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Sony Steps Up Headphones With BA Technology

1/10/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern
LAS VEGAS — Sony is coming to International CES to show off its new line of balanced armature (BA) in-ear headphones, a technology that until recently was typically reserved for hearing aids and monitors.

Using balanced armature technology results in much smaller drivers when they’re compared with dynamic drivers. Sony’s models also feature a specialized construction that’s designed to create a wider sound path between the diaphragm and the eardrum, said to result in high-quality playback over a broader sound range.

The technology was initially used for hearing aids and monitors and can now be found carrying over into the consumer headphones market. All of the products in Sony’s new XBA line were created in-house, David Johns, product manager at Sony, told TWICE in a December meeting.

The line also features what the company is calling the first “box-less” pair of active noisecanceling headphones. Instead of operating off an AA or AAA battery, the XBA-NC85D feature a rechargeable NiMH battery integrated into one of the ear buds, said to last about 20 hours.

Sony’s DNC Software Engine technology is said to reduce ambient noise by 97.5% percent. Suggested retail is $499.

The line consists of 11 models total.

The XBA-1 ($79.99), XBA-2 ($199), XBA-3 ($279) and XBA-4 ($349) models’ number of drivers is denoted by the figure in its SKU. As the line increases in price and drivers, so does the range and details in sound that is possible for a listener to hear, according to the company.

All four models have special ABS plastic outer housing, meant to prevent unwanted vibration for clear mid to high range, and all but the XBA-1 have magnesium inner housings (the XBA-1 have a liquid crystal polymer inner housing).

Each of these four models also comes with an iPhone-capable in-line mic and remote version for an extra $20.

Sony also has Bluetooth and Sports versions of its BA headphones.

The XBA-BT75 Bluetooth headphones ($299) also have a “box-less” design. They come with a charging case that powers up the headphones while they’re being stored. The case is said to have 2.5 times of a full charge.

The XBA-S65 Sports ($89.99) model can be rinsed under water — although they are not meant to be waterproof. They feature an adjustable ear-loop design and silicone ear buds.

All of the headphones are scheduled to be available in February.
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