February 12, 2012

Sony Launches New Range Of Balanced Armature Headphones.

Sony launched a new range of Balanced Armature headphones recently due to be available sometime next week at all Sony Stores and retail showrooms. The latest batch of headphones are clearly aimed at the iPod generation, with a discerning taste for good sound. I believe this is a good starting point to draw the youngsters in to our high end audio hobby.

The XBA-3 model of the Balanced Armature headphones is the best sounding one of all. Clearly the crowd's favorite too, judging from the many people who agree to it's sound. 

An illustration showing the incredibly small sized BA driver(left) comparing to a regular dynamic driver(middle) and a Malaysian 10 sen coin(right).

A water test for the sport model XBA-S65. The headphone still played like it did before. Impressive! 

On hand to present the technical details of the new range of Sony XBA headphones is Negano san, who worked in the headphone division of Sony for the past 30 years or so. He spent the last 3 years developing the Balance Armature technology, and professes to using past top models, competitor's product and live music to benchmark his development. He also uses a variety of music, including classical symphonies to test for the live like sound staging properties as heard in the concert hall on the XBA-3 model, which is a three way design! He also said he used disco, or club music to test the XBA-4 model, a four way design which comes with a built in super woofer.

All the Balanced Armature driver assembly are first made in Sony's Japan factory, then sent to their Malaysian factory for final complete product assembly and packaging to ensure high build standards and reliability.

The range from left,  XB-1, XB-2, XB-3 and XB-4. Note the bigger body size as we higher up the range.

The other XBA models available includes the XBA-BT75 wireless blue tooth enables headsets, and the XBA-N85D digital noise canceling headsets, targeted for the highly mobile people who like to travel with their music on the go.

The XBA series headphone prices start from RM$199.00/set of XBA-1 to RM$1399.00 for the XBA-N85D.
The large group of bloggers and press at the launch.
The Sony Representatives and model parading their latest ware. Negano san is third from left.

I had a great time trying out the various models in the range, all powered by a portable Sony player with dedicated headphone amp. The model that I felt sounded most balance and certainly very audiophile transparent sounding is the XBA-3 model, which is a 3 way design. The more expensive XBA-4 which come with a built in super woofer is just tad over boosted in the bass, which mask the detailed musicality of the XBA-3 somewhat.

The new Sony XBA series is bound to give Monster's Dr Dre series headphones a strong challenge in the local market place.

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