Reviewed on Apr 10, 2018 , Marc Henney, Yannick Khong

Sony MDR-XB950N1
HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
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Test Benches: test

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
6.2
Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
6.2
Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
6.4
Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
6.3
Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
6.4
Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
5.5
Home Theater
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Score components:
5.3
Gaming
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Score components:
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Sony MDR-XB950N1 is a noise canceling variant of the MDR-XB950B1. These are also decent mixed usage headphones geared towards fans of bass with a sturdy, wireless design. However, their audio reproduction can be overly bass-heavy even without the bass effect enabled. Unfortunately, even with a decent EQ, their sound won't be for everyone and their noise cancellation feature is bit weak and not worth the price difference.

See our recommendations for the best Over Ear Headphones.

Test Results
Design 6.8
Sound 5.9
Isolation 6.0
Microphone 6.3
Active Features 6.3
Connectivity 5.9
Pros
  • Sturdy and durable build.
  • Easy-to-use and efficient controls.
Cons
  • Weak noise cancellation.
  • Overly bass-heavy sound quality.

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6.8

Design

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Score components:
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Design Picture

The Sony MDR-XB950N1 have the same design as the MDR-XB950B1. They look almost identical but are slightly heavier and have an additional button for enabling and disabling noise canceling. Everything else though is pretty much the same. They are still well-built headphones with ample padding and a sturdy metal and plastic frame. They also have the same efficient controls for skipping tracks and playing your music. Unfortunately, this also means that the slightly awkward fit of the ear cups can still get a bit fatiguing after a while. They're also bulky headphones with protruding ear cups that sway a lot under physical activity, so even with their wireless design, they're not the best headphones for sports.

Style
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Design Picture 2

The Sony XB950N1 look identical to the MDR-XB950B1. They have slightly different color schemes but the same headband and ear cups which are well padded and look decently high-end. The headband design is a mix of the old Sony MDR-ZX770BN and the newer WH-1000XM2. They have a premium look and feel but are not as sleek as some of the other Sony models. Also, the relatively dense ear cups stick out once on your head and look a little awkward. Overall though they are a decently well-made headphone and their understated design will work for some.

7.0 Comfort
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What it is: Adjustability and degrees of freedom, pressure, stiffness and weight.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used for long durations.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Comfort Picture
Weight : 0.65 lbs
Clamping Force
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What it is: The force that the headphones exert on your head, once you have them on. This is purely a measurement of the force applied, which does not take into account the earpad's surface area and the resulting pressure you will feel, on or around your ears.
When it matters: The tighter the headphones, the more force they put on your head. This can get uncomfortable or cause pain and soreness during long listening sessions.
:
1 lbs

The Sony MDR-XB950N1 like the MDR-XB950B1 are decently comfortable headphones but don't have the best fit on larger ears. They are slightly heavier than the non-noise-canceling variant but the the ear cups and headband are basically the same. They're decently well padded headphones but their fit won't be as comfortable for everyone as they sometimes pinch the tip of your ears, which hurts a bit after a while.

7.0 Controls
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What it is: The control scheme of the headphones, the number of functions provided, button layout and ergonomics as well as the quality of tactile feedback.
When it matters: If you want to control volume, pause your music or make phone calls without directly interacting with your audio device.
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Controls Picture
Ease of use : Above-average
Feedback : Average
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
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What it is: Being able to mix audio channels directly on the headphones.
When it matters: This is most useful when using a separate chat software so that you can mix in-game audio and chat audio depending on your needs.
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : Yes
Talk-Through : No
Additional Buttons : N/A

These headphones have the same efficient control scheme as the Sony MDR-XB950B1 but with an additional button to enable/disable noise cancellation. Skipping tracks, play/pause, and volume controls are all on the right ear cup and have a good feedback which makes them quite easy to use. The power, noise-canceling and the bass effect buttons are on the left ear cup but they're a bit flat and not as responsive as the rocker for controlling track skipping and play/pause.

6.3 Breathability
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What it is: How hot the headphones get when you wear them for an extended period of time.
When it matters: If you often have long listening sessions or use your headphones while doing physical activities like running or working out.
Score components:
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Breathability After Picture
Avg.Temp.Difference : 6.1 C

The Sony MDR-XB950N1 are not the most breathable headphones. They do not seal the ear quite as well as some of the other over-ear models so they do not get as hot. However, since they are over-ears with fairly thick padding, they will make you sweat more than average if used while exercising. They won't be the best headphones for sports and working out.

6.0 Portability
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What it is: The volume of space occupied by the headphones when folded into their most compact format.
When it matters: If you're often on the move and need to carry your headphones in a bag, purse , or pocket.
Score components:
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Portability Picture
L : 7.4 "
W : 7.1 "
H : 1.9 "
Volume : 102 Cu. Inches
Stand required : N/A

These headphones are a bit more portable than the MDR-XB950B1. They have additional joints in their hinges which allows them to fold into a more compact format. The ear cups also lay flat which could come in handy in some situations but doesn't save as much space. Unfortunately, even with the new folding mechanism, they're still a bit too cumbersome to carry around on your person, especially if you don't have a bag.

5.5 Case
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What it is: The provided carrying options to protect your headphones when transporting them.
When it matters: To prevent damaging your headphones, if you often carry them in your bag or pocket.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Case Picture
Type : Pouch
L : N/A
W : N/A
H : N/A
Volume : N/A

The Sony MDR-XB950N1 come with a basic pouch to prevent scratches when they are in your bag, unlike the MDR-XB950B1. However, since it is only a cloth pouch, it will not shield your headphones from impacts, drops or water damage.

7.5 Build Quality
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What it is: Durability, material quality, cheap/expensive feel.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used by multiple users (classes/studios), by children, in tough conditions, on a daily basis, or for exercise.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Build Quality Picture

The Sony XB950N1 look and feel decently durable and well-made. The headband is reinforced with a sturdy metal and plastic frame and the ear cups are dense. They will easily withstand a couple of accidental falls and feel durable enough that the headphones won't get damaged if you stretch them a bit too far. Unfortunately, unlike the MDR-1A, the ear cups are a bit plasticky and less resistant to impacts and drops.

6.0 Stability
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What it is: How the headphones are designed to prevent them from slipping off your ears or falling off your head.
When it matters: If you plan on using the headphones while doing sports or other physical activities that requires a lot of movement.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Stability Picture

These headphones are a bit too unstable for jogging and exercising. The size and weight of the ear cups cause them to sway a lot during physical activity. They may accidentally fall off, if you tilt your head too far, which is not ideal for the gym or most sports. On the upside, they're wireless so during casual listening sessions they won't get yanked off your head because the audio cable got tangled or hooked on something.

Cable
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Cable Picture
Detachable : Yes
Length : 4.1 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS

These headphones come with two cables; a 1/8" to 1/8" TRS audio cable and a micro-USB charging cable.

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Headshots 1
Headshots 2
5.9

Sound

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What it is: How accurately the audio is reproduced. The tests are performed with the headphones' most commonly used features enabled (noise-cancelling, wireless, etc.)
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Frequency Response

The Sony XB950N1 are a sub-par sounding pair of closed-back over-ear headphones. They have a deep and extended bass, a nearly flawless mid-range, and very good imaging. However, not only their bass is prone to inconsistencies but is also very excessive, boomy and muddy to the point of completely drowning the mid-range. Their treble is also quite poor and dramatically lacking in detail and brightness on vocals and lead instruments. Overall, these headphones are not recommended for those who care about a well-balanced audio reproduction, even for bass-heavy genres like EDM and Hip-hop. It should be noted that these headphones were measured with the Extra Bass feature set to Off, and the response would be even more bass-heavy with it set to On.

5.8 Bass
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What it is: Frequency Response from 20Hz-250Hz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on bass frequencies, such as those of kick drums and bass guitar.
Score components:
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Bass
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in bass frequency response (20Hz-250Hz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) bass performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
6.27 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
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What it is: The lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: Shows how extended the bass is.
Good value: <40Hz
Noticeable difference: 5Hz
:
10 Hz
Low-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 20Hz-60Hz.
When it matters: Kick drums and low frequency effects get their 'thump' from this range. Mostly felt than heard.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
7.78 dB
Mid-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 60Hz-120Hz.
When it matters: Melodic bass instruments have most of their fundamental frequencies in this range. This is where the 'body' and 'punch' of the bass sits.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
7.36 dB
High-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 120Hz-250Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments get their warmth and full-ness from this range. When over-emphasized, mixes tend to get muddy and boomy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
5.64 dB

The bass is sub-par. Low-frequency extension (LFE) is at 10Hz, which is excellent. However, low-bass and mid-bass are consistently over our neutral target by more than 7dB. This results in quite an excessive amount of thump and kick on bass guitars and kick drums, which drowns out the mid and treble ranges. High-bass is also overemphasized by about 6dB, making the sound boomy and muddy. It should be noted that these headphones were measured with the Extra Bass feature set to Off, and the response would be even more bass-heavy with it set to On.

9.4 Mid
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What it is: Frequency Response from 250Hz-2KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on mid-range frequencies. This is the case for the majority of audio content.
Score components:
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Mid
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in mid frequency response (250Hz-2.5KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) mid performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
0.75 dB
Low-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 250Hz-500Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments have their fundamentals or low harmonics in this range. Over-emphasis in this range sounds muddy and cluttered. Under-emphasis, thins out the vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-0.19 dB
Mid-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 500Hz-1KHz.
When it matters: This range is occupied mostly by upper harmonics. Over-emphasis sounds forward and boxy. Under-emphasis pushes instruments to the back of the mix.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
0.59 dB
High-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 1KHz-2KHz.
When it matters: Most instruments, especially vocals, get their intensity and clarity from this range. Over-emphasis sounds honky and harsh, under-emphasis sounds weak and distant.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
0.36 dB

The Sony XB950N1 has a great mid-range. The response is even, flat, and nearly flawless throughout the range. Low-mid, mid-mid, and high-mid are within 0.6dB of our neutral target, which is excellent. This means that the body of vocals and lead instruments will be quite well-balanced, however, this may go unnoticed due to the poorly balanced bass and treble ranges.

2.7 Treble
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What it is: Frequency Response from 2KHz-20KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on high-range frequencies, such as voice, cymbals, and any other material where brightness, brilliance and airiness is desired.
Score components:
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Treble
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in treble frequency response (2.5KHz-20KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) treble performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
8.62 dB
Low-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 2KHz-5KHz.
When it matters: Almost all instruments rely on this range for their presence, detail, and articulation. Over-emphasis can sound harsh and painful. Under-emphasis hurts the comprehensibility of vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-8.14 dB
Mid-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under emphasis in frequency response from 5KHz-10KHz.
When it matters: This is the sibilance range. Cymbals, vocals, and lead instruments rely on this range for brightness and presence. Over-emphasis sounds piercing and painful, under-emphasis sounds dull and lispy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-8.51 dB
High-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 10KHz-20KHz.
When it matters: This range gives brilliance and airiness to the sound. Over-emphasis sounds hissy, under-emphasis sounds closed-up and lifeless.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-7.13 dB

The treble performance is poor. The response is uneven and dramatically underemphasized. Low-treble, mid-treble and high-treble are under our target by about 8dB, making the sound of these headphones very dark and lacking in detail, especially considering the amount of bass they produce. On the upside, they seem to be well-balanced in the sibilance range (6KHz-10KHz), which is important for producing cymbals and S/T sounds in vocals.

Raw Frequency Response
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What it is: The average uncompensated frequency response of the headphone. For in-ears and earbuds, this corresponds to the average of 5 measurements/re-seats on the dummy head (HMS). For over/on-ear headphones, this corresponds to the average of 5 measurements/re-seats on the HMS (Head Measurement System) for the mid and treble ranges, and 5 measurements/re-seats on 5 human subjects for the bass range.
When it matters: This is for those who want to see the raw and uncompensated frequency response of the headphone. Some of the more advanced users, are able to read and evaluate headphone frequency response in its raw form and without compensation. This will be especially useful to them if they have their own headphone compensation/target curve, which may differ from the compensation curve/target response used by RTINGS.com.
Score components:
5.9 Frequency Response Consistency
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What it is: The amount of deviation of each frequency response pass, from the average frequency response.
When it matters: Shows how consistently the headphones perform after re-positioning them.
Score components:
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Consistency L Sony MDR-XB950N1 Consistency R
Avg. Std. Deviation
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What it is: The average amount of deviation in frequency response of 5 re-seats, from the average frequency response.
When it matters: Shows how consistently the headphones perform after re-positioning them.
Good value: <0.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.96 dB

The frequency response consistency of the XB950N1 is sub-par. In the bass range, the maximum deviation across our five human subjects is about 4dB, however, this deviation occurs over the entire bass range, making it quite noticeable. Also wearing glasses could break the seal on these headphones and cause a drop in bass. The treble delivery is not very consistent either, and is prone to inconsistencies around 3KHz, depending on positioning and head shape/size.

8.3 Imaging
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What it is: Imaging qualities are inherent to the audio content, the headphones have to 'reproduce' them rather than 'create' them. They determine how accurately the objects are positioned in the stereo image, and how transparent the imaging is.
When it matters: When accurate positioning of the objects in the stereo image, and clear and transparent imaging is desired.
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Group Delay Sony MDR-XB950N1 Phase Response
Weighted Group Delay
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What it is: The average amount of group delay calculated based on a perceptual weighting filter. Group delay indicates how long it takes for each frequency to reach their maximum amplitude. This is a monaural quality and can be perceived even with one ear.
When it matters: Headphones with lower group delay have more transparent imaging and a tighter bass. Headphones with higher group delay in the bass range tend to have a wimpy and loose bass, and headphones with higher group delay in the treble range tend to have a less transparent imaging.
Good value: <0.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.24
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
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What it is: The Left/Right balance of our test unit, that is, the amount of amplitude difference between the left and right drivers. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When a properly balanced stereo image and low manufacturing tolerance is desired. A poor score indicates a noticeable difference in level between the left and right drivers.
Good value: <1.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.38
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
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What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the frequency response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance, is desired. A poor score indicates there may be 'holes' in the stereo image at certain frequencies.
Good value: <2
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
2.31
Weighted Phase Mismatch
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What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the phase response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance is desired. A poor score indicates there may be inaccuracies in the stereo image reproduction at certain frequencies.
Good value: <16
Noticeable difference: 3
:
8.71

The imaging performance is great. Weighted group delay is at 0.24, which is quite good. The GD graph also shows that the group delay never crosses the audibility threshold, which is impressive considering how much bass these headphones produce. The result is a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were very well-matched, ensuring accurate placement and localization of objects (voice, instruments, video game effects) in the stereo image.

4.4 Soundstage
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What it is: Soundstage qualities are not inherent to the audio content, the headphones have to 'create' them rather than 'reproduce' them. They determine whether the sound is perceived to be coming from inside or in front of the head, how open and spacious the soundstage is, how much the headphones acoustically interact with the environment, and how strong the phantom center is.
When it matters: When an accurately produced, large and spacious soundstage, similar to that of a stereo loudspeaker setup is desired.
Sony MDR-XB950N1 PRTF
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
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What it is: The standard deviation of the PRTF (Pinna-related transfer function) of the headphones compared to a reference loudspeaker's PRTF at 30°. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: An accurate pinna activation is mainly responsible for how natural and speaker-like the soundstage is perceived to be. The less error in the shape of the PRTF, the more natrual and speaker-like the perception of the soundstage will be. High amounts of error may indicate a soundstage that is unnatural or odd.
Good value: <2.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
4.21 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
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What it is: The average amplitude of the PRTF (Pinna-related transfer function) of the headphones compared to that of a reference loudspeaker's PRTF at 30°. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: This value is responsible for the perceived size of the soundstage. The higher the value, the larger the perceived size of the soundstage. However, values above the reference (5.0dB) could result in a soundstage that is perceived as unnatural or odd.
Good value: >3.7
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
1.24 dB
PRTF Distance
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What it is: The depth of the "10KHz notch" of the headphone's PRTF, which is caused by phase cancellations at the concha. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: This value is mainly responsible for the perceived distance and elevation of the soundstage. A small distance value may result in a soundstage that is perceived to be located inside the head. Larger values may help pull the soundstage out from inside of the head and bring it to the front.
Good value: >13
Noticeable difference: 1
:
7.81 dB
Openness
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What it is: How open the headphones are, and how open and spacious they sound. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test differentiates between acoustically and electronically produced crosstalk and only takes the acoustically generated crosstalk into account. This value is the inverse of the Noise Isolation test score, and could be indirectly related the acoustic impedance of the headphones.
When it matters: When a headphone with a sense of an open, and spacious soundstage is desired. A value of 10 indicates a fully open headphone, and a value of 0 indicates a fully closed headphone.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
4.7
Acoustic Space Excitation
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What it is: How loud the headphones are, and how much they excite their environment acoustically. If the headphones are loud and open enough, the sound leaking from the headphones will be affected by the environment (reflections/reverb) before reflecting back into the open headphones and to the listener's ears. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This value is the inverse of the Leakage test score.
When it matters: Headphones with higher excitation values, similar to openness, tend to have soundstages that are perceived as more open and spacious.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
2.8
Correlated Crosstalk
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What it is: How strong and solid the phantom center is. This is mostly a stereo quality and its effects on mono content are minimal. This test is sensitive to the phase of the crosstalk and whether it is produced acoustically or electronically.
When it matters: When a true reproduction of the stereo image is desired. A value of 0 indicates no crosstalk, or that the existing crosstalk is not correlated enough to affect the phantom center. A negative score means the crosstalk is out of phase with the original signal, resulting in a slightly wider stereo image at the expense of creating a 'hole' at the center of the stereo field. A positive score means the crosstalk is in phase and positively affecting the phantom center.
Good value: >1dB
Noticeable difference: 0.3dB
:
0.0 dB

The soundstage of the XB950N1 is poor. The PRTF response is rather uneven, and doesn't follow and reference in terms of accuracy. There doesn't seem to be a "10KHz notch" present either, which means the soundstage will be perceived to be located inside the listener's head as opposed to in-front. Additionally, due to the closed-back design, their soundstage won't feel as open and spacious as that of open-back headphones either.

6.8 Total Harmonic Distortion
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What it is: The subtle, unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Score components:
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
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What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 90dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at moderate listening levels.
Good value: <0.100
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
6.074
Weighted THD @ 100
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What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 100dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at loud listening levels.
Good value: <0.300
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
3.686

The harmonic distortion performance is decent. The overall amount of harmonic distortion is relatively low in the bass and mid ranges. This suggests that they could easily produce more bass without degrading the sound quality (hence the Extra Bass function). However, the treble range shows elevated amounts of THD, which could make the sound of those frequencies a bit harsh and brittle.

6.0

Isolation

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Score components:

The Sony MDR-XB950N1 have noise cancellation, unlike the MDR-XB950B1. This makes them a bit better to use in loud environments but unfortunately, their noise cancellation feature is weak and creates a lot of self-noise. It's not as audible when listening to music but if you often use noise canceling headphones just to isolate yourself from ambient noise then the high self-noise will become bothersome. On the upside, they do not leak much so you can play your music at higher volumes without being too distracting to the people around you. 

5.2 Noise Isolation
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What it is: How much outside noise is blocked out by putting the headphones on.
When it matters: If the headphones are going to be used in a noisy envinronment (airplane, subway, etc.)
Score components:
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Noise Isolation
Overall Attenuation
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What it is: The overall amount of environmental noise reduction in dB.
When it matters: In loud envinronments like planes, trains, offices, etc.
Good value: <-20dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-14.15 dB
Bass
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the bass range (20Hz-250Hz).
When it matters: When the outside noise is bass-heavy, like in airplanes.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-4.97 dB
Mid
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the mid-range (250Hz-2.5KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is mid-heavy, like in an office.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-13.42 dB
Treble
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the treble range (2.5KHz-20KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is treble-heavy. Although uncommon, areas with sharp sounds fall under this category.
Good value: <-30dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-24.84 dB
Self-Noise
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What it is: The amount of noise created by the active electronics of the headphones (if applicable), measured from 300Hz-20KHz. Applies mostly to wireless and noise-cancelling headphones.
When it matters: If too loud, it could become distracting when listening to quiet material like podcasts and audiobooks.
Good value: <16dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
25.42 dB

The isolation performance is sub-par. Compared to the XB950B1, these headphones have active noise cancellation, but they produce a lot of self-noise which is quite distracting when no music is being played. In the bass range, occupied by the rumble of airplane and bus engines, they achieved about 5dB of isolation, which is sub-par. In mid-range, important for cancelling out speech, they achieved more than 13dB of isolation, which is above-average. In the treble range, where sharp sounds like S and Ts sit, they reduce noise by about 25dB which is above-average. The difference between the treble isolation of the XB950N1 and XB950B1 could be due to poor seal on our dummy head, which headphones with small and shallow ear cups are more prone to.

7.6 Leakage
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What it is: The amount of sound bleeding out of the headphones.
When it matters: When the listener doesn't want people around them (in office, recording studio, etc.) to hear what is being listened to.
Score components:
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Leakage
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
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What it is: The amount of sound leakage heard 1 foot away from the user, while the user is listening to a 100dB SPL signal.
When it matters: When you don't want people hear what you are listening to.
Good value: <35dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
36.57 dB

The leakage performance is good. The significant portion of the leakage is between 1.5KHz and 6KHz, which is a relatively narrow range. This means the leakage will mostly consist of vocals, leads instruments and cymbals. The overall level of the leakage is not very loud either. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage peaks at around 55dB SPL, which is about the same as the noise floor of most offices.

6.3

Microphone

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What it is: The microphone section shows the quality of speech capture and transmission by the mic, as well as how well the microphone under test handles noisy environments.
When it matters: For your speech to be transmitted to and understood properly by the listener, the microphone needs to have a good recording quality. If the environment the microphone is being used in is noisy, a microphone with a good noise handling performance would be needed as well.
Score components:
Integrated
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What it is: The microphone integrated in the ear cup or ear bud of a wireless headphone.
When it matters: For calls, gaming and voice over IP software or for any other use of the microphone.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
In-line
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What it is: The microphone inside the in-line remote of audio cables for wired and wireless headsets.
When it matters: In-line microphone are usually better than integrated mics. If you need better recording quality and noise handling for calls, gaming and voice over IP software then use the audio cable of your wired or wireless headphone if it has an inline microphone.
Good value: Yes
:
No
Boom
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What it is: A typically better microphone, that's also adjustable and extends so that the mic is closer to your mouth.
When it matters: Much better recording quality and noise handling than in-line or integrated mics. Primarily used for gaming and voice over IP software.
Good value: Yes
:
No
Detachable Boom
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What it is: A boom mic that is detachable from the headset.
When it matters: If you want to use your headphone outdoors without the bulk and hassle of the Boom mic.
:
N/A

The Sony XB950N1 has a mediocre microphone. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with this mic will sound relatively thin, and noticeably muffled and lacking in detail. However, it will still be relatively easy to understand. In noisy environments, they will struggle to separate speech from background noise even in moderately loud places, like a busy street.

6.8 Recording Quality
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What it is: Microphone recording quality shows how natural, neutral, extended and intelligible speech would be with the device under test, in a quiet environment.
When it matters: A microphone with a good recording quality ensures that the person listening to you would hear a full, clear, and easily understandable speech. Therefore, it is important whenever a good quality of speech transmission and intelligibility is needed.
Score components:
Sony MDR-XB950N1 Microphone Frequency Response
Recorded Speech
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What it is: Actual audio recording of the headphone's microphone, recorded while placed on the dummy head, with speech being played back through the dummy head's mouth simulator.
When it matters: When a clean, full, and intelligible speech transmission is required.
:
LFE
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What it is: Low-frequency extension shows how deep the bass response of the microphone is, and therefore, how deep and full your voice would sound to the listener. It is the lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: LFE is not a big factor in speech intelligibility and even speech recorded with a mic that has an LFE of 500Hz could still be easily understood. Therefore, it is mostly important if you are concerned with how deep and full your voice would be heard.
Good value: <150Hz
Noticeable difference: 30Hz
:
71.27 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
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What it is: Frequency Response Standard Deviation shows how accurately and balanced sound is captured by the microphone at each frequency. FR Std. Dev. is calculated between LFE and HFE, and the rest of the spectrum is ignored.
When it matters: A good frequency response is desired when a natural and neutral speech quality is desired. As opposed to HFE which is more a metric for speech intelligibility, frequency response could be considered as a metric for a natural and neutral sound.
Good value: >3.5dB
Noticeable difference: 0.5dB
:
5.45 dB
HFE
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What it is: High-frequency extension is the highest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response. It shows how extended the treble response of the microphone is.
When it matters: HFE is one the most important factors in speech intelligibility. The higher the HFE, the brighter, more open, and more extended the speech quality will be which makes it a lot easier to understand by the listener.
Good value: >8KHz
Noticeable difference: 1KHz
:
3225.4 Hz
Weighted THD
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What it is: The unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies, which cause deformation of an output signal compared to its input.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Good value: <1.5
Noticeable difference: 1.0
:
6.395
Gain
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What it is: Shows how much louder the microphone can go above our reference loudness level. The gain value is reported relative to our reference level, which is 94dB at a distance of 5cm from the mouth.
When it matters: A microphone with a high gain is important when the input signal (speech) is very quiet. For example when whispering, or talking on the phone in a library.
Good value: >18dB
Noticeable difference: 3dB
:
42.95 dB

The recording quality of the Sony XB950N1's microphone is about average. The LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 71Hz, but the frequency response shows a big dip around 150Hz. This suggests that speech recorded or transmitted with this mic will have some low-end to it, but will be relatively thin overall. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 3.2KHz means that speech will be noticeably muffled and lacking in detail. But it won't affect its comprehensibility dramatically, since speech intelligibility is mostly dependent on the 500Hz-4KHz range.

5.7 Noise Handling
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What it is: How well the microphone is able to separate speech from background noise, so that the transmission would include more voice and less noise.
When it matters: When a clean and intelligible speech transmission is desired in a noisy situation like talking on the phone on a busy street or on the bus.
Score components:
Sony MDR-XB950N1 SpNR
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
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What it is: Speech to Noise Ratio is the difference in level between speech and background noise as heard by the listener
When it matters: If the microphone is going to be used in a noisy environment, it is important for it to be able to separate the speech from background noise, so the voice would be easily audible and understandable.
Good value: >24dB
Noticeable difference: 3dB
:
8.14 dB

The integrated mic is sub-par at noise handling. In our SpNR test, they achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 8dB, indicating they are best suited for quiet environments and will struggle to separate speech from ambient noise even in moderately loud places.

6.3

Active Features

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What it is: Headphones with active components that require a battery. This includes noise cancelling and wireless headphones that actively reduce noise or transmit audio via a wireless connection.
When it matters: How suitable the power and wireless specifications of an active headphone will be, depending on your listening habits. The range and/or discharge time of the active headphone you select will be important if you're often on the move or have long uninterrupted listening sessions.
Score components:

The Sony MDR-XB950N1 have a slightly better battery life than the MDR-XB950B1. They lasted on average about 3-4 hours more than the old model but also take a bit longer to charge. On the upside, 24hrs of battery life should be more than enough to last you the whole day even with heavy use but their battery performance could have been a bit better with a customizable auto-off timer. They also benefit from the Sony| headphones connect app which gives them a bit more customization options, although the app itself is slightly lacking in functionality.

6.3 Battery
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What it is: The power source of your headphones. All headphones with active features have a battery that will deplete over time.
When it matters: To continue using the active features of your headphones. Some models lose features or switch off completely when the battery is drained, which limits what you can do with them until the next charge.
Battery Type
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What it is: The type of battery that the headphones use. Usually AAA or embedded, Li-ion rechargeable batteries.
When it matters: When your headphones run out of power. Rechargeable batteries usually charge via the headphones Micro-USB port whereas AAA batteries have to be replaced or charged with an external device.
:
Rechargable
Battery Life
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What it is: The amount of time it takes for a headphones' battery to be completely drained. Battery life will vary depending on the active features used and volume level.
When it matters: For active headphones that connect wirelessly, have noise cancellation or other audio-enhancing features, that cease to work once the battery is dead.
Good value: >10hrs
Noticeable difference: 0.5hrs
:
24 hrs
Charge Time
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What it is: The amount of time your active headphones have to be connected to a power source to charge from 0 to a 100%. However, charging time will vary depending on your power source.
When it matters: To be able to use the active features of your headphones. Especially, wireless ones that completely switch off and need to be recharged when the battery is dead.
Good value: 2h or less
Noticeable difference: 0.25h
:
3.9 hrs
Power Saving Feature
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What it is: A feature that turns off the headphones, after a set time, when they're not in use.
When it matters: To prolong battery life when the headphones are not being used, or if you forget to manually turn off your headphones.
:
No
Audio while charging
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What it is: Some active headphones remain usable while charging. They continue to stream audio and do not disable other active features.
When it matters: This makes sure that your headphones's battery are not being drained when your relatively close to a power source. However, this means wireless headphones will need a wired connection to the power source during the charging process.
:
No
Passive Playback
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What it is: Active headphones that still work when all their active features are turned off or out of power.
When it matters: If you run out of power and do not have spare AA/AAA batteries or access to a power source to recharge your headphones.
:
Yes

The Sony MDR-XB950N1 have a good battery life at 24 hours of continuous playback. However, they take quite a bit of time to charge and lack good power saving features like an auto off timer. They also can't play while charging which would have been convenient if you're near a power source like being at the office. On the upside, they can be used even when the battery is completely depleted as long as you have the audio cable with you.

7.0 App Support
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What it is: The additional app provided to enhance your listening experience. They typically deliver a set of practical features that give you more control over the sound, noise cancelling and effects that the headphones produce.
When it matters: An app with a lot of features allows you to customize your listening experience to suit your taste and preferences. For example, additions like an equalizer can give you more bass or treble and room effects can simulate a bigger Soundstage in closed back headphones.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Sony MDR-XB950N1 App Picture
App Name : Sony| Headphones Connect
iOS : Yes
Android : Yes
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
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What it is: Parametric, graphic or preset sound profiles that slightly alter the frequency response.
When it matters: If you want to tailor, your listening experience. Depending on what you're listening to you may want more or less bass for some tracks or more mid-range for vocals-heavy audio.
:
Presets
ANC control
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What it is: Control over the Active noise canceling technology. This could be either a simple on/off button, and adjustable slider or even adaptive self-regulating noise cancellation.
When it matters: If you're in an environment where you need to monitor your surroundings or completely isolate yourself from ambient noise.
:
Yes
Mic Control : No
Room effects
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What it is: Room effects that enhance the audio quality to make it more immersive.
When it matters: If you want to further tweak your listening experience. Adding room effects, can simulate a more spacious Soundstage or deliver a surround sound-like feel.
:
Yes
Playback control
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What it is: An in-app player that gives you access to play/stop, track skipping or volume controls directly with the app.
When it matters: It's a shortcut that allows you to control your audio without leaving the application.
:
No
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

The MDRXB950N1 also support the Sony| Headphones Connect app which lets you personalize their sound profile. The app offers control over the intensity of the 'Bass Effect' feature as well as various room effects that let you cycle through preset like Arena, Club, etc... While this does give you some customization options, it feels slightly limiting, and a full equalizer would have been preferable.

5.9

Connectivity

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What it is: The inputs and outputs of wired and wireless headphones, as well as their latency performance and range.
When it matters: To know how compatible your Bluetooth device, console or PC will be with your wired or wireless headset.
Score components:
  • 10% Bluetooth
  • 32% Wired
  • 10% Base/Dock
  • 22% Wireless Range
  • 25% Latency

The Sony MDR-XB950N1 have almost the same performance as the XB950B1 in terms of connectivity. They are also Bluetooth headphones with NFC support and a regular audio cable but no multi-device pairing. Unfortunately, this also means they are not compatible with consoles since their audio cable does not have a microphone. On the upside, you can always use them wired for audio with your Xbox or PS4 controllers. Their latency performance is also not as bad as some of the other Bluetooth headphone but still a bit too high for gaming.

8.0 Bluetooth
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What it is: Bluetooth support for wireless headphones.
When it matters: To connect wirelessly to Bluetooth sources like your phone, tablet, console, PC and TV.
Score components:
  • 79% Multi-Device Pairing
  • 20% NFC
  • 0% PS4 Compatible
  • 0% Xbox One Compatible
Bluetooth Version : 4.1
Multi-Device Pairing
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What it is: A Bluetooth profile that's allows some headphones to be simultaneously connected to multiple Bluetooth sources.
When it matters: To quickly switch between your Bluetooth sources. For example switching from your phone to your home or work PC.
Good value: 2 devices.
:
No
NFC
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What it is: Near Field Communication technology that allows you to quickly, pair your headphones with your Bluetooth and NFC-enabled device.
When it matters: This makes pairing with an NFC-enabled device a lot easier than the typical and often tedious hold-to-pair procedure that most wireless headphones have.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
PS4 Compatible
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What it is: Bluetooth compatibility with the PlayStation 4.
When it matters: To connect your headphones wirelessly with your PS4.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
No
Xbox One Compatible
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What it is: Bluetooth compatibility with the Xbox One.
When it matters: To connect your headphones wirelessly with your Xbox one.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
No

These headphones do not have simultaneous multi-device pairing like the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. But on the upside, they do support NFC which makes pairing with smartphones a bit easier.

7.2 Wired
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What it is: The type and compatibility of audio cables for wired and wireless headphones.
When it matters: For all devices with a regular audio jack (line-out) and also compatibility of the in-line remote/boom microphone with consoles and Personal computers.
Score components:
  • 13% Analog
  • 9% USB
  • 26% PS4 Compatible
  • 26% Xbox One Compatible
  • 26% PC Compatible
Cable Tested : Not OS specific
Analog
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What it is: A regular 1/8" TRS audio jack or a 1/4 or 1/16 TRS with a 1/8 TRS adapter.
When it matters: For all devices with a line out.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
USB
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What it is: A USB or USB adapter to connect to your devices for audio and microphone.
When it matters: A digital USB adapter usually offers a slight advantages over a regular audio jack, like a DAC, and amplifier module or software support and compatibility with PCs. However it may not be as compatible with consoles.
Good value: Yes
:
No
PS4 Compatible
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What it is: PS4 compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your PS4
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio Only
Xbox One Compatible
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What it is: Xbox One compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your Xbox One
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio Only
PC Compatible
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What it is: PC compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your PC.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio Only

The Sony XB950N1 come with a regular audio cable that does not have an in-line remote/microphone or a USB adapter. They will only provide audio when used wired with consoles.

0 Base/Dock
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What it is: The base station, dock or dongle transmitter of wireless headphones that receive data/audio via a proprietary frequency range.
When it matters: Knowing the inputs and outputs of the base/dock/dongle as well as its compatibility with consoles and Personal Computers. Also whether the base supports dock charging to easily recharge the headphones without any cables.
Score components:
  • 4% Optical Input
  • 22% Line In
  • 4% Line Out
  • 22% USB Input
  • 4% RCA Input
  • 9% PS4 Compatible
  • 9% Xbox One Compatible
  • 9% PC Compatible
  • 2% Power Supply
  • 13% Dock Charging
Wireless Type
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What it is: The type of wireless connection used by the base station/dock to communicate with the headphones.
When it matters: For latency and range. For example Radio frequency has low latency but mediocre range when obstructed and proprietary docks have their own 2.x GHz or 5 GHz frequency which varies in performance.
:
N/A
Optical Input
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What it is: Optical input for audio.
When it matters: Optical can carry a bit more data at faster speeds than typical wired connection which allows for more high quality, lossless audio.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
Line In
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What it is: The regular wired input via a 1/8" TRS audio jack.
When it matters: For any device that has a line out for audio transmission.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
Line Out
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What it is: A regular 1/8TRS audio jack output.
When it matters: If you need to share the audio source with other devices. A line out lets you connect other headphones or speakers to the dock/base station.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
USB Input
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What it is: A digital USB input instead of a typical 1/8 TRS line-in.
When it matters: A USB connection can provide both an audio input and power to the Dock or Base station.
:
N/A
RCA Input
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What it is: Audio input using via an RCA connectors.
When it matters: Provides better stereo audio to the dock/base that's then transmitted to the headphones.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
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What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with the PlayStation 4.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
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What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with the Xbox One.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
:
N/A
PC Compatible
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What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with your Personal Computer.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
Power Supply
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What it is: The connector type of the power source.
When it matters: The accessibility of the power source. For example a power supply with USB/USB-C connects to multiple devices, PC , PS4, Xbox One or even with your regular phone charger whereas a A/C adapter is less common.
Good value: USB/USB-C
:
N/A
Dock Charging
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What it is: Charging the headphones via the dock/base station instead of a charging cable.
When it matters: It makes charging your headphones easier and gives you a sport to store your headphones when they are not in use.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A

The Sony XB950N1 do not have a base/dock. If you want a versatile headset with a base that you can also use wired, check out the Arctis 7 by SteelSeries.

8.3 Wireless Range
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What it is: Headphones that offer a cable-free listening experience over a wireless network, typically via Bluetooth or radio frequency.
When it matters: If you don't want to be limited by the length of an audio cable. This means having the freedom to move around in your home or office with a much greater range than an audio cable could provide, especially, if the Bluetooth source is heavy or difficult to carry.
Score components:
Obstructed Range
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What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when the Bluetooth source was placed in another room.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in an indoor environment. Although, the obstructed wireless range will slightly depend on your home or office layout.
Good value: >35ft
Noticeable difference: 5ft
:
40 ft
Line of Sight Range
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What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when in direct line of sight of the Bluetooth device.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in a large and open environment.
Good value: 170ft or more
Noticeable difference: 10ft
:
175 ft

The Sony XB950B1 have a good wireless range suitable for moderately sized offices. They rarely had any connection drops below 40ft when we left the Bluetooth source in another room. They also have a good line-of-sight range of 175ft, which makes them a bit better than average if you have a fixed Bluetooth source like a PC or TV.

3.7 Latency
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What it is: How long it takes for audio to play through your headphones once the audio signal has been sent from a source.
When it matters: When gaming or watching movies. High latency means you will hear the audio much later than the images you see on screen.
Score components:
Default Latency
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What it is: The Base RF latency or the default sub-band coding (SBC) of most Bluetooth headphones.
When it matters: When watching videos a high latency can cause sync issues between the images you see and the audio you hear.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15ms
:
173 ms
aptX Latency
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What it is: An audio coding algorithm (Codec) that improves bit rate efficiency. It reduces latency and improves sound quality over Bluetooth.
When it matters: For better sound quality if your often streaming music over Bluetooth. Also it slightly improves latency when watching videos with wireless headphones.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15ms
:
151 ms

The Sony MDRXB950B1 perform better than most Bluetooth headphones for latency and also support aptX. Unfortunately, even with the better than average latency, they won't be the most suitable headphones for gaming or watching high frame rate videos.

In the box

Sony MDR-XB950N1 In the box Picture

  • Sony MDR-XB950N1 Headphones
  • Audio cable
  • USB cable
  • Manuals

Compared to other Headphones

Sony MDR-XB950N1 Compare Picture

The Sony MDR-XB950N1 is the noise cancelling variant of the MDR-XB950B1. These headphones are pretty much identical in terms of performance and look but with a slightly better battery life. They also have a decent latency performance although there will still be some syncing issues when gaming or watching a lot of video content. Unfortunately, their bass-oriented sound can overpower instruments and vocals which won't be for everyone even when you EQ them. The ear cups also do not fit as well on all listeners.

Sony MDR-XB950B1

The Sony MDR-XB950B1 is the non-noise canceling variant of the MDR-XB950N1. These headphones have the same design and an almost identical performance but are slightly better at isolating you from ambient noise. Unfortunately, this is offset by the high self-noise which can be distracting if you do not have any audio playing. On the upside, they have a sturdy, premium-looking design that's decently comfortable and you can somewhat EQ the headphones with the Sony| Headphones Connect app. Unfortunately, even with a good EQ, their sound won't be for everyone and the noise cancellation feature is not really worth the price difference. 

Sony MDR-1000X

The Sony MDR-1000X is an older model that's been replaced by the WH-1000XM2. These headphones have the same design and a similar performance but do not benefit from the customization options offered by the Sony| Headphones Connect app like the XB950N1. On the upside, they sound better out-of-the-box and are more comfortable. They also have great noise canceling so they will be better suited for commuters and more uses cases than the MDR-XB950N1.

Sennheiser HD 4.50

The Sennheiser HD4.50 is a better noise canceling option than the MDR-XB950N1. These headphones do not look as premium or as high-end but they have a sturdy build quality and great active features that make them versatile enough for most use cases. You can also better customize their sound profile since the Sennheiser Captune app comes with a fully parametric equalizer, unlike the Sonys. If you like the design and premium feel of the MDR-XB950N1 then they could be a decent alternative but the Sennheisers perform much better overall in almost all categories.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

The Bose QuietComfort 35 are great noise canceling headphones that are versatile enough for most use cases. They're lightweight and have a decently well-built design but feel a bit plasticky for their price range. They also do not have an equalizer to customize their sound profile. If you're a big fan of bass-heavy music and are looking for a headphone that's as pricey as the Bose, then the Sony XB950N1 are a decent option. However, the QC35 are way better for most use cases even without an EQ. They're also more suitable for commuting since they have one of the best ANC that we've measured.

Conclusion
SEE PRICE
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6.2Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
Average for mixed usage. The Sony MDR-XB950N1 have an overpowering and bass-heavy sound quality and even with their noise cancellation feature they do not isolate well enough for all environments. On the upside, they have a sturdy, durable wireless design and do not leak much. This means they won't be the best headphones for critical listening or commuting but with their active features, they're decent enough for most use cases. Also you can somewhat reduce the bass effect with the app so they can sound a bit better balanced.
6.2Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
Mediocre-at-best for critical listening. They have the same sound quality and as the XB950B1 which is too bass heavy, even without the Bass Effect turned on. They also have a recessed treble range which makes them sound even darker and lacking in detail with instruments and vocals. Unfortunately, they also cannot create a spacious soundstage due to their closed-back design so they won't be the best headphones for critical listeners. On the upside, the Bass Effect can be further reduced via the Headphones Connect app so you may find some redeeming qualities in their sound profile.
6.4Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
Average for commuting. They perform a bit better in noisy conditions than the MDR-XB950B1 but they won't be ideal for very noisy commutes. They're well padded, wireless and have a good battery life, but may still let some of the noise of your daily commute seep into your audio.
6.3Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
Average for sports. They're not sports-oriented headphones so they're a bit too bulky and unstable for exercising with. However, they have a wireless design and efficient controls which are useful if you do decide to use them while jogging.
6.4Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
Average for office use. They do not leak much even at higher volumes so you won't distract your colleagues. Unfortunately, they do not cancel enough noise for a lively office environment and they have a bit too much self-noise which can be a bit distracting if you're not listening to any audio.
5.5Home Theater
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Score components:
Mediocre for home theater use. They have fairly high latency which won't be ideal for watching movies. It's a bit better if you have an aptX ready device. However, they're not the most comfortable headphones to wear for long periods of time.
5.3Gaming
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Sub-par for gaming. The Sony XB950N1 have a mediocre mic that isn't compatible with consoles and quite a bit of latency which is not really suitable for gaming. They also tend to make your ears a little warm during long gaming sessions and are not the most comfortable headphones to wear for extended gaming sessions.
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I would recommend these at the $115-$120 price range that best buy was offering these at. I agree they're not worth their original MSRP. I've used these at home, paired them with my TV, used them while flying... They're decent if you can get them on sale. Great battery life in my experience with them as well.
Thank you for sharing your experience. For that price range, we recommend the BackBeat Pro 2 over the Sony MDR-XB950N1, since do have a bass-heavy yet well-balanced sound. They also do better in most other categories.
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