Today we’re checking out another wireless entry from Astrotec, the BX70.
The BX70 is the third entry in Astrotec’s lineup using this gem-like design language, with the prior two entries being the GX40 and GX50. Like the GX50, the BX70 features MMCX connectors allowing users to swap cables, something you’re likely to be doing. The BX70 takes on the recent trend of including both a traditional cable, and a Bluetooth cable so you can go wireless if you so choose. In fact, the Bluetooth cable is the primary cable, if the default, out of the box setup is to be taken into consideration.
I recently checked out their fully wireless entry, the S60, and came away impressed with a number of aspects. How does the BX70 hold up under similar scrutiny? Let’s find out.
This BX70 is a sample sent over by Astrotec for the purposes of review. The thoughts within this review are my own and do not represent Astrotec or any other entity. At the time of writing the BX70 was retailing for 79.00 USD on Astrotec’s official Aliexpress store. You can check it out here on their home site, http://astrotec.cn/Product/detail/id/57.html, or here on AliExpress.
I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. My preferences vary greatly and as such I can appreciate a wide variety of tunes. The HiFiMAN RE800 Silver, Brainwavz B400, and Massdrop x MeeAudio Planamic are examples of earphones with wildly varied signatures that are enjoyable for different reasons. I generally listen at very low volumes, so keep this in mind when perusing my thoughts on how an earphone sounds.
For wireless listening the BX70 was connected to my LG G6 via apt-X using the includes Bluetooth cable module. Using the included standard cable, the BX70 was plugged into the Radsone ES100 connected to the LG G6 via LDAC. For purely wired use, the BX70 was paired with the Shanling M0, M1, HiFi E.T. MA8, and ZiShan DSD. The BX70 has a warmish, slightly colored presentation and to my ear sounds best with more neutral-leaning DAPs.
- Driver: 10MM dynamic
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20KHz
- Impedance: 16 ohms
- Sensitivity: 108 dB/mW
- Bluetooth Version: 4.1, Qualcomm CSR chipset with aptX support
- Battery Life: 7hrs
Packaging and Accessories:
The BX70 arrives in a beige cardboard box that fits comfortably in the hand. The front sports an image of the BX70 with the Bluetooth cable attached, in-line controller on show. Around the corners you find brand and model designation, as well as the Qualcomm aptX logo. The rest of the box is pretty bare with the back containing important details regarding the product specifications and contact information for Astrotec. The left side of the box also highlights product support via a one year warranty.
Flipping back the magnetically sealed lid sees an image of a woman jogging with a softened sun above her face. To the right of this image is a frosted plastic insert printed with a thank you message from Astrotec: “Thank you for choosing Astrotec. Our focus is to give you the most intimate care.” Underneath this insert and set within a foam pad is the right ear piece with the Bluetooth cable attached, controller module also on display. Underneath the foam insert, as you would expect, is the accessory kit. In all you get:
- BX70 earphones
- MMCX Bluetooth cable
- MMCX 5N SPC cable
- micro-USB charge cable
- Carrying pouch
- Single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
- Foam tips (m)
- Removeable cable cinch
- Warranty card
- QC card
Special mention goes to the included tips. The material quality is outstanding being soft but durable, with a hint of stickiness that really helps provide a great seal. These are actually the same tips Astrotec includes with their flagship Delphinus5, though I found them to pair better with the BX70 than that model. Overall a nice kit that should provide buyers with everything they need out of the box.
Build, Comfort, and Isolation:
The BX70’s housings are all plastic with a distinctive gem adorning the face. At the back of each ear piece is a white circle with an L or R within letting you know which channel is which. Out the top of the rear of each ear piece extends an MMCX receptacle where the cable plugs in. Flipping to the inner half of the shell you find there are two small ports. One sits directly over the driver, while the other sits near the base of the housing. It is covered from the inside by a small filter. The nozzle is about 7mm in length at it’s shortest point, and 5mm wide with a distinct lip for holding tips on. A metal mesh is neatly applied over the nozzle opening protecting the driver from debris and wax. Overall, the fit and finish of the BX70’s construction is quite good. There are no misaligned parts, glue in places where it shouldn’t be, or sloppy mold lines.
The 5N SPC ‘Hi-Fi’ cable is quite reminiscent of one of my favorite cables which you can find on the Light T2 and Penon BS1 Experience, both of which were discontinued. So, when I cracked open the BX70’s package and saw this cable wrapped up inside I was pretty excited. Within a very clear and dense sheath are four cores made up of a ton of individual strands. The metal 90 degree angled jack has a long, flexible strain relief and is very well tapered so it should slot in well to cell-phone and DAP cases. The Astrotec branded y-split is also metal but completely unrelieved. Normally I’d be against this, but given the similarity in construction to the other cable mentioned previously, I’m not worried. Astrotec’s cable is actually a touch thicker and more flexible, so I have no doubt it will be just as durable, if not more so. Sitting just above the y-split is a clear plastic chin cinch. It slides along the cable with less resistance than I prefer, but works well enough once in place. As you move further up the cable you find some performed ear guides that hold the cable securely behind the ear. They’re plenty flexible though and as such do not cause any issues with comfort. Lastly, the MMCX plugs are also metal with color coded bands, blue for left, red for right. I can’t deny that I really like this cable. It looks nice, feels tough, is flexible, has low memory for bends/kinks, and is quiet when in use.
The Bluetooth cable has a much more traditional construction and uses a thick black rubber sheath. On each side is a module which helps even out the weight. I presume the featureless one is for the battery while the other holds the rest of the electronics, including the three buttons used to control the device. On this module are buttons for volume up, down, and a centre multifunction button. Just below the volume down button is a pin hole containing an LED that flashes red or blue depending on the function at the time. While all the buttons are the same size and shape, the centre button is slightly recessed. They are all well-spaced from each other and easy to differentiate, depressing with a satisfying click. As with the regular, the Bluetooth cable is equipped with preformed ear guides. These are a little on the stiff side and I found the bend much too relaxed. As a result the cable tended to dislodge from behind my ear with very little effort. To prevent this I had to install the included cable cinch and feed the cable under my chin instead of behind my head as most would normally wear a cable of this design.
Wearing the BX70 is for the most part a good experience. The housings are fairly small, light, and have an impressively low profile so you can easily lie on your side with them on. With my ears, I do run into some discomfort after a short while. This results from the small ridge that runs around the length of the gem-like structure of the face plate touching my antitragus. With different tips, namely ones that do not insert as deeply, that goes away and the BX70 virtually disappears in my ear. Comfort is best in my experience with the wired cable since it stays out of the way. As mentioned above, the Bluetooth cable tends to pop up and out of place. I always know it’s in use and have to take measures to make it less intrusive.
Isolation from the BX70 is average at best, falling in line with most dynamic based earphones. The ample ventilation and plastic housings let in a fair bit of noise. Listening while on the computer I can clearly hear each keystroke. Listening in a much louder environment than my office, like my local coffee shop, requires a notable boost in volume to drown out the people around me. Tossing on the included foam tips is highly recommended if you’re planning to use these in noisy locations, like on the bus.
Bluetooth Cable Performance:
The Bluetooth cable included with the BX70 is a solid unit, but oddly enough, pairing with the BX70 isn’t ideal.
At an achievable 7 hours, pending you’re not listening at extreme volumes, the battery life is pretty average. With cable modules of this form factor, seeing battery life ranging from 5 to 8 hours is common, and the BX70’s module falls more-or-less smack dab in the middle. I couldn’t find an official range posted anywhere, but based on the tech in use, and actual use, 33 feet feels right. I can leave the source in my office and walk around the majority of my apartment with drops occurring only when I put some walls in the way. Outside in the real world, the connection quality is reliable with rarely a hitch, except one place where Bluetooth tends to have issues; the rear entrance to my building where there is a ton of interference from wireless security cameras. Otherwise there was the occasional stutter and that’s about it, something I find common with nearly every wireless device. This module also has some useful quality of life features, like muting itself when you dial the volume down all the way, and auto-connecting to the last used device on startup. Usability is overall quite good and it’s a pleasant cable to interact with.
Why do I say this module isn’t a great pairing with the BX70? Well, when you start listening to music it becomes obvious. First, as soon as music starts playing the background hiss kicks in hard. It is quite loud and as someone who listens to their music quietly, it very intrusive. I also found it softened the BX70’s presentation and sapped much of the detail and clarity this earphone is capable of outputting when run wired.
Since pairing with the BX70 was okay, but not ideal, I decided to try it out with some other earphones. First up was a direct competitor, the ADVANCED Model 3 (M3). Hot damn! These two sounded fantastic together with a deep, black background and tons of detail. The M3 contains a 6mm micro driver, a driver type that usually require additional power to get up to volume. The M3 is no exception and I think that’s why it pairs so well with this cable. This cable module is exceptionally loud, and I’m certain the power output is too great for the sensitive BX70. Next up was the dual-dynamic TinHiFi T2. While there is still some background hiss, it is quite a bit less than experienced through the BX70. I then tried it with the sensitive BGVP DMG hybrid. No surprise here, but the two didn’t work well together. Not only was there background hiss, but the treble became quite harsh. This is something I’ve experienced with other Bluetooth modules/hybrid pairings, like as the plussound Exo-BT and Campfire Audio Polaris. Lastly, I gave it a go with the dual-armature EarNiNE EN2J. This turned out a lot better than I expected with only a very bit of background hiss showing up. The EN2J’s analytic signature was mostly retained with little negative effect on it;s crazy detail output. A touch of mid-range warmth was also added in by the BX70’s module making the EN2J more manageable for longer listening sessions.
Overall I think this is a pretty decent cable module, it’s just been paired with the wrong device. The lack of any branding whatsoever says to me that it was not specifically tailored for use with the BX70.
The BX70 is a surprisingly high quality sounding earphone. Why do I say that? Well, look at it. Earphones that make such a strong visual statement, especially in this price range, tend to make sacrifices when it comes to sound quality. Not this time. Treble is slightly elevated with a nice balance between presence and brilliance regions. This gives the BX70’s sound good definition, clarity, and air between notes without being overly hash or sparkly. It presents itself with a positive long term listenability without coming across dull and muddied. All of this is evident in the shimmery electronic effects of Daft Punk’s “End of Line (Boyz Noize Remix)”. It’s detailed and crisp but not bright and harsh. It’s just nice.
As heard on Porcupine Tree’s “Pure Narcotic” the mid-range is lightly recessed but has a full-bodied presentation. Vocals are smooth and extremely clear while guitars are textured and crisp. On Skindred’s “Death To All Spies”, the grungy guitars are prominent and rich, full of weight and information. Benji’s vocals also hit all the right marks sounding natural and unforced, and as distinct and nuanced as they should. Timbre seems fairly accurate with the BX70 playing along with my benchmark, the classic JVC HA-FXT90, with instruments sounding accurate and distinctive from each other.
Bass on the BX70 is biased towards the mid and upper-bass regions, though not in a way that makes them at all boosted or bloated. The 10mm dynamic in the BX70 is quick and articulate with lots of texture as evident in the aggressive drum lines in Skrillex’s “Kyoto (feat. Sirah)”, however, the reggae beats on Skindred’s “Gun Talk” could use a bit more weight and impact. The only flaw I really hear with the BX70’s low end is extension. Sub-bass is lacking in depth and emphasis leaving the BX70 a bit empty on tracks that feature very low tones.
While not a complicated track, Daft Punk’s “Doin’ It Right” has very clear layers that are perfectly portrayed through the BX70. Even if the sound stage is fairly average in size, the BX70 still gives off a clear sense of depth and width with each element playing in it’s own individual sphere. Complicate things somewhat with “Starless And Bible Black” from King Crimson and you find the BX70’s good separation and layering qualities carry over to busy performances.
Select Comparisons (volumes matched using Dayton Audio iMM-6):
ADVANCED Model 3 (79.99 USD): The Model 3 and BX70 are similar in a lot of ways. Both feature stylish, nicely constructed plastic housings with a cable up design. I’d say the Model 3 has a more widely appealing design given it isn’t quite as flashy as the BX70. The Model 3’s Shure-like housings are slightly more comfortable, and isolate a lot better. The BX70’s Bluetooth cable shares some features like Bluetooth 4.1 and aptX support, but ups the Model 3 with an extra two hours of battery life. Neither is rated for water resistance so be careful using them in rain or during activities that will cause you to sweat profusely. Connection quality is more stable and reliable on the newer BX70, though the Model 3’s cable is less susceptible to hissing across a wider variety of earphones.
When it comes to sound they are tuned similarly with warm signatures. The Model 3 has a more well-rounded low end with additional sub-bass emphasis and better extension, though it gives up some texture to the BX70. The BX70’s mids are more forward and lively with additional clarity. The BX70’s treble isn’t quite as energetic. Details are more pronounced on the BX70 and it shows greater air between notes. Imaging, layering, and sound stage qualities are similar with the BX70 sounding slightly larger and more airy. Overall the BX70 is the better sounding product with a cleaner and more crisp and clear signature, but just as easy on the ears over long listening sessions. Neither is fatiguing at all.
Thanks to vast improvements in Bluetooth technology and the forced obsolescence of the 3.5mm headphone jack by certain major phone manufacturers, the wireless market has been heating up in recent years. Astrotec’s BX70 is a flexible product that works well in catering to both markets.
With the use of common MMCX connectors you can swap between a traditional cable or the included wireless cable for unimpeded variety and freedom of movement. In addition, the BX70 gives you a fantastic listening experience with a clear, warm signature coming from it’s single dynamic drivers. That said, you’ll want to stick with the standard cable for the best audio experience. All of this is backed by a distinctive, jewel inspired housing that has a comfortable fit, an extremely low profile, and good build quality.
While the Bluetooth module works better with other earphones than it does the BX70 itself, the rest of the experience is outstanding and well worth auditioning if you’re in the market for something with this earphone’s feature set.
Thanks for reading!
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Some Test Tunes:
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (Album)
Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet) (Album)
Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)
Aesop Rock – Fishtales (Track)