Price (RRP): $249.95
I always shudder when I read marketing hype like ‘overwhelmingly deep bass and clear vocal’, but that is what the Sony WH-XB700 can deliver.
To be more precise, it can deliver it via the Sony Headphones Connect app. The app is a necessary and close companion to any Sony headphone, including the Sony WH-XB700. It enables custom sound as you like it.
What is a Sony WH-XB700 Extra Bass headphone?
It is a no-frills, on-ear, Bluetooth 4.2/NFC/aptX headphone with long 30-hours music time and supports Google Assistant and Alexa.
RRP is $249.95, and as these are new to the market, there is no street price yet.
The prime criteria of any headphone review are how it sounds and how long the battery life is.
But we need to position them so as not to expect more than we get. For us, a headphone review is first to ascertain what it is and is not.
For example, on-ear means they are not noise cancelling (ANC) so that criteria is not part of the review. But the sound isolation is pretty good. You will hear a bit of muted noise around you, and it is not very ‘noise’ leaky so you can wear them at the office. Judging by the over/on-ear ratio on my train ride it is about 60/40 that want ANC, and you pay extra for that.
Second the price. At $249.95 (cheap for anything Sony) you will not get luxury leather pads, folding, motion sensors etc. No, you get PLeather (vinyl) pads and polycarbonate cups, and I am perfectly fine with that. Nor will you get a hard or soft carry case – just a very short 20cm USB-A to USB-C and a 1.2m 3.5mm (both ends) audio cable.
Is it a Sony? Apart from a subtly embossed Sony on the headband, the all-black (you can get a light navy as well) cans are innocuous. They are all plastic and time will tell if it and the PLeather last the distance. The headband is well padded, and it is a no-nonsense setup with buttons (not touch) for up/down volume, forward/next track, power and to summon your assistant.
I am not a fan of on-ear – I prefer over-the-ear and ANC. But I was impressed at how cool they were for extended use. After an hour, my Kestrel Drop temperature and humidity sensor showed about 5° over my ambient temp. That is good. In comparison over the ear can end up twice as hot.
Its is all polycarbonate. There are metal extender straps (over polycarbonate), and it looks like you can access Philips head screws to tension them as well.
It takes four hours to charge via USB-C 5V/1A – you cannot use the phones while charging. I have not tried 5V/3A or USB-PD chargers yet, but I suspect it will only marginally shorten the charge time.
It has fast charge – 10-minutes for 90-minutes use.
Sony claims 30 hours of continuous music playback. After ten hours of use, it was reading 60% charge – Pass.
Google Assistant and hands-free
It works well as Google Assistant and hands-free phone, but you get no voice foldback into the headphones. It worked well inside (quiet surrounds) but was variable when out walking and any wind was noticeable to callers.
The Sony WH-XB700 uses a 30mm, full-range, 37-ohm, Neodymium dome speaker with a claimed 20Hz-20kHz range and 103dB sound pressure level.
Maximum volume as tested was 78dB and pleasant listening was at around 30% volume.
The speaker’s natural sound signature (using the 3.5mm audio cable) has little high bass, is relatively flat to 2kHz before peaking at 6kHz and falling off a cliff at 10kHz. This is a mid-sound signature with clear voice as a priority. I do not like this sound signature for my favourite Jazz and Blues as it lacks bass and makes treble harsh.
I mentioned earlier that you need its companion app to get the most out of it. After connection to the app, all that can change.
You can adjust Bass by +/- 10dB as well as a heap of other settings like pre-sets for concert hall, arena, club, outdoor stage. I prefer club )Jazz) but Arena gives the best spatial separation.
You can also adjust the sound stage from ‘inside your head’ to various positions around your head.
It has DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) developed by Sony, to enhance the sound quality of compressed audio files by restoring high-range sound removed by the compression process. It works a treat on older MP3s that I ripped from CD and Vinyl before I knew what I was doing.
And it natively supports SBC and aptX codes so on my test Galaxy Note9 (aptX/HD) they were superb. Surprisingly they do not support Sony’s LDAC as the excellent over-the-ear, ANC WH-1000XM3 does.
Now we have voluminous bass, great mids and clear upper-mids and treble.
I can’t believe the difference. From bland to popping with strong, clear bass and mids. OK, Sony your marketing hype lives up to the claim.
|Sound frequency||3.5mm||App via aptX|
|Deep Bass: 20-40Hz||Nil||Nil|
|Middle Bass: 40-100Hz||Creeping in at 80Hz||Building to strong at 70Hz|
|High Bass: 100-200Hz||flat||flat|
|High Treble: 6-1kHz||Flat to decline||flat|
|Dog whistle: 10-20||Falls off a cliff at 10kHz||Flat to 16kHz then gradual fall|
GadgetGuy’s take – Sony WH-XB700 on-ear headphones are good all-rounder’s
If you use them as 3.5mm corded, you won’t be happy. If you use them as Bluetooth and take a little time to set up the app as you like it, then they are great.
As over-the-ear are more prone to falling off, I cannot recommend them for sport or running.
I see a great use for walkers that need some ambient sound (and coolness), TV watchers (light and cool) and office users (ditto) as long as you use BT.