Guys that know me I ain't no company goon. Yet Admins here at headfi tagged me with that as I wrote that on the CKM500 thread. I am a fan of ATs stuff but I am a fan of better sounding stuff even more. Once you get a custom tag I didn't realize it at the moment but they make me look like I work for AT or something. Speaking of better stuff.
I listened to my new XBA-3s last night and I couldn't stop listening to them. It is the first time I have ever wanted to listen to a BA based earphone. My TF10s not so much but these are a different story. I know many of you guys know me for my budget stuff I write about and more or less the JVC earphones. But I have to say. I am very much impressed with the XBA-3. It has so many great qualities that I was not expecting from the earphones. These are what the TF10s should have been imo. The biggest difference between the 2 is the mids. I find the mids on the XBA-3s one of the best I have ever heard. So immersive the way it sounds. So much delicate detail and imagery it is a very seductive sound.
Do I think they are worth the $300 price tag? No. But at $200 I think they do. So for what I bought them for it was beyond a good deal. It was a pleasant surprise.
So without further ado. What makes the Sony XBA-3 sound so seductive. I was listening to of all tunes. Johnny Cash Ring of fire and as many times as I have heard that tune what was a huge surprise to me was just how wide that tune sounded on the XBA-3. I do a lot of commuting for my business so I was in my car listening to my XBA-3s when this tune came up. The tune sounded wider than the speakers that are in my car. It sounded like I was in a big concert hall..I kept on taking the earphones out as I was simply amazed at the sense of space the tune was throwing out. The advantages of BA drivers are clearly evident here. Earphones and headphones for the most part relay a sense of space to your ears giving you that stage that we all know. These are the first earphones that adjusts to the actual recording. If the tune was recorded in a bigger scale these relay that to what your hearing much better than any other earphones I have heard. It is quite addictive as I found myself going from tune to tune and it threw a big smile on my face as the sense of space of a particular tune would actually change pending on how it was recorded. Amazing.
Beyond that. The sound is a complete one and Sony did an awesome job with the tuning on these earphones. I have quickly become a fan of the mids on these earphones. In a word very accurate and detailed..I read many a review on these earphones but I had no idea just how good the mids were until now. It seems Sony takes their mids very seriously. Every single Sony headphone and earphone I have had always had good to outstanding mids and these are perhaps the best I have heard to date..The meat of your tunes reside in the mids and the accuracy these convey is. Dare I say perfect..These earphones really shine with instrument and vocal presentation that is some of the best I have heard. The 3 drivers works extremely well together and sound like high end speakers in your ears.. I read some reviews online saying the bass is a bit much ect. Lol. It has enough bass for even Hip hop and EDM but these aren't bass heavy at all. Music without my bass is like music without highs. For this sound, it is perfect imo.
More of a balanced sound than tilting toward highs or the bass end. Now the highs I had to get used to but I quickly realized my ears are too used to colored highs that are on many of my earphones and headphones. These have a delicate clean approach to the highs that once you figure out put the focus back to the mids more than the highs and if you think about it that is actually the correct way to hear your tunes. The highs should be the rhythmic accents to your tunes and not the focus and that is the tuning Sony did on these. I simply bow down to the delicate balancing they did between the 3 drivers in each ear..Bass has plenty of impact and the subs in here are tuned much like the highs in that they convey more accurately how the bass should sound more than anything bloaty or exaggerated. Yet they threw in just a touch more than neutral levels because who don't like their beats hitting hard?
In a nut shell. I am very much more impressed with these than any other Sony product I have heard to date. These are what I thought my Sony EX600 should have been. These are what I hoped the TF10s was going to be.
I don't know if there ever will be another opportunity to grab one of these for $100 but if you ever see such a deal online. Grab them like it was the last bottle of vodka at the end of the world.
Over whelming thumbs up from me.
Edited by Dsnuts - 10/19/12 at 11:02am