Having been a Bluetooth headphone holdout for quite a while, now, I was skeptical that these would work out for me. At this price point, there are some fantastically good, traditional wired headphones available, and I was almost eager to hear these fall flat and go get one of them. To my delight, I needn't have worried. The main draw for me was that they can still be used as a wired headset, using a standard ⅛" plug; in fact, the specifications regarding frequency response and sensitivity apply only with a wired connection. The attraction was twofold: first, I often put in long days with my headphones and a 7 ½ hour batter life, while good, is simply not good enough; I don't want a dead pair of headphones for an hour while they charge (and cannot play while charging, weirdly). With the wired connection, battery level is irrelevant. Secondly, the sound quality gap while not huge, is noticeable and, while sometimes I won't mind losing a little quality for convenience, I'm not willing to buy a pair of headphones with that decision locked in. Regarding Sony's touted LDAC technology: this requires a compatible (read Sony) music player or phone. The vastly improved quality Bluetooth they advertise doesn't apply to iPhones, or anything other than certain Sony products. So, this was not a selling point and despite their advertising efforts, you should know this, too. If you listen to low bitrate MP3s or AACs, the absence won't matter. The Bluetooth reception for me has been very good. Using my iPhone, it goes through a couple interior walls and about 30 feet, as rated. I had it cut out a little in my pocket once, as I crouched down, apparently my trunk presented too much obstruction. They look and feel fantastic, I've owned dozens of earbud models, at least half Sony, and there's a reason I keep coming back: they may not be the absolute best, but they're very good and they feel wonderful in my ear. Regarding comfort: the Bluetooth transceiver, batteries and controls are in the 'collar,' so the earbuds themselves are nearly weightless and will induce no fatigue. The cords are maybe a touch too long, better than too short. The 'collar' is just a little big for me, but I'm of a smaller frame, so I'm used to that. I opted for the Cinnabar Red color and the finish looks very nice, classy anodized aluminum. Everything, even the silicone ear tips and carrying case, is color coordinated, another nice touch. The sound: I burned these in with about 100 hours of heavy-hitting, loud music before really listening to them. I had the XBA-H1 before these and adored them for their incredible dynamics and transients, and their all around excellent sound. So, I had high expectations. These exceeded my expectations. The overall sound is very well balanced with excellent dynamics, range and power. The bass is controlled, convincing and deeply textured. Sound staging/imaging is quite good, too: you can hear the space of the recording with the instruments and environment feeling real and palpable. After listening to a variety of CD quality tracks, I'll say that they're simply a joy to listen to. The sound is complex, nuanced, and very convincing; there's almost too much going on to hear all the details at once, which breathes new life into my favorite pieces, it makes listening fun and engaging. There's something else: the XBA-H1 that I loved had something else, they were excellent all around technically, but there was also a little magic. They weren't too clinical. And these have just a little more magic, they're not overly colored, but there's just something special about them, they make me want to keep listening… I wish I could put my finger on it more precisely. I should point out that I'm basing these descriptions on a wired connection using CD quality recordings. While using Bluetooth, their audio quality is reduced. They're still trying, but are simply not receiving the same data, and effectively the recording becomes a compressed MP3 to fit into the Bluetooth bitstream. Happily, this isn't a severe difference; it shows up most in the textures and sound stage and you really gotta pay attention to hear it. So, on the go, at the gym, traveling, they're going to be just fine. Whenever I can, though, I'm hooking that cable up. Cons: while using the ⅛" to mini-USB cable, the microphone and control functions do not work. This seems like an oversight or cost cutting, but seriously, it's 2016, why not make it a 'smart' cable? The battery, when depleted, just dies with no warning. They couldn't put in a low warning? They're not rated for water resistance, which isn't a big deal but the lower priced Sonys are. They include a mini USB cable with no charger; who doesn't have a spare USB charger, these days?
I would recommend this to a friend
I would be honest talking about my experience. I love Sony and all its products but this one was disappointing as it's designed to listen to music on certain devices but since I have an iPhone and iPod I couldn't take advantage of it by pairing my device and use Siri and switch albums, give some commnads without needing to take my phone out of my pocket. Doesn't support IOS and Android only play, pause, next and previous but no access and full control of any voice assistant. Aside from that its sound is amazing, high quality and lightweight.
I would recommend this to a friend