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Sony's New 2014 flagship IEM - XBA Z5 - Page 36

post #526 of 3809
Quote:
Originally Posted by foresme View Post
 

I just got mine. I don't even know what to say. I am disappointed though.

 

This isn't a review so much as a gut feeling. I'm kind of a loner in my audio pursuits so I'm not well versed on terminology. And I don't have a wide range of experience. I've been using Shure 535s for a few years now and the 315s for a couple of years prior to those. I've just been plagued with the connection problems ever since I upgraded to the 535s and I'm tired of it so I decided to look for a change. Oh, and I've been using the TTVJ slim amp during all that time.

 

First thing I did was throw on Marvin Gaye's What's Going On album. There's so much going on right out of the gate with that album with all the layers of vocals, the walking bass, the strings, etc. With the Shures everything is crystal clear. You can hear all the voices talking behind him, his second vocal track dances around with his main track, the bass, while not pronounced, is still punchy. With the Z5s most of the vocals outside his main track are almost gone. Those that are audible feel lackluster. The strings seem blurred and the bass is fuzzy as hell and overwhelms the background vocals. I tried playing with the levels and I could get a bit more clarity out of the mids but not fully. Besides, I prefer to have those flat which works fine for my 535s and works great for my Grado PS1000s. Even with different settings I couldn't get anything to sound as clear.

 

Next I tried ZZ Top's First Album. The thing I love about that album, particularly the first two tracks, is the clarity of his guitar. I play myself and with the 535s it sounds like I'm in the same room as a guy with a guitar and amp. With the Z5s it sounds like he's in the next room through wall and I have a muddy sock around my head. I mean, the fuzz on his guitar sounds like it has fuzz, (as does his voice a bit).

 

Miles Davis' Kind of Blue is a little better over all when the full band is in swing but the opening is shot to pieces. With the Shures you can practically feel Chamber's fingers on the strings of his double bass. On the Z5s that level clarity is gone. Worst of all the bass overwhelms the Evan's piano just enough that they bleed together in the intro. It almost sounds like a production error.

 

Just to check the bass heavy angle I threw on Guru's Jazzmatazz, Vol 1. and they seem a lot better suited for Hip Hop. With the 535s I always felt there was too much space between his vocals and the music. His delivery could sound flat and disconnected from the funky grooves. With the Z5s the bass fills out that space and his voice floats on top of it. It feels much more engaging. DJ Qbert's Wave Twisters felt a lot more engaging as well with all the cuts more rounded out.

 

I didn't try any of my classical but since I love guitar driven music I did put on Son House. Just him and his National. With the Z5s it just lost all its life. Again the Shures more faithfully reproduce the sound of being there with the guitar.

 

So, any advice? My gut says return them pronto but I did order the MUC-M12SM1 OFC cables but they won't get here for a few weeks. Does anyone think those might make the difference I'd need?


Burn-in till 200 hrs at least and review again. The sound signature of Z5 is definitely different from 535, like or not like it really depends on personal preference sometimes :confused_face:. According to one of the head-fi forum of China, a guy there revealed that the clarity of Z5 improves a lot after 200 hrs of burning. Let's give it a chance!

post #527 of 3809
Quote:
Originally Posted by lomenhk View Post
 


Burn-in till 200 hrs at least and review again. The sound signature of Z5 is definitely different from 535, like or not like it really depends on personal preference sometimes :confused_face:. According to one of the head-fi forum of China, a guy there revealed that the clarity of Z5 improves a lot after 200 hrs of burning. Let's give it a chance!

The same happened to me with my XBA-H3, at first listen i was like ughhhhhh damn!, but after a week they started to sound much better and i cna say now 3 months with them i love them a lot

post #528 of 3809

Interesting. What was the source?

Sometimes people insert very expensive headphones into iphones or similar and say that it does not sound as expected.

To get a really great sound out of H3 I use a portable amp, for instance.. 

post #529 of 3809
Quote:
Originally Posted by foresme View Post
 

I just got mine. I don't even know what to say. I am disappointed though.

 

This isn't a review so much as a gut feeling. I'm kind of a loner in my audio pursuits so I'm not well versed on terminology. And I don't have a wide range of experience. I've been using Shure 535s for a few years now and the 315s for a couple of years prior to those. I've just been plagued with the connection problems ever since I upgraded to the 535s and I'm tired of it so I decided to look for a change. Oh, and I've been using the TTVJ slim amp during all that time.

 

I think it's due in large part to your familiarity to the SE535 (and Shure's house sound), and how you were expecting a more refined, better version out of the box. I think it happens to the best of us, so don't sweat on it.

 

Like others have mentioned, try burning them in for a while and see if anything improves. Good luck! :smile: 

post #530 of 3809
Quote:
Originally Posted by foresme View Post
 

I just got mine. I don't even know what to say. I am disappointed though.

 

This isn't a review so much as a gut feeling. I'm kind of a loner in my audio pursuits so I'm not well versed on terminology. And I don't have a wide range of experience. I've been using Shure 535s for a few years now and the 315s for a couple of years prior to those. I've just been plagued with the connection problems ever since I upgraded to the 535s and I'm tired of it so I decided to look for a change. Oh, and I've been using the TTVJ slim amp during all that time.

 

First thing I did was throw on Marvin Gaye's What's Going On album. There's so much going on right out of the gate with that album with all the layers of vocals, the walking bass, the strings, etc. With the Shures everything is crystal clear. You can hear all the voices talking behind him, his second vocal track dances around with his main track, the bass, while not pronounced, is still punchy. With the Z5s most of the vocals outside his main track are almost gone. Those that are audible feel lackluster. The strings seem blurred and the bass is fuzzy as hell and overwhelms the background vocals. I tried playing with the levels and I could get a bit more clarity out of the mids but not fully. Besides, I prefer to have those flat which works fine for my 535s and works great for my Grado PS1000s. Even with different settings I couldn't get anything to sound as clear.

 

Next I tried ZZ Top's First Album. The thing I love about that album, particularly the first two tracks, is the clarity of his guitar. I play myself and with the 535s it sounds like I'm in the same room as a guy with a guitar and amp. With the Z5s it sounds like he's in the next room through wall and I have a muddy sock around my head. I mean, the fuzz on his guitar sounds like it has fuzz, (as does his voice a bit).

 

Miles Davis' Kind of Blue is a little better over all when the full band is in swing but the opening is shot to pieces. With the Shures you can practically feel Chamber's fingers on the strings of his double bass. On the Z5s that level clarity is gone. Worst of all the bass overwhelms the Evan's piano just enough that they bleed together in the intro. It almost sounds like a production error.

 

Just to check the bass heavy angle I threw on Guru's Jazzmatazz, Vol 1. and they seem a lot better suited for Hip Hop. With the 535s I always felt there was too much space between his vocals and the music. His delivery could sound flat and disconnected from the funky grooves. With the Z5s the bass fills out that space and his voice floats on top of it. It feels much more engaging. DJ Qbert's Wave Twisters felt a lot more engaging as well with all the cuts more rounded out.

 

I didn't try any of my classical but since I love guitar driven music I did put on Son House. Just him and his National. With the Z5s it just lost all its life. Again the Shures more faithfully reproduce the sound of being there with the guitar.

 

So, any advice? My gut says return them pronto but I did order the MUC-M12SM1 OFC cables but they won't get here for a few weeks. Does anyone think those might make the difference I'd need?

 

That's pretty much exactly how I felt about the older XBA-H3 when I first got them. Suspecting I might have got a lemon, I even returned them and bought a second pair, which turned out to sound exactly the same.

 

Btw, I've posted frequency response measurements of the H3 and Z5 here. Imo there doesn't seem to be much of a difference overall. If anything, the Z5 look even a tad more bassy than the H3.

 

While I respect differing opinions on that matter, I personally have never found burn-in or cable swaps to make a noteworthy difference with IEMs. However, I've found that modifying an IEM's airflow can have a significant impact on its sound signature, particularly with dynamic drivers. You can find a description of such a mod for the H3 in this post. It tames the H3's bass quite noticeably and makes them sound better balanced overall.

 

Note though, that no matter what you do, you'll never get the same forwardness of mids out of the Sonys that you're getting from your Shures.

 

Bottom line, my humble advice is to return them or try the mod on your Z5. In case you decide for the latter, here's a picture of what seems to be the vent on the Z5:

 

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v70), quality = 100

post #531 of 3809

With respect, I feel your dislike of the H3 is a minority one, but then I have been happily brainwashed by the in house sound, and would no doubt love the H5 as well. 

post #532 of 3809
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackson 6 View Post
 

With respect, I feel your dislike of the H3 is a minority one, ...

 

Dislike is too strong of a word. Phones I really dislike are rare and get returned asap. I feel the H3's bass is overdone and throws their sound signature off balance, but they're definitely worth tinkering with.

 

On my scale ...

 

  1. great out of the box
  2. pretty good, but there's a catch
  3. pretty bad, but can be saved
  4. hopeless case, return asap

 

... the H3 are a solid 2. ;)

post #533 of 3809
There's a very personal and individual factor about what we like to listen to or how we like it to sound. Like others have suggested I'm certainly use to the Shure signature and I know that colors my expectations. I'm not trying to say these are junk, just OOTB they don't suit my preferences.

If I didn't mind dropping this kind of money on assorted headphones for different kinds music I'd certainly keep these around for Hip Hop and electronica. I listen to that as well but I'm a guitar guy at heart and that's where I'm noting the real difference. And for me that difference isn't a good one.

I'll see about burning them in more. I've always been skeptical about that, my Grados and all the Shures I've had sound very much like the day I got them but that doesn't mean Sonys wouldn't change some. Different materials, different shapes, etc.

Thanks for all the feedback. Head-fi is a great place. Good people.
Edited by foresme - 11/22/14 at 11:49am
post #534 of 3809
Quote:
Originally Posted by foresme View Post

There's a very personal and individual factor about what we like to listen to or how we like it to sound. Like others have suggested I'm certainly use to the Shure signature and I know that colors my expectations. I'm not trying to say these are junk, just OOTB they don't suit my preferences.

If I didn't mind dropping this kind of money on assorted headphones for different kinds music I'd certainly keep these around for Hip Hop and electronica. I listen to that as well but I'm a guitar guy at heart and that's where I'm noting the real difference. And for me that difference isn't a good one.

I'll see about burning them in more. I've always been skeptical about that, my Grados and all the Shures I've had sound very much like the day I got them but that doesn't mean Sonys wouldn't change some. Different materials, different shapes, etc.

Thanks for all the feedback. Head-fi is a great place. Good people.

That's what I find they're great for - which is most of my library. Fit is poor for me though. They seem comfortable until I realize that my ears are going sore. I'm honestly not sure how they got to get that Japanese girl to fit these in her small ears .


Edited by xedjflowx - 11/22/14 at 11:51am
post #535 of 3809
Quote:
Originally Posted by qsk78 View Post
 

Interesting. What was the source?

Sometimes people insert very expensive headphones into iphones or similar and say that it does not sound as expected.

To get a really great sound out of H3 I use a portable amp, for instance.. 

 

For most of what I used as reference it was AIFF / FLAC files -> VOX -> USB -> TTVJ Slim amp + DAC -> Z5s -> my ears

 

Guru and Qbert were iTunes downloads (I know, I know), but the rest was the same.

post #536 of 3809
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post
 

 

That's pretty much exactly how I felt about the older XBA-H3 when I first got them. Suspecting I might have got a lemon, I even returned them and bought a second pair, which turned out to sound exactly the same.

 

Btw, I've posted frequency response measurements of the H3 and Z5 here. Imo there doesn't seem to be much of a difference overall. If anything, the Z5 look even a tad more bassy than the H3.

 

While I respect differing opinions on that matter, I personally have never found burn-in or cable swaps to make a noteworthy difference with IEMs. However, I've found that modifying an IEM's airflow can have a significant impact on its sound signature, particularly with dynamic drivers. You can find a description of such a mod for the H3 in this post. It tames the H3's bass quite noticeably and makes them sound better balanced overall.

 

Note though, that no matter what you do, you'll never get the same forwardness of mids out of the Sonys that you're getting from your Shures.

 

Bottom line, my humble advice is to return them or try the mod on your Z5. In case you decide for the latter, here's a picture of what seems to be the vent on the Z5:

 

 

Crazy. I'm not so sure I'll mod them rather than just return them if it comes to that after some more time for them to burn in.

 

Interestingly, when I was playing with the levels, 2k is exactly where I felt it was lacking. Upping that range made an appreciable difference but I still felt the guitars weren't true. Maybe burn in will polish that off though.

 

Edit

Ah, I see it's just a piece of tape and a pin hole. That's worth a try.


Edited by foresme - 11/22/14 at 12:34pm
post #537 of 3809

James' mod is actually super simple and easily reversible. It just entails sticking a piece of tape over the "vent" and then piercing it with a needle to create a tiny hole in the tape over the vent. It should theoretically attenuate the bass, but since most of the bass on the Z5 appears to be focused upon the deep bass, I'm not exactly sure what the result will be. 2-3 khz. will definitely bring stuff forward in a pinch. 

post #538 of 3809

I find the mids take a bit of a pasting, but the sound stage allows me to forgive it. I stopped looking for perfection in mid fi a long time ago. As it's a treble king as well,it's a keeper. While I loved the AK120 DSD at 2k plus kbps, and would no doubt love a Burmeister or McIntosh system,the H3 gives me what i need. I  worked in the Live music biz so that negates the need for Hi end.

post #539 of 3809

I'd give it a good long burn in, if only to burn in your bonce to a different, yet legitimate sound image, and try the tape mod. I wouldn't throw an Se 535 out the door, as from memory I like the Shure sound as well.

post #540 of 3809
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackson 6 View Post
 

I'd give it a good long burn in, if only to burn in your bonce to a different, yet legitimate sound image, and try the tape mod. I wouldn't throw an Se 535 out the door, as from memory I like the Shure sound as well.


Yeah, I'll try the mod and let them burn in some more. Now if I could get a pair of SE 535s and be assured they wouldn't cut in and out if I turn my head, walk, or ride the bus owning to the poor cable fit I wouldn't even be looking for something else.

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