Matchability

Sensitivity

The Finder X1 is a 22 ohm 96dB rated IEM which means it shouldn’t require too much power to be driven optimally but should also be able to navigate higher than normal noise floors and those amps with slightly more aggressive gain levels.

It is not as efficient as some pure BA designs which routinely top 110dB upwards or sub 20 ohms but in comparison to other dynamic IEMs such as the AAW Nebula One at 100dB, the RHA CL1 at 89dB and the premium CA Vega at 102dB is sat somewhere in the middle.

 Min VolMax VolNoise
Fiio X5iii3570No
Shanling M52570No
Cayin i51535No
Sony NW-A354090No
ZTE Axon 75080No
Note this is nothing scientific and our comfortable listening levels may differ from person to person but not by a big amount to render these figures irrelevant.

The good news is the X1 is relatively noise free on most DAPs including the likes of the X5iii which, to date, has a relatively high noise floor for sensitive IEMs. Anything over 110dB and under 20 ohms tends to show a bit of noise on the X5ii pairing. The same also for the Cayin i5 which can exhibit a little noise on efficient IEMs which is not the case here with the X1.

In fact, its volume parameters were actually quite similar to the 76-ohm 112dB Cypher Labs Austru which is sensitive enough to start off low but power hungry enough to push volume and power requirements higher than most. This means pretty much most DAPs are sensitive enough to handle the X1 yet at the same time offer decent headroom for the X1 to go plenty loud without distortion or clipping.

Amping

Portable amping is generally excellent with the Finder X1 if using a medium to efficient amps. There is a small level of scaling potential with the X1 though there is a limit to how far I would push the X1 given its 22-ohm rating.

ALO/Chord

Both ALO Audio’s RX and V5 are geared towards having enough flexibility with IEMs for decent headroom and volume control. The V5 has excellent channel balance at low volumes over the RX with the X1 as well as a smoother pot.

The RX aggressive gain is more controllable with the X1 than BA IEMs giving you about 40-50% of the pot to play with before it gets too loud and is completely noise free compared to the higher noise level and a bit of hiss on the V5 pairing.

Chord’s Mojo was also a flexible match with the X1 with a low noise floor, little or no perceptible hiss and about one step up to orange possible on volume control before things got a bit too loud.

RHA DACAMP L1

That being said some portable amps such as the RHA DACAMP L1 had a gain/volume control setting that was too high for the X1 even in low gain mode. I got very little wiggle room on the volume and some slight pot noise detachable also with the L1/X1 combo.

Tonal Pairings

Regardless of amp or DAP used my advice is to go with something warm to neutral and skip bright pairings or anything that would accentuate the already sparkling top end of the Finder X1. The U-shape presentation of the X1 paired well with DAPs such as the FiiO X5iii warm and laid back presentation as well as the Cayin I5’s more musically robust and dynamic response.

Good choices at the budget level include the Sony A35’s generally pleasant signature and the FiiO M3’s warmer response, both of which go a good job with foam tips of restraining the X1’s treble from being overly accentuated.

Amps such as the ALO Audio V5 bought a slightly smoother midrange sound (albeit with a higher noise level) but amps such as the RHA DACAMP L1 had too much gain and at times made the X1 sound a bit too bright or harsh sounding.

Select Comparisons

Brainwavz B200

$199

This is Brainwavz first dual BA designed IEM and from my experience with them a definite step up in class with a very smooth mid-centric neutral tonal signature with a hint of low-end warmth. The B200 is classic BA for me compared to the dynamic delivery of the dynamic driver of u-shaped X1.

Treble and bass on the B200 are gently rolled off in comparison to the steeper elevation of the sub to mid-bass presence and treble forwardness of the X1. Staging on the X1 is more expansive and with more headroom than the B200 also. On the flip side, the B200 delivers a more engaging and forward midrange and vocal performance than the recessed X1 mids.

If you are looking for heavier bass quantity and depth with a sparkling top end then the X1 is the better pick. If you want midrange speed and detail, some vocal focus with a more laid back top end then the B200 is a wiser choice. Genres such as EDM, classical and some heavy handed rock will lend itself better to the more open staging and power of the X low end.

AAW Nebula One

$99

The Nebula One is a single DD with a titanium diaphragm using Neodymium drivers and we reviewed it last year and thought it was a solid performer in the high budget range. Side by side the X1 is the cleaner more resolving presentation with a firm eye on detail with a more spacious sound and better extension. You always feel you have more headroom with the X1 even though I wouldn’t describe the Nebula One as shelved down.

The Nebula One is good but it will sound a little veiled and lacking in clarity compared to the X1. It’s a thicker sound, perhaps the more forgiving of the two but the separation is not as good even if the mids on the Nebula One are more forward and fuller sounding.

TFZ Balance 2M

$139

The Balance 2M is a Chinese single 12mm driver rated at 16-ohms and 108dB from TFZ and comes in at a very competitive price with a better than average sound quality and we will be pushing out a full review in the coming weeks. Tonally, compared to the X1 this is a more warm to natural sounding IEM but it is also a much flatter sound than the musical and dynamic u-shaped brighter sounding X1.

This is very much a ‘horses for courses’ type of comparison. If you like a slightly softer warmer edge to your sound with a very linear curve from low to mids and a slightly tapered final octave in its treble response then the Balance 2M is the perfect antidote to the X1’s more dynamic and explosive u-shaped low-end rumble and sparkling highs.

The Balance 2m is a wonderfully relaxed natural sound but it doesn’t convey the excitement of the X1. I would call it the more pleasing of the two and the X1 the more exciting of the two.

Our Verdict

The concept of a filter system is not unique anymore and the ironic thing is usually we find the filter we like most and stick with it making the other two relatively redundant or for a show to friends. The actual value of the filter system is not really the fact we have 3 choices of tonality but rather the manufacturer has 3 chances to be able to offer you a sound that you can enjoy than being stuck with just one filter or one type of sound and hoping they nailed it. It’s like hedging your bets.

Choice is king and faced with 3 possibilities the likelihood is you will prefer one over the other two and be happy rather than face outright rejection with just one hit or miss. That to me is the secret sauce of why the X1 should find itself as a relatively well received IEM among those who try it, review it and own it.

Quite apart from the psychology of choice it has a fairly decent level of resolution, an excitable signature that works rather well with modern pop and EDM, built like a tank and looks rather attractive to boot. The Echobox Store direct price of $149 ($159 for the remote mic version) is now good value for an IEM of this type and quality.

And yes I did find a filter that I am happy with, the bass filter thank you very much. It offers a good level of low-end physicality, a thicker midrange note and a control on the sparkling highs that I can enjoy a lot on the go. Your preference may differ, but I bet you have a preference which is half the battle.

Technical Specifications

  • Build: titanium housing
  • Transducers: 9.2mm Dynamic Polyether Ether Ketone,  (high tensile strength polymer)
  • Frequency Range: 15 Hz – 32 kHz
  • Sensitivity (SPL): 96 dB/mW
  • Impedance: 22 Ω
  • THD: <1%
  • Cable: 1.2 meters, silver plated
  • Plug: 3.5 mm stereo
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About The Author

Editor

Founder & Owner of headfonics.com. I first started reviewing in the late 80s (ouch!). Back then it was albums, rock concerts and interviews with a typewriter for the local rag. Now its desktop/portable and digital 2.1 audio on a rather nice laptop. How time flies.

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