Sony MDR-XB90EX In-Ear Extra Bass Headphones (Japanese Import)
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- The Advanced Direct Vibe Structure forms an acoustically-tight seal around your ears, maximizing sound isolation to directly deliver pure bass power.
- With the angled-duct, you can hear clear high-range sound that complements your extra bass.
- Enjoy maximum comfort while also keeping the ear buds from falling out.
- The tangle-free serrated cord has tiny grooves along its surface to reduce tangling and mess.
- The vertical in-ear design allows for lighter more slim line headphones, making them all the more comfortable for long listening sessions.
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|Item Dimensions||—||1.5 x 2.63 x 6.75 in||1 x 1 x 1 in||1 x 50 x 0.5 in||6 x 15 x 7.5 in||1.12 x 2.5 x 5.8 in|
|Additional Features||tangle-free-cord||android-phone-control||Type: In-Ear / Color: Titanium / Cable Length: 1.25 m (4 ft) / Plug: 3.5 mm Gold Plated / Wired Materials: Enameled Copper Wire, Frequency Range: 20-40,000 Hz / Sensitivity: 99 dB / Impedance: 32 Ω / Rated Power: 5 mW / Weight: 18 g||—||noise-isolation, microphone-feature, sports-and-exercise||lightweight|
With the angled-duct, you can hear clear high-range sound that complements your extra bass. Enjoy maximum comfort while also keeping the ear buds from falling out. The vertical in-ear design allows for lighter more slim line headphones, making them all the more comfortable for long listening sessions.
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Without going into a long, drawn out review...
In short, I will say the Sony MDR-X90EX was the clear winner in the Bass category (with a lots of clarity to boot), when compared head-to-head against my Westone UM3x RC, my Shure SE846, and my Westone UMPro 30 (to name a few).
I compared all the monitors through my Fiio E17 K Alpen 2 Amplifier/DAC, listening to 'Mirror Maru' by Cashmere Cat (an excellent track) via Spotify's highest Bitrate sampling, followed by various Deep House tracks on the Monika Kruse station on Spotify.
Before owning the Sony MDR-XB90EX, my favorite IEMs were my Shure SE846s. However, after listening for hours with my Sony MDR-XB90EX, I'm having a hard time deciding which set truly sounds better.
I've decided although Shure's SE846 falls short of the amount of bass the Sony MDR-XB90EX provides, Shure's sound signature is tighter, more flexible, and overall less artificial (to me). They are also less fatiguing and more comfortable to wear for longer stretches of time.
(Now whether or not they are 10x better for ~10x the price is debatable.)
That brings me to my next point...
Although Sony's MDR-XB90EX earbuds are undoutedly worth every penny, they are not perfect.
Here are some noetable cons (in my opinion):
1. They are not as volume sensitive as any of the 'higher-end' IEMs in my repotoire; I had to raise the volume ~20-25% higher than my other IEMs to 'make the beat drop'.
In fact, Fiio's E17k Alpen 2's amplifier came to the rescue in this department... Still, most portable music players should have no problem pushing the power out of these... Just be prepared to raise the volume past the halfway mark.
2. Although sound isolation is very good (especially with the comply tips), the earbuds leak out sound. This is a bit of a dissapointment, since I am reluctant to use these in quieter settings (i.e. library) or sitting next to someone on a the train or bus.
Don't get me wrong, these aren't like Beats by Dre's sound leakage problem (which is much more pronounced), but when compared to Westone and Shure models (which virtually leak NO sound at all, even at higher volumes) it's something to take into account.
*It's never cool to be the obnoxious dude with loud earphones disturbing the peace.
3. Really bassy tracks can get a bit muffled when you *try* to overextend the bass. Solution: EQ with caution! Don't push the Bass past it's distortion limit.
(Keep in mind, although Shure's SE846 can actually handle more Bass Frequency input without distorting, the Shure's lower frequencies will need to be EQ'd to hit as impactful as Sony's MDR-XB90EX hits out-the-box).
4. Comfort: when compared to the Shure and Westone models, these buds take a backseat in the comfort arena. I can actually rest my head on a pillow with any of the other aformentioned IEMs. With these, I cannot.
Also, these buds were not as secure fitting with the supplied eartips. I winded up purchasing Comply's Foam (200-line) ear tips which made all the difference in further enhancing sound isolation, signature, and overall comfort.
5. Build Quility: Compared to any of the more expensive IEMs I own, these feel cheaper constucted. I cannot say they feel so cheap they're going to break on me with regular use, but I will say the grade of plastic used is not as strong as that used on the more expensive IEMs I own.
Yet... Even with all it's flaws, there's no question these earduds are worth absolutely EVERY penny.
If hard hitting bass and clarity are your thing, these will not dissapoint. And at this price point, these are a steal.
Although I would NEVER trade in my more expensive IEMs (which all have a special place in heart), Sony's MDR-XB90EX has won my respect and will surely be used when I want to have fun immersing myself with some bassier tracks.
If these are the first and only noise-isolating IEMs you decide to purchase, you WILL be glad you did... Heck, you may even have hard time justifying the purchase of pricier IEMs down the line.
So... Treat yourself.... Get yours now, while supplies last!
They are worth it & more.
***THUMBS UP if you appreciated this review. Thanks ;)
Let me quickly go through my history of experiences with Sony in-ear phones (it started with the white MDR EX-70) so you might understand what I'm getting at:
MDR-EX70: awesomely great, first in-ear phones I've ever had.
MDR-EX71: about as good as the EX70, including the white cables that turn an ugly yellow-ish colour after 2 years.
MDR-EX85: were not as good as I expected them to be, but a decent improvement over the previous.
MDR-EX500: GREAT! These things blew me away totally. Whole new sound experience.
MDR-EX510: HUGE disappointment (meager bass) at a ridiculously higher price point. The most ridiculously-priced of all!
MDR-XB90EX: ABSOLUTELY AMAZING and yet almost half the price off of what I paid for the EX510!
See the pattern? It seems that the quality jumps up every other generation or so. Thank God my 510s held up (until I lost them just two days ago.. hence I got the XB90s) and I skipped the ridiculously overpriced XBA line. The XBA line does NOT sound worlds better than the meager 510s I had (In fact, the XBA-2 was the most decent sounding of the XBA line, on par with my 500s).
WHAT a HUGE improvement these XB90EXs are over ANY of the in-ear models I've ever had (or tested)!! Even the Sony Store salesperson recommended these over the ridiculously-overpriced XBA line. The drivers in the xb90s are 16mm -- larger than any of the others (typically at 13.5mm). It makes for a world of difference. The price point is an absolute treat as well. Cheaper than my 510s (MUCH cheaper!!) and just a little more than what my 500s cost me. The xb90s are WELL worth the cost! When there was any doubt that my pair of 510s weren't really lost -- I didn't feel burnt for shelling out for the xb90s in case I found my former set of earphones -- I would have gotten the xb90s nonetheless!
Someone mentioned the 'break-in' time, or the time it takes for the earphones' sound to 'mature'. Mine sounded absolutely great right out of the box! That's a good sign in my book, as I've experienced the same with my 500s and EX70s (notable favorites)! I can only imagine how much greater the sound will be after a week!
After all the in-earphones I've tried and tested, the xb90s are the first set that have me turning down the volume on my iPhone! I do not find myself ever going full-volume on the iPhone with these. 3 ticks from max volume is my nominal range, but I find that I'm averaging more ticks away from max volume as these phones don't just have incredibly resonant bass -- overall the volume is just LOUD! Adding to this is the factor that they fit so well into your ears (much like the XBA line) -- and this cancels out ambient sound better than any of the other models I've tried (apart from the XBA line). These fit _so_ well in my ears that I get that uncomfortable pressure-pop when taking them out (I might switch to the included pressure-relieving buds because of this).
The case that comes with this set is probably the ugliest yet -- the 510s having the nicest case of the lines I've had -- but then again I never use my cases.
The only gripe I have about the xb90s is the length of the chord. I like the short chords of the other lines, and if I ever needed an extension -- those came with one. It's not really a biggie -- I've had to acquaint myself with regular-length chords in the past. Also, I got used to the weird short and long sides of the older Sony models -- you hang it from the back of your neck. The xb90s use the regular shape Y which means I'll have to throw the phones down the front of my collar when I take them off instead of being able to hang them around my neck, over my shoulders. The included clip doesn't help much with this situation either.
Another notable change in the chord -- it's now 'serrated' and flat. Quite thick too. I hope this means they now last longer than the average 2-year chord life of the prior models!
UPDATE: The review above was written October 16,2012. It is now July 14, 2014 -- nearly two years since I got my original pair. Unfortunately I can't verify the life of the product as of the 4th of July 2014 -- I lost my old pair in DC :( I'll put it down to carelessness -- never realised how much I would miss my XB90s !! It was so dire a situation I didn't want to shell out for overpriced Beats -- it wasn't long before I put down an order for another pair of XB90s here!! Now that I have them again -- wow. The pair I got was manufactured in China while my old pair was manufactured in Thailand... but the sound is just as amazing.
What I could take away from he old pair I had: it survived three (or more) washings in the laundry!! The cable is just SO much better than the not-flat cables that I don't ever see myself going back to not-flat cables!! The flat cables DO make a difference and mine never got into a tangled mess like the tubular cables often did! After two years my cable was still great -- no signs that it was wearing.
Well the new ones definitely sound better -- despite just getting them. I thought it'd take a little more time for them to 'break in'. My old pair probably sounded just as good -- hey that was almost two years ago!
The clip I got with this pair is also better !! For some reason the clip I had on the older pair was so crummy it would NEVER hold unless I bundled together a part of my shirt and clipped it on that. Even when it was new.
These things sound so awesome -- unless there is a newer version out I feel like buying another pair just for backup! With the price drop I could get two of these for the price of the original and I thought the original was a steal!
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