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Sony WH-XB900N Wireless HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
6.7
Mixed Usage
7.1
Critical Listening
6.8
Commute/Travel
6.8
Sports/Fitness
7.0
Office
5.7
TV
5.4
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.

Pros
  • Comfortable design.
  • Great app support with customization options.
  • Excellent battery life.
Cons
  • Very long charge time.
  • Disappointing noise isolation performance.

Test Results
Design 7.2
Sound 7.0
Isolation 6.3
Microphone 6.4
Active Features 5.9
Connectivity 5.9
  1. Update 8/6/2019: We've retested the Breathability score as it was rather high and measured with another equipment. The new results still show poor breathability but are more accurate.
  2. Update 8/2/2019: We've updated the Power saving feature score as it turns out the auto-off timer of these headphones is only triggered when they are disconnected from their source rather than when being inactive for a while.

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7.2

Design

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
Weight : 0.56 lbs
Clamping Force
:
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
Ease of use : Good
Feedback : Good
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : Yes
Talk-Through
:
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.

5.9 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 7.3 C

Update: 08/06/2019 We retested the breathability of these headphones. They are still rather very hot, so the text wasn't updated as it is still accurate, but the test result was updated.

Note: The breathability picture has been updated.

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
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
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

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

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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7.0

Sound

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
Std. Err.
:
4.61 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
10 Hz
Low-Bass
:
6.68 dB
Mid-Bass
:
5.58 dB
High-Bass
:
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
Std. Err.
:
3.32 dB
Low-Mid
:
-2.91 dB
Mid-Mid
:
-3.47 dB
High-Mid
:
-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
Std. Err.
:
4.32 dB
Low-Treble
:
-2.98 dB
Mid-Treble
:
-1.07 dB
High-Treble
:
-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.

5.9 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
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
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.34
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
0.48
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
1.8
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
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
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
3.2 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
7.41 dB
PRTF Distance
:
12.46 dB
Openness
:
3.9
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
3.7
Correlated Crosstalk
:
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
Weighted THD @ 90
:
2.251
Weighted THD @ 100
:
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

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
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-16.74 dB
Bass
:
-5.39 dB
Mid
:
-14.48 dB
Treble
:
-31.12 dB
Self-Noise
:
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
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
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

Integrated
:
Yes
In-line
:
No
Boom
:
No
Detachable Boom
:
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
Recorded Speech
:
LFE
:
219.83 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
:
2.62 dB
HFE
:
2957.7 Hz
Weighted THD
:
2.499
Gain
:
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
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
:
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.

5.9

Active Features

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.

5.6 Battery
Battery Type
:
Rechargable
Battery Life
:
38.3 hrs
Charge Time
:
5.9 hrs
Power Saving Feature
:
No
Audio while charging
:
No
Passive Playback
:
Yes

Update: 08/02/2019: The auto-off timer of these headphones only triggers when being disconnected from their source rather than when no content is playing. We don't consider this to be a feature that prolongs the battery life as you could put the headphones down on your desk and they could still be connected to your PC or phone that is near, and drain out. The review and text have been updated.

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
App Name : Sony| Headphones Connect
iOS : Yes
Android : Yes
Mac OS : No
Windows : No
Equalizer
:
Graphic + Presets
ANC control
:
Yes
Mic Control : No
Room effects
:
Yes
Playback control
:
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

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
Bluetooth Version
:
4.2
Multi-Device Pairing
:
No
NFC Pairing
:
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
OS Compatibility
:
Not OS specific
Analog Audio
:
Yes
USB Audio
:
No
PS4 Compatible
:
Audio Only
Xbox One Compatible
:
Audio Only
PC Compatible
:
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
Type
:
N/A
Optical Input
:
N/A
Line In
:
N/A
Line Out
:
N/A
USB Input
:
N/A
RCA Input
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
:
N/A
PC Compatible
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
N/A
Dock Charging
:
N/A

These headphones don’t have a dock.

9.6 Wireless Range
Obstructed Range
:
72 ft
Line of Sight Range
:
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
Default Latency
:
208 ms
aptX Latency
:
164 ms
aptX(LL) Latency
:
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
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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.

Sony WH-H900N/h.ear on 2 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sony WH-H900N/h.ear on 2 Wireless are slightly better headphones than the Sony WH-XB900N Wireless. Their audio reproduction is well-balanced and more accurate than the bass-heavy XB900N. While they don’t have as long a battery life as the XB900N, they have a power-saving mode, so they might be a better option for those who forget to turn their headset off when taking it off. The XB900N will also be a better choice if you listen to a lot of bass-heavy music genres. They also have noticeably better wireless range.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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.

+ Show more

Conclusion

6.7 Mixed Usage

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.

7.1 Critical Listening

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

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.

6.8 Sports/Fitness

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

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.

5.7 TV

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.

5.4 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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