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X-mini's Evolve Bluetooth headphone doubles as a wireless speaker (hands-on)

X-mini's latest product, a $100 hybrid headphone/speaker, moves beyond the company's trademark capsule speakers.

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The X-mini Evolve is the first wireless headphone from the company known for its capsule speakers.

Aloysius Low/CNET

X-mini, known for its line of capsule speakers, has branched out into the wireless headphone world with the X-mini Evolve, a $100 (£70 and AU$130) on-ear Bluetooth headphone that doubles as a Bluetooth speaker.

The Evolve is attractively designed and seems pretty well built for a $100 headphone. It's also fairly comfortable for an on-ear headphone, though its snug fit may be an issue if you wear glasses because the headphones can press your ear into the frame of glasses, which creates a pain point after listening for a while.

Using the Evolve can be a little tricky at first. There are three buttons and a slider, which lets you choose between headphone and speaker modes, while the power button doubles as a pause. While the Evolve has + and - signs on the volume controls, they actually function as a forward and rewind first. You'll have to hold on them to increase or decrease the volume.

While you can plug in an audio cable and use it in wired mode you'll have to make sure the wireless mode is turned off first. Battery life is also rather good, with a claimed 30 hours of playback, and I had yet to recharge it during my time spent with it.

I like how the Evolve sounds. There's decent clarity for a Bluetooth headphone and the bass, which is ample, isn't over accentuated.

As for its performance as a Bluetooth speaker, it's not bad. The Evolve comes with four drivers -- two "internal" for headphone listening and two external for speaker mode.

If you're wondering whether the sound leaks out when you're in headphone mode, it doesn't. The external drivers are only active when you're in speaker mode.

Quick notes

  • Ships internationally from X-mini's website for $99
  • Features four drivers, two "internal" and two external for use as speakers
  • Capable of both wireless (Bluetooth) and wired modes
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The X-mini Evolve folds up nicely into a compact size when you are not using it.

Aloysius Low/CNET

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