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-   -   Sony XBA-H1 Review (http://www.anythingbutipod.com/forum/showthread.php?t=73328)

Jeven 01-23-2014 06:55 AM

Sony XBA-H1 Review
I got these because I was dissatisfied with the way the XBA-2 sound. Whilst that iem does have the properties of a BA phone, ie. crisp highs, nice details etc. it falls apart on some tracks and the bass wasn't very good quality at all. It wasn't a cohesive sound and on some songs it sounded like I was listening to 2 tracks not one. And the treble, while good on some types of music, could be a little splashy on others.

The XBA-H1, from what I'd read, solves that problem by being a hybrid iem - it has both a dynamic driver and a balanced armature transducer.

I paid 100 for these from a shop - would've cost me 91 on Amazon but I didn't want to wait, plus I've got a 2 year guarantee. The RRP is $150 in the US.

Their specifications are -
-Type – Closed, hybrid
-Power handling capacity 100 mW
-Driver unit Hybrid 2-way (9mm dynamic + Balanced Armature)
- Frequency response 5-25,000 Hz
-Sensitivity 105 dB/mW
- Impedance 40 Ω (at 1kHz)
-Cord type Approx. 1.2m, OFC Litz cord (Y-type)
- Plug- Gold-plated L-shaped stereo mini plug
-Weight 7g (without cord)
-Supplied accessories – Hybrid silicone rubber earbuds (2SS/S/M/L), Foamed silicone earbuds (2S/M/L), Cord adjuster, Clip, Carrying pouch.



The cable is rather nice, flat and appears to be tangle resistant. The red and black seems to be emulating the look of some custom cables but is not replaceable.

The housing of the phones is quite large but not ridiculously so; they fit my ears with no issues. The jack is like that of the XBA-2.

One good thing is that Sony have got rid of the assymetrical (neck) cord which was a pain to use.



These sound amazing for the price. They have all the detail, clarity and highs of a good BA but also the deep timbre and rumble of a solid dynamic iem. And it sounds cohesive, not messy at all. I was surprised by just how high I could turn up the volume with no (at least to my ears) distortion. 'Musical' is perhaps how I'd describe them, but that term doesn't really mean much. Highly enjoyable is more subjective and apt.

The mids and treble are about perfect to me - I've never heard an iem with such good bass but which didn't overpower the rest of the frequency range. So far I've listened to a mix of rock, classical and vocalists and the XBA-H1 hasn't missed a beat.

In terms of what I've listened to before, these are the best without question. That includes various BA, dual BA and dynamic driver iems. I've found that I just needed hybrids.

When you think that Sony originally tried to sell the XBA-2 for 189 - and they are vastly inferior - I'd consider 100 or less to be great value and far more realistic from Sony.



Artmuzz 02-01-2014 05:37 PM

I recently bought the Sony XBA-H1 IEMs and indeed they are very good. They have much better sound quality than the XBA-1 and the bass on the XBA-H1 is very good which the XBA-1 lacked.

Jeven 02-02-2014 04:22 AM

I love them and have listened to nothing else - not even my full size headphones - for the past 10 days.

Artmuzz 02-02-2014 07:32 AM

Yeah, they are very good IEMs with good hi-fi sound. Another pair of IEMs I recommend are the Bowers and Wilkins C5. They have just as good SQ but the bass is more emphasised.

JK98 02-04-2014 02:09 PM

Nice review. Some of us are very frugal though and would never pay $150 for an IEM. With IEMs, it isn't just the sound quality but the fit as well. I have some that sound great but are so uncomfortable I rarely use them. At least they weren't over $50 each. I don't want to risk $150, especially since IEMs are typically so difficult to return. Fit is such an individual thing though, and some IEMs may fit others great but not fit me well and vice versa. I guess my price limit for an IEM is $50.

JK98 02-09-2014 08:35 PM

You made me hungry for a Sony XBA, so I bought the XBA-1. Not bad for $25. It's worth $25, however I am glad I didn't buy this two years ago for $65. Imo it isn't worth $65. Some people say the XBA-1 is lacking in bass. It isn't really bass deficient, but doesn't have great bass slam.

The big question is how much better is the XBA-2 or the XBA-H1 than the XBA-1?

Jeven 02-10-2014 03:45 AM

I haven't heard the XBA-1 but I do have the XBA-2.

The XBA-H1 is leaps and bounds better than the XBA-2 - it's night and day to me.

XTR95 02-10-2014 04:35 AM

Jeven, have you tried the Shure SE215s?

Jeven 02-10-2014 05:50 AM

No, I haven't heard those.

The only dynamic driver iems I have are the Sony ex300s, and the XBA-H1 are a lot better than those too.

BruceBanner 07-26-2014 09:43 PM

What about XBA3's (that I have but gave to the wife)? I have tried XBA2's and tbh didn't notice a massive difference between the two. If you say the H1's are significantly better than a XBA2 I'm guessing also better than XBA3's..

Jeven 07-27-2014 05:49 AM


Originally Posted by BruceBanner (Post 648477)
What about XBA3's (that I have but gave to the wife)? I have tried XBA2's and tbh didn't notice a massive difference between the two. If you say the H1's are significantly better than a XBA2 I'm guessing also better than XBA3's..

I never tried the XBA-3s - the main difference between the XBA-2 and the XBA-H1 is the vastly better bass on the latter, that and the wide soundstage (presumably because the housing is quite large).

BruceBanner 07-27-2014 12:45 PM

I created a new post here, mentioned you briefly.
After a bit of preliminary searching I'm intrigued by the XBA-H3's, they seem to tick all the right boxes. Might grab em sometime soon...

Jeven 07-28-2014 06:45 AM

I'd love to try out the XBA-H3 sometime.

If you can get the XBA-H1 for a good price ie. a good bit cheaper than what I paid for a new product, I don't think you'll be disappointed the way you were with the XBA-2/3.

BruceBanner 07-28-2014 02:17 PM

Preliminary searches have shown the H3's to be going for 250quid your way, but $250 USD and $270AUD which is significantly cheaper than 250quid. I'll likely grab them at some point unless someone else has a better recommendation in my other thread.

Jeven 07-29-2014 07:02 AM

They're 170 here from a few sites - that is about as much as I'd be prepared to pay.

BruceBanner 07-30-2014 12:36 AM

Yeh slightly too much, tho I have heard folk say that even at full RRP they are worth it.
I wonder, Sony USA website is selling them for $250, would they post internationally as well? Australia still hasn't got them up on their site (not surprising tbh, we're always late to the party).

Jeven 12-17-2014 01:46 PM

Almost a year on, and the XBA-H1 still sound better than anything else I own, and this article from the Wirecutter would seem to agree that they out-perform many iems costing a lot more: http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/the...ar-headphones/

One can get them for 50 now and they're a lot better than my RHA-T10i, and Klipsch x10i (which in themselves are better than the RHA, although that isn't saying much).

I think it's hybrids for me from now on, am looking at the Dunu - DN 2000.

BruceBanner 12-17-2014 02:24 PM

I ended up getting a pair of PFE 232's.

Jeven 12-17-2014 02:59 PM

What happens if the PFE 232 goes bad, somehow, since Phonak no longer makes earphones?

Did you get some kind of guarantee?

BruceBanner 12-17-2014 03:03 PM

Yes usual warranty exists, and I have two replacement cables. In my experience the worst that will happen in the first year is a bust cable, to which I have spare, pretty sure by the time an actual earphone is bust I will be way past my warranty period.
(might grab a third replacement cable lol)

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