Rated 5 out of 5 by Dinko Superior Sound
Crisp, clear, crystalline... they sparkle. No sibilance.
Right where they should be. Not too forward, not too recessed. Voices are warm and pleasant.
Not only do the lows rumble deep, they also hit. But contrary to what Sony marketing would lead you to believe, they're not overbearing. Despite the massive presence of the low-end frequencies, these aren't just bass-thumping earphones.
Holy mother of God! These earphones' soundstage is beyond believable. It's deep, and it's wide.
With orchestral music, you can hear the instruments from the different areas. It's like having a seat so close to the orchestra, that the sound hasn't fully had time to blend in yet and you can separate each individual instrument.
With pop/rock/dance genres, it's like being right in between a multichannel sound system in a very good club or venue.
Be warned if this matters to you: these earphones are anything but neutral. Balanced armature design is often paraded as clear and neutral-sounding (i.e.: doesn't emphasize either bass, treble or middle over the others). The hybrid nature of these earphones colours the music for the best. The listening experience is so engaging and dynamic (pun intended), that once you're immersed, regular balanced armatures sound boring and flat, while single-driver dynamic phones miss clarity, transparency and staging.
Be warned: people do look at you when you wear these things. They're so huge and protrude so much out of your ear, that people on the street look at your ears for a second or two until they figure out you're wearing some weird earphones.
The XBA-H3 are not always easy to position either. I rarely have issues with intra-ear phones, but on these, the large tips are too big (they fit, but put too much pressure on the ear, and the sound becomes too boomy), and while the medium ones are perfect (good seal, comfortable without pressure with a powerful low end but not excessively bassy), the nozzle doesn't extend far enough compared to the housing. Once I've succeeded in jamming them in deep, I have to hope they stay there, which considering their size, they don't always. Frequent readjustments are required. Otherwise, they come out and become thin/treble sounding.
Pretty much anything can drive these. iDevices deliver a very good performance. Even Sony's own notoriously power-limited 5mW+5mW devices can drive the XBA-H3 extremely well. Although using an amp helps, it's definitely not required.
I've had more earphones than I can remember, including some "high end" models from Westone, Shure, Monster, AKG and Sennheiser. The prices on those were way higher than the Sony's and in some cases the price was obscene. Yet even at their prices, they couldn't deliver the combination of wide soundstage, clear treble, warm voices and deep but not necessarily loud or overbearing bass. They all ended up on sale after a while.
The Sony XBA-H3 though is a keeper. If anything, I'd be tempted to get another pair before they're discontinued. They won't replace a pair of headphones or speakers for critical listening. But they are the most engaging and fun earphone I've ever come across. Everything sounds good on these.
Warning: Sound level
Precisely because everything sounds really good, you may be tempted to beef up the volume. They're perfectly enjoyable at low and mid volumes, but like a good sports car or good running shoes, you always want to push it and it's ever better as you do. Bad earphones have the advantage that they sound so bad, when you increase the volume, the music sounds worse. The problem with the XBA-H3, is that they can handle high volume extremely well. If anything, I'd say they perform at their best at a point where exposure of more than 1 or 2 songs will probably lead to permanent hearing loss.
So be careful! Don't overindulge.
July 8, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by ChrisWu Best Sony Earphone Ever
I had bought so many earphone, headphone from SONY, from EX85, EX500, MDR777, MDR500, NC500, I can say H3 is the most satisfied earphone I bought from SONY, most importantly, it go perfectly with iphone, I tired sony's balance armature ip4,ip3,ip2, it go sucks with iphone, but the hybrid h3 really surprise me, amazing bass, clear sound not hash ear. I put 100% recommend on this one, Compare with Shure 535, X10 image, it has cheaper price, easy burn in and more suitable with iphone.
February 16, 2014
Rated 2 out of 5 by JohnM73 Poor Decision for Earbuds
The hybrid three-way earbuds have decent sound, however, their design is totally flawed as massive chunks of plastic prominently stick out of one's ears. The next version should have firm plastic hooks around the ears so they are positioned firmly, and they should be made flat, sitting against the ears as Ultimate Ears that tour musicians use. A better design and the sound quality will be make a good product. The bass is weak even though advertised as the headphone's chief virtue, but the overall sound is natural and pleasant. Were it not for the fact that the earphones sticking out perpendicularly instead of lying flat against one's ears this would be a great product for a great price.
July 15, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by BrooklynGuy excellent sound
These earbuds are pricey, but the sound quality is excellent. Perhaps the best clarity I've ever heard with earbuds.
The piece that rests on the ear is a bit bulky but fits comfortably, looping around the ear for a stable fit free from vibrations.
July 16, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Nonozera Great sound quality
High sound quality for the money. Worth to buy earbuds with detachable cables. They can be replaced if it breaks.
October 2, 2014