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Sony WH-XB900N review

The best of two worlds

(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

Sony WH-XB900N wireless noise-canceling headphones exist as a bridge between the company’s Extra Bass series and the premium WH-1000XM3 cans. There aren't many headphones out there in the market that are able to provide this kind of listening experience.

Pros

  • +

    Overpowering bass

  • +

    Balanced mids and detailed highs

  • +

    Impressive battery life

  • +

    Decent built-quality

  • +

    Quick Attention mode is ingenious to use

  • +

    Android/iOS apps offer greater control

Cons

  • -

    Earcups get warm during prolonged use

  • -

    Bass-heavy sound style isn't for everyone

Sony WH-XB900N wireless noise-canceling headphones exist as a bridge between the company’s Extra Bass series and the premium WH-1000XM3 (opens in new tab) cans. As a result, XB900N contains the best elements from both the worlds.

It supports Extra Bass technology, which enhances the low-end frequencies to produces a deeper bass. Pair this up with industry-leading noise cancellation, and you’ve got the perfect hybrid for bass lovers.

So, how well does it fair against the claims? What’s it like to wear? Who should buy Sony’s WH-XB900N? We find out answers to these and more in this review of the XB900N.

Price and availability

Sony WH-XB900N is priced at Rs 16,990 but often retails around Rs 15,500 at online stores like Amazon India and Headphone Zone. These wireless headphones come in black and blue colour options. 

Look and feel

(Image credit: Future)

Weighing at around 254 g, the XB900N has a plastic construction and feels well-built as you take it out of the box. These pair of cans are accompanied by a headphone cable, USB Type-C cable for charging and a carrying pouch in-the-box.

While the XB900N don’t feel as premium as the 1000XM3, the former is slightly more affordable, which gives it a great price to value ratio. That’s not to say that the XB900N’s doesn’t have a durable build. It just comes very close in carrying forward the premium faux-leather design to an affordable pair of a headband.

(Image credit: Future)

The XB900N is extremely portable as it features a foldable design making it compact enough to be tucked away in the bag easily. Both the earcups can be folded inside at a 90-degree angle, and the foldable hinge can also be twisted on its axis for better adjustments, making its profile even smaller when on the move.

(Image credit: Future)

The XB900N has a soft-to-touch matte finish body with ‘Sony’ etched on either side of the headband. It looks decent and doesn’t give away a loud impression as with Sony’s bass lineup of products.

(Image credit: Future)

There is a dedicated bass duct on these pair of headphones which assists it in fine-tuning the audio and bass according to the surrounding environment. The bass duct is coated in a shiny layer of black or blue paint, depending on whichever color you opt for out of the two.

(Image credit: Future)

All the control buttons have been placed on the left earcup and consist of a power button, 3.5mm audio port, USB Type-C port and a custom button which can be mapped using the compatible Sony Headphones Connect app. Besides, NFC’s logo is embossed on the external earcup and enables NFC supported phones to connect to the headphones in a jiffy.

The right earcup is embedded with a touch sensor which offers the wearer with touch-based controls over volume and calls. Users can swipe across the earcup or tap it for shuffling between songs, volume adjustment and play/pause tracks. 

Additionally, the XB900N supports Quick Attention mode, which allows ambient sounds to pass through the headphones as it lowers the volume of the playing media. This mode comes in handy in situations where immediate communication is required, and the wearer can place their palm on the right earcup to interact with the outside world. The best thing about this mode is that the music keeps playing in the background as if a part of the natural environment.

The touch controls work as effectively as claimed, and the Quick Attention mode is just brilliant to use.

(Image credit: Future)

The XB900N has decent padding on the headband which rests comfortably on the head. The ear cushions are very soft and offer an adequate space to cover the entirety of the ears. It assists headphones in isolating the ears from ambient sounds, thereby enhancing the audio experience.

We did notice the earcups themselves get a bit warm after a 90-minute listening session. It also results in sweat formation around the earcups as there’s no outlet for heat dissipation. We did not experience this during shorter listening sessions and in colder environments.

How does it sound?

Sony WH-XB900N brings two critical features to the table-- extra bass and noise-canceling technology. Meaning that if you love listening to bass-oriented music, you will find the XB900N right at home. 

These pair of cans can intensify the bass in the lows while the active noise cancelation ensures a shell of isolation around the user. For noise cancellation, the XB900N uses an in-built microphone which monitors ambient sounds and records its waveform. In turn, the headphone produces a negative replica of the same waveform. Both kinds of sounds cancel out each other to create an impressive noise-free environment where only music exists. 

The XB900N makes do with decent active and passive noise cancellation but doesn’t come close to the 1000MX3. And that’s fine if you look at its asking price.

(Image credit: Future)

Sony’s wireless headphones can be paired with a phone using the Sony Headphones Connect app. The app is available both for Android and iOS smartphones and allow users to have complete control over their listening environments, especially if you own a pair of Sony’s noise-canceling headphones. The app features an equalizer, Adaptive Sound Control options for different situations, custom button functions and sound position control, to name a few.

The XB900N is paired to a smartphone via Bluetooth 4.2 and supports audio codecs like LDAC, SBC, AAC, aptX and aptX HD. The effective range of the headphones is 10 meters (30 feet), and we found that to be true. The headphones remained connected to the phone, both at a distance of around 30 feet.

Sony’s Extra Bass technology uses custom electro bass boosters that tweaks the lows for a powerful, deep and resounding bass. Besides, these cans provide a perfect balance between highs, mids, and lows for an enjoyable listening experience. 

These wireless headphones don’t feature Automatic AI Noise Cancelling and Personal NC optimizer, both of which headline Sony’s flagship 1000XM3. That’s one of the reasons why they sound better and have been able to woo the industry with its unmatched sound signature.

The XB900N comes close to that but has been crafted for people who love bass-heavy tracks and is essentially a different kind of experience altogether.

30+ hours worth of listening music

Sony claims that the XB900N can last for 30 hours on a single charge with noise cancellation enabled and for 35 hours without it. In our usage, the headphones were able to survive close to 34 hours of continuous music playback, which is just great.

For casual listeners, this is more than enough of juice that’s required before they need a second round of recharge. It takes around 7 hours to charge the XB900N fully and uses USB Type-C cable which is compatible with most phones these days.

Verdict

(Image credit: Future)

At Rs 16,990, Sony’s WH-XB900N wireless noise-canceling headphones are the perfect balance between the company’s bass-heavy lineup and its premium noise cancellation offering. Its the best of both the worlds and yet stands out with a different sound style.

The XB900N are for bass heads, and there’s no doubt about that. If you’re one to enjoy a robust resounding signature and are always on the move, these pair of headphones will suit you well. Even for people who listen to music at their home, the XB900N can help you craft your own space filled with music.

It’s comfortable to wear. However, as we mentioned above, the earpads tend to get warm after prolonged use. Also, it doesn’t come with a hard shell cover. So, it’s not like Sony hasn’t cut corners, but they have where it won’t matter to most users. However, when it comes to the audio performance, it looks like Sony has nailed it for the exceptional experience these headphones offer.

Siddharth Chauhan
Siddharth Chauhan
  • Siddharth Chauhan is the Consumer Technology Reporter at Digit India. He used to work as an Assistant Editor at TechRadar India