When it comes to running, biking, working out, and other physical activities – headphone cord is the last thing you want to get in your way, thus wireless headphones make a perfect sense during these activities. In particular, a style of wireless headphones with a pair of earbuds connected by a wire with in-line remote control has been very popular for active lifestyle. But regardless of sound quality or controls, one fundamental problem that every single headset in this category faces is lack of secure fitment to keep up with intense workout. Most of these headphones have a large cylindrical shape shell that sticks out of your ear and houses drivers and all the electronics, including micro-usb connector. As a result, you have to rely on either larger size eartips (for a tighter fitment) or attached wings/fins anchored around concha area of your ear.
To mitigate this problem, Meelec guys came up with a great solution of a modified bean shaped shell, a similar kind you’ll find in Westone and Shure IEMs, with a comfortable memory wire and all the necessary wireless guts to keep Sport-Fi X7 away from an umbilical cord attaching it to a sound source. As a result, they created probably one of the best secure fitment sports wireless headsets I’ve tested to date. Some might argue there are other wireless headsets with earhooks or neckbands, but they all pre-shaped to universal non-customizable fitment and neckbands bounce as you move around. Here is more about X7 and why I found it to be so good.
Arrived in a premium packaging, it has a very bold cover image with a clear statement of this headset being different from others, including “SPORTS” in red capital letters to get your attention. With plenty of functionality info on the back and a detailed spec on the side, you can also find addition description when you flip the magnetic cover open which also reveals the actual X7 under a clear display setting.
Out of the box when you remove the plastic form-fitted tray, you'll find X7 and a storage case with all the included accessories inside of the case, and also a detailed manual booklet. The accessories include a charging usb to micro-usb cable, just a generic type which is obviously compatible with any smartphone charger, and a set of S/M/L pairs of silicone tips. Meelec is actually well known for making their own custom eartips, and you can see these are custom tips with tapered down edge of the inner core. Since a nozzle of X7 shell is not a uniform barrel (it has a wider tip area), the eartips are designed for a better wrapping around that nozzle tip so it doesn’t slide out when you remove headphones from your ears. A little detail, but still important.
Also, I was glad that included zippered case was larger in comparison to a typical round storage case. When you are dealing with IEMs and a typical cord you wrap around 3 fingers for storage – you can live with a smaller case or even a pouch. Here, you are dealing with a memory wire that could take a little while to shape to your desired perfect fitment. Using smaller case will mean that you have to crumple up your work when stuffing it inside, just to start all over again when you take it out later. With a larger diameter round case, I was able to leave memory wire shape intact, just wrapping around flexible part of the cord. This was a big deal to me!
I already mentioned a little bit about the design and the shape of X7 earpieces. They have a modified bean shape of the traditional Westone/Shure design. As a result, nothing sticks out of your ear, and the cord comes out and wraps behind your ears. The shell itself is lightweight, plastic, and the whole headset with cables/remote weights only 13g. When you look closely, you can see an air vent pinhole at the base of the nozzle, an important feature for acoustics and perhaps to relief some air pressure in order to avoid driver flex. Often with other sealed headsets there is no vent for air to escape when you insert earpieces in your ear, and in past I found issues related to driver flex especially when I go through tip rolling to improve a seal. Also, each shell had a clear L/R marking.
Attached cable is rounded and has a durable rubber shielding. It’s not too thick or too thin, and just perfect to handle extreme weather elements. The joint between memory wire and the rest of the wire has a hard plastic shield piece and additional strain relief. There was also a strain relief on each side of the in-line remote. For a more convenient adjustment, Meelec also integrated a rubber cable cinch on the back with just enough friction to keep it from sliding and to make sure cable doesn’t dangle in the back of your neck. Everything about the build and the design of X7 screams heavy duty construction and durability, but it’s still lightweight and very flexible.
In-line remote is plastic and has 3 multi-function rubbery buttons with an easy to feel shape which helps since you have to access it blindly behind your neck. A shallow height of the buttons with a close placement next to each other has been a problem for me with many other similar style headsets I tested in the past – here Meelec got it down to perfection, at least for my personal taste. Buttons have multi-function assignment with the one in the middle used for Play/Pause/Call, and other two on the sides of it with +/- to change a volume with a single click and skip a track next/prev with a long press.
With other similar style headset, charging is implemented through micro-usb connector located inside of the shell housing, thus a need to make it longer and bulkier. Here, Meelec came up with something which I have not seen with any other headset – micro-usb charging connector located in the remote!!! With a small rubber flap cover, it seals the port tight to stay consistent with IPX4 sweat-resistant rating. And speaking of charging connector, in my opinion 4 hour battery life is one of the few negatives I found with X7. From my experience, 6 hour battery endurance is a perfect balance for 2+ workout sessions in case if you forget to charge it up, while with 4 hours you might end up short during your second workout. This is just my personal opinion.
When it comes to pair up, it was no different than any other wireless headsets I tested. You hold the middle button, which also has Power functionality, until you enter pair up mode, and select the headset from a list of bluetooth devices visible to your phone. After that, headset was paired up quickly every time I turn the X7 power on, and it got connected to a phone and media audio without a single hiccup. The operating distance in open space was close to 35ft, but it was a bit of a stretch with some occasional stuttering especially if I step in another room. Cutting distance short down to 20-25ft worked better for my use with Note 4.
Phone call quality was actually not bad at all, thanks to another Meelec “innovation” of placing the mic in the Right earpiece, closer to pick up your voice. Every other headset has it inside of in-line remote, relying on sensitivity of mic but forgetting that remote is going to be placed behind your neck. Here, it was a great idea to place it right inside of headset to bring it closer to your face.
When it comes to a sound, X7 has the usual Dr Jekyll / Mr Hyde syndrome depending on the size of eartips you are planning to use. With a set of large eartips, to ensure the best seal, I'm hearing a rather balanced sound with a noticeable amount of bass boost in sub-bass region to produce a strong low end impact which gets your blood pumping during a workout. But when going down in size to a set of smaller eartips to loosen up a seal, medium for me - sub-bass levels off significantly (as expected). Typically with this type of wireless headsets I need to use the largest eartip to make sure earpieces stay firmly in my ears, but with X7 thanks to their ergonomic design and memory wire - I didn’t have to worry about it anymore.
Regardless of this "bass boost" being either on or off depending on eartip selection, you still hear a clear and detailed organic mids with a nice body in lower mids and smooth details in upper mids, and also rewarded with a nice and clear treble without any sibilance or harshness. Even with larger eartips for a more bass impact, I felt the low end was well controlled without spilling into lower mids.
I was going back'n'forth between eartips while trying to decide which one I prefer more because with large eartips in some EDM tracks sub-bass was getting a bit overwhelming, while with medium eartips in some mellow tracks I was craving sub-bass boost to balance out a sound with more warmth and body. At the end I found a happy medium with a pair of my trusted large size JVC spiral dot tips that give me a perfect seal for a tight bass impact while their large bore opening provides a great balance with brighter upper mids and treble details.
In conclusion, I definitely enjoyed using Sport-Fi X7 and found them to be at the top of the game for anybody who is looking for wireless headphones when doing some serious physical activities. This Meelec model introduced a number of innovations I haven't seen before with any similar type of wireless headphones like moving a charger to in-line remote and moving mic out to an earpiece, using a built in cable cinch, and the first one with an audiophile shaped shell design and excellent memory wire implementation. Even when it comes to a sound, after finding a perfect pair of eartips - I was very impressed with a balanced smooth clear sound of these wireless headphones, a sound that can go head-to-head against a number of wired headphones even in higher price category.