When we discuss the very best active noise cancellation (ANC) headphones, Bose is obviously the…
Best Sony MDR-XB950N1 Headphone Black Friday Deals
As the field of wireless noise-canceling headphones finally appears to be checking, products just like the Sony MDR-XB950N1 are entering the ring. At $249.99, these headphones certainly are a full $100 significantly less than our current top pick, Bose’s QuietComfort 35. They deliver some truly head-rattling bass which can be tuned to your liking with an app. And noise cancellation is above average, however, not quite right with an increase of expensive competitors.
Obtainable in black or green models with a semi-matte finish and a subtle gritty sparkle, the circumaural (over-the-ear) MDR-XB950N1 headphones features circular earcups with huge, well-cushioned memory foam-style earpads. The lower of the headband can be comfortably cushioned and covered in black leather. The cloth grilles within the drivers are well recessed (by over fifty percent an inch) inside earpads. Overall, the look includes a sharp, minimalist feel regardless of the rather bulky build.
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Along the outer panel of the left earcup, there’s a power button, a Bass Effect button, and a Noise Cancellation button. Each one of these includes a status LED next to it so it is simple to tell when one feature is enabled or not at an instant glance. The proper earcup houses the dedicated volume control (which works together with your mobile device’s master volume levels), in addition to a multifunction rocker-style button that controls playback, call management, and track navigation. It’s a straightforward, uncluttered design that’s thoughtfully organized to minimize the necessity for memorizing multiple taps for several functions, and the probability of accidentally skipping a track when you mean to adapt the quantity are minimized.
Sony carries a detachable music cable for wired listening-the headphones immediately un-pair when the cable is connected, nonetheless they don’t power down, as you will need the battery to utilize the bass and noise cancellation effects. Surprisingly, the cable doesn’t include an inline handy remote control. Gleam long micro USB charging cable, and a black drawstring carrying tote. Both cables hook up to ports on the left earcup.
A free software called Sony Headphones Connect is available, and it lets you switch the Noise Cancellation on or off without touching the headphones, and apply various (ill-advised) filters to the audio-presets like Arena and Outdoor Stage that use EQ and reverb to approximate various settings. Also you can adapt the levels for the bass effect, which is nearly essential (more upon this within the next section). Pressing the Bass Effect button on the headphones pushes it to the levels you occur the app.
The mic offers reasonably good intelligibility. Using the Voice Memos software on an iPhone 6s, we’re able to understand every word we recorded, however, we occasionally heard artifacts that are pretty common when working with wireless mics (instead of inline mics on music cables). But as stated earlier, the included audio tracks cable does not have an inline mic or remote, which is disappointing.
Sony estimates the battery life to be roughly 22 hours, however your results will vary together with your volume levels, plus your consumption of the Bass Effect button and the noise-canceling circuitry.
The noise cancellation here is pretty good, but adds a touch too much high frequency hiss to the equation (not unpleasant, similar to a subtle tape hiss) to unseat Bose. The circuitry did a good job tamping down ambient room noise in testing, just like the hum from a loud Air conditioner, so it must do well on planes and trains. But there is no way to change the amount of noise cancellation, and there is no sound-through mode which allows you to hear the exterior world through the noise-canceling mics. They are features that the Bose lineup, along with other competitors, have began to add. Still, these headphones complete the job reasonably well for a far more affordable price.
The “XB” in MDR-XB950N1 means extra bass, and on tracks with strong sub-bass content, just like the Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the drivers sound powerful enough with the Bass Effect off-the sound has already been rich and robust. Pushing the bass to its maximum level sounds absolutely awful upon this track, but that’s since it already offers sub-bass in massive amounts. Dialing it down by half is a means for booming bass lovers to have a tiny bit more low-end out of your headphone’s already strong response without going overboard.
Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with hardly any deep bass in the mix, gives us an improved sense of the sound signature. Despite having the bass effect off, the lows are pumped through to this track-Callahan’s baritone vocals sound richer than perhaps necessary, and the drums already sound fairly thunderous. Pushing the bass to top levels again sounds bad-the drums overtake the complete mix like construction noise, blocking out the guitars and vocals. Dialing the bass back halfway, things still sound much too bass-heavy for my tastes, but that’s where serious bass fiends is going to be pleased. But remember: You can dial the bass back further. When that is done, it is possible to get yourself a balanced mix that still offers robust lows without going overboard.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the open,” the kick drum loop gets sufficient high-mid occurrence to accentuate its sharp attack-provided you have the Bass Effect switched off. At full levels, the track, just like the others, doesn’t sound good. At about halfway, however, the drum loop is given more low frequency muscle and the sub-bass synth hits are delivered with a lot more gusto. Thankfully, the vocals remain relatively crisp and clear and do not appear to do an excessive amount of struggle with the lows for your attention.
Orchestral tracks, just like the opening scene in John Adams’ The Gospel In line with the Other Mary, sound pleasantly bass-forward when the Bass Effect is off, and just a little ridiculously boosted in the lows when the result is on rather than even raised to the halfway point. At maximum levels, the result turns this track right into a sonic experiment that’s no more classical music and even pleasant, with the low register instrumentation overpowering almost every other component in the mix as it pertains into play.
Sony’s MDR-XB950N1 headphones deliver a sound signature that’s less crisp and bright than many we test, but avoid sounding muddy when the bass is tamped down. When the result is engaged, all bets are off. The noise cancellation is pretty good for this cost range, especially considering that the headphones are also wireless. So, bass lovers looking for noise cancelling wireless headphones, search no further.
If the booming lows appear to be a little much for you personally, consider these (but more costly) Bose QuietComfort 35, or the slightly less costly Libratone Q Adapt On-Ear. If noise cancellation-and not Bluetooth-is your priority, the Libratone Q Adapt Lightning is a good wired pair for iPhone users.