DAPs to compare the sonics without the DSP engaged. I’ve drained the battery twice (once testing) and am into my third charge so I’d estimate actual listening time in excess of 25 hours.
This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience.  Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.


The Divine arrived in a black retail box measuring 190 x 250 x 58mm. On the front is the first look at the Divine, and a group of logos which give a little insight into what you can expect (USB, Bluetooth, wired, Dirac (more on that later), DSP, NFC and the aptX logo.  On the rear of the box is an explanation of the logos, a list of the contents, and a quick look at the specifications.  What I really like with the packaging is that XTZ have used white (and a pale blue for headings) text on the black background, so it is very easy to read.
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Front of the box
Rear of the box
Inside the box
Removing the lid reveals the Divine nestled securely in a form fitting foam enclosure.  Also included is a USB charging cable, wired 4 pole to 3 pole cable (for wired listening), airline adaptor, 3.5-6.3mm adaptor, a soft lined velour carry bag with self-closing snap lock top, and a very good owner’s manual which covers everything you’re likely to want to know about the XTZ Divine.
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The Divine and accessories
The carry bag (Divines secure inside)
The manual

The USB charge cable is a little over 100mm long with a standard USB connector at one end, and micro USB jack at the other end.  Build quality is good, and it is functional. The wired cable is approximately 1.25m in length, flat, and really quite thin, although according to what I have read, it has been properly stress tested and is a lot stronger than it looks.  It has a 4 pole 3.5mm jack for your audio source, and a standard 3.5mm jack to connect to the divine. Included on the cable is a single push button control (play/pause, next, previous) and microphone. The cable itself is pretty good as far as mirophonics go – very low.
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Wired connection
USB charging cable
Flight and 3.5>6.3mm adaptors

The manual is in large fold-out booklet form, printed in English, and covers pretty much everything you need to know for operating the XTZ Divine – from pairing, through to using the headset controls.
(From XTZ)
Closed dynamic Bluetooth headset
Dynamic, 40mm
Frequency Range
15 Hz – 32 Khz
Output Level
97 dB / 1 kHz
59 ohms at 1 kHz
Optional – 1.25m, straight. 3.5mm gold plated jacks, in-line mic
If used wirelessly, included in head-set
Battery Life
~14 hours (tested at full volume by XTZ)
Charge Time
2-3 hours
Bluetooth Spec
Version 4.0 with aptX support
Bluetooth Range
Supported Bluetooth
I don’t usually measure full sized headphones - mainly because my measurements system is designed for IEMs. Although the measurements do work, I know I get a spike between 4-5 kHz (it’s there on the HD600 also) which isn’t actually present, and the upper mid-range and treble areas are patchy.  Nevertheless I wanted to use my rig (you can read about some of it here) to see how my graphs differed with those from a proper dummy head.
Below I’ve shown my graph, flattened to close to the scale of XTZ’s (for comparison), and also XTZ’s graphs so you can see their actual readings, and how they apply the DSP through their app. With mine, you’ll note the same dip between 30-40Hz, the same mid-bass hump, the same drop at 500Hz, the same build toward a peak at 3 kHz.  Then unfortunately beyond 3kHz my graph is pretty useless with full sized headphones as I have the 4-5 kHz peak, and of course there is no way I can measure the effect of the outer ear.  But it’s nice to see that the data under 3kHz is actually pretty consistent.
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My graph flattened a bit more and scaled closer to theirs 
XTZ's dummy head measurement
So with mine, basically ignore a lot of the data, and we can look at what XTZ and Dirac are trying to do.  They’ve completely measured the Divine, then inverted the graph, applied that as an active DSP (through the app), and essentially created a flat response. Now before anyone jumps to conclusions (because some people view flat as “boring”) – I’ll try and give you a few sentences about what I hear with the app turned off, and again with the DSP on.  I’ll then go into more detail later in the review.
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Inverse response curve
Targeted response with DSP
What I’m hearing:


  1. Full, clean and deep bass, a little more mid-bass than sub-bass, but with a slight emphasis in bass over some of the other frequencies.
  2. Clean vocal range – but a little thinner and laid back (distant) with male vocals, and a little more emphasised in the presence area with female vocals
  3. Very good vocal clarity
  4. Slight lift in upper mid-range which lends particularly well to harmonics with female vocalists
  5. Very good detail in the treble, but without unnecessary peaks.
  6. Overall a very balanced sound, but with a warmish tilt and lean upper end.
  7. Without DSP on, I find the sound to still suit my tastes amazingly well – but I do find that I like to listen slightly louder to bring (especially male) vocals slightly more forward.
DSP ON (reference setting)
  1. There is still the same slight bass emphasis, but it appears a little more natural.
  2. Vocals are still clean and clear, but male vocals have brought forward and now have more body.
  3. Female vocals retain their excellent tonality, probably step back a little as far as forwardness goes – but remain very clear and have a nice euphonic tone.  For a female vocal lover – they really are very good.
  4. Treble remains very good as far as detail retrieval goes, and there is really nice balance – but no sign of any peaks or harshness.
  5. Overall, they sound even more balanced, maybe a touch brighter overall, but at the same time having more mid-range body (the initial thin-ness is gone)
  6. With the Dirac DSP enabled, I tend to be able to listen at quieter levels and still get huge enjoyment.
The divine is a very minimally sized on ear (supra-aural) headphone which is incredibly light. Starting with the headband, it consists of a 29cm long, 2cm wide, shaped band with 3 sections.  Each end has very strong rubberised / plastic sections which house the extenders, and between them is a 14.5 cm padded section for the top of your head.  This is covered in soft pleather, and I find it very comfortable.  Inside the headband (guessing here) is spring steel which allows the headband to be bent out.  It is very strong.
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XTZ Divine headband
Top of the headband
Inside the headband - comfortable padding.
The extender housing section is clearly labelled L and R on the inside, but you’ll never forget which cup is the right side anyway, as it is the one that houses the controls. The extenders themselves are metal with hard rubber guides.  They extend a further 3.5 cm each side, and should suit those with larger heads. I’m a reasonably big guy, and I have them comfortable settled at 2cm each side. The extenders are very firm, and have a reassuring click.
The connection to the ear-cups is metal, and allows left-right rotation a few degrees one way (to assist with fit), but then 90 degrees the other, so you can fold them flat for storage, or wearing around your neck.  Everything is amazingly solid – but this unfortunately is where the first big design flaw (IMO) is. The cups do not have any mechanism for rotation up or down.  This makes it very hard to get a correct seal naturally (I resorted to bending the headband).  This is something which definitely needs fixing for the next redesign / upgrade.

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Adjustment mechanism
Connections on the cups
LED glowing blue.
I already hinted at how good the M05 looked when in its packaging – so let’s take a much closer look at the build. The build is predominantly black matt plastic, but with a metal inner headband strut which extends down to the cups and provides good stability.
The ear-cups themselves are circular, approx. 6cm in diameter, and just under 2cm deep.  This makes them quite low profile. On the left hand side is a 3.5mm socket for the wired connection, and there is also a small rear port.  In the right hand cup are the controls (outer face of the cup), LED lights (below the controls), on/off button and USB charging port (very bottom), and microphone port (front lower side).

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Close up of pads and ports
Inner pads
Drivers behind the cloth protectors

The pads are pleather, and quite soft.  They are supra-aural with outer measurements of 7 cm diameter, and inner measurements of 3cm diameter and just under 15cm deep. The driver is covered with a cloth dust cover.

I’ll cover the controls shortly – but I can say these appear to be very robust and well-built, and with the exception of the lack of vertical swivel adjustment, seem to be pretty well designed.
I’ve already covered one of the fitting issues above (no up/down cup rotation), so my advice for buyers would be simply to bend the headband to get a comfortable fit. The one thing you need (to get a proper bass response) is a proper seal, and unfortunately XTZ hasn’t made that easy with the lack of this mechanism.
Once the headband has been adjusted to allow a reasonable seal, they are pretty comfortable – at first. If you are used to supra-aural headphones, these are going to be every bit as comfortable as other supra-aural cans like Beyerdynamic’s T51p. But I got the usual burning sensation after around an hours use, and I’m afraid I’m never going to be a big on-ear fan.  I hope XTZ will build an earphone using a similarly small designed circumaural cup like the Ausdom M05 or Bose QC25.  This would make them still compact for portable use, but more importantly good for long term comfort. One other small note, there was a bit of noise against my glasses frames (the pleather), but overall pretty good with a firm but light clamp.  Perfect for walking, but maybe not so good for more strenuous exercise.
As far as isolation goes, they are average to above average.  They isolate internally pretty well with very little leakage.  I can still hear a bit of ambient sound around me though – so I probably wouldn’t use these in high noise areas or for something like air travel.
I’ve used the Divine for a couple of calls – one to my wife (who said that she found my voice to be clear but with a faint hum when I was talking), and one to a client – who said that I was quite muffled / low volume.  When I switched to the cable with in-line mic, it was very clear. Calls can be answered with the centre button on the head-set, and the nice thing (with iOS) is that holding the centre button activates Siri, meaning I can then wirelessly make calls, and queue or choose music.  The drawback with this is that it uses the default Apple music app – but as the Divine still sounds amazingly good without the DSP, I find this an excellent solution to managing what you’re listening to and remaining hands-free.  Siri is amazingly responsive with the in-built microphone, and even with my twangy Kiwi accent, she was getting my music choices right 99% of the time.
I’ll get the single issue I have with the controls out of the way first.  The controls are on the right hand side, but they are completely flat (no indicators for location), so it’s hard at first to get used to their positioning.  A couple of slightly raised bumps would be very helpful in this sort of situation.  After a lot of time, I’ve become pretty used to the controls and they are pretty simple to operate, but it would nice to have some tactile positioning indicators.
The buttons themselves are relatively easy to click, and give a good tactile response. In the centre is the play/pause button, top and bottom are volume up and down, right and left are next track and previous track.  One nice thing about the volume controls is that they are controlling the head-set and not the smartphone, so you have options of using both phone and head-set controls to get the desired volume.
Pairing is simple.  You can use NFC (head-set sensor is located in the centre of the left cup), or else put your phone in pairing mode, press and hold the on/off button until the LED flashes blue, then red, then blue again.  At this point it should show up on your device, and pairing is simply a matter of choosing the Divine.  Once the pairing is successful, every time you turn the Divine on, it automatically tries to pair with the last device. A full list of all the functions and LED lights is included in the manual.
On my iPhone 5S a battery indicator for the Divine is active in the status bar when connected – really handy.
So the controls are simple, practical, and work perfectly.
The Bluetooth performance on the XTZ Divine, like the Ausdom M05 I previously reviewed, is exceptional.  The only dropouts I’ve experieinced was when I exceeded the wireless range, and once when I was in a notoriously bad reception area (our local Church).  The range is impressive too.  XTZ lists the effective range as 10m, but the consistent measured range I’ve had has been around 15 - 18m before audio starts cutting out.  And that range is with walls between me and the iPhone.  The only other headphone that had better Bluetooth stability for me so far has been the M05, and the Divine is almost as good.  I also checked in high traffic areas and the signal remained solid. The Divine’s wireless performance is impressive indeed.
So what about battery life? I’ve tried a couple of times to measure it, and one thing I can say for sure is that XTZ’s estimate is conservative.  I’ve actually flattened my iPhone battery once, and also had a test interrupted – so as yet I don’t have a complete test done. My estimate based on my own use though would be at least 20 hours at normal listening volume should be achievable.
Recharge time (based on two occasions testing) is around 3.5-4 hours, depending on the power source (mine were mains power based).
If you run out of battery, you have the option of using the wired connection.  Doing so brings about a few less obvious changes, so it’s probably quite appropriate to list what I’ve found.  First up, using the wired connection turns the Divine off – IE puts it into passive mode.  You can still use the XTZ DSP app, but you’re no longer using the Divine’s internal amp.  The good news is that the sound is almost as good (to me the Divine wirelessly still sounds a little more holographic in nature), but any difference may be down to minute difference in volume. The iPhones controls aren’t really that great for volume matching.  But wired, you can no longer us the headset controls, so everything will be controlled by your source.  To get to a reasonable volume using the app and iPhone 5S, I was at around 50-55%, so easily driven.
Besides the wireless nature of the Divine, the biggest selling point for many will be the use of the XTZ app – powered by Dirac HD Sound. The Divine sounds great by itself – but make no mistake, with the app it is taken to a new level. With the iOS app, you get full integration with the iTunes library, and operation is pretty straight forward.  Start the app. Engage the Dirac green button, and then you can interact with your library choosing to search by artist, song or album.
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X7 and Divine
iPhone and Divine
iPhone interface

With the DSP engaged, you then have a choice (iOS app) between 6 different settings – reference, Boost 1-4 (various levels of bass boost) and Bright 1 – which takes the reference and cuts the bass a little.  The settings are actually really tastefully done and I often find myself using one of the bass boost settings if I have a brighter recording, or reference if it’s a normal recording.
The only thing I don’t like about the current iOS app is that I can’t shuffle all songs.  Every time I do it the app crashes – so I’m hoping that is one thing that will be fixed soon.
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iPhone interface and controls
Now playing screen
List of artists

There is also an Android app – but I can only test this on my X7.  It looks a little different, but essentially works the same. The difference with my X7 is that I can only access 3 settings (see screenshots), so I’m not sure if this is a glitch in the app (because on the Play Store it definitely looks different).  Anyway – with this app I can shuffle my entire 6000+ track library, and the reference setting sounds fabulous, so I’ve never really worried about the lack of other settings.  Hopefully those with actual smartphones might have more luck with accessing the full DSP options.
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X7 playing screen
3 small buttons for settings
Menu for library integration

The following is what I hear from the XTZ Divine.  YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline).  The testing at this point (unless otherwise stated) was all done with my X7 via Bluetooth using the XTZ music app and reference DSP setting.  The reason I used the X7 was simple – it has my all of my test tracks in the library.
Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.
Thoughts on Default Signature
I covered some of this above when I posted the frequency section.  If I was to describe the default signature with the reference DSP engaged, I would call it quite simply beautifully balanced, with all frequencies in harmony with each other. It is clear, crisp, rich and detailed. It reminds me of my JBL LSR 305 active monitors – but with some sub-bass (the monitors pretty much cut off below 50 Hz).
Overall Detail / Clarity (Default)
Tracks used: Gaucho, Sultans of Swing
I know I need to probably stop using the term, but it’s hard to describe the natural balance of the Divine without mentioning the word. In both tracks, everything is there, but nothing dominates. Sub bass blends perfectly with mid-bass, but neither overpowers the mid-range. High level detail is excellent with cymbals showing nice decay and no masking of any micro details like drumstick clicks. Knopfler’s guitar mingles perfectly with his vocals, and the nice thing here is the body and richness of the vocals. There is definitely nothing thin or lean.
Sound-stage & Imaging
Tracks used: Tundra, Dante’s Prayer, Let it Rain
I usually use the binaural track Tundra as my go to for testing sound-stage width, depth and imaging.  Although the Divine is a closed portable headphone, the staging doesn’t sound like it is closed.  It isn’t overly expansive, but it does sit on the periphery of my head-stage – perhaps even extending a little beyond. The imaging in this track is excellent – very clean and clean cues, and the placement is perfect.
Dante’s Prayer is a revelation, the blend of vocals, piano and cello is amazing. This track is a lot more intimate, but again the imaging is really good. When the cello kicks in from the right I can pin point it exactly.  The mix of clarity and balance really helps with the overall imaging. My litmus test for realism and immersion is the applause at the end of the track, and the Divine puts me in the audience.  It isn’t quite as realistic as the HD600 but the fact that it puts me there at all is pretty amazing.
I finished with Let It Rain, and the holographic nature of this track was fantastic. It really is a track that washes all around you (naturally present in the recording). This is one track that can be a little bright at times, but with the Divine I’m finding it perfect.  There is some sibilance present in the recording, but the Divine doesn’t mask it, and more importantly doesn’t accentuate it either.  And this is a good chance to use the bass boost setting quickly.  There is instant additional warmth and this does soften the entire track, and does help a little with the sibilance.  A perfect example of what can be done at the push of a button – easy!
Bass Quality and Quantity
Tracks used: Bleeding Muddy Water, Royals
I use Muddy Waters to test for bass texture and mid-bass bleed, and again the Divine delivers (and this is once more on reference).  There is absolutely no sign of any bass bleed or smearing through the mid-range, and excellent delivery of texture and tonality.  Mark’s vocals have enough gravel to convey emotion, and they are both rich and sombre (which is the way they are supposed to be). Some may think the thump isn’t as good as it could be, and again this is where the boost can be applied.  Personally I much prefer the reference with this track, but again nice to have the options.
Next up was Lorde’s Royals – this time to test sub-bass. First thing I noticed is the increased depth in the low bass and the beautiful presentation of Ella’s vocals. And then the sub-bass hits and it is definitely there, clearly audible, but again balanced rather than visceral. Switch the boost on and suddenly your head is rumbling – but the vocals remain perfectly clear. I think bass lovers will like the DSP!
Female vocals on the Divine are stunning. Sweet, euphonic, exactly the way I like them. I ran through my usual medley of female artists, and it didn’t matter what I played, the X7 and Divine combination was quite simply heavenly. It would be impossible to pick any track that was a standout – because in reality all of them were brilliant. And it didn’t matter if it was the slightly higher register of Hannah Reid (London Grammar), or the husky sultry tones of Norah Jones. Or even the perfect upper registers of Elena Garanca and Anna Netrebko – the Divine just delivers and delivers.
Switching to male vocals and you’d expect because the female vocals are so good, that male vocals might be a little thin or lacking.  But they are perfect. Brad Arnold (3 Doors Down) has that deep textured ability to deliver rock ballads, and the Divine captured it perfectly. Switch to something with a higher register like Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), and again perfect harmony between instruments and vocals. And with my litmus test – Vedder and Pearl Jam – I could listen to this presentation all day.  For me it is not just good, it is sonically perfect.
At this stage I’m not going to comment further on other genres, because in my testing I’d be just repeating the same superlatives.  Any time the recording was a little weak, or needed some tweaking, it was just a matter of switching to one of the other DSP options – although with the X7 I pretty much stuck to the reference setting.  There is nothing I don’t like about the Divine’s sonic presentation.  It is one of the most acoustically complete headphones I’ve ever heard.  If there is anything more perfectly balanced, I haven’t discovered it yet.
The big issue I had when considering this section was what I would compare the Divine to, and what would make sense for you the reader.  I didn’t think it was fair comparing the $179 Divine to the $47 Ausdom M05, but if I could have an amalgamation of the two – the M05’s circumaural comfort, and the Divine’s sonic performance, you’d have the perfect headphone.
So I’ll use two completely different headphones for contrast – the Bose QC25 (as an example of an exceptional portable headphone), and my HD600 (as an example of a superbly acoustically tuned headphone).
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Physical comparison M05, Divine and QC25
Physical comparison M05, Divine and QC25
Physical comparison M05, Divine and QC25

Comparisons were done using the Dirac app – engaged for the Divine vs off for the QC25.  The QC25 was compared with active NC turned on. When using the HD600, I used FiiO’s Q1 DAC/amp with my iPhone 5S, and had to resort to using the default iOS music app.
Divine $179 vs QC25 $299
Both are very portable and very compact.  I’d give the Divine the edge on pure build quality, but the QC25 goes considerably ahead on comfort. The QC25 has increased bass response which is noticeable and gives them a slightly warm tinge, but the mid-range is still very engaging.  High level detail is a little further back.  Sound-staging is quite narrow.  Clarity is very good. The Divine comparatively appears brighter, but more balanced overall, and the stage is a both wider and deeper. The Divine has a slightly better sub-bass to mid-bass ratio, where the QC25 has slightly more mid-bass.  Both headphones sound fantastic, but if forced to choose on sonics alone, I would take the Divine. The QC 25’s strength though lies in its NC tech – so again probably not a fair comparison.
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Divine $179 vs HD600 $350 
We’ll skip the build, fit and comfort and concentrate purely on sonic signature.  They actually have surprisingly similar signatures as far as balance goes.  The Divine has more sub-bass and less mid-bass.  Mid-ranges are quite similar with the HD600 sounding a little more distant and flatter, where the Divine is a little more forward and vibrant.  Both have stunning clarity.  The thing that surprised me is how similar the two sound with the Dirac DSP turned off.  If you could account for the difference in stage, and also the added bass, then the two could be easily related. The Divine is still a little sharper (brighter) in the mid-range, and there is a lot more bass kick though. Ultimately I prefer the sonic presentation of the HD600 – but even mentioning the Divine alongside what I consider one of the best headphones ever built is quite an achievement.


First up I want to take the chance to again thank our own Joe, and also Anders and Olle from XTZ for giving me the opportunity to try the Divine.
The Divine is a headphone that has a very good build quality, and it is clear a lot of thought has been given not only to the sonics, but also the look and overall design. It is particularly robust and also very compact for portable use.  Fit can be a little problematic due to the lack of up/down rotation on the cups, but this can be solved by bending the headband. Comfort is very good for short term (around an hour), but I had issues with supra-aural discomfort, and would love to see XTZ release a similar headphone in a circumaural design.
The Bluetooth performance is impressive and very stable, and the battery life is perfect for extended use.
Sonically the XTZ Divine is one of the best sounding portable headphones I’ve had the pleasure of hearing, and adding the DSP provided through the use of smartphone apps brings even more improvement, and true versatility through the application of tastefully thought out single push activation tweaks. The iOS app definitely needs some stability tweaks though, but hopefully there will be further improvement as the app matures.
If I was to judge the Divine purely on its sonic ability, it would be an instant 100% 5/5 recommendation.  But there is definitely room for improvements in fit and also in app maturity.  For $179, the Divine gets my unconditional recommendation though.  A wonderful headphone, and one which I will have to buy, as my daughter absolutely loves them.
Please release a circumaural version.  I would be an instant buyer! And a better adjustment method on the cups is essential.
These headphones would be on my immediate buy list if the DSP settings (and EQ would be nice, too) could actually set by the app and "stick" as the config for the headphone amp in the headphones themselves, as you can do with the JBL Elite 300 and Elite 700 headphones' app -- you are using the app to actually control the EQ settings on the headphone, and so long as you are using them in Bluetooth mode, these settings hold no matter what app you are using, so it works for Spotify, YouTube, anything whatsoever.
Good idea - hopefully XTZ look at it down the track. Without the actual app engaged, they still sound pretty darn good though.  it's just that the app takes things to another level.  Must try the JBLs if I get the chance.
Trellus, I think what you're asking is impossible in this design, because as I understand it, there is no DSP in the headphones themselves. So the app isn't merely manipulating settings for the headphones, rather the app is actually doing all the digital processing and sending the final audio to the headphones. By contrast, the JBL Everest (and, I guess, any headphone with noise canceling) has a DSP built into the headphones themselves, so the processing can be done there instead of in your phone or whatever.


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