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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Headphones

Tasteful, titanium, tiny earbuds deliver tantalizing sound

Echobox Audio Finder X1 headphones cut through the noise.

The Echobox Audio Finder X1 headphones

Steve Guttenberg/CNET

The Echobox Audio Finder X1 in-ear headphones are smaller than most earbuds, and their machined titanium ear pieces are understated and elegant, qualities typically in short supply in headphones in the Finder X1's price class. They're $150 on Amazon with free shipping for Prime customers.

The "L" and "R" markings on the earpieces are next to impossible to read in low light, but the silver-plated copper cable is unusually tangle free, and has an iOS-compatible mic and controls. The overall build quality is good, but there's no strain relief where the cables connect to the ear pieces, so that's where the cable will most likely fail at some point. On the upside, the Finder X1's warranty runs to three years. Driver size is specified at 9.2mm, and impedance is 22 ohms.

Sound-wise the Finder X1 is clear and definitely on the bright side of neutral, so they aren't recommended if you listen to a lot of pop, rock, rap or any heavily compressed or harsh music. 

The Finder X1 fared better with acoustic tunes. Its bass isn't overdone or ripe, so if you crave maximum bass impact the Finder X1 won't cut it. But the bass is nicely done: Tuneful, clear and reasonably full. When I streamed LCD Soundsystem's new "American Dream" album on Tidal, it had great presence and immediacy. The album itself is a sprawling work that I'll review in the coming weeks on this blog.

I normally don't like bright headphones, but when I listened to the Finder X1 in noisy places such as the NYC subway the sound balance seemed right. I can't say their noise isolation was above average, but the brightness helped the sound "cut through" the noise better than other headphones. At home though the Finder X1's overly detailed sound was more bothersome. The Finder X1 comes with three color-coded "Sound Customization" filters: black, red, and white. The black one was the richest of the three, and still the Finder X1's sound was brighter than I like.

Then I brought out a set of Beyerdynamic DX 160 iE In-Ear headphones ($124) for a round of comparisons with the Finder X1. Right away it was obvious the DX 160 iE had a richer sound balance than the Finder X1. The DX 160 iE's bass had more impact and power, the Finder X1's low end was lighter in weight, but with higher definition. When I played guitarist David Bromberg's beautifully recorded and mostly acoustic "My Own House," the Finder X1 was far more immediate and present than the DX 160 iE, which gently softened and blurred the sound of the music.

Summing up, the Echobox Audio Finder X1 headphones build quality and high resolution sound will attract admirers, but I prefer 'phones with a little more laid-back sound.