You might not have heard of X2 before, and its Aurel headphones might make you want to grab a dictionary, but as we’ve discovered, those who appreciate clean audio would do well to check them out. Under their unassuming guise, Aurel headphones focus on delivering neutral audio, are flexible, and carry an affordable price-tag.
Spire, from the Netherlands, may be a name PC enthusiasts have heard of before, but it is far from a household name (at least on these shores). If we accept this as a fundamental truth, then Spire’s sub-brand X2 is virtually obscure. I certainly had never heard of it.
Thus, when Techgage supremo Rob offered me the chance to review X2′s Aurel 2.0 headphones, my immediate response was “X-who?”. Nevertheless, despite my complete ignorance of the brand – Rob did set me straight immediately, informing me of the brand’s connection with Spire – I did accept the job of reviewing the kit on offer.
So let’s get on with things, then.
Pretty unassuming in terms of looks, I’d say. Except for the splashy red and light grey “X2″ logos on the outsides of the ear cups, and the L and R labels on the inside lining, I’d say the Aurel headset’s looks are fairly unremarkable. The color scheme is dominated by black, black, and more black, with shades of some very dark grey. Not that I’m suggesting this is a bad thing, mind you. I certainly prefer fairly muted aesthetics over muted audio performance when it comes to headsets.
But we’re getting a little bit ahead of ourselves, now, aren’t we?
You get a good amount of stuff inside the packaging. Of course, you’ve got the headphone unit itself; you’ve also got the cable (1.2m long), an airplane adapter that splits the combo cable’s mic-in and audio-out into two 3.5mm jacks, a 3.5mm-to-6.35mm (1/4″) adapter jack, and a very snazzy black carrying bag. The bag, incidentally, feels like it’s fairly indestructible, made of a plush velvet-like material.
In case you haven’t caught on yet, the X2 Aurel has a detachable cable. Per standard practice, the cable attaches onto the left ear cup.
Just so you never make the mistake of wearing your Aurel the incorrect way, X2 has silkscreened L and R on the corresponding ear cups’ interior lining. This is an interesting solution; most headphones have their left and right markers somewhere on the outside of the ear cups. While it might look a bit daft to some having such huge letters printed on the ear cup lining, once you’re wearing the Aurel no one will ever see them.
Speaking of the ear cups, they are lined with a substantial foam covered with either leather or a very convincing substitute thereof. The same materials line the inside of the headband, although there is less padding here.
And here’s a close-up of the cable and adapters. Nothing particularly interesting here, except to note that the microphone is in-line. The cable also features a push-button control that works on a cellphone in a couple of interesting ways: It picks up and ends calls at a push, as well as starts and stops your phone’s media player. There is no volume control slider, so you still need to use your device’s controls for this function.
Now that we’ve had a good look at the hardware, let’s go on to testing and some concluding thoughts.