Xears PS120PRO Review

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Reviewed May 2011

Details: Bass-oriented IEM from Xears
MSRP: €30 (est $41)
Current Price: N/A (discontinued)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: N/A | Sens: N/A | Freq: N/A | Cable: 4’ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: Stock single-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear

Accessories (2.5/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes) and padded carrying pouch
Build Quality (3.5/5) – The PS120PRO features black-and-blue metal housings with a filtered rear vent. Metal mesh screens protect the nozzles and an inch-long piece of flexible tubing acts as a strain relief. The cord is rubbery and a bit stiff. Mild driver flex is present
Isolation (3/5) – Slightly below that of the TD-III but quite passable overall
Microphonics (3.5/5) – Not too bad but the PS120PRO is difficult to wear cable-up due to the long rubber strain relief
Comfort (4/5) – The housing shape of the PS120PRO is not all that different from that of the TD-III and the fit is quite similar overall. One major difference is the clear tubing that acts as a strain relief on the PS120PRO, which is actually detrimental to over-the-ear fitment, causing the cable to pop out from behind the ear on occasion. The lack of a cable cinch does not help

Sound (6.7/10) – The PS120PRO is yet another Xears earphone following the heavy-bass, laid-back treble approach to audio. The balance of the PS120 combines the powerful low end of the higher-end TD-III with the slightly recessed midrange of the similarly-priced Resonance to create an even more bottom-heavy sound than the other two earphones. Bass depth and impact are impressive, keeping up with the TD-III, but the bass hump of the PS120 actually reaches higher up the frequency spectrum. Both the Resonance and TD-III are quicker, cleaner, and more detailed when it comes to bass presentation, though the difference is not night-and-day. The PS120 carries slower attack and decay times, resulting in the illusion of even greater bass quantity.

Expectedly, the PS120PRO is warmer and fuller-sounding than the Resonance. The midrange lacks a little bit of focus as a result of the bass dominance and can sound a touch muddy on tracks with lots of bass. The note presentation of the PS120 is soft and slightly thick, leaning away from the more crisp-sounding Resonance towards a fuller, weightier sound. The midrange of the PS120 is very smooth, as is the treble. Overall treble emphasis is similar to the TD-III – laid-back but not really lacking. That said, the TD-III has a bit more sparkle and extension. Presentation-wise, the PS120 leans towards intimacy, like the TD-III, but is a bit less airy and not as spacious. Indeed, soundstage size is about average for an earphone in the price range although layering is still good. On the point of general usability, the sensitivity of the PS120 is similar to that of the TD-III and the earphone is not particularly tolerant of poorly matched sources.

Value (7.5/10) – The Xears PS120PRO offers a competent, fairly inoffensive take on the warm and bass-heavy sound so popular with the mainstream consumer. It can be thought of as a natural all-around upgrade to something like the Sennheiser CX300 – a commendable earphone with few flaws and an overall ‘likable’ sound signature. However, those looking for a quicker earphone with above-average detail and resolution will probably want to shell out the extra 12€ for the TD-III.

Pros: Competent take on a bass-heavy sound signature; user-friendly overall
Cons: A bit difficult to wear over-the-ear; mild driver flex
 


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

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