Whether you work remotely or commute, chances are that you are constantly on the move, making quiet time a rare treat. Sony has recently released a more affordable pair of ANC headphones, the Sony WH-XB900N, to accompany you on your daily metro excursion. These heavy-bass, lightweight cans are a great Beats alternative and feature the very best noise-canceling technology from Sony for less than the rest. Here is our Sony WH-XB900N Review.
Sony WH-XB900N Review – Design
These are lightweight for on-ear headphones (254 g), which is especially important if you plan to use them for travel. Generous memory foam padding on the headband and ear cups make it easy to wear for hours on end. The airflow is not great and this can lead to a damp experience in warm environments. Like other noise-canceling headphones that we have seen, they fold and rotate so that they can lie flat on a table.
Buttons rest on the left earcup and can be reassigned with the Sony Headphones Connect app. There is also a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a USB-C jack in the same earcup. The headset offers 44 hours, 22 minutes of playback time and supports fast charging: 10 minutes of charging means one hour of listening. A full charging cycle takes approximately 4 hours. On the other hand, the right ear cup is reserved for touch and gesture control.
From here you can adjust the volume, skip songs and activate the Quick Attention mode by holding the right case. The headset integrates both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, which means that you benefit from incoming notifications aloud, setting reminders, texting and more. All of these functions can be started by saying “Ok Google” or “Alexa” to order the assistant of your choice.
Sony WH-XB900N Review – Connectivity
Pairing the headphones with your device is seamless. When you switch on the WH-XB900N for the first time, a window appears on your telephone to start pairing. (For this to happen, Bluetooth must be active on your phone.) You can also pair via NFC. In general, the connection strength is consistent and reliable. During the SoundGuys test process, there was no skipping play and audio-visual delay.
Although it is disappointing to see Bluetooth 4.2 firmware instead of Bluetooth 5.0, Sony compensates for this by offering a large number of high-quality codec support. You have five streaming options: LDAC, aptX, aptX HD, AAC, and SBC. As SoundGuys research has shown, Bluetooth codecs are imperfect and performance varies greatly depending on the source device.
The Sony | Headphones Connect app you can make detailed EQ adjustments, prioritize connection strength or streaming quality and more. That said, to use one of the Sony presets, the streaming quality is reduced to SBC. You can also use the app to adjust the intensity of the noise reduction and move the sound, which means you can choose the direction of your music. It’s not as immersive as Creative’s Super X-Fi technology, but it’s a handy trick.
Sony WH-XB900N Review – Sound Quality
These are ridiculously bass-heavy, which makes sense because the name “XB” is characteristic of Sony’s “extra bass” product line. I was stunned by the emphatic low-end when listening to The Beatles song, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da. For everyone who is familiar with the celebrated band, you know that that song is actually no more scared. Mid-range frequencies are masked by the bass, but not to the extent that you would expect, and treble remains audible without making a mistake on the side of the grid.
On the other hand, the microphone quality is excellent. Adam’s voice example below is realistic. Because the microphone has a neutral inclination response, almost all frequencies are transmitted with the same loudness. Ultimately, this means that, regardless of your vocal register, this headset makes you sound good … or at least accurate.
Sony WH-XB900N Review – Other Features
Just like its big brother, the Sony WH-1000XM3, the Sony WH-XB900N has a class A noise-canceling technology. Environmental noises in the coffee shop and rumbling in the car engine are weakened by the ANC. That said, it still can’t touch the effectiveness of Sony’s flagship. However, for $ 100 less, it is worth the sacrifice.
The Beats Studio3 Wireless also contains ANC technology, which adapts to your environment. Sound and noise reduction is not as impressive as we have seen with the headphones from Sony, especially the flagship. In addition, the ANC headphones from Beats are $ 100 more than these. If you want to drop the extra Benjamin, choose the WH-1000XM3.
Sony WH-XB900N Review – Conclusion
If you are satisfied with saving money at the expense of noise reduction compared to the WH-1000XM3, yes. However, these stores for $ 50 and the WH-1000XM3 can often be found in promotions for ~ $300. If you are stuck between a rock and a hard spot, it is worth spending $50 more for the flagship headphones. Sound reproduction is more accurate with the same Bluetooth codec support.
Sony WH-XB900N Review Rating – 8.4/10
These share many of the same features of Sony’s flagship noise-canceling headphones but are significantly heavier bass and slightly cheaper. The sound signature and design make the WH-XB900N a worthy Beats competitor.
- Build quality
- Great noise canceling and isolation
- The touchpad works well and ambient mode is useful
- LDAC, aptX, aptX HD support
- Extreme bass emphasis
- Earpads heat up quickly