Sony XB900N Review - The Mid Range King

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The New Sony XB900N’s are an exciting pair of headphones cause they’re Sony’s newest mid range ANC headphones that have essentially combined the XB950N1’s and the H.ear On 2’s into one. Obviously Sony is holding these headphones back a little bit so that they don’t eat into their 1000XM3’s or 1000XM4’s sales but given their price point and performance I really like these headphones. 

The new Sony XB900N’s currently retail for $250 which is the same as the Sony XB950N1’s and 50 dollars less than the H.ear On 2’s. Again keep in mind, these are Sony’s newest Mid range ANC headphones. But if you want to pick up any of headphones mentioned in this video they’ll be linked down below.

Now first let's talk about perhaps the most crucial upgrade found on the XB900N’s… and that has got to be their design. Yes, these headphones look very similar to the 1000XM3’s and that’s a very good thing. In the past Sony has always gone for this urban slash industrial look on their headphones which never really worked out cause it made their headphones look very bulky and in some cases silly. But thankfully that not the case with these headphones, they’re fairly low profile and they have a very subtle design this time around. But another important change found on the XB900N’s has got to do with their ear pads and leatherette quality. The XB900N’s have slightly redesigned ear pads from the 1000XM3’s and they obviously look much more different from the Ear pads on the XB950N1’s and H.ear On 2’s. The ear pads on the XB900N’s are slightly more spacious than the ear pads on the 1000XM3’s and they’re way more comfortable than the Ear pads on the XB950N1’s. Now they’re not as spacious as the H.ear On 2’s or any Bose headphones… but I do think the XB900N’s are slightly more comfortable than the 1000XM3’s cause of their redesigned ear pads. And over all, these headphones are very comfortable to wear and they are big head approved. But like I mentioned earlier, the leatherette on the XB900N’s have also been upgraded, now it doesn’t feel as good as Bose’s leatherette, but it does feel better than the leatherette found on the 1000XM3’s cause it doesn’t feel as plasticy.

But now lets talk about the included accessories, just like the XB950N1’s and the h.ear on 2’s the XB900N’s come included with a carrying pouch. Which means if you plan on traveling a lot with these headphones I do recommend you invest in a hard shell carrying case. These headphones also come included with a fairly decent 3.5 to 3.5 millimeter audio cable and they also come included with a USB C to USB A charging cable cause you guessed it, these headphones are now rocking a USB C port for charging just like the 1000XM3’s. 

And just like the 1000XM3’s the XB900N’s have an advertised battery life 30 hours with ANC turned on. Which actually is above average for Mid range ANC headphones. But the fast charging on the XB900N’s isn’t as good as the 1000XM3’s cause a 10 minute charge from a dead battery is only going to get you 1 hour of play back time, 4 hours less than the M3’s. But for all intents and puporses, the battery life the XB900N’s is better than the battery lives on the both the XB950N1’s and H.ear On 2’s.

Now when it comes to bluetooth connectivity, unfortunately just like all of Sony’s other headphones the XB900N’s can only be connected to one device at a time. Which means if youre a power user your not going to be able to hot swap from on device to another. But if youre an android user youre going to get extra benefit like NFC, APTX and Ldac support and youre also going to get zero latency across the board when ever you watch videos on your phone. 

Where as if youre an iPhone user your going to have zero latency whenever you watch Netflix, HBO, or DC universe on your phone but you are going to get a slight latency whenever you try to watch youtube videos. Its a very slight latency and easy to ignore, but if youre as particular as me you will notice it. Its not a headphone thing, its an app thing. 

But now lets talk about the active noise cancellation on these headphones. Over all the ANC on the XB900N’s is decent for mid range ANC headphones cause it blocks out a good amount of noise without causing any cabin pressure or back ground hissing. But the ANC on the XB900N’s is just a hair better than the ANC on the XB950N1’s. But the ANC on the XB900N’s isn’t as good as the ANC on the H.ear On 2’s. And so that you can see for yourself we’re about to jump into and ANC test.

Like you may have just heard the ANC on the XB900N’s is very similar to the XB950N1’s but it does block out a touch more noise. But the H.ear On 2’s is still blocking out noticeably more noise than the XB900N’s. And it makes sense cause Sony probably wants to keep a good ANC performance delta between the 1000XM3 and XB900N. But over all the ANC on the XB900N’s is decent cause again it blocks out a good amount of noise and it does so without any cabin pressure. But if you were expecting better ANC performance than the XB950N1’s… then I’m sorry, its not. 

But a feature found on the XB900N’s which simply isn’t available on the XB950N1’s and you have more control over of than on the H.ear On 2’s… is their Ambient mode. Through Sony’s app you can go in a select how much sound you like your headphones to pump in so you can still be aware of your surroundings when youre wearing your headphones. And an ambient mode is great cause you can still know what’s going on when youre walking around the city or you can do what I do and have ambient mode turned on when youre watching a movie at home so that if someone calls your name you can still hear them. And for the most part, the ambient mode on these headphones has been properly implemented cause it sounds natural and there’s no background hissing which is something you don’t want to hear when you're watching a quiet scene in a movie. But unfortunately, unlike the ambient mode on the 1000XM3’s… the ambient mode on the XB900N’s pump in everything. So they don’t actively block out random loud noises like their more premium counterparts. And so that you can see what I’m talking about here’s what I call the clap test. 

Like you may have just seen, when I clapped the XB900N’s still kept letting in sound where as when I clapped with the 1000XM3’s they automatically stopped pumping in all of that ambient sound. This small but very important difference means that if youre wearing these headphones with ambient mode turned on and if your dog starts barking or if a siren passes by,  youre going to hear all of that through your headphones. Which first off is very loud, and youre also going to get jump scares. Now even though an ambient mode is pretty standard on a lot of mid range and premium ANC headphones these days, I don’t know of any mid range ANC headphones who ambient mode actively blocks out random loud noises. So im not going to hold it again the XB900N's that much.

But another feature that simply just isn’t available on the out going XB950N1’s is quick attention where if you fully cover the touch pad on the XB900N’s they’ll lower the volume of your music and let in all of the ambient sound so you can quickly talk to someone like this. 

But now, lets talk about how these headphones sound. As the name implies these headphones are a part of Sony’s Extra Bass Headphones line made for people who really like bass. And having the bass turned up to a ten on the 1000XM3’s is like having the bass on the XB900N’s set to 5. But even if youre someone who doesn’t like too much bass in their music you can still use these headphones at a lower bass setting or even have their Extra Bass featured turned off cause you have full control over how these headphones sound through Sony’s app. Plainly said if you like a lot of bass in your music you have that option or if you prefer a neutral sound signature you also have that option. But personally I like using these headphones with their Clear Bass set to 7. And over all these are a pair of good sounding headphones and the Bass sounds natural and it doesn’t over power the rest of your music. The sound stage and instrument separation on these headphones is good, but what these headphones really allow you to do is to better feel your music. And another reason why I like these headphones so much is cause if you watch movies with these headphones with their Extra Bass feature turned on you feel like youre actually in the middle of an action scene… it just makes the movie watching experience more epic. But I do think its important to point out that the XB900N’s have the same amount of bass as the out going XB950N1’s. 

But unlike the XB950N1’s, the XB900N’s now have a touch pad to control your music playback. And its rather bitter sweet cause I personally really like the control switches found the XB950N1’s. But the touch pad on these newer headphones is just as good as the touch pad on the M3’s… double tap to play or pause. Swipe up or down to adjust your volume, and pro tip you can press and hold to continuously raise your volume and you swipe front of back to skip through your music. Personally I think Sony has one of the best touch pads on headphones cause it has good accuracy and its a good size. 

But finally here’s the microphone test. It doesn’t sound awful but it does still sound a little muffled compared to AirPods and the recently released Bose NC 700’s. But this audio clip is being recorded by the microphone found on the XB900N’s so you can be the judge of that. 

But over all, Sony has garnered a lot of good will over the last few months in the premium ANC headphones space with their 1000XM3’s. And I think they’re on the same track with XB900N’s and the Mid range ANC headphones space. Sound quality wise the XB900N’s are going to please both Bass Heads and people who prefer a neutral sound signature thanks to their fully customizable EQ. And like I mentioned earlier, Sony’s Extra Bass headphones are low key awesome for watching movies. These headphones are packed to the brim with all of the features you could possibly ask for like a 30 hour battery life which is good for about 2 weeks in between charges for me, decent active noise cancelation that blocks out a good amount of noise without any cabin pressure, an ambient mode that sounds natural and doesn’t have any distracting background hissing, and they also have voice assistant integration. But personally I think the most crucial upgrade on the XB900N’s is their new sublet lower profile design. And like I mentioned earlier, I do find these headphones to be more comfortable than the Sony 1000XM3’s cause of their redesigned ear pads, and I really do hope we see these new ear pads on the Sony 1000XM4 if they come out at IFA 2019. But for right now, I think that if youre looking for a pair of Mid Range ANC headphones, I think you can’t go wrong with the Sony XB900N.