What we liked:
* Nice design
* Powerful bass
* NFC compatible
* Bass Effect feature
* Noise Cancelling
* Long battery life
What we didn’t:
* Some features depend on app
Wireless is one of the most convenient ways of listening to music, and audio brands are starting to take advantage of the demand for such feature while throwing in a bunch of features to enhance the user’s audio experience. One of those brands is Sony and their MDR-XB950N1 Wireless Headphones. It features Bluetooth connectivity, NFC, and Noise Canceling. Check out our review below.
Design and Construction
One of the first things we noticed about the XB950N1 is the size. It has large circular housings with a smooth sand-like finish, while the bands are thick with the top part being metal with a brushed finish.
Looking from the inside, there are the thick earpads of plush leather. The pad on the headband is also made of the same material. Like with most headphones, the bands are adjustable while the housings are connected to a swivel for that nice fit.
Looking at the buttons and ports, the left earcup houses the power button with LED, Bass Effect button with LED, microUSB port for charging, headphone jack for wired listening, Noise Cancelling button w/ LED, and the NFC. To the right are the playback controls, and the volume rocker.
Despite its size, the XB950N1 is comfortable and we like how the earpads snuggly cup our ears to help minimize external noise. However, it’s not something you’d wear while working out as it wobbles easily with a slight shake of the head while the earpads can get warm.
For those concerned with portability, the swivels are attached to hinges allowing you to fold the cups, stacking them so you can place it inside the carrying pouch included in the package.
Like with most Bluetooth-enabled, the XB950N1 is easy to pair. Just press and hold the power button for a few seconds and a voice prompt will let you know that it’s ready to pair. All you need to do next is pair your mobile device and you’re good to go. If your smartphone has the NFC feature, you can skip some of the steps mentioned.
While you can go ahead and start listening to your tunes, we recommend that you download the Sony’s Headphones Connect app, as it will let you take advantage of the Surround (VPT) feature and the Bass Effect. You can also toggle the NC from here.
For headphones of this size, I’m expecting a quality of sound that justifies the bulkiness. Sony boasts solid bass performance with Noise Cancelling. True enough, the XB950N1 can deliver that powerful, rumbling bass while keeping external noise at bay.
Starting with the Noise Cancelling, the XB950N1 performs well but not perfect. When not in use, noises like the rattling of the electric fan, the hum of the air conditioning unit or the annoying sound of an airplane cabin are very audible but turn the NC on and it will feel like the air was sucked out from your ear.
You’ll still be able to hear some noises though but at a minimal level that your tunes can easily drown it out. However, we noticed that it’s having a hard time filtering out are strong wind noises (like when you’re standing next to an electric fan), making it sound like the wind is getting through the cups. The only remedy here is to crank up the volume.
As for audio quality, obviously, the XB950N1 is inclined towards bassy types of music like hip-hop, club, or R&B. The lows are powerful and seismic, no doubt it can satisfy most bass lovers out there. But if you want to enhance your bass-listening experience, just turn on Bass Effect. From there you can fire up the app and play with the Surround (VPT) feature, or adjust the Clear Bass levels from -10, if you want to turn it down, to +10 if you want it to be brutal.
While the XB950N1 is great in handling lows, we can’t say the same thing when it comes mids and highs. The lows become too dominant in most cases that sound coming from guitars, pianos, cymbals lose their detail and brilliance. It’s still audible though but if you’re a fan of rock, acoustic or classical music, expect the experience to be toned down. The quick remedy for this is to turn down Clear Bass down to -5 to -7.
Sony claims 22 hours of listening time on the XB950N1. I had it paired to a device via Bluetooth and played songs on loop at around 60-70% with NC and Bass Effect on and we got around 10 hours before it reached 50% volume. That said, we can say that Sony’s number seem to be spot on.
The Sony MDR-XB950N1 is a solid audio companion especially if you’re the type who likes bass music. It’s large but well-made and it’s portable enough to be carried in a backpack. Its audio preference might not be for everyone, but the Bass Effect and Noise Cancelling feature is effective in enhancing your listening experience. Not to mention, the long battery life.
It’s not the best wireless NC headphones we tried though. In my opinion, the Bose QuietComfort 35 is a better option overall, but, of course, is more expensive at Php22,500. The XB950N1 is more accessible though at Php12,999/$263, so if you’re on a budget for a bass-rocking pair of wireless NC headphones Sony’s offering is one to consider.
Sony MDR-XB950N1 specs:
- Headphone Type: Closed Dynamic
- Driver Unit: 40mm, Dome
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-20,000Hz(POWER ON)(Wired)
- 22 hours battery life w/ NC on
- Comes with: Carrying Pouch, 1.2m cable, microUSB cable