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A Review On: Sony Hybrid Black In-Ear Headphones - XBA-H1

Sony Hybrid Black In-Ear Headphones - XBA-H1

Rated # 365 in In-Ear
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Price paid: $100.00
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Pros: Detailed sound, instrument separation, clean vocals

Cons: Flat soundstage, Subbas



Hi, My last headphones before these were sony XB90ex, so my review will be loosely based on comparison with xb90.
Firstly since I paid $50 more than xb90ex (95$) my expectations were bit high. xb90 had 16mm driver and I really liked it and the second I put h1 in my ear and pressed "play" I felt that they were small 9mm drivers, don't get me wrong, I didn't literally feel the size of the driver but it has somewhat thinner sound, the sound that you can tell it comes from earbuds, which wasn't the case when listening to xb90.

xb90 had huge soundstage so the first thing that disappointed me when I tried XBA H1 was the soundstage. while it's still larger than low-priced headphones(< 70$) it is nowhere as wide as xb90's (though it's better than ex310's). Even though the sound is pretty much front oriented it still never comes very close (I like when sometimes it feels like sound comes inside your brain), neither it goes too far, so i'ts kind of 2D.  On the other hand instrument separation is very good, I would say better than xb90, highs and lows don't distract each other, I think 2-way drivers have something to do with this. Overal I'd say that soundstage is pretty flat, when I listened to xb90ex after these it was like returning in heaven after living on earth for a while.

compared to xb90 subbass somewhat lacks, generally bass is good and high enough for me and majority of listeners but that subwoofer feeling of xb90ex is gone. Good thing is that it is by no means under or overpowered. Bass texture is decent, Midbass is punchy and fast, maybe bit better than xb90's. 

Overral bass performance is slightly inferior compared to xb90's.

Mids are definitely front-oriented, bright and very clean. Female vocal is real joy to listen. I think generally this is the easiest area for IEMs to perform and there is no point to talk much about it. In one word, mids are very pleasant to listen.


before burning in, highs were harsh, bright and there was sibilance, after burn-in the harshness smoothed and sibilance faded away (not completely though), in fact it got too smooth for my taste. Arguably inferior performer compared to xb90ex in this area, which had fairly smooth but bright treble. The good thing is that it's smooth and quality is good, it's just not bright enough for me, it feels like it cuts frequencies above 12 KHz.

I used them on my walkman x1050 which has great sound quality regardless its age. Since the impedance of the headphones is 40 OHM which is much higher than most earbuds (majority have 16-24 ohm) I thought amplifier would be necessary but the difference isn't that much, Even without amp these earbuds sound decently, Though the sound is somewhat hollow, with amp it gains some midbass and sound gets more full.



Overal these earbuds are noticeably cleaner and more detailed than XB90EX but flat soundstage is dealbreaker for me. When you listen to these you don't feel anything special, I mean it doesn't have specific signature like XB90 which has very 3D sound with excellent subbass which is very much like bass of expensive overhead headphones.
Xba h1 earbuds are good but very overpriced IMHO. I would take xb90ex over H1 without any second thoughts, they are overall as good performers and much cheaper than these. I think real price of these should be at most $100.
One more thing, the left headphone is slightly quieter than the right one but I'm the only one who notices it but still it drives me crazy. I played with balance on PC and measured around 0.8 db difference. I thought it was my units fault but then I so test on goldenear and there was the same situation.
This review maybe was too critical, they're not bad at all, at least instrument separation and clarity were excellent for the class.

I was planning to write bigger review with photos that I spent much time to take but unfortunately the editor doesn't allow me to insert them.
Thanks for reading.


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