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[ REVIEW / COMPARISON ] Two Flagships Pass in the Night: Sony XBA-4 Review VS the MDR-EX1000... - Page 5

post #61 of 285
Quote:
Originally Posted by a_recording View Post

 

Thanks! It certainly appears from the XBA-3 graph that the higher the output impedance, the more V-shaped the sound gets. Since some people do complain of metallic or sibilant highs with the XBA-4, and the observation that high frequency becomes increasingly uneven as output impedance increases in the XBA-3, I think we can make a guess that the XBA-4 sounds less shrill with players or headphone amps with minimal output impedance.

 

I think I know what people mean about "metallic treble" but I'm not sure that it is necessarily beneficial to aim for a lower output impedance and therefore a warmer sound signature, which could be considered throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  I might have to do some more listening with classical and acoustic genres to see if my attitude changes, but for the heavy metal music in my collection there is nothing really wrong with metallic treble as the instruments are meant to sound metallic.  If violins sound steely though, there might be problems.

post #62 of 285
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by drez View Post

 

I think I know what people mean about "metallic treble" but I'm not sure that it is necessarily beneficial to aim for a lower output impedance and therefore a warmer sound signature, which could be considered throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  I might have to do some more listening with classical and acoustic genres to see if my attitude changes, but for the heavy metal music in my collection there is nothing really wrong with metallic treble as the instruments are meant to sound metallic.  If violins sound steely though, there might be problems.

 

As I suggested in the review, to me the sound of the treble is shimmery - like the sound a cymbal makes that hangs in the air after its been struck. The reason why I suggest a lower impedance might help is that this shimmer doesn't actually quite sound natural. It seems to reflect some kind of spike in frequency response. A lower impedance probably would mean a warmer sound, but if the impedance profile of the XBA-4 is anything like the 3, it will also have the greatest effect in terms of reducing this particular aberration.

 

Put another way, from the Sonove graph in the second post, it seems that there is some large degree of harmonic distortion in the XBA-3 in the same area where the impedance also peaks. If the XBA-4 is similar, than perhaps the shimmer that I am hearing is actually harmonic distortion products.

 

However without some more information this is all speculation. All I can say is that with my iPhone 4 and the normal hybrid tips, the treble isn't all that bad and I'm still a big fan of the sound even now. It would be nice if we could have some actual graphs of the XBA-4, perhaps done by someone like Tyll from innerfidelity. 

post #63 of 285
Thread Starter 

And also, I was just told this review made the front page. Thanks Currawong <3

post #64 of 285
Quote:
Originally Posted by a_recording View Post

 

As I suggested in the review, to me the sound of the treble is shimmery - like the sound a cymbal makes that hangs in the air after its been struck. The reason why I suggest a lower impedance might help is that this shimmer doesn't actually quite sound natural. It seems to reflect some kind of spike in frequency response. A lower impedance probably would mean a warmer sound, but if the impedance profile of the XBA-4 is anything like the 3, it will also have the greatest effect in terms of reducing this particular aberration.

 

Put another way, from the Sonove graph in the second post, it seems that there is some large degree of harmonic distortion in the XBA-3 in the same area where the impedance also peaks. If the XBA-4 is similar, than perhaps the shimmer that I am hearing is actually harmonic distortion products.

 

However without some more information this is all speculation. All I can say is that with my iPhone 4 and the normal hybrid tips, the treble isn't all that bad and I'm still a big fan of the sound even now. It would be nice if we could have some actual graphs of the XBA-4, perhaps done by someone like Tyll from innerfidelity. 

 

Interesting point about the distortoin spike around 1kHz which seems to drop sharply by 2kHz but lingers aournd until 5kHz - most of that seems to be in the midrange to lower treble though.  Quite possibly some of the metallic quiality some are describing is ringing in these frequencies, I'm not sure if output impedance will affect the ringing, but I might give it a try if I get my hands on a Fiio E11 or O2 but currently I don't have an amplifier with such low output impedance to listen with the XBA-4.

post #65 of 285
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by drez View Post

 

Interesting point about the distortoin spike around 1kHz which seems to drop sharply by 2kHz but lingers aournd until 5kHz - most of that seems to be in the midrange to lower treble though.  Quite possibly some of the metallic quiality some are describing is ringing in these frequencies, I'm not sure if output impedance will affect the ringing, but I might give it a try if I get my hands on a Fiio E11 or O2 but currently I don't have an amplifier with such low output impedance to listen with the XBA-4.

 

Definitely would love some XBA-3 owners to chime in as to whether the treble sounds metallic :3

post #66 of 285
Thread Starter 

Update:

 

I just updated the 2nd post page of the review with some of the THD measurements from Headphoneinfo on the XBA-1 and XBA-3. They both exhibit harmonic distortion over the entire frequency response, just like the Sonove graph, and again the XBA-3 has a particular peak of harmonic distortion in the high frequencies.

 

Perhaps Sony was going for a tube amp sound? >.>

post #67 of 285

thanks for the review. it was great, i read the whole thing

post #68 of 285

Thank you for such a great read. 

 

I just got myself a pair of the XBA-4s and I have mixed feelings upon first impressions. I enjoy how engaging the sound is, but what was very apparent to me was the metallic and unnaturalness of the top end that gives the sound an artificial flavour. 

post #69 of 285

Has anyone tried these with a low output impedance amplifier/source?  I'm wondering if the metallic sound is a form of ringing in the drivers which might be improved with a better damping factor?  I might keep an eye out in case an iBasso T3 or something comes up for sale.

post #70 of 285
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by drez View Post

Has anyone tried these with a low output impedance amplifier/source?  I'm wondering if the metallic sound is a form of ringing in the drivers which might be improved with a better damping factor?  I might keep an eye out in case an iBasso T3 or something comes up for sale.

 

Well, I wrote my review with most of my comparisons done on an Objective2. I don't have a huge issue with metallic treble in the XBA, in the sense that it doesn't cause me any kind of sibilance fatigue or distract me. It's there, but as a single issue its not the biggest of its problems - arguably something like the EX1000 or GR07 has more problematic treble. The biggest issue with the XBA's sound is that the combination of shimmery haze, distinctly non-neutral sound signature and strong instrument separation altogether make for a sound that is strikingly artificial. Still, there's nothing else quite like it (perhaps the UM3X and SM3 are close but I only listened to the former briefly and have lost my pair of the latter).

 

I don't think any person should buy the XBA with the expectation that they are going to get a 'reference' IEM. I certainly wouldn't choose it as my 'stuck on a desert island' IEM (that would either be the EX1000 or the GR07) but if you want to hear something different, its a nice option.

 

Maybe I should actually put that in the conclusion.

post #71 of 285

Quote:

Originally Posted by a_recording View Post

Hmm. I wouldn't say it doesn't sound good (I'd gladly take the EX1000 over many other options any day) but I think live, natural recordings do sound so fantastic on the EX1000 that a lot of synthesised music just sounds... synthesised. The XBA-4 because of its bass response can take electronic tones and run with them, but the EX1000 is a lot more faithful - and as a result bland at times with those tracks.

 

In regards to the EX1000 and the XBA-4, I actually think effortless presentation and transient speed / detail retrieval aren't necessarily synonymous. It's strange, but here's what I suspect is happening:

 

In very heavily layered / complex music though, I think the XBA-4's advantage in having 4 separate armatures starts to deliver an advantage in terms of articulation and instrument placement. Instruments all still sound incredibly clean even when a lot is happening at the same time, and I tend to associate instrument separation / instrument placing with good micro-detail.

 

 

Could you test this for me with Faithless'- 'Salva Mea' please? It's one of my favorite test tracks for seperation and clarity purposes with electronic music. Also, which is the brighter on the "all-out assult" section (about 3:20 onwards).... For refernce I actually find the SA5000's too bright with this part, out of the objective2.

post #72 of 285
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amarphael View Post

Quote:

 

Could you test this for me with Faithless'- 'Salva Mea' please? It's one of my favorite test tracks for seperation and clarity purposes with electronic music. Also, which is the brighter on the "all-out assult" section (about 3:20 onwards).... For refernce I actually find the SA5000's too bright with this part, out of the objective2.

 

I found this 720p version of the track on Youtube, so I had a listen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVWlCY2XU6g

 

My impression was of the same general rule. The EX1000 sounded more immediately cleaner, but the soundstage and separation was a little two dimensional compared to the XBA-4 which separates out the bass line distinctly from the synths / samples etc. The female vocals in the beginning were a lot lusher on the XBA-4, and overall the mid-bass on the XBA-4 is more apparent. Of course, the bass line is much stronger on the XBA-4. I definitely think the XBA-4 is the more engaging listen for electronic music.

 

As for the SA5000, I've made a number of modifications on it so I'm afraid it would be hard for me to compare. I added some butyl rubber / foam on the inside of the baffle for mass loading, on the outside there is a felt disc with a hole cut out over the driver to serve as a makeshift 'bass lens' and also cover up some of the exposed plastic surfaces, and I am using Denon D2000 pads (with felt removed) and not the stock leather pads. The end result of all these changes was an effort to tone down the treble and warm up the sound / increase the bass. There is a small sacrifice to soundstage as a result to these modifications but overall I'm very pleased with the sound, but its hard for me to compare to a stock SA5000. For reference, after these changes, the SA5000 has never sounded anything but smooth (but still very detailed and clear) on any track - more than I can say for the EX1000.

 

Hope that gives you some idea :) 

post #73 of 285

This is a fantastic review I waited for a very long time!

Being a sony fan for many years, I got the xba4 pretty early. At first the sound is pretty bad to my ears, very disappointed. However, after some time, the sound improved and in such a unique way different from most earphones I have. I am not sure whether my brain was burnt in or the earphones.

Completely agree with the reviewer, the XBA4 has the best sound stage in IEMs plus deep and details bass in huge quantity. I really enjoy them now.

post #74 of 285

Does anyone know where these XBA buds are made (suposing all the versions are made in the same place)?

Sorry if this has been answered but couldn't find it in this thread.

post #75 of 285

Supposedly the drivers are made in Japan.

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