The headphone’s I have today are Sony’s XBA-H3 in-ear headphones which have the almighty recommended retail price of £299. They are high-end consumer headphones and I’ll be looking at whether they produce the sound quality the price suggests.
The packaging of the headphones is quite standard and there’s nothing that really stands out about it. On the rear of the cardboard slider you have a diagram explaining a few aspects of the ear-buds themselves. Once you slide the cardboard exterior off you’re then presented with a minimalistic black box which contains the Sony logo in the center.
Once you open the packaging you’ll find the headphones staring you straight in the face. The first thing you probably notice is the unusual and actually quite large body pieces. The reason for this is that Sony have squeezed a pair of 16mm drivers into them, which is quite impressive.
As you continue down further into the box you’ll find an array of accessories that Sony include with these earphones. They include a zipping leather carry pouch, a selection of different ear bud sizes which are nicely colour coded, a cable clip & winder as well as another cable which includes an in-line microphone.
The system used to swap over the cables is very easy to use and works a lot better than I thought it would. The body of the ear-buds simply clip on/off and the left/right markers are clearly marked through the use of different colours. Although feeling quite secure when fitted we couldn’t help feel that they may become disconnected at some point and would maybe like to see something added to help put our mind at ease. This being said during my time using them, the cable connection didn’t come loose once.
The XBA-H3 are made for music and perform superbly. When first testing them out I wasn’t blown away by them but after using them for a week or so they really did grow on me and I really started to enjoy listening to them.
I started off with Katy B’s new album and specifically the track 5a.m. It’s fair to say that there is a fair bit of bass action within the new album and this really was emphasized with the XBA-H3’s. You really felt every kick of the bass and I even managed to make out some sounds/instruments within the track that I hadn’t been able to with lower grade products. Overall I found the listening experience a lot more pleasant than I had with other products.
The next track I chose was called High Hopes from Kodaline. I chose the song to focus mainly on the vocals and also the small guitar solo which kicks in towards the end of 2 minutes. The vocals clarity was great and the overall audio was very crisp. Every instrument including the guitar, piano and drums could each be heard individually at all times with much greater detail than you would expect.
After listening to a few more songs with these headphones I really am impressed with them. They dealt with everything thrown at them well and produced a detailed and precise sound on the whole spectrum. Even when plugging them into a laptop to watch a film or to game they did a great job.
When wearing these earphones they are so incredibly light that is simply feels like you’re not wearing anything. They bring unbelievable sound quality as well as being surprisingly comfortable for the weird shape. My experience with them while testing has been great and although I normally opt for headphones, it’s definitely made me think about taking a second look at the smaller and more compact in-ear range.
The part that may put a few people off is the price tag. The RRP is £299.00, although you can normally grab them cheaper on Amazon (check below). If you are spending this amount of money on a pair of earphones we would like to see a metal body instead of a plastic one to give it a more solid feel.