The XBA-1iP may be the least expensive XBA headphone, but its refined character and poise is quite impressive. The XBA-1iPs hit all the right notes on Norah Jones' "Come Away With Me" album; her vocals naturally amplify the full-bodied piano, acoustic guitars, bass, and drums. The music also exhibited a lively character with a strong dynamic attack and particularly spatial stereo imaging. So much so, in fact, that I noted the cymbals and percussion instruments sounded more airily realistic than they do with most $100 in-ear headphones.
The XBA-1iPs certainly sound more transparent than the original Monster Turbine in-ear headphones with more favorable clarity and definition, but the Turbine's bass hits with a harder thump. Buyers who live on a steady diet of rock, dance, or hip-hop may find the XBA-1iPs' low-end tones lacking fervor.
The $100 Sony XBA-1iPs are best-suited for buyers craving high-resolution headphones with a natural appeal that contrasts with modern, bass-focused buds.