I only own the SD3 and H3, but both would be great.
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Gear mentioned in this thread:
This may help:
ASG-2 and XBA-H3
The first track I used to compare these two was Floret Silva Nobilis. It's a test for clarity, detail, bass tightness, dynamic range, black space, and soundstage qualities.
This is my first time A/B'ing the ASG-2 and H3, so the next few paragraphs may come off as a stream off incoherent thought.
1) The H3's soundstage is wider, the G2' is taller
2) the ASG-2 is more refined, details are better fleshed out. Timbre is also better on the ASG-2, the H3 has this slightly plastic timbre.
3) The H3 requires about 20% more power than the G2.
4) The G2 is clearer and more resolving of microdetails.
5) The H3 has better sub-bass extension, but that is not always obvious because the looser mid-bass can obscure it at times.
6) The G2 has a more mid-forward presentation.
7) The H3's treble tweeter is marvelous. It's more resolving up there in some fine details and gives more weight to the treble.
Next track: Djobi Djoba - Gipsy Kings
1) Guitars are more realistic on the G2.
2) There's that plastic timbre on the H3 again.
3) Vocals on the G2 are better.
4) G2 mid-bass is more controlled.
5) G2 has greater black space due to the greater soundstage height.
6) ASG-2 + H3's tweeter = goodbye head-fi.
7) Actually, SR-009 = goodbye head-fi.
Lips of an Angel - Hinder
1) See above.
2) I really like this song.
Overall, I wouldn't say the differences are large enough for me to put the XBA-H3 a whole tier below the ASG-2. No, I'd say they're on the same playing field in the superbowl, but the ASG-2 is up by a couple of touchdowns. For the price the H3 is a nooo brraaaiineerrr. A zombie would stop chasing you to buy a pair of these.
Ergonomics wise, it's the ASG-2 10 times out of 10. The H3 is comfy when inserted, but I'll be damned if I had to do it multiple times at work or in between lectures. It's large, and the memory wire can be an obstacle to proper insertion.
InEar StageDiver 3
I've been really looking forward to this one.
The SD3 is a triple balanced armature phone in a 2-way configuration - 2 bass drivers, and the other handles mids and highs.
It currently retails for 469 Euros at Thommann, which works out to about USD $600, this puts it in line as a direct price competitor to the ASG-2.
Build quality wise, this is a very good looking phone. I love the piano black finish, and it seems they put a lot of work into getting it to fit just right despite its size. It's about 25% larger than the ASG-2, but doesn't even feel that way inside the ears. It may ultimately end up being even more comfortable for some due to its smaller nozzle size. It's really physically reminiscent of the TG334, but even better looking (IMO, of course), and has the advantage of using standard Westone style cables.
As for the sound, this is really one unique phone. I looked into the specs after hearing the phone, and I didn't doubt them at all.
This is one of those cases where the drivers used can tell you how the phone will sound. It's not so much that the bass is terribly emphasized, it's just that the sound is tilted heavily towards that region. It lends to a very warm and thick sound. Though the soundstage is fairly large, the center stage feels quite congested because the mids and bass seem to be fighting for the same space. There is plenty of bleed, and the mids can often stand behind the bass. The treble has just enough presence to avoid being called absent. I also find the timbre of some instruments and, like the electric guitar and snare, to be thrown off by this tonality. Some vocals also come off as a bit stuffy.
Tuning aside, the technicalities are pretty good. Detail retrieval is there, imaging is there, it just sounds really clouded. It's almost like someone tried to copy the FitEar 334, but took a few wrong turns somewhere along the way.
I think the sound could be greatly helped by a few, well-placed strokes of EQ. In fact, I really want to use the same one I used on my ASG-1.2, but I don't have access to my computer anymore.
Now, vs the ASG-2...
Compared to the SD3, the ASG-2 is immediately much clearer in the mids, and the bass is a good deal more controlled. It's also more extended in the bass and treble. The key difference here is just how much more air there is to the sound. The lower mids of the ASG-2 are a step back, and the more linear FR allows for so much more space for the sound cues to dance. Vocals are more holographic, the bass is deeper, with a lot more texture (Party Rock Anthem is a good test for this), and the signature is faster overall.
Wish - The Flashbulb
Going from the SD3 to the ASG-2 produces improved clarity on this track, especially with the cymbals and snare hits. The timbre improves slightly, but not as much as I thought it would, given the sound sig differences.
Limit to Your Love - James Blake
I'm using this track to test for bass control, instrument separation, and timbre.
Again, the biggest improvement comes in the form of clarity - not the false clarity that comes with overly boosted treble, but true clarity (whatever that means). There's also greater separation, bass extension, as well as timbre. Gone is the stuffy feeling in the mids and bass. I could "feel" the bass reach further down into my chest, while still remaining tight and impactful. James Blake also did several voice overs in the vocal tracks, and each was more apparent on the ASG-2.
Thirst - City and Colour
The differences are the same here, but there's the added element of rock guitars. The SD3 tended to muck up the guitars, and just lacked overall bite compared to the ASG-2. Whereas the distortion guitars sounded like buzzing, pulsating instruments, the SD3 made them sound more like phones vibrating on a desk.
I had a few more tracks in mind, including some of the ones Sinth sent, but it would be more of me repeating myself.
Now, despite how negatively I may have spoken of the SD3, I think it's a good performing phone. I may even venture to say that it's actually be priced accordingly, given the crazy prices of TOTL iems nowadays. It's just that the ASG-2 is that much better. Still, the SD3 has a very distinct flavor to it that may or may not be to your liking. I can personally appreciate it, but I feel like the ASG-2 is a much better option, especially when you take their similar prices into consideration.
Carlsan will have his pair back soon, so he'll be able to do his own comparison.
comparison by simon t.
I also have both. Hotel California must be lossless else the cymbals show artifacts. The EX-1000 is sharp as a knive. If the record is bad, it does not hide that. This is a tool for professionals. The XBA-H3 is very forgiving instead. It's signature is warmer and less analytical. The cable of the EX-1000 is better, as is the fit for me at least. It is my first choice for the gymn. It fits me like an implantant. No need to correct the fit over one hour of workout. I lead the cable behind my neck and under my shirt then. The H3 cable can tangle a lot of you don't correct it every now and then.
Don't scare people. It is not that bad compared to waterboarding if you find the right synergy. One thing I like this knife is that it cuts into the micro details as I recently found about it. LOL, just trying to practice my audiophile terminology.
Seriously, the EX1000 has saved my A_$$ and time.
Edited by DMinor - 2/17/14 at 6:32pm
I've been listening to my xba-h3 for the last 2 hours or so from my iPhone 5, so here's what I'll say about it. They get loud enough from there, so I'm a little cautious about running them through my macbook pro, where I'm typing this from.
I won't compare it to any headphone besides the mvc fxz-200s, because I haven't used anything outside of that.
I listen to a lot of rap music, not to mention as a kid growing up in a west indian culture with a lot of giant bass speakers, some would say my tolerance of bass is a little higher than others.
So how do these new Sonys sound?
Well, i have compare these to the jvcs. The thing I loved about the jvcs, were that they made voices sound as if they were right there speaking to you. The music on the other hand, sounded a little "forward"; jumbled. Average separation.
The Sonys on the other hand, carry over that presentation of the voices. But, the music is more separated, and if there are multiple voices, it's easy to tell. With the jvcs, it felt like certain parts of the sound were fighting for attention. With the Sonys, you hear more.
On the Jvcs, sound was always "forward", and something from the left/right channels always sounded distinctly left/right. Almost like it was cut off from the music. The Sonys add that missing part of the atmosphere, connecting the sounds. I'm not sure if I'm explaining this properly. It's like, you can tell the sound has a place in the soundscape, as opposed to it being merely left, right, or center.
And that's another thing: "soundscape".
Not "soundstage". The term "soundstage" is a little misleading in that it can give someone the impression that the music will sound like it's being performed on a stage.
Soundscape is a little more accurate in my opinion. No matter what genre I was listening to, the Sonys made everything "bigger". It gave distance to the sounds. But, it never made anything sound like a literal stage, concert, room etc. The closest song I heard so far that sounds like this, is "Time" by Wiz Khalifa, especially during the last moments ("Smoking weed while I drive"). It sounds "distant" enough, though. It's pleasing to listen to. There are many details that now jump out. Small details.
So, if you listen to a lot of rap, pop, or r&b music, it might be hard to pick up on this difference, because a lot of this music is recorded in a way that makes it sound like a bunch of sounds slapped together. If your songs aren't optimal quality, they won't sound very good. I'm finding that out as I type. Lots of old downloads biting me in the ass.
On many songs I have though, there is a clear separation, even with the "crackling" of record noise. There is space. It was easy to forget i was wearing these things. The sound is distant enough that it does not sound like It's coming from them. Everything won't sound like a concert, but if a song you have is recorded like a studio performance or had the instruments layered properly, you'll hear what it sounds like.
For example, in Billy Paul's "Me & mrs Jones", Everything is happening in it's own space. Nothing is congested. His voice didn't bother me at all either when he gets loud.
The bass can get a little fatiguing from these, so I understand where James was coming from. Seriously. This is coming from listening to all that hip-hop where just slapped together. It sounds downright strange. The bass "tap" can get a little ehh, and the "rumble" doesn't kick in like I expect it to. It sounds perfect on a few songs, though, like "Alice" by Kenmochi Hidefumi. It's powerful. Might have to let these burn in or turn them down. Like I said, I'm listening from my iPhone 5. They get loud. I've removed them a few times though, and I haven't heard any tinnitus like I often did the jvcs.
I haven't done any back 'n forth between the jvcs, because the soundscape is pleasing to hear. It's like that final piece of that puzzle. Worth the money, in my opinion; i literally paid for separation. The actual sound of voices and instruments themselves isn't all that different from the jvcs. Listening to them again, it sounds.. Good. But that lack of separation bothers me. There's not much cohesiveness compared to the sonys. The soundscape is smaller. I get that feeling that I hear something as if it's on the outside looking in on these other sounds. It's a little weird to say, because I love these phones.
Songs I listened to:
The steelpan-like drums always sounded distant on the jvcs. The sonys bring everything together.
This is the first song where the separation was readily apparent.
Same thing. I can tell where the beat, his voice, and the piano are positioned.
Eddie voices. Ronnie's voice. The drums playing. Nothing is fighting for attention.
Edited by BlinkST - 2/17/14 at 2:42pm
I think one of the reasons is because the H3 is made in Thailand whereas the EX1000 is made in Japan?
I did some checking up on these after having them in my iPad overnight. The bass is more bearable, but the overall sound is still expansive and powerful. Listening to "Roll up" by Wiz Khalifa isn't gonna give you a headache, for example. I'm not really gonna bother with trying them on my macbook, for that reason, or go ahead with the tape mod. The sound is suitable as-is. Certain parts of the sound are beginning to stand out to me, like the "clicking" heard in modern pop/rap music. It's overall very pleasing to listen to, for that reason. The songs I'm using are by Fat Jon (As Maurice Galactica), the Mylo Xyloto album from Coldplay, "Daughter Bow" by Gregory Isaacs etc.
Now I'm looking for some IEMs fit for jazz and classical to use with iBasso DX50 as a source. Do you think H1/H3 will be a good pairing, and which one would you advice? And how would it compare with the previously discussed DUNU DN-1000 purely for these genres and DX50?
- Sony XBA-H1 and XBA-H3 Hybrid Dynamic and BA IEM
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