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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.