The Sony WH-XB910N headset is a mixed bag, with a good price and a nice set of features. It has way too much bass.
You can adjust the EQ, but it won’t sound perfect, and the touch controls don’t always work.
Noise-cancelling works well for the price, and the option to listen with a wired connection is helpful.
The Sony Extra Bass line of headphones has been popular for a few decades, and Sony usually keeps its end of the deal by giving the headphones a lot of basses.
This is great for bass fans, but what about the rest of us? We used the Sony WH-XB910N for two weeks to see how it works, and it has a lot of other features that might make you want to buy it.
With the right equalisation (EQ), this active noise-cancelling (ANC) headset might be a sleeper hit.
How Does It Feel?
The latest WH-XB910N won’t win any design awards because it looks a lot like the top-of-the-line WH-1000XM4 and XM3, as well as its sibling, the WH-XB900N.
So, it looks stealthy and unobtrusive, except for the raised grey Sony logos on each side of the headband. It might have looked better if they were only on one side.
Our test model comes in black, but you can also choose navy.
The housing is made of plastic, and the covers for the ear pads are made of vinyl.
To store the headphones, the ear cups flip up toward the headband.
Sony thought of everythin, because I sometimes pinch my fingers when I open the hinges on my headphones.
There is a warning buried in small text in the warning section that says to watch your finger.
It Is Indeed Comfortable!
The WH-XB910N is a comfortable pair of headphones.
It weighs 252g, and the padding on the ear cups is large enough to fit most ears at about 65mm x 40mm.
A 40mm dynamic driver, which is typical for headphones that go over the ears, is inside the housing.
The clamping force is strong enough to keep the headphones in place, but not so strong that they are stuck on.
When I eat with the headphones on, the pressure can hit a painful nerve where my jaw meets my neck, just below the ear lobe.
But I don’t have to worry about anything if I don’t eat while wearing the headset.
Does It Support Bluetooth?
Sony includes the standard AAC and SBC Bluetooth codecs in the WH-XB910N.
Android users can also use LDAC to get better quality audio than they can with AAC or SBC (on Android).
By default, my Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 runs on AAC with the WH-XB910N.
With the Sony Headphones Connect app, you can choose whether connection stability or sound quality is more important.
Both settings lead to an AAC Bluetooth codec connection. I don’t know why.
I can manually switch my phone’s music playback to LDAC through the Developer options menu, but I can’t get LDAC to work in the app; it flashes as LDAC for a moment and then settles on AAC.
There’s nothing wrong with AAC in and of itself, but LDAC is better for Android devices, while AAC is best for Apple devices.
But you’ve already read that the headphone jack is still the best way to get good sound.
What About Its Battery?
With ANC on, our standard battery tests show that the WH-XB910N can be used for 37 hours and 9 minutes.
This is a very good result, and Sony says that the headset can last up to 50 hours without ANC on.
The headset also has a quick charge feature that takes only 10 minutes and gives you four and a half hours of sound, but Sony doesn’t say if that’s with or without ANC.
It charges through USB-C, but if your headphones die, you can use the headphone jack.
What About Its Sound Quality?
Not surprisingly, the “Extra Bass” headphones do sound bassy. Below 200Hz, the volume of the frequency response goes up very quickly, and at 30Hz, it’s about 20dB louder than our ideal.
Having the most volume around 30Hz makes the headset feel like it’s rumbling, but in reality, not much musically interesting happens a that low.
This helps the bass emphasis sound less crazy than it looks on the chart.
Still, it’s too loud compared to the other sounds.
Between 200Hz and 1000Hz, the WH-XB910N doesn’t put enough emphasis on the mids.
This means that a lot of fundamentals will sound relatively quiet.
The highs aren’t perfect, but since everything is relative, the roughly 5dB overshoots between 1kHz and 2kHz and between 6kHz and 8kHz would probably make this headset sound trebly if it weren’t for the bass response that sounds like a cartoon.
In reality, everything but the low end sounds too quiet, but this can be fun for some music and bad for other music.
This shows us what our target curve is for, which is to make everything sound more or less good.