Audio

X-mini Evolve 2: Odd mix of earphones and speakers

The X-mini Evolve 2 connects to a mobile phone or music player through a 3.5mm cable or via Bluetooth.
The X-mini Evolve 2 connects to a mobile phone or music player through a 3.5mm cable or via Bluetooth.

There is a scene in the 2009 romantic comedy movie, 500 Days Of Summer, in which the protagonist, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, enters a lift with his love interest while listening to The Smiths on his earphones.

"I love The Smiths," says Summer, Zooey Deschanel's character, listening to the music and humming along, while Gordon-Levitt's character falls in love with her.

Music lovers looking to re-create their own 500 Days Of Summer romance scene will find it much easier to do so with local audio firm X-mini's latest headphones, the Evolve 2.

The Evolve 2 are not just headphones. Flick a switch on the right and music blares from both earcups, as they double as speakers.

This way, anyone walking into the lift with you will know what kind of hipster music you listen to and, maybe, fall in love with you because of it.

The Evolve 2 is a weird, wonderful mix of earphones and portable speakers. Sure, it is gimmicky, but at $129, it has an odd appeal to it that does not break the bank.

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $129

    DRIVER DIAMETER: 40mm

    FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 20Hz to 20kHz

    SPEAKER DRIVERS: 40mm

    WEIGHT: 365g

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

It is also capable of a fun sound signature, aided by its low-end bass boost and full, warm sound.

The headphones connect to a mobile phone or music player through a 3.5mm cable or via Bluetooth and also supports aptX for clearer wireless streaming.

In earphone mode, the headphone's sound is decent, but not great. It carries bass well and tends towards a generally safe sound signature that does not stand out.

Sound quality tends to be muddy and excessively bassy, with highs that get flattened into dull notes that lack clarity.

The speakers do not fare much better. The volume can get pretty loud, considering the headphone's size. However, the sound is still quite muddy and veiled.

You can get better-sounding speakers for $129.

But the whole point of the Evolve 2 is to have a pair of headphones that can double as portable Bluetooth speakers.

Also, it is useful to have music playing from dedicated speakers instead of a phone's tinny speakers when you want to share audio with friends.

Because the earcups hold speaker drivers as well, the Evolve 2 is quite large, looks bulbous when worn and is quite heavy.

There are also some questionable button choices on the Evolve 2.

The earcups, for example, come with physical buttons to skip tracks, when it would make more sense to have buttons that adjust the volume instead.

• Verdict: The Evolve 2 is unabashedly unapologetic for what it is - a fun gadget and conversation piece, which is more about versatility and convenience than sound quality.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2018, with the headline 'Odd mix of earphones and speakers'. Print Edition | Subscribe