Sony MDR-XB950N1 Further Bass Headphones evaluate

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It is all about that bass, proper? So we have heard, and so has many a headphone producer. From Beats to Skullcandy, the designers of the cans we put over our ears have change into obsessive about discovering that excellent bass-heavy sound. And, at the very least  with its MDR-XB950N1 pair, Sony isn’t any completely different.

Sony tends to please two camps with its headphone vary – the true audiophile, and the beat-hunting bass fiend. The Sony MDR-XB950N1 is actually aiming to tempt that latter group, and when you run by way of the spec sheet the cans seem like a winner: For $250 (£230, about AU$335) you get lively noise cancellation, 22 hour battery life and a cushty over-ear design.

Nevertheless, after having had the headphones booming into our ears for a number of weeks, we had been left conflicted. Whereas the bass tuning is an fascinating effort, the headphones are a one trick pony that solely actually make a number of particular genres shine.


The Sony MDR-XB950N1 are massive headphones with an over-ear design that helps isolate listeners from outdoors noise. The earcups and headband are padded in plush leather-based which make them extraordinarily snug to put on for prolonged durations. Styling is delicate however the headphones do look massive and ponderous.

By way of sturdiness, the headphone is made principally of black plastic however have black metallic adjustment sliders that make them really feel sturdier. Vacationers might be completely happy to know that the MDR-XB950N1 can fold flat or up for transport and include a easy fabric pouch.

Whereas some headphone corporations attempt to decrease the variety of buttons on their headphones, Sony crammed as many buttons and controls onto the headphone as potential. 

On the left earcup you’ll discover buttons for energy, toggling the Bass Impact equalizer, a microUSB charging port, 3.5mm jack for wired use and a button to toggle lively noise cancellation. On the best earcup you will have a slider and button combo for controlling music playback and a devoted quantity up and down rocker. Having so many buttons has a draw back, nonetheless: you’ll have to spend the primary couple of days studying the place every button is by contact.  


If what you’re looking for is skull-rattling bass, the Sony MDR-XB950N1 have you ever coated. Even with out the bass impact EQ turned on, the Sonys have a bass-heavy sound that makes listening to rap, digital and lure music enjoyable. 

You’ll wish to obtain Sony’s companion Android and iOS app while you get these headphones as that’s the one technique to modify the bass impact EQ and digital soundstage choices. For those who don’t have an Android or iOS telephone, you’re out of luck – sorry, Home windows, Blackberry or Linux telephone customers. 

Sony made the bass impact EQ tremendous easy to make use of with its slider that goes from -10 to +10. Those that don’t need overbearing bass can flip it down whereas those that need extra can crank it manner up. There are additionally choices for digital soundstage to make music sound prefer it’s being performed in a live performance corridor or stadium area however none of them sound significantly good. 

Listening to the Sony MDR-XB950N1 with the bass impact turned off, we may instantly hear the mid-bass emphasis that has the unlucky impact of drowning out among the mids. Highs are rolled off and devices just like the violin lose their sparkle and backbone. Turning down the bass helped with revealing a bit extra of the mids however the rolled off highs stayed.

With the bass impact cranked all the best way up, we felt bass in a visceral manner however was fatigued by the sound after a number of minutes. When the bass impact is ready to max, bass sounds energetic however uncontrolled and flabby, like a stereo you’d hear at your native late night time automotive meet that rattles the whole lot inside the neighborhood. 

Energetic noise cancellation from the MDR-XB950N1 performs nicely however nonetheless lags behind the class-leading . The headphones did a great job drowning out the sound of the prepare nevertheless it couldn’t block out as a lot as Bose. There’s additionally a persistent hiss when noise cancellation is lively however you received’t discover it as quickly as music performs.

After spending a few weeks with the MDR-XB950N1, we had been left conflicted. The headphones are nice with particular genres of music however we couldn’t recover from the truth that the headphone was a one trick pony. Jazz, classical and rock sounded uninteresting due to its rolled off highs and overly emphasised bass. 

It did not assist that the Sonys additionally lacked multipoint Bluetooth pairing which looks like a obtrusive omission at a time the place now we have extra gadgets than ever that may use wi-fi audio. The headphones additionally lack auto play/pause when taking off the headphones, a characteristic the cheaper has. For the cash, the Plantronics are a greater worth because it comes with extra options, longer battery life (24 hours vs Sony’s 22 hours), good noise cancellation and a sound signature that works with all sorts of music. 

Closing verdict

For those who actually love bass, you’ll love the Sony MDR-XB950N1. The adjustable bass means you’ll be able to dial within the headphone’s bass response simply the best way you want. We might have preferred to see a multi-band EQ however Sony saved it easy with only a bass slider. 

For the cash, Sony’s MDR-XB950N1 disappoints by omitting multipoint Bluetooth pairing and auto play/pause when taking off the headphones. The Plantronics BackBeat Professional 2 provide extra options and balanced sound for $50 much less. 

If Sony makes a second bass-heavy headphone, we’d like further options in addition to an answer to the difficulty of bass bleeding into the mids and rolling off the highs. For proper now, nonetheless, the Sony MDR-XB950N1 are a one trick pony that solely ardent bass lovers can love. 

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