AZLA SednaEarfit XELASTEC mini-review

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by philipmorgan, Oct 10, 2020.

  1. philipmorgan

    philipmorgan Member of the month

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    Ear tips for universal IEMs have always been a sore spot for me. Sure, there are sound differences between different kinds of tips, but none of that matters if the darn things won't stay in place and well-sealed because the biggest sound difference of all is **no bass at all** because the tip can't keep seal!

    AZLA XELASTEC tips seem like they just changed the game for me in the stay-sealed department, thus this short mini-review.

    My music IEMs are a pair of JVC FD01's with the stock cables, and I use a pair of Shure SE215-CL's for voice monitoring during livestreamed talks. The FD01s are heavy and put a bit of extra strain on the seal-keeping ability of tips, as we all know.

    Over the years I've tried a fair number of different tips: Comply, Spiral Dot, Mee, Spinfit, Symbio, and the stock silicone tips that come with the SE215s. My skin is on the oily end of the spectrum, but even after cleaning out my ear canals with an alcohol swab, I have problems with most tips breaking seal. The Complys want to creep backwards out of the canal (and are a hassle to install in the first place), and Spiral Dots keep seal for a while and then start breaking seal every few minutes. Same with Symbios, and those 3 are the only ones that are comfortable enough for me to wear for extended periods of time.

    I ordered a variety pack of AZLA SednaEarfit XELASTEC tips from Amazon to try them out. I had heard from someone here that they run large, and you might need to go a half-size smaller with the XELASTEC tips. That turned out to be correct. I'm a M with Spiral Dots and a MS with the XELASTEC tips.

    [​IMG]

    The packaging they come in is fine. Cardboard box you have to rip to get open, and un-welded hard plastic clamshell that contains the tips and -- since it's un-welded -- is very easy to open up.

    Compared to the Spin Fits, the XELASTEC tips seem to have a slightly smaller diameter barrel, making them require a bit more futzing to fit onto the FD01 nozzles. The part of the XELASTEC tips that mount to the IEM nozzle seems to be a somewhat stiffer plastic than the Spiral Dots, and combined with the somewhat smaller diameter of this part of the tip makes for a slightly more difficult task of mounting them. Not a big deal though.

    [​IMG]

    The XELASTEC material feels unlike any other IEM tip material I've felt before. Visually, it looks like the cheap vinyl tubing they sell in the plumbing section of most hardware stores, except the XELASTEC is a bit more "smoky" looking rather than totally transparent. To the touch, it feels slightly tacky, kind of like the adhesive part of a post-it note. So I guess it feels like a cross between cheap vinyl tubing and a post-it note. :)

    Getting them in the ear feels almost identical to Spiral Dots or any other comparable silicon tip, but the tackieness of the XELASTEC requires a tiny bit more pushing in. It's not hard at all to do; just different. I suppose it feels more like pushing a fully expanded Comply tip in than sliding in a close-fitting Spiral Dot tip.

    Initial feel once they're in feels good to me. They don't get itchy the way foamies can (for me at least) and they don't feel like a novelty torture device the way that flanged tips feel (to me). They feel invisible the way Spiral Dots feel to me. (Why do I feel like I'm writing copy for a condom ad?)

    Once they've been in for a few minutes, the magic sets in. They feel like they've been glued in place, except they still feel super comfortable. Earlier today I went out for some errands and tried to get them to break seal and they wouldn't. I tried moving my head around a lot, chewing, singing, and all the stuff that usually causes Spiral Dots to break seal.

    No luck. They stayed in like they were glued or -- as one Amazon reviewer said -- like they were vacuum-sealed in place. Again, with pretty much perfect comfort the whole time.

    The sound? Again, if you consider breaking the seal every 5m a deal-breaker flaw in sound (as I do), then they sound better than any other IEM tip I've ever tried!

    But seriously, they are a bit brighter than the Spiral Dots. I think they have a shorter barrel which puts the driver closer to the ear for me, and I think that brightens the sound a touch. I'm 46 years old and probably getting deafer by the year, so it's fine, or I can use EQ to compensate.

    When you remove them from your ear, they hang on harder than the Spiral Dots do. You feel the tackiness gripping your skin a bit more as you remove them. It's not uncomfortable, and psychologically, it's a nice "fuck yeah!" moment because of the years of pent up frustration I feel at tips that can't grip as well.

    With the tackiness comes a bit of disgustingness. They pick up bits of detritus -- flakes of dead skin, etc. -- from the ear in a way that the Spiral Dots don't. Take the good with the bad, I guess. The manufacturer of the XELASTEC tips has instructions for renewing the shape of the tips using hot water, and I do wonder if that'll be needed from time to time as oil and other stuff builds up and perhaps reduces the tackiness of the tip material? Time will tell, and it's too soon for me to say yet.

    I'm eager to find a way to fit these to my SE215s, but the 3mm nozzle on those is way too small for the XELASTECs, so I'll have to figure out some kind of adapter.

    If fit and maintenance of seal is a priority for you the way it is for me, and you have IEMs with a nozzel size that works with the XELASTECs, they are a strong recommend.
     
  2. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    I'm glad these are getting their own thread. They're the first tips I've used that have taken "3-4 hour comfort" with Solaris and turned them into "8-9 hour comfort". That's really quite impressive. I also found them a smidge brighter than Spiral Dots and Symbios straight out of an iPhone/Lighting dongle, but running out of BF2/AS3 it was less noticeable. Running out of iFi Nano, the synergy is quite nice. Same thing with iFi nano + Andro + SednaEarFit; good yin to the yang. I also appreciate the finer granularity in sizing as it makes playing with shallower/deeper insertion easier to fine tune, e.g., I use M with Andro, and ML with Solaris. I will add that using the kind of goofy looking "pull up the top of your ear with your opposite hand over the top of your head while inserting IEM" (i.e., how Etymotic recommends) method to work well with the XELAs.

    Also, as far as tackiness and ensuing grunginess, I've found the same weakness of them, but these are cheap enough to become a nearly per-IEM use cleaning routine.
     
  3. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    Vs Spiral Dots: you guys talking about the original ones, or the + version that came with the FD-01/FD-X1? The + are less stiff and to me with most 'phones, a downgrade. Nonetheless, think I need to get me some of these.
     
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  4. KaiserTK

    KaiserTK Rando

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    I've got the Xelastecs for my K10u, and as mentioned above it stays put in your ear very well.
    I was on a walk with them yesterday and it didn't isolate the outside sound as well as my Complys, but the Xelastecs were surprisingly good at keeping my IEMs in place even when I started jogging.

    I think from a sound perspective, I like the Spiral Dots more (adds a v-shape signature=more fun), but often the SDs tend to pop-out out of my ear.
    So from an ergonomic stand-point, I like the Xelastecs quite a bit, especially since they don't smother the sound and create a lot of discomfort like my foam tips.
     
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  5. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I LOVE the ergonomics as mentioned and described. They're not tight, they conform to your ear shape, and stick super well. No need to constantly re-adjust your iems in your ear when you move a little.

    But I don't like the sound. They're bright in a way I haven't found syndergy with in an iem yet, the FR is kind of uneven. But I might, I keep trying multiple times because they're so comfortable. I'd love it if they sounded good with my og Solaris because of their size, they get pulled by the cable a lot.

    They have soundstage and imaging placement issues that I haven't heard in any other tip. It's as if part of the FR spectrum has a certain kind of soundstage and other parts image differently, resulting in a really disjointed sound lacking coherency. The soundstage isn't even, it places certain instruments in spots with big empty spaces in between. I'v'e never been able to tolerate it despite really wanting to love them. Small soundstage would be one thing, but this is something else and I have no idea what causes it.

    I don't find them to run large. I use the same size as all the other Azla tips - ML. And agreed about having more sizes with all the Azla tips, really lets you get a perfect fit.

    I use ML and sent my M and MS to @purr1n since I won't be using them. Will be interesting what he thinks if they fit him.
     
  6. assassin10000

    assassin10000 Rando

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    Refer back to that cheap vinyl tubing you mentioned earlier. Grab a 1ft piece of 1/8" I.D. tubing and cut adapters from it.

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Or easier- take a tip that is too small or too big for you but fits your Shure iem’s, flip the flange inside out and cut off the cylinder. Then shove this inside the xelastic cylinder to make it smaller and fit perfectly.
     
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  8. Rockwell

    Rockwell Almost "Made"

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    I tried the Xelastec tips and wanted to love them but I've gone back to regular Sednas for two reasons. The first is that they mute the bass on my Solaris and brighten it just a wee bit. The Solaris is not a bass heavy IEM and with regular sednas it's "just right" but I find the bass lacking with the Xelastec tips. I liked them more with Andro than Solaris. Also, they tend to mould to the shape of my ear canal, which is fine, but if I take them out I find it takes a bit of effort to get them back in exactly right and keep the seal...which can be a pain if I'm out and about somewhere.
     
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  9. philipmorgan

    philipmorgan Member of the month

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    @rhythmdevils @assassin10000 oh man, I hadn't thought of that approach to a DIY adapter. Love it, and I've already sliced up a too-large silicone tip that came with the SE215 to give it a try. Thanks!!
     
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  10. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    If anyone can’t manage this DIY adapter you can buy a set of tips from Symbios and request a bunch of adapters. They work better than the DIY approach on some tips and worse with others. They come in 2 sizes.

    here’s a picture from left to right of:

    DIY adapter
    Symbios W Peel tip with DIY adapter
    Spinfit tip with Symbios adapter

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2020
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  11. Overkill Red

    Overkill Red Friend

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    Just thought I'd throw in a little side note here if anyone is thinking the same somehow:

    The Airpod Pros also have (albeit pretty expensive) XELASTIC and SpinFit tip bundles available for them. I have them both, and can confirm that the XELASTICS definitely do mute the bass a little bit and change the imaging somewhat compared to stock/SpinFits. So if you're thinking of getting one of the two, I'd go for the SpinFits.
     
  12. Tchoupitoulas

    Tchoupitoulas Friend

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    Thank you for this, it's good to hear that it's possible to renew the shape of the tips; this might be something that needs to be done periodically. I noted in a post here that mine deformed over the course of a month or two - both of them folded over on themselves to the point where they developed a crease. I'd thought this might have had to do with selecting a tip that was too large. That's not the case. I removed them from the IEMs and, after a couple of weeks, they've yet to return fully to their original shape.

    Rotating them on the IEM nozzles every couple of weeks should prevent this creasing from happening.

    One last thought: I usually use large tips and, alas, a good many tips out there simply aren't large enough for me (please, no jokes about dropping stones down wells). Since Azla Sedna tips, including these Xelastec ones, typically run slightly large, they've been godsend. I can now use shallow-fitting IEMs that I couldn't before.
     
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  13. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Just my two cents. I have the Sedna M and SM shorties. Sedna also offers the normal length, and also the normal length soft. These tips are expensive! The SM seem to fit me well in respect to the Solaris and Ara IEMs. As I mentioned in the CAT Apollo IEM thread, the tips hold their form. They don't get all squishy so I get a consistent fit every time without worrying about deformation. Because of this, the tips seem to be a bit effectively larger.

    I may try out even a size smaller to S from MS, but with the normal length and the softer Light version for the typical deep insertion I use for the Ara. This may not even be necessary though.

    In terms of sound, they are like the Comply foamies, with a a strong low end and full-bodied, except without the mushy transients of the foam.
     
  14. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    @purr1n Size variety pack of Azla Sedna Earfit Light short tips coming your way tomorrow. Along with 2 sizes of these XELASTEC tips and a bunch more. I’ll send a pm to explain whatcha gonna get
     
  15. Eric_C

    Eric_C Friend

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    Is there a version that fits the Sony WF-1000XM3? I’ve been using the stock tips and they sound + seal fine... but start to wiggle out over time.
     
  16. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    They all fit - I'm using the Xelastec on mine. I'd take them off before charging though. They tend to form to whatever they are in (the tips) so they end up smooshed by the charging case. You can repair the tips with hot water and some time though.
     
  17. Eric_C

    Eric_C Friend

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    Ah that would be a deal breaker for me, I like the convenience of just popping them into the case.
    Maybe I’ll try the Sedna.
     
  18. assassin10000

    assassin10000 Rando

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    The airpod pro xelestacs would work good for TWS as they are short stem. They pop right off the adapters, which are like a normal nozzle and should fit normal.

    As long as you don't need the extra length for a good seal.
     

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