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Echobox Finder X1 Review by mark2410

  1. mark2410 Contributor
    Echobox Finder X1 Review
    Thanks to Echobox for the sample.
    TLDR? Try here http://www.head-fi.org/t/797891/echobox-finder-x1-review-by-mark2410#post_12330305
    First Impressions:  Is it me or are earphones all getting more and more pretty?  I realise I’m a sucker for bare metal and their bare titanium with their inverse trumpet back end, they are VERY much to my tastes.  Not that being pretty is important to me, I mean I love the gigantic monster that is the R3 but with things getting so competitive pretty doesn’t hurt.   These are attractive little beasts.  Seriously though, little may not be apt to capture just how tiny the buggers are.  It’s like the q-JAYS and MA-750 got drunk one night and got a present 9 months later.  Their unusual shape however means that despite being stupidly small they can fit in whatever sized driver.  I don’t see its spec other than it can go from 15Hz to 32kHz and that wasn’t a typo, 32 not 22.  I mean 22 is beyond what most humans can hear but 32 is just crazy.
    So in the ears and I do notice that they have on the “white” filters.  The manual says they come with the “black” filters on.  With black the bass, white the flat and red the treble ones.  A typo in the manual or did they put on the wrong filters?  I mean they probably should come with the middle ones anyway but I can see I’ll be heading to the bass ones fairly quickly.  These are reminding me VERY much of the Panasonic HJE-900 Cubic Zirconia things.  They were utterly non-resonant and unyielding acoustically and so are these.  The titanium is relentless and unyieldingly ridged.
    Source: FiiO E7/E9 combo, Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-650, 1G Ipod Shuffle, Nexus 5 and Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear.
    Lows:  When things come with filters for altering the sound I always expect that the bass one will be the one for me.  You see I’m not a bass head by any stretch but I am on the treble sensitive side.  There are no surprises here, the bass filter is easily the one for me.  Though I shall note that while it’s called the bass filter, you still don’t get mountains of the stuff.  I’ll grant that was a little unexpected, it’s a nice amount but I can see there still being those out there that will be hitting that bass boost button.  I even caught myself doing it from time to time.  It’s just so clean.  It’s highly sculpted but it’s so reticent to explode all over the place, so clean cut, so polished, I find it a little flavourless.  It’s beautify cold and clean bass, so little give or bloom to it.  So granite like in its utter rigidity.  It reminds so much of the HJE-900 though it had rather more bass, to the point its utter lack of give got oppressive.  The X1 never really come across as skill punching like the panny did.  I know that if there was more I’d be claiming that it’s fun but gets super ear tiring.  Lol yes I realise I’m never totally happy with everything.
    Tonally, the X1 is all about the unforgiving and unyielding nature of its construction.  Just like the panny, its housing, in this case titanium, has no give whatsoever to it.  There is a cold savagery to it, it’ll spit out just exactly what it’s been told to with all the subtly of a chainsaw.  It’ll smash through anything in its way, it’ll sand no edges, soften no brashness, gloss over no flaw.  The cold hard brutality of the source is set out.  No more no less and with no sentimentality.  All of this I’m not sure I love in pop but in well recorded classical works, the cold and emotionless bass is so cleanly rendered it is magnificent.  Linn’s Christmas giveaway recordings, which are super well recorded, are absolutely exquisite.  This level of bass precision is wondrous.  It is a paragon of a completely detached acoustic emulation.  Strings are perfect. 
    Depth too is first rate, Bach’s Toccata and Fugue, organ works that little driver and it clings on, with the same vicious tightness.  There is no give, no softening, no casual relaxation.  It takes that low note on like a crocodile with a wildebeest in its jaws, there is no escaping, no forgiveness, no loosening acoustically of that note.  If you are huge on organ music you may be onto a winner here.  The opening of Also Saprach Zarathustra is just ridiculous.
    Mids:  To continue where the bass left off.  Strings are absolutely perfection.  It’s all so coldly analytical.  In some ways they out Ety the ER4.  It has that same cold, clean explicitness but the dynamics on the X1 are far better.  Well “better” I really mean as the ER4 can do wonders but it needs a power station to shift it, also the highly sealed and closed in nature of the ER4 means the X1 feels far more spectacularly open and airy.  Strings are absolutely in their element on the X1, all the cleanliness of the CK10 and more but with gobs of air, so clean, so much space to move dynamically in that you really need the best quality recordings to show them off at their best.  Vocals suffer I think a little from this very emotionally detached style.  They are clean and articulate but they have a faint coldness to them.  There has been striped an element of the natural human warmth.  Clean, loads of detail, soooo much detail to examine in high detail.  Still that smooth gently natural nature is a little lacking.  Nora sounds like she is just singing the words but isn’t feeling the words.  Beautiful articulation of course but it’s a little too bright, to cold and too unfeeling. 
    Classical however shines, it’s like you can pinch to zoom and just expand any piece to fill your whole field of view.  All of the detail, all that bright, hyper explicit with every single note painstakingly carved from a block of steel before you.  Coldly flawless.  Nana Mouskouri’s Ave Maria sounds achingly ethereal.  You know it wouldn’t have hurt to have more mids, they are just that tad pushed back for me.
    Highs:  Here the first thing I’m going to say is that if you are like me, rather treble sensitive, these may not be the IEM for you.  Even with the bass filters in the treble was pushing at the upper range of my tolerance.  The extension I think is in part to blame for this.  I know the spec sheets of things often say silly numbers, these claim they extend to 35kHz.  I can well believe that.  I realise my ears can’t go that far, last time they were tested I could hear up to the 23kHz cut off they said their equip was calibrated for.  So I don’t know where these go to, but holy Christ they do like to be explicit up top.  Wow that’s some seriously spectacular treble going on.  It too spectacular and too dazzling.  A big part of why the ER4 sound so dull beside these is that the treble extension is just stupid here, just silly bugger levels of dazzle.
    So quantitatively these even on the bass filters are a pretty bright IEM, I can’t imagine many users will be running to the treble filter unless they have some upper range hearing loss.  The detail extraction level maybe insane, everything so hyper over explicit and hurled at you it can be dazzling nightmare of blinding brilliance and savagery.  The middle or “neutral” filter is a bit better, yet still, bugger me that’s a lot of treble.  More tolerable but, with my Studio V and its relatively hard, bighty, treble they made for an explosively brilliant combination.  It makes an incredible first impression but oh my god does it wear me out fast.
    Fragile and delicate the treble can be, like the finest crystal but likewise it can be an explosive shower of shards of that same crystal.  Tiny slivers of the sharpest slivers slicing edges ever so lightly cutting into you.  Beautiful and brilliant.  I find that even with the bass tips I yearn for a treble reducing button sometimes and my ears gravitating to softest of tracks, like that of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole’s “Somewhere Over The Rainbow, What A Wonderful World.” So breathy, so delicately beautiful and so beautifully rendered.  So gentle on the ear.
    Soundstage:  All that airy upper end action gives the impression of much open, airy, space for the music to breathe in.  However it’s not actually that big, the distances involved are never great, things like stay up close and present.  The mids are a little distant, pushed back from that “assertive” upper end that makes sure you can see everything that’s going on.  It’s very upfront and not in least bit shy.  The bass is a little more like the mid range, a bit more distance, yet power when called upon but it is that of a large room.
    Comfort:  Great.  No issues for me in any way, though if you insist on wearing down you do get them tugging at your ears.  No physical issues for me.
    Fit:  They are a nice standard, round shape so no issues here.  Getting in was no bother at all, however….. their trumpet like shape meant there isn’t much to grip on trying to pull them out.  The angle they make contact with your finger too encourages your fingers to just slide right off them.  It was no trouble for extended use but if you’re pulling them out every 5 minutes that would quickly begin to get on my nerves.
    Aesthetics:  Looks are a highly subjective however I, as a rule, always like bare metal.  The aluminium C751, the steel T20, and here we have the titanium X1.  Each as much a visual statement as they are acoustic.  Their clean, simplistic lines and tone, that darkened, almost pewter like silvery subtlety is sublime.  I mean these aren’t going to appeal to those who think the Monster Turbine Pro Gold’s were classy but in my humble opinion, these are one of the best lookers out there.  I find their bare titanium to have a certain elegance and casual simplicity that perfectly squares with my own aesthetic values.
    Microphonics:  None.  Wearing up there was none at all, even trying to hit the cable.  Wearing down, you usually get some but practically nothing here.  Pair that with the cable synch and there really is none at all.  Could it be due to the lack of a cable strain relief at the buds?
    Amped/Unamped:  Do these need an amp?  No.  Do they want one?  Well yeah, they kinda do.  Don’t get me wrong out of the little 1G shuffle they rocked and out of the Lumia 735 they similarly did very well.  Still with their hyper hurl “all of da details!!!!!!” in your face presentation they want to give them the power to do that with all the refinement having more power can muster.  I don’t doubt that when the Explorer comes along there will be a fair degree of synergy at work. 
    One curious thing to note is if you have an Ety 75 ohm adapter laying around, give it a go.  Seriously, it’s been a good while since I’ve fund something that was so marked an improvement.  The extra impedance took the 735 or the Shuffle and propelled them well towards having an amp.  Crazy but whoa, the treble difference especially was a great big dose of refinement, I’m gonna say right now if you buy a Finder X1 spend the extra 10 bucks and grab an Ety like adapter off eBay.  It’ll be the best upgrade you’ll get spending a tenner.
    Isolation:  Yeah they were fine.  Towards the upper end of what you get with dynamics these days.  So that means easily fine for most use cases.  You know, walking out and about, on a bus, etc etc.  Not exactly what I’d want for a flight or Tube commute but you know, you could scrape by if it’s what you’ve got.  Oh and naturally it’s easily enough for you not to notice the bus that’s 10 feet away from turning you into a road stain.  Eyes people, do remember to use them.
    Cable:  It would appear to be some slightly translucent grey sheath, covering what appears to be some twisted cable.  It’s a tiny bit stiff but on the whole seems great.  It’s got negligible friction so it doesn’t catch on your clothing (I’m looking at you RHA) so despite being relatively thin it all seems to be of the highest quality.  Oh and is seems highly tangle resistant which is super nice.
    Build Quality:  Well, the things are made from titanium.  Short of them being made from crystalline carbon I’m not really sure what you could do make them more indestructible housings?  The jack too would appear to be titanium.  The cable I can’t really tell what it’s made of if feels premium.  The only place actually where I have any reason to pause is at the buds.  They don’t seem to have an external cable strain relief, with the buds not easy to grasp shape I found I did, several times, pull them from my ears using the cable.  That is something I always strongly advise against.  They do specify they have an internal strain relief so given how well built everything else is I’m willing to give Echobox the benefit of the doubt on this one, only time can tell if it’ll become an issue.
    Accessories:  You get a reasonable bunch of bits.  5 pairs of tips, three pairs of filters and a rather nice case.  The case is maybe touch big for them but better that than too small.  Oh and you get three pair of Comply’s too, which is rather unusual but always welcome.
    Value:  They are scheduled to retail at US$200, so if you jumped on their recent Indiegogo offers, they were going for as low as US$80 which is pretty crazy.  So US$200 is just now £140, casting my eyes to the things I pulled out for comparing them to, the ER4 sat around that price didn’t it, with the reference filter on I felt they were Ety besting and they are now going for US$300 it seems.  The CK10 you just can’t get anymore.  Their real competition is the RHA T20 at £180 or US$240.  Arguably at this audio quality level US$40 is just not particularly a material difference.  I love them both and I think both are so deserving of your money, both are insanely built too.  I want to throw them in a box together and shout fight!!!  Mind you the Finder is not only the cheaper its also made from titanium…… so yeah, they are well worth the wallet beating you’ll take.
    Conclusion:  Argh, sometimes there things that you can just rattle out the review of nice an easy.  Somethings are more complicated than that.  This is one of the latter.  You see, I’m not inclined to like filters for a start.  They are just a pain in the bum for reviewing as you have to do three times as much work (okay not exactly but you know what I mean) and there is going to be 1 that works best for you. The others not so much.  So what do you take as the judgment point?  Do I go with the crazy lunatic treble, so filled with detail but can feel like a crystal decanter exploding in my face?  To the like of those who loved the DBA-02 treble, they will gush and drool over the treble filter.  I can see merits to that sound style and praise it accordingly even if it is absolutely not for me personally.  Filters, though they complicate things.
    With the black, the bassy filter or what really should be termed, the one with a filter in it to tame the treble.  For me, no question whatsoever was the one I’d take every time, honestly it’s the one I’d expect most to use too, frankly I could bin the other two and I’d never miss them.  The treble is the “hot potato” on the Finder X1, it’s so very highly skilled, my god its ER4 maybe even CK10 besting but bugger me it’s not relaxed.  The bass filter does it best to dial down the quantity to more tolerable levels, the quality remains but that uber insanely pin crisp edge is lost.  Like sucking on a lime wedge, it’s so tart and sharp and mouth drawing yet there is something that makes you want to do it again. See, stupid filters and their clouding the picture.
    Sound quality, for a first outing Echobox would seem to have hit a bit of a belter.  I should confess that I really wasn’t originally very interested in the Finder, it’s their upcoming Explorer X1 DAP I really want to grab one of but they have a winner on their hands I think.  Though I’d scrap the treble filter, and create a new much more bassy filter so the current bassy one becomes the middle one and the current reference becomes the new treble one.  I do feel it could do with a bit of an overall shift in the bass direction but I suppose its nothing a bass boost button can’t fill in for those who want massive bass.
    So, would I buy one?  Oh yes and it’s a pretty easy yes too.  I know it’s only February but so far this is the one that I can see being the years benchmark IEM.  It’s got everything really, great looks, great (if not insane) construction, comes with a good bundle and it sounds fantastic.  Sure a little softness wouldn’t kill it.  Its only real flaw is that it can be a unforgiving but I’ve got warm DAP’s and most of my music is stuff of good quality so it’s not a massive issue for me.  Plus keep in mind this is a first product too, I hope to see more things from Echobox and I expect those things to be amazing as the Finder X1 is.  As of now they are my company to watch this year.
    Raketen and Tony1110 like this.
  2. mark2410 Contributor
    Echobox Finder X1 Quick Review
    Thanks to Echobox for the sample.
    Brief: Unyielding titanium dazzlers.
    Price:  US$199
    Specifications:  Housings:  Solid Titanium, Drivers: 9.2mm PEEK (PolyEther Ether Keytone) dynamic driver, Cable: Silver plated copper, Cable Length: 1,2m, Impedance: 22 ohms, Sensitivity: 96dB/mW, Frequency Response: 15Hz -35KHz, THD: less than 1%, Plug:  3.5mm Stereo, gold plated.
    Accessories:  Cable synch, Case, 3 pairs of tuning filters, 3 pairs of Comply’s, 3 pairs of single flange silicones and 2 pairs of biflange silicone tips
    Isolation:  Pretty good for a dynamic as is the case with many these days.  So they’re fine for most uses, walking out and about, on a bus etc etc but probably not what you’d ideally want for a long flight or Tube commute.  They would do if it’s what you’ve got but you know.  Also more than sufficient to get yourself killed if you forget to use your eyes when near traffic.
    Comfort/Fit:  Par excellence.  Fit me great worn up or down but as ever, YMMV.
    Aesthetics:  I’m currently huge on monochromatic, everything black, white or some shade of grey.  Plus I’ve always had a thing for bare metal so the darkened, not quite glossy, not quite anodised finish the buds and jack have is pretty much perfect to my eyes.  There are right up there as one of the best looking IEM’s ever.
    Sound:  Dazzling.  If there was one word that I had to use it would be dazzling.  So, even with their sound variable filters they are inclined to be hyper articulate and crisp in the uppers.  Add in my own treble sensitively and I found the treble filters to be blindingly bright.  The reference ones were also highly intense.  Dazzlingly intense, like a CK10 that’s gone wild, MTV “Spring Break” style.  WAAAAAA!!!!!  The bass filter, it has a little filter to tame some of that crazy treble energy and they become something very interesting.  Their treble is still CK10 like but with an ever so slight dynamic hint.  They move like lightning and are just as dazzling, the extension seems to soar extremely high.  It’s so nimble, so agile, it can go from a thousand miles an hour to full stop in the length of a pin head.  Mids are light tonally, a little cool and upper end slanted but once more the X1 is so fast, so clean, so accurate, its hyper accurate, too accurate to be real.  The more ethereal and openly dry vocals you can find the better they are.  Sweeping, soaring, floaty with a butterfly like delicacy then they can explode out of nowhere.  It’s spectacular if maybe not the most relaxing listen ever.  The bass, it’s not centre stage but it’s clearly cut form the same cloth.  So taut, so nimble, so viciously articulate.  Its depth is highly impressive, does a nicely linear job of it too though I find sometimes I wish is was a little less austere in its presentation.  You know, relax a little, mellow and go with the flow.  Nope, the bass here is ridged and extremely disciplined.
    In short, this is the dynamic based, bass boosted successor to the CK10. 
    Value:  Since you can’t buy the CK10 cost is irrelevant though these are considerably less than they ever used to go for. Plus who else has earphones made of the same stuff that the SR-71 was???
    Pro’s:  The thing is titanium.  Looks sublime.  Sound beyond dazzlingly spectacular.
    Con’s:  Highly treble abundant.  Utterly unyielding and unforgiving.  Can’t do mellow.
  3. Gilly87
    [​IMG] Glad you enjoyed em!
    I hadn't thought about going for an even bassier filter, but you know what, you're absolutely right. 4 filters next time! 
  4. masterpfa
    OK we have that in writing now @Gilly87
    4 filters in the next version [​IMG] 
  5. thefunkygibbon
    Great review there mate.

    I am finding myself reaching for these as my daily go to IEM. Replacing the RHA T20. They are just so comfortable you hardly notice they are there. Isolation is great too.

    I also use the bass filters in order to temper the treble as I find the others to be a tad harsh. Overall they are great and work with a diverse range of genres. Really enjoying them now I have had them for a month.
  6. sunneebear
    I'm a big fan of the old Q-Jays but mine just died. I love how they are invisible when worn.  Is the new Q-Jays bigger than the old? 
    Are the X1 as comfortable and do they sound better than the Q-Jays?
  7. qsk78
    To me they have too much bass regardless the filter type and V-shaped sound signature but for $200 they are fine.  
  8. sunneebear
    Not my cup of tea and that seems to be a more popular voice nowadays.  One of the reasons that I like the old Q-Jays was because it was pretty neutral.
  9. mark2410 Contributor

    cool, so should you make a new filter would it me made available as a seperate purchase, actually for that matter will replacement filters be available to buy should one manage to loose one?  might be a nice feature early buyers taht if new filters come they can always "upgade" the Finders as it were?
  10. mark2410 Contributor
    ditto ish on that treble, not so much harsh but rather present. the bass filter dampens its upper end energy a bit which is really what i need form that filter,  still its one of the nicer filter implimentations even if im not conseptually a fan of trying to tune 3 things all at once.  granted they have done really well but things ilke the c-JAYS always make me weary of such things. 
    well as this is the Finder thread ill keep it brief here though presumably you have read my q-JAYS v2.0 rewiew?  if you would like a fuller answer please ask in there and ill be happy to waffle at more length.
    So, new and old q-JAYS are the same size, so stupidly tiny tiny tiny they are in the photo, between accessories and value, the little black ones bottom left.
    comfortable, yep the q's and the Finder's were both instantly forgettable in the ear.  the q's are smaller at the front incane that matters but youll see in the pics the size of the Finders beside the Comply tips on them, they are very small things. 
    "better" well yes and no.  the q's have some curious qualillity to them that i could never put my finger on and im not the only one who said such things.  they are on paper good but there is a quality to them i could never determine just what it is never mind find the words to articulate it to anyone else.  so the have soemthing the Finder doesnt andhaving the old and new ones they just do soemthing different and notehing quite compares.  However....... i dont realyl like the term "better" especially at this level because there isnt so much "better" but different.  like comparing a good scotch to a good wine.  sure they will both get you drunk but they are different things, they behave differently and they arent really things you would say that one is "better" than they other.  at this levell of audio, pure sound quality alone they are both wonderful and do wonderful things but if the thing that your looking for is that undefinable quality that existed in the old q's but is even more abundant in the new, then the Finder's wont give you that.  in fairness nothing but the new q's will.  however the new q's are also atleast twice as much.  taht could get you the Finders and a pair of soemthing radically different too. 
    have a read up on my review ef them and maybe read anything else ive reviewed that you rae familiar with too, get a feel for how i hear tihngs in camparison to how you hear them and see if you can judge haw you may hear them both.  lol, yeas read, read lots and if in doubt read some more.  :)
  11. jinxy245
    A great review, thanks!
    I was curious, you spent a bit of time talking about the bass quality, but not as much about the quantity... more bass the the Etys? From your description of the quality, I'm guessing if there is any extra bass presence, it's in the sub-bass region (just where I like it).
    Another thought I had was about tip rolling...I'd imagine a Comply with wax guard could help with the treble abundance.
    Thanks again...enjoyable review!
  12. dlayman
    They are MUCH bossier than the Ety's. The bass filter puts the most emphasis on the sub-par while the reference puts it more on the mid to upper bass. But they are quite bass either way, despite the bright treble shining through. It's a definite U to Verizon shaped sound. Fun,detailed, and analytical, but not neutral.
  13. sunneebear

    Thank you so much for your detailed reply. I have read your V1 vs V2 review before and also been through the Q-Jays V2 thread. Even though they are expensive, I think they are worth the money if they are used all the time. I used my old Q's for sleeping and riding also so they get a lot of use. Amazing they lasted this long. Fuess I will be looking for a new Q-Jays.

    Sorry everyone for derailling his thread.
  14. Bina
    Wait, which filter is bass and neutral for you? Because black one is reference and white is bass one.
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  15. jinxy245

    Thanks...thanks kinda what I thought....I just checked the measurements at Innerfidelity, and they confirm what you're saying. These "sound" really interesting to me.


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