Design & Construction
The Sony WH-XB700 is the success0r to the Sony EXTRA BASS on-ear style headphone, the MDR-XB650BT that is currently 2 years old. The left earcup has (From Front-Back): the mic, the 3.5mm input, the USB Type-C port, the Power button and a custom button. Pressing the power button for 2 seconds will power on the headphones and holding it down from power off will enable Bluetooth pairing mode. When in usage, a single press will tell you its remaining battery life. The custom button, on the other hand, will activate Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa with a single press. On the right earcup, we have the volume buttons and a multi-function button to control the playback functions. Single press on the multi-function button to play/pause or answer/end phone calls, Double press it to skip forward and triple press it to skip backward. Pressing the volume buttons will increase or decrease the volume respectively. Both sides of the headband bear the Sony logo and the headphones have a rough matte plastic finish that is low-profile and resist fingerprint smudges very well. There are very thick cushions on the earcups and headband which provides for a comfortable experience with the headband being light and well-padded to not cause discomfort for users who wear spectacles like myself. However, like all on-ear style headphones, after an hour, I experienced wearing fatigue since the earcups sit directly on the ears instead of encasing it. The headband is made of metal and the earcups pivot left and right and swivels flat for easy storage. The top of the earcups has holes to maximise airflow of the drivers as they push out bass, but it is hidden under the headband arms.
The 30mm EXTRA BASS headphone drivers have improved from the previous generation. They produce a bass-boosted sound signature which did not drown out vocals like the previous generation. Based on user experience, the noise isolation is decent, it managed to block some surrounding noise. The WH-XB700 is compatible with Sony's Headphones Connect App available for download on the App Store and Play Store. Inside the app, you will find features like Virtual Surround Sound, Sound Position Control, Electro Bass Booster, a built-in equalizer, DSEE. Virtual Surround Sound is a feature which include presets like outdoor-stage, club, hall, or arena style sound. However, the presets will not enhance the sound instead, I personally feel that it makes my music output unnatural and artificial. Next, Sound Position Control allows users to change the way they want to listen either from the in front of them or front/rear left and right. I don't see a need for this feature, but it is there for you to try out and use to your liking. It is also good to know that the app has an internal equalizer to enable the best output of music. With a large category ranging from Bright, Excited, Mellow, Bass Boost, Treble Boost, Speech Etc. You can also choose to customize your own too! This makes the headphones great for all genres of music ranging from soothing jazz to bass-heavy EDM tracks. Highs are loud and precise. Mids come off as crisp and forward, and bass is boosted which gives off a nice thump in your ear when the bass control is raised to +5 settings and above. There was very little sound leakage at maximum volume and no high-volume distortion. Call quality was okay, the caller managed to hear me on the other end but the mics on the headphone do pick up my surrounding noise.
Connectivity & Portability
The headphone operates both passively and wirelessly. Pairing via the NFC tag on the left earcup is simple and quick. In wireless mode, it supports AptX, AAC, SBC codecs and Bluetooth Version 4.2 for clear audio transmission. It does not have any latency on all platforms when the headphones are on AptX codec, if users switch to AAC or SBC, they will experience a 2 second delay. The mic and controls on the earcups are disabled in wired mode and users cannot charge the headphone and use it at the same time. Also, the headphones can only connect to 1 source at one time. However, the volume remains similar in both wireless and wired mode. I am glad to report that the headphone charge via USB Type-C and offers 90 minutes of playback with a 10 minute charge. The battery life peaks at 30 hours and it takes about 4 hours to charge from a dead battery. A red LED will light up when it is left to charge. The headphones' connectivity to the app is perfect as I do not experience any hiccups in Bluetooth connectivity. The headphones stow flat but do not fold upwards for a more compact profile. It would be nice to see at least a soft carrying pouch of some sort but sadly, Sony did not include any to complete the package.
Clear, Bass-boosted Sound Signature
Snug & Comfortable
Long Battery Life
Easy Controls For Music Play & Calls
AptX Codecs Supported
Clear Bass Control
Google Assitant/Amazon Alexa Support
USB-C Fast Charging
No Quick Attention Feature
No Bluetooth 5.0 Support
No Carrying Pouch/Case
Mic and Controls Not Available In Wired Mode
The Bottom Line
The Sony WH-XB700 is a step in the right direction for the upcoming line of Sony EXTRA BASS headphones. Housing comfortable on-ear ear cushions, customisable sound settings, 30mm bass-boosted drivers, long 30 hours battery life and tactile playback controls. It is a no-frills, easy to use headphone that is recommended for daily commutes and school or office use. Two colours, black and blue, are available to fit users of different personalities.
WE RATE IT!
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