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Sony WH-XB900N review: Excellent sound, great noise cancellation and long battery life at an affordable price

The over-the-ear design plus the soft earbuds and cushioned headband makes it comfortable to wear.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jul 15, 2019, 02.05 PM IST
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SonyHeadphones
Sony has been working hard on its XB range of wireless headphones and the XB900N are a great addition to it.
Price: Rs 16,990
Rating: **** 1/2

The XB900N is the latest headphones with Sony boasting of active noise cancellation. It carries some features from the 1000XM3 but comes at almost half the price. As with most Sony wireless headphones, this one also comes with Bluetooth and NFC connectivity.

In terms of appearance, the XB900N are similar to the XB700 - you get a single colour finish for a classic and elegant appearance. The headphones have a matte finish with a sturdy plastic body with the Type-C charging port, volume button and custom action button on the left earcup. Both earcups have touch sensor for controls - the left side is for quick attention mode while the right side is for volume adjustment/track change/voice calls with tap or swipe action. Keep in mind that getting used to the controls takes a day and even after that we often ended up pausing the music playback while trying to adjust the volume. We had the same issue with the 1000XM3. Also, the custom action button can be set to launch Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or change the noise cancellation mode - you have to sacrifice one functionality depending on your preference. You can fold the earcups as well as swivel them for storage making them great for travel.

What we loved in the first instance is the amazing fit of these headphones. The over-the-ear design plus the soft earbuds and cushioned headband makes it comfortable to wear for long hours at a stretch. You also get the quick attention mode which allows you to talk to someone without taking off the headphones - just cover the left earcup with your hand to lower the music playback and stop noise cancelling.

Talking about the noise cancellation, Sony has done a fantastic job with it - it works brilliantly cancelling out 80% of the ambient sounds. It's not as good as the 1000 XM3 as it lacks the QN1 noise cancelling chip that the XM3 features but since the XB900N are almost half the price, we can't complain. It also comes with the Ambient sound mode from the 1000XM3 which uses the microphones to detect the noise around you and adjust the noise cancellation accordingly. This feature ensures that you get the optimum amount of noise cancellation especially when you are travelling.

Sound quality is also top-notch as expected. These headphones carry the Extra Bass branding which means you get tight thumping bass across volume levels. The default level of bass is good enough for most genres of music but if you are into Drums & Bass with preference of deeper bass, then you can adjust it too via the Sony Headphones app. Audio clarity is another area where the headphones get full marks - we were impressed that the bass does not overpower vocals and the treble even at higher volume. The output is also well balanced with a wide soundstage which ensures that you do not miss on the mid and even low ranges of a track. We also loved watching videos with these headphones - there is no audio/video sync lag and the vocals clarity is superb.

Sony claims the headphones deliver 30 hours of battery life which is almost accurate. Using the headphones for an approx. of 6 hours a day with volume at 70% - the headphones gave us a back of 4 days and another 4 hours on the 5th day. The only letdown is the charging time - it takes over 6 hours to charge from 0 to 100%. There is a quick charge option which delivers 1 hour of backup with 10 minutes of charge - the cheaper XB700 gave us 90 minutes playback with 10 minutes of charge.

Another highlight of the headphone is its sensitive microphone. Not only does it help with the noise cancellation in ambient mode, it also works great for voice calls and gaming voice chat. The high sensitivity ensures that we did not have to raise our voice and the person on the other end could hear us clearly - this is a common issue with wireless headphones and it's good to see that these headphones don't suffer from it.

Sony has been working hard on its XB range of wireless headphones and the XB900N are a great addition to it. It is suitable for majority of the audience with its excellent sound, great noise cancellation and long battery life. A close competition is the Sennheiser HD 4.50 which has active noise cancellation with 25 hours battery life at Rs 14,990. However, it does not have ambient sound mode, quick attention mode or Google Assistant/Amazon Alexa support.

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