Sony WH-XB700 headphones Review: Still Feeling The Bass, But Not Ignoring Everything Else
If you want bass heavy headphones, chances are you would have to look no further than Sony’s line-up of headphones. Having said that, Sony has made a subtle shift towards a more balanced sound signature, at least for its premium headphones, over the past few months. Having said that, the bass heavy sound signature it is well known for, and much loved for too, are not going away anytime soon. The latest WH-XB700 headphones are the latest in that line. These are priced at Rs 8,990 and that is what really pushes the value proposition further.
Sony has made subtle tweaks to the design language, which means the earcups now have more rounded lines. The plastic build doesn’t feel like it has any rough edges at all. The tactile feel of each of the physical keys too—power, custom key and the volume rocker, for instance, are generate a fairly consistent response with every press. Sony is currently selling the black and blue colour options of the WH-XB700 headphones in India, and it is the latter which really catches the attention. The matte finish, the clean design lines and the simplicity of it all gels well together.
These are supra-aural earphones, and that means the earcups sit on the ears rather than around the ears. A problem posed by many such headphones is that they tend to press inwards on the ears and can be uncomfortable to wear after a while. The Sony WH-XB700 headphones have no such problems at all though. The cushioning on each ear is extremely good, and at no point does this feel it is overwhelming the ear. The soft cushioning, even though it is quite thick, is very comfortable to wear for hours on end. There is cushioning on the underside of the headband as well, which also adds to the comfort aspect.
Setting these up is a breeze. Much like all the recent headphones, the WH-XB700 headphones also hook up to the Sony Headphones Connect app (free for Android and iOS). This is the one stop for tweaking all the settings for your headphone—clear bass, surround sound mode, firmware updates, audio codec details, Bluetooth settings and more. In terms of smartness, Sony has ensured these are compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa smart assistants—you can set your preferred assistant via the app and pressing the button marked “custom” on the left earcups invokes immediate access.
Since the WH-XB700 headphones add to the bass-focused line-up that Sony has, there is no doubt that it will retain some of the old-world charm to go with all the newness. The thing is, some of Sony’s earlier Extra Bass headphones would do great with music that was heavy on lower frequencies, but generally struggled with vibrancy and sparkle beyond that. If that is your worry with the WH-XB700 headphones too, you can simply ease them out of your mind. There is a significant sound signature upgrade in place this time around. While still retaining more than a generous helping of bass, the other frequencies are now more profound and better defined. Yes, the focus is still on lower frequencies for music that demands it, but that aspect doesn’t overshadow the vocals in other tracks that may not require the largest amount of thump to go. Depending on which genres of music you are listening to, the bass focused sound signature just adds that much more energy as you gently increase the volume—trance, R&B and hip-hop being some of the genres that benefit.
Having said that, despite the significant improvements in the sound signature, it has to be noted that music genres that require a strong mid-range will sound dull on these headphones. In a way, these headphones by default has the V-shaped equalizer setting by default—where the mids are the lowest in terms of definition and focus.
The battery life of these WH-XB700 headphones is extremely good. Sony claims 30 hours on a single charge, and we managed to get a bit more regularly during our testing. These headphones have the USB Type-C port, which provides fast charging as well—10 minutes of charging is good enough for one and a half hour of music playback too.
Sony’s Extra Bass line-up of headphones, in spite of what the rest of us may consider as shortcomings, had a genuine legion of fans. For them, the WH-XB700 headphones are a certain upgrade—because it retains the awesomeness of bass, while making everything else better at the same time. Comfortable to wear, the companion app allows some tweaks and extended battery life simply add to the feeling of positivity. At a price of well under Rs 10,000, there really isn’t much to nit-pick with the WH-XB700 headphones.