Introduction

Echobox is a company based in US and went through a successful Indiegogo campaign in 2015. They started out with the Finder X1 which is an extremely durable titanium-housed earphone. It uses the German PEEK driver and there are interchangeable filters. In addition, Echobox has their own digital audio player (DAP) in the Explorer. Recently, they have released their entry level in-ear monitor, Traveler, as well as their flagship in the Nomad. In this review, I will be reviewing the Explorer. I would like to thank Echobox for this review unit. At the moment, you can purchase the Explorer from https://echoboxaudio.com/products/explorer .

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Specifications

  • DAC: Texas Instruments Burr Brown PCM 1792 – 24/192K Capable; All PCM Formats; DSD Support (DSD to PCM Conversion)
  • Power: Texas Instruments TPA6120A2; 300mW/Channel@32 Ohms; Snr 128 dB
  • Output Impedance: 1 Ohm @ 16 Ohms
  • Output: 3.5mm Stereo; Mini Toslink Optical Out
  • OS: Stock Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Processor: Rockchip RK3128 Quad Core Processor @ 1.3 GHz
  • RAM: 1 GB DDR3
  • Memory: 64 GB Internal, Micro SD Slot
  • Battery: 4000 mAh, Lithium-Ion
  • Screen: 3.5” LCD
  • Connectivity: Micro USB 2.0; WiFi (802.11 ABGN); Bluetooth 4.1; DLNA
  • Play time: 8 Hours
  • Charging time: 5-6 Hours with DC5V, 2A Input

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Unboxing & Accessories

The Echobox Explorer comes in a black package with the Echobox brand name printed on it. It has a greyish protective cover. On the cover front, there are an image of the dap, the model name and the brand name. At the bottom left of the cover front, there is the “Hi-Res Audio” logo. At the sides of the cover, there are description of specifications, accessories and contact information. Next, the cover back shows the background of Echobox. After opening the black package, there are the Explorer, Tidal subscription card and social media information card. There is a small black package below which contains the leatherette case and micro usb cable. In addition, there are an instruction manual, warranty card and specifications guide.

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DAP Build & Design

The DAP has a flask-shaped design and the unit I received is ebony in colour. The colour matches well with the silver aluminium. On the screen, the home button is a white circle. At the top of the Explorer, there are the headphone jack and mini toslink optical out. The button is in silver colour with the Echobox logo printed on top of it in ebony wood. The button functions as a volume knob and to lock the screen. It looks very classy. At the bottom of the Explorer, there are the micro sd slot and micro usb charging port.

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Sound Analysis

Lows

The Explorer has a smooth sub-bass reproduction and the rumble is moderate. The sub-bass is being extended well and the depth it reaches has a good magnitude. There is a nice mid-bass slam. The presentation is clean and there is good rendering of details. The nature is slower but the warm and smooth approach is relaxing to listen to. Bass texture is smooth with a moderate decay. Bass articulation is rather accurate.

Mids

The midrange on the Explorer takes on a full-bodied approach and there is a good quantity to its lower mids section. Male vocals are presented nicely without sounding hollow or dry. The upper mids are forward and female vocals are presented in a smooth yet intimate approach. There is a good control in the vocals reproduction. The midrange definition is great and it enhances the performance.

Highs

The treble has a rather good extension and there is no sibilance and harshness. Like the other frequency range, it operates in a smooth approach too. There is no grain in the treble and it is presented with finesse. Texture is smooth. There is a good amount of air at the top end that gives space to the overall sound. I find the air rendered to be excellent as it makes the sound very realistic and reduce congestion.

Soundstage

There is a natural expansion in the soundstage width and it gives a surround feel to it. Positioning of vocals and instruments is pretty precise. In addition, there is a good depth so you will not feel that it is close in.

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Comparisons

Echobox Explorer vs Cayin i5

The Explorer has less sub-bass quantity than the i5 with slightly more extension. The depth helps to accentuate the sub-bass. There is similar agility in both but i5 has edge with a quicker decay. Bass texture on the Explorer is slightly more smooth. The mid-bass operates in a laid-back approach with a moderate slam. The lower mids on the Explorer has more quantity and male vocals are better presented. The upper mids on the i5 is more forward and this helps to allow female vocals to be prominent. In the treble section, both operates in a rather smooth approach but there is more crisp in the i5. There is no sibilance and harshness. The amount of air rendered on both is similar. Lastly, the Explorer has a more natural expansion in its stage width and depth is maintained at the same standard. There is no congestion on both.

Echobox Explorer vs Onkyo DPX1-A

The Explorer has more sub-bass quantity than the DPX1-A and rumble is more natural. The DPX1-A has slightly more extension. It operates in a clean and transparent approach. There is more body in the Explorer. Bass texture on the Explorer is more smooth and it has more impact. I find that the Explorer has better dynamics. The mid-bass on the DPX1-A has a moderate slam while Explorer presents it with more impact. The Explorer has more body in its lower mids and male vocals are being tackled effortlessly. On the other hand, DPX1-A is dry. For the upper mids, the Explorer has extra body to it and there is good definition. The DPX1-A is thin in its midrange. Explorer presents itself in a more organic manner. For the treble section, Explorer has a smooth approach while DPX1-A takes on a more analytical style. DPX1-A is prone to sibilance and harshness. There is a natural expansion in its stage width but DPX1-A has more width. The depth on the Explorer is better.

Echobox Explorer vs iBasso DX80

The Explorer has similar sub-bass quantity as the DX80 but DX80 has more extension. Rumble on the Explorer is slower. Bass texture on the Explorer is smoother. The bass note on the DX80 expresses itself with more agility. Decay on the DX80 is faster. The mid-bass on the Explorer has more quantity and its slam has more weight. The lower mids on the Explorer is presented with the extra body to prevent hollowness in male vocals. The upper mids on the DX80 has more forwardness and there is more energy from it. Female vocals benefit from it. Next, in the treble section, Explorer is more laid-back while DX80 operates in an exciting style. The extension on both is around the same. Finally, the soundstage expansion on the Explorer is more natural with better control and the width magnitude on both is similar. The depth on the Explorer has a slight edge due to the extra air presence.

Conclusion

The Explorer has an excellent analogue sound that operates in a smooth and musical style. Although there are some issues regarding firmware, the sound of the Explorer is enjoyable to listen to. It has an unique design with great build quality. The Echobox Explorer provides a detailed and musical sound. I enjoy using it with my brighter sounding iems.

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