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-   -   Sony XBA-2 Review (http://www.anythingbutipod.com/forum/showthread.php?t=72063)

Jeven 04-08-2013 06:13 AM

Sony XBA-2 Review
Ok, these weren't 180 but 50 from a store which is closing down - the box is rather squashed but was unopened and intact.


I suspected that these wouldn't really work with my E474 as they are a dual balanced armature iem, with low impedance? and saw this on the box before I bought them.


Which is a pretty comprehensive list of Walkmans up to the point of manufacture - March 2012, no big deal though as I have a clip + and a Nexus 7. At least I can't blame Sony ;)

They're really nicely designed - the housings are a good size without being large. Sony includes 4 pairs of its Sony hybrids and 3 additional pairs of what it calls Noise Cancelling Earbuds, but I can't really tell the difference. There is also a nice case and a cord winding tool. The strain reliefs seem pretty good and the 3.5mm jack seems solid.




Sound Quality:

I'm no expert, and I've only been listening to them since yesterday. I've been playing Rush, Neutral Milk Hotel and some Miles Davis. The bass is good and pretty well controlled but it seems to have a hump or to bleed into the midrange a bit. The mid-range itself seems good.Highs are a bit brittle to my ears, but it could be that I am just unused to balanced armature iems. I have listened to some Klipsch before and I thought those were bass-heavy, and the XBA-2 are not as good as those.

These are better-sounding than my Sony EX300s - drums, cymbals, vocals all sound better, but not by a whole lot. I do need some more time with them, however, and to listen to a wider range of music.

I can't believe the RRP of these, and the Sony store is actually charging 180, still. Not worth anything like that, but perhaps around $80 dollars or 60. Edit: On day 3 I like their sound quite a bit more after extensive listening - they probably are worth $99.


Here's a link to Sony's own description of them: http://www.sony.co.uk/product/hps-in...formance/xba-2

JK98 04-08-2013 02:10 PM

180 quid is crazy for that. $270????? Why????? I guess for the 50 quid you paid($75) it is okay. Lately Sony has been pricing many of its products much too high, and then they wonder why they have huge market share losses to Samsung and others.

PS. I just checked the Amazon US site and it is priced at $99. Imo even that is too high, although $99 is much more reasonable than $270.

El C 04-08-2013 02:15 PM

That player incompatibility is worrying.

skip252 04-08-2013 04:40 PM

I don't see the player incompatibility list as troubling. It's just a tacit acknowledgement that their players have a screwed up amp section with high output impedance. It's better to know that before you get a set thinking that because the maker is the same pairing them would guarantee a great setup.

They'll work with the players listed, just not as well as they could. They probably won't sound terrible. I'd expect they would roll off in the bass and tend to hiss. The volume levels could also be unacceptably low. Those are the most common problems you would expect when pairing a source with high output impedance with multi armature IEMs. However just because there can be problems doesn't mean those problems will be readily noticeable to everyone.

Jeven, the Nexus 7 has been reported to have an output impedance of 100 ohms. The output impedance of the Clip+ is 1 ohm. Have you noticed a significant difference when switching between the two?

The DarkSide 04-08-2013 08:06 PM

I take it these would definitely work quite well with an iPod touch then,...but the clip+ pairing should work fantastically well.

skip252 04-08-2013 09:41 PM

I have to off the test results I've seen but I think they should work well with both a Clip+ and a Touch. I've seen output figures for both the Touch 4th and 5th gen that say they should be able to properly drive just about any headphones. NwAvGuy's measurement of the 3rd gen output impedance of 7 ohms says that might present a problem. Other than that model anyone wanting to use these with a Touch should be good to go. Same for the Clip+.

One thing I'm unclear about is the type cable it has. The specs say it's a neckchain type. Is that what I usually call the J-yoke that has one side longer than the other so it can go behind your neck?

Jeven 04-09-2013 03:58 AM

Yes - it's an asymetrical cord where the right part goes round your neck.

The cable is flattened somewhat, to prevent tangles, I suppose.

They work fine out of my Clip +, I have to put the volume somewhat higher than with dynamic iems like the ex300s, but it's no big deal. Same with the Nexus 7 - I have Poweramp on that and I just adjust treble and bass a little bit, but the volume is loud enough.

I like them a bit more than yesterday, I could swear the treble has settled down a tad but it's probably more my brain getting used to the sound signature.


PS. I just checked the Amazon US site and it is priced at $99. Imo even that is too high, although $99 is much more reasonable than $270.
I think that $99 is a good price for them, but probably no more than that. They are dual balanced armature and the details, clarity and attack are all there.

Edit: Sony seems to have updated their newer players - at least the E474 - to work with BA iems. The information on the box is pre March 2012 since these iems are EOL and eclipsed by the newer XBA 10-20-30-40 series.

They sound fine with the E474 - no hiss and I couldn't tell the difference between files played flat on the Sony, the Clip+ or the Nexus 7. The volume has to be turned a bit higher than with dynamic iems, but that is the same on all 3 players. I hadn't even considered using them with the E474, but it's good to know that they play well.



skip252 04-09-2013 06:47 PM

Nice to hear you like them. I call the period of getting used to the sound sig of a new set of headphones "brain in". It's interesting to see how much my opinion will change in the first several days I get a new set. It's one of the fun times I have with a set of headphones.:D

The issues that can come from high output impedance are very much a YMMV situation in my opinion. Some people are more sensitive to hiss than others. I'm middle age and don't have the best ears in the world anymore so I'm fairly insensitive to hiss. If I notice hiss it has to really bad. I only hear it with certain headphones and DAP combos. Even then I usually stop noticing it after a few minutes. That makes it something I don't tend to worry about.

Just as you've done I also find that a bit of tweaking to the sound settings can take care of any roll off problems I've run into. I EQ all my headphones to taste so a extra bump or two in the right spot is just part what I do anyway to get a set of headphones tailored to my taste.

Volume is easy. I listen at fairly low volumes most of the time. Anything over about halfway on my Sonys is too much for me. That's most of the time. I do like to cut loose for a few minutes now and then and pump up the volume. If a set of headphones delivers what I want at those rare times, that's good enough for me.

I'm not saying output impedance is overblown or that makers should be able to get away with putting out poorly engineered equipment. I prefer spending my money on items that work properly. I'm just saying that in the end it's your ears that are the final judge. If they say your equipment sound good even it it doesn't have great measurements that's sometimes what you have to go with.

I also agree that paying ~$100 for a decent set of dual armature BA IEMs isn't exorbitant. I'd never pay the MSRP they're asking but I think if I were in the market the asking price on Amazon isn't bad. Especially when you look at what some other makers are asking for similar headphones. They're not the cheapest but they sure as heck don't come close to the price of the some.

They're not for me as I dislike the "J" style cable. I'd still consider taking a flyer on a set, especially if I come across them when Amazon has one of their flash sales. Catch them at the right time and you might find these a lot cheaper than $99.

JK98 07-07-2013 09:39 PM

It is down to $79 on Amazon now. I am still not tempted to buy it. Someone mentioned that in Australia Sony is selling it for $40($40 Australian= $36.20 US). At that price I might buy 2 or 3 of them. I guess I probably won't get a chance to buy it at $36 though.

Jeven 01-20-2014 03:00 AM

I want these next:



These are hybrid iems which get great reviews: http://gavinsgadgets.wordpress.com/2...dphone-review/

JK98 01-20-2014 10:18 AM

The XBA-HI is $148 on Amazon. At that price I'll pass. If it gets under $70 though I might be interested.

Jeven 01-20-2014 10:22 AM

I want it because it's supposed to have the clarity and detail of the XBA-2 but with a much better bass.

Jeven 08-16-2014 10:54 AM

Ok - after listening to my XBA-H1 for 7 months straight, I've decided to give the XBA-2 another listen.

They aren't as good, but better than I remembered, and nice for albums with lots of string music, female vocals and tight drum rolls. The bass isn't there in quality, though.

The iems I own in terms of sound quality, and also in how much I'm likely to use them (I was tempted by the Sony XBA-C10 at 19, but I've got enough already).

Sony XBA-H1 > Sony XBA-2 > Sony EX300 > Klipsch x10i (never used)


JK98 10-03-2014 11:10 AM

The XBA-H1 is down to $98 on Amazon, however I am not tempted to buy it yet, although if it gets under $50 I would probably be tempted to buy it. The XBA-H3 looks exciting though, and if it ever gets under $100 I might buy it. A while back when I said I would buy XBA-1 at under $50, I never expected it to get below $25(now it is around $24 on Amazon).

Jeven 10-04-2014 05:51 AM

The XBA-H3 will never be that cheap.

But I consider the XBA-H1 to be excellent value at 98 dollars (61), probably nothing comes close to how good they are at that price.

JK98 10-05-2014 07:59 PM

Never say never. Two years ago no one expected the XBA-1 to get to under $25.

The XBA-H1 looks interesting, however even at $98 it seems to me to be too expensive.
The dynamic driver is quite small. The XBA-H2 has a better sized dynamic driver, but is almost the price of the XBA-H3, so it doesn't seem to make sense to get it. I might be willing to pay $80 for the XBA-H2. Let's see how low the prices will go.

VidGamer870 10-05-2014 10:29 PM

Interestingly enough, the buzz over at Head-Fi (yes, I know...) is that the Sony XBA-H3 has pretty good clarity for being as bass-heavy as it is -- though whether that makes it worth the price is debated even over there. If I had $325 to burn, though, they'd be on my shortlist....

JK98 10-06-2014 09:28 AM


Originally Posted by VidGamer870 (Post 649781)
Interestingly enough, the buzz over at Head-Fi (yes, I know...) is that the Sony XBA-H3 has pretty good clarity for being as bass-heavy as it is -- though whether that makes it worth the price is debated even over there. If I had $325 to burn, though, they'd be on my shortlist....

Sony seems to be pricing most of their products much too high, which imo is at least part of the reason for their huge losses recently. They are losing billions of dollars a year.

The XBA-H3 seems like it is okay, however for over $200 there are so many other IEMs I would consider buying first. I haven't heard the XBA-H3. I am just going by what I have read about it. I have no desire though to spend over $100 on an IEM though no matter how good it is.

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