These are really designed around being comfortable, waterproof, and durable to support active listening, so we'll start with the comfort. I preferred to wear the memory wire wrapped around my ear for two reasons. First, because the memory wire is semi-rigid, when the cable would bounce or move, you'd feel it through the long memory wire, which if physics serves me right, puts more leverage on the earphone, which was noticeable for me. Second, having the memory wire wrapped around my ear picked up any extra weight of the wire that the shirt clip didn't pick up, so you basically eliminate the tendency for your earbuds to be slowly wiggle out of your ears. Overall, the wearing experience is a comfortable one, which is a necessity for anyting branded as a "sport" earphone.
The memory wire takes a little bit of forceful patience to form to your ears, but once you get them just where you want them, they are very comfortable and they do a great job at staying put. The memory foam tips are similar to Comply tips, which I'm a huge fan of. However, the included ones are maybe a little too bulky for me. They can be rolled and compressed to fit okay, but then it tends to pinch off the end and it damps the sound coming out of the buds. If they slimmed them down a bit I think they'd work better overall, since I reall do love the comfort, noise isolation, and snugness of memory foam tips. The other notable tip are the "tree" tips. These look like the side profie of a christmas tree, and have three levels that look almost barbed. They are very soft and they create a very soft, comfortable, yet water tight seal on your ear canal. They stay in better than any other tip I've warn, and actually do a great job of passing sound, as they were noticeably louder than the other tips in the box.
We're going to keep a set perspective on the sound quality of the X-1s. As someone who has learned to appreciate and love "true" sound through high-end studio monitors and in-ear monitors alike, I'll do my best to keep that bias in the back of my mind. These are meant as a niche product, originally developed for swimmers to be able to listen to music, which is a wild concept. They have succeeded, but with that said, nowhere on X-1's website can any specifications on the audio performance be found, which is indicative of where the focus of their efforts have been. We will compare the audio to others in the same price range ($40) and they can't fairly be dinged anything past that. With that preamble out of the way, let's dig in.
The sound range of the X-1 Trax is dinstinctly biased towards the mid ranges to the high-mid range. What that means is that rock instruments and vocals sound pretty good and come through clear and with good volume. But anywhere outside of that range falls off pretty quickly. There's a hint of bass, but not much more than that. Since alot of the "pump up" music uses a lot of bass to drum up an exciting rhythm, alot of the songs in my workout playlist lost a bit of luster. However, rock songs still sound pretty good, although thet bass drum is somewhat lost to the wind. On the other side, high vocals and instruments get drowned out by the strong mids which gives a slightly hollow overall sound.
Compared to other $40, they are fairly good, but the lack of low and high range is clearly below what we've seen in that range. Even some of the $10 Wicked Audio earphones threw out some pretty good performance, so that is something to keep in mind. Again, however, Your earbuds won't have the ability to survive rain, snow, being dropped into a puddle, or washed after a sweat-inducing workout, and there is some value in that as well. It should also be kept in mind the technical limitation of trying to waterproof a driver, which works by actually moving air inside the earbud, which is somewhat contradictory, so it's hard to nag them too much.
I would say for the average user who has never owned a pair of mid-to-higher end ($50+) earphones, you'll probably be satisfied with how these sound, especially given their enabling nature for exercise, even swimming, which puts it in a league of its own for those who demand it. And probably the best aspect as they relate to sound quality, is you won't experience ANY cable rub. I tried to force it and it just won't happen. That can turn those other $40 into pure garbage if you have to listen to the cable constantly rubbing.
Durability overall has to get top scores. The cable is very thick and has withstood my intentional and unintentional abuse in stride. These babies will work underwater for extended periods of time as well, as promised. They came out unscathed after 45 minutes in a full bath tub (the best I could do to maximize the hydrostatic pressure of the water on the housing) at full volume. The plastic 3.5mm angle connector is rock solid and the wire anchors in the earbuds have held up very well, but if I foresee a weak spot that will be it. The rubber anchors can still flex a bit, which may or may not affect the long term durability, but I've yanked pulled lifted up my phone by the earbuds and so far they are holding steady.
X-1 set out on a mission to deliver music to swimmers, and found that this would benefit active lifestyles everywhere. They wanted to remedy some of the inherent flaws of traditional headphones: cable rub, poor fit, poor durability, and poor hygeine. They aced comfort and durability, combining 5 pairs of ear tips to fit your purpose and your ears with sturdy cables and cable reinforcement. The memory wire holds your buds snugly in place and the shirt clip helps out in the front to keep your cable from swinging back and forth, also trying to persistently remove your earphones from your ears.
The sound quality is a bit hollow and lackluster, even for comparable $10-40 earbuds, but they do eliminate any trace of cable rub, and we must emphasize again that these fit a purpose that none of those others will do. If you want sound in wet environments, you'll be very happy with what you get, which is better than nothing many times over. When you're working out, you're not dissecting the sound, and when I stopped paying attention to how they sounded, they worked great and did everything I wanted them to do. They entertained me through my runs, which in Seattle often includes plenty of rain as well as lifting weights or other cardio. Sure, I've got my phone in my waterproof pocket, but my earphones are in the elements, which are no worry with the Trax earphone, and either is cleaning the sweat grime and gasp ear wax you might find on them.
If you don't need the waterproofing or your current set of 'buds don't have much cable rub or aren't uncomfortable, you probably won't gain much from the X-1 Trax. If you're in need of hardy earphones which will indefinitely stay put and you're not too picky about how they sound, the Trax are definitely worth you looking into. If you want to listen to music while swimming, the Trax along with the included tree tip will have you feeling giddy about worry-free underwater listening.
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