BEST BUDGET NOISE-CANCELLING HEADPHONES
RAZER OPUS VS. SENNHEISER HD 450BT VS. SONY WH-XB900N
DESIGN & BUILD
Right off the bat, we will realize that the Sony WH-XB900N and Razer Opus share the similar design principle. The WH-1000XM3 has a more elegant and upper-class aesthetic that has made it a subtle status symbol. Next, the WH-XB900N and Razer Opus has a simple yet subtle look with minimal lines and subtle branding, while the Sennheiser HD 450BT is more of a conventional design that isn’t anything really appealing. The headband of the Razer Opus, and Sony WH-XB900N have plush cushions, while the Sennheiser’s uses silicone headband. The ear cushions on all the headphones are also large enough to encase your ears. From my experience, I can wear all of them all day without fatigue. They do manage to keep their low-profile look. with mostly plastic. The headband extensions on the Razer Opus and Sony WH-XB900N is made of metal, while the Sennheiser’s headband is made of plastic. It is worth noting that the Razer Opus has the best build quality followed by the WH-XB900N, then the Sennheiser HD 450BT with the cheapest feeling hollow plastic body.
Moving on to comfort, all 3 headphones have fared decently well. They do not cause much wearing fatigue but they do certainly heat up your ears when using them in warmer weather climates. All headphones never added any pressure to the crown of the head or to the jawline even after long hours of wearing them. The WH-XB900N has the largest earcups and the weakest clamping force which makes it the most comfortable headphone. Next, the Razer Opus does nearly as well but its earcups are slightly cramped, lastly the Sennheiser HD 450 BT with the tightest fitting earcup and slightly awkward fit on the head when compared to the previous two headphones.
Next, Sound Quality. In my opinion, I find that the sound of Sennheiser HD 450BT is the best for all genres of music. The bass is strong and tight but it never bleeds into the mids. The mids are clean and articulate and highs have clarity and never sounded too sharp. The instrument separation is the best as well when compared to the rest. Next, the Razer Opus work best with pop and jazz and other genres that put a great emphasis on the mid-range and vocals combined with the clarity of instruments. However, its sound signature simply does not cut it for bass-heavy tracks. Which brings us to the next headphone, the WH-XB900N. This is the best headphone for any bass-heavy genres like EDM, Hip-Hop and Rap. The bass response on the WH-XB900N is the punchiest and deepest amongst all 3 headphones. It is also important to note that all 3 headphones offer sound tuning with selected presets and customisation with their respective apps, available for download on the App Store and Play Store.
Moving on to the next part, Noise-Cancelling. From my test, the Razer Opus managed to successfully beat the rest. From my previous review, I mentioned it had a background hiss in the noise-cancelling. It is now resolved with a software update and the performance of the noise-cancelling improved significantly. The Sennheiser HD 450BT is next in line for noise-cancelling. It works well at cutting high frequencies but it is definitely not as effective. Lastly, the WH-XB900N works well too, however, it did not beat the rest since it did not cut off as much higher frequency noises. The WH-XB900N offer much more customisation in the noise-cancelling department with Adaptive Sound Control which allows for toggling of different noise-cancelling modes like Walking, Staying, Transport and Running. Each has different levels of noise-cancelling and ambient sound mode. These are all automatically detected by the headphone itself. Users can toggle the amount of ambient sound let in, focus on voice-only or just turn it off completely. It is worth knowing that the Razer Opus and Sony WH-XB900N have quick attention mode which allows you to hear announcements or talk to someone quickly without taking out your headphones.
In the portability category, the Razer Opus is the best as it folds up into a much more compact profile for easy storage. It also comes with a hard-shell carrying case to protect the headphones and a spot to store all your cables. Next, the WH-XB900N can be folded into similar fashion as the WH-1000XM3 but it does only come with a soft carrying pouch that will not protect from drops. The Sennheiser HD 450 BT is the worst with the capability to only fold up and store in the same soft carrying pouch, making it the most prone to damage if handled roughly.
All 3 headphones features app support, which is available for download on the App Store and Play Store. The Sony | Headphones Connect app allows users to take full control of the sound customisation and Noise-Cancelling function. There are buttons on all the headphones themselves to cycle through different noise-cancelling modes or bring up smart assistance. Similarly, the Sennheiser Smart Control App allows users to tune the sound signature to their liking but you cannot fine-tune the noise-cancelling or allow for ambient sound let-in. Lastly, the Razer Opus app has fixed presets so you cannot alter the sound signature on your own. Just like the Sennheiser’s, the Razer Opus does not allow for customisation of the noise-cancelling. Moving on to wireless usage, with all 3 headphones I experience absolutely no Bluetooth drop-outs or hiccups. The Sennheiser HD 450BT have Bluetooth 5.0 support while the rest are stuck with Bluetooth 4.2. All headphones support all High-Res Audio codecs like AptX HD or AptX Low Latency, however, the only WH-XB900N supports LDAC.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Overall, all 3 headphones come at very similar price points and have similar target audiences. Now, let's recap and break down the differences to further understand which is the best for your ears. First, the Sennheiser HD 450BT is the cheapest out of the bunch. It has the best sound quality and sound customisation, as well as great noise-cancelling that rivals the Razer Opus. Next, the Razer Opus is the newest headphone with its subtle design and best noise-cancelling, it is arguably the more stylish headphone compared to the Sennheiser HD450BT or the Sony WH-XB900N. It may not have done so well with songs with heavy bass but it makes up for that in its bright, clear and articulate vocal and instrument works. Next, we have the bass-heads favourite, the WH-XB900N with its subtle branding and minimalistic design. It may look plain outside but I guarantee it packs a serious punch when the bass drops. In terms of overall ranking, the Razer Opus ranks first; excelling in the design and build quality, noise-cancelling and portability. However, the Razer Opus sound quality is something you definitely want to consider if you don’t like headphones with a lack of bass. Those looking for the best overall sound quality and noise-cancelling, should go for the Sennheiser HD 450BT while those looking for the best bass-focused noise-cancelling headphones should go for the WH-XB900N.
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