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[Review]: Sony XBA -4 With ComplyFoam TX-200

  1. BillsonChang007
    How it all begins:
    A few months back, my local Apple authorized shop brought in the ComplyFoam eartips but only the TX series and only comes in M-size. It cost around BND $26 [ About US 20.6 according to XE-Currency Converter] so I decided to give it a shot! 
    I start searching around for details about these TX series and heard good stuff about it! So here I am, using the foam eartips with satisfaction :D
    The front packaging
    Back side of the packaging. Tells you the feature of the foam eartips as well as the compability [not all brand/model are listed so it is best to check on their official website before purchasing! ]
    Warning and ear health as warranty policies
    The tips for inserting the foam into your ears is added in the box
    Before I got into foam eartips, I was using the original stock eartips of the Sony XBA-4 and thought I was quite satisfied with it for the first few months but later, I find it uncomfortable to wear for 3-4hour of listening section. After removing my IEM, I can feel a little bit of pain in my ears and this is one of the reasons why I bought the foam eartips.
     I do not seem to have this problem anymore with the TX 200. I appreciate the comfort these foam eartips offered me but I also do not like the fact that I have to squish the eartips, put in my ear then let it expand (thank you Tyll from Innerfidelity for posting the guide for foam eartips! ). Overall, it's much, much more comfortable than the stock eartips!
    Before getting the ComplyFoam TX 200, I had been switching around the stock eartips of XBA-4, I tried all but none of them completely satisfied me although the M-size come close. It has isolated well but when it comes to airplane engine, 4W car engine, washing machines and my brother's loud music in the car, it is next to nothing!
    On the other hand, the TX-200 isolates a lot of loud sound from the outside to next to nothing or at least, to very soft volume, although sometimes still noticeable when no musics are playing, but with it playing, I really can't hear much! Really good isolation! 
    My rig for this review: iPad 2 -> Sony XBA-4 + TX200/stock eartips
    I usually pair my XBA-4 with iPhone 4 and/or iPad2. Their sound quality is more or less the same although the iPad2 actually offer ted better sound quality. For this review, I am using purely my iPad 2 to review. As we all know, the XBA-4 sound metallic, mellowish. 
    With the TX-200:
    Will first look into the bass. Sub-bass extend extremely deep to my ears and pretty powerful. Very tight presentation. It got even more controlled than stock eartips. There wasn't at all any emphasized points at the bass department, it's pretty much neutral.
    The vocals are less shy! It's a bit softer than bass but the instruments are well presented with minimum sibilants unless at loud volume. Very clean sounding with, I do not find it warm nor thin. It is very detailed as well!
    Highs sound a lot sharper. The metallic sound remains but it's far less and I kind of into this kind of sound. I can hear the high frequency very clearly with not at all any sibilants. [I do find most of the minor sibilants come from upper mids but none at all in the high]
    Instrument Separation / Soundstage / Imaging:
    I can at least feel like I am in the studio, listening to the artist recording their music but not in a huge stage where live performance usually take place on. Instrument separation have a very spacious space although it is not as good as most full-size headphones like the PSB M4U1 but I do find it better than the UE 900[stock eartips]. As for imaging, not the best I have heard but not the worst either. It's below advantage but you really can't aspect too much from an in-ear headphone.
    Overall, with the TX 200 or probably any model of foam eartips paired on the XBA-4 will sound much more transparent. The male vocals sound really real but female vocals tend to sound artificial.
     vs UE 900:
    Before I move on, please do note that, I do not have the UE900 with me now so I can only compare these two by using my brain memory.
    I prefer the UE900 better for slower musics but the XBA-4 for faster music. The XBA-4 + TX200 have much better instrument separation than the UE900, with the UE900, instruments tend to be muffled a bit. 
    Vs Apple Earpods:
    If you are planning to upgrade to the XBA-4 with foam eartips to replace your Apple Earpods, there are slight differences there in which you might prefer the Earpods over the XBA-4.
    You might like the deep and powerful sub-bass as well as the very well controlled sound but if you are true bass head and got used to the mid bass emphasis, the XBA-4 might not be for you as it is more of a neutral kind of bass [not saying the XBA-4 have a very neutral overall sound signature but at the bass department, it is a pretty neutral]. Also, Apple Earpods have less sibilants at high volume. The Earpods are also clearly warmer with a recessed mids. Overall, the XBA-4 is still a better all rounder.
    For the fun of this review, I watched "The Avenger" by Marvel with these. I did note that most IEMs have bad imaging for movies but never try never know. I do unfortunately, find the lack of imaging with XBA-4 + TX 200 I can only feel Loki's army flying from left to right / right to left in front of me. Anything that flow from top to bottom / bottom to top or any other direction, I can only feel it is juking in front of me. Other than that, I can feel Stark's laser beam very powerful being very realistic and detailed[ Or should I say, "I can feel how powerful are Stark's laser beams by just listening to it" :p ). When Hawkeye's arrow landed on Loki, I can feel it vibrating. When Thor uses his "Nokia Hammer" to create lightning to strike on the portal, I can hear the thunder sound "zzz" clearly. 
    When Hulk slams Loki left and right on the floor in Stark's house, I can hear the rock bouncing on the floor and cracking. Very detailed sounding if only there's a bit more of  imaging there. Also, I can feel the energy of Loki's giant soldier roaring. 
    Other than the imaging that I wanted to address about, the vocals of the actors are not natural. When Hulk thought Stark is dead, as he roars while beating his chest, I can hear very minor sibilants probably because it's too loud. That probably indicates that it does not play well at loud volume.  
    Nevertheless, I have tried numbers of headphone and my local cinema speakers, there are very few that offered me the natural vocals. Most of them sounded artificial. The only few headphones that I have tried which does well with vocals are Momentum, K550 and M4U1. 
    Eartips Measurement and Comparison:
    TX-200 [M] VS Stock stock silicone eartips [M]/[Green]. Side by side
    I personally think that the bore is one of the reasons why it makes the XBA-4 sound so much better! So I decided to measure the bore and might as well take a picture. It turn out to be around 0.6cm in dimension with the original Sony eartips at around 0.35 in dimension! 
    Naked eye bore size comparison.
    The height of the eartips measures about 1cm.
    Music Genre Recommended:
    I personally like it with EDM, hip hop, rap and any other genre of music which requires strong bass hits and speed. Recently, I am addicted to metal rock, aggressive music and the XBA-4 + TX200 did great with it. It handles classical, Jazz, RnB music smoothly. Overall, I find it good with most genres, master of some and does the decent / great job with some others. 
    Last but not least, here are my favorite tracks that I love listening with the XBA-4:
    Micheal Buble ft Reese Witherspoon - Something Stupid

    Michael Buble's vocals sound very true to live sound and the instrument separation are very sweet here!

    Bruno Mars - When I Was Your Man


    I can hear every piano key in the music clearly and pretty true to live as well!

    Far East Movement ft Tyga - Dirty bass


    The sub-bass in the intro of this song sound really powerful and tight

    William - Greekin


    This is a very good example of a song in which the XBA-4 + TX200 performs very well!

    Imagine Dragon - Night Visions

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