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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sony SBH80 Part.1: Aesthetics [Updated on 4/23/2014]


On January 6th at CES 2014, Sony starts a new project called New Smartwear Experience Vision, which revolves around ultimate portability accomplished by seamless connection through wearable technology. Several devices that share the unified theme have been introduced, including SmartBand and SmartWatch 2. And also, as a part of the project, a new Bluetooth stereo headset, SBH80, is announced.

From the audio designer of MH1 LiveSound™ Hi-Fi headset, Sead Smailagic of Sony Mobile, comes a next-generation wireless audio experience.

The Unit

Upon brief look, Sony SBH80 seems to closely resemble MH1's design. However, Unlike MH1, which is made of aluminium, SBH80's housing consists of a heavier dual-layered magnesium alloy. This improvement certainly makes the headphone more sleek and highly durable. And with its newly designed ear sleeves, a tighter fit is well secured.

The Bluetooth module

Not to mention its cool appearance, as SBH80's Bluetooth module is designed in such way that the weight of the module is evenly distributed not to the ears, but to the shoulder, yielding better comfort than most of its competitors. Even in extended usage, the headset is virtually fatigue-free.

Sead Smailagic, the tonmeister

Sead Smailagic at a recording studio in New York, NY
Mr. Smailagic's devotion to reproducing accurate sound is unprecedented. From applying the core principles of psychoacoustics to using one of the well-known recording studios in New York for fine-tuning the sound, he has carefully taken many steps to optimize the overall quality of the headset. Moreover, unlike other manufacturers that simply use generic third party materials, he actually takes care of the smallest details when it comes down to engineering to make sure the product is perfectly up to his standard:
"... the very detailed specification on the driver, like VC material, VC diameter, VC length (nr of turns), VC gap in the magnet, Diaphragm material, thickness, shape of the dome, etc ..."
Such quality has been proven true previously with his MH1. So, as his newest creation, SBH80, is engineered to have even better tonal balance and clarity, the hope is high.

Updated on 4/23/2014: According to Sony Mobile, SBH80 is specifically tuned to match the linear characteristic of the musical imperiario, L.A. Reid's recording studio.

Mr. Reid listening to SBH80 at his studio
This has been made in conjunction with the release of the late king of pop, Michael Jackson's new single, Slave to the Rhythm.
The tuning settings have also been burnt to the digital signal processor on the optional Bluetooth® headset SBH-80. The result? A listening experience as it was intended to be heard.
Although such effort may not fully resolve "the circle of confusion", it is good to know a well-known manufacturer like Sony is finally recognizing the importance of setting the point of reference when it comes down to sound reproduction.

To the part.2, General analysis

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