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[Review] of the Sony XBA H3

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 

I would put this in the H1 H3 thread but I thought get a march on the grande fromages and treat you to the amateur version first. The only other top ender IEM I've heard is a Shure, and that was 10 years ago, though i fear no comers with my exp of the Sony ear bud sound.


The packaging is fairly basic, and well behind the UE 900 case. It is a simple zip box, like the 90's ( xb 90 ex),with a little more padding, but it still needs careful storage to avoid a bulge. You get the usual tips, a few more than normal, and that's it. Sony's strength is the chunky connection, they have proven durability, and this is the best one yet. Neither do I have a problem with the plastic buds, they know their plastic. The main wire is quite thin, but the end is metal, and a 3mm ridge stops it going all the way into the DAP, a nice touch.I am using motr DAP's; a Walkman with DSEE on 128 kbps, a class leading DAB walkman- not Sony- and my basic no frills netbook. It has a 1 year guarantee. The rest you know.


Despite it's 40 ohms, it likes it's little Sony brethren, and deigns to do a spiffing job with 128kbps and performs with aplomb on all three devices. It's best as a home or walking/commuting iem, there is some wind noise when cycling. It is very comfortable and gives a non fatiguing sound. I cannot detect any sibilance, distortion or grain, so you get a warm relaxing presentation. If it does have the driver from the ex 1000, this really shows, and it is seamless with it's BA's, which suggests you get rich dividends across bass middle and high's. Some have noted a tinge bass wise, but there is no over extension or roll off, it's goes deep but cleanly, and I'm a bit of a bassist anyway.The sound stage is vast, gives realism, your in the studio, and I've even been scared- I was dozing listening to 'The rite of spring' and a dramatic passage made me think somebody had burst into my room. The detail is brilliant, I even enjoyed a rap hour on the radio, and I normally hate rap. Transients too are given full respect, and the whole stage is presented to you on an ermine plate- you have to go looking a bit with the 90.It organizes a song throughout with all the trimmings, regardless of the style. Timbre is out there too, the way Tori Amos emotes at the end of some of her songs is fully realized. I would signal out jazz but's it's great with everything. It doesn't boast about it's full rich  cohesive sound, there is no bombastic utterance, it is sophisticated, and classical/opera on youtube benefits from my netbook's power increase; I've got a long way to go before I find ceiling strain.


A co owner of this with an ex 1000 prefers the H3. That's fairly high praise. I find it to be a mature hybrid, not a learning curve product as the XBA's so blatantly were, and it will only get better when introduced to cafe society and a three month burn in. I'm too busy enjoying it to reflect on liquidity, but it must be there, there is not an atom of dryness or Mr trebbly webbly, or harshness, metallic or otherwise. It is too entertaining to be classed as a strict studio monitor, though I have 'phones that provide that. It is no flashy showman, so it doesn't suffer at all in comparison. It ticks all the boxes for the sound I like and was hoping for, and the bass isn't oppressive, though a strict purist might find some fault, I simply can't. I doubt I'll ever hear a JH 13/16/Roxanne etc, but I feel it's honestly aimed at the CIEM crowd all the same. There was some worry that it's stellar driver would drown out the BA's, or cost some fall off in clarity, but it doesn't. 


So to sum up, I feel this is a genuine top end IEM, though perhaps all IEM's at £300 plus offer their own unique tale SQ wise, this is the perfect one for me.I am Sony biased, but even so, it is far ahead of my other buds. 

post #2 of 36

Thanks for the review Jackson 6 :-), good idea in posting your impressions here. The H1 & H3 thread has valuable insights from seasoned head-fiers, but, time consuming to go through all the pages.


Just wanted to inform, current and potential H3 owners, that there are aftermarket cables and foam tips compatible for the H3.


During my business trip, I managed to purchase an aftermarket cable for the H3 (cables for Shure IEMs, SE535/SE425 and etc.) and some Comply foam tips (I went for the T200 series (medium), best fit for my ear canals. However, Comply has yet to update their website to include H3 compatibility).



The H3 sound even better... :-P, although, the cable is not as comfortable as the original H3 (red/black cable).




post #3 of 36
Thread Starter 

Your welcome! And thanks Simon for the other ideas..

post #4 of 36

nice post

post #5 of 36

Thanks for the review, I'm interested in these earphones.


What is "Mr. trebbly webbly"? Is that a harsh treble? Does the h3 have appropriate brightness or is it a bit dark sounding?

post #6 of 36
Thread Starter 

Mr Trebbly is Mr XBA -1, or an un amped HD 800. It's not dark sounding, just fulsome across the bands. If the song has treble, you'l get it, but the mids and bass won't be squashed at the same time. Hazy thinness is it's eternal enemy. I have nothing against an amped HD 800 by the way.

post #7 of 36
How do cymbals sound with H3, would you say?

Do you get the proper brightness of violins and brass?
post #8 of 36
Thread Starter 

Classical is just as good as jazz, so no worries with cymbals and violins; I was listening to the Kronos quartet last night, and the interplay was excellently marshaled, then it went all electronica, and boy does this lad holograph, simply vast oodles of pips squeeks and whistles, transients galore, and it was all there on a plate, from all angles and timbre needs.Speed is remarkable, but it's in a Dean Martin lounge singer style, which seems an anomaly but a nice one. Vocals are superb as well.


I am honestly trying to find a chink. Haven't tried skiffle yet.

post #9 of 36

Thanks, this sounds like it's worth checking out. Have you tried blocking the vents with a little tape, as has been suggested?


I still think it's hilarious you've named one of your old earphones "Mr. Trebbly-Webbly".


You must have an awesome name for your cat, nickname for your significant other, etc.

post #10 of 36
Thread Starter 

I was going to call it Mr Throwwy in the Binny, but I keep it for that special one dimensional treble sound that we all crave from time to time, when we've had enough of sound stages and all that mids n' bass mullarky.

post #11 of 36

Any direct comparison with the famous EX1000?

What is the better IEM in regard to soundstage, separation and vocals?



post #12 of 36
Thread Starter 

Hi G, thanks for your comments. I haven't heard the ex 1000, but most say the H3 is quite near and one or two better. It's the current TOTL sony IEM, and it's a third of the price of the EX1000, which still remains a great IEM all the same.

post #13 of 36
Originally Posted by Jackson 6 View Post

Hi G, thanks for your comments. I haven't heard the ex 1000, but most say the H3 is quite near and one or two better. It's the current TOTL sony IEM, and it's a third of the price of the EX1000, which still remains a great IEM all the same.

That's what I thought,
Price to performance ratio the H3 is probably a better deal. Cheaper new than the EX1000 used... smily_headphones1.gif

post #14 of 36


Edited by AlexRoma - 5/3/14 at 10:34am
post #15 of 36
Thread Starter 

An i pod is just below the threshold for it's performance strata sadly.

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