Sony's New 2014 flagship IEM - XBA Z5
Feb 2, 2015 at 3:49 AM Post #934 of 5,648

salanos

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How does the XBA-A3 stack up? Can't seem to find any info on it...

Worth dumping the XBA-H3 for it?


So far most of us here feel the A3 is almost identical to the Z5 with some differences in signature rather than "quality".
Also, if you're living in Europe, someone here also mentioned the A3 is not sold in Europe. Of course there's also the difference in material - the Z5 has an all-magnesium housing whereas the A3 looks like a plastic housing, with a nice looking two-tone finish (in fact I think it looks more striking than the Z5).

Versus H3, I only auditioned the H3 once and really did not like it. Somehow its treble felt too rough and it was really boomy. I was using a F806 at the time, and still on the XBA-3. The XBA-3 has a better sense of clarity I prefer. The H3 display was marketed as sounding like a concert, and I actually have to admit that was true; but not in a good sense. It sounded like being in a reverby concert hall with overboomy speakers. As a result the A3's smoother but otherwise similarly extended airy treble signature is to my taste.

I made the move to an A3 from a XBA-3 (Z5 out of my price range, but maybe I should've looked for a second-hand one?) and it's great. At the core I still say it's like a bassier XBA-3 with smoother treble.
Short story I guess is; H3 has a more dark and bassy-boomy sound with rougher treble. The A3 with its second generation Sony armatures has superior treble and a more laid-back mids feel. The A3 is also airier sounding and clear. Do note that the H3 uses a single EX dynamic driver with one full-range armature, one tweeter armature, both Sony's first-generation "red BAs". The A3 uses a LCP 16mm dynamic driver, full-range, with two armatures, of which the tweeter is aluminum-coated. Second generation "silver BAs".
As said prior I only auditioned the H3 once, and for a short while because I instantly decided I disliked it. So don't consider my opinion be-all-end-all. A3 is definitely worth while, though. Hardly "worse" than the Z5 while being a lot cheaper, but you do lose the prestige value of all-made-in-Japan and the numbered-serials.
I get the "red" and "silver" for first-gen and second-gen Sony armatures from their marketing material. If you look at them, all their original armature earphones show the driver units in red, while second-generation armatures have silver units in marketing material.

Personally I like the "metallic treble", I have a taste colored by playing speakers on max treble with a "loudness" setting on for years. Plus, high hats and cymbals are metal so they should sound like metal.

The A3's difference in signature is likely attributable to the materials. Aluminum is denser than magnesium, so maybe that affects the super woofer's ultra-high-frequency movement.
It's also possible that the aluminum coating on the Z5's dynamic driver also reduces its flexing to make it 'quicker' for a tighter more controlled bass. Stuff like that.

I drive the A3 from my ZX1 straight (not fond of having an extra amp weighing things down), and have yet to try it from my FiiO E11. As far as I'm concerned it works pretty well. But the A3 appears to target the more 'consumer' crowd with its supplied in-line mic cable, so I would expect it to be slightly easier to drive than the Z5. I did give it a short try with my XPERIAs too and it drives decently, but the ZX1 has a superior signature and staging.

Thanks for the heads up although I highly doubt Sony will put an inherently flawed design over and over again in their flagship. If you have ever heard the xba-4 you find that the treble is insanely harsh! iirc this issue has been fixed on the xba-40s so I'm assuming that the z5s will be even greater improvement than the 40s. If the z5 still possesses that unbearable treble I reckon it should cost no more than $150.
This is my thought exactly! Although I never auditioned the z5s personally, from what I heard they are a huge improvement physically and sonically over the xba4s.

On the contrary; I find that the XBA-4/3's treble is to my liking. It's not "unbearable" for me, but I've 'grown up' on that sort of sound. Of course, I realize by now that I'm in a minority who prefers this sort of sound, so I don't blame you. But definitely, the Z5 polishes that treble to a level that is superior to the XBA-4 without being harsh. Indeed, I find the XBA-A3's treble far from harsh.
 
Feb 2, 2015 at 10:25 AM Post #935 of 5,648

dweaver

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I am comfortable that the Z5 is better than the A3 technically but certainly not twice as much and for many the differences in the signature will make the A3 a better option sonically as well.

For me, I did not want the more metallic like signature and so opted for the Z5 and am glad I did as I really enjoy my Z5.

Strangely enough the price actually helped me to stop reaching for the stars too. I simply priced myself out of the game. I still look at other gear but then think, what does that IEM me that I haven't already heard and can it begin to match my Z5 or Z7? I then just go back to enjoying my music.

I have a pair of Rockets coming in some day from Kickstarter and I am tempted to just sell even those...
 
Feb 2, 2015 at 10:36 AM Post #936 of 5,648

jmsaxon69

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Thanks for all of the info, I've been reading through this thread to try and gleam what A3 info I can.
 
From what I can gather if I liked the H3 I should love the A3, it's better overall.
 
Feb 2, 2015 at 11:49 AM Post #937 of 5,648

RedJohn456

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  http://www.accessoryjack.com/sony-xba-a3-hi-res-hybrid-3-way-driver-balanced-armature-headphones-black.html
 
Ordered mine tonight! 
 
Really want the Z5, but cannot afford it...


Nice, thanks for the link! 290 is a great price! If you are american that is haha. Up north its a different story :p (curse you Canadian dollar for being so damn weak. bro do you even lift?)
 
Feb 2, 2015 at 2:07 PM Post #940 of 5,648

aras

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I just ordered the A3s. I will be comparing them to my eph-100s (my favorite IEM) and ie80s.
 
Feb 2, 2015 at 2:32 PM Post #941 of 5,648

ianeith

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so what about the other two A2 and A1 or those are worser in bass bump? for me the 1R are yes warm but not bassy (if you refer as dark as having bass levels like the H3) rather i find them perfect bass and well balanced with other frequencies, at first i hated the 1R LOL now  i love them (seem to have improved with burn-in)


I have received the A1 just this morning. I am still waiting on the A2 and my MDR 1a. I will post my initial thoughts on the 3 in conjunction, once I've received them all and have had some time to listen.
 
Feb 2, 2015 at 3:03 PM Post #942 of 5,648

unknownsolo

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Does anybody know how the z5 compares to UE 18 Pro?
 
I have the sony PHA-3 amp and balanced cable for my UE 18 Pro but for some really odd reason, I have been eyeing the Z5 for few days and wonder how it compares.
 
Feb 2, 2015 at 4:16 PM Post #943 of 5,648

gerelmx1986

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I have received the A1 just this morning. I am still waiting on the A2 and my MDR 1a. I will post my initial thoughts on the 3 in conjunction, once I've received them all and have had some time to listen.

Thanks dude, eager to your impressions on both A1 & A2 and why not MDR-1A, the upgraded version of the 1R
 
Feb 3, 2015 at 12:13 AM Post #944 of 5,648

jmsaxon69

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I have received the A1 just this morning. I am still waiting on the A2 and my MDR 1a. I will post my initial thoughts on the 3 in conjunction, once I've received them all and have had some time to listen.


MDR-1A are awesome! Great sounding fun cans! I may get another pair as a travel set so I don't have to take the Z7 out of the house.
 
Feb 3, 2015 at 12:47 AM Post #945 of 5,648

joey99

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I loved the 1A as well .. very comfortable and great fun sounding headphone. I really should've used the money for the Z7 Kimba Kable for a A1 instead. It was very similarly priced in Tokyo when I was there. Although I do love the cable ... I wouldn't have minded another headphone to play with.
 

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