Sony’s most famous, WH-1000XM4 is a pretty bass generous headphone. But the WH-XB910N is bass on an another level. While this headphone may not work for many types of music, it might lend itself perfectly to certain modern genres. Just how bassy does the WH-XB910N get, and do you have to be a clinically diagnosed bass-head to love it? Also, is it any good?
In the Box
Sony WH-XB910N Extra Bass Headphones
3.5mm Headphone Cable
USB-C Charging Cable
Look and Feel
Anyone familiar with the best-selling, Sony WH-1000XM4, will recognize the similarities in design with this adapted, extra bass model. But although it looks almost the same as its higher priced flagship sister, the build quality of the WH-XB910N may be a little less impressive. The materials don’t seem to have the same solidity as the WH-1000XM4, and the yoke doesn’t feel as durable. That being said, the WH-ZB910N does have that same sleekness and level of comfort. The ear pads are luxuriously plush, and the clamping force never feels too firm, even after long listening stretches. So, the WH-ZB910N certainly approximates the WH-1000XM4. It just seems like “lite” version.
Design and Functionality
Like the WH-1000XM4, the WH-XB910N is designed with ANC, though perhaps not as effective. That is, it does an okay job of killing ambient sound, but I still heard the hum of our heater and my colleagues typing on their keyboards. On the flip side, the Ambient Mode works great, effectively amplifying your surroundings so you can hear your boss approaching or your colleagues talking about you.
Besides the power/pairing button and the ANC/ambient button on the side of the earphone, the rest of the functions are controlled through touch controls on the ear cup. You can expect the standard functionality, including play/pause, track skipping, volume control, voice assistant activation and call answering/ending. Call clarity was no problem, though the microphone did pick some of the surrounding noise. Should you run out of battery or find yourself on an airplane, the WH-XB910N also comes with a 3.5mm headphone cable.
You’ll hear some decent scale here. There was a clear sense of height, as well as reasonably accurate placement across the stereo field. Often, the bass suffocates the space (more about this below). Still, there is a fair amount of dimension to the soundscape, and probably about as much as you can expect from a wireless headphones in this price range.
The musical genre you listen to may dictate whether you love or hate this headphone. When Sony says that a headphone has “Extra Bass,” they really mean it. When I played a classic, like The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun,” it sounded like a whale playing guitar at the surface of the ocean. To say that there was bass overkill is an understatement. But when I switched to Harry Styles’ sparsely arranged “Love of My Life,” the sound was divine, and I didn’t want to turn it off. So, it’s a Jekyll and Hyde situation. If you’re listening to fuller mixes, especially with delicate acoustic instruments in the upper mids, the bass may drown out soul of the song. But if you’re playing modern pop or hip-hop or songs with minimal instrumentation, it’s a satiating listening experience.
Surprisingly, when left on its own, the lower midrange is very clean. Guitar strums are neatly separated, and the WH-XB910N presents relatively delicate sound. But when the bass (especially the upper bass) comes in, it overwhelms the lower mids. In fact, all that’s left is the upper midrange, which it should be noted, has great resolution and definition. So, again, in tracks where you have only a couple of instruments – bass, keys, light percussion and vocals, for example – the headphones sound great here. But anything more complicated or intricate is a bust.
Unsurprisingly, very smooth in this range. The highest frequencies are easy on the ears. And although you won’t get much sparkle, the peaks don’t feel blunted or hidden. You’ll get some crispness from percussion. But don’t expect airy vocals or luminous pianos. The significant weight and richness of the sound carries into the treble as well.
The Sony WH-XB910N is damn bassy, but it does share some of the skill of the best-selling WH-1000XM4 flagship; clear and clean upper mids, with ample warmth and punch in the low end. And while it is definitely the wrong headphone for people who listen to classic rock and acoustic genres like folk and jazz, it may be the perfect headphone for those who love a juicy sounding modern pop or hip-hop track. Bass-heads, rest assured. You will get the fix you need.