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Sony Xba100 Q [Sealed Inner-ear Receiver Balanced Armature Driver Unit Mounting] Japan Import

  • Linear drive balanced armature./Sound conduit and housing are made of brass.It realizes a clear sound. /Direct drive structure./Serrations cable to be less entangled.

Recent Reviews

  1. Redcarmoose
    Endgame IEM Sound From Sony For $59.40
    Written by Redcarmoose
    Published Jan 8, 2017
    Pros - Fun, Fast, Real and Transparent
    Cons - Missing Just A Little Sub-Bass And Bass Extension

    A lot of reviews for new audiophile products are simply blowing smoke, this is true. And it's simply surreal to think a $59.40 IEM could keep enthusiasts quiet and happy for years and years. While the Sony XBA-100s are not going to work for the EDM bass-head, they may work for most, excelling with spectacular imaging and delivering all the vocal quality and exquisite detail anyone could ever ask for.

    Sony XBA-100 Balanced Armature Headphones
    An Import Only Sony Product
    A review by Redcarmoose Features:

    Enjoy crystal clear and profound vocal sound
    Full range Balanced Armature driver
    Double Layered Housing
    Noise-Blocking design and various ear-bud sizes
    Ultra-small body
    Serrated cord

    Type Closed
    Driver Unit Balanced Armature
    Frequency Response 5-25,000Hz
    Sensitivity 105dB/mW
    Impedance (at 1 kHz) 16 Ω
    Cable 1.2m, Silver Coated OFC Litz Wire, Y-Type
    Plug L-shaped Gold-plated Stereo Mini
    Approx. Weight (excl. cable) 4g

    Funny, I just walked into a store and plunked-down $100 on these. I had never heard them but read enough reviews to guess they would be something I'd like. My gut instinct also told me I was going to love what they do.

    I did have a slight fear. To tell you the truth I was simply worried they may sound like all the modern day ($35-$300) Sony consumer headphones?

    The 1990s Sony:
    It's a simple fact that in the 1990s we had a different house sound from Sony. I'm not going write a list of legendary 1990-1999 Sony headphones, but if your here at Head-Fi then you maybe know what cans I'm referring too.

    Sony Today:
    I'm not excited about the modern day Sony house sound, that's all. I can go and listen to a quick 10 of Sony's new consumer line of headphone products and get a good idea of the house sound. I describe it as having "manufactured bass".

    It's kind of like fast food. A McDonald's Big Mac is pretty and has a limited appeal but you may not want to eat one everyday? The Sony consumer line is somehow slightly fake to my ears. Sony's new stuff has all the frequencies and they all feel comfortable, but in the end they don't sound real to me? The bass feels both reserved and rude at the same time. Like Sony wants to get us a modern sound in a not fully committed way which makes the whole bass character feel like an add-on appendage. A pig with lipstick is still a pig. Ya, I just called Sony's current line of consumer headphones all pigs with lipstick.

    Add to this phenomena Sony's modern penchant for plastic chrome both in faux gold and silver. Crazy pseudo designer colors in bright green or muted red/purple and blue? Lipstick anyone? Oh? Ok, I'm not their target consumer? Still you have to wonder why Sony consumer headphones have become a sparse subject of excitement here at Head Fi? We ARE talking about Sony after all.


    The gambit of the Sony consumer house sound is simply not integrated. It's not that their overall house sound is messy, it's just not all that much cohesive. I know they are striving for this sound as it's simply shown up and down the consumer line. You can hear the same character coming from their $40 IEM going up to their bass heavy $100 IEMs then the same signature cross steps right over into their consumer wired and BT full size cans. This sound is no accident, it's a full scale onslaught of sorts.

    A Ray Of Light:

    But..........here, this simple BA IEM goes and retrieves that missing integration in the most profound and natural way you could imagine. At times in life simple is better.

    I want the Sony of the 1990s!
    My solution?

    Buy the odd duck in the line-up and hope for the best. Typically balanced armatures are going to be fast, detailed and contain a nice natural pure instrument placement. Also they typically can do vocals with an effortless purity of character.
    Everything good this IEM does it does with a style which makes it appear to be just the right way, correct. The only way. Need I use the word honesty?

    So that's what is going on with the XBA-100. If your familiar with the normal single balanced armature style then it is simply offered here in a very polished and polite way. Even taking stuff to a new level with a zero-resonate solid two piece brass house for everything to live in. Sony then gets the signal to the BA driver with a serrated and silver coated wire cable.

    So still, things could go the route of sterilized coldness with all these ingredients, yes?

    Let's get this straight.
    Closed .......Totally Closed
    Single Full-Range BA Driver
    Silver Cable
    Oh........yes....It's made out of solid brass...............lol

    Sounds like a recipe for a treble disaster, yes?

    Oh, and did I mention that these are completely lean in the bass region? Due to the missing bass responsibilities we are seeing a plethora of single and double BAs mixed with conventional driver technology. A conventional driver is added to deliver the missing bass frequencies in many of the new multiple driver IEMs. I have the 1More Triple Driver IEM in the mail to me, still I will be pleasantly surprised if it can hold a candle to what we have here with the XBA-100.

    The Issue Of Diminished Bass:
    The bass is simply not here like provided in many full range IEMs. The saving grace is everything else, and I mean everything else pulls their own weight causing Sony in the end to produce one of the most enjoyable headphones ever. More later on how the quality of the sound somehow carries this slightly flawed diamond into the realm of happy matrimony.

    So the burning question is are we still listening to a musical headphone? Are the positive idiosyncrasies going to overpower the negatives?

    So let's get this started shall we?

    Build, Packaging And Over-all Physicality:
    Build: Solid 9 out of 10

    This appears to be the second and improved model with Sony choosing brass as the new housing material in comparison to the original 1st edition XBA-1 original build. Those who have both state that the brass is an improvement in sound character.

    Let Us Open The Box:
    Upon first viewing, the Sony XBA-100 appears to be built well for the price. The almost solid brass construction housing has a nice machine burnishing along with some weight factors even for as small as they are. Word on the street states that the brass tarnishes after time. Cable strain relief shows off well and where it joins the housing appears clean, simple and nicely done.

    The Cord And Brass Housing:
    The serrated cord shows small almost microscopic grooves running length-wise as a tangle deterrent process. The cord is maybe one of the thinnest I have seen, though the sound-quality has won me over causing all build concerns to be secondary. It ends at a gold-plated L plug with nice strain relief. As seen in the pictures the housing seems to be two piece with the round ends possibly being screw-on.


    We also have new Litz Wire implementation reducing electrical skin effect.

    The complete construction fit and finish shows well resulting in the driver coming off as one single piece. Still all this talk of build is a waist unless they fit well once appointed to the human ear. One of the greatest features here is the fit. Sony gives you a choice of four sets of silicone tips and the large tips allowed me to get a great seal right off the bat. This smaller housing form factor size really goes the extra mile to pretty much guarantee a perfect fit for anyone. Only the smooth side of the strain relief has a slight area of contact with your outer ear. The cable system and IEM shape also allow you to wear them either over-ear or in trendy cable down fashion. I also noted absolutely zero micro-phonic cord noise. They just stay in place without need of adjustment or fiddling, a breath of fresh air as far as IEMs go.

    Extra Junk:
    Extras are a cable winder piece and a pouch with a flat spring loaded opening. Due to the tiny cable, everything rolls up well, going into an amazingly small form factor "coil" in the end. You are also given a nice shirt clip, though I don't see myself going mobile with these. They sound the best with my home reference system getting them the quality of signal and juice they need to wake from their sleep. Being they scale up and up makes them a perfect example of an IEM for home use.

    The accessories are sparse! It looks like Sony put their money into sound and build quality rather than silly extras. After arriving at a million dollar sound signature I could really care less about anything more.

    The Listening and Sound Quality Review:
    Sound Quality 10/10

    Well what can I say? You can probably guess these are going to do great movie soundtracks right? Yes, they really do.

    Opera? Yes!
    Classical? Yes! Every sub-genre of Classical

    The speed of response and transition personality make movie soundtracks really, really special. There is just a natural presentation where the XBA-100 goes along providing true-to-life perfect instrument placement hours on end. It's maybe easy to focus and tell about what great things they don't do. At first you think maybe something is being added to the sound but quickly realize your just hearing and enjoying the music for what it is. The process is like drinking water here. Refreshing, simple, mandatory.

    What The XBA-100s Don't Do:

    Nothing nasal sounding here.
    No hollow sounding temperament.
    Not forward or recessive in soundstage instrument position stance, but just right.
    No sibilant or strident treble response AT ALL. None.
    No muddy bass or woolly confusion.
    No sub-bass (of course you knew that one)
    No distortion, though I don't go super high on the volume?

    What The XBA-100s Do:

    Effortlessly reach a fit for optimal sound and stay in place.
    Scale up to show you the potential of your very best source material and equipment.
    They have the ability to still make poor recording fun and musical.
    Provide an audio glimpse of the recording ideas in an optimal soundstage.
    Parlay an exquisite natural timbre of known orchestral instruments being dead-on accurate and true to life. (Often looked for, but rarely achieved.)
    Allows the music to follow at it's own organic pace and rhyme with very little obstruction.
    This IEM just gets out of the way. Offering the listener a transparent yet entertaining window into any sound file played back.

    Sound Quality:
    We end up hearing just what is upstream. Our signature is simply there. It exists in a perfect world of reproducing reality. Vocals are placed right, cymbals stay on the outside in a charming splashy way, still not distracting, though clear. Truly nothing jumps out at the listener and nothing is amiss. It's this subtle detail which makes old known songs that much more interesting. Nuances start to reveal small micro-dynamic volume and spacial clues which where always there but never audibly micro scoped before. Extra soundstage parts like violins in movie soundtracks are surprisingly natural. Maybe due to the un-obtrusive signature the sound quality is not overwhelming at first but slowly becomes better and better with mental burn-in. It's really that flat IEM that does not come-off as showy at first, but starts to reveal an unwavering fidelity later in the most humble and flattering of ways.
    So in expressing what characters they add. Smoothness tops the list. It's maybe this effortless smoothness that is making the experience musical and entertaining?
    So your wondering what I would add in a perfect world? I don't know. This is an IEM which you would end up loving for it's character. Not a total lack of warmth, and definitely more warmth than you would guess by reading all this. Still it's doing all this in the most reserved and polite of ways. Nothing offensively wrong going on until you break out the EDM.

    The one single thing else I would want is a tad more efficiency. They really respond well to an extra amp when using a phone or iPod. That said many are going to be perfectly fine using these with home equipment or one of the newer audiophile DAPs while out and about. Being made of solid bass and a totally closed design they offer the ultimate in sound isolation while outside.

    Genres Of Music In Question Here
    Yes, Heavy Metal is still totally fun and entertaining, but once you push play on any Trance or Trap, the missing driving force is extremely noticeable. Our anemic bass response is now to be finally shown in the light of day. But so what? Seriously spending $59.40 for an endgame movie IEM. Spending this much money for endgame vocal, opera and acoustic tracks IEM is nothing short of a profound gift. Thus it's the value here which makes it all workout so well. The charm here is they actually become a fairly well rounded performer. I say this just due to the fact that I presently have a fairly large collection of IEMs with a few that are treble centric and can only be used with a few genres. The XBA-100 actually goes fairly low in the lower mids and upper bass allowing it to be fully used with rock and heavy metal. Typically rock and metal music can suffer lacking driving force from a treble or mid centric headphone, but here for what ever reason we are fine. They literally should not be as musical as they are. In many ways my collection of IEMs is either detailed or musical but here we are given both.
    Get them right here:


    Honestly instruments like piano just flow and remove any question about quality of performance. The detail and layers are all there, with new additions of musical information being added and added. You simply forget about the headphones and start concentrating on the music at hand. Never in recent memory have I simply understood the sound signature right away. If anything they get slightly better over time, though I guess the effect is 100% a mental phenomenon?

    Soundstage 10/10
    The soundstage is nice still not super giant but big. I guess natural and pure would be the definition for the soundstage. Still stuff like microphone recorded acoustic guitars though bright, don't seem to jump farther out of the soundstage like you would think by reading this review. Everything simply has it's place.

    Real acoustic guitars sound normal and not overly harmonic. We are not wowed by an over harmonic response due to an unnatural mid curve spike but possibly shown ruler flat. In all just the politeness of flat.

    Treble: 10/10
    The roll-off is just right. There is this phenomena where you think notes from prior listening experiences are going to be sharp but our performer here just relays the musical treble information. Neither cold nor warm.

    Midrange: 10/10
    These are parlayed as the ultimate midrange IEM. And in many ways they are. Still I have to concur with other reviews which state there is just a romantic detailed midrange. It's not a forward midrange or recessed midrange. It's natural and how it's suppose to be I guess, flat.

    Bass: 6/10
    The bass is tight and fast. It's well positioned and most enjoyable when this IEM finally does reach down and pull out a portion of the lower register. It's makes you wonder if this detail monster only lives due to lack of bass. Though when the bass does arrive it does so in it's own special place in the soundstage. Strangely that little place is so distant you wonder at times if that sound is actually coming from the real world? It's these almost ghost like faint bass responses which surprise. It's like your wondering what's producing that tone and if it is really in the song after all.

    In Ending:
    This is a classy product from Sony. This product has a dormant DNA strand which can remind the headphone enthusiast of times long ago, reminding us of a simpler time when Sony was worshiped and admired for their sonic truth and finesse. How can only a partially complete sound signature be so enjoyable? With a slight bit of bass removed Sony arrived at the classic audiophile signature, but it's a little more too. That signature shows an honesty of intent which can remind the listener of the basic reasons we got into audio (detail) in the beginning. It also reminds some of us how far off course the V signature color warmth has wondered. In the end the XBA-100 uses basic audiophile concepts to remind us why we are here at Head-Fi. Yet the IEM does all this in such a simple, clear and humble way, you can't help but fall head over heals in love with it.

    This review had more reused old audiophile terms than normal. It is what it is. These are bass light IEMs. Get them at your own risk. If you just plug them into a Samsung phone they maybe will not reach all they can do. Apple products will also not offer these the juice they need to perform at best. If you go mobile with a powerful audiophile DAP all will be well. They can easily be powered by most home equipment.

    Equipment Used:
    Rega Planet Transport 16bit/44.1 CD Redbooks
    Monster RCA Digital To Cambridge Audio DACMagic Plus
    Schiit Asgard One
    Sony XBA-101 BA IEM Production Date March 2016




    Hope everyone enjoys this review. Just the fact that this is the place about audiophile headphones and IEMs and the fact that Sony has taken BA technology and custom manufactured a full frequency driver which bypasses crossovers is news in itself. The fact that Sony has taken this new technology and decided to not throw a handful of hearing aid BAs into a package but decided to evolve the technology as their own is exciting. The simple fact that this technology is now affordable is special. If it actually catches on is still be be determined. But history here shows that last year a brass material and metal shop finishing was chosen to take it all to another level. Just the simple fact that there exists few reviews about this innovation was inspiration enough to place this review for all to read.




    Head-Fi Thread

      slapo, Fortheteam625, Zelda and 3 others like this.
    1. stalepie
      Interesting review. It might be worth comparing them to the EX650s as their kind of dynamic counterpart. 
      Is there really no sub-bass when the specs list the frequency response as starting at 5 Hz? 
      stalepie, Jan 8, 2017
    2. Redcarmoose
      There is some sub-bass though ghost like and almost invisible. When found it's charming yet thin and almost non existent. To describe the sub as not owning any true authority in the signature is an overstatement. I welcome the slight chance it will reveal itself farther over time, yet my fingers are not crossed.
      Redcarmoose, Jan 8, 2017
    3. Redcarmoose
      I have heard a lot of modern Sony but have yet to hear their brass dynamic EX650. And your right as the two are both odd ducks in the new Sony offerings. They do need to be compared for better or worse. Nice point.
      Redcarmoose, Jan 8, 2017


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