Headphones or Speakers, why not both?

Many of us are familiar with the X-Mini brand as it is quite likely that we’ve all used their portable speakers before. Founded 10 years ago as Xmi in Singapore by brothers Ryan Lee and Reuben Lee alongside Barry Choo, Xmi grew from a single product company selling their signature portable capsule speakers into a world renowned, award-winning company with a solid product line.

Xmi’s newest offering

X-mini™ Evolve in white

For their first foray into headphones, Xmi has decided to produce an on-ear, dual headphone and speaker, bluetooth enabled device. Priced at $99 USD, the X-mini™ Evolve has been designed to offer superior audio quality with a feature rich set without breaking the bank.

Armed with separate 40mm audio drivers for the both the headphones and speakers, 20 hour playback time and 10 meter Bluetooth range with call answering capability, the Evolve is very impressive on paper but, how does it actually perform? Tech Storm had the opportunity to test out the device briefly and to have a conversation with Jerry Lam, Business Development Manager of Xmi and Ryan Lee, CEO and founder of Xmi to find out more about the device.

“When you have a device the size of headphones, you might as well put a speaker in it. To us, it seems like the natural evolution of headphones” Says Ryan Lee about the Evolve.

Audio and Comfort

We put the audio quality of the Evolve to the test with several songs to test the range of the headphones and I have to say that the quality is impressive especially considering its price point. I personally own a fairly pricey pair of Bluetooth headphones and I was pleasantly surprised at how close the difference in audio quality was between the Evolve and my V-Moda Crossfade M-100.

I personally don’t find on-ear headphones to be very comfortable and this was the case for the Evolve. However, the plush pleather cups had enough padding to make for a reasonably comfortable experience. The speaker mode is quite excellent as I expected but, the headphones lacked a hinge to allow the speakers to face upwards and instead face outwards to the left and right. Jerry Lam however, claims that this will be addressed in the next iteration of the Evolve.

Build quality and Controls

I found the controls intuitive with very little coaching needed to figure out quickly how to use the device and I was soon easily flipping between speaker and headphone mode, switching songs and changing the volume. The controls are all placed at easy to reach locations on the right headphone cup and I am pleased at the obvious care and thought put into placement of the controls.

The device is almost entirely constructed of plastic and while this allows for a more affordable device, it gave me some concern about the durability of the product and I gingerly handled the device as there were several times I had to take it off to re-adjust the headband. However, Jerry seemed to have none of my fears and cheerfully tugged the band out to the length required for me.

One of the upsides of having a mostly plastic frame however, is that it makes the Evolve very light weighing in at only 284g and easier to wear for longer periods of time.

Xmi and the future

When I asked Ryan Lee about why he decided to design products like the Evolve and continually innovates and evolves his product line, He had this to say. “It’s not just about the product, it’s also about the people and I don’t want to forget and lose sight of the fact that it’s the people who use and make the tech”.

By Nicholas Ho / 31 August, 2016 00:00AM GMT+8 Singapore

Disclaimer: The above images and trademarks are the sole and exclusive properties of their respective owners and are reproduced herein for the purpose of fair criticism and review.

*Disclaimer, this is a preview and not a review as we only had access to the device for a short while. Should we get a review unit, this article will be updated.