iT7 Audio is the brainchild of former Premier League footballer Ian Taylor (you may remember him regularly arriving in both boxes with perfect timing, wearing the colours of Aston Villa, Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday, after starting out at Port Vale). The iT7x are noise-isolating Bluetooth over-ear headphones put together by Bluechip. See also: Group test: what's the best headphones?
The iT7x headset isn't cheap, but it does offer a superior quality of build and audio to your average me-too headset, with a healthy feature set. And these headphones offer a certain style - it won't be to everyone's taste but the iT7x's stylings are guaranteed to attract attention. For the right reasons, too: despite blasting our ears with all manner of loud music none of my colleagues could hear any sound leekage. With both Bluetooth and wired connectivity you can use the iT7x with your smartphone, as well as an MP3 player or tablet.
iT7x: build quality, design comfort
Right out of the box you know that with iT7 Audio you are traveling in style. Open up the packaging and you'll see that the iT7x headset is delivered in a high-quality reinforced cardboard box. Everything is laid out to perfection, and even the obligatory carry bag is of a decent quality and carries a certain style. You might even use it.
The iT7x headset itself is the kind of big-cans, hard-case, block-colour design that one might appropriately expect to see hanging around the neck of a footballer in a post-match interview. Available in white or black, a thick padded band traverses your lost-in-music skull. Your ears are enveloped in large padded cans, on the outside of which are chunky, confident buttons. In the left-side ear-cup is a USB rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Covering your right ear is a huge power button, around which dances volume and track-finding controls.
In terms of style, suffice to say that one colleague remarked of these headphones that they 'look remarkably like Beats by Dr Dre, but they are not'. This is a good thing. The iT7x headphones are far from discreet, but if you are shelling out this kind of cash for a headset you probably want people to notice and admire. And the build quality feels robust: headphones take a beating, and you don't want to be worried about protecting your investment.
One price you pay for wireless connectivity and life-proof build is in weight. At 250g the iT7x headset is far from light, but the balance and comfort are excellent, and we found wearing them for lengthy periods perfectly comfortable.
The other price you pay for the freedom Bluetooth pairing offers is in the audio fidelity. We've never yet found a Bluetooth headset that offers the best quality of audio. There always seems to be something cold and slightly muddy about the sound produced by Bluetooth headphones, and so hunt is on for a wireless headset that offers comfort and pristine sound quality.
The iT7x is not that headset. It is, however, as good an audio experience as we've had without wires. Listen to quiet acoustic music and the sound is warmer than most Bluetooth earphones. And with loud, bassy music the bass doesn't dominate in the way it can with wireless. The sound is upfront, relatively clear and well balanced. But still... something almost imperceptible in the mid-range is missing when compared to the best wired headphones and speakers, and the powerful bass can rob music of some of its high-end detail. It's certainly close enough to be not bad at all, however, and it is more than twice as good as the half as expensive SuperTooth Melody, for instance.
More impressive still is the noise isolation. In our tests we blasted out tunes within a few feet of our office neighbours without them being able to hear anything. And wearing the iT7x with music playing even at a relatively quiet level we could cheerfully ignore the desk phone when it rang.
Oh, one other nice touch is that you can connect the iT7x to your audio device via a provided 3.5mm audio cable. It may be just our imagination but the sound seemed a little louder and clearer through this connection. It's unlikely to be an option you'd choose regularly, however, as the cable measures only around 125cm. The sound isn't so much better that you would choose to give up the freedom of wireless for a relatively short cable.
iT7x: in use, battery life
Pairing the iT7x via Bluetooth is a cinch, the process of holding down the power button puts the iT7x headset into pairing mode, from which your phone, tablet or other audio device can find it. In our tests we never once lost connection. The on-ear controls are well-placed and fairly easy with which to get to grips.
The iT7x charges via a supplied USB cable, taking around two and a half hours for the first charge, in our tests. You're promised five hours of talk time or 70 hours on standby, and a red light flashed to let you know when the headphones are running out of juice.