Review: iXCC Sport Bluetooth
One of the annoyances of exercising while listening to music on a smartphone - for me at least - is stopping the headphones falling out of my ears, constantly pausing stride to poke them back in properly. Which is why these caught my eye - grippy outer-ear sports headphones with 'fins' that wedge into your auricle(!) to keep the 'phones in place, and that are Bluetooth, so a limited amount of heavy cabling pulling out the buds.
Now, this isn't the first time I've tried to solve this problem here on AAWP, listening to music on various Windows Phones over the last five years. I reviewed the Veho ZS-3 - these produced excellent audio quality but did rather suffer from a two-handed, awkward means of insertion, specifically hooking the supports over each ear. Then there was the Coloud Hoop, working on wedging themselves into your outer ear with an adjustable section of cable, but they were a pain to adjust and you still had the weight of the cabling down to your phone to worry about.
These iXCC earphones also look to wedge themselves into your auricle/pinna (biology nerds, Google these!), but more simply with a flexible 'fin' that needs no adjusting and is 'one size fits all', plus they're Bluetooth and the only cabling is a short section that runs around the back of your neck, for the battery in one bud to supply power to the control circuits in the other, and for the main bud to send back the left channel audio.
The outer sections are glossy plastic and a fingerprint magnet, but the inner sections are rubberised and fairly grippy. The mouldings are such as to direct as much sound as possible into your ear canal, though there's no attempt to seal the canal, as you'd get with 'in-ear' designs. And so, like other outer ear designs, there's significant leakage of whatever you're listening to, though it won't be a problem when you're pounding roads, trails or at the gym.
The fins are just about perfect and instantly wedge the earphones in place - walking and jogging didn't disturb them and for once I had no interruptions to my exercise.
Controls are intuitive - power/start/pause/pairing/answer/hangup on the main button, plus volume buttons, though you have to be a bit careful when inserting the right iXCC bud into your ear as it's hard to do this without inadvertently pausing music or hanging up a call - stay away from the multi-function button!
Playback time is rated at five hours per charge, which is fair enough as long as you can remember to keep these charged up. A microUSB port on the left earbud is covered by a rubber flap - I guess USB Type C is too much to hope for in a small accessory like this?
So far so good overall then - a good reliable fit, easy charging, decent playtime. Bluetooth connections to my Lumia 950 XL were rock solid, with no dropouts or glitches, though don't expect aptX codecs or similar, these are ultimately low cost headphones and it's bog standard Bluetooth A2DP.
Which links neatly into a discussion of audio quality. And this is where things start to unravel a little. The drivers in the iXCC Sport Bluetooth aren't huge and bass is naturally limited, but you also lose what there is by not having a good seal in the ear canal - as usual with outer ear designs. Put the two factors together and music is rather flat and unsatisfactory. There's no crisp top end and almost no bass at all - in fact, I'd say that the iXCC wireless headphones here are strictly for 'pop' music and podcasts.
Which is a shame - I really wanted to be able to recommend these wholeheartedly. And I can't. Though at only £17 they're also not going to break the bank. If you're not an audiophile and/or if you're looking for something lightweight and rugged, then these could still be worth a go.
Reviewed by Steve Litchfield at