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This great post by @dannyvstheworld popped up on the E5000 thread:
Does anyone have the link to within the thread on how to tighten up the MMCX connectors ?
Try the Z1R, or maybe Z7 mk2; though I only own Z7 mk1.
You may just like the Sony sound.
Or for less money there’s Sony’s own MDR-1AM2, exactly what @Nostoi describes. I had the 1A, great cans. The M2 add a balanced cable and the tonality tweak is promising.
Thanks. I've been looking into both the MDR-1AM2 and the MDR-Z7. I had the chance to try the 1AM2 at an airport the other day and they seem quite good. The MDR-Z7 look promising, too. The N3BP also remind me in a way of my DT770 especially in the sub-bass, so I wonder if it would be worth looking into a balanced pair.
I should add - I'm looking for something quite portable. I have a pair of AQ Nightowls, which are good for home usage. And also a pair of LCD2s. I do have a pair of Beoplay H6s, which are nice for portable usage, but non-balanced. So, basically something balanced with the tuning of the N3BP. A pair of 80ohm DT770s is not super portable, but the quality makes up for it.
Depending on pairing, I found the 1A can become an absolute steal (and the M2 with its improvements and balanced cable has already come down hard in price, you can already find it at about the same price as discounted older models in Europe). The Z7 is not what I’d call portable, not exactly the tuning you describe, and with Sony’s PHA-1A dac/amp for instance the 1A is actually a better overall listen for me by a margin. Also lightweight and quite a small footprint.
I have never heard the DT770 unfortunately, and am yet to audition the XBA-N3 themselves, either AP or BP. But I am leaning towards the Final E5000 in the same price range, probably a better match for my tastes and to complement the rest of my gear.
Thanks. I'd be pairing it with my WM1A with a balanced cable. I will likely give it a go. I am trying to track down a PHA-2A, they seem rather hard to obtain in Europe.
Off topic, I see you're in Paris so will likely know the Audio Garden shop. Is it still open? Last I heard, they closed rather unceremoniously (I used to live nearby).
Z7 (first version at least) isn't really portable depending on what you need- big and has some large vents so no isolation, and IMO likes an amp. Obviously in terms of actual listening and presentation they are incomparable. In signature I think it might have some philosophical similarities to n3 (deep bass emphasis, somewhat recessed sounding midrange, relatively relaxed treble without losing detail)- However, IMO Z7 has a softer bass attack while it peaks up higher towards treble than N3, while N3's peak is closer to presence range (why I think some of us described it as "dark/relaxed V signature"). So n3 is a bit better with vocals, but not as pleasant in details, has IMO better overall balance for listening to a wide variety of music at the risk of being too sedate and a little off-timbre (this seems to be a thing with sony's BA iems, at least the 3 i've heard). OTOH, z7 can get more wonky/inaccurate sounding in mids, but with more realistic timbre & better detail if that makes any sense.
Also I've only heard a little but if you really favor the nightowl the z7 might give you some icepick->ear feelings from upper mids/lower treb , albiet relatively gentle about it.
Ah yes, the PHA-2A... I would love to hear its balanced out. It’s just not distributed at all over here for an unfathomable reason.
Funny, the Audio Garden shop was a 2 minute walk from my new gym! I tried to go not long ago but it’s closed, yes. It’s a Thai restaurant now. They were supposed to open a new location but that fell through and their lease expired, so they’re just online now. Not sure how active they really are anymore. Shame, they had some interesting, hard-to-find items.
That is a shame about Audio Garden. I left Paris just as they were having difficulties in the 9th, having moved not long before from just off Rue des martyrs. Nice guys, too. A shame.
BTW, someone had brought this to my attention - https://penonaudio.com/oriolus-ba300s.html which might be a nice alternative to the balanced connection on the PHA-2A.
Still rocking my N3's with the PHA-2A. It deserves no less, on hi gain. Wasted on a smartphone etc.
If you or anyone else is interested I have a Sony PHA-2A for sale for 400 euros incl. shipping in Europe. I’ve used it a handful times and bought it back in July 2018. PM if anyone is interested. I can of course send pictures or make an ad here in the sales forum.
Thanks, I actually just went ahead and bought the Oriolus BA300s, but I'll keep your Sony in mind if I have the budget for it. What did you pair it with if I may ask?