Sony XBA3iP Premium Quality In-Ear Headphones (discontinued by manufacturer)
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- 7g noise isolating in-ear headphones with Balanced Armature drivers, woofer tweeter and 1.2m cord
- Triple Balanced Armature drivers
- 4Hz-28kHz frequency range
- Noise blocking ear bud design
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Experience Balanced Armature Headphones
Sony has brought together a wide range of technologies to create the Balanced Armature Headphone series, featuring the world’s only Balanced Armature (BA) drivers optimized for music enjoyment. Because these driver units can be freely tuned, they are capable of a wider range of sound, and by combining full-range, woofer, super woofer and tweeter units, they can be layered together for a highly nuanced sound experience. Thanks to the driver’s micro sized construction and high sensitivity, these headphones are able to maximize style comfort, sound insulation, sound leakage prevention and even waterproofing, all while providing great sound quality. Sony BA headphones deliver a new high-quality music listening experience.
Double Layered Housing
The combination of Magnesium inner housing and a special ABS outer housing reduces unwanted vibration and realises smooth sound response to reproduce clear and distortion-free sound, especially in the mid to high range. Double Layered Housing Design allowed Sony to achieve superior sound quality and noise reduction.
High sensitivity for such a compact size
Clear output across a full sound range
Sony's Balanced Armature Drivers are 40% smaller than the traditional 9mm Dynamic Driver Units. The smaller size allows a design that creates a better fit inside the ear. This attenuates the outside sounds better than headphones with Dynamic drivers, resulting in a superior listening experience.
Compared to Dynamic drivers, BA drivers have an even response across the frequency range, with low and middle vocal ranges standing out. The sound has a very precise feel. BA drivers can be tuned for higher or lower ranges and combined to emphasize certain sounds.
|Mobile Variant|| |
|Summary||Crystal clear profound vocal sound |
The Balanced Armature driver in XBA-1 is specially designed to produce an even response across the full sound range, with consistent high sensitivity over low to high frequencies. This results in a highly precise reproduction of crystal-clear and profound vocal sound - bringing you hours of music enjoyment and comfort.
|Amplify your music experience with powerful bass and clear vocal sound |
Sony's XBA-2 is specially designed with Dual Balanced Armature Full Range Drivers with Woofer units. This allows the headphones to produce an even response across a full sound range while adding a powerful bass to its crisp and clear vocal sound. Reverberating every beat of your music to give you a superior sound experience every time.
|Immerse your ears in bright and clear sounds with rich bass |
Sony's XBA-3 comes with Triple Balanced Armature Full Range Drivers with Woofer and Tweeter units. This combination produces bright and detailed high frequency with powerful bass and clear profound vocal sound. Enhancing and refining your listening experience, taking it to a whole new sound haven that's yours truly
|Be impressed by the richest of sounds |
The ultimate in superior sound performance, XBA-4 comes with Quad Balanced Armature Full Range Drivers with Woofer, Tweeter and Super Woofer units. It delivers an immersively rich soundscape across all frequencies - ranging from profound bass to bright and detailed high frequency sound. So go ahead. Listen to your music in its truest, purest form. And you'll agree that nothing else can compare.
|Driver detail||Single Balanced Armature driver (Full range)||Full range + woofer||Full range + woofer + tweeter||Full range + woofer + tweeter + super woofer|
|Cord Detail||1.2m OFC Litz cord neck chain ( mobile variant - 1.2m Y shaped, with in line controls)||1.2m OFC Litz cord neck chain ( mobile variant - 1.2m Y shaped, with in line controls)||1.2m OFC Litz cord neck chain ( mobile variant - 1.2m Y shaped, with in line controls)||1.2m OFC Litz cord neck chain ( mobile variant - 1.2m Y shaped, with in line controls)|
|Frequency Range (Hz)||5 - 25,000||4 - 25,000||4 - 28,000||3 - 28,000|
|Carry Case||Carry Pouch||Carry Case||Carry Case||Carry Case|
|Ear Buds||4 sizes of Silicone earbuds, 3 sizes noise isolation||4 sizes of Silicone earbuds, 3 sizes noise isolation||4 sizes of Silicone earbuds, 3 sizes noise isolation||4 sizes of Silicone earbuds, 3 sizes noise isolation|
Variations - Waterproof, Bluetooth & Noise Cancelling
|Summary||Active sports style with washable and tight fit design||Bluetooth wireless Blanaced armature headphones with box-less design||Digital noise cancelling balanced armature headphones|
|Driver detail||Full range||Full range||Full range|
|Colour options||Available in black or white||Available in black||Available in black|
|Cord Detail||1.2m Y shaped cord||Cordless||1.5m OFC Litz cord neck chain|
|Carry Case||Carry Pouch||Carry case and charger||Carry Case|
|Ear buds||4 sizes of Silicone earbuds, 3 sizes noise isolation||3 sizes of silicone earbuds||3 sizes of noise isolation earbuds|
|USB Charging Pod||No||Yes||Yes|
Power cord, Operating instructions
Top customer reviews
I have 2 main gripes with these earbuds however, the first is that the microphone and remote are on the left side. This has taken a bit of getting used as all my other headphones had this fitted to the right. the second is that the microphone isn't great, as people keep saying it is difficult to hear what I am saying when talking. This becomes very annoying and means I have to hold the mic close to my mouth. Considering having a mic connected is supposed to supply handsfree calling, this product seems to be falling a little short.
I have given this product 3 stars for the sound quality, I knocked 2 stars off for the problems above and the extra price you have to pay to add a mice which doesn't work very well.
I considered the other high end headphones £200-£300 but generally the life span of in ears don't seem to be that long, so spending £300 didn't appeal to me.
The Sony seemed to offer a quite good performance review Vs price ratio, with the added bonus of iPhone volume, mic and play controls. This also automatically dismissed quite a few of the other high end earphones.
Anyway I choose Sony because of it's mass production experience, economies of scale and minituration expertise. Other high end ear phones would inevitably be produced in lower batches and without Sony's extensive track record of making earphones.
I expected great things from the XBA 3 but when compared to the standard stock iPhone pod earphones that come with the iPhone 5, I really had to listen hard to hear the differences. I was expecting it to be night and day. It wasn't. Apple claim 'The audio quality is so superior, they rival high-end headphones that cost much more.' and I think I almost buy into that now.
At first listening Vs the stock Apple pod earphones the Sony sound less transparent, and congested - However this could be a trait of sound isolation buds in general as it is similar to having your fingers in your ears or underwater because the silicon seal in your ears is so much tighter and plugged. The Apple pods are just hard plastic, but the sound is more around you and open (and you get more of the environmental sounds).
Bass seems a bit deeper on the pods, but it is woolly and ill defined compared to the XBA3. Listening harder you'll find the instruments are better defined on XBA 3, the bass more controlled but with volume slightly quieter as they are harder to drive than the pods which are louder at the same volume level.
Bottom line they do sound better with more definition than the standard Pods if you listen carefully, as the difference is not night and day as I've mentioned. The bigger difference is the characteristic in sound, the XBA 3 can sound a little muddy / congested compared to the pods airyness.
If the XBA 3s were double the £25 of the pods I'd rate them 5 stars, but at £200 they are not 8 times better, more 2 times better. If the XBA 3's were £100 I'd rate them 4 stars, but at the current price I can only rate them 3 stars. If money is no object and your pockets are deep then 4 stars. They do come with a hard case and extra different sized ear plugs.
The wire is also not as silky smooth or crease resistant as the pods cables.
With extended listening the ear plugs start to feel uncomfortable (compared with Pod earphones) and the treble is 'recessed'. Treble is controlled and smooth, but perhaps it could do with a bit more 'edge' and crispness to liven up cymbals.
after more use and running in, they do appear to have loosened up a bit and sound better with more clarity. Though they still sounded 'congested'
I compared them instore with display headphones at John Lewis and PC World (as there are no inears on display) and the Philips L1 £230 and Beats MixR £230 had better separation and definition on my iPhone 5, but the Philips is so inefficient that the iPhone barely drives it and is only about 1/4 volume - so not very loud. The Beats MixR really does sound the best for iPhone 5 out of all the display models.
This 'congestion' was really bothering me, so I decided to splash out on a £140 Audioengine D1 DAC (digital to analogue convertor) http://www.amazon.com/Audioengine-D1-Premium-24-Bit-DAC/product-reviews/B006IPH5H2 and connect it to my Apple MacBook Pro Retina. (annoyingly the new iPhone 5's connector doesn't connect directly to any existing DACs)
Wow, the Audioengine D1 really makes the XBA3 shine. The soundstage opens up, the treble extends, the bass is deeper fuller and tighter.
I took my laptop and Audioengine D1 to the shops again, just to see how the display phones might sound. The Philips L1 is properly driven by the D1 and its headphone amplifier and sounds gorgeous - natural smooth but with slightly forward treble (XBA3 is more controlled). The Beats mixR now sound downright harsh. The cheaper Bose AE2 and Sennheiser HD449 sound pretty good now through the DAC, natural, smooth, treble reasonably controlled (Bose AE2 sound very aggressive directly from the iPhone 5). The HD449's (£70) sound great value compared to it's bigger brother the Momentums at £250 ish.
The XBA3s through the Audioengine D1 sounded better overall than all the display headphones I could get my hands on. The closest was the Philips L1 - but treble was slightly forward (bass was deeper and separation better though). If you want cheaper alternatives I can recommend the Sennheiser HD449 and Bose AE2, but both of these sound much thinner than the XBA3, which sounded more full bodied and substantial.
The D1 sounds better through my Mac USB port than it does from my Acer PC USB port
So there you go, unlock the potential of the XBA3 with a DAC! (and my DAC isn't run in yet)
If you have an iPhone 5, and can't afford a DAC, then the Beats mixR headphones will sound better than the XBA3 driven directly by the headphone socket
Also the standard iPhone pods do not improve in sound quality much when connected to the DAC, the XBA3 improves substantially.
In the light of these findings, I am re-rating the sonic qualities of the XBA3 from 3 stars to 5
The build quality is very good compared to many of the one's I have had before. I certainly expect these to last for a while.
One tip for new users, it is possible to leave the (foam filled) ear tips in your ear if the headphones are pulled straight out too quickly, so pull them out using a twisting action prevents this.
I was a little skeptical about paying so much for these Sonys, especially as going on previous experience they won't last long!
Out of the box the Sony buds immediately give you a quality impression. They feel well made and have some nice details like flat cabling and the inclusion of a device to shorten the cable. They have a very wide range of silicone earbuds to help you find the right fit, which is essential to getting the best sound.
Thankfully the sound is excellent, they sound really controlled and precise. There are high frequencies audible I have never heard in my music with other brands. They are not as bass heavy as the Shures but sound so much clearer.
If you are a fan of really heavy bass check out the Shure SE 115s... for anything else these will do nicely!
Most recent customer reviews
Sound quality was really good and I was impressed.Read more
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