A few years ago my god-daughter presented me at Christmas, with a tiny portable speaker. I accepted the gift, with honest grace and thought I might give it a try the next time I travelled. I bumped in to it, on a top-shelf, a year or two later and in doing so, discovered the engineering expertise of a company called x-Mini. This tiny, almost puny looking speaker had punch and ambition way beyond its weight and I’ve had it close to hand ever since.
X-Mini are a Singaporean company who, having made their name with portable speakers this year announced their first set of wireless head-phones. The x-Mini Evolve is a wireless Bluetooth headphone, that manages to double as a Bluetooth speaker. The headphones also have a microphone, that allows the wearer to take phone calls.
The headphone market is a cluttered place with varying standards that are not always reflected in the quality of what you get for your money, so the Evolve headphones need to be a little bit special to make an impact. The Evolve headphones certainly look good and are nicely packaged. They come with two cables, the micro-USB for charging and with a wired headphone lead. The wired lead is useful as it allows you to use the headphones without drawing on the batter of your phone or the headset itself, and it has a built in microphone and remote for taking calls whilst wearing them.
Setting them up is straightforward and requires you to pair them via Bluetooth with your mobile phone. There are a few buttons on the headphones all located on the same ear for convenience. The plus and minus keys are used as the next and previous buttons as you listen to music but if you hold the key down for a couple of seconds they double as volume up and down. This isn’t at all confusing and helps minimise the number of buttons on the device. There’s a straightforward on/off button and an LED light indicates that the headphones are connected to your phone via Bluetooth. Finally, there’s an output button which switches the sound from the headphones to ‘speaker mode’.
Once powered up I loaded my music library and tried a few genres of music. The Evolve dealt adequately with pop, well with vocals and better than expected with jazz with nice clarity on the bass sounds. After an hour of music I made a phone call using the built in microphone and the call quality and clarity were excellent, both of the caller and my own voice on the other end. I also attached the wired speaker cable and tried music and phone calls with the cable attachment and unsurprisingly the quality improved, but not by much, indicating how well engineered the headphones are.
I switched the headphones in to speaker mode and the Evolve delivers good external sound for a Bluetooth speaker. This is delivered by two extra audio drivers specifically for the external speakers, so there is no long term wear of the internal headphones.
The battery life is meant to provide for thirty hours of playback and this looks accurate as I’ve been using the Evolve for two weeks without putting them on a second charge.
There is little to complain about with the Evolve. I wore my glasses while listening and the headphones are snug, so it did take a while to forget I was wearing them. The styling could be improved to give them a sleeker, modern look. Overall though, these are a great buy. The x-Mini Evolve are not audiophile quality headphones, but with very good sound, a decent Bluetooth speaker mode, excellent call quality, and brilliant battery life they are exceptional value for money and again illustrate how x-Mini punch way above their weight.