Sony WH-XB900N Headphones Evaluate: Nice Worth, Subpar Sound

We’re big followers of Sony’s flagship noise-canceling headphones, the WH-1000XM3. In actual fact, ever because the firm’s authentic MDR-1000X mannequin got here out a couple of years in the past, every new iterations of Sony’s flagship mannequin has sat unchallenged atop our checklist of the most effective headphones you should buy.

So, you may think about our pleasure when the corporate introduced the WH-XB900N, a brand new, more-affordable pair of noise-canceling headphones aimed toward those that like a bit extra oomph in down low. Sadly, we’re not practically as smitten with the WH-XB900N as we’re with their older sibling. With mediocre noise discount and a flabbier sound signature, we’d advocate you go along with extra interesting choices from Panasonic and Jabra, or higher but, pony up the additional $100 for Sony’s competitors killers.

Out of the field

Anybody accustomed to the look of Sony’s ultra-popular flagship noise-canceling mannequin will instantly see the household resemblance on this new “additional bass” model. With clear, business-class traces, the headphones borrow closely from the aesthetics of the pricier mannequin. A number of shiny bass vents on high of the earcups and a few crisp Sony logos on the headscarf are the largest aesthetic variations to talk of.

For $100 much less you additionally get related equipment, together with a mushy case as an alternative of a tough journey case — not a giant deal — as properly the identical USB-C cable and three.5mm cable for wired listening.

Options and design

We completely love the person expertise supplied by the WH-1000XM3, and for essentially the most half, that continues to be true on the XB900N as properly. The headphones share the identical intuitive contact controls on the surface of the correct earcup, permitting you to swipe up or down to alter quantity, left or proper to alter songs, or contact every pad to play or pause music. Holding the touchpad will pull up your voice assistant.

There are solely two bodily buttons on the headphones themselves: A button on the underside of the left earcup lets you pipe in some ambient sound, and switch noise-canceling on or off, and one other turns controls energy and locations the headphones in pairing mode.

The WH-XB900N even have the identical auto-pause performance that may cease your music if you take away the headphones – an excellent addition for the cash — and you may nonetheless cup your hand over the correct earcup to briefly pipe in sound from the surface world with out taking off your headphones. Sony’s app even lets you alter equalization and switch noise canceling on or off — although the headphones don’t have the identical noise-canceling chip or capacity to pressure-equalize on planes as their costlier sibling.

The WH-XB900N even have the identical superior battery life (30 hours) and high-fidelity AptX HD and LDAC connectivity because the WH-1000XM3 to stream your favourite tunes in near-wired high quality. Plus, a fast cost characteristic will allow you to get an hour of playback from a 10-minute cost.

Noise canceling

Whereas ease of use is nice, these headphones simply don’t compete with the WH-1000XM3 or Bose QC35 II relating to chopping noise from the surface world. In actual fact, they don’t even do nearly as good a job as direct rivals just like the Jabra Elite 85H and Panasonic RP-HD605N, they usually don’t create anyplace close to the silence of the 2 extra premium fashions, particularly in louder environments; they’re nice for the workplace, however they do comparatively little to scale back the sound inside a loud practice, bus, or airplane.

Sound high quality

Maybe our greatest gripe with the WH-XB900N is that — as a consequence of their sculpted, bass-forward sound — audio efficiency is considerably worse than the WH-1000XM3. We’re admitted followers of extra balanced sound signatures, however even setting that apart, the bass increase added to this “additional bass” mannequin often borders on raucous, particularly when listening to pop and hip-hop music.

In actual fact, when listening to Billie Eilish’s newest album, there was a lot low-end thump it appeared to create acoustic distortion for all that got here above it at greater volumes, and we skilled related flabbiness within the greater register when listening to different bass-laden hits.

Sony-WH-XB900NRiley Younger/Digital Tendencies

The headphones do higher with indie rock and different genres (and you may flip the bass down with the EQ within the app), however in addition they lack the identical crisp element we love within the mid and excessive registers of the WH-1000XM3. When listening to Mac Demarco, Wilco, and others, we particularly missed the shimmer of the guitars, which comes by means of a lot clearer on the WH-1000XM3, even if the headphones share the identical drivers.

It’s additionally value noting simply how crowded the headphone area is relating to the $250 value tier. Frankly, there are simply so many different headphones that sound higher than the XB900N at this value, and provided that this mannequin lacks the identical nice noise-canceling as some rivals, just like the Panasonic RP-HD605N or Jabra Elite 85H, the sound high quality is all of the extra lackluster.

Guarantee data

The WH-XB900N include a one-year restricted guarantee that covers defective elements and workmanship.

Our Take

The WH-XB900N are an honest pair of wi-fi headphones, with a formidable characteristic set and nice battery life. However they’re considerably much less interesting than Sony’s premium mannequin, and are additionally outflanked by different rivals at or round their value level.

Is there a greater various?

Sure. These after higher efficiency and sound at the same value ought to try Panasonic’s RP-HD605N or Jabra’s Elite 85H, each of which supply equally nice options and higher sound.

How lengthy will it final?

Sony makes nice merchandise at a really top quality, and we anticipate no totally different from these headphones. They need to final a number of years, as long as you deal with them with respect.

Do you have to purchase it?

No. Although we like their options, battery life, and clear design, there are simply too many higher pairs of headphones at or across the $250 value level. That, plus the truth that the WH-1000XM3 are so good — and often go on sale – leads us to advocate you go after one other pair of their class or save for Sony’s finest wi-fi cans.

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