If you need to shed a few pounds, forget the treadmill, and throw on these cans. They’ll vibrate your beer belly right off. How much bass can you expect from the WH-XB900N? And how effective is the active noise cancellation? Let’s talk sound signature and design in this Sony WH-XB900N Extra Bass Headphones Review.
Sony WH-XB900N Extra Bass Headphones Review
IN the BOX
No problems here. The earpads are luxuriously plush, and the fit is snug without feeling too tight. My balding friends will also appreciate the bit of padding on the headband, though it would be nice if the entire surface area was padded. You’ll get some decent sound isolation as well, even with the active noise cancellation switched off.
Here’s a dirty little secret about most noise-cancelling headphones under $300. They hardly cancel any noise. So, if your priority is to drown out the voice of your pain-in-the-ass boss, it’s best to save a few more bucks and go for Bose or Sony’s now famous, WH-1000XM3. I like to use the hum of my air conditioner as a litmus test. When the ANC was switched on, the WH-XB900N only reduced a fraction of the AC sound. And to be honest, I think a good pair of in-ear headphones would do a better job at isolating from the surrounding environment.
The WH-XB900N also has an ambient mode, which actually amplifies sound from the outside environment. And both, the ANC and ambient mode can be switched off. These functions are controlled by a single button on the side of the earcup.
Not the clearest call transmission I’ve ever heard, but it definitely gets the job done. I went out into the middle of Manhattan to call my colleague, and he said there was little interference from my end. The clarity of his voice was sufficient as well. In fact, we discussed Lizzo’s latest album for a while until a truck driver told me to get the f–k off the road.
Controls and Functionality
The Sony WH-XB900N employs a touchpad on the right earcup to control most of its functions, including, play/pause, volume, track skipping, calls and voice assistant activation. The ambient mode can also be activated by placing your hand over the earcup. Overall, I found the touchpad to be quite responsive and easy to get the hang of.
The Sony WH-XB900N offers 30 hours of battery life, which is about standard for wireless ANC headphones these days. And it takes 7 hours to fully charge, and you can get 60 minutes of usage after just 10 minutes of charging. These cans employ a USB-C connection for charging using the included USB-C cable. And USB-C is preferable to micro-USB because it’s sturdier and can be flipped either way to connect. So, USB-C is slowly becoming the standard.
If you do run out of juice, the WH-XB900N comes with a 3.5mm cable to use in passive mode.
The WH-XB900N supports high-res codecs, including LDAC and aptX HD.
Here’s another dirty secret. WH-XB900N sounds cleaner than the much pricier WH-1000XM3. Why? The ANC, depending on its strength, can significantly affect sound quality. ANC tends to make the sound signature bassier and often cloudier. In fact, so far, the only company to have overcome this problem is Bose (with their recent release of the 700). So, if your priority is great sound, you should certainly consider this more humbly priced Sony model over the WH-1000XM3. Now, let’s get into the details.
Deep, punchy and very forward leaning, this is the kind of bass you can feel thumping deep inside your chest. And, of course, listening to pop, the low end takes center stage in the mix. Though I wouldn’t consider myself a bass-head, I have to say, I dig it. For an “extra bass” headphone, it’s not overly indulgent. And again, what I find most impressive about this model is the clarity. Usually, headphones in this price range with this kind of low-end emphasis tend to sound muddy in the higher frequencies. Not the case here. The lows are reasonably well separated from the mids and treble. So, yes, you will get a massive bass response. And the low end lends ample warmth to rock and pop-rock tracks. But it avoids cloudiness for the most part.
That being said, these cans are completely unsuitable for certain genres. And after testing an acoustic double bass track, I found a dead whale under my desk. Still, cellos sounded relatively natural, and the pronounced low end actually added some nice grandeur to the piece. But certainly, you should not expect a highly detailed performance with respect to acoustic instruments. However, for modern genres, the bass profile is tons of fun.
There’s some good presence in this range, with a relatively even balance between the low and high mids. However, the bass frequencies takes some attention away from low mids at times. Still, rock and pop-rock tracks have an expansive, full-bodied feel. So, if you like a massive sounding chorus, the WH-XB900N will definitely deliver. At the same time, these cans can handle more intricate genres, like folk music. Guitar strums, for example, had decent separation in the lower-mids. And in tracks with heavy arrangements, the layering wasn’t bad either. Furthermore, string instruments, while not very textured or nuanced, had a pleasing smoothness and fluidity.
What I also like about the WH-XB900N is that there’s a touch of sparkle in the highs. In fact, it makes the high frequencies on the pricier WH-1000XM3 sound relatively blunted. So, you will get a somewhat snappy feel when listening to pop tracks. But again, this isn’t a particularly transparent headphone, and the more subtle characteristics in strings and vocals were missing.
Not bad for a wireless headphone at this price point. You can expect a good amount of spaciousness, and the imaging will give you a sense of dimension as well. Though instrument placement didn’t feel extremely precise, there were discernible gradations in height and depth. So, you will get a reasonably 3D feel from these cans.
The Sony WH-XB900N delivers as advertised. And unlike many other extra bass headphones I’ve tested in this price range, these cans offer an impressively clean profile. Furthermore, considering that the sound performance beats the WH-100XM3, which sells for a 150 bucks more, the WH-XB900N is a solid deal. But again, if noise-cancellation is your top priority, it’s worth investing the extra cash on a headphone with more effective ANC.
You can find the Sony WH-XB900N Extra Bass for the best price here: