SONY MDR-XB950B1

Design & Construction

The Sony MDR-XB950B1, the predecessor of one of Sony's top selling, well-known headphone (MDR-XB950BT), has upgrade itself. The left earcup has the (From Back-Front): LED Light, Power Button, Bass Effect button, Micro-USB port, Input and Mic, while under the right earcup, we have the  Vol- & Vol+ buttons and the rocker which allows: seek backward/forward, pause/play and picking up/ending calls.  A red LED will light up when it is left to charge. It takes about 4 hours to charge from a dead battery. Pairing via both NFC and bluetooth is simple and quick. A Blue LED light up once in 3 seconds during wireless usage. The power button allows you to check for battery status by pressing once. The Bass Effect button can be used to toggle the Bass boost on/off when necessary. Both earcups bear the Sony logo and the right earcup has the NFC. The headphones has very thick cushions which is meant for providing a bassier experience. The headband is very light and will not cause discomfort to those who wear spectacles since it is a circum-aural (Over-The-Ear) headphone. On the headband, there is also cushioned headrest which provides a good amount of comfort. The exterior of the earcups has a metallic-like finish but it is purely hard plastic. That's a different story on the top as the headband holding the structure is brushed metal. The earcups pivot left and right and folds flat for easy storage. The top of the earcups has holes to maximise airflow of the drivers as they push out bass, it was a concern though as this may damage the internal components should anything small or even water droplets may fall in unknowingly. I have to say the MDR-XB950B1 is one of the world most comfortable and light-weight headphone you can ever wear. 

 

Sound Quality

The 40mm headphone drivers are extremely bassy; expect an equivalent of a subwoofer blasting bass right in your ears. The headphone drivers provide a very immersive experience. It supports AptX codec for clear audio transmission over Bluetooth. Based on user experience, the noise isolation very weak, I could hear my surroundings very clearly when there was no music on. However, turning up the music to about 50% volume does not help either as small amounts of ambient noise are still quite apparent. It was only after I turned it up to 70% where my music becomes enjoyable.  Highs and mids are balanced even though it is a pair of bass-focused headphones. Call quality was fantastic, the caller could hear me clearly on the other end and didn't know I was using the headphone mic to communicate. Bass lovers are recommended to get one for daily commutes.

Connectivity & Portability

The headphone operates both passively and wirelessly, from my test though, it was surprising to know that the volume of the headphones drop significantly while using the wired mode. The maximum volume in wired mode was only equivalent to about 65% of the volume in wireless mode. The mic and controls are disabled in wired mode and users cannot charge the headphone and use it at the same time. Listening via the Micro-USB cable is also unavailable. Users can put the headphone in Bluetooth pairing mode by holding down the headphone when its switched off for 7 seconds. The battery life peaks at 18 hours and the headphone and is Bluetooth-enabled. Sony also added a new app called the Sony | Headphones Connect app which users can download in the Play Store and App Store. The App enables users to tune the amount of bass they would like and has additional features of Virtualphones Techonlogy (VPT) including presets like outdoor-stage, club, hall, or arena style sound. However, the VPT presets did not really enhanced the sound and most users would rather turn off the feature for the purest sound output. Tuning of the bass was a fantastic feature to have as users can choose the amount of bass they would like to have, instead of the headphones blasting unbearable amounts or not at all. The app however is not perfect though as I have experienced it unable to detect my headphones connect about 40% of the time, making it slightly frustrating especially when you need to tune the sound immediately. The headphones stow flat and comes a micro USB cable for charging. A carry bag should have been included given the price of the headphone but Sony didn't.

 

PROS

  • Durable Construction

  • Strong Bass

  • Snug & Comfortable

  • Long Battery Life

  • Easy Controls For Music Play & Calls

  • A Range of Colours

  • Light-weight

  • Good Call Quality

  • Full Control of Amount of Bass Boost

CONS

  • No Carry Bag

  • Flawed App

  • Weak Noise Isolation

  • Bulky

The Bottom Line

The Sony MDR-XB950B1 is a superior headphone housing comfortable ear cushions, 40mm bass-focused drivers, long battery life and easy to use controls. However, noise isolation is very weak and the app is slightly flawed. It is highly recommended for movie marathons and long listening. A range of colours also fits users of different gender.

WE RATE IT!

9/10

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