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Sony XBA-4SL review/impressions

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hello forumers, being rather new to head-fi and seeing that most people don't really post reviews on Hardwarezone, i decided to write a review of my XBA-4s that i got about a few days ago... Do take note that this is my very first try in writing one so don't be tooo harsh on me ^^"

 

I got these guys from one of my visits to Bic Camera a few days after the official release, they retailed there for about 24,000 yen. Buuuuuut cuz i had so many points collected in the membership card i managed to grab them at 15,000 yen (what a steal!!). These iems are really popular here and most electronic stores then had already started to run out of stock (i got the last pair!!)

 

I mainly use a pair of butt-kicking tf10s (with lune cable) from my sansa clip+/iphone 3G (with a hippobox amp) and have previously owned an ie8 , ckm99 , monster turbine and a ckm77, and i have to say i am rather impressed with the XBA series.... now down to the nitty-gritty parts!

IMG_3063.JPG

 

 

Build Quality

 

I was actually rather turned off by the short 0.6m cable and the fact that you have to drape these guys behind your neck. The IP version (the one with the mic) has slightly longer cables (of equal length) so they fit on like your average iem.

 

These earphones are predominantly made of chromed plastic which may be rather unappealing to some, but being so big and bulky in nature metal casings would have made the XBA-4s so unwieldly it would be almost impossible to wear! I already have some difficulty putting these guys on so good thinking on Sony's part!

 

The earpiece themselves are rather large (severity of the issue coming from a tf10 owner) and excluding the tips they should be as large as the tip of your thumb. Not recommended for people with small ears. Wearing it over-ear solves some weight issues but the cables flop out at times so i'd recommend getting earguides.

 

Sound Quality

 

Having tried the xba-1,2 and 3s i'll kick start this portion of the review by taking a quick run through of the rest of the XBA-series. All of them were played from my amped iphone 3G.

 

The xba-1s i guess were the best bang for anybody's buck, but i do find that the single driver made it very bland in my opinion... cold and analytical, absolutely no bass. Fortunately the low frequency driver did miracles to the xba-2, and there was substantial amounts of detail along with the bass that was missing in the 1s, they also had a far "wetter" sound frequency compared to it's relatively cheaper counterpart.

 

All i can say for the xba-3, is that they sound exactly like my tf10s =.=  (which explains why i didn't pick them up)

 

Now on to the 4s :D now i find these rather bass oriented, having 2 bass drivers they deliver substantial (and at times a little too much) amounts of bass. like the 2s and 3s it has a very wet and warm sound freq (which should result in a curvy sound sig.....right?) Details in the mids are retained, moreover i find that they're also brought forward compared to the 3s/tf10s. However i can hear slight mid bass which may be annoying to some, but i'm pretty much fine with it. The highs are what puzzles me.... bright highs are like my pet-peeve, too much and it just kills the music, which also explains why i had to sell away my ckm99s (in case you haven't tried them yet, the ckm99 highs are VERY BRIGHT) the xba-4's highs are a reminiscence of the ckm99, but they aren't that strong, making it very enjoyable to hear. The highs do sound rather different from the sparkly tf10 highs, but if i were to compare the two, it all boils down to preference....

 

Though the xba-4s are warm in nature, i do find that it gets slightly more sibilant without amplification. Moreover i find that by EQing these guys by reducing lower frequencies, you can pretty much get them to sound like the xba-3s (pretty neat!)

 

Sound leakage is present too and thats quite a problem - my mom can hear music coming from them when i'm sitting next to her in the car, but i think that can be solved with correct eartip sizing.....

 

The xba-4s are very fun sounding in nature, and in my opinion is Sony's attempt to reach out to the crowd by coming up with a more consumer-oriented iem, contrary to their high-end ex1000 that they released about a year ago.

 

To Wrap Things Up

xba-4 - bright highs, loads of bass, detailed and yet not analytical. If you're into bass you have to pick up one of these....

xba-3 - a much cheaper alternative to the tf10

xba-2/1 - perfect for casual listeners with a tight budget

 

IMG_3062.JPG

 

IMG_3064.JPG

post #2 of 18

Hi, and welcome to head fi.

Thanks for the informative review ,looks like a solid construction and i am interested in hearing how these stack up to the w4 ,these are on my radar as a purchase next year when they become more widely available .happy_face1.gif

post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

Yep they should be around by next year, from what i know some of the parts are manufactured in thailand(had to enquire the staff with my awful japanese) so i'm guessing sony's trying to make it easier to ship these iems all over the world.

post #4 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joohunta View Post

Yep they should be around by next year, from what i know some of the parts are manufactured in thailand(had to enquire the staff with my awful japanese) so i'm guessing sony's trying to make it easier to ship these iems all over the world.


I am looking forward to it . ,how do these sound with rock music and heavy metal ?

 

post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 

hmmm i don't really listen to heavy metal but i played some FLAC Green Day songs....i guess there's abit more emphasis on the bass guitar but it doesn't overwhelm the entire track, the vocals seem more recessed though im guessing it depends on the source cuz i played it from my sansa clip....

post #6 of 18


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joohunta View Post

hmmm i don't really listen to heavy metal but i played some FLAC Green Day songs....i guess there's abit more emphasis on the bass guitar but it doesn't overwhelm the entire track, the vocals seem more recessed though im guessing it depends on the source cuz i played it from my sansa clip....



Thanks, how does the bass compair to a dynamic phone like the monster pros for example and is it a good mix of sub bass/ mid upper bass or does it lean more to mid bass. How do the electric guitars come across, polished or more fiery and raunchy ?

post #7 of 18

Could you upload some pics of them in your ear? I'm curious about the fit/how they look.

post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 

@lucozade electric guitars feel accented but detail is still maintained, im not too sure abt the turbine pros though i haven't really spent alot of time listening to them.

@xII DM IIx i'll try to get a few pictures uploaded by tomorrow, in the meantime cnet asia has a few photos you should check out regarding about the fit http://asia.cnet.com/i/r/2011/mpa/62211572/xba_worn_600x300.jpg

post #9 of 18

What were the tracks you tested bass with?

post #10 of 18

Thanks for your review.

 

The XBA-4 seems to have my preferred sound signature and I'm tempted to give them a try but I'm a little turned off by the short cable. That's the one thing that really bothers me on my favourite universal (FX700). 

post #11 of 18

 Just had another try of the XBA3/XBA4 at Bic Camera today and ended up picking up the XBA-4SL.

   I was actually prepared to purchase the 3's, as they were both cheaper, and have gotten lots of positive praise here and in the Endagadget review...

 

The XBA-3 definitely have a nice smooth and liquid sound, and I could definitely have picked them up as well as they are worthy IEMs...

 

However, in my extended A/B session, the XBA-4SL REALLY seemed to have a more-open sound, show more details, and especially were a bit more mid-forward.

 

The XBA-3 were nice and smooth, but every time I went back and forth, I felt like there was something missing, sort of the like the difference between many 2/3 driver IEMs (like W2/W3 or SE425/SE535 for example)

 

  I overall found the XBA-4 to be more vibrant, "edgy" and especially more "live" sounding. I found them more engaging and in-your-face. The XBA-3 may be a more relaxing listen (and less exposing of poor recordings/encodings), but the XBA-4 seemed much more fun.

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by takoyaki7 View Post

 Just had another try of the XBA3/XBA4 at Bic Camera today and ended up picking up the XBA-4SL.

   I was actually prepared to purchase the 3's, as they were both cheaper, and have gotten lots of positive praise here and in the Endagadget review...

 

The XBA-3 definitely have a nice smooth and liquid sound, and I could definitely have picked them up as well as they are worthy IEMs...

 

However, in my extended A/B session, the XBA-4SL REALLY seemed to have a more-open sound, show more details, and especially were a bit more mid-forward.

 

The XBA-3 were nice and smooth, but every time I went back and forth, I felt like there was something missing, sort of the like the difference between many 2/3 driver IEMs (like W2/W3 or SE425/SE535 for example)

 

  I overall found the XBA-4 to be more vibrant, "edgy" and especially more "live" sounding. I found them more engaging and in-your-face. The XBA-3 may be a more relaxing listen (and less exposing of poor recordings/encodings), but the XBA-4 seemed much more fun.

Haha i feel the same way you do, the xba-4 sounds much "fuller" than the lighter sounding xba-3

@gaspir324 listened to bass heavy songs from LMFAO, David Guetta and a bunch of coldplay and keane songs all at 320kbp/s / ALAC
 

 

post #13 of 18

geez... they are so huge that is forcing the guy's outer ear!!!

post #14 of 18

wow those things are pretty

post #15 of 18

They do look very pretty..if only they weren't so big frown.gif

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