As a headphone reviewer, I listen to earphones and headphones of all shapes and sizes, at all kinds of prices, with all kinds of quality. But whenever I think about my favorite models, the headphones that make the list generally offer phenomenal sound for the price. People are always looking for a good score – a device that does what it does exceptionally well, for a great price. Enter the Status Audio IEM 2X – a tiny, unassuming earbud retailing for an easy $49.
Status Audio IEM 2X Review
The IEM 2X comes in a simple black box. Inside, there’s a nylon carrying case, a product manual, and three pairs of eatips.
Utilizing a two-driver setup, this earphone features one Dynamic and one Balanced Armature Driver.
The 4 ft (1.2 m) cable, sheathed in nylon fabric, appears pliable but strong. Ending in a slightly-angled jack, it also features a mic and remote that works fine with Android or Apple devices. The nylon sheath stops at the Y connection, where the cable splits to connect to the left and right buds.
Most strikingly, the earphones seem to weigh almost nothing at all. Once placed in my ear, this feeling only compounds; once the music starts playing, I hardly remember I’m even wearing the IEM 2X.
Frequency Response: 20-40,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance: 18 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 102 dB
The Status Audio IEM 2X houses a pretty wide frequency response, which should translate to more detail in the lows and highs. A low nominal impedance of just 18 ohms allows this earphone to work just fine with phones, computers, and other low-output devices (including personal players). And, that low impedance also means you won’t need much in the way of amplification. Working in tandem with this, of course, is a sound pressure level of 102 dB – more than enough for adequate volume in most listening situations.
While not sporting a whopping big bass response, the IEM 2X offers an impressive low end chock-full of details. There’s a natural quality to the sound here – one that engenders a clear representation of how a track should actually sound. Accurate and full, the sound still takes advantage of a moderate bass response, but one that seems particularly in sync with the rest of the low end. Slightly reserved, the bass appears where it should, but never gets too heavy or downright sloppy.
(Casual consumers may not dig this kind of low end, and Status Audio states the exact same thing on their website. However, for folks who want to hear music as it was recorded or mastered, this low end is about as neutral as neutral gets, below $100.)
To be honest, I was sure the IEM 2X would crash and burn in the mids. A lot of manufacturers market a balanced sound signature as neutral or flat, even if the mids seem scooped out, hollow, or lacking altogether. Does the Status Audio IEM 2X deliver perfect mids? No. There’s actually the slightest hint of compression at play here. But again, we’re talking about a $49 earphone. And the wealth of detail, clarity, and fidelity more than compensates for that whisper of compression. All-in-all, these mids offer an impressive, meaty listening experience.
In the high end, the IEM 2X offers good extension but never verges on too bright or piercing. To my ears, the sound manages to deliver an exacting level of detail where you would expect it to; on classical tracks, violins seem lifelike, with sparkling but full notes. And yet, female vocals still come across as velvety smooth with beautiful fidelity.
There’s a small amount of soundstage lurking inside these earphones. Is it wide open, expansive, and enveloping? Not by a long shot. Most earphones will struggle to deliver any soundstage at all, and the IEM 2X is cursed with the shortcomings of it’s form factor. With that being said, though, there’s still a solid impression of space and depth that most other earphones just can’t offer at this price. Music still seems three-dimensional and articulate, and this effect registers on any track I pair with the 2X.
Overall, the sound remains flat and neutral but highly, highly detailed. It’s amazing just how much detail you can get with such a small, lightweight, inexpensive earphone.
Personally, I often feel like cheaper earphones are usually too inaccurate or bass-heavy, and I don’t want to put them in my ears. With the Status Audio IEM 2X, I don’t want to take it out of my ears. However, not everyone is going to agree with me here. In the past, I was a hardcore basshead, and I could understand why this sound might fall short with folks who like some weight to their lows.
Compared to my own test setup/benchmark – the Mackie MP-240 and Alo Media Reference 8 Cable (about $500 total) – the $49 Status Audio IEM 2X hits amazingly close to home. I wouldn’t say that this will replace every $500 earphone-and-cable combo out there, but if neutrality is key, rest assured this is the best $49 you will EVER spend.
The Status Audio IEM 2X offers a detailed, accurate, and flat sound with an outright payload of fidelity. It’s the perfect earphone for audio professionals who need inexpensive but accurate sound, or for folks who prefer a neutral or flat sound. Fans of classical and acoustic music may prefer this sound as well.
If you don’t fall into this camp, other alternatives exist. The Advanced Wearable AWA-101 offers a significant improvement in bass response while keeping the higher-end two-driver design. This earphone might be better suited for hip-hop, rock, pop, and electronica, or anyone who just LOVES some bass. And, at $49, this model can be had for the same price as the IEM 2X.
But what if you like a v-shaped sound signature? My recommendation would go to the Final Audio E3000 earphones. At $55, these babies are a little more expensive, but offer a sound that seems tailored to rock, jazz, and electronica.
With a price of just $49, it would be hard not to recommend the Status Audio IEM 2X under most circumstances. Sure, the flat, neutral sound may not be to everyone’s liking. But the detail alone makes this a prime candidate for beginners and seasoned audiophiles alike. For sound professionals who want a cheap, effective reference point, the 2X also presents a bulletproof investment.
Snatch up a pair of the IEM 2X here:
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