Like many others, I could have lived with iPhone still having headphone jacks going forward. I don’t have any problems with using cable-based headphones at all. For one thing, it’s one device less that requires regular charging.
But the occurrence of a certain hand-me-down situation in combination with severely broken cables on my RHA MA750i1 required a recalibration of my preferences for headphones connected to my iPhone.
I connect my iPhone to the car stereo and a cheap Bluetooth speaker that I use to listen to podcasts while doing chores. In both cases, a reconnection to the already paired device takes between 30 seconds and one minute. Therefore, fast2 reconnection ended up pretty high on the list of my requirements to a new pair of earbuds.
From what I hear, Apple’s W1 SoC is the answer. The W1 is used in several products meanwhile, the probably most prominent being AirPods.
However, I just can’t stand Apples rigid-shaped3 earphones, they don’t fit my ear anatomy and I hate every single one of them4. Therefore, AirPods were not an option for me.
Next option: Beats X. This product at least uses replaceable silicone earpieces such that I could hope for making myself comfortable with the earbuds.
Short aside: I don’t really get Apple’s silly and inconsistent play with the letter X. Is it 10 or actually “X”? It depends. Beats 10? 10Code, anyone?
Anyway, I really needed a solution and so it was time for Beats.
I’m happy to report Apple delivers on the matter of connection time and connection quality. It usually takes around or less than 1 second after powering up a pair of Beats X until the device indicates readiness. Amazing.
Plus, the headphones are available on every other devices where you logged into iCloud with the same account used on the first device connected to the Beats X.
Sound quality of Beats headphones is often subject to critique, mostly on the subject of being bass-heavy. In my experience, the sound quality is heavily influenced by the used tips plugged into your ear.
The Beats X ships with three different types of silicone earpieces, but I did not get good results out of any of them.
My RHAs, to my delight, shipped with a variety of differently shaped silicone earpieces that give you a better chance to make the earbuds fit to your ears.
Luckily, I still have the palette of earpieces as well as the case5 courtesy of RHA. I started experimenting.
Frankly, the results I get range from positively yogurt cup to okay-ish. The latter end of the range was only reached by leaving the silicone earpieces shipped with the earphones aside and use that one’s from the RHA box.
But it would still be an exaggeration to declare satisfaction. In my personal experience, the Beats X lacks a bit across the spectrum: treble, mids, and (as much as this may come as a surprise) bass. Flat, but not really in a good way.
I’m no audiophile, but maybe this is what they mean when they talk about the stage.
On the other hand, I use to listen to podcasts 80% of the time I use my headphones. Whatever reason you could have to listen to podcasts, it is very likely not for the sound quality. And that’s OK.
To put things further into perspective, every single pair of Bluetooth earbuds I researched during the past weeks apparently lacks in one or the other discipline6.
This gives me an excuse for keeping the Beats, mostly out of being happy with the handling of reconnection and the convenience of using a lightning cable for charging7. At least, that’s something.
- I would have loved to use these earbuds for their sound quality. But I am really disappointed by the build quality of the two models of RHA (the other one was an MA600i) that I have used over the last two years. Granted, both were from the low end of RHA’s product spectrum. But still. ↩
- Ideally: under 5 seconds ↩
- I.e. ear buds, airbuds ↩
- Once, I needed to travel light and couldn’t take “real” headphones. I took the earbuds shipped with my iPhone, only to break down at the Apple Store in Berlin and insta-buy my first pair of RHA earbuds without bothering with researching the best product even for a second. ↩
- I use the RHA case to store the Beats X when not in use. The case in the Beats X Box is way smaller and I fear that I sooner or later break a cable if I stuff the Beats X into the Beats case. ↩
- Bluetooth range, connection quality, sound, battery life, durability, you name it. ↩
- After all, a not-so-great sounding pair of earbuds with a lightning connector is still better than a not-so-great sounding pair of earbuds that requires Micro-USB and therefore the hassle to carry another cable with me just for charging my Bluetooth earbuds. ↩