A good pair of headphones is a basic necessity nowadays. There are wired and wireless options according to people’s needs. For ease of use and portability, Bluetooth headphones are the best deal. Now there are a lot of ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) headphones in the market where Sony offers top-notch headphones overall. Sony set the bar of Active noise-canceling headphones very high after the release of WH-1000XM3. It was also known as the “Bose killer”, cause the Bose QC35ii was one of the best ANC headphones at that particular time. Sony WH-1000XM3 was priced around 350$ which was not cheap and not everyone’s cup of tea.
For this reason, Sony released the cheaper alternate WH-XB900N. For a reasonable amount of money, Sony offers similar features of the WH-1000XM3 like Active noise cancellation, touch-sensitive playback controls, and long battery life. The design is also similar but it won’t feel as premium as the WH-1000XM3. Comparison between the WH-1000XM3 and WH-XB900N is not fair as their price tag is noticeably different and clearly, the WH-XB900N is a budget option. The comparison is to justify the price tag of Sony WH-XB900N and point out the core differences.
The unboxing experience is quite simple. A decent box containing the headphone itself, a USB Type-C™ cable, headphone cable, and a carrying pouch.
Build Quality and Features
The headphone is mostly made out of lightweight plastic (254 grams). It is surprisingly flexible and sturdy. The plastic surface has a different texture to it which provides more grip to it. It has a light blue touch to it which is also visually appealing. The earcups can rotate up to 90 degrees so that it can lie on a flat surface. Sony did a very good job making it portable. The lightweight and flexibility are good considering that it might be used outside for a large amount of time.
The soft memory foam feels light on the ears. Though it might get a bit warm after extended use and the breathing mechanism is not the best. But it is not a dealbreaker because it is not much of an issue and is also common in headphones. The experience might vary from person to person. The padding helps isolation which bumps up the listening experience. The upper part of the headphone is also padded. The fitting is also good.
The media controller buttons are located on the left earcup and slightly raised so that the buttons can be navigated easily just by touching it. There’s also a 3.5mm port and a USB-C input for connecting to wired audio sources and charging.
One of the main features of this headphone is Extra Bass. Extra Bass is the most highlighted part of this headphone. So, this is the right headphone for people who are into extra bass.
Just like the WH-1000XM3, while listening to music or anything, holding the touchpad instantly enables the ambient mode which lowers the music and uses microphones to amplify outside noise. This is also a very neat feature of the WH-XB900N.
As it is a Bluetooth headphone, it can be connected with any Bluetooth supported device traditionally. But the pairing process is much more fluent with devices like the Google Pixel 3xl which can be compared with the pairing process of Air pods which is powered by Apple’s w1 chip with an iPhone. It is also equipped with NFC which can help the pairing process. It supports Bluetooth 4.2 which is a bit backdated as this headphone was released in 2019 when Bluetooth 5.0 was available.
“Sony Headphones Connect” app is necessary to enjoy this headphone at its fullest. It can be downloaded from Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store. This app can be used to control the ambient noise according to preference and there is a wide variety of 20 modes to select within. There is also an adaptive mode that can auto-adjust sound depending on the surroundings. Sound positioning can also be tweaked with the app. So, anyone can play around with these settings and find the one that is suitable for them. The app can also be used to program the custom button for voice assistance which is situated on the left earcup. You can choose between Alexa or Google Assistant.
The playtime is around 25 hours although Sony claims a battery life of 30 hours which is very good. And if the battery goes dead, there comes the 3.5mm audio jack to the rescue! And charging it is very simple, it can be charged with a USB-C cable.
How Does it Sound?
This is the most important part. However, it was mentioned earlier that Sony WH-XB900N features extra bass which is the right choice for bass lovers but not for everyone. This is specially tailored for bass heads. A lot of people might prefer a balanced sound profile and unfortunately, this headphone won’t satisfy them. No one would prefer boosted bass on a soft song, right? This headphone will provide punchy and crisp bass, but it won’t distort the mids and highs because of the extra bass. It sounds pretty much okay in the mid area. The vocals sound pretty much clear, the highs are not harsh and intolerable, rather decent. The soundstage is also pretty much wide, every instrument can be separated from each other individually and where the sound is coming from. Overall, it’s a pretty much decent sounding bass-heavy headphone. It provides very heavy bass but the bass is not as detailed as the WH-1000XM3 which offers a much more balanced sound profile with a higher price tag.
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Can this be an alternative to the WH-1000XM3? Is this the best ANC headphone in the market right now? Not really. It does not offer a balanced sound profile so it might quite not be the audiophile-grade but it is a great headphone considering its price. It is offering so many features like ANC, touch control, ambient mode at around 170$ and it is worth it.