GadgeTell Review: MTX Mobile StreetAudio iX1 On-Ear Acoustic Monitors, Headphones with a Car Audiophile Touch

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mtxix1headphones3Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 12.40.21 PMOK, so it seems that every manufacturer wants to capitalize on the growth of the headphone segment.  But it bugs me when a company diminishes the musical experience for a fashion statement.  There are a multitude of nameless headphone manufacturers who have no audio engineers on staff.  Just fashionistas.

However, that is not the case for car audio and home audio stalwart MTX.  Most famous for their great sounding car audio components, they entered the headphone market and came up with something awesome.  They look great, sound even better, and most importantly, are tuned with the car audiophile in mind.  In other words — they rock!

On the looks end, a sleek aluminum band wraps around the exterior of the headphones  for structure, while two well-designed hinges (you know, the clever kind that could only be invented by car audio installers) allow the unit to fit into its hard-shell carrying case.  The hinges engage with a gratifying click.  The earphone cups and headband are made of a faux extra-soft leather.  Mine came in Apple white and Maserati-interior red.  With the aluminum trim they really look the part.  mtxix1headphones1

When you look closer you see that the fasteners are high-quality small Torx headed bolts that make the headphones look like they were created in a machine shop and not in an overseas factory.  MTX includes two cables with the earphones.  One has the typical iPod controls like you would find in a pair of Apple headphones.  With one exception- they are high-quality heavy-gauge units with robust connectors on the end.  Because of this, they don’t turn into spaghetti in the carrying case- they actually stay untangled!

mtxix1headphones2Why two cords?  If you notice, there are two inputs on the iX1 headphones, one on each can. The user can choose which side they plug into for comfort- either left of right.  The other side is an output so you can daisychain headphones together.  Which is an awesome feature because we all have friends and sometimes you want to let your friend listen to the same track without having to wire up what looks like a science experiment gone awry.  While traveling on an airplane with a friend, the extra audio output rules.  iPad movies can be enjoyed seamlessly by two people.  I daisychained two iX1x and a pair of Apple earbuds through the iPhone amplifier without it complaining or too much detectable distortion at a normal volume level, so you don’t have to worry about that.

The real story here is the beautiful bass extension you get with a headphone that traps the small space of air around your ear into an enclosure.  These headphones have more bottom-end pow than a Kardashian sister yoga pants fashion show.

They started with a pair of 40mm drivers to allow for deep and punchy bass.  In fact, the bass sensation is more realistic in my mind than the 400 pound gorilla in the room.  And that would be the Beats Solo HD at the same price point.  I think the MTX methodology of one large driver per channel vs. two smaller ones makes more sense for bass extension.mtxix1headphones4

How about the rest of the sound?  It is very clear and detailed.  Putting the headphones up against audiophile-grade Grado SR120s I was pleasantly surprised.  For high-end audiophile music, the Grado cans do have some more ‘air’ and perhaps a bit more detail.  But if you are listening to typical Top 40 style music through a service such as Pandora or SiriusXM, you aren’t going to get that level of detail anyway.  And it is all about the bass and that is where the iX1s excel.  If you listen to R&B or Hip-Hop, it isn’t even a contest.

Anything to pick at?  Well, although the iX1s are comfortable, the Beats HD Solo weigh 5.6 ounces and the MTXs come in at a stout 8.6 ounces.  But you are getting more bass on your face.  Moreover, we all have friends and the iX1’s ability to daisy-chain without a Y-adaptor from Radio Shack rules.

Did you ever hook up your iPhone through a Bluetooth audio connection into your car stereo?  In the split second before the car recognizes the Bluetooth signal, the music plays from the built-in iPhone speaker.  Then it connects and it is like the music goes from black and white to full color.  That is what moving from the standard iPod headphones to the MTX iX1s is like.

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