SONY WH-XB900N

Design & Construction

The Sony WH-XB900N is the next iteration to Sony's popular extra bass headphone (MDR-XB950N1). The left earcup has the (From Front-Back): 3.5mm input, USB-C port, Power button and the Custom button. Controlling the rest of the playback functions are on the right earcup itself. Swipe down for Vol-, swipe up for Vol+ swipe towards the front for next track, swipe backwards for previous track, double tap to play/pause and cover the whole right earcup to activate Quick Attention. Quick Attention is a feature that allows users to instantly pause the music and deactivate noise-cancelling to hear others when people wants to interact with you. After you are done, release your hand from the earcup and everything retracts to normal. A red LED will light up when it is left to charge. It takes about 7 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. It is also worth noting that the headphones only require 10 minutes of charging for 1 hour of playback. The NC/Ambient button can be used to switch on/off the noise-cancelling and toggle ambient sound mode. Both sides of the headphone arms bear the Sony logo and the left earcup has the NFC. The headphones have plush cushions which is meant for providing a comfortable experience with the headband being light and well-padded to not cause discomfort for users who wear spectacles like myself. On the headband, there is also thick cushioned headrest which provides for a very comfortable experience. The exterior of the headphones has this two tone matte colour scheme that resists fingerprint very well. On the top, the headband holding the structure is made of metal and 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, but it is hidden under the headband arms.

Sound Quality

The 40mm EXTRA BASS headphone drivers certainly live up to its name. They produce an extremely bass boosted sound signature to provide for a very immersive experience. Based on user experience, the noise-cancelling is the mediocre. Low frequency sounds like the aircon or fan sounds are blocked out. However, voices and high frequencies noise could still be heard when there was no music on or music was playing at a low volume. I have to say it managed to muffle down the wind noise pretty well and is definitely an improvement to the previous generation MDR-XB950N1. THere are also some notable features like Adaptive Noise-Cancelling, Ambient Sound Control, Sound Position Control, Virtual Surround Sound, an equalizer, DSEE, LDAC and AptX Codecs. Definitely a plethora of features and functions to satisfy the pickiest of users. All these functions can only be controlled via Sony's Headphones Connect App available for download on the App Store and Play Store. Adaptive Sound Control 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. Of course, users can toggle the amount of ambient sound let in, focus on voice only or just turn it off completely. Users can access this feature via the app or just by holding down the NC/Ambient button. The next function is Virtual Surround Sound which include presets like outdoor-stage, club, hall, or arena style sound. However, the presets did not really enhanced the sound and I personally do not use it as it makes my music output rather 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 fast-paced pop to bass-heavy EDM tracks. Highs are crisp and clear. Mids come off as balanced and forward, and bass is boosted which gives off a nice thump in your ear. There was only a little sound leakage even at full volume and no high-volume distortion. Call quality was okay, the caller manage 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. In wireless mode, it supports LDAC, AptX codecs and Bluetooth Version 4.2 for clear audio transmission. 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. However, the volume remains similar in both wireless and wired mode. Listening via the USB Type-C cable is also unavailable. Users can put the headphone in Bluetooth pairing mode by holding down the power button for 7 seconds when its switched off. The battery life peaks at 30 hours. The headphones' connectivity to the app is perfect as I do not experience any hiccups in Bluetooth connectivity. The headphones stow flat and folds up into a more compact profile. It also comes with a USB-C cable for charging, a 3.5mm cable for wired use and a soft pouch to protect the headphone from scratches.

PROS

  • Clean Bass-Boosted Sound Signature

  • Snug & Comfortable

  • Long Battery Life

  • Easy Controls For Music Play & Calls

  • Adaptive Sound Control

  • Ambient Sound Control

  • In-App Equalizer

  • Sound Position Control

  • LDAC & AptX Codecs Supported

  • Quick Attention

  • Folds Up into a Smaller Profile

  • USB-C Charging

CONS​​​​

  • No Bluetooth 5.0 Support

  • Mic and Controls Not Available In Wired Mode

The Bottom Line

The Sony WH-XB900N is a noise-cancelling headphone with a clean bass-focused sound signature. Housing pulsh and comfortable ear cushions, customisable noise-cancelling, long 30 hours battery life and easy to use controls. It is highly recommended for daily commutes and long flights. Two colours, black and blue are available to fit users of different genders.

WE RATE IT!

9.5/10

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AUDIO-TECHNICA ATH-WS990BT
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