Rated 5 out of 5 by bstnrbt Best running and workout headphones
Techie, not-quite-audiophile, runner, frequently at the gym, own dozens of headphones from Etymotic's to Sennheiser to Sony to Apple, listen daily, read gadget news.
If you're looking for a great headphone for working out or running and you know what natural sound is like (i.e. a flat response curve), then stop reading. These are underpriced for their quality and they are by far the best fit for working out. Get them now and be happy.
These headphones mark the end of my years-long search to find a great workout headphone. I've gone through many headphones trying to find something that was a great fit and had at least reasonable audio quality. These turn out to have superb quality and the fit is better than any other for workout purposes.
No-tangle cord - It does what it should. I've bunched them up and shoved them in pockets/bags and pulled them in and out - days later unraveling them takes just a couple seconds.
Ear loops and fit - There are better fits to be had for every day listening but for working out and especially running, these are amazing. The loops fit such that cord noise is diminished (but present still) and if you tug on the cord, it doesn't move the driver much. And if the seal comes undone a little (rare) then all you have to do is gently push the driver to seat it again - because the loops hold it right over your ear canal. It doesn't drift around and twist or force you to play with the fit. The loops themselves are comfortable so long as you don't try to cinch your ear off. The rubber coating is durable and soft.
Audio quality - It's comparable to similarly priced high-end IEMs. It can drive really clearly at high volume which is great for running (I always crank it up when I'm running up a hill). You'll find higher quality options for every day listening but I haven't heard anything nearly as good in a sports headphone. For those of you tuned to Sony's bass-filled low-end, these will sound flat and lifeless. You'll adjust. The bass is there and it's actually quite amazing especially after a good long burn-in. However, for some people's purposes, a thick, incorrect, pronounced bass response from cheaper headphones is what you want for working out. For me, these are so comfortable and sound so great that I've actually switched to using these nearly all of the time. I'm planning on getting a multi-driver XBA for non-workout listening but in the mean time these are my favorite.
Water seal - I sweat worse than anyone I've seen at the gym and I haven't had a problem. I've killed several ipod shuffles but these are going strong after about a month of use. I've also run in the rain with them. The only thing is that if your ears get full of sweat or water, you'll have a little bit of slipping on the seal. See above about fit - it's easy to re-seat them.
Sound isolation - I give it decent rating here. It's not meant to block all noise and for running outside I wouldn't want it to. But you will definitely hear a little outside noise. Overall though, it's a good amount of isolation.
Cord length - It's long and although I hate a bulky in-line adapter, I kind of wish I could split it in half sometimes. The little cord adjustment kit and clip it come with are the typical sony sports pieces that are good but just plain annoying to get on and off - so I never bother.
Pressure in seal - Any fit of this style is going to have a certain amount of air-tightness to it. In the case of etymotics, the seal is completely air-tight. That means when you run, the pressure of your body jolting causes your ear to jump up and down in pressure - making running uncomfortable, not to mention unstable (inner ear balances us after all). These headphones are much better than Etymotics, but the seal is just slightly aggressive. This is good when lifting weight but for running if you try to adjust the fit and accidentally push it a little too hard, you'll squeeze out air and create a really tight low-pressure seal. It's not a deal-breaker. It's just a little tricky at times. I've gotten used to it without a problem really. It doesn't cause me any pressure issues while running.
RMA'd first unit - The original that I got from J&R through amazon had a defect where something (likely the water seal material) was loose in the left driver. At various frequencies the loose material would rattle. RMA'ing wasn't a big deal and the second unit has been fine.
April 30, 2012
Rated 2 out of 5 by lollipop43 Stir Clear
I bought these as soon as they the hit retail stores. After about one month I was very disappointed.
They began to fall apart. I just wonder about the design engineers at Sony. I remember when I would buy a Sony product I had quality and something that would last. That is no longer true. My hunt continues for a quality earbud for workouts and price is no option.
October 30, 2012
Rated 5 out of 5 by TankerB33 Best Sounding Sport Headphone around
The most confortable best sounding headphones I have ever owned. I am very active and demand the best active sport headphone, these are by far the best I have ever owned and would recommend to anyone looking for a high quality headphone for the active lifestyle minded audiophile out there
May 14, 2012
Rated 4 out of 5 by StubbyCorgi Worth Every Penny
An over all worthy product to buy, it's very comfortable to the ear with the rubbery loop.
I like the adjustable over the ear loop that can be pulled for a customized fit.
I started with the XBA-1 and I was sort of satisfied but it lacked the ability to stay in the ear when just doing a simple jog around the block.
December 7, 2012
Rated 2 out of 5 by Kevin1956 Poor design
Sending back for repair of ear loops. broken after 5 months normal use at the gym!
September 25, 2012
Rated 2 out of 5 by Crizzle Nice but...
These were nice when they worked but after 2 months on the same day both sides broke where the soft rubber meets the harder rubber on the earpieces.
September 18, 2012
Rated 5 out of 5 by Gats Best ear pad.
Excellent quality of sound.
Soft pad and material of wire around ear.
Durable for swet.
August 26, 2012
Rated 5 out of 5 by erikatastic Great headphones for running
I love these headphones! I run 3 miles every morning, and these are easy to put in my ear and tighten the loop around--it is such a better way to keep them in compared to the head-band style I previously used. Super comfortable, easy to adjust, sound is good, and I am very happy with my purchase.
August 23, 2012