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Trying to choose between Shure SE series or the Sony XBA series

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hi there guys,

 

I am new to this forum and I stand here humbly asking for your valuable opinion.

 

My first and only pair of headphones were Skullcandy Skull Crushers (I know, I'm sorry, but I was still a teenager then.. :P), have had them for 6 years, they finally started to crap out, so time to move on.

 

I almost fell for the beats by dre, but I'm not the wealthiest man so before I spend my money on luxuries I always force myself to hold off for at least a few weeks, during which I do as much research as I can.

 

Not surprisingly I found very compelling evidences online suggesting that beats by dre are mostly cosmetic and branding, and I also stumbled upon this site (thank god).

 

Reading through a lot of posts and threads from this website (which by the way, opened my eyes and ears) I am very sold on switching from over the ear headphones to IEMs and I have my heart set on either the SHURE SE series or the SONY XBA series.

 

In my country they are priced as the following:

 

SE-215-----$189

SE-315-----$299

SE-425-----$399 (my absolute budget limit)

SE-535-----$699

 

XBA1--------$100

XBA2--------$200

XBA3--------$300

XBA4--------$400 (my absolute budget limit)

 

The reason I can't choose between the two is because my limited knowledge tells me that, the more speakers you have in your setup (in this case, in each ear piece), the less frequency range each speaker will have to produce, therefore resulting in better sound (that is why we have sub-woofers for bass and tweeters for highs right?)-----------going by this rule, I shall choose the XBA4, which for the same price packs twice the number of BA drivers as SE-425.

 

But my head is also telling me that Sony is a big brand and I am paying for the branding (not as bad as beats by dre, but still to a certain degree), which is the last thing I want to spend money on, also I really liked the detachable cable and the ergonomic design of the SE series---------the Sony SE series doesn't look very good nor comfortable to me.

 

I came across a few posts/threads in this forum, saying that people choose the XBA3 over XBA4 because XBA3 sounds better while being cheaper, others kept banging on about how good SE-535 is, which is out of my reach, but the SE-425 is, just.

 

I am a mechatronics engineer, so I understand frequency response graphs and various other graphics you guys use, but that just adds more confusion-------should I go for the numbers or other people's experiences?

 

The bottom line: I am very overwhelmed and I don't know which to choose, so I hope you guys can help, put yourselves in my shoes: which one would you pick? I would also like to stress that while $400 is my limit, I would rather spend less than that, I am not rich after all.

 

 

Additional factors:

 

* It is NOT possible for me to audition these IEMs, I have to purchase them online.

* I really like the detachable wires of the SE series, and their ergonomic design.

* My only reference point is my Skull Crushers, which I guess is not very good.

* I auditioned the beats by dre studio, solo HD and the Pro, I was blown away by the studio.

* I auditioned the Skullcandy roc nation aviator as well, I was not very impressed by them, to me they have a very V shaped sound signature.

* I listen to a bit of everything, with a bit more emphasis on pop rock I guess, top hit songs that you hear on radio, but I also enjoy classical as well as all other music :D

* I play all my music through my ipod touch 4th Gen. I will make sure the source is ripped "lost-less" once I have got the new headphones.

 

Thanks for your time and help.

 

Cheers :D

post #2 of 10

Forget about free air speakers. Over ears are single driver so it's relitive to use and type of motor. That said, the XBA3 is only $222 on amazon.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by goodvibes View Post

Forget about free air speakers. Over ears are single driver so it's relitive to use and type of motor. That said, the XBA3 is only $222 on amazon.

 

Oh hi thanks for your reply, can you please explain a little bit more? I don't quite under that do you mean by "relitive to use and type of motor"....how can I tell if the ones on amazon are not fakes? where would I go if I have warranty issues? I'd rather buy from the official website :P
 

post #4 of 10

You can get the se535 for much less 

 

http://www.accessoryjack.com/shure-se535-triple-microdriver-in-ear-headphones-with-detachable-cable-bronze.html

 

I bought the se535 for the combination of sound, comfort, isolation and the detachable cable and i think it is definitely worth it. 

But if you only are looking at sound then maybe there are better options. btw didn't heard the xba4.

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PakoBoy View Post

You can get the se535 for much less 

 

http://www.accessoryjack.com/shure-se535-triple-microdriver-in-ear-headphones-with-detachable-cable-bronze.html

 

I bought the se535 for the combination of sound, comfort, isolation and the detachable cable and i think it is definitely worth it. 

But if you only are looking at sound then maybe there are better options. btw didn't heard the xba4.

 



Thanks for the reply..that is is US dollars tho. I am located in New Zealand, so when you convert that to NZ dollars, its like $800... :(

post #6 of 10

Powerover, you would do well to search this forum on those specific models and get people's take on it. There's been exhaustive information on each and all of them. My take is that the Sony XB-1 are the safest bet in the XBA series for its simplicity for everyday use. Some feel that XBA-1 present a coherent sound over it's siblings due to how the crossover is implemented on the multi-drivers of the higher ups and that it's limited sound spectrum was chosen well by the designers. The Shure represent differences in a small dynamic driver in the lower end SE-215 up to the balanced armature design in the models above it. SE-215 is known as the value king of the SE series. There are differences in it's sound versus that of it's siblings.

 

Here's a few starter threads I found for you:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/608447/sony-xba-series-review-and-comparison-xba-1-2-3-4

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/518129/shure-se535-impressions

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/547048/shure-se215-v-shure-se315

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/526034/shure-se425-or-se535


Edited by FieldingMellish - 8/18/12 at 4:28am
post #7 of 10

Hi There,

 

I have owned the SE 535's, still own the XBA-3 and the XBA-1.  I am with "FieldingMellish" on the XBA-1's.  I have found that while the XBA-3's exhibit a more "high end" sound upon first listen, at the end of the day, the XBA-1 is a very, very good iem for the money.  It does almost all genres well given it's low pricepoint and then some.  In fact, I have found that the higher up you go, the more the iems are biased towards better quality music.  I also own the current (some say) king of the universal IEMs, AKG 3003, and I can assure you that it does not play well with poorly recorded stuff.

 

Another interesting thought is, Sony went and developed their own BA's for the XBA series.  Sometimes, I get the feeling that Sony did that just to mess with the other big boy BA manufacturers just because they could.

 

 

My one line answer would be; the XBA series for sure. 

post #8 of 10

only had the XBA-1 and XBA-2, and i have had the SE425 and have the SE535, i prefer the Shure over the Sony's, as the build quality is better and the Shures sound a lot more natural than the Sony's.

 

my vote goes for the Shure, and the SE425 sounds soo good to my ears, i may even prefer it to the SE535, as its more neutral, but hasnt got the amazing soundstage the SE535 has.

post #9 of 10
I would just like to say that i got the xba-1 from target for 30 dollars. After several months of owning them i would not rate them very well. It does low notes well for a single b/a, and there is a good level of crispy-ness to the mids. But the treble sounds grainy to me. there isn't any depth to the sound either. After tip rolling for about an hour i was able to get immersed in the music using the meelectronic triple flange tips. while immersed i remember being most impressed with the bass, witch isnt saying a whole lot when considering this is a single B/A. Compared to the se-215, i would choose the 215's every time. Very fun and musical sound while the xba-1 is more flat and colder. Just my opinion. Having said that, i am still curious to hear the xba-3 And xba-4
post #10 of 10

I actually am just getting ready to venture into a couple of pairs of the sonys, just out of curiousity. Probably buying one xba3 (From people who I've talked to that have owned both those and the xba4s, say the 4's are better for a couple types of music and particular instances than the 3's, but overall the 3's sound better for all types of music, and are  much more "rounded" than the 4's

Now, to the shures. I have tried 215's, 315's, 425's, (also scl5's which were the dual driver flagships before they changed to the name SE and added a 3rd driver to the 535's) and 535's which were the flagship until this year when shure came out with a 4 driver unit.

To give some basic background 411 on me as this is my first review here. I am a professional musician. I sing in a band now that plays modern rock on styles from pop to metal. Also a college/classically trained 4 octave vocalist. Prior to venturing into singing, played drums many years on the road.

Ok, back to something you might be interested in. lol

Shures.... honestly as far as shure 215's are concerned,  They are single driver as are the 315's, but much cheaper. why might you ask, because they suck in comparison because the 315's are ported, which increases bass and mid ability, and soundstage as well. honestly, the 215's are not better than most cheap earbuds you buy, they just say shure.

So IF your choice was just between the 215 and 315 models, 315 all they way. the sad thing is, they charge you twice as much, which is highway robbery because all they did was port them which doesn't cost them a dime extra to make. I really believe shure's goal was not even to sell the 215's, but just put them out as a comparison to hear how bad they sounded and make you willing to pay $100 more for the same buds but with ports....

My recommendation is skip both of them. While the 315's might suffice, the deal is a rip. If you watch ebay, or go to a place called Unique squared, and use the make offer button, they will accept $235 for a pair of Shure SE425's with free shipping. You can also find them on ebay for around that if you look. It's just that places like Unique are registered shure dealers,  so they have to list them on the page for what shure says, which for 425's is $299. but again, use tat best offer button. Include a note saying you put that price because a friend has purchased them from them for that a few times, and they will accept. Being an authorized dealer, you get receipt and full warranty etc... which with buds is definitely important.

Having tried both the 425's and 535's, I really see nothing in the 535's worth the extreme amount of money they charge. But on the other hand, they hit you for $200 for the 315's and you can get the 425's for $235 it's a no brainer. Yes the sound stage on the 535's is a little more expansive, but other than that, the difference between 2 drivers and 3 is relatively negligible. But again, having tried both, and probably 100 other makes and models of higher end buds, I own 3 pairs of 425's keeping one in my car, one in my bedroom etc..

the main thing you want to do and concern yourself with is finding the right tips, and learning to really seat them properly. Try like comply memory foam (or westone brand memory foam are the same but cost a lot less). You will increase your sound quality far more by spending an extra $20 on good tips and changing them regularly, then spending hundreds on a bunch more drivers.

And honestly once you get to 3 drivers in any brand or style, the difference of more is minimal if even noticeable, and definitely not worth the extra $. Putting 8 drivers in each  side is a vanity marketing ploy, to get you to give them an extra $400 for something that cost them 6 cents to make.

When talking balanced armature drivers, having one solely dedicated to bass, is almost a necessity if you want any kind of volume. but once you get that, unless you are hoping to rattle the windows of the car next to you with earbuds, don't waste you money. Your never going to have that "thump" feeling from B/A because they just don't work that way, moving air. If that's what you want, go dynamic (I'm actually considering hybrids like the sony hybrid 1 or 3 to try at this point)

Get a pair with a dedicated bass driver. Might not have the thump, but that will provide you with a nice punchiness and clearly defined bass, and leave the other driver to give you the crisp, defined, mids and highs, which if your looking at B/A I would presume is what your after.

After I receive the couple pairs of sony's I will add more here, but barring something totally and unexpectedly shocking, My advice is go with the SE425's. At $235, you can't go wrong. You will hear everything your hoping to hear, and they are flexible and able to handle enough of everything to EQ what ever type of music you listen to, to sound like you want it to. I have more types of earbuds, an entire stacked room of speakers ranging from line arrays, 2000 watt JBL and EV's to high fi's and flat response studio monitors, as well as many, many over the ear phones, and when I want to just jam out riding down the road, my car stereo is off, my mp3 player is on, and my 425's never fail to bring a smile to my face!.

Now that I've written a book of which you've probably gotten board and stopped reading on,,,, IF you are still here, I should also add, that if extreme bass or really loud, make your ears bleed volumes, out of your buds is not your concern, and you just want extremely crisp, quality sound, about 7 or 8 months ago, I bought a new pair of MEElectronics 161A single B/A driver buds for around $50 or $60, that for just pure sound quality, sound as good or better than anything I've heard. the volume level is limited a little bit because one driver, and you get very good punchy bass, but just not extreme levels of it. If they were constructed to take the rigors of road use, more styles of available tips and you could get a bit more volume to compete with the drums and screaming fans etc...... I'd dump  even the shures.

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