Stays true to its name


The Sony Extra Bass (XB) lineup has always been popular in India, with audiences largely preferring bass-heavy headphones. We’ve reviewed several XB headphones over the years, and they mostly stay true to their moniker, as it promised that extra bass. The Sony WH-XB910N is the company’s latest entrant to the XB range and is equipped with noise cancellation. The WH-XB910N is priced at Rs 14,990 and is cheaper than the company’s most premium noise-cancelling headset – the acclaimed WH-1000XM4 – and it comes with similar features. So users who might not want to spend more than 20K on a pair of noise-cancelling cans may find the Sony WH-XB910N more appealing, price-wise. In addition, those who prefer a more bass-driven sound signature may also be drawn to these headphones. But how do these headphones perform and are they worth their price tag? Let’s find out that and more in this review.

Sony WH-XB910N: Build and comfort

Sony WH-XB910N Review

The design of the Sony WH-XB910N is reminiscent of the more expensive WH-1000XM4. The shape and styling are very similar, but these headphones lack the brass accents that give the Mark 4s their aesthetic appeal. The WH-XB910N looks simple and straightforward, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The headphones are also very light, weighing only 252 grams. The weight is also evenly distributed and you do not feel any stress when carrying the cans.

Sony WH-XB910N Review: Build and Design

The headphones have an over-ear design with thick, soft foam ear cups. The bottom of the headband is also padded with foam, making these headphones extremely comfortable to wear. The ear cups made of urethane memory foam do get a bit warm after prolonged use. However, the headset is extremely comfortable to use in most scenarios such as walking, jogging or just sitting.

Sony WH-XB910N Review: Build and Design

The headphones are very flexible, so they should also fit large heads. The headband extenders also allow for variation in fit, allowing small or large heads to wear the headphones comfortably. The ear cups also pivot so they can sit flat on your chest when not in use. The headphones can also be folded for easy portability. Sony has supplied a hard carrying case with a fabric texture, which is convenient for carrying the headphones.

Sony WH-XB910N Review: Build and Design

The power and ANC buttons are located on the side of the left earcup. They are easy to press and have fairly good tactile feedback. On the bottom you also have a 3.5mm audio jack to listen to music passively using the included 3.5mm cable. There is also a USB Type-C port for charging. On the right side, you have the touch-sensitive panel on top of the earcup. You can use the touch screen to pause/play music, skip tracks, adjust the volume and activate the voice assistant. The controls are simple, intuitive and worked perfectly during our testing.

Sony WH-XB910N Review: Case

In the box you get the headphones themselves, a hard-fabric carrying case, a 3.5mm audio cable, a USB Type-C charging cable and some documentation.

Sony WH-XB910N: Features

The Sony WH-XB910N offers a range of features present in the Sony WH-1000XM4 at a more affordable price for users. Firstly, the cans are equipped with Active Noise Cancellation and Ambient Sound. The headphones are equipped with two feedforward and feedback microphones that pick up ambient noise and either attenuate with ANC or amplify it with Ambient Sound mode.

Another excellent feature present on these headphones is the support of the Sony Headphones Connect app. The app gives access to a plethora of features and customizations, including Sony’s AI-based Adaptive Sound Control, 5-band customizable EQ, 360 Reality Audio setup, Sony’s DSEE upscaling technology, and voice assistant function. The Adaptive Sound Control feature uses AI smarts to detect your environment or actions and apply a noise canceling mode accordingly. So when you walk it turns on ambient sound so you can hear your surroundings, and when you sit it turns on ANC mode. You can customize which activity applies to which noise canceling mode in the app according to your preference.

Sony WH-XB910N Review: Features

360 Reality Audio is there but there are not many apps that support the feature in India. As for DSEE, it enhances and upscales digital files to bring them as close to the original recording quality as possible, according to Sony. You can also switch between multipoint connectivity within the app that allows you to connect two devices to the headphones at the same time. In addition, within the app, you can choose between the device’s voice assistant or a hands-free voice assistant (Google Assistant or Alexa). We chose Google Assistant and used many hands-free commands to call people, have the assistant read our notifications and more. Overall, the app is very feature-rich and allows users to have more granular control over the headphones.

As for other features, the headphones come with Quick Attention mode, which may be one of our favorite features to use on ANC headphones. Placing your palm on the right earcup activates ambient sound and lowers the media volume, so you can quickly have a conversation or pay attention to announcements at train stations or airports. It’s an excellent feature that we love and miss on headsets from other companies.

The headphones also support Google’s Fast Pair, which makes it a snap to connect the headphones to your Android device and even make a call to find them if you’ve lost them. The headphones also support Swift Pair, making it easy to connect them to Windows 10 PCs via a pop-up pairing window.

Sony WH-XB910N: Performance

The Sony WH-XB910N headphones feature 40mm dynamic drivers and support the SBC, AAC and LDAC audio codecs. LDAC is a high-performance codec that offers 96kHz sampling at 990kbps, which in turn allows for more detailed sonic reproduction. The headphones are part of Sony’s XB (eXtra Bass) lineup and they stay true to that name. Although not as ridiculously approachable as their predecessors – the Sony WH-XB900N – they still prefer the lower end of the frequency spectrum.

The cans have a warm, V-shaped sonic signature with boosted bass and treble. The bass is punchy and dynamic, while the mids are sunken. This sonic signature lends itself well to genres such as pop, rap, EDM and Bollywood and will please bass lovers. Audiophiles and purists alike should turn away, however, as the blown bass can certainly sound muddy at times and hinder the clarity of the already sunken mids.

Sony WH-XB910N Review: Sound Quality

In songs like Another bites the dust by means of Queen, the bass notes are booming and obscure the details in Mercury’s vocals quite a bit. The sound you get is quite one-dimensional and doesn’t work with genres like classical and blues. The highs can also get slightly shrill and the drop-off isn’t as precise as we’d hope. However, the soundstage is wide and feels like it extends far beyond the confines of your head. The headphones also suffer from sound leakage, we recorded over 70dB of sound leakage which is not ideal especially when listening to music around other people.

Overall, the sound signature of these headphones is best suited to those who prefer bass-biased headphones and not those looking for a more natural and balanced sound. However, you can use the customizable EQ in the app to tweak the sound to your liking. We found that lowering the bass and treble a bit can make a huge difference.

As for ANC performance, these are not as effective as the ones on the Mark 4s. Low, steady sounds are handled quite decently, but more erratic, high-frequency sounds are barely suppressed. So sounds like high-speed fans, the clicking of a mechanical keyboard, the sound of train tracks, or people speaking make their way through almost unimpeded, even with ANC turned on. The cans are better at dealing with sounds such as the hum of an AC, the hum of a PC, etc. By switching to the Ambient Sound mode, the effect delivered allows users to be aware of their surroundings, but the noise is somewhat unnatural. The same goes for the Sony WH-1000XM4’s Ambient Sound Mode as well, so Sony has to do some work in this area.

Sony WH-XB910N Review: Microphone Performance

Wireless connectivity is exceptionally stable on these headphones. You get Bluetooth v5.2 which is a huge improvement over its predecessor’s v4.2. There were no lags or hitches in the connection and the latency is barely noticeable unless you really look for it. If you’re really hesitant about this, you can use the 3.5mm cable to listen passively without any latency.

Finally, in terms of microphone performance, the Sony WH-XB910N does quite well in this regard. The headphones pick up the speaker’s voice and transmit it clearly with minimal distortion. The speaker’s voice can sometimes sound a bit muffled, but the overall experience is pleasant. The headset microphone is best used indoors for meetings and conversations. Outdoors, the microphones tend to pick up a lot of ambient noise, which can sour the calling experience.

Sony WH-XB910N: Battery Life

Sony WH-XB910N Review: Battery Life

The battery life of the Sony WH-XB910N is simply exemplary. You get 30 hours of wireless playback with ANC turned on and a whopping 50 hours with ANC turned off. In our testing, the headphones achieved a playback time of 31 hours with ANC enabled and battery levels set to 60 percent. Not only this, the headphones also support fast charging. So plugging the headphones into a charger for just 10 minutes will give you 4.5 hours of wireless playback! This is extremely useful and we barely had to charge the device during our week-long testing phase. However, it takes about 3.5 hours to fully charge the headphones, which is slightly longer than desirable.

Sony WH-XB910N: verdict

An affordable alternative to the Sony WH-1000XM4 and a bass lover’s dream, the Sony WH-XB910N has a lot to offer. Not only do you get ANC, app support, and support for multipoint connections, but you also get a solid, rugged build and excellent battery life. The ANC performance doesn’t come close to Sony’s flagship headsets, though, so keep that in mind. The sound signature is quite bass forward though and can only appease hardcore bass aficionados, so purists and audiophiles alike should look the other way. There are options on the market in a similar price range with a more balanced sound signature from Sennheiser and Jabra, but if thumping bass is your style there’s really no reason to look the other way.


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