The iT7x2 are bold, bright wireless headphones from ex-Aston Villa legend Ian Taylor. Can they find the back of the net when it comes to audio?
The original iT7x wireless headphones made a bit of a splash last year as a potential rival to Dr. Dre's all-conquering Beats range. They had the chunky design, wireless functionality and celebrity endorsement in the form of ex-Aston Villa midfielder Ian Taylor. Unfortunately, the build quality wasn't quite up to business and the iT7x dropped into the relegation zone.
However, it's a new season and (following a quick detour in the form of the iT7 Audio Sport in-ear phones) the range is back with the new iT7x2 wireless on-ear headphones. We're happy to report that these new cans are a substantial improvement over last year's offering.
Presented to us by none other than Mr. Taylor himself, the new iT7x2 are significantly smaller than the first iteration and come in a range of colours. Bluetooth and NFC compatibility mean there's no need for wires and the headphones come in packaging worthy of an Apple product. How do they fare in the real world? T3 went ears-on to find out.
One of the strongest elements of the iT7x2 is the design and construction of the headphones themselves. The iT7x2, manufactured by audio company Bluechipworld, has dialled back the size, weight and dimensions from over- ear to on-ear.
Also, the shiny plastic surface that plagued the old iT7x has been replaced by a matte, mock-rubber finish that results in a really premium feel.
The band has a padded rubbery plastic underneath and is adjustable for different levels of comfort. Meanwhile, the foldable design means you can crack the band inwards for storage and transport. The iT7x2 comes with a zip-sealed rubber case for when you want to pack it away.
You'll find all the relevant wireless controls on either side of the band next to the left earcup. This lets you turn the volume up or down, mute the track or skip backwards and forwards without having to get your smartphone or music player out of your pocket.
On the face of the earcup is the main power switch that doubles for Bluetooth pairing and answering incoming calls. At first, these controls are a tad fiddly to use, but give it some time and it becomes easy – especially if you're a left-hander.
On the right cup is where you'll find the 'NFC zone' where you can sync your smartphone or NFC-enabled wireless device to the headphones. Holding the two together for 3-5 seconds establishes a connection and enables the Bluetooth pairing. Inside the box is a 3.5mm cable, in case you don't want to use the wireless option.
Then, of course, there are the colour options to choose from: pink, orange, blue, white or black – take your pick.
The iT7x2 headphones sit comfortably on your ears with generous memory foam padding that doesn't start to press after time. While the headband is tight enough to keep the 'phones from slipping, you don't feel like your head is being crushed by a vice – something we've unfortunately experienced with other on-ear headphones.
What's more, the iT7x2 are also nice and light. You don't feel like you're wearing a hi-fi on your head and when you pull them down to rest on your neck, chances are you'll forget they're there.
The Bluetooth coverage extends to 20m and usage time clocks in at about 22 hours from a single charge. Providing there's nothing in the way (like your body – keep your phone in the right trouser pocket) the Bluetooth signal is strong and streaming isn't a problem. Battery life was also on-par and with our NFC-enabled phone, it was easy to sync up and pair.
It's important not to confuse flexibility with durability. You can bend the iT7x2 to a certain degree and even drop them from time to time – but they aren't rugged by any stretch. Nor are they meant to be. The trend for headphones has seen flair usurp functionality in most cases and we don't exactly begrudge the iT7x2 for being a part of this crowd.
Of course, knocking these headphones around for any length of time is also likely to leave some ungainly scratches on the smooth matte surface. Luckily that can be avoided thanks to the reinforced rubber carry pouch that comes along with the headphones. Zip them up, throw them in your bag and worry no further.
iT7x2: Sound Quality
Headphones can have all the endorsements they want but, if they don't sound good, we're not going to recommend them. Here's how it plays with the iT7x2; they're a little bass-heavy with a thicker, rounder sound than you'll find on other on-ear headphones.
We'd class the B&W P3 as one of the chief rivals to the iT7x2 along with the Marshall Monitor headphones. Whereas the P3s succeed with punchy clarity and definition suited to strings, synths and cymbals, the iT7x2s rock a dirtier sound that goes better with bassier hip-hop, jazz or grunge numbers. Put simply, these headphones are more Verve than Vivaldi.
There's no loss of clarity over wireless either as the iT7x2 uses the CSR aptX high fidelity codec and Bluetooth 4.0 for the best possible signal. What we will say, is that there's a bit of leakage when you push the volume up, - nothing that'd disturb fellow commuters, but it's noticeable.
We were very impressed with the iT7x2 – much, much more so than the original iT7x last year and the iT7 Audio Sport in-ears back in March. So far, these are the best iT7's Bluechipworld has produced. It's true they're a little on the expensive side, especially when considering the Sol Republic HD V10s come in at only £100, but for that extra shine you're getting Bluetooth 4 and NFC.
The design is excellent, the choice of colours giving you a chance to match up with your iPod Touch, but audio and comfort hasn't been left out either. Overall, the iT7x2 are a solid pair of wireless headphones with a touch of flair that should see them close all three points against lesser 'phones.
iT7x2 Headphones release date: Out now
iT7x2 headphones price: £170