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-   -   Sony XBA-1 FULL review after 5 day of use (http://www.anythingbutipod.com/forum/showthread.php?t=69435)

JSBach 05-26-2012 12:49 PM

Sony XBA-1 FULL review after 5 day of use
I did a mini review before of the sony XBA-1 now after 5 days after use let me write down my toughts

The package comes with the basic accessories: the hybrid silicone tips, foam filled noise-isolating tips, a cable winder, a carrying pouch made of cloth and oddly but well, an instruction booklet [:D plug headphones and use them].

The tips isolate well and are comfortable, ideal for long periods of use. Normal tips come in 4 sizes SS, S, M and L. Noise isolating come in the 3 standard bundle-sizes S,M and L. The best fitting (my ears) are the M and L, they produce a good seal, and as the audiophiles say, good seal = good sound.
The S and SS are the hardest to put on the headphones nozzles as well all of the noise-isolating, like the insertion receptacle is made of hard silicone or the nozzle is a little bit big.

Now the XBA-1:
the build quality is good, WalkGood told me that his headphones use Ferrofluid for shock resistance (Edited, see post #10 here), sony claims those have liquid crystal polymer casings for vibration reduction, however I don’t know if this also is for shock resistance.
They are slim, of course sony decided to coat these too with their shiny silver paint, I hope it doesn’t degrade over time like some sony players. Plug is a 90 degree one with a rounded tip, the cable is flat style and yes it doesn’t memory-tangle I love it altought it is a J-cord
Now here goes the icing on the cake, the sound quality:
The sound is pretty natural, I feel the sound to be like “I am at the concert live”, it has a balanced frequency spectrum, instruments sound so natural, for example the Harpsichord doesn’t sound so metallic like on most dynamic drivers. I can feel playing it. Overall warm sound.
Sorry for the bassheads out there…. The bass is present, it makes presence but it is not the kind of bass you get from a dynamic driver or a monster beats by dr dre, it’s pretty balanced punchy at times.
They reproduce the most subtle detail sounds, for example the mellow French horns or the wood flue pipes of an organ supporting the chorus, including room reverberation [more on this later]. Some harpsichord sound too weak when paired in an orchestra like in bach’s harpsichord concerti, those headphones can reproduce this weak sounds and pianissimos at even low volumes. I can hear the harpsichord mechanism being released after a thunderous chord or passage. The 4 antiphonal organs played by E power Biggs sound astonishing good you can hear them in melody each subtle sound.
The instrument separation is good as mentioned above I can hear instruments I never heard before unless I turned up the volume on a dynamic driver, it gives the impression of a immersive experience without any fancy surround or 3D thingies, for example in most of the Bach Canatas conducted by Helmut Rillig you can I could hear a virtuoso violin passage along with a soprano singing or horns, oboes, trumpets.
The reverb of a room [echo] decays at proper time, you can feel being at the hall [church/cathedral] specially organ works or harpsichord works you feel the sound decaying slowly after the relase of the keyboard, some instruments have internal reverb, namely violins, cellos, harpsichord, specially the lute-harpsichord [ a harpsichord with gut strings] the sound of this lute-harpsichord wow amazed me the decay of the internal resonance is pretty accurate you can feel those bass strings punch and resonate as well those 2’ strings decaying more rapidly yet sound charming and pretty warm.

Overall sound quality is a top notch, something I never heard from $20 [usd] headphones, and for being a single BA damn every single detail reproduced with such an accuracy is worth the price of 80 USD, warm sounding headphones. I recommend them for an entry level audiophile

Some remarks on this review:
Music collection is MP3, Frauhoffer encoded @ 192kbps using DB powramp

All collection is classical music [from renaissance to romanticism]

Listened to a variety of instruments from Pianos and fortepianos, diverse harpsichords [French, german and Flemish], German harpsichord being a warmer cembalo sound, different orchestras from modern with HV Karajan to Historical performance like English concert w/Trevor pinnock… [classical is not only orchestra or piano]

Rig used ipod classic [late 2009] 160GB, no EQ no sound enhancing stuff, just plain as-is

Some of the recordings used were Bach complete edition, Haenssler Klassik, Helmut rilling 170 CD conducting the cantatas and Robert hill using a Lute-harpsichord on the keyboard works section

, Haendel chamber music English academic ensemble. Pierre Hantai Golberg variations [1993 recording] using a copy of a Michale Mietke German harpsichord

HV Karajan Beethoven symphonie No. 9 and Mozart symphonies 35-41,

Philipps Mozart edition 180 CDs

Deutsche harmonia mundi Louis Couperin : L’integrale d’l’Oeuvre de clavecin, davitt moroney Flemish harpsichord

Archiv blue series , Kenneth gilbert, Bach Well tempered clavier Books 1 and 2, French Tasking/ruckers harpsichord

Trevor pinnock conducts the engish concert on original instruments, bach complete harpsichord concertos

Yo-yo ma, Bach the cello suites complete Sony BMG 1988 the pink version, there’s a white booklet version

Naxos Mozart clarinet quintet K 581,

sony BMG E. Power Biggs JS BACH The great Four Toccatas and Fugues
BMG BACH/vivaldi concertos for 2 violins Isaac stern and Pinchas zukermann

JSBach 05-26-2012 12:55 PM

5 Attachment(s)
picture of the headphones

JSBach 05-26-2012 12:58 PM

5 Attachment(s)
more pics accesories

JSBach 05-26-2012 01:00 PM

5 Attachment(s)
headphones pics now

JSBach 05-26-2012 01:02 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Finnaly the rig

JSBach 05-30-2012 02:33 PM

I love the sound signature of the noise-isolating ear tips, they raise the bass a lil' bit withouth sacrifying mids and highs

But I use those on highway/airplane trips or in noisy environmets. for example when i vacuum;)

Mikerman 05-31-2012 08:53 AM

Thanks for the review. A nice alternative (although Sony product quality always concerns me, having numerous broken Sony products in the past).

And currently (thru June 2?) at $70 with an "instant" manf.'s rebate at Amazon.com.

IDvsEGO 06-01-2012 08:58 AM

I have had a pair for a couple of days now and can pretty much echo what JS says here so far. I do really wish it came with a shirt clip though. I am going to try over the ear to get rid of some of the microphonics.

Jeven 06-01-2012 09:34 AM

That's a really nice review, these, unfortunately are at silly prices on Sony uk website - £70 instead of $70 dollars

will wait until they are cheaper online elsewhere.

WalkGood 06-01-2012 09:41 AM


Originally Posted by JSBach (Post 611984)
… WalkGood told me that his headphones use Ferrofluid for shock resistance, sony claims those have liquid crystal polymer casings for vibration reduction, however I don’t know if this also is for shock resistance. …

Please do not miss quote me. I did not tell you this and we never spoke, please edit your review as I have stricken my quote there. In fact I wrote they probably do not have the ED series that contains Ferrofluid™ because of cost. Maybe I should have worded it better, if you look here you can see of the 12 ED series armatures that Knowles makes only 2 contain Ferrofluid™. When I asked Mr. Joe Daileda, he wouldn't say and would not even confirm the model ID. So I doubt they use it because that would be a claim they would use in any write up. Below is a quote of what I did write in the A161P review:

Originally Posted by A161P Review
Although MEE would not confirm with me if they are using the ED series that contains Ferrofluid™ which improves mechanical shock survival and provides peak damping to smooth frequency response. If so that would probably have driven their MSRP higher, so I’m guessing they did not. ... you can read the whole review here

I doubt that Sony makes the armatures and I don’t know which type they use but I venture to guess that statement “liquid crystal polymer casings” is about the housing of their XBA-1 IEM and not the armature. I doubt any well made housings today have issues they state, so I’m guessing this statement is another marketing claim to hype the information they write about their product.

Edit: I googled "liquid crystal polymer casings" and came up with plastic resin descriptions. So I am sure now that sony is talking about the IEM housing. So the claim about "vibration reduction" or "shock resistance" is just hype because most plastic housings for IEMs are made from similar plastics.

Mikerman 06-01-2012 11:57 PM


Originally Posted by IDvsEGO (Post 612652)
I I do really wish it came with a shirt clip though. I am going to try over the ear to get rid of some of the microphonics.

Around $1 shipped on eBay. :)



Plus, 3 for $1.05 shipped.


JSBach 06-06-2012 09:46 AM

This review was not after a "burn-in" i just need to get used to the new balanced sound :D

WalkGood 06-06-2012 09:54 AM


Originally Posted by JSBach (Post 613213)
This review was not after a "burn-in" i just need to get used to the new balanced sound :D

Balanced armatures do not burn in like dynamic drivers might. They should sound the same out of the box as they do with hundreds of hours on them.

IDvsEGO 06-06-2012 10:46 AM


Originally Posted by Mikerman (Post 612756)

I have other shirt clips...but still might order that pack of 3 for $1 just because.

Mikerman 06-06-2012 09:24 PM


Originally Posted by IDvsEGO (Post 613225)
I have other shirt clips...but still might order that pack of 3 for $1 just because.

Heh-heh. The only thing I've found with the after-market clips that I haven't liked is that the cable "hooKs" typically aren't open enough to attach to a phone's main cable--perhaps a smaller cable leading to a bud, but not the cable leading to the plug. (I've never understood why the clips have been designed that way.) I have just put the main cable in the "jaw" of the clip.

JSBach 06-07-2012 09:10 AM

EDIT they have showed signs of slight tangle-memory, ther's an efficient way to untwist and make the cables less prone to tangling?:mad:

I don't think aftermrkets vebndors sell cases like those supplied with XBA 2,3 and 4, with a cable management reel

IDvsEGO 06-07-2012 12:17 PM

I dont like the cable management real anyway. It is too tight of a wind for me. I use altoid tins and that is about perfect. I like the more rigid metal case anyway. protects the IEMs a little more.

Mikerman 06-08-2012 12:36 PM

For IEM storage, I'm now using a Pisen soft case designed for Sony Cybershot-sized cameras. It's flat but with flexible give, and slightly smaller than a shirt-sized pocket, and so fits perfectly in a shirt pocket. And there's enough space inside to include an extension cable or 2 and a short USB cable. Near perfect for my needs.

Oh, and inexpensive, currently $3.32-$3.79 shipped (different colors, although the black color that I have currently isn't listed) at Meritline.com. http://www.meritline.com/pisen-fashi...--p-38150.aspx (Meritline used to show these on special last year, when they could be found for a dollar or 2, shipped--amazing; have seen these locally and elsewhere for much more.)

Big Sky 06-09-2012 08:13 AM

It was nice that you used real music for your review, thank you for that. I was a very helpful review.

A common complaint I see is that the XBA's lack or have no bass. If the bass is natural; not forced, bloated, or tubby, then I am in. Have going to a lot of concerts and recording a lot of them; to me I have a fairly decent reference point. To me detail trumps bass, especially when listening to non-amplified instruments.

Yes I too use Altoid tins. Since I have been using them (6 years). I haven't had a pair of headphones go bad. I use to have to replace headphones every year but, since using Altoid tins no problem.

JSBach 06-09-2012 07:09 PM


Originally Posted by Big Sky (Post 613542)
It was nice that you used real music for your review

Yes Real music, music of geniuses, i was reading about a mozart's piece "A musical-dice game" he did experiemnts with dices and made music perfectly coherent.

That's amzing, regarding the fact that in those times were no computers available to perform this music generation alla random

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