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Sony XBA-4 : modification lead me to heaven

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 

Well, just thought I'd share this little tip with all you owners of the XBA-4s who might be a bit nonplussed by the veiled nature of the mids on these.

 

After becoming very frustrated by the muddiness of mine, when playing through my Samsung Galaxy S3 (international version, which has the 24bit Wolfson dac chip), I sat down today and thought I'd have a look at the filters in these things.

 

It seems what Sony had done - in my pair at least - was ram a lengthy wodge of very thin foam in the nozzle. Not just a thin gauze filter like most iems I've owned (and I've owned a fair few in my time), but a sizeable lump of this stuff. Presumably with the idea of damping down the highs.

 

So, being intrepid, I took that sh*t out and tried the 'phones without any material in them at all.

  

Et voila - huge layer of mud was removed from the mids, and all the clarity and depth I could wish for and a veritable tsunami of beautiful noise was suddenly hitting my ears and giving me a stupid-faced grin.

 

I'm utterly blown away by how good these things are and how much of a transformation there's been in the sound. Instead of contemplating taking them back to the shop, I now want to sleep with them and have their babies.

 

What were Sony thinking?????? 

 

Or maybe its just the pair I got? Anyone else willing to try and report back?


Edited by Canofcant - 9/17/12 at 12:31pm
post #2 of 39

Will report back in few hours.

post #3 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bokyung View Post

Will report back in few hours.

Did you do the same modification? i'd like to see what a difference this makes

post #4 of 39
Thread Starter 
I've now stuck a filter from my Re272s on the nozzles and they sound even better
post #5 of 39

First thing first.

 

Was hard to rip the filters out, ended up scratching tube a bit.

 

Welp, for anyone that's gonna do this modification it's perma.

 

More importantly, the sound is alright. Give me couple more hours.

post #6 of 39
Thread Starter 
Ok, so now I Am running these puppies with no filter material in them at all and using silicon tips I got with some Herman Kardon iems that are just the most comfortable fitting and great sounding tips ever. And the sound out of these Sony is soooo beautiful and balanced and clear its like the proverbial night and day transformation.
As an alternative, the foam filled Sony hybrids that come with the xba are almost as good.

And yes, to add to the previous comment - only undertake this mod if you are brave and fed up with the sound of the xba-4s. It will be hard to return once you embark.
Edited by Canofcant - 9/18/12 at 1:20am
post #7 of 39

You need to say how the sound changed. More bass or less bass? Forward mid or no? More or less treble? We really don't know how the sound got better for you.

post #8 of 39
Thread Starter 
I don't need to say any of that really. That's just jargon. Ultimately, what my mod did was remove a thick layer of mud from the music. It has produced a level of detail and beauty to all aspects of the sound spectrum.

As a previous owner of Re272s and SM3s, along with all manner of other high and lower end iems, I will say this - I no longer want to smash the XBAs with my fist in frustration because I know they should sound better. They now perform like the topend four driver balanced armature phone they are. And although I no longer own the aforementioned models, I now have zero desire to roll back to them. Everything - and I mean everything - is perfect with the sound I am getting

To clarify though - I am using the XBAs with some small silicon tips I had lying around (found these last night and have no idea where they are from but are the best I have tried so far) straight from my unrooted international version of the Samsung Galaxy S3 through Power amp with no Eq and all music is if the 16bit flac flavour.

But like I said, if you are happy with your pair, don't bother doing what I did.
Edited by Canofcant - 9/19/12 at 1:10am
post #9 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canofcant View Post

I don't need to say any of that really. That's just jargon. Ultimately, what my mod did was remove a thick layer of mud from the music. It has produced a level of detail and beauty to all aspects of the sound spectrum.
As a previous owner of Re272s and SM3s, along with all manner of other high and lower end iems, I will say this - I no longer want to smash the XBAs with my fist in frustration because I know they should sound better. They now perform like the topend four driver balanced armature phone they are. And although I no longer own the aforementioned models, I now have zero desire to roll back to them. Everything - and I mean everything - is perfect with the sound I am getting
To clarify though - I am using the XBAs with some small silicon tips I had lying around (found these last night and have no idea where they are from but are the best I have tried so far) straight from my unrooted international version of the Samsung Galaxy S3 through Power amp with no Eq and all music is if the 16bit flac flavour.
But like I said, if you are happy with your pair, don't bother doing what I did.

How is that just jargon? You're suggesting that people alter their product (which if basically irreversible) so that if will significantly lower their resale value, but you don't feel you don't feel you need to offer as much detail about the sound change as possible? Okay.

post #10 of 39

Personally I like the XBA-4 sound signature as is, but when suggesting mods to people I think it's proper to remember everyone might not like the sound signature that you like. For example, it's not jargon to say by removing the filters the highs are increased significantly. Some people can't take increased highs (one of the reasons I couldn't get along with the EX1000, although it sounded wonderful). Some people might want less bass (and the mod does that), some might want more bass. I just think you're asking a lot to suggest a mod but don't think it is necessary to give as much information as possible on how the sound has changed. The sound change could be just wonderful to you. But anyway, that's just my opinion. Happy listening. beerchug.gif

post #11 of 39
Thread Starter 
Yeah, sorry mate I didn't mean to be rude - I just get uppety when people tell me what I "need" to do! No offence meant.

So yes, proceed with caution if you do this mod. But it's really not that difficult to get the filters out then replace the foam to a larger or lesser degree in the nozzles. I have been experimenting a little and found that putting just a tiny bit back in is a good balance between the rich lows of the previous and the increased clarity of the new. And I agree totally - its down to subjective preferences.
post #12 of 39

What would be hard for me, in your shoes doing the mod, is how to explain what it sounds like in a way that others could understand. I haven't gotten the experience to say it's this or that. Though I do know a nice sound when I hear it because it comes across with a certain undefinable something.

 

Even comparing IEM's. I have been listening to the few in my stable and attempting to arrive at distinctions. I can give it a shot, but not with any confidence, or the belief that someone else would hear it in the same way.

post #13 of 39

You don't know till you try. I had a pair of EX600 that sounded marginally better than a pair of DUNU Trident till I took their foams out. I was better off trying it. Sounds like Canofcant got good results. My EX had too much foam inside and I can't say that there are a few pairs or more of the XBA's with the same issue out there.

 

On the other side of it as I like the Senn diaphragm guards http://www.custom-cable.co.uk/sennheiser-diaphragm-guards-cx-signature-20pcs.html

I keep them in the CX870 and even tried them in other phones with good results. Hey, they may work better in the XBA than the Sony ones. They seem to help separate out the layers and image better even in an armature phone I tried them in.

 

If, like the EX600, it is just held on with one glue spot them it is totally reversible and does no harm. I sold mine with no loss of value. This is a minor mod easy enough for all to try to see if It makes a difference.

post #14 of 39

Really I'm only asking about more details on how the sound is transformed (i.e. more bass or less bass; forward mids or recessed, etc.) I still can't seem to get an answer and that's fine too. lol

post #15 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jant71 View Post

You don't know till you try. I had a pair of EX600 that sounded marginally better than a pair of DUNU Trident till I took their foams out. I was better off trying it. Sounds like Canofcant got good results. My EX had too much foam inside and I can't say that there are a few pairs or more of the XBA's with the same issue out there.

 

On the other side of it as I like the Senn diaphragm guards http://www.custom-cable.co.uk/sennheiser-diaphragm-guards-cx-signature-20pcs.html

I keep them in the CX870 and even tried them in other phones with good results. Hey, they may work better in the XBA than the Sony ones. They seem to help separate out the layers and image better even in an armature phone I tried them in.

 

If, like the EX600, it is just held on with one glue spot them it is totally reversible and does no harm. I sold mine with no loss of value. This is a minor mod easy enough for all to try to see if It makes a difference.

 

Thanks for putting this so eloquently.  Those Senn diaphragm things look interesting - will check 'em out.

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