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Sony Inner Ear Hi-res Stereo Headphone Xba-a2 Black (Japan Import)

  1. Christopher Ang
    Superb Sony Sound
    Written by Christopher Ang
    Published Sep 19, 2016
    Pros - Balance sound, accurate timing, thick vocal, detailed with silky smooth high, natural and warm, great integration among 3 drivers , quality bass
    Cons - Not comfortable for long wearing due to big size , average soundstage.
    This earphone make me realise how good the sound of certain Songs (eg : from Spotify) can be.
  2. sledgeharvy
    These are big but so is their sound.
    Written by sledgeharvy
    Published Oct 31, 2015
    Pros - Sub-Bass, background noises brought out, details, mids, highs, forgiving sound signature for all audio.
    Cons - Thickness of housings.
    They're big but so is their sound!

    Classic Sony style packaging.

    English and Japanese wording 

    Like gems in a ring setting.

    Even the accessories are given great attention to detail. Kudos Sony!

    When it's all said and done, are these absolutely perfect for the sound signature I've looking for? YES!!
    I completely understand why it takes manufacturers a couple of generations to get it just right in terms of sound. Remember, Sony manufactures their own Balanced Armature drives. Therefore, they get to tune it to exactly the sound they want, not just what what Knowles produces or any other manufacturer of Balanced Armature drives. The first generation XBA series were quite amazing honestly for Sony's first execution. Everyone raved how much better their 2nd gen were (XBA-10 through 40's). This new generation is no different. They've really gotten the hang of it down. In addition, know exactly what they need to do in order to get their Sony Signature sound.

    These sounded great out of the box.. The only reason why I burned them for 30-40 hrs, was only due to the 12mm Dynamic Driver, as Balanced Armatures don't require burn in. 
    After the burn in period, the bass settled out deeper and had a quicker thump. Listening to Fear Factory's new album Genexus was a pleasant walk in the park for them. Even listening to bands like Fleshwrought the song Mental Illness from their Dementia/Dyslexia that contains blast beat drumming amongst some of the fastest on a legitimate song, (there are faster blast beats for world record purposes, but that's not musical, nor will I be listening to audio that fast on a daily basis to enjoy. lol )
    The mids are honestly very reminiscent of my XBA-1's they are so forward without being bloated. Granted if you alter the EQ, they will and can be.. which is a good and bad thing. What I mean by that.. some music requires a different sound signature and needs that boost in the mids, while others require just a slight dip in EQ for the mids. I prefer their sound with no EQ in general. For example, while listening to Anup Sastry's song Titan on his self-titled album Titan, there are additional guitar parts only on the left channel and later switches to the right channel. I haven't heard that so clear and pronounced on any other IEM with exception to the XBA-1's. Even the XBA-3's due to the additional BA drivers and no crossovers, caused it to sound recessed in comparison. 
    The only issue I had here was solely dependent on amped or not. Let me explain before I get to the details. Amped: regardless of the bass in the song had, the highs shine through, cymbals are well defined and I can differentiate which ones were being hit and where they were located on the drum set. Unamped: if bass is too heavy in the song, if they aren't dialed back just a hair (depending on volume of course) the cymbals can still be heard and are distinguishable.. However, they have a faint distortion to them.. Like a slight extra sizzle.. And once again.. If I dial the bass back a hair, I don't have that problem.. but hey... honestly.. that's going to pretty much always be the case of Amped vs UnAmped.. In addition, I'm being VERY picky.. however, since I noticed it.. I have to list it as a subjective con.. 
    Most people probably won't care.. but then again.. Most average customers probably wouldn't buy IEM's in this price range.. most average consumers (like my wife) are more than satisfied with her UrBeats, and "Can't tell the difference".. Ugh.. who did I marry? lol.. 
    But back to my point.. Since the majority of us aren't "Average consumers" I figured that we are the people I should be writing this review towards. 

    Dadgum.. Do I have to talk about this??.. lol..
    Okay, so sadly, I turned my self off from these due to this fact alone.. Seriously, if they were the size (thickness) of the XBA-3's I'd be completely fine with them.. However, sadly for my ears, they are too thick.. If Sony is listening to this, Keep this configuration but put the nozzle in an angle, that would make the fitment SO much more comfortable.. They have no problem angling all of their affordable line ups (MDR-XB110 or the MDR-EX50's for example). The nozzles themselves are just right for my ears though.. I had no issues with finding the perfect fit as I always do with every other Sony product I've ever used. 
    Although I have stated they are the perfect sound signature I have been after this whole time.. now I am faced with another issue that I wasn't expecting. The thickness of the housings. For some this may not be an issue. For those lucky individuals, all I can say is get these if you're on the fence of getting them. They sound amazing! Thank you Sony for taking the time to perfect this Hybrid technology.
      Hawaiibadboy likes this.
    1. Hawaiibadboy
      Comply foam tips will take the housing issue off the table pretty much as they just stick out your ear like foam earplugs do :) Worked for me with these...love these btw!
      Hawaiibadboy, Oct 31, 2015
    2. sledgeharvy
      Thanks for the tip.. Pun not intended, but happy coincidence.. Lol... I flipped the Left cable onto the Right earbud and vice versa.. So I could wear these upside-down cable up and still get the sound from the Left channel coming out of the Left earbud.. I am picky about sounds I know should come from the Left or Right, they better be there.. Lol.. It seems to have helped.. Plus helps with Microphonics.
      sledgeharvy, Nov 1, 2015
  3. kongou
    All Rounded IEM, Good Investment
    Written by kongou
    Published Jul 19, 2015
    Pros - Detailed Bass, Good Mids and highs, Good Cable Microphonics (Only if you use the Shirt Clipper provided)
    Cons - Design can be better.. Not comfortable worn over ear
    Not an audiophile here but just giving this underrated piece of IEM a review that it deserves. Pardon my grammatical errors and weird sentence structures, English is not my native language.
    I used to own an Audio Technica CKR9 and found it really good after burned in. But I got bored of it's sound signature so I decided to go for the XBA-A2 because it has better bass quality when compared to the CKR9. Audio Technica has done well in creating the so-called 1st Dual Phase Push-Pull Drivers and I can guarantee that the CKR 9 will be worthwhile if you are intending to listen to music as if you were hearing the performance live. However, the reason why I decided to go for an upgrade to the XBA-A2 is because of a more balanced sound and better bass quality when comparing to the CKR9. Furthermore, CKR9 must be worn over ear to reduce the noise made by the cables when walking but the XBA-A2 has an advantage over this due to it's good cable microphonics with the shirt clipper provided, hence it doesn't really have to be worn over ear to reduce any annoying cable noise. (I am not the kind who likes to wear earphones over the ear. I find it uncomfortable).
    The CKR9 comes with only 4 pair of ear tips whereas the XBA-A2 comes with 7 pair of ear tips, 3 pair of silicone tips and 4 regular pair of tips. 
    Sound Quality Comparison: 
    Both the CKR 9 and XBA-A2 are analytical when it comes to sound. However, the CKR 9 gives off a more brighter sound when compared to the XBA-A2 but the XBA-A2 has tighter bass. 
    The only thing bad about the CKR 9 is that the cables are non-detachable unlike the XBA-A2, Both the IEMs require burn-in to sound better but the XBA-A2 will need an amplifier to definitely bring out it's utmost potential unlike the CKR 9 which can still sound good without an amplifier.
    Will I recommend the XBA-A2? 
    Yes, it is worth every cent for an underrated IEM. Give this 3 Hybrid Driver IEM a shot guys and be amazed by it's beautiful reproduction of sound. 
      Hawaiibadboy likes this.
    1. suitonkaton
      Totally agree with you that this earphones is underrated. 
      suitonkaton, Jul 19, 2015
    2. Hawaiibadboy
      I'm a huge fan of these. Walked into a Japanese headphone shop (they had everything)...and walked out with these.
      Hawaiibadboy, Jul 19, 2015
  4. Hawaiibadboy
    Giant Headphone shop, price means nothing, these are the kings
    Written by Hawaiibadboy
    Published Mar 30, 2015
    Pros - Mids, Bass is same as track master, treble non fatigueing
    Cons - Will edit later ...none as of right now
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    The title says "Japanese import" and I had to an add and search just to do a review.
    I went on a mission yesterday
    I had no preconceptions or ideas except I wanted a delivery of mids like my open back ma900 and bass with force like my sz2000 but only if called upon.
    I want my bass on standby.
    Not pre-tuned and delivered.
    I'll take care of that myself.
    I listened to most all of the major names in the IEM business and had a limit of 700 bucks in my head. I'll go over it for that thing that is just awesome enough to forget about money but I didn't see that...hear that.
    Most of the popular IEM's on Head-Fi when "A" "B"'d were terrible. Barely above some 20 dollar buds.
    The B&O were very nice. The Z5 were not. Bass was over bearing with a flat eq off an X5 DAP with a Cayin C5 amp (low gain)
    I know over ears and that after 350-500bucks it becomes a rapid case of diminished returns until getting to high end planar's
    The IEM world is even more bizzare
    The A2 were clearly superior to the Z5 but the price......what? I had to negative eq to quiet bloat but never got rid of it...same with the A3. 16mm in that config is too much.
    I listened to so many things so many times and the clear winners were the A2 by a fairly large margin.
    The B&O were nice like what I might get my girl and know she'd be pleased.
    I used

    Patrick Cassidy, Vide cor Meum

    width of staging, vocal check

    2Pac- Loyal To The Game (DJ Quik Remix) With Lyrics

    Bass speed,depth,decay

    You Can't Kill Rock and Roll by Ozzy Osbourne

    Everything particularly electric and acoustic guitar...fast/slow.
    I bought a set that trounced everything.  in clarity,staging mid vocal...everything and there isn't even a review on this site for them.
    Bass...if that were it the Pioneer SE-CX9-S with it's exciter woulda been the choice or the Urban Ravers.
    I have enough basshead stuff. I wanted good everything....I found it.
    My 3 favorite Headphones/IEM are all Japanese Import :frowning2:
    Lucky I live in Japan :)
    1. View previous replies...
    2. barondla
      Great review. Always like reviews of Z5, until it gets to the heavy bass.These seem to address that. Any idea why these sale for so much less? Not that I am grumping about it.

      Surprised the store lets people demo IEMs. In the US, hygiene worries always prevail. Your trip sounds like audio heaven.
      Thanks for sharing.
      barondla, Jun 5, 2016
    3. bait oven
      Love your reviews on here and YouTube. I'm just wondering how these fair against your favorite earphones, the Sony 7550/ex800. How does their bass compare (no mods) and do the A2 have better highs+mids due to the BA's?
      Can't decide between the two as they are similar price (where i live) and you highly praise both.
      bait oven, Aug 7, 2018
    4. NickIst
      Hawaiibadboy I'm considering Fiio FH1 (thanks for your YouTube video). Are they durable, there're some complaints in the relevant Fiio thread and other sites. Another option I was considering is Sony XBA-A1, their frequence response is pretty similar to A2 and before I had cheap Sony XB30 which last more than 3 years without any problems. So I'm torn betwen better sound and dubious build quality or better build quality with supressed treble
      NickIst, Apr 17, 2019