The XBA-H1 is a hybrid dynamic/BA IEM, with one 9mm dynamic driver and one full-range BA driver. Costs £99 retail direct from Sony, here in the UK.
Just some pics for now and first physical impressions. I have put links to the originals if you want higher res. Sorry about the flash, it's night time and I have energy saving bulbs.
Standard packaging, nothing to say really. Easy to open.
XBA-H1 and pouch (also Fiio E07k and CM Storm gaming mouse). Pouch has no zip (!), just a fold of material to keep your IEMs safe. I think that's a little cheap and not suitable at all, anything can go inside, unnecessarily different to other cases. I'm assuming the H2 and H3 will include something more sophisticated.
The body of the XBA-H1 is quite big, due to the dynamic/BA layout inside. Not too big for my ears, if you have small ears definitely check the returns policy (if you are in UK, order online for 7 day distance selling rule). Never had the XBA-4 (I had XBA-3) so can't compare. All plastic construction, as expected. Any amount of metal here would make it too heavy. I'm not that fussed for this price anyway, although, it will be interesting to see if the H3 is all-plastic as well, considering that it will be three times the price.
Another angle, sharper image. XBA-H1 clearly displayed on the outside. The cable is flat and feels good. Time will tell how it stands up to regular use and if there is a memory effect (atrio suffers greatly with this). Not a fan of the red, I like my IEMs understated and all black.
The 3.5mm jack, very similar to the XBA-3. Pretty standard.
The rest of the package includes extra Sony hybrid tips, with and without foam inserts. Also, a shirt clip (love these!) and a cord winder (never used one).
That's it for now, sound impressions will come over the next few days and a comparison with the Atrio MG7's whenever they come back from repair.
Sorry for the delay, it's been a busy weekend, no hype tactics in play.
Sound update 1:
It's taken a while to get over the Atrio MG7, the bass was truly out of this world. The XBA-H1 is cannot really be described as a bassy IEM when compared to the Atrios, far more balanced. The sound of the hybrid drivers is really something special, all the bass rumble that's missing from the usual array of single or dual BA IEMs, and the balanced signature and lack of obvious flaws that usually plague the cheaper dynamic IEMs. The bass here can be described as above average, only a few DBs higher than is strictly "audiophile", quality is quite good, tracks with multiple bass lines are not muddled or lacking. Dubstep sounds excellent, I always thought this kind of music would be better suited to the insanity-crisis level of sub-bass of the Atrios, but now I realise it was too much. Also, the bass doesn't intrude where it shouldn't, jazz piano and strings sound as they are supposed to, really surprised with this, I can't hear any bleed into the mid-range. Metal and hard rock is perfect, I can't stop listening.
It's tough to review the mids and highs, there simply isn't much to complain about. There are no sharp peaks, no recessed mids, no harshness. Instrument separation is very good overall, maybe some room for improvement in the highs. Detail retrieval is excellent, this definitely due to the BA driver, no muddiness or veil here. The dynamic driver is very well integrated, this isn't a BA+subwoofer deal (remember the super.Fi EB?), it's as if there is no crossover at all. Soundstage is pretty good, not overly broad, but intimate. Definitely a "front row" presentation.
I'm really, really impressed with the signature overall, I can't believe how far budget IEMs have come. I tried really hard in the past to love BA's, tried nearly all of them, the XBA-3 came close but still sounded unnatural and strained. The XBA-H1 sounds effortless, and correct. I'm already looking to pre-order the H2 and H3!
Physical update 1:
Comfort is very good, light and unobtrusive. The size really isn't a problem. They stay in very well, although your ears may vary. Shirt clip + flat cable is incredible, no microphonics at all. isolation is very good, although I haven't put them into a speeding train setting yet, we'll see how they hold up tomorrow morning.
This post will expand over time if I acquire more IEMs to compare them to.
UPDATE 14/10/2013 09:00
Just received my replacement Atrios, they are up for sale here: Atrio M5
There will be a lunchtime shootout later today, I will go into detail then.
UPDATE 15/10/2013 09:00
It turns out that the "lunchtime shootout" was really a late evening shootout, but it worked out for the best, I spent a lot more time comparing and making notes.
There is no doubt about it, the Atrios are only mildly bassier than the XBA-H1, not the earth shattering amount I had imagined (aural memory is quite poor). The XBA-H1s on the other hand are much more detailed than the Atrios, it's really quite substantial. I can't believe I listened to the Atrios for 6 months and didn't notice how much was pushed into the background. I think I subconsciously accepted the compromise for the price and level/quality of bass, which to be honest is still second to none (in fact I came back to the Atrios after selling back in 2011 because I couldn't find anything better). The H1 still rocks pretty hard in the bass department, it should be enough for bassheads, but I cannot say for sure, it depends on how much bass you want.
If you are choosing between the two, and one isn't heavily discounted for some reason, go with the XBA-H1.
This will be the end of the Atrio comparison, they are up for sale here. I cannot pretend that they have the same value after trashing them as above, so I have cut the price to less than half retail, only £60 delivered for two day old Atrios, in the UK they are normally £125.
I'm looking seriously at the H2 and H3, so I will update soon if/when they arrive.
UPDATE 16/10/2013 11:00
Isolation is very good, on par with most BA IEMs and the Atrios. I commute by multiple trains and have no issues.
I cannot see a vent hole.
I can barely remember the XBA-3, so take this with a grain of salt. The XBA-3 was very much "BA" quality bass, better than all single/duals and on par with bass tuned triple driver IEMs. There was no comparison to dynamic driver bass, little rumble, deep but not sub-bass deep, if you know what I mean. The XBA-H1 is very much dynamic driver bass, so is an order of magnitude more bassy than the XBA-3. It depends which type you prefer.
Hope this helps.
Edited by evilking - 10/16/13 at 3:01am