First Listen: Brainwavz XFIT XF-200 Earphones ReviewFebruary 02, 2016
A few days after testing out the adventure-inspired Westone ADV Beta earphone, Brainwavz hit me up with the timely opportunity to give their latest earphone a test ride. Meet the new Brainwavz XFit XF-200 earphone that, as they say, is specially designed for users who engage in sports and athletic activities. What makes it special for the active audiophile? How about a compact, lightweight design; pre-molded, over-the-ear cable routing; a short cable that won't trip you up; and an assortment of accessories to keep you moving. Oh, and at $25 it probably costs less than your monthly gym dues.
The XF-200 comes in a minimalist no frills economy plastic box and inner tray that keeps packaging to a minimum. It's nothing fancy, but since you're more than likely to toss it out, who cares, right? Inside, you’ll find everything neatly packed and organized; which is probably completely opposite of how your sports bag is, but that's OK.
For $25 MSRP, you generally don't get much, but Brainwavz never fails to take care of customers by including more than they bargained for. In this instance, the XF-200 includes their familiar branded zippered hard case, Velcro cable tie, and shirt clip, a set of Comply foam ear tips, a set of bi-flange silicone ear tips, and two sets each of standard S, M, and L silicone ear tips (because you know you're going to loose one at some point).
The XF-200 is an ergonomically designed dime-sized universal IEM that's intended to sit comfortably in the ear to ensure stability during your workout. The over-the-ear cable routing takes the secure fit a step further by eliminating the chances of getting caught up in the cable and pulling it out of your ear. With the large assortment of tips, you have several options to test in your ear for the best fit.
As with most earphones/IEMs, tip selection is critical, and I strongly encourage you to take the time to choose the ear tip that fits best—emphasis on best and not just one that “fits”—because the audio quality, comfort, and isolation improve greatly when the ideal tip is used. (For me, the bi-flange and Comply foam tips worked best and offered better sound quality, bass impact, and isolation.) The bi-flange tip seems to produce the most bass and moderate isolation, while the Comply tip offers improved comfort, isolation and bass control. The standard tips offered the least isolation and somewhat weaken the overall bass response, which ultimately brings some emphasis to the highs.
Speaking of bass, the XF-200 can hit pretty hard. Marketing speak generally over-promises and under-delivers, but I'd say Brainwavz was spot-on with their claim boasting "booming beats." Dig that live music hall sound? The XF-200 has it: Booming, emphasized bass; a touch of reverb; dark mids, and highs that can come off as recessed on some tracks. The XF-200 certainly does not have a refined, balanced "audiophile" sound (try the S0 or M1 for that at a similar price); depending on your preferences, it's either unruly or fun. I'd say it's best suited for pumping EDM and synth beats into your eardrums while you hustle up the StairMaster. And you know what? I'm fine with that, because the XF-200 does that damn well and sounds a helluva lot better than most earphones you'll find at this price. (Of note, the variety of ear tips included do impact the sonic signature, so again, try them all to see what fits and sounds best to you.)
Last, let's talk about the 3-button control built into the cable for volume, skipping tracks, pause/play, and the mic for taking phone calls. The packaging states compatibility with Apple devices and most Android devices and other doodads; your results may vary. Apparently my Droid Turbo hates all earphones with built-in remotes because just like I experienced with the Westone ADV Beta, the volume/phone call controls do not work with my Droid Turbo, but I am able to mute the mic and pause songs using the center button, so it’s not completely useless. The mic seemed to work well, as my test calls were heard loud and clear, and calls come over the XF-200 sounding quite clear as well.
Brainwavz has put out another quality product with a budget price. Yeah, the sound could be more refined, but to Hell with that. We want bass, and we want it now. At least that's what I want at the gym to help drown out my racing heart beat and huffing and puffing. For $25 you're getting a nicely designed earphone with a plethora of accessories, a 2-year warranty, and an overall energetic sound. If you want more, spend more. If you want affordable, these will put your silly OEM earbuds and Skull Candy's to shame. For a no-nonsense earbud that you don't have to worry about when you're working out, grab the XF-200 and get on with your next set.
The XF-200 retails for around $25.00 and is available from Amazon.com and other authorized Brainwavz resellers around the globe.