When Sony first released the 1000XM3’s it was a big deal for two reasons. Obviously they improved their tech specs so they’d perform over all better… but they also improved their over all build quality and redesigned them so they’d look a lot better than their predecessors as well. And thankfully the new Sony WH-XB700’s have gone through the same treatment. Now even though I really do like the new Sony XB700’s I’m extra excited over them cause they are clearly giving us a preview of what to expect from the Sony XB1000’s.
Now just so that we’re clear, the Sony WH-XB700’s are not the replacements for the Sony MDR-XB950N1’s. The XB700’s are the replacements for the Sony XB650BT’s which are slotted below the XB950N1’s. The Sony XB700’s retail for $130 and if you want to pick these headphones up they’ll be linked down below.
Like I’ve said in the past, Sony’s headphones have always performed very well… but tend to suffer when it came to build quality and design. But ever since Sony released their WH-CH700N’s and 1000XM3’s they’ve been focusing on improving the build quality and design of their headphones. Plainly said, the XB700’s look like miniature versions of the 1000XM3’s, and thats a very good thing. These headphones can be laid down flat, when you expand their headband there’s a sturdy click to them, and when you flex the headband there’s zero creaking and squeaking. The XB700’s have a new sleeker low profile design compared to the chunky industrial design found on the XB650BT’s. The XB700’s no longer have the glossy plastic found on the XB650BT’s which means they’re no longer figure print magnets. But most importantly, gone is that super wide headband that was prominent on a lot of Sony’s older headphones, especially their Extra Bass Headphones.
But the changes don’t end there, Sony also improved the padding on the ear cups found on the XB700’s. The cushions on the XB700’s are slightly softer than the outgoing XB650’s and the leatherette used on the XB700’s feel slightly less plasticy. But Sony even went as far to improve the mesh found inside the ear cups that cover the drivers. Now even though you wouldn’t notice these small changes unless you had these two headphones side by side to compare them… its very cool to see Sony is clearly trying to over haul their headphones cause for the longest build quality and design has been Sony’s weak point.
Now when it comes to fit, keep in mind these are on ear headphones. And personally I always try to stay away from on ear headphones. But after using these headphones extensively for a few days I found them to be fairly comfortable. They have a neutral fit as in they’re not snug but they’re not loose… they’re just there. But thanks to their slightly softer padding they are noticeably more comfortable than the XB650BT’s. And I can confidently say, the Sony XB700’s are big head approved.
Regarding tech specs, one of the biggest improvements the XB700’s has over the XB650’s is that they have USB-C Charging. Now this is a big deal cause for the most part USB-C has been reserved for more premium headphones like the 1000XM3’s or Surface headphones. So I thinks its pretty cool to see USB C on these $130 headphones.
When it comes to battery life the XB700’s have an advertised battery life of 30 hours just like the XB650BT’s. But they now have fast charging. Now admittedly, fast charging on the XB700 isn’t that impressive cause 10 minutes will only get you an hour and a half of playback time. Personally I was hoping we’d see fast charging similar to the 1000XM3’s where 10 minutes will get you 5 hours of playback time. But I think we can expect those types of number on the Sony XB1000.
Another improvement on the XB700’s is that they’ve been upgraded from bluetooth 4.0 to bluetooth 4.2. Over all I did notice the XB700’s had zero latency when watching Netflix on my iPhone where as the XB650BT’s did have a slight quarter second latency. But I did notice the XB700’s had a slight latency when watching youtube videos on my iPhone. But both of these headphones did have zero latency across the board when watching videos on an android device.
But unfortunately, the Sony XB700’s can still only be connected to one device at a time. Which means if you have a phone and a computer, which I like to think most people do… you can’t hot swap from one device to another. Sony, we’ve gotta get Muti-device connectivity going… you’re so close, so close.
Now when it comes to sound quality, as the name implies… the XB700’s are a part of Sony’s Extra Bass Headphone line geared towards people who really like bass. But unlike the XB650s’s which have a fixed bass heavy sound signature, the new XB700’s can connect to Sony’s Headphones app. And from here you can adjust exactly how much bass you want. For comparison, the bass on the XB650’s is equivalent to the Bass on the XB700’s when they’re set to 7. Which coincidentally thats where I like to keep my XB700’s. Now even though yes, the XB700’s have more bass than the XB650’s, they also suffer from far less distortion. Now the Sound stage and instrument separation on the XB700 isn’t amazing, but you’re picking these up for the Bass. And in that department they don’t disappoint. And as a side note, I actually found the XB700’s are great for watching movies cause when explosions happen on screen you really get to feel them more than you would with normal headphones.
But I really do think its important to point out that if you’re an audiophile you really wanna steer clear from the XB700’s. With clear bass turned on these headphones are going to focus soul on the Bass. Depending on the intensity of the Bass of what ever you’re listening to you’re going to notice the EQ on these headphones constantly change to make sure the bass on these headphones doesn’t bottom out. Which means you could be listening to a song and hear that the vocals are very prominent, then the bass line kicks in or the beat drops, and then when the vocals come back in you’re going to notice they’re not as prominent as they were 20 seconds ago. Obviously Sony is doing this to deliver the best listening experience possible with an emphasis on the bass, but if you’re a purist youre not going to like this. But if you have the clear bass on these headphones set to zero then they’re going to have a flat sound signature and the EQ isn’t going to be constantly changing itself.
But unfortunately, you can’t fully customize the EQ on these headphones like you can on a lot of Sony’s other headphones. Again you can only adjust the intensity of the bass and the EQ is then going to dynamically change. Personally I think what Sony should do is give you the clear bass option like they do now, but also give you the option to customize your own static EQ. So this way you can use one or the other. I think this is well within reason and sony could easily add a costume EQ option through a software update like they did with the Sony WH-CH700N a few months back.
The Sony XB700’s also now feature both Google and Alexa voice assistant integration. Personally I find google assistant to be more useful than Alexa. But you can summon your voice assistant by pressing the new custom found on the left ear cup like this.
Even though I am a fan of voice assistants in my headphones, I think sony should give you the option to remap the new custom button to turn Extra Bass on or off on your headphones. Even though extra bass is cool and all… it can get a little over whelming when listening to podcasts. And since there’s no way to manually toggle extra bass on or off on these headphones you gotta open up the app every time. And trust me, I have tried multiple button combinations. But again this is something sony can easily fix through a software update.
And in general, the buttons on the XB700’s are also all new from the XB650BT’s. Personally I’ve always been a really big fan of Sony’s switch and volume rocker set up, so I do hate to see it go on the XB700’s. But the new buttons on the XB700’s do exactly what they need to do. They’re easy to find, they’re easy to tell apart, and they have a lot of tactile feedback.
But over all, I really like that sony is actively improving the build quality and design of their new headphones. I feel the the XB700’s look and feel all around much better than the XB650BT’s. The addition of USB C charging on the XB700’s is a small but very much appreciated upgrade… and being able to adjust the bass on the XB700’s is also another welcomed feature that previously wasn’t available on the XB650BT’s. The Bass on these headphones sounds much more natural than the bass found on the $150 Skullcandy Crushers… and unlike the Skullcandy Crusher’s the XB700’s are big head approved. Even though the XB700’s still have some room for improvement, I’m pumped to checkout the Sony XB1000’s.