The Sony MDR-XB300, MDR-XB500, and MDR-XB700 Extra Bass Headphones
While perusing for new headphones to measure among HeadRoom's huge stock of sales team demo cans, my eyes fell upon the trio of Sony extra bass headphones. Having spent quite a bit of time lately with celebrity headphones that have exaggerated bass, I thought this might be a good time to hear Sony's take.
Nah, they don't need a celebrity endorsements, one of these cans thumps like mad.
Sony MDR-XB300 ($49), MDR-XB500 ($79), and MDR-XB700 ($139)
I can't tell you the number of times someone asks for slammin' bass headphone in comments on my YouTube channel. It seems that many in the broad consuming public consider big bass the measure of good audio.
I have tried to educate at times. I've asked people whether they really want more bass than the artist wanted to put on the track. "Yes," is all too often the answer. Oh well, I get it, people want to have their music grab them by the Adam's apple and force their head to bob up and down.
The demand is out there, and Sony simply wants to fill it with the XB (extra bass) series of headphones. I figured it was time for a serious listen, and I'm glad I did.
Styling and Build Quality
I know they don't have some rappers name emblazoned on the side, but I think these are really great looking cans. Yes, some might say they're a bit like having monster truck tires on your head, but I really like the look.
The headbands are simple and elegant arches which terminate with a hole through which part of the earpiece projects and is allowed to swivel. Earpads are large and luxurient pleather and well padded.
All share the same 4 foot Y-cord with flat cables and a slender 90 degree 1/8" headphone jack.
Ergonomics and Comfort
All three of these headphones are very, very comfortable. The earpieces swivel only in the up and down direction, which on some headphones can be troublesome. But the XB series cushions are so deep and soft that they easily conform to your head and provide a good seal and extraordinarily comfortable fit. I expect, however, they might get pretty warm on a hot and humid day.
The range of adjustment is good on these headphones, and I had no problem having them fit my somewhat large noggin and the much smaller head of my testing system. Today's urban bling being what it is, some will, no doubt, want to walk around with these cans on their neck. I found the earpads on the XB700 to be too large to accomplish this comfortably; the XB500 is borderline, and the XB300 is quite comfortable in this position. These headphones have no folding features for transportation and storage.
All three of these cans provided fairly good isolation from outside noise, and with pretty good efficiency they will all work reasonably well as a headphone for walking around town and traveling. Isolation is better as you go up the line.