If I wrote that I had known FAAEAL before the Datura-X was offered me for review, that would be a lie. The Chi-Fi scene is exploding and the market is bustling with new manufacturers and products, so keeping track of them all becomes impossible. Sometimes that’s for good, though, as the FAAEAL Datura-X are an absolutely forgettable product.
Disclaimer: AK Audio provided this sample for free. They sell the earbuds on AliExpress at $20.
|Good accessory set
|Extremely unbalanced tuning that is so bad it causes headaches in a matter of minutes|
Packaging & Accessories
FAAEAL nailed one thing, and that’s packaging. The Datura-X come in a hard carrying case that also holds a cable clip and a few foam covers. It is uncommon to see such a complete accessory set for headphones in this entry-level price range.
Design & Comfort
From a design perspective, the FAAEAL Datura-X are nothing special. The earpieces are made of solid metal (stainless steel, judging by their weight) and they resemble a cone with a bolt soldered on it. That’s because the part that connects the main shell to the strain relief has a hexagonal shape, which is quite odd! The finish is also a bit weird: the metal is covered in a plastic film with a brushed/scuff marks pattern on it – it feels weird in hand, as one would expect it to feel metallic to the touch when it instead feels plasticky.
The shells are probably extremely durable and could withstand a lot of abuse; the only plastic part is the ring around the grille where sounds come from. Everything else is solid metal and that’s impressive at this price point.
Comfort is also good once the foams are in place; the shape and the size of the shells make it so that one barely realises the earbuds are in their ears. I did not test the FAAEAL Datura-X on long listening sessions as they gave me headaches after less than an hour due to their frequency response – so I don’t really know how they perform on the long run.
The cable is flimsy and prone to kinks. It is made of four braided cores. It’s a bit stiff, despite being so thin, so I never got it to adapt to the shape I wanted to give to it. All the “boxes” (jack, Y-split) are made of metal. In general it seems good quality, compared to the price of the earbuds. It has very low microphonics, so the cable clip is not necessary (unless you want to secure the cable against your clothes, of course).
Sound & Specs
I used an Audirect Beam and xDuoo X3-II as sources for this review. The former was accompanied by an iFi IEMatch. Music files were standard-resolution FLACs.
|Frequency response||18 – 20,000 Hz|
If the FAAEAL Datura-X are nothing special aesthetically, they are downright terrible from an acoustic point of view. Their tuning is so badly done that music sounds hollow, distant, dull, and just plain wrong. The situation is really dire, so much so that the Datura-X are unbearable. They make my ears ache after a few seconds, and that’s no exaggeration!
Sound is congested and close, despite being open-back; soundstage is narrow and almost claustrophobic, while imaging is somewhat decent, but instrument separation is worth of a product that would cost less than $5.
Bass is over-emphasised, taking a large chunk of the space that should normally be reserved for the midrange. One would think that the open nature of the earbuds would make bass tame and controlled, as it happens on most other products with this form factor, but instead it is invasive and excessive. It goes down to 50 Hz and only reaches good volume around 100 Hz, so it’s not very deep or balanced, either – it is mostly concentrated in the mid-bass area. In short, it’s bloated. It’s flabby, too, as there’s not a lot of control and details are lost to the sheer power of it. On the positive side, there’s some physicality so that you feel drums and percussions, but that’s about the only positive thing.
Midrange is heavily flawed, as it lacks any kind of balance and coherence. Lower midrange is completely absent, while the middle region is heavily recessed (but still audible) and the upper area is heavily emphasised. This makes midrange sound distant, artificial and incredibly low-fi – almost as if it came from one of those portable radios from the ’90s. Voices are recessed and distant: in I’d love to change the world by Ten Years After, Alvin Lee’s voice sounds as though it comes from behind a glass wall. There’s some detail, but it is lost due to the terrible tuning.
Treble is overly present in the lower section and completely absent afterwards. This creates a situation that makes treble incredibly piercing and annoying without really adding anything – there’s no air, no breathing space, no light. It sounds claustrophobic and annoying, and that’s about it. Like midrange, treble has some detail but the way it is tuned makes it pointless.
I normally make comparisons with other headphones to give you, the readers, an idea of how the product on review compares to what the market offers. I could compare the FAAEAL Datura-X to other products such as the Venture Electronics Monk Plus, the BGVP DX3S, but that would be utterly pointless – the Datura-X perform worse on all key metrics.
I can’t really fathom how FAAEAL tuned the Datura-X, as it is apparent that they sound wrong. This disaster of a product is so bad I can’t really write anything good about it – and I am sorry about this, because it may seem like I hold a grudge against these earbuds. I don’t. But the fact is that the sound quality is abysmal and there’s no way around this. Don’t ever buy the FAAEAL Datura-X. There’s a reason why I’d never heard of them…