Review - Sony XBA3 and others
I thought it useful to share my recent experiences. As an owner of an iPod Classic 120GB and iPhone 4 8GB (currently with Spotify Premium) I have a fair few 'mobile' devices to have a go at. I'm also heading toward an iPad 4 after Christmas.
My headphone collection has consisted of Sennheiser CX300s (lost/stolen), Goldring in-ears (given away), Sennheiser MM50 (good but call quality and build quality rubbish). Over-ears: Sennheiser PX100s (wore out), Sennheiser PX200s (not great), Grado iGrado, AKG K450 (don't rate), Audio Technica ES55s (stolen).
I fancied a good pair of in-ears and a good pair of over-ears for my players. I bought:
Audio Technica ES7
Sony XBA3 (not iP versions), Japanese import
The ES7s were bought over the counter at Richer Sounds Prestwich, very happy with them (though not with the recent £10 price reduction ) excellent detail, bass and midrange. A cut above my stolen ES55s which I really loved, but perhaps a little bulky on the head - this related to the headband as the earcups are very light and double as earmuffs in very cold weather. They're a good portable headphone as long as you're not bothered about appearances or the size when carrying them.
The XBA3s were purchased following the WHF award-win. I made the mistake of ordering them via eBay on an apparent 'bargain'. I then waited almost 6 weeks for them to arrive and even this following 3 chase-up emails. When they arrived I found they attracted small additional charges, pushing the price up, but also that they were not the iP versions I thought I was ordering. They have no microphone and for some reason the cable is ridiculously short, suitable for a breast-pocket only. The included extension gives the 'phones a useful 1.5m length. In summary of these headphones:
Detail - excellent with a bit of running in
Atmosphere/soundstage - ditto
Bass - not a patch on a good pair of on-ears like the ES7s
Comfort - lot of care needs to be taken with the earbuds, the bodies are heavy and you feel this in your ears
The XBAs are definitely an 'audiophile' in-ear option, they sound great, but don't expect the bass levels of any over-ear from even 3-way drivers and don't expect the same level of comfort.
Also, don't bother buying abroad via eBay - just days after these arrived I found some XBA3 iPs for just £35 more with a full UK warranty and these were available for £19 less on a 'fire-sale' day - just £16 more!! Shop around, sure, but avoid buying from abraod IMO.
If any members have had similar experiences with buying overseas I would be interested to hear.