Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › [REVIEW] A Duo of Duel Driver (Sony XBA-2 & Sonocore Bryan)
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

[REVIEW] A Duo of Duel Driver (Sony XBA-2 & Sonocore Bryan)

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

Basically i have put together two quicker and subsequently short reviews on both a dual balanced armature earphone the Sony XBA-2 and a dual dynamic earphone the Sonocore Bryan. Unfortunately this will not continue into a comparison of the two but it does give you two types of dual driver earphones to look at. Enjoy!

 

Sony XBA-2 Review

 

Intro

I do not see a need to tell you who Sony are, I mean they are surely the biggest consumer electronic company in the world and surely everyone owns at least one product of theirs. Well recently they released a new earphone line, labeled xperiance balanced armature or XBA. As you can guess it is a range of balanced armature earphones and it is their first.

 

The range is rather large including a single balanced armature (BA) sport, wireless and noise canceling earphones and then a single BA earphone (XBA-1), dual BA earphone (XBA-2), triple BA earphone (XBA-2) and a quad BA (XBA-4 earphone and all the normal earphones all offering an iPhone compatible version. I will now explain a bit more about the XBA-1/2/3/4. So the XBA-1 is full range driver, which apparently is quite flat, the XBA-2 has a full range and then adds a woofer boosting the bass. The XBA-3 then has a tweeter added boosting the treble. Finally the XBA-4 has a super-woofer boosting the bass yet again.

 

What Sony have done which is very brave however is that they decided to make their own BA drivers instead of using those made by Knowles and Sonion like companies such as Fischer Audio and Westone do. Now this left me having to know whether or not they done a good job making them so I decided to pull the trigger on one of them. I chose the XBA-2 for a number reasons, the least reviews, I have a lot of dual drivers and the price.

 

So lets go.

 

IMG_1395.jpg

 

Set-up

I have been doing most of my listening of these on the go, which means that mainly my Cowon J3 with FLAC and MP3 has driven them. Have been using the orange and red Sony Hybrids for the best seal and sound.

 

Build Quality/Design

Being Sony there is no surprises that these look fairly nice. The have a shiny metallic housing that is silver and dark grey and is aesthetically pleasing in my opinion. It also has a J-Cord, which is a first for me, which I find really handy as you can have one earphone causally sitting around your shoulders.

 

The housings are built of a fairly solid plastic, which is bulky and thick. The nozzle is also very wide and no worries of snapping when tip rolling. The cable is a flatter cable, not quite the linguini cable of the Beats by Dre Tour but flatter than most. An easy way to describe it is get a normal cable and just squash it a bit. This does a good job of reducing tangles but does leave it feel very flimsy and it also does not get any thicker to the bottom of the cable which I sad. The split is a small cheapy piece of plastic with Thailand on it.

 

The jack is awesome and everything that I want in one. It is right-angled, gold plated and finished with a nice strain relief. Also looks pretty good.

 

DSC02687.JPG

DSC02690.JPG

 

Accessories

With these being Sony you would expect to get absolutely loads but your actually missing most commonly found accessories. What they do come with however is 7 pairs of tips, which are of great quality, 4 pairs being their famous Sony Hybrid tips and the other 3 being made for isolation.

 

You then get a carry case and a cable winder. The case is fairly hard and is a cloth with something like cardboard inside keeping it rigid. It is pocket size and really quite portable. The cable winder is rather large and not something I will use as it is not really a long enough cable to warrant the use of it but it may be something you will find as a nice addition.

 

IMG_1363.jpg

DSC02691.JPG

 

 

Comfort/Fit

These, once inserted, are rather comfortable. They are always clearly present in your ear and you know that they are there but even with their weight they never become fatiguing. If the weight is too much for you however you always stick them over your ears so that the weight is distributed out more evenly.

 

However I do think that if you have a smaller canal then these may be a tight squeeze and that would be quite painful.

 

DSC02688.JPG

DSC02689.JPG

 

Isolation

These give pretty strong isolation and they do not insert that deep all the same. This will get rid of anything unwanted in the room and most traffic as well. Pretty good.

 

Microphonics (Cable Noise)

Because of the way that you wear these with their J-Cord design I think it combats cable noise quite well as these are almost like a single cabled earphone. These do not need to be worn over the ear, as the microphonics are very pleasantly not a problem at all!

 

Soundstage and instrument separation

The soundstage is rather average on these. When I say this I mean by the fact that they have width just beyond your ears and are lacking a bit of depth, which stops them sounding to three-dimensional.

 

Separation is however fairly good and you know which is what and they are not blended at all. It does not quite have the air surrounding them but it is above average.

 

Presntation is not the most natural and instruments are most of the time in front of the vocalist, which as you can guess is not right, and the bass guitar is always leading the show.

 

Bass

This is the concentrated frequency for these and this is because the presence of a mid-bass hump. The quantity of it is rather big especially for a BA driver and is backed up by some good quality. It is very fast transferring quick punches and impact and it does rather well at getting some air with it but is lacking some texture.

 

It does extend fairly deep, not as much as a lot of dynamic drivers or even the cheap VSonic GR06 but it still leave them giving a pleasant groan and the odd rumble which to say for a BA is fairly unique and it has drawn equal with the sub-bass of the UE Triple Fi 10.

 

Midrange

The mids are behind the bass and have slight coldness to them even with the bass in front of them. They are actually very clear and vocals have a very a whispery tone to them which is quite pleasant. These are actually really quite transparent, not to the level of the DBA-02 but they really do show of detail nicely. Females’ vocals are really rather shrill sound and high sounding and feel false.

 

The main quibble with them is that the bass can veil them and they could do with a nudge forward. They are by no means as shrouded as the IE8 for example but in some songs the vocals can be very quiet.

 

Treble

The treble is very recessed and this makes the earphones have a dark signature. It struggles to shin through the bass but when it does it is rather nice with some sparkle and even better detail. However it does also roll of a bit to early which causes some instruments to feel like they are lacking a top end.

 

Overall

As their first line of earphones with BA drivers I am really rather impressed and although my other dual Bas are better these are actually rather enjoyable and do deliver a good bassy sound. I am now wanting to try the XBA-3 as the addition of a tweeter is what I felt these lacked and I think that would brighten up the sound but the thought of the mids still be as recessed is still worrying.


Edited by Swimsonny - 6/13/12 at 1:58am
post #2 of 27
Thread Starter 

Sonocore Bryan Review

 

Intro

Too my knowledge is a Korean earphone company and these were their first earphones and the Cindy earphones followed them quite quickly. To be honest I do not know if they are still a company and if they folded or not as I have not seen people get any of these and when checking their website I get what looks like a work in progress and no longer being updated. If they are still a business then I do not know what they are doing as if I wanted to buy another pair I would not have a clue were to go and just wait and hope with eBay. Maybe in Japan they are still distributed or even in the US but after contacting the UK distributor he told me they no longer stock the earphones.

 

More on to what the earphones are about they are a dual dynamic earphone. They do have thing sin common with other dual drivers in which they have a woofer and a tweeter but instead of the normal 15mm or 14.2mm woofer and 8mm tweeter that I have come across enough these have a 10mm woofer and a 6mm tweeter. So with their original price, what they are no I do not know, of £40 this was perhaps the cheapest dual dynamic earphone. Lets go!

 

IMG_1396.jpg

 

Set-up

Have been doing most listening of these with my Cowon J3 and FLAC and MP3 but also my iPhone 4 so that I really got to know these earphones. I also used them with my iMac running FLAC and Apple lossless and hooked up to my Objective 2 amplifier. I also used the medium stock tips, which I achieved a seal with. The sounded best by a bit when with the Cowon or O2 amplifier.

 

Build Quality/Design

The design and look of these is a combination of plastic and tacky and a colour scheme of white and silver.

 

The first thing I noticed when I got these out of the box was these are terribly built and are so darn ugly. Starting at the jack, which is probably the best bit of build on them for what it is worth saying. It is fairly chunky and has a tiny strain relief and is terminated with a gold plated plug. Moving on to the wire these have a rubber coating and are pretty thin. The bottom cable does not feel strong but does coil up nicely. The y-split is a little bit of plastic with no strain relief. It then DOES have a cable cinch, which is a great addition! The top cable is just stupidly thin and likes to tangle its self. It is just plain awful.

 

The housings have nothing to really call a strain relief and the silly, thin and weak cables just go into the housings like a disaster waiting to happen. The housings are completely made of a light plastic that is not sturdy at all and would not take a strong person to smash them to pieces. Also seams do not seem to be well finished.

 

IMG_1397.JPG

 

Accessories

So they come in a tiny iPhone like box but were the iPhone comes with loads of accessories all these come with is a little sheet which is the warranty, 3 pairs of tips (small, medium and large) and then a flimsy little drawstring case. The tips are thin and of poor quality and the pouch will be doing no protection at all.

 

IMG_1399.jpg

Comfort/Fit

Getting a seal is pretty straightforward with these.

 

I have found these to be pretty fatiguing and uncomfortable when worn cable down and even to a point that they get painful. The plastic is very light so it is not from that perspective but more from the way that they sit in you ears, which gets painful. They are quite wide which causes them not to hold them selves in you ear but to apply pressure to the bottom of you ear, which after a while gets to be not ideal. The cable falls just fine and does not get annoying.

 

When you wear them over the ear you use this as support and do not apply pressure to you lower ear. However the Sonocores do still do get a bit annoying in your canal as they have quite a large bore.

 

IMG_1398.jpg

 

Isolation

Isolation is okay but not anything special by a long shot. These will not remove every last bit of ambience noise but enough of it to at least enjoy the music. When people around you are speaking at fairly quiet levels you will not be able to hear them, once however they raise their voices to a moderate level you will be able to faintly here them but once they go above moderate and for example shout they can be heard clearly. This may be down to their fairly shallow insertion depth so maybe if you find some triple flanges that fit you could improve that.

 

Microphonics (Cable Noise)

When worn cable down the cable noise can get to points of annoyance and it is not the greatest but I have had worse. Flip them over and wear them over the ear and then it is practically non-existent.

 

With these earphones they were designed to cable down but I have to say the only way, which is bearable, both microphonics wise and comfort wise is over the ear.

 

Burn-In

By what I am about to write I do not want to cause any upsets or arguments as this topic can be seen as a sour subject. These have had roughly 100 hours now of use and burn in combined. As burn in is not scientifically proven this all could be mental and happening in my head but in the case that it does happen I recommend burning them in as in my personal experience I have noted improvements which have a massive impact on my enjoyment factor, so don’t make any irrational decisions after listening to them out the box.

 

Soundstage and instrument separation

Soundstage was actually pleasant and these are actually nearing to one of the wider soundstages I have heard. It does not quite have an optimum depth to it but I have found there to be some. These really have a surprising soundstage and you notice it especially when a/bing to other more expensive IEMs such as the Able Planet SI1050a.

 

Separation is not on the same level and this is jus down to a lack of any sort of air in the soundstage and leads to an inferior presentation and instrument separation, which is a shame.

 

Bass

The bass is these earphones focus and there is a slight hump in the mid-bass but not one as big as with other earphones such as what the Sennheiser IE8. However when I started listening to these they had extreme and boomy boomy quantities of mid-bass but this actually all tightened up and lessened in quantity over burn in. These actually have a moderate, just above average amount of mid-bass quantity, which is actually quite pleasant. They are rather nice in texture as well with a full body, which does not quite punch, but isn’t slow either. The same goes for the tightness which is not boomy or super tight. Overall a well executed midbass.

 

The extension is rather good giving you some rumble but not to levels of the IE8 or Thinksound ms01. You will be satisfied and it still thumps more than any BA earphones but UE Triple Fi 10.

 

Midrange

The mids are very warm and do have some bleed from the bass at the low end of the midrange. They do sit behind the bass but not deep enough that you ever struggle to hear the vocals. Although the mids are quite nice they are fairly thick and lack some details. They are nice smooth and warm and while doing not a lot wrong these do not do anything great. I do find that the high mids are very nice and probably the best part of the mids with female vocals standing out more than males and being very natural sounding.

 

Treble

The treble is actually rather pleasant and rarely getting to other shadowed by the bass. It does have a fairly quick roll of but the low highs just after the mid to high transition are rather sparkly and the most detailed part of the earphone. But as they move on they do become subdued and begin to lack presence. They are smooth though throughout and never sound harsh and are also never sibilant.

 

Overall

Although they are not all “5 stars” by any means and do struggle in departments such as build and also have possible comfort issues, they do actually sound rather god with a warm and sweet signature, which I have found really enjoyable. They are rather technically good as well just lacking details across the spectrum. If and for what you can buy them for now will probably be around £30 which I truly recommend them for and probably would at the their original retail of £50. I think they concentrated more on sound than a package but the sound is what matters and I feel they succeed here.


Edited by Swimsonny - 6/4/12 at 3:07pm
post #3 of 27

Great reviews! Thanks for sharing your insight on these headphones wink_face.gif

post #4 of 27

Interesting review.  

post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by phantompersona View Post

Great reviews! Thanks for sharing your insight on these headphones wink_face.gif

Thanks man, my pleasure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassadian View Post

Interesting review.  

Glad you thought so!

post #6 of 27

Nice reviews! I always look at the exploded diagrams of the Sony and see the foam in the tubes and always think removing it would make the XBA-2 a better phone by lessening the bass and freeing up the mids and treble more. Seeing as how these should drop in price to a nice level, I might try it one day. I keep thinking it will be $99 and a bit of tweaking will reveal a nice surprise.


Edited by jant71 - 6/4/12 at 2:11pm
post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jant71 View Post

Nice reviews! I always look at the exploded diagrams of the Sony and see the foam in the tubes and always think removing it would make the XBA-2 a better phone by lessening the bass and freeing up the mids and treble more. Seeing as how these should drop in price to a nice level, I might try it one day. I keep thinking it will be $99 and a bit of tweaking will reveal a nice surprise.

That is an interesting prospect, i would not trust myself to do it but if it worked it would lose the dark signature and make them a lot, lot better! Would love to see you do it!

post #8 of 27

nice review beerchug.gif i've ordered The XBA-1 today for $68. since the XBA-1 is a single BA, do you think it would have better soundstage, less bass bloat on mids and clearer highs compared to XBA-2 at the cost flat bass?could you audition both and then decided on XBA-2? 


Edited by hzant6681 - 6/11/12 at 9:37am
post #9 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hzant6681 View Post

nice review beerchug.gif  i've ordered The XBA-1 today for $68. since the XBA-1 is a single BA, do you think it would have better soundstage, less bass bloat on mids and clearer highs compared to XBA-2 at the cost flat bass?could you audition both and then decided on XBA-2? 

Thanks!

Because it has a single driver that by no means says it will have a bigger soundstage. It will be the the same of not smaller.

With the way that XBA series is made up the driver used in the XBA-1 is full range and is also used in the XBA-2 which also had a woofer added. This means that the highs are no different but the increased in the bass on the XBA-2 has pushed the highs back a bit so my guess I that the XBA-1 is more neutral.

The XBA-2 does not have bloated bass but my guess is that it will have more that the XBA-1 as it has an added woofer.

I have only heard the XBA-2 out of the whole line up.

Hope you enjoy the XBA-1
post #10 of 27

XBA2 : J-cord flat cable = not getting them

post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kanuka View Post

XBA2 : J-cord flat cable = not getting them

The cable is not flat like the beats caves or even the TDK cables. Just as a slight flat element to it.

 

I quite liked the j-chore but if you get the IP version it has a y-split!

post #12 of 27

How does the Sony stack up to the FA DBA 02, I own the B2 which are essentially the same iem and I'm thinking getting the XBA 2 because they are dirt cheap here, like (75 dollars or so), do you think its a good idea or I'm better off with my B2?

post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 
XBA-2 are cheap but if have a B2 any day. These really didn't impress me at all, especially after my love of the EX1000.
post #14 of 27

Thanks for the response, I was pretty sure that that was the case but I still I want to buy them because they are 50 % off their price so I want to try them and if I don't like them I could sell them. Do you still own your broken DBA 02 and your R-50 (which are pretty much the same ITEM) or are they render obsolete because of the EX 1000? 

I love your unboxing videos BTW.

post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 
Yeh, could give it ago but if the XBA-3 is also half price, that seems to be a lot better so I'd give that ago.

The R-50 and DBA-02 use the same driver but are using different dampeners and tuning meaning they sound different. They do sound simar but different, I prefer the DBA-02 so I keep that but no longer have r-50. My DBA-02 has a small cut in wire but still works fines, I may get it recabled. As for the ex1000 they were my best but no longer, in fact they are on loan to my mate now. It's my Heir audio 4.Ai that steals the show, truleu amazing but I now have 4 CIEMs on the way.

And keep subbing more to come, glad you like it!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › [REVIEW] A Duo of Duel Driver (Sony XBA-2 & Sonocore Bryan)