Hi all! I've received plenty of great advice and recommendations here (ended up owning the amazing Thinksound TS-02 and Sony XB90EX due to this community), so I thought I should help contribute a bit and post up some initial thoughts on these two new IEMs I just acquired. I just got them earlier this morning, and I've been listening to them non-stop for about 12 hours now (also left them playing plugged into my computer at work when not in use to keep it going), but I'll also post up my updated thoughts after they properly go through the burn in process.
My first reaction with the Sony H1 was that they weren't that comfortable. They are a bit bulky and square. The also bulky XB90EX didn't give me an issue due to the different, more circular design. I also had to put more effort trying to get a good seal. The stock Sony tips were fine when I used my XB90EX, so I believe the straight ahead form factor (as opposed to the slightly angular design of the XB90EX) puts a bit more weight and pressure around your ear canal. I tried some Complys, and they were better, but I lost some of that treble sparkle. I ended up putting on some Auvio wide bore tips, and even though they are the same size as the stock Sonys, the wide bore opening seem to be helping somehow.. It opens up the sound a bit more, so that's a plus. The Yamaha, on the other hand, is very comfortable. It's such a small form factor, and the double flange tips go in nicely without much pressure. It also seals in effortlessly. The bottom of my ears start to hurt after extended use of the XBA-H1.. not so with the Yamaha. The cords are nicer on the H1 though. It's pretty much the same as the XB90, except that it's black and red.. which actually looks really nice in person. The Yamaha has cords almost like the TS-02, which I wasn't a big fan of, as it does get tangled up more and curls when wearing.. as opposed to the tangle-free and stays straight H1 cords. Both have an L-input jack which I prefer.
Now on to the sound..
-Tracks used to evaluate: Tool - Jambi (hard rock), Two Door Cinema Club - What You Know (indie rock), Cunninlynguists - Stars Shine Brightest (hip-hop), City and Colour - Northern Wind (indie acoustic), Metric - Hustle Rose (synth-pop), Wes Montgomery/Wynton Kelly Trio - If You Could See Me Now (jazz), James Gang - Funk #49 (classic rock), When in Rome - The Promise (80's new wave), Guns N Roses - Locomotive (yeah!)
-Equipments used: MacBook Pro Retina and Samsung Galaxy S3
Bass: I'm pretty impressed. Having briefly owned the XBA-3.. I knew I wasn't a fan of BA's lack of bass. I'm also coming from the wonderful dynamic bass of the XB90EX, so I was worried that this hybrid would not satisfy, as I'm a bit of a basshead. It does take a bit more effort though to get that deep thumping bass to come out, but after a good seal, the bass was tight, deep, fast, and does not distort at higher volumes. I do notice a very tiny bit of a mid-bass hump, but I like it, as it gives it a bit of a warmth. It doesn't go as deep as the XB90, but it's about on par with the Thinksound TS-02 - which I loved, as the TS02 also had that warmness that the low end added to it. The Yamaha EPH-100 goes deeper and rumbles a bit more than the XBA-H1, but at higher volume.. the Yamaha distorts a bit, and the sub-bass just doesn't have that 3Dness to it like the XB90 has. The XB90 is no doubt my favorite when it comes to going for that amazing low end, but the XBA-H1 has a nice tight deep and fast bass that goes so well with most genres. I'm hoping the Yamaha will improve when it comes to handling bass at higher volume as I use it more.
Mids: Perfect for me.. it doesn't get harsh.. it's a bit laid back, but Slash and Izzy's guitars still have that bada$$ edge to them. It's a bit more forward than the XB90 and the EPH-100, and almost similar to the TS02 in that it's tame. The Yamaha is also laid back, and it sounds great at flat EQ. Not much to say about this part for now, as I'll have to revisit as it burns in more. I have no complaints though.
Highs: A bit rolled off and doesn't extend much, but there is some sparkle to it. Like the mids, it doesn't get harsh even at higher volumes. Cymbals and high hats shine through nicely, as opposed to the Yamaha, which has a bit of a compressed metallic sound to it. Although, the Yamaha does have more sparkle. I'm hoping that the compressed metallic sound will get tamed once nicely broken in. Like the mids, I have no complaints, as I prefer my highs to be a bit rolled off, but we'll see if it extends more as it opens up.
Presence: The H1 has a wider, more spacious soundstage than the EPH-100. With the Sony, you have a band that is around you, while the Yamaha has them a bit more upfront. It's easier to pick out different instruments with the H1 also.
As of right now.. I'm really liking the sound of the H1 for its better soundstage.. the sub-bass might not be as good as the XB90, but once you get a good seal.. it really is such a good low end. The highs and mids are excellent out of the box, so I can't wait to see how they open up. My main complaint is the comfort. I really wish Sony had rounded the chambers, as the squared body is just not comfortable, and it feels unnatural on your curved ears. The Yamaha, on the other hand.. I wish has a bigger soundstage. If it did, I would take its comfortable form factor over the H1, as the sound is really quite good also. I don't think my ears will get fatigue from using these at an extended period.. both sound-wise and comfort-wise. I'm also hoping that the rough edges when at higher volumes get smoothed out once burned in. Is it even possible for soundstage to get better as more hours are put into IEMs? If so, then the Yamaha's might be a keeper. Let me know guys!
Anyway.. I'm not much of an audiophile like most of you, so apologies if my terms are off, and that my equipment used are not top notch. Just wanted to contribute my initial thoughts, and hopefully get to update with good news down the road.
Thanks for reading!
Edited by radiohead14 - 2/14/14 at 9:19pm