Wednesday, October 31, 2012

[Behind-the-Scene] The Sony MH1 R&D Story

Editor Note: ‘Behind-the Scene’ is a new segment here at that allows the innovators and engineers to tell us the story of their audio creation – from its conception, its goal, the research and development process to its fruition, and most importantly, they are told from the prospective of the creator but not through the mouth of the PR. While this is the first and only article of the series, I do hope that, in time, more manufacturers and their engineers can step up and come forth to tell us the story of their projects and products. It is about sharing the passions for audio, not selling it.

A few months ago I was contacted by Sead Smailagic, who is working for Sony Mobile as an audio designer / engineer, regarding possible review of some of the products that he has helped to develop. One of which is the recently reviewed MH1. As he had tried to explain some of the background story and engineering theory about this headset, I thought it would be great for him, as a real person who are actually involved in the research and development of a real product, to come out from behind the scene and tell you the story himself as a contributing author of my blog. Without further ado, here it is:-

*This article is available in PDF format and can be downloaded here. Due to the limitation of the website, you are recommended to download the PDF copy for larger view of all the graphs

[UPDATE Nov, 6th 2012]
Editor Note: From time to time, I'll get called out as a shill. As an reviewer in an online world that is so full of fake writers, this does come with the territory. Instead of getting angry, I have learned to be in peace with myself and accept the fact that I can't prove to everyone or anyone that my intention is pure in an online world - and so, you must be your own judge on whether I can be trusted or not. 

Anyway, here is an article by another blogger that is pointing his/her finger at me, and argue that this article is 'commercially oriented excuses to sell a product". As I said, you be the judge - LINK
~ Tai / ClieOS 

[Stock Headset Shootout] Apple, HTC, Samsung, and Sony.

This is intended as a quick comparison of the stock headset you’ll get from buying a smartphone these days. For most part of its history, stock headset is more like a free gift from the cellphone maker and a tool of convenience. It is not until the smartphone era that companies start to include headset that are actually decent in sound quality. In the last year or so, we even see top-of-the-line smartphones begin to be marketed with brand name headphones. But here we are not talking about Beats or Monster, just 4 common models from 4 different companies that you most likely will receive in most of their smartphone line-up. Here is the shootout between the newly released Earpods from Apple, RC-E190 from HTC, EHS64AVFWEG from Samsung and MH750 from Sony.


Into the Blue

It would seem the limited red edition of SE535LE isn't enough for the Asia market, Shure is making a special edition of SE215 as well, in a blue housing no less. The new SE215SPE claims to have 'a newly tuned acoustic network to deliver detailed sound with extended low frequency performance' using the same micro dynamic driver. I never find bass to be lacking on the original SE215 and so I don't know if the new tuning will actually be a good thing or not. But one thing for sure, Shure is getting more and more Japanese with their marketing technique (as Japanese headphone companies love their limited edition of things).

Monday, October 29, 2012

[REVIEW] Sony MW1 - Smart Wireless Headset pro

When it comes to Bluetooth, the preconception of its sound quality is generally on the negative side, even from those who have never used a BT headset before – This is no doubt the result of reading too many a horror story over the internet. The idea of a BT headset for music seems more like a mix of compromise and convenience rather than serious audiophiles gear. We have seen claims of superior SQ from BT headset manufacturers for years, but most have failed to impress and some can be actually downright awful.

Back in the days, I used to own a Sony Walkman cellphone and one of Sony better BT headsets of the time (DRC-BT15, pictured at the later section of this review). The SQ of the BT headset isn’t anywhere great. At most, it might be comparable to a rather low entry level wired IEM these days. To be frank, I was more interested in the ‘smart’ part of the MW1 as an android user rather than the SQ part as an audiophile when I was asked to review it. As long as it sounds good enough, I would have been satisfied – but MW1 turns out to be a rather pleasant surprise.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Right In The Phase

Here is the latest episode of Head-fi TV where Jude, the HF-boss, interviews Jerry Hervey @ JHAudio and  Jen Rossi @ Lantos Technologies about the latest innovation on in-ear technology. Have to give it to Jerry for solving the phase issue that has plagued the multi-drivers IEM world for years.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

[REVIEW] Sony MH1 – The Best Kept Secret

Right when MH1 ‘LiveSound’ was first announced over a year ago by Sony Ericsson (*now ‘Sony Mobile’, after Ericsson sold its share of the company to Sony early this year), I wasn’t really paying much attention to it – Why wouldn’t I, or any audiophiles in that matter? After all, it is just a “headset” by the company’s smartphone division in Eupore, not from the famed headphone team in their Japan HQ. The bias kicked in and soon I have forgotten all about it. Fast forward to a couple of months ago, I was offered a chance to review the recently released Sony Bluetooth headset for Android, the MW1 ‘Smart Wireless Headset pro’, and find myself very impressed by the sound quality of - not only the BT unit itself, but also the IEM it bundled with. It turns out to be the shorten version of MH1 adapted for the BT headset. I immediately know it is an IEM that deserved to be reviewed as a standalone product before I can review the MW1. It will help to complete the story of MW1, and really give credit to the EU team that developed the excellent sounding headset.

Sony Ericsson MH1 in bulk packaging from DX.

Stuning Design

EXS from Korea has made some excellent IEM in the past, but they just go up a notch with the new single balanced armature X15. Price is set at a fairly affordable US$90.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Triple Tap

Not that we didn't see this coming - JVC just announced upgraded models of their 'Twin System' by incorporating a third driver and make it the world first triple dynamic IEM. Two models will be released: HA-FXZ200 and HA-FXZ100. The difference between the two models are (1) the silver plated OFC in the FXZ200 vs. the normal OFC in FXZ100 and (2) brass parts in FXZ200 instead of aluminium parts in FXZ100. Thought using three drivers, the front two micro drivers of FXZ200 / 100 seems to be the same, so it is still a two ways setup like FXT90 (which has two different micro drivers) *Early report suggests it is a three-ways after all. MSRP for FXZ200 is estimated at around US$280, which is about double what FXT90 is going for these days. I really hope the extra driver and all the brass are worth that price hike.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

[REVIEW] Sony XBA-1 and XBA-4

For quite some time after the success of E888 earbud in the late 90’s, Sony seemed to have quitted the serious earphone market and only interested in the consumer level products. It isn’t until 2008 that EX700 marked the return of Sony to the higher end earphone world. But even so, their attention were focused solely on single, large diameter dynamic transducer based IEM (i.e. the EX series) and reluctant to venture out from their comfort zone. Thus you can imagine that it came as quite a surprise for many when Sony suddenly announced the balanced armature (BA) based XBA series about a year ago, which subsequently has became the main line of portable earphone for the company.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Dynamic Duo

Nocs of Sweden announced a new dual dynamic IEM called the NS600 Crush. Though they are still relatively rare when compared to dual BA, dual dynamic seems to be catching up in the market trend. MSRP is $150.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Updated Look

Originally announced about three months ago, Phiaton is getting ready to release their latest 'Half In-Ear' model, the MS200, for US$150. You might think they have gone the way of Beats in design, but actually the red scheme is always part of the MS series even before Beats' association.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


This review might come a bit late for some as the EX600 (as well as its big brother, the EX1000) has been discontinued by Sony in some places (mostly in the West), probably in an effort to shift the market’s attention to their balanced armature based XBA series. The good news is that the IEM is still available on the open market as well as in East, so it won’t disappear from our reach just yet. Up till the release EX700 a few years ago, Sony had mostly dropped out of the business of high quality earphones (in-ear and earbuds alike), which left the market they once almost dominated to their competitor. While EX700 does mark a comeback for Sony to the portable world, the IEM itself is far from perfect. The overly bright and sibilant sounding IEM still causes my ears to ring just by thinking about it, even though it is one of the best performing flagship dynamic driver IEM of its time. The EX600, which comes almost two years later with a designated model name that might looks to be a class lower than the EX700, is actually a total upgrade.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Next Flagship

 (click for larger picture)

Here is the look of the next HifiMan flagship, the RE600 on the background. The guy in the middle is none other than Hifiman's boss, Fang himself, whom is in a PR event at Taiwan showing off the company's latest products, including their next gen top-end DAP, the HM901. 

There is also RE400, rumored also to be the co-flagship, but it is not shown at the event.



1964EARS is releasing their 6 drivers, dual high, dual mid, dual bass, custom IEM named the 1964-V6 soon. Costing only $650 at introduction (*meaning the price might go up later), it is one of the more affordable 6 drivers around.

Monday, October 1, 2012

October: The SONY Month

For the past few months, I have had the privilege of working with both the local and oversea Sony divisions for review samples acquisition as well as in-depth discussion over R&D on IEM and related tech. You might not know it, but getting a review sample from a big company is much harder than you think (unless you are working with big, established site like CNET, I imagine), which is why you don't see a lot of big brand names popping up in here as I have to regulate my own budget to get them and I only have that much to work with (i.e. a single flagship means I have to miss out on two~three cheaper models). Even rarer is the opportunity to talk to the engineer that develop these models.

Sony, which was once a giant in the earbuds world, started kind of slow in the IEM era. But they are definitely working hard on catching up with the competition since last year with the release of several really good sounding IEM. With October being declared as the 'Sony month' here at In Ear Matters, you can of course expect more Sony review, but we will have comparison with other IEM and gears as well - including Bluetooth headset comparison and stock smartphone headset shootout (the new EarPod included!). Last but not least, we will have an article from a contributing writer (whom is an Sony engineer himself) telling us about the intricate process and tech in IEM R&D. This will be our first 'Behind-the-Scene' article and hopefully we will have more in the future. All and all, this will be an interesting month :)

Disclaimer: All trademarks and logos in the website belong to their respective owners. Beside getting free review samples, I don't work for or get paid by anyone to write anything on this website, or anywhere else in that matter. Also, free review samples are never sold for any financial gain. I do buy gears and review them, but for simplicity you (the reader) should always assume what I review is free sample in nature (and thus comes with all the bias). The website does have Google Ads and Amazon Associates enabled (which I have no direct control over their content) - though I don't write review for a living, nor does the ads generates enough money to cover my breakfast (in fact, not even one breakfast per week). Listening to music and playing with audio gears are purely hobby for me. In short, I am just an audiophiles who happens to have his own blog. Not a journalist who happens to be an audiophile. Oh, and excuse my writing as I am not a native English speaker and can't afford a proofreader. Also, just because I don't write in a negative tone doesn't mean I don't write down the negative aspect of a gear. Please read them carefully. Last but not least, please note that this site uses cookies to track visitors' number and page view.

Important: All postings are my own personal opinion only and should not be treated as absolute truth. I do get things wrong just like everyone else. Always do your own research!

Lastest Posts

Copyright 2008-2016 In Ear Matters. Powered by Blogger Blogger Templates create by Deluxe Templates. WP by Masterplan