Sony XBA 3SL/4SL (and why I bought the 3SL instead of the 4SL) Impressions
Dec 21, 2011 at 7:54 PM Post #31 of 65
Joined
Jan 4, 2008
Posts
17,280
Likes
10,643
Location
Fukuoka, Japan
Here's my review of the XBA-3SL:
 
 
 
Quote:
Naotaka Tsunoda is the first person I've ever met who has the title of "Distinguished Engineer". He handed me his business card at the Fujiya Avic show in Tokyo and suggested I try the new range of IEMs he had designed with his team.
 
I have been looking for a reasonable pair of IEMs for a while. I previously owned the UE TF10s and have a pair of RE-ZEROs, each has their faults. The TF10s had fit issues, even reversed and the bass was too strong, as well as the cable being terrible, introducing harshness. The RE-ZEROs have a lovely treble, but almost no bass to speak of. Every pair of IEMs I tried in-store with my iPhone and Pico Slim sounded wrong in some way or another. I don't need bass cannons. I don't need screeching sibilance. I don't want mids that sound honkey. I like instruments to notes to sound like something other than a flat fart.
 
So, trying the XBA-4 and XBA-3 I was pleasantly surprised to find that, while not perfect (no regular IEM will ever be for me) they didn't seem to do anything majorly wrong. Now having had some time to go over a greater variety of music with them, they do lack one thing: Deep bass. But, as with my full-sized headphones, I can live without listening to club music and related genres when I use IEMs.
 
I almost paid the extra for the XBA-4s, but to get the subwoofer, you get a pair of IEMs which are rather huge, so I went with the compromise. The result is a sound that seems to be a bit distant, especially when I use them with the Fostex HP-P1 and, being a bit bright, I don't want to turn the volume up to compensate for that. In this regard the XBA-4s might have been a better choice as they have a slightly darker sound signature, though not significantly enough I felt (in the store) that it would change my opinion. 
 
Opening up the box for the first time, one finds they have a short cable, presumably intended to be used with the included extension cable, whether it be a normal one or the iPhone/iPod version. Thankfully a "cord adjuster" to wind the cable around is included. Three sizes of noise isolating and four sizes of ordinary tips are included, with the different sizes color-coded to make it easy to distinguish them. The noise isolating tips have rings of foam under the flange to reduce background noise, making them a bit stiffer on insertion. Also included is a generously-sized carrying case to put them in with a magnetic latch, similar to the case for my Plantronics Voyager, but without the belt hook.
 
Comparing them, briefly, to the Audio Technica line, the ATs seem to be excessively bright, though did a good job of making the music sound very spacious. In the end, the excessive sibilance with the ATs made me head back to the Sonys. My only disagreements with the frequency response would be that the usual treble peak may be a dB or two too strong and the mids and/or upper mids needing a dB or two boost, as quite a bit of music sounds a tad muffled to me, though it's hard to know how much this is purely because they are IEMs and unavoidable or just my ears, as I'm not a frequent IEM user.
 
In the end, I'm satisfied for my 19,800 yen. For something comparable from Audio Technica, they were asking considerably more, though the newer Pro and MKII versions have dropped in price, they still want ~$500 for the top-of-the-line models. It will definitely be interesting to read comparisons between them and the ATs from others in the future.

 
This disagrees with etherlite, but I was using different gear. I have an iPod Classic as he does though, which I'll give them a go with later. The only difference between the 3 and 4 are the chamber with the extra driver, so if the 3s sound "dark" then something else might be going on. Anyway, I'll post again once I've had a chance go investigate a bit more. 
smile.gif

 
Dec 22, 2011 at 12:09 AM Post #32 of 65

aidz

New Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 22, 2010
Posts
10
Likes
11
@ digital analog
 
I am also using the comply tips for my 4sl but I insert them backwards. I find that the foam doesn't fold up this way and it does not block the highs. It doesn't alter the SQ in anyway.
 
That's the only way I use the complys with my iems.
 
The stock tips are comfortable but they do make some kinda pressure build up in the ears.
 
I found these iems to be easily driven by the iphone 4s. I think it sounds even better than if I drove them through my t3.
 
 
 
Dec 22, 2011 at 2:25 AM Post #33 of 65

etherlite

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 23, 2011
Posts
221
Likes
21
Location
Jakarta
yeah, my eartips wasn't perfectly fitted, but it was sealed quite well
 
@currawong: I'm not using ipod classic, I tested it with my Cowon J3 & borrowed their Sony Walkman Z-series, both produce fairly same results
 
Dec 22, 2011 at 2:46 AM Post #34 of 65

etherlite

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 23, 2011
Posts
221
Likes
21
Location
Jakarta
this is my short review of the XBA series, translated to english

XBA-1 = balanced, flat and not interesting, details barely there
XBA-2 = dark, low-mid bass was too strong that it overshadows the high and mid
XBA-3 = also dark, strong low bass & high-mid still feel recessed, but it does sounds better than XBA-2, maybe they've got better separation?

XBA-4 = strong mid, although not as forward W4, but it feels just enough. Bass not as dominating as in XBA 2-3, but they got better texture. High also feel just right. Details of all channels is provided nicely
YUI - Rain some peaks detected
Il Divo - Time to Say Goodbye ABSOLUTE EARGASM, in the intro, the violin sounds very detailed, and their vocals are awesome

negative point from XBA1-4...EXTREMELY SHORT CABLE
awcrap.gif


additional: XBA-S65 sounds a lot like XBA-1

test setup: direct to Sony Walkman Z-series, Cowon J3
 
http://www.audiophile-id.com/index.php/topic,12583.135.html
 
Jan 6, 2012 at 3:37 PM Post #36 of 65
Joined
Jan 4, 2008
Posts
17,280
Likes
10,643
Location
Fukuoka, Japan
I think the intent of the very short cable is that it always used with one or another extension.
 
Jan 16, 2012 at 7:03 AM Post #37 of 65

Amarphael

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Posts
1,240
Likes
40
Quote:
 The only difference between the 3 and 4 are the chamber with the extra driver, so if the 3s sound "dark" then something else might be going on. Anyway, I'll post again once I've had a chance go investigate a bit more. 
smile.gif



That prolly has something to do with the 12ohms nominal impedance, Did you try them out from something more mainstream yet?
 
And I'm guessing that the nozzle upward mounting prevents from wearing them over the ear comfortably right...?
 
 
Jan 16, 2012 at 8:23 AM Post #38 of 65
Joined
Jan 4, 2008
Posts
17,280
Likes
10,643
Location
Fukuoka, Japan
They do get a bit of a bass boost going from using them straight out of my iPhone to using them with the Pico Slim or another amp. That might explain much. I didn't feel I gained anything particular using an amp with them, but actually prefer the result straight out of the 4S, so, if anything, that makes me more pleased.
 
Jan 16, 2012 at 12:28 PM Post #39 of 65

Amarphael

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Posts
1,240
Likes
40
OK, So aside from the bass boost the overall balance remaind about the same? That's fine by me, Bass is the easiest to handle via a bit of EQ. What would you say about the mid tone accuracy? Can you compare to say the TF10's?
 
Jan 16, 2012 at 7:33 PM Post #40 of 65
Joined
Jan 4, 2008
Posts
17,280
Likes
10,643
Location
Fukuoka, Japan
The TF10s I owned had a major harshness issue, which required a 3rd party cable to rectify. I sold them eventually, due to fit issues. As for the mid tones, it's easier to say that I don't remember anything negative about them. I tend to notice what is wrong with a pair of IEMs or headphones pretty quickly.
 
Feb 18, 2012 at 9:41 AM Post #42 of 65

kms108

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 27, 2012
Posts
2,778
Likes
845


Quote:
this is my short review of the XBA series, translated to english

XBA-1 = balanced, flat and not interesting, details barely there
XBA-2 = dark, low-mid bass was too strong that it overshadows the high and mid
XBA-3 = also dark, strong low bass & high-mid still feel recessed, but it does sounds better than XBA-2, maybe they've got better separation?

XBA-4 = strong mid, although not as forward W4, but it feels just enough. Bass not as dominating as in XBA 2-3, but they got better texture. High also feel just right. Details of all channels is provided nicely
YUI - Rain some peaks detected
Il Divo - Time to Say Goodbye ABSOLUTE EARGASM, in the intro, the violin sounds very detailed, and their vocals are awesome

negative point from XBA1-4...EXTREMELY SHORT CABLE
awcrap.gif


additional: XBA-S65 sounds a lot like XBA-1

test setup: direct to Sony Walkman Z-series, Cowon J3
 
http://www.audiophile-id.com/index.php/topic,12583.135.html


you probable got the short lead version as SL, which comes with the 0.6m lead + extention cable, you should of got the LP version with 1.2m lead, but probable the SL version aren't readly available around the world, probably only japan sells this one, in hong kong we only got the 1.2m and mic version.
 
 
 
Feb 19, 2012 at 8:16 AM Post #43 of 65
Joined
Jan 4, 2008
Posts
17,280
Likes
10,643
Location
Fukuoka, Japan


Quote:
inoffensive is nice for a start... Just to give me some clue, wrt to Sony's full-size cans would you say the mids tonality is closer to SA5000 or Z1000's? 


Neither. I remember the Z1000s as being very mid-forward, more like ER-4s and can only remember the SA5000s as being mostly treble. 
 
Ok, dug them out again. I'd say the overall sound signature is slightly V-shaped listening to Fatou, so she sounds a few feet back, with a little sibilance and the bass guitar coming through a bit too strongly when using an amp -- it's not as strong directly out of my iPhone. That likely contributes to the sense of space they give.
 
Feb 19, 2012 at 3:36 PM Post #44 of 65

KarmaIncluded

New Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 15, 2011
Posts
22
Likes
14
Hi Guys
 
I recently heard the XBA-3 with my HTC desire through Headroom desktop amp.
 
My impression was that they had very good detail in the highs. I'm hearing things I didn't hear with other IEM. Sufficient bass, lacking a bit mid/low-mid. But in general it seemed that the frequency response fits nicely with the U shaped figure with peak around 2.3 kHz.
 
Overall I would say they give really good details. But I felt a little distanced from the music. I can't say why, because the frequency response seemed to be perfect. To me they sound cold and analytical.
 
Feb 22, 2012 at 5:44 AM Post #45 of 65

halcyon83

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 16, 2007
Posts
4
Likes
0
Quote:
Originally Posted by takoyaki7 

 Just had another try of the XBA3/XBA4 at Bic Camera today and ended up picking up the XBA-4SL.
   I was actually prepared to purchase the 3's, as they were both cheaper, and have gotten lots of positive praise here and in the Endagadget review...
 
The XBA-3 definitely have a nice smooth and liquid sound, and I could definitely have picked them up as well as they are worthy IEMs...
 
However, in my extended A/B session, the XBA-4SL REALLY seemed to have a more-open sound, show more details, and especially were a bit more mid-forward.
 
The XBA-3 were nice and smooth, but every time I went back and forth, I felt like there was something missing, sort of the like the difference between many 2/3 driver IEMs (like W2/W3 or SE425/SE535 for example)
 
  I overall found the XBA-4 to be more vibrant, "edgy" and especially more "live" sounding. I found them more engaging and in-your-face. The XBA-3 may be a more relaxing listen (and less exposing of poor recordings/encodings), but the XBA-4 seemed much more fun.

 
Recently, I tested the XBA-3 and XBA-4. And I have a similar feeling as the quoted comment.
 
For me, XBA-4 bass is definitely punchier, slightly deeper and have more clarity than XBA-3.
And XBA-4 high also seems have slightly more charity than XBA-3.
But, at the same time, XBA-4 mid is more dense, forward than XBA-3, which annoyed me lot.
 
I prefer a less mid-forward sound, so I trade off some bass puchiness and details to vote for XBA-3.
XBA-3 is a more easygoing and less fatigue IEM(in terms of size, sound signature, price), but u will feel something could be better everytime when u are listening.
 
Choosing XBA-3 or XBA-4 is really depends on music preference.
 
Looking forward to have their frequency response charts to adjust them more precisely.
normal_smile%20.gif

 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top