Sony XBA-4iP

In-ear headphones with remote for iPod® and iPhone®

  • Sony XBA-4iP


  • Sony XBA-4iP

    Cutaway view of four balanced armature drivers

  • Sony XBA-4iP

    Double-layer housing for reduced vibration

  • Sony XBA-4iP

    In-line remote with microphone

  • Sony XBA-4iP

    Leather carrying case

  • Sony XBA-4iP

    Leather carrying case

  • Sony XBA-4iP

  • Sony XBA-4iP

Item #: 158XBA4IP

Review Summary

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Our take on the Sony XBA-4iP

by David Brown

Pristine sound from a powerful in-ear headphone

You may not think earbuds are capable of generating deep, high-impact bass. And if they are, you may think it's at the expense of crisp, clear highs and smooth mids. Sony blows the doors off those assumptions with the iPod®- and iPhone®-compatible XBA-4iP, a comfortable in-ear headphone that will give your music the audiophile treatment it deserves.

Sony XBA-4iP balanced armature headphones

Four balanced armature drivers produce a detailed
response across the frequency spectrum.

Read more

The power of four balanced armature drivers

Each of the XBA-4iP's earbuds houses four drivers: a full-range driver for overall balance, a tweeter for sparkling high frequencies, a woofer to beef up the low end, and a super woofer to handle that deep, rumbling bass that most headphones simply can't reproduce. How does Sony fit all four drivers into such a small headphone? By using balanced armature technology. Unlike dynamic drivers in typical headphones, the XBA-4iP's drivers employ a pivoting magnetic arm to generate crystal-clear sound. All four drivers work together to bring out subtle nuances in your music and deliver an outstanding listening experience.

Great sound that fits

Think four drivers means a bulky headphone? Not with balanced armature drivers. Each of the XBA-4iP's micro drivers are fine-tuned by Sony engineers to ensure that small size equals robust sound, while fitting comfortably in your ear. The drivers are housed in a double-layer encasement, minimizing vibrations for purer sound. An assortment of interchangeable ear tips ensures a snug fit that keeps noise out and your music in.

Remotely control your iPod or iPhone

Control your iPod or iPhone without even touching it. The XBA-4iP's cord features a built-in remote, giving you easy volume and track control. The remote's built-in microphone lets you seamlessly make and answer calls while your iPhone remains safely nestled in your pocket or bag. The remote also supports Apple VoiceOver, allowing compatible iPods to tell you title and artist info for the current track.


  • 4 balanced armature micro drivers in each earbud:
    • full-range, for balanced sound
    • tweeter, for rich detail
    • woofer, for improved bass response
    • super woofer, for extended low-end response
  • in-line remote to control playback and adjust volume on iPod®, iPad®, and iPhone®*
  • remote has a built-in microphone for answering calls on your iPhone
  • 4 pairs of hybrid silicone ear tips included for optimum comfort and sound quality
  • 3 pairs of noise isolation ear tips with urethane foam for sealing in sound
  • 48" oxygen-free copper cable with gold-plated stereo mini plug
  • cord adjustment slider for a comfortable fit
  • leather carrying case included
  • frequency response: 3-28,000 Hz
  • sensitivity: 108 dB
  • impedance: 8 ohms
  • weight: .28 oz.
  • warranty: 90 days
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
*Works with iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPod classic 120GB & 160 GB (2009), iPod nano 4th, 5th & 6th generation, iPod shuffle 3rd & 4th generation, and iPod touch 2nd, 3rd & 4th generation.

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Features and Specs
Fit Style In-ear
Earcup Type Closed
Noise-canceling No
Bluetooth No
Frequency Response 3-28k Hz
Sensitivity 108 dB
Impedance 8 Ohms
Weight .28 ounces
Cord Length 48"
Airline Adapter Included No
iPod Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Built-in Microphone Yes
Parts Warranty 90 Days
Labor Warranty 90 Days
Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • In-ear headphones (with in-line remote/mic and attached 48" cable terminated by a right-angle 3.5mm connector)
  • 4 Pair of silicone ear tips (SS/S/M/L)
  • 3 Pair of silcone/foam ear tips (S/M/L)
  • Cord adjuster
  • Clothing clip
  • Carrying case
  • Operating Instructions
  • Warranty Card

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.


Dual Balanced Armature Drivers: The Sony XBA Series in-ear headphones (XBA-3iP) are outfitted with Sony's newly developed Balanced Armature driver units engineered for crisp, balanced sound of incredible depth and precision. Infused with premium audio technology, even the most subtle musical nuances are delivered with tremendous clarity and detail. Meticulously pre-tuned by Sony engineers, four Balanced Armature driver units (full-range, tweeter, woofer, and super woofer) reproduce a broad, finely balanced range of sound; from soaring highs to bellowing bass, and everything in between. Plus, these micro-sized drivers are engineered to emphasize key sound characteristics to enhance your music.

Double Layer Housing: A specially made inner housing constructed of liquid crystal polymer holds the driver units rigidly in place for super smooth frequency response. Enclosed in an ABS outer housing that suppresses unwanted vibrations, this innovative double layer design delivers crystal-clear mid to high range sound and overall crisp, rich audio.

Noise Isolation Design: Because Balanced Armature drivers sport an ultra compact design for a smaller overall form factor, they slip easily inside the ear for a snug, more natural-feeling fit. The result is reduced ambient noise and limited sound leakage.

Multiple Ear Tips: The Sony XBA Series in-ear headphones come with 4 sizes of silicone ear tips (ss/s/m/l) and 3 size of silicone/foam ear tips (s/m/l) to ensure a tailored fit that further maximizes overall sound quality and comfort.

In-Line Remote + Mic: The in-line remote gives you volume and track controls (Play, Stop, Next/Previous) for your iPod, iPhone, or iPad; and the built-in microphone makes it easy to take calls from your iPhone. A simple press of a button activates VoiceOver mode, allowing your Apple device to state the name of the currently playing song or playlist. Apple device compatibility as of 8/16/2012:

iPod Model Generation Tested Version Audio Output In-Line Remote In-Line Mic
3.5mm Connector Audio Playback Playback Controls VoiceOver Answer/End Call Voice Control Hands-Free Communication
Shuffle 1st n/a Y Y N N N N N
2nd n/a Y Y N N N N N
3rd n/a Y Y Y Y N N N
4th n/a Y Y Y Y N N N
dock connector 3rd 2.0.2 Y Y N N N N N
4th 3.1.1 Y Y N N N N N
mini 1st 1.4.1 Y Y N N N N N
2nd 1.4.1 Y Y N N N N N
video 5th 1.3 Y Y N N N N N
classic 80GB 1.1.2 Y Y N N N N N
120GB 2.0.1 Y Y Y Y N Y N
160GB 2.0.4 Y Y Y Y N Y N
nano 1st 1.3.1 Y Y N N N N N
2nd 1.1.3 Y Y N N N N N
3rd 1.1.3 Y Y N N N N N
4th 1.0.4 Y Y Y Y N Y N
5th 1.0.2 Y Y Y Y N Y N
6th 1.1 PC Y Y Y Y N Y N
touch 1st 2.2.1 Y Y N N N N N
2nd 4.2.1 Y Y Y Y N Y N
3rd 5.0.1 Y Y Y Y N Y N
4th 5.1.1 Y Y Y Y N Y N
iPhone 2G 3.1.3 Y Y N N N N N
3G 4.2.1 Y Y N N N N N
3GS 4.3.5 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
4 5.1.1 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
4S 5.1.1 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
iPhone 1 5.1.1 Y Y Y Y N Y N
2 5.1.1 Y Y Y Y N Y N

Note: Apple iPod/iPhone software updates may change functionality results. If you download a newer software version, you may need to reset your iPod/iPhone to regain functionality. If this doesn't work, you may need to wait until a newer software update is available.

Headphone Cable w/ 3.5mm Connector: The Sony XBA-3iP in-ear headphones feature an attached 48" audio cable terminated by a right-angle 3.5mm connector. An included clothing clip and cord adjuster help prevent the cable from moving around too much and tangling up.

Carrying Case: The Sony XBA-3iP comes with hard carrying case to store and transport the headphones.


Product reviews from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Quick impressions from the Lab

Comment by Ralph Graves Staff Writer - Creative,

Balanced sound

Written by Ralph Graves, Staff Writer - Creative, on 8/28/2012 10:41:00 AM

I tried these out in the Crutchfield Labs with our test iPhone®. The inline controls are really high up the cord, only a few inches from the earbud. That's an advantage for the built-in microphone, as it placed the controls just a little below my mouth. The raised symbols made them easy to operate by feel. And given the location of the controller, that's vital as they weren't readily in my line of sight.

The sound was most impressive. I seldom use the term "expansive" with in-ear headphones, but that term applies here. Perhaps it's the separate drivers, but I heard a lot of fine detail and nuances in my audition music. Bass wasn't especially deep, but it was present and appropriate for the mix. If you listen to jazz, classical, world music, or folk (in other words, acoustic as opposed to electronic music), then these headphones would be a great choice.

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Sony XBA-4iP Reviews

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4 out of 5

Nice engineering - Worth the price?

Written By Bob Cee, Elk Grove, CA on Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
Am trying these out and comparing to Sony MDR-EX51's that are about 8 years old. They sound very close to the old $40 pair, but are just a couple of db's louder on source material. Using an old Panasonic portable CD player, New ipad and iphone with iTunes. They are very close in how they sound, so I don't know if I can really justify the pricetag even though I got them on sale. My main concern is the durability. The cord seems to be pretty thin, but about the same as the old 51's and the 51's have held up for me. I try to take care of my stuff.... If I don't keep them, the only real item I would be missing is the remote controller for volume, changing songs, etc. Not really a deal breaker since I can live with the sound of the old 51's. Wondering if I could get away with getting the 2-driver set for less??
Cool little earbuds. Sound. "L" 90 degree 1/8" plug. Easily stored/transported. Nice case.
Cost, thin cable.
2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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