Intrigued by Energy – Simphonio Xcited2 IEMs Review
Simphonio is a pretty well known brand from China, which is known to be on similar ground with other Chinese IEM manufacturers, and their products are known to be pretty interesting. Xcited2 is an entry-level to midrange IEM, and the first product we’ll be reviewing from Simphonio.
Our interaction with Simphonio is new, but we noticed a lot of professionalism in the way they handle things, and many audiophiles seem to have heard about them already. They are known to provide good after-sales service, but most people who purchase their products do so from third party sale agents and shops, as it makes those agents can usually offer quicker service, along with a more interactive offer of IEMs. We’re looking at a fairly interesting entry-level to midrange IEM with a price tag of 150 USD and with some serious backbone to keep it in the market.
It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Simphonio, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by Simphonio or anyone else. I’d like to thank Simphonio for providing the sample for this review. The sample was provided along with Simphonio’s request for an honest and unbiased review. This review will be as objective as it is humanly possible, and it reflects my personal experience with Simphonio Xcited2. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in Simphonio Xcited2 find their next music companion.
First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:
The packaging of Simphonio2 is actually much sleeker and more modern than we’ve expected given that they are a new company to us, they provide an elegant yet effective solution for their package. The full name of the IEM seems to be written as Simphonio Xcited/2, but that doesn’t seem to work well with html codes so we prefer on naming them Xcited2.
We like the fact that Simphonio takes the time to tell their users that “Listening to loud volumes may cause an hearing impairment.”. Doing so right on the box is actually a good idea, as, as music lovers, we know and understand how important keeping one’s hearing healthy is. The other thing they mention is good as well, as we’d also like to note that it is best to not be using IEMs and good-isolating equipment in noisy or dangerous / open environments.
Although the cable isn’t detachable, Simphonio mentions that it is a high-quality 6N OFC cable, which is an Oxygen-Free Cooper cable, so by its nature it will give them a natural tone, thing which we’ll study in the sonic performance section.
There is a shirt clip included in the package (thing which we’d have liked to see with Sennheiser IE800), and there is a high-quality travel case in there as well.
There are two sets of tips, but the naming Simphonio uses doesn’t really help us understand more about them, as they are labeled as Diamond and Comfit Silicone tips.
The other technical specifications are written on the outside of the package, and the overall package is good, we feel that Simphonio didn’t go overboard, but they don’t underdeliver, there is a sane carrying solution with Xcited2, there are enough tips to fit most ears, and there is a high-quality cable included, although it is not detachable.
What to look in when purchasing an entry-level In-Ear Monitor
Driver: Dynamic 9mm neodymium magnet
Frequency response range: 20Hz~25Khz
Output sound pressure level: 108±3dB/mW
Maximum input power: 3mW
Cable: 1.2M 6N OFC twisted
Starting with the build quality, Xcited2 is made from a combination of metal and plastic. The outer shell is made out of a soft, leathery like plastic, while there is a metal lining to it, which is quite shiny. The inner part, the one that gets in contact with the ear, is made out of a much harder, smoother and frictionless surface. In fact, while we can’t exactly probe the material, the inner part seems much more to be made out of marble rather than plastic.
There are two ventilation ports visible on the belly of Xcited2, thing which makes us really happy, as those usually take care of the driver flex issue that can appear with some IEMs.
The aesthetics are based on a white with metallic accents color scheme, which works fairly well for Xctied2, they look pretty sleek without looking cheap. Those who love something that is more traditional in aspect, will probably fall in love with Xcited2.
Now, when it comes to their fit, you need to keep in mind that the IEMs are not on the small side, but on the medium to larger side of things. Besides that, they are amazing. There is no driver flex, and there are no microphonics, the comfort while worn over-the-ear is fairly good. The sets of tips included by default work really well, and the only thing we could have wised is that they also included spinfit tips, but the ones they include work pretty well.
There is a good amount of isolation, and the IEMs didn’t get slippery and didn’t fall out of our ears after our tests, plus the IEMs themselves aren’t uncomfortable in the long run, at least from our tests. We do need to include a little warning, any IEM which has a medium or larger body has increased chances of being uncomfortable for those with small or specific-anatomy ears.
All in all, they are built well, they feel fairly premium, and the comfort is very good. There’s nothing notable that we can complain about when it comes to Xcited 2, they look and feel pretty solid. Well, at this price point, most In-Ears include detachable cables, so we’d like to see future iterations include those as well, but the default cable is so good that we can overlook that part, especially at this price point.
Simphonio had a few words to describe their Xctied2 IEMs, and those were, taken off their package
Silver Coil Dynamic Driver
Detailed and Excited Sound
Precise 3D Soundstage
Easy to Drive
Placed through their paces, Xcited2 is actually an amazing IEM in sound. The first thing that one notices is the soundstage size and instrument separation. We’re talking about a fairly inexpensive IEM, but they have a soundstage they can really be proud of.
The overall sonic signature is midly V-shaped, with a thick, impressive bass, a clear and detailed midrange, which is slightly pushed back when compared to the bass and the treble, and with a pretty sparkly and impressive treble.
In all honesty, those sound pretty much straight on perfect with my personal ideal signature, even without any EQ. Maybe a little more treble would have been needed to scratch all itches directly, but I don’t expect any IEM in this price range to get much closer to the kind of V-shaped signature I personally would use. As for placing things in words, it simply sounds live, things sound as close to a live concert as you can expect for this price range, the bass is deep, impactful, somewhat natural to slow, the midrange is clear and sparkly, harsh when it should be, smooth when it should be, the texture is amazingly crisp and well-expressed, and the treble is sparkly, bright, airy, as it would sound live.
The bass is deep, hits hard, and has excellent impact. It has a touch more sub-bass than it has mid-bass, which means that the bass sounds tactile and visceral without sounding boomy or bloated.
The midrange is extremely clear, punchy and the tonality is pretty natural, although there is some emphasis on the upper midrange when compared with the lower midrange. This means that violins and female vocals are especially sweet, while male vocals are a little more emotional. Works very well for metal and emotional music, might not work as well for music relying on males with very deep voices.
The treble is really interesting, the lower treble has excellent energy and impact, it is sparkly and feels fairly natural in both texture and tonality, while the upper treble is a smidgen smoother than the lower treble, but this shouldn’t prove as an issue for anyone, they are bright enough for most music, including Metal and Electronic.
It should be noted that they can take some EQ without complaining, so if you feel you want a more aggressively V-shaped signature, you can even pump some more bass and treble without having a fear of distortion.
Basically, Simphonio got pretty proud of their IEM, enough to write them off as a “Precise 3D soundstage”. In actual tests, they pretty much deliver a good soundstage size, not necessarily very extended, but it is an out-of-the-head experience with most music, and most important, they have a really good instrument separation. In all honesty, this wasn’t expected for a IEM at this price point, but this is also what keeps up the whole sound quality that we described earlier, the really good instrument separation and airy overall sound with a large soundstage makes the V-shaped signature feel natural and well expressed. Without this kind of soundstage and separation, things can easily get hot or congested, but with it along the V-shaped signature, the final result is a nice and lively overall presentation that works well for almost any kind of music.
ADSR / PRaT
The ADSR and PRaT (Texturization) of the sound is natural to slightly slow in the bass, while it is a little quicker in the midrange and the treble. We can’t call it grainy in any of area of music, but it isn’t smooth either. In fact, it is exactly what we’d call a really good PRaT and ADSR. The textures in music are really vivid, lively and feel real, things are not too smooth, so nothing is ever boring with Xctied2, but things tend to not get overly textured either, so they don’t cross into being too analytical or fatiguing by presenting more textures than one would usually like. This part is also connected with their magical soundstage presented above, makes a really good synergy with the overall presentation of the sound, and we feel that their name is met with a really fitting sonic reproduction Xcited.
Over-the-ear usage, fairly good cable, and medium sized IEM, there’s nothing to hold Xcited2 from being a really nice portable IEM, and it actually is. In fact, one thing that I found in personal testing is that it provides excellent isolation from the outside noise, but it might leak a little to the outside, although it is hard to tell how much. My girl noticed the sound coming out of it into the room, while we were sitting in the same room, thing which usually doesn’t happen, but she wasn’t very disturbed by it, and I was blasting them full volume, but still that can happen.
On the other hand, I couldn’t hear my phone ring, or the noise of the streets of Bucharest while wearing Xcited2, so I feel that they do a fairly good job in every possible way when it comes to isolation.
There are no microphonics, and they are fairly easy to drive, much easier than IE800 and most of my IEMs, but they still aren’t exactly the easiest to drive IEMs I have. At any rate, they’ll play nicely with any source, like a smartphone, but I would like to note that their larger soundstage, good instrument separation, and really good textures will best be complimented by a good source, something like Hiby R6 would do really well, and if you’re on a budget, a Cayin N5ii should make them sing to heavens, but most smartphones might not have the same synergy, or rather, the IEMs might reveal too well the shortcomings of a typical smartphone, be it the best smartphone when it comes to its sonic performance.
All in all, they provide a good portable usage, and they are a pair of IEMs I’d really trust to take on a walk, or while jogging.
Simphonio Xcited2 vs FiiO F9Pro – We’ll have to compare Xcited2 with a few IEMs at a similar price point, which is close to 150 USD. In this price range, the most proeminent IEM it will fight with is FiiO F9Pro, as it is also the closest to it in price point from our comparison list. Starting with the build quality, FiiO F9Pro has detachable cables, comes with a hard carrying case made of plastic, with a soft carrying pouch, two cables, one of which is balanced, it comes with probably a more complex package, and it has more points invested in the build quality, since it has detachable cables, it is easier to service, and it has a more ergonomic shape (smaller in size, more rounded). Neither IEMs don’t have driver flex or microphonics, both are comfortable in our tests, and both are good value. In terms of sonics, FiiO F9Pro feels more neutral than Xcited2, which feels more v-shaped. FiiO F9Pro has a slightly slower bass, with a brighter overall tonality, more bite in the upper midrange and lower treble, less sub-bass emphasis and a less enthusiastic, but more precise sound. In comparison, Xcited2 feels more lively and more upbeat, more energetic and more ready for impact. The detail levels are fairly similar, soundstage size is fairly similar, and instrument separation is fairly similar. If you prefer a more energetic V-shaped sound, Xcited2 makes a very appealing entry to the market, while if you want a more linear overall response, with a slightly slower bass speed, FiiO F9Pro sure is still one of our favorite IEMs in this price range.
Simphonio Xcited2 vs Dunu Falcon-C – Dunu Falcon-C was and still is another favorite of us, and since we like Xcited2 a lot, it is only fair that we place it against the best we know, so we can see whether it holds its ground. Compared to Falcon-C, they are fairly similar in tonality, detail levels, and soundstage size, although Xcited2 has a slightly more airier sound, with more instrument separation, with the sound being slightly more energetic on Falcon-C, with slightly more bite for acoustic music. The bass is a bit more in amount on Falcon-C, but the difference isn’t quite that big. The biggest difference between the two will be in construction quality, where Dunu Falcon-C, with its metal construction, detachable cables, and Spinfit tips in the package feels like an improvement in this aspect. For sonic performance alone, both are extremely good, and maybe similar, with some minor tonal differences, and we feel that one would be really happy with either, Xcited 2 manages to make a really outstanding entry in the 150USD price area, while Dunu Falcon-C holds its ground nicely at its 220USD price point, with a really solid construction, build quality, and overall package, if you can shell a bit more for build quality and changeable cables.
Simphonio Xcited2 vs Oriveti New Primacy – This is an interesting one, because Oriveti New Primacy is something we really liked, and which has a very good build construction as well. Starting with the package, Oriveti New Primacy has the better overall package, with a really interesting looking case included with it, full metal, and with interchangeable cables. There is only one cable in the package though. The IEM size is much smaller than Xcited2, so it can have better comfort, but it has driver flex, something you should look out for. The overall sonic abilities are quite good on both, but here, there are some big differences. Starting with the bass, Oriveti New Primacy is much more linear and relaxed, where Xcited2 is much more exciting, with more bass quantity and impact. The midrange is Oriveti New Primacy’s forte, and it holds its grounds well, with a really natural tonality, with a smoother and more relaxed approach, where Xcited2 is more energetic, lively and clearly prone to be upbeat. The treble is quite different, with Oriveti New Primacy being smooth and relaxed, a really laid back IEM in that area, where Xctied2 is quite bright and lively, its V-shaped sound comes through with nice impact, if you want a smooth and relaxing IEM, New Primacy is clearly the better choice, while if you’re looking for a live, energetic, upbeat and lively sound (especially for rock, metal and electronic music), then Xctied2 makes much more of a compelling choice.
As presented already, Simphonio Xcited2 is actually source-sensitive and using it with a better source will yield better results as its revealing nature is able to reveal a better and a lesser source, especially in the PRaT and ADSR areas, along with the soundstage and instrument separation.
Simphonio Xcited2 + FiiO Q5(AMP5) – The power of one of the greatest setups in the world, at the fingertips of your smartphone. FiiO Q5 is surely one of the most interesting DAC/AMPs anyone has ever produced, simply because it takes FiiO X7mkii’s AMP modules, which were already really outstanding, and it adds literally nothing else to the sound, its sonic performance being pretty much the same as that of X7mkii. In the long run, this means that you get an energetic, upbeat, interesting and exciting sound with excellent impact and a lively V-shaped signature, all with the powers of your smartphone, at the cost of having to carry two devices (a transport and FiiO Q5).
Simphonio Xcited2 + Hiby R6 – This combination is a favorite simply because of how convenient it is, and because it comes with so many bells and whistles that one can hardly ask for more. While Hiby is still somewhat hard to find, we heard word that MusicTeck has them in stock, with more other shops receiving stocks, and being ready and willing to serve their customers. With that being said, the combination has a sonic performance that’s not only outstanding in the technical way, (PRaT/ADSR, Instrument separation, Soundstage), but also configurable. Hiby’s EQ implementation is so good, that we feel confident that one who doesn’t want the type of energetic and lively sound Xcited2 has, can tweak it for a different presentation. On the other hand, the default signature, is as V-shaped and lively as it can get.
Simphonio Xcited2 + iBasso DX150 – If you’re looking to tone down Xcited2 and to bring its enthusiasim one step down, for a smoother and a more laid back experience, iBasso DX150 with its AMP6 will be happy to give you a good rest, as it is a more laid back experience that cuts down on the treble enthusiasm of Xcited2, and makes their entire sound thicker. DX150 has some outstanding abilities, like Wifi, and streaming abilities, and with the magic of Lurker’s mod, it can make good competition to all other Android DAPs.
Value and Conclusion
We reach the end of this review in high spirits. I usually don’t have this much of a positive impression of any product, but this time, the little Simphonio Xcited2 amazed me with its sound, which is simply almost too good to be true.
And, at the end of the day, it might be.
The package is solid, and it doesn’t cost a lot, but I am not sure whether it will be comfortable for all users, given its slightly larger shape and size than smaller IEMs in this price range. The build quality is also something I am not entirely sure about, while I am sure that Simphonio would help any customer experiencing issues, the fact that it doesn’t have a detachable cable is something a little bit questionable. The version we have, the white one, looks good if you enjoy something that looks like a little bit of marble, combined with a metallic ring and a pleather surface.
Even with all this complaining, we must remember that it barely costs 150USD, which really isn’t a lot given its sonic performance.
With one of the most open sounds in this price range, with a really good extension both ways, with a clean and clear sound, lots of punchiness and a great deal of impact, this IEM’s sound seems to be made in Heaven – probably Audiophile Heaven (pun intended). The sonics are V-shaped, with a bass that isn’t quite linear, a treble that isn’t quite linear either, and a midrange that is slightly pushed back when compared to the bass and the treble. The most major accomplishment is the kind of air Xcited2 can have between its instruments, a really open experience, with a really good instrument separation and pretty large soundstage. In all fairness, they really nail down the “live” type of sound with metal and electronic music, a something that was really pleasing to us. We wouldn’t recommend them to those looking for a smooth sound, Simphonio Xcited2 clearly isn’t geared towards a smooth experience, nor towards a relaxing one, it is one heck of an uplifting and energetic sound through and through.
If you’re looking for an uplifting and energetic IEM, with a really open sound, with good instrument separation and with a V-shaped sound, Simphonio Xcited2 creates an awesome experience that you surely will enjoy for a long time. Excellent value, a good package, and especially an outstanding sonic performance are just a few things it can impress with.
I hope my review is helpful to you!
Stay safe and remember to always have fun while listening to music!