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Reviewed on Jul 11, 2019 , Jake Thauvette, Marc Henney, Sam Vafaei, Yannick Khong

Sony WH-XB900N Wireless
HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

Test Benches:

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
6.7
Mixed Usage
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:
7.0
Critical Listening
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:
6.8
Commute/Travel
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.
6.7
Sports/Fitness
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.
7.0
Office
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.
5.3
Gaming
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Sony WH-XB900N are fairly versatile headphones for a variety of uses and are built to be a more affordable option to the Sony WH-1000XM3. They feel more plasticky than the higher-end model and their ANC is quite disappointing, so the XM3 may be a better value for most. The XB900N have a bass-heavy sound profile that might sound a bit dark to some. On the upside, they have a remarkable battery life, but they do take quite some time to charge fully. They're comfortable to wear for long listening sessions and have a good amount of customization inside their app.

Test Results
Design 7.0
Sound 7.0
Isolation 6.3
Microphone 6.4
Active Features 6.8
Connectivity 5.9
Pros
  • Comfortable design.
  • Great app support with customization options.
  • Excellent battery life.
Cons
  • Very long charge time.
  • Disappointing noise isolation performance.

Check Price

7.0

Design

Score components:

The Sony WH-XB900N are well-designed over-ear headphones that resemble Sony’s flagship WH-1000XM3, but with slightly cheaper build quality. These headphones feel a bit flimsier and more plasticky, but they are still very comfortable and have a nice touch-sensitive control scheme that is responsive. They won’t be ideal for sports, as they aren’t the most stable and breathable pair of headphones, but they’ll be good for a variety of uses.

Style

The XB900N look like a cheaper version of the WH-1000XM3. They are made out of plastic, which doesn’t look as good as the material used for the XM3s. The overall design and shape of the headphones are still very similar, with large cups and thick padding. However, they don’t have the same elegant vents with nice copper accents. Instead, under the hinges, you can see wide vents with a glossy-finish plastic that looks cheaply made. They come in a sleek all-black design, a slightly flashier blue color, or in gray.

8.0 Comfort
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
Weight : 0.56 lbs
Clamping Force
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.
:
1.1 lbs

The WH-XB900N are very comfortable headphones and feel quite like the WH-1000XM3. The cups are deep and the padding is thick and plushy, which make them comfortable to wear for a while without feeling soreness. The headband is also well-designed and distributes the weight of the headphones well, which makes them feel very light on your head. They feel slightly heavier than the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, but the difference is fairly minimal.

7.9 Controls
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.
Ease of use : Good
Feedback : Good
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
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
What it is: A transparency feature that uses the mics of the headphones to let you hear what is doing on around you without removing them.
When it matters: If you want to be aware of what is going on around you without removing your headphones or while still listening to your audio. This is typically a feature for the noise canceling headphones and passively isolating in-ears that block a lot of noise.
Good value: Yes or adjustable.
:
Yes
Additional Buttons : Voice enabled controls

Just like the XM3, the WH-XB900N have a touch-sensitive control scheme on the right earcup. You can swipe up and down to control volume, swipe left or right to skip tracks, and double tapping the surface plays/pauses your music and manages your calls. You also have a 'CUSTOM' button that lets you cycle between ANC on, ambient mode, or a mode where both are disabled. You can also map that button to directly trigger your voice assistant, which you can also do by tapping and holding the touch-sensitive surface. Additionally, putting your palm on the right ear cup enters you in a talk-through mode, which lowers your music and enhances ambient noise, ideal for quick conversations.

The touch surface is easy to use, and it doesn’t take too much time to get used to. However, there were reports online that the XM3’s touch-sensitive surface can’t work properly in colder climates. We will monitor online reviews for the XB900N until we can test this ourselves to confirm if this issue also happens with these headphones. We will adjust the review if needed.

4.4 Breathability
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:
Avg.Temp.Difference : 10.1 C

Note: We recently had an issue with our heat camera (FLIR E8), and these results and the picture were taken on older equipment (FLIR One). We will retest this whenever we can to provide more accurate results.

The Sony WH-XB900N are not very breathable headphones. It shouldn’t be an issue for casual listening, but these headphones won’t be suited for sports. You’ll notice a big difference in temperature over time and will sweat more than usual.

5.8 Portability
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:
L : 5.5 "
W : 6.6 "
H : 3.5 "
Volume : 127 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

Like most over-ear headphones, the WH-XB900N are quite bulky and won’t be easy to carry around. However, they do fold in a more compact way and their cups swivel to lay flat, which makes it easier to carry them around your neck or to slide in a bag. They also come with a small pouch, which doesn’t add too much bulk to their design but doesn’t protect the headphones when you’re on the go.

5.5 Case
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
Type : Pouch
L : N/A
W : N/A
H : N/A
Volume : N/A

The WH-XB900N come with a soft pouch, which isn’t as ideal as a hard case like the XM3 have. It can protect the headphones against light scratches, but won’t be ideal to protect against water exposure or physical damage from falls. On the upside, it doesn’t take much extra space like a case would and is easy to store in a bag.

7.5 Build Quality
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

The XB900N are well-built headphones but don’t feel as premium as the WH-1000XM3. The materials used feel more like the Bose QC 35 II. Their build feels durable, but since they are made of plastic some might find them to feel a bit cheap. The padding is comfortable and plushy and the cups are dense, which shouldn’t break with normal usage. The headband is reinforced by a thin metal sheet as well. The yokes are very similar to other models like the XM3 and XM2, which were prone to cracking like the original MDR-1000X.

7.0 Stability
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

The Sony WH-XB900N are stable enough for a light jog but will not be the ideal headphones for working out and exercising. Their wireless design and slightly better fit than the WH-1000XM2 make them a bit more stable. However, since the ear cups are moderately heavy and stick out a bit like the WH-1000XM3, they will sway a lot depending on the intensity of your workout routine. On the upside, since they are wireless, you won’t have a cable in your way and you won’t have to worry getting it stuck on something, which would easily yank the headphones off your head.

Cable
Detachable : Yes
Length : 4.1 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS

These headphones come with a 4.1ft-long 1/8” TRS audio cable and a USB to USB-C charging cable.

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Headshots 1
Headshots 2
7.0

Sound

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.)

The Sony WH-XB900N are decent sounding closed-back over-ear headphones. Their 'Extra Bass' name suits them well, as their overall sound profile is quite bass-heavy. Their bass is decent but overdone with excess thump and rumble, which fans of bass-heavy music may like but most will find too muddy. Their mid-range is well-balanced and fairly flat, while their treble is also decent. However, vocals and leads in the mid-range are slightly thinned out by the bass and their treble is mostly under our curve, resulting in a lack of detail and brightness on sibilants (S and T sounds). Overall, these headphones will be better-suited for bass-heavy genres like EDM, dubstep, and hip-hop, and won’t be the best option for vocal-centric music.

6.9 Bass
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:
Std. Err.
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
:
4.61 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
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
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
:
6.68 dB
Mid-Bass
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
:
5.58 dB
High-Bass
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
:
2.28 dB

The bass performance of the Sony WH-XB900N is decent. Their LFE (low-frequency extension) is down to 10Hz, which is excellent. As their Extra Bass name suggests, their sound profile is bass-heavy. Low-bass is overemphasized by almost 7dB over our target curve, which results in excess thump and rumble, common to music genres like EDM and dubstep. The rest of the bass response is also overemphasized and will sound a bit muddy to some.

7.5 Mid
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:
Std. Err.
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
:
3.32 dB
Low-Mid
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
:
-2.91 dB
Mid-Mid
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
:
-3.47 dB
High-Mid
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
:
-1.64 dB

The WH-XB900N have a good mid-range performance. The response throughout the range is well-balanced and fairly flat, but the response is mostly under our target curve. The 3dB underemphasis in low-mid slightly thins out vocals, and lead instruments and the dip in mid-mid will nudge them to the back of the mix. However, this won’t be very noticeable to most people.

7.0 Treble
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:
Std. Err.
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
:
4.32 dB
Low-Treble
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
:
-2.98 dB
Mid-Treble
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
:
-1.07 dB
High-Treble
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
:
-5.62 dB

The treble performance of these headphones is decent. The response is slightly uneven and most of it is under our target curve. This will result in some frequencies lacking detail and brightness. On the other hand, the bump around 10kHz will result in some sibilants (S and T sounds) feeling slightly too sharp and piercing, especially on already bright tracks. However, not everyone hears treble frequencies the same way and these headphones perform differently in this range across users, meaning your listening experience may vary.

Raw Frequency Response
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.
5.9 Frequency Response Consistency
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:
Avg. Std. Deviation
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
:
0.97 dB

The frequency response consistency of the XB900N is sub-par. There’s not a big variation in the bass range across users, which may be due to their noise cancelling feature checking for bass consistency. However, it isn’t as good as high-end models like the WH-1000XM3 or the Bose QC 35 II. However, they fail to deliver consistent performance in the treble range. We measured a maximum deviation of more than 10dB under 10kHz, which will be noticeable.

8.6 Imaging
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.
Weighted Group Delay
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
:
0.34
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
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
:
0.48
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
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
:
1.8
Weighted Phase Mismatch
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
:
3.8

The Sony WH-XB900N have great imaging. Their weighted group delay is 0.34, which is within good limits. The graph also shows that the entire group delay is below our audibility threshold. This ensures a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were well-matched in amplitude, frequency, and phase response, which is important for the accurate placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, video game effects) in the stereo image. Note that these results are only valid for our unit and yours may perform differently.

6.0 Soundstage
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.
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
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
:
3.2 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
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
:
7.41 dB
PRTF Distance
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
:
12.46 dB
Openness
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
:
3.9
Acoustic Space Excitation
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
:
3.7
Correlated Crosstalk
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, like most other noise cancelling headphones, is sub-par. The PRTF response shows a good amount of pinna activation, which suggests a relatively large size for the soundstage. However, the low accuracy of the response suggests a soundstage that feels a bit unnatural. Also, there's a notch in the 10kHz region, which could result in the soundstage being perceived as located inside the head as opposed to in front of it.

7.3 Total Harmonic Distortion
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:
Weighted THD @ 90
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
:
2.251
Weighted THD @ 100
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
:
3.066

The total harmonic distortion performance of these headphones is decent. The THD is within good limits in the bass range and is overall quite low in the mid and treble ranges. However, there’s a noticeable peak on the graph around 5kHz. This could make these frequencies a bit harsh and impure, which can get fatiguing over time. On the upside, there’s no big jump in THD under heavier loads, which is good.

6.3

Isolation

Score components:

The isolation performance of the Sony-WH-XB900N is mediocre and quite disappointing when comparing to the similar Sony WH-1000XM3. They do a sub-par job at isolating in the bass range with their ANC feature, which means they won’t be the best option for commuting. On the upside, they do a good job at blocking out work environment noises. Their leakage performance is okay too. They don’t leak too loudly, and you should be able to block more noise by raising your listening volume. However, you probably won’t be able to blast your music in very quiet environments without bothering surrounding people.

6.0 Noise Isolation
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 environment (airplane, subway, etc.)
Score components:
Isolation Audio
What it is: The simulated noise isolation of the headphones, demonstrating how much outside noise is blocked out by putting the headphones on. This recording is created using an EQ and is not an actual recording. For headphones with ANC (active noise cancellation), the playback simulates the isolation with ANC enabled.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used in a noisy envinronment (airplane, subway, etc.)
:
Overall Attenuation
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
:
-16.74 dB
Bass
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
:
-5.39 dB
Mid
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
:
-14.48 dB
Treble
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
:
-31.12 dB
Self-Noise
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
:
20.97 dB

The noise isolation performance of the XB900N is quite disappointing. In the bass range, where the rumble of airplane and bus engines sit, they achieved only 5dB of isolation, which is inadequate and noticeably lower than the WH-1000XM3’s isolation. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, they isolate by more than 14dB, which is decent. In the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds like S and Ts and A/C systems, they reduce noise by about 31dB, which is good. When compared to the WH-1000XM3, the XB900N are very disappointing and don’t do a very good job at blocking ambient noise.

6.8 Leakage
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:
Leakage Audio
What it is: The simulated sound leakage heard 1 foot away from the user, while the user is listening to a 100dB SPL signal. This recording is created using an EQ and is not an actual recording.
When it matters: When you don't want people to hear what you are listening to.
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
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
:
40.81 dB

The Sony WH-XB900N have a passable leakage performance. The significant portion of their leakage is spread over the mid and treble ranges, resulting in a leakage that is fuller-sounding compared to that of in-ears and earbuds. The overall level of the leakage is relatively low, though. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 41B SPL and peaks at about 51dB SPL, which is about the same as the noise floor of an average office.

6.4

Microphone

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
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
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
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
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 XB900N have an average Bluetooth microphone. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with this mic sounds relatively thin, noticeably muffled, and lacking in detail. Speech will easily be understandable in quiet environments, but the microphone struggles to separate speech from background noise in moderately loud places, like a busy street.

6.6 Recording Quality
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:
Recorded Speech
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
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
:
219.83 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
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
:
2.62 dB
HFE
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
:
2957.7 Hz
Weighted THD
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
:
2.499
Gain
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
:
41.48 dB

The integrated microphone has an okay recording quality. The LFE (low-frequency extension) of 220Hz results in a recorded/transmitted speech that sounds a little thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 3kHz means speech will sound noticeably muffled and lacking in detail. This is a limitation of the Bluetooth protocol, and performance like this is expected on Bluetooth microphones.

6.3 Noise Handling
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:
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
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
:
15.79 dB

The microphone is mediocre at noise handling. In our SpNR test, it achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 16dB, which suggests this microphone is well-suited for quiet environments. However, it may still struggle to fully separate speech from ambient noise in moderately loud places, such as a busy street.

6.8

Active Features

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 WH-XB900N have an amazing 38-hour battery life, which is impressive, but they take a staggering 6 hours to charge, which is very long. They are also compatible with the great Sony|Headphones Connect app, which gives you access to a good amount of customization options, but you won’t have the great ANC level control that you get with the XM3.

6.6 Battery
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
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
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
:
38.3 hrs
Charge Time
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
:
5.9 hrs
Power Saving Feature
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.
:
Auto-Off Timer
Audio while charging
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 you're 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
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

We measured over 38 hours of battery life for the XB900N, which is very good. This will last you multiple days and they won’t need daily charging, which is great. This is also a bit over the 30 hours that were advertised by Sony. However, they take about 6 hours to charge fully, which is exceptionally long and frustrating. This is one of the highest charge times we’ve measured so far. On the upside, you can set their auto-off timer when disconnected from their source inside their app, and you can also use them passively with an audio cable even if the battery is dead.

8.0 App Support
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
App Name : Sony| Headphones Connect
iOS : Yes
Android : Yes
Mac OS : No
Windows : No
Equalizer
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.
:
Graphic + Presets
ANC control
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
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
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.
:
Yes
Button Mapping : Yes
Surround Sound : N/A

These headphones are compatible with the Sony|Headphones Connect app. They have most of the same features as the WH-1000XM3. There's a great graphic equalizer with presets and an in-app media player, as well as room effects and sound position options. They also provide a customizable auto-off timer when the headphones are disconnected from a Bluetooth source. The main difference is when it comes to ANC control. You don’t have NC levels on the XB900N, which means it isn’t as customizable as on the XM3. You can still control the amount of ambient noise being fed in, which is nice.

5.9

Connectivity

What it is: The inputs and outputs of wired and wireless headphones, as well as their latency performance and range.
When it matters: When you want to know whether your headphones will be compatible with your various audio sources, like your smartphone, tablet, gaming consoles, PC, smart TV, amplifiers, etc.
Score components:

The Sony WH-XB900N are pretty straightforward Bluetooth headphones. They have an amazing wireless range, but their latency might be too high for watching video content without noticing the delay between the audio and video. On the upside, they support the aptX codec, which reduces the delay, and you can also pair them to your devices using NFC, which is convenient. Unfortunately, they can’t be connected to multiple devices at the same time and their audio cable doesn’t have an in-line microphone.

8.0 Bluetooth
What it is: Bluetooth support for wireless headphones.
When it matters: When you want to connect your headphones wirelessly to a Bluetooth source, like your smartphone, tablet, PC or smart TV.
Score components:
Bluetooth Version
What it is: The version of Bluetooth that the headphones support.
When it matters: Newer versions of Bluetooth, when paired with devices that support the same version, may have improved latency and wireless range performance.
:
4.2
Multi-Device Pairing
What it is: A Bluetooth profile that allows some headphones to be simultaneously connected to multiple Bluetooth sources, and have full call and media support on both/all devices they are connected to.
When it matters: To quickly switch between your Bluetooth sources. For example, switching from your phone to your home or work PC and still have call and media support on both devices.
Good value: 2 devices.
:
No
NFC Pairing
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

Like most Bluetooth wireless Sony headphones, the XB900N also support NFC pairing, which makes pairing very easy and quick. Unfortunately, they can’t be paired with multiple devices simultaneously.

7.2 Wired
What it is: The type and compatibility of audio cables for wired and wireless headphones.
When it matters: When you want to use your headphones wired with a device that has a regular audio jack (line-out), like a smartphone, PC, or gaming console controller.
OS Compatibility
What it is: Testing the headphones' cable to see which operating system it works with.
When it matters: Some wired headphones don't support all operating systems so this allows you to check if the headphones will work with your device.
:
Not OS specific
Analog Audio
What it is: When your headphones can play analog media using a standard 1/8" TRS audio jack. Includes using a 1/4" or 1/16" TRS with a 1/8" TRS adapter.
When it matters: For listening to music with devices that have a standard 1/8" TRS audio jack, like an MP3 player, tablet, smartphone or PC.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
USB Audio
What it is: When your headphones can play digital media using a standard USB connector.
When it matters: For listening to music on a PC. A digital USB adapter can offer some advantages over a regular audio jack, like a DAC or added software support.
Good value: Yes
:
No
PS4 Compatible
What it is: PS4 compatibility with a regular 1/8" TRS or TRRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your PS4 controller.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio Only
Xbox One Compatible
What it is: Xbox One compatibility with a regular 1/8" TRS or TRRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your Xbox One controller.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio Only
PC Compatible
What it is: PC compatibility with a regular 1/8" TRS or TRRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your PC.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio Only

The WH-XB900N can be used passively with an audio cable, which is included in the box. This 1/8” TRS cable doesn’t have an in-line microphone, which means you’ll only have audio when using them. On the upside, you can use them passively even if their battery is dead.

0 Base/Dock
What it is: The base station, dock, or dongle transmitter of wireless headphones that receive data/audio via a specific frequency range or wired headphones that have a proprietary amp.
When it matters: When you need to know which inputs and outputs the headphones support, so you can set them up with your home theatre system for gaming or watching movies.
Type
What it is: The type of base/dock the headphones use, whether a USB dongle, charging case or docking station. Wired or wireless.
When it matters: Larger docking stations tend to have more controls and sometimes even customization options while smaller USB dongles are more portable. Charging cases allow you to keep your earbuds charged on-the-go.
:
N/A
Optical Input
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
What it is: The connector type of the power source for the base/dock.
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 an AC adapter is less common.
Good value: USB/USB-C
:
N/A
Dock Charging
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

These headphones don’t have a dock.

9.6 Wireless Range
What it is: Headphones that offer a cable-free listening experience over a wireless network, typically via Bluetooth or radio frequency.
When it matters: When 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 much greater range than an audio cable could provide, especially if the audio source is heavy or difficult to carry. Note that wireless range also depends on your audio source's signal strength, which may vary between devices.
Score components:
Obstructed Range
What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when the Bluetooth source was placed in another room. We test our obstructed range with a Moto E4 Plus. Results may vary depending on your phone model or Bluetooth source.
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. Note that wireless range also depends on your Bluetooth source's signal strength which may vary from device to device or depending on your phone model.
Good value: >35ft
Noticeable difference: 5ft
:
72 ft
Line of Sight Range
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
:
196 ft

The wireless range of the Sony WH-XB900N is amazing. We measured about 196 feet of direct line of sight range and we maxed out our obstructed range test with 72 feet of range. This means you should be able to walk to the next room over without hearing too many audio cuts. However, wireless range is dependent on your device’s signal strength and many other factors, so your results may differ depending on your source.

2.7 Latency
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. Note that latency also depends on the device and applications you use.
Score components:
Default Latency
What it is: The base RF latency or the default sub-band coding (SBC) of most Bluetooth headphones.
When it matters: When watching videos wirelessly, high latency can cause sync issues between the images you see and the audio you hear.
Good value: 50 ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15 ms
:
208 ms
aptX Latency
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 you often stream music over Bluetooth. It also slightly improves latency when watching videos with wireless headphones.
Good value: 50 ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15 ms
:
164 ms
aptX(LL) Latency
What it is: Low latency variation of aptX that significantly reduces sync issues between video and sound when using Bluetooth headphones.
When it matters: Latency is a lot more noticeable when watching videos or gaming than when just listening to music.
Good value: 50 ms or less
Noticeable difference: 5 ms
:
N/A

Like most Bluetooth headphones, the Sony WH-XB900N have a delay of about 200ms, which might not be ideal to watch video content as you might notice the latency. On the upside, they support the aptX codec, which slightly reduces their latency issues. If you watch a lot of video content, you can use them wired to completely get rid of the delay.

In the box

  • Sony WH-XB900N headphones
  • USB to USB-C charging cable
  • 1/8" TRS audio cable
  • Carrying pouch
  • Manuals

Compared to other Headphones

The Sony WH-XB900N are decent headphones that are fairly versatile for a wide variety of uses. However, their ANC performance is quite disappointing and their overall value might not be worth it, which still make the Sony WH-1000XM3 the better option. See our recommendations for the best headphones, the best noise cancelling headphones, and the best over-ear headphones.

Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless

The Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless are better headphones than the Sony WH-XB900N. They feel like more premium headphones and most importantly, their ANC feature is way better, which makes them more versatile and a better option for commuting. Their sound is also less bass-heavy, but you can EQ both headphones in their app to make them sound more like you prefer. On the other hand, the XB900N have better obstructed range and they also have remarkable battery life. They are overall very similar headphones, but the XM3 will offer better value.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II are better headphones than the Sony WH-XB900N. They are one of the most comfortable headphones we’ve reviewed so far, thanks to their padding and very lightweight build. Their audio quality is more neutral and flat, which some may prefer for audio fidelity. Their ANC was also one of the best, but recent updates seemed to have made it worse, but it is still noticeably better than the XB900N’s. On the other hand, the Sony XB900N will give you more battery life out of a single charge and their app offers an EQ, which Bose is lacking. The Sonys also support the aptX codec, which the QC35 II don’t do.

Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless

The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless are better headphones than the Sony WH-XB900N, especially when it comes to audio quality. Their sound profile is flatter and more accurate, resulting in better audio fidelity. Their ANC feature is also slightly better as they don’t create as much self-noise. While they don’t offer as much battery life as the WH-XB900N, they take noticeably less time to charge, which might be worth it for some. The Sennheiser Captune app also offers a full parametric EQ, and the PXC 550 can be connected to 2 devices simultaneously. On the other hand, the Sony WH-XB900N have better wireless range and are more comfortable than the PXC 550. They’ll also be better-suited for bass-heavy genres than the PXC 550.

Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Wireless 2016

The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Wireless 2016 are better headphones than the Sony WH-XB900N. They both have a bump in low-bass, which is great for bass-heavy genres, but the rest of the Plantronics’ response is flatter and more accurate. Their isolation performance is also slightly better, including in the bass range, making them a better option for commuting than the WH-XB900N. Both offer about over 30 hours of battery life, but the BackBeat Pro 2 take way less time to charge. They also support the aptX-LL codec for minimal delay. On the other hand, the Sony are more comfortable, and their app offers better customization options.

Conclusion

6.7 Mixed Usage
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:
Acceptable for mixed usage. The Sony WH-XB900N are pretty comfortable for long listening sessions, and their sound quality is decent and can easily be EQ’ed to your liking. Unfortunately, their ANC feature is quite disappointing and might not offer the best value. They’ll still be decent for commuting or to use at the office, but similar headphones could be a better option. They also won’t be ideal for sports, as their over-ear fit traps a lot of heat inside the cups and they aren't very stable. Like most Bluetooth headphones, these shouldn’t be used for watching video content or gaming due to their latency.
7.0 Critical Listening
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:
Decent for critical listening. These headphones have a very powerful bass, which will be better-suited for bass-heavy genres like EDM, dubstep, and hip-hop. They might sound a bit dark for some, due to the hyped bass, slightly recessed mid-range, and veiled treble, but all this can easily be EQ’ed inside their app. Also, they are quite comfortable for long listening sessions and their ANC feature will help you focus a bit more on your music wherever you are.
6.8 Commute/Travel
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.
Decent for commuting. These headphones have a remarkable battery life that will last you for the longest trips and they’ll be comfortable to wear during that time. They aren’t the most portable option and don’t come with a hard case, but on the upside, they are easy to use and their ANC can help reduce ambient noise. However, they don’t perform too well in the bass range, meaning they won’t be the best at cancelling out the deep rumbles of an engine.
6.7 Sports/Fitness
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.
Okay for sports. They’ll be stable enough for a light run, but won’t be the best option for working out and being active. They aren’t that stable and will sway around depending on the intensity of your workout routine. Additionally, their over-ear design will trap a good amount of heat inside their ear cups, which will make you sweat more than usual. On the upside, their bass-heavy sound profile can be good to keep you pumped up during your workouts.
7.0 Office
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.
Decent for the office. They have a great battery life that will last you a few days, their design is comfortable for long listening sessions, and their ANC feature blocks a good amount of work environment noises like ambient chatter and A/C noise. However, they are a bit leaky at higher volumes, so be sure to not blast your audio content, as surrounding colleagues will be disturbed. They also won’t be ideal for taking calls as their Bluetooth microphone is average and their audio cable doesn’t have an in-line mic.
Sub-par for watching TV. Like most Bluetooth headphones, their latency might be too high for watching video content without noticing a delay with the audio. You can reduce this since they support the aptX codec, or you can completely get rid of it by using them wired, but you’ll need a cable extension if you want to watch from your couch. This shouldn’t be an issue if you mostly watch your TV content on your phone and don't mind using them wired.
5.3 Gaming
Sub-par for gaming. These headphones won’t be a good option to use wirelessly for gaming. Their latency will be too high for this use, and their microphone won’t be good enough for online multiplayer games. Also, gaming headsets are usually more customizable and have more gaming-oriented features that these headphones don't provide.

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