Tag: Sony

Sony XB Series Extra Bass Headphones

Sony

Sony MDR-XB800

Sony MDR-XB800

What’s that? You like bass? Sorry,  I can’t hear you with these awesome Sony XB headphones on my ears. Drop those anemic, bass-empty headphones and get introduced to the Sony XB Extra Bass Headphones.  Sony is known for making some excellent products and their XB series of headphones are no exception.  They come in four different models including the XB200, XB400, XB600, and XB800 which are all optimized to produce the most bass output possible.  If you’re into R&B, Hip-Hop, Trap, Dubstep or any other type of bass heavy genre, your ears will thank you for the intense, bass-driven sensation. All Four of these headphones fit extremely well on the ear and allow for extended periods of listening.

The XB series is great for portable use seeing as it has a foldable/collapsible design. They are extremely lightweight which makes it feel like a happy cloud has been gently placed over your head.  The XB800 is the flagship model which boasts 50 millimeter drivers allowing it to produce an insane amount of bass.  Especially, when you use a headphones amplifier paired with these headphones.  When I used these headphones paired with my FiiO E10 headphone amplifier , the amount of bass pulsing though my head was enough to kill a small horse.  Here are some basic features of each:

XB200: 

XB400: 

XB600:

XB800:

  • 50mm Drivers
  • Available in: Black
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The Next Era of Televisions: Ultra HD

The Next Generation

It seems like every year there’s always something new that people buzz about.  In regards to televisions, new technologies are always on the rise.  Just look at the past decade: We’ve gone from tube TV’s to the emergence of projector TV’s and then finally flat screen TV’s such as Plasma, LCD, and the newer LED.  Not to mention the now-standard HDMI which has drastically increased picture quality.  It was just a matter of time before the next big thing hit the market and it’s going to make television displays all the better.

Samsung-ultra-HDTVCEA (Consumer Electronics Association) has announced the next generation of home displays.  Naming them Ultra HD (also known as 4k resolution), these new displays will have more than eight million pixels of resolution which is more than 4 times the amount in current HDTVs.  What does this mean for the consumer? It means that you’re going to look at your television screen and mistake it for an actual window.  That’s how fantastic these things are going to look and that’s how revolutionary this new technology is going to be. CEA has designated these displays to have an aspect ratio of at least 16×9 and a digital input cable of handling 4k video instead of up-converting.

The first companies to unveil these spectacular displays are LG and Sony which will both release an 84-inch set this fall.  However, as with every new technological gadget, it’s going to have a pretty steep price tag of $20,000 for the LG 84LM9600 and $25,000 for the Sony XBR-84X900.  If you can afford it by all means, go for it you won’t be disappointed.  For the rest of us, we might have to wait a few years until the price will drop and become more common on the market place.  CEA has guaranteed that the Ultra HD technology will be a highlight of the 2013 International Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas January 8-11.

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Sony’s Comeback: XBA In-Ear Headphone Series

Once the unanimous titan of general consumer electronics, and a pioneer in personal music players with the introduction of the Walkman, Sony is a company that grew accustomed to being at the top. Since its glory days, Sony has endured great hardship in virtually every sector of the consumer electronic market including headphones.  Completely flanked by competition from marketing giants like Beats Audio, Monster, and a slew of other game-changers, Sony has all but been forgotten. Yet, for a company that has not turned a profit since 2008, Sony is still kicking and unleashing what is of late their most impressive effort to recapture the ears of audiophiles.

With the release of the XBA series in-ear headphones, Sony reminds consumers of the innovation and quality that defined the brand not long ago.

XBA Micro Balanced Armature Technology:

Of course, Sony did not invent the balanced armature driver. In fact, it has been around for many years now and has been deployed by various reputable companies such as Westone. But what sets the XBA series apart from the rest of the balanced armature in-ear headphones is that Sony has developed its very own collection of drivers specifically tuned for music reproduction. Unlike others who get their drivers from nondescript balanced armature suppliers, Sony has employed the expertise of their own technology development core to create the XBA 1, XBA 2, XBA 3, and XBA 4.

The number attached to each of the XBA suffix signifies the number of specially crafted micro-balanced armatures built into the respective in-ear headphone, with the XBA featuring one balanced armature driver and the XBA 4 equipped with four. Now, if the XBA series were just packed with a bunch of drivers, this development would be quite unimpressive. But as mentioned earlier, these balanced armature drive units have been tuned to specific frequencies and, wherever there is more than one driver, a passive crossover system ensures that each driver reproduces the sounds it is best tuned to handle.

Borrowing the most detailed of the collection as an example, the XBA 4 features four balanced armature drive units: one full range driver,  one tweeter, one woofer, and one super woofer. With virtually every audible frequency range separated and individually performed by a specialized unit, each frequency range sound separate and clear. Do not expect to find
any muddling of bass and mid frequencies with the XBA series. Moreover, because of the passive crossover, the XBA infuse true and perceptible depth to the soundstage for a reproduction that is simply astoundingly convincing.

XBA Noise Cancelling:

Smallest Noise-Cancelling In-Ear Headphone in the World

Yet another impressive technological design innovation in the Sony XBA series is the excellent integration of noise cancellation. As of September 15th, 2011 the XBA-NC85D became the smallest and lightest noise cancelling in-ear headphones in the world. Because of the incredibly small size of the micro-balanced armature design, Sony has been able to integrate the DNC noise cancelling components and rechargeable battery directly into the sound chamber. Unlike every other noise-cancelling in ear headphone on the market that generally have the DNC noise cancelling processors encased in a “wand” that is connected to the wires leading to the chambers, the XBA-NC85D are just as compact as any other in-ear headphone on the market.

Endowed with a single Sony micro-balanced armature, the XBA-NC85D performs with excellent clarity and fidelity. Offering similar sound characteristics to the standard XBA series, these do not skimp on sound quality in any way.

Will the Phoenix Rise?

Certainly, Sony’s woes as a once-mighty technology giant will not be solved by these remarkably well crafted in-ear monitors. Nonetheless, while they are still around, Sony has definitely flexed their muscle and challenged skeptical audiophiles to reexamine the viability of Sony products. For one, I am completely impressed by the quality of these in-ear monitors and are, beyond a doubt, on my list of most important headphone releases of 2012.

Whatever Sony’s Future, PLEASE Bring Back the Walkman Alien!

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Best Sport Earbuds: In-Ear Headphones for Athletes

Anyone at the gym can tell you the difference that music makes in their ability to push through their personal strength thresholds. Working out to the beat of uptempo music has been scientifically proven to increase performance in athletes helping them to push their limits beyond their ordinary levels. Yet, not all headphones are designed to withstand the particular demands of the working human body at athletic levels. Many in-ear headphones sacrifice sound quality for comfort or vice-versa. In this review, I will introduce our best in-ear headphones that offer a balance of comfort and sound quality. The models highlighted include the Monster iSport Immersion, the AKG 326, and the Sony MDR-AS40EX.

iSport Immersion SportClips

Most impressive in our line-up is the iSport Immersion Seriesby Monster. These headphones are specifically designed with an athlete’s unique needs. Each feature of the iSport series is engineered to provide superb comfort to users as well as precise and accurate music reproduction. The iSport Immersion have so many great features for athletes that it is difficult to chose a place to begin. Nonetheless, one of the most distinguishing features of the iSport Immersion is the patented SportClip design. The exclusive SportClip design comfortably fits the inter curvature of the ear to provide stability to the earbud and limit the

earbud’s movement within the ear canal. Unlike most earbuds, even those intended for athletic use, the iSport Immersion are extremely unlike to fall out of a wearer’s ear during exercise activities. But comfort is not the only concern for athletes. The interaction between a sweaty body and headphones does always result in a pleasant experience, particularly for those concerned about cleanliness.

To solve the problem of gross and sweaty earbuds, Monster designed the iSport to be completely washable. The iSport can be washed–with water–without being damaged either by the moisture of sweat or a stream of water. Moreover, for individuals who wish to listento music while practicing a water sport, the iSport can be used in swimming pools, while surfing, jet skiing and other relatively “surface” water sports. It is this water submersion feature that really distinguishes the Monster iSport Immersion from other in-ear headphones. But if water submersion ability isn’t enough, the iSport Immersion even features an in-line microphone and volume controls for complete power over the tracks and phone compatibility.

Sony MDR-AS40EX

MDR-AS40EX

Not far behind the iSport Immersion in features, the Sony MDR-AS40EX offers lightweight comfort and exceptional sound quality. Generally priced at about a quarter of the price of the iSport Immersion, the Sony MDR-AS40EX is a great low-budget alternative. While lacking the in-line control and microphone for phone compatibility, the MDR-ASS40EX is moisture resistant and will not be damaged by the moisture produced when working out. Although the Sony MDR-AS40EX are probably not the very best choice if you are into intense water sports, they can reliably be used for intense workouts because they allow moisture to pass through the chamber without the threat of destroying the electrical components.

Like more conventional in-ear headphones, the Sony MDR-AS40EX are better suited for land use. They include pleasantly comfortable and stable ear hangers in three sizes. The hangers are removable, in case you prefer the earbud to sit in the ear without support. When used with the hangers, the MDR-AS40EX are securely held in place and are not jostled when jogging or running. Overall, the sound quality is respectable and they limit ambient noise for a focused and clear reproduction.

AKG 326

Finally, the AKG 326 boasts superior sound quality and functionally. As usual, the AKG brand provokes a sense of admiration among those familiar with the name. And, satisfying those expectations, the AKG 326 delivers stunningly accurate sound for headphones in our athletic category. If sound quality is your main priority from your workout audio gear, the AKG 326 are a great choice without caveat. Although far more of a traditional design approach, the AKG 326 do feature an in-line volume control and microphone for integration with a phone.

The construction of the AKG 326 is simple yet sturdy and reliable. When jogging the

AKG 326, Sound Quality for Athletes

comfortable earhooks hold the driver unit fast within the ear and do not allow the driver to be jostled by a users movement. The comfort and stability of the AKG 326 is further enhanced by the rubberized ear pads which also function to limit interference from ambient noise.

Overall, the AKG 326 are a straight forward answer for to-the-point athletes who demand quality sound reproduction.

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S/PDIF Combos Coming Soon To Sonic Electronix!

What the heck is “S/PDIF?”

No, it’s not a typo. S/PDIF stands for “Sony/Phillips Digital Interconnect Format,” or “Sony/Phillips Digital Interface,” and is a means through which users may transmit audio signals digitally, which makes for higher fidelity: digital in, digital out. Right now, there are two consumer-level digital transmission interfaces: HDMI and S/PDIF. Most people reading this probably know that HDMI transmits both video and audio, however, what you might not know is that S/PDIF only transmits audio.

So you might ask, “Why bother with S/PDIF then?” Well, not all equipment has an HDMI input or output, which should be pretty obvious when dealing with things like audio interfaces and reference monitors that don’t handle video signals. In some situations, like separate sound and video outputs from computers, you might even need to hook up both HDMI and S/PDIF cables.

Blow 4D

The Blow 4D reference monitors' DAC module which has both S/PDIF coaxial and 3-pin AES/EBU connections


S/PDIF has two different types of connectors: coaxial (RCA) and optical (TOSLINK). The coaxial cables are usually found colored orange in order to differentiate between other colored RCA connectors such as yellow for video, and red and white for analog audio. The optical cables are far more delicate and are made of fiber optics.

The upcoming combos…

We at Sonic Electronix value high-fidelity audio above all else, and that’s why we’re currently putting together combos that link pieces of gear based on S/PDIF. The picture above is taken from the Infrasonic Blow 4D reference monitors, about which I also recently wrote a blog. We’ll be pairing up these fantastic speakers with just about any piece of gear in our inventory that has S/PDIF output, and as always, we’ll be offering them to you at the special discounted prices you love and have come to expect from Sonic Electronix!

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