Professional in-ear headphones for use on stage have to cope with a tough daily routine. Nevertheless, comparatively delicate devices such as in-ear headphones are necessary because their discreet appearance does not distract from the performance and allows for increased freedom of movement on stage. In addition, such solutions need to sound as convincing as possible and be capable of playing at a high output volume. Does the Audix A10X accomplish these tasks?
Audix products have been manufactured in Wilsonville, Oregon, since 1984. The manufacturer offers various microphones, a few pairs of headphones and accessories for a wide range of applications, all of which are characterised by robust construction and good sound. With the models A10 and the A10X with extended bass capacity, which is the subject of this review, the manufacturer is making its debut in the field of in-ear headphones for professional stage use.
The A10X come in a smart storage box padded with firm foam, which should give the earphones years of protection while in transit. Included are the headphones, a sturdy carrying case and four pairs of silicone attachments in different sizes. The headphones themselves are made of a lightweight, robust as well as moisture-resistant injection-moulded housing with a smoky transparent body and colour coding on the left and right inner sides.
In practice, the A10X fit comfortably and snugly in the ear while providing impressive attenuation properties, assuming the right fitting piece is used. For easy and comfortable placement in the ear, the driver housings can be rotated 360 degrees. The last ten centimetres of the connecting cable in front of the MMCX connector can be continuously adjusted to the shape of the ear in the form of a robust loop. The adequately sized 1.5 m cable joins together after about 50 cm with a silicone coupling and can be further adjusted to fit using an eyelet after splicing into individual cables. The end piece of this sturdy but elastically adjustable cable is made of silver-plated, oxygen-free copper with a gold-plated 3.5 mm mini-jack plug angled at 90 degrees. However, an adapter to the 6.3 mm format is not included in the package.
A basic requirement for stage use is effective external shielding. This makes it possible to work with lower, less stressful volume levels. The sound image gets a better signal-to-noise ratio and (hopefully) brings more detail and clarity to the reproduction during monitoring. In fact, thanks to the A10X’s effective passive attenuation, you can concentrate fully on the sound. The sound sources we used were the Funk MTX monitor, a Samsung Galaxy7 smartphone and the RME Fireface UFXII’s headphone amplifier.
At the heart of the A10X is a 10 mm dynamic low-mass voice coil that drives a beryllium composite diaphragm. Beryllium is ideally suited as a component for diaphragms, as it is about 50 % more rigid than steel and particularly light. On a metrological level, this results in low-distortion, phase-coherent reproduction with a balanced frequency response over more than ten octaves.
In practice, the A10X actually sounds very full-bodied, being specified down to 10 Hz, meaning that it is able to deliver a low bass that is second to none. Here, synthetically generated sub-basses are not only powerfully reproduced but also clearly delineated. However, it never sounds muddy. In terms of suitability for using this unit with a live band, the bass player and drummer immediately came to mind. For good sonic intelligibility and musical dialogue, both rely on appropriate clear, low-resolution reproduction, and the A10X meets this requirement with flying colours.
The important midrange frequencies are where the concise sound characteristics of most instruments are found. Here, instruments and voices jostle for their place in the smallest space. Rock and distorted guitars, which also bring a high degree of compression, take up a lot of space in the mid frequencies. The A10X has no problem with this, delivering a cleanly detailed sound image, with punchy lower mids, without dominating instruments in adjacent frequency spectrums. Even the intelligibility of voices of various kinds was not impaired, and, assuming sound is properly mixed for in-ear monitors, this can peacefully coexist alongside distorted guitars.
In the upper mids and highs, voices finely resolve without demonstrating unwanted harshness. In these frequencies, applied reverbs clearly reveal their echo traces. The very overtone-rich sound of percussion cymbals reaches the ear in a sparkling manner within the range of 10 kHz and above.
Finally, the A10X, like the A10, allow for easy-to-follow volume graduation thanks to their high external damping and are capable of delivering a balanced, punchy and enveloping sound even at low volumes. With these characteristics, the A10X is of course not only recommended for the stage but also for use in the recording studio as well as for mobile music enjoyment, during which, by the way, the person sitting next to you will not be disturbed by leaking noise.
With the A10X, Audix delivers a strong entry into the competitive in-ear monitor market. The A10X handle their role on the live stage brilliantly, with level stability, profoundly deep bass and a comprehensive frequency spectrum with extended bass range, which is fatter than that of the A10, the A10X delivers a convincing result all-round. It is therefore also recommended for mobile sound enjoyment for those with audiophile standards. With a recommended retail price of 415 euros, I can unreservedly recommend the Audix A10X.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)10 - 19.000 Hz
- Impedance35 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)@1 kHz: 107 dB dB
- Cable length150 cm
What's in the box