Sony WH-XB910N XtraBass review: over-ear headphones full of bass

Our opinion on the Sony WH-XB910N XtraBass headphones

Sony WH-XB910N XtraBass

Sony WH-XB910N | EXTRA BASS wireless noise canceling Bluetooth headphones - Up to 30 hours of battery life - Optimized Alexa and Google Assistant - built-in microphone for calls - Blue

Price on: July 5, 2022 10 h 00 min

A good headphone is what makes the difference between a good time of music and a great time of music. And when, on top of that, you can enjoy 360 Realty Audio or Dolby Atmos, it can even become a great music moment. But, for that, you need the right equipment. Very good and high-end helmets are still quite expensive. in particular the Bose Quiet Confort 35 II and Jabra Elite 85h. This is why we wanted to test a more affordable model for you, the Sony WH-XB910N, younger brother of the brilliant Sony WH-1000XM4.

It is the lower segment of the Japanese brand, a headphones specializing in bass processing - hence its name XtraBass - with a digital active noise reduction, Bluetooth 5.2 Multipoint, a battery promising 30 hours of autonomy in NC mode and compatibility with voice assistants, especially with Alexa who is really integrated into it ! For 199 € 99, ​​should you be tempted?

Sony WH-XB910N XtraBass: Bluetooth headphones for bass lovers!

Unboxing

As soon as the packaging is taken in hand, the “high-end” aspect of the helmet is highlighted. It is in fact packaged in a pearl-colored box, itself inserted in a sleeve, all 100% vegetable fiber and recyclable. On the front, in glossy printing on a white background, a visual of the product while the back lists the characteristics to be highlighted (autonomy, voice assistants, ExtraBass, etc.).

On the top you will find the logos Alexa Built-in, OK Google and the fact that it is compatible with iPhone and iPod.

Inside the box, the helmet helmet will be stored in a case Fabric offering a very good feeling of both solidity, but also a luxurious touch. It is however a little less worked than that of the Sony WH-1000XM4 which had an elastic net and a wrist strap. None of that for this one.

TO READ :
Sony WH-1000XM4 review: true Hi-Res audio with voice assistant

The finishes are good, the zipper works smoothly and the interior is partitioned to place the partially folded helmet and the connectors, a bit like the famous Bose QC35 II. This is well seen and always nice to carry it safely in a backpack.

TO READ :
The Bose QC35 II headphones now include Alexa

In terms of connections, you will have precisely:

  • Un USB C cable, for quick recharging. Be careful, its size is close to ridiculous at about 15 cm.
  • Un double jack cable of 1m20, with gold anodized plugs.

And that's it: no jack / double jack adapter for aircraft. It's a shame because it is always a welcome accessory for those who travel a lot.

Le bluetooth headset It exists in dark blue like the one we are testing and in black. He is in 100% plastic in all its forms: hard like ABS, leatherette, foam ... In all cases, the finish is mat and the touch may lack a little softness, but it remains pleasant, does not keep fingerprints and does not scratch not easily. The imitation leather, or skai, is present on the handle and the ear cushions are pretty. The padding inside is also of very good quality and the whole is very comfortable to wear. « In short, the Sony WH-XB910N XtraBass is a beautiful product that seems to us to be of excellent quality!

“In short, the Sony WH-XB910N XtraBass is a beautiful product that we believe is of excellent quality! "

For those who know the XM4, you will have noticed that the design is really close, which is not to displease us.

The Sony WH-XB910N is also easy to use with just 2 buttons:

  • The button ,
  • The button " NC / AMB», Configurable to a lesser extent. This last button will indeed allow switching between noise reduction (NC) and Ambient (AMB) mode. Ambient mode lets you hear in a way that amplifies what is going on around you. Convenient on the street. In the settings, you can also choose the option "disabled", that is to say neutral.

The rest of the use will be in touch. Sony is quite familiar with this technology and very sophisticated on the subject. The touch zones are on each earpiece, on the flat part. And since they are quite big (10cm high, 8cm wide and 5cm thick), you can pick them up to reposition them without changing your settings or unintentionally pausing. It's a responsive but balanced touch.

Everything works very simply, always on the right earpiece:

  • Press or slide up to increase the volume,
  • Do the opposite to lower,
  • Press or slide forward to step forward,
  • Do the opposite to return to securities previous ones,
  • Press twice to highlight pause and resume or respond to a call (same for hanging up),
  • Put the entire palm of your hand on the earpiece and you amplify ambient sounds until you remove it. Convenient to listen to someone speaking to you.
  • Let press the "touch button" in the center to launch the headset voice assistant. You will also have the possibility, in the settings to activate Alexa or OK Google by voice.

The right earpiece also includes the plug 3,5mm mini-jack and USB-C port for fast charge. Also note that both hulls are fitted with vents on the top to manage the big bass. This is quite well seen because the sound is not another movement of air, the bass moves a lot and it is necessary to release a part to avoid hurting the eardrums.

The quality is therefore very good, the finishes excellent, it is also comfortable to wear especially as it is light with its 250 grams. The final size is fairly standard, so suitable for almost all heads.

Technical specifications

At the level audio :

  • Digital Active Noise Reduction (AN) via 4 microphones (2 on each earphone). The helmet will pick up outside noises and reproduce it negatively in the hulls.
  • Passive reduction : yes via the form
  • Ambient sound mode : the application chooses the best noise reduction according to the sound environment where you are. There are 4:
    • Stopped
    • Marche
    • Jogging or running
    • Transportation

Each of the atmospheres can be personalized by choosing its level of ambient noise reduction, which ranges from 1 (almost zero) to 20 (the maximum). This functionality is linked to the Headphones connect app.

  • Audio codecs : SBC, AAC and LDAC (SONY Hi-Res format: 96 kHz, 990 Kbit / s maximum but also in standard or Hi-Fi quality).
  • Loudspeakers : 40 mm, dome, with neodymium magnet and polymer diaphragm.
  • Frequency response : 4 to 40 kHz (20 to 20 kHz in Bluetooth).
  • Musical treatment : DSEE and XtraBass

Connectivity:

  • Bluetooth : 5.2, frequency of 2,4 GHz and range of 10 m.
  • Bluetooth profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP
  • wired : 3,5 mm jack. This cable connection mode works even with the headphones turned off. Very good initiative. On the other hand, in this case, no management of ambient noise, nor active reduction, but a passive reduction with the shape of the helmet.
  • Multipoint connection : possibility of connecting it to two points at the same time and juggling between these two devices.
  • Other : fast pair (quick pairing with smartAndroid phones) and Swift pair (PC connection)

Autonomy :

  • Read : 30 hours max with RB activated and 50 hours without.
  • Full charge : 3 hours 30
  • 10 min charge : 4 hours 30 of autonomy.
  • Type of connection : USB-C.

Compatible voice assistants:

  • Alexa Built-in
  • Google Assistant

It is really very easy to use, not to say extremely simple. Everything is intuitive and works with amazing ease. Even the app is easy to access.

Sony WH-XB910N XtraBass: use with Headphones Connect

To be able to use the headset, it is necessary to download and install the application Headphones Connect from Sony. Even if it is possible to use it without this application or even simply wired (even if it is flat), we strongly recommend it because it has real added value.

Download the app Headphones Connect on iOS ou Android and start pairing. To do this, activate your Bluetooth, turn on the headphones and let it go. It's very fast. Once done, you will come to connect to your HPC (HeadPhones Connect) account.

From the start, you are offered to configure two modes:

  • Le adaptive sound control
  • Le 360 Reality Audio

360 Realty Audio is an audio mode in HD created by SONY allowing a sound rendering in 3D. This allows you to have a sound that differentiates the tracks according to a virtual location. You will hear strings on the front, percussion on the back ... as if you were on stage or in a concert hall. This type of audio rendering is available on Deezer for example, but also Amazon Music HD… By means of a specific subscription. And Sony goes further by personalizing this experience. To do this, you will come and take a picture of your ears in order to have their pretty shape analyzed by the application. Does it have an effect? Surely because the sound wave will not bounce in the same way depending on the size of the flags and the conchs.

Then, you will have access to the configuration of your helmet, in 3 parts:

  • State
  • Shipping is
  • System

The part " state »Gives you the status of your headphones: type of adaptive sound control and what you are listening to. When the mention "detection in progress" is displayed, it means that the headphones are trying to recognize the sound environment in which you are in order to adapt the desired sound reproduction. You will have the choice between 4 modes (calm, walk, run, transport). By default, the modes are preset to adapt the noise reduction accordingly. But you have the possibility of coming to regulate them by yourself, for each type, by going to the sound part which we will see just after. The reduction will range from 1 (maximum) to 20 (minimum). You can also turn off this adaptive control if that bothers you. And it was our case. In the end, we always use it with full reduction, so we might as well not waste time letting the headset find your type of activity.

There is also the possibility of coming determine places in connection with noise reduction profiles, and the headset will automatically change the mode based on your mobile GPS. Not bad huh ? But in principle, we are not a big fan, for the reason explained just before.

The part " are »Allows you to determine the noise reduction level of the headphones depending on the mode. You have two interesting parameters which are the quality of the Bluetooth connection which will allow you to choose between priority for the sound quality or the connection and the second which is the activation of the system. DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine). The DSEE allows you to properly decompress the musical pieces. There is a clear improvement compared to other system but it will be necessary to be satisfied with the standard version of the DSEE. No DSEE Extreme (reserved for high-end) or HX.

The part on which you will come to interact the most will undoubtedly be equalizer. You have the choice between 12 settings including 3 configurable (manual and custom 1 and 2). You will not only be able to act on 6 frequencies but also on the bass, which by default are fully. And when you are told that you will tamper with the equalizer, you will understand why later.

The System section includes the various settings of your headphones. You will be able to activate or deactivate the touch panel of the right earpiece (but no customization or change the shell if you are left-handed), configure the NC / AMB button, switch off the headset when it is not in use after a certain time, change the language, make the updates… There is also one to do as soon as the installation of your helmet is finished.

Operation with Alexa

One setting that we cannot ignore is the activation of a voice assistant. You will have the choice between Alexa and Google Assistant. For Alexa, once the headset is installed, go to the application ofAmazon and go to add a device, then choose "Headset". This will then go up in the application Amazon and you can then use your headphones as a speaker.

 

You will be able to launch Alexa either by long pressing on the virtual button in the center of the right shell or directly by voice (to be configured as seen above). When you hear the sound of request Alexa, ask her what you want and she will meet your expectations. You will be able to launch routines, activate Amazon Music, home automation ... Reactive as desired but it is necessary to launch the application Alexa and start HPC for it to work without problem. Otherwise, connection problem in sight.

Works with Google

Operation with Google will work the same as with Alexa. Choose the Google assistant at the configuration level then go to finalize the configuration in the window that opens at the level of your notifications then follow the configuration instructions. Nothing bad, then. From there, you can use it as you do on your smartphone.

Sony WH-XB910N XtraBass: use

The brand has done well to well padded the handle and the cushions. With their soft and malleable appearance, they can be worn for hours without embarrassment. Even if you have glasses, they won't crush your ears against the branches. And they do not keep warm.

The headset is advertised as not having Hi-Res audio Wireless. But in use, it supports Ultra-HD songs in LDAC from 24 Bit-96KHz. Better than that, it's also Dolby Atmos compatible. And that is a great surprise!

The sound ? How to say… It's full of bass, a lot… too much. Let's be clear. By default, the XtraBass system fulfills its role, brilliantly. You have powerful and well-emphasized bass. This means that he will be specialized in listening to a style of music suited to this mode. Powerful music, loud but not too detailed. So much so that the highs and mids, in particular, are crushed and take a back seat. Enough to lose all the magic of a good piece of music. Have you tried listening to Bowie on techno sound? Well here it is, it's the same. So it will appeal to some and horrify others. But by going to the parameters, you can modify the sound profile and lower the bass, boost the mids… Once the right setting is found, you can enjoy a clear, balanced and harmonious sound. But it is not without difficulty. But from there, it's up to you to take a musical slap.

And if you put 360 RA or Dolby Atmos, it's a real pleasure. You will literally step into the music. Especially since he supports very well to be pushed to the bottom. No sizzling or distortion. Quite impressive.

Regarding active noise reduction, as soon as you activate it, you have a feeling of aspiration. In use, this reduction works very well on bass such as transport noise (train, car, etc.) but lets more mids and treble pass through. This makes it show its limits in the event of conversations around you or if you are in a busy street. Be careful, it is not bad but it is quite standard because this type of defect is inherent in most digital RABs. Below that of the XM4 therefore.

System Quick Attention is a little different and it is the one that we used the most because it is more versatile. If in a given situation you need to be attentive to a conversation or your surroundings, put your hand on the right earpiece and automatically, the noise reduction will be canceled and ambient noise will pass through the headphones as long as you leave your hand in place.

Regarding autonomy, we never reached 30 hours with ANC enabled. We are rather around 20 pm. But if we take into account that a full charge lasts 3h30, this is not a real problem. Regarding the 50 hours without active reduction? We did not test because the NC is permanently activated.

What about the calls? Well… nothing to complain about except that the sound is good and that your interlocutors can hear you without problem. This is the main thing, isn't it?

To get an idea of ​​how to install and use the helmet, here is our video test. do not forget to subscribe to our channel and to like!

Our opinion on the Sony WH-XB910N

In conclusion, with its XtraBass technology, it is quite true to say that the Sony WH-XB910N is dedicated to those who want to listen to heavy, big sound, bass and more bass. This is its advantage, but also its flaw. Supporting SBC, AAC and LDAC, you will be able to listen to songs in 24 bits, 96 KHz, in 360 Reality Audio and Dolby Atmos, through specific subscriptions such as the excellent service Amazon Music Unlimited which now offers its entire catalog in HD. Its 40 mm diaphragm and neodymium magnet, the processing of its DSEE and LDAC work wonders ... As long as you like the bass!

Indeed, the problem is that they may be a little too present, to the detriment of mediums in particular. Songs less inclined to be drummed will be less balanced, even downright very average. Fortunately, it is possible to overcome this by playing with the equalizer in the Headphones Connect app. And there, you can get the best out of it, or almost.

La active noise reduction digital gives standard results (good on the bass, less on the mids and treble). The announced autonomy of 30 hours was not reached in our tests (about 20 hours of autonomy) even if it remains very acceptable with 3,5 hours of charging (4,5 hours of sound for 10 minutes of charging as well). The tactile control of the headphones is excellent and turns out to be a very big strong point, even if it is a shame not to have detection of wearing of the headset.

The voice assistants integrated into the headset also work very well and it is a real plus than being able to transform your device into a connected object capable of controlling even its home automation. Finally, the Bluetooth headset Sony WH-XB910N is aimed primarily at a type of music, a type of user and that will delight them. For the price, you will have a very good headset, specialized in bass music and a more than decent quality / price ratio.

Did i choose Alexa or did she choose me? Let's say that as a beta tester, it's a bit of both! And I do not regret having met our favorite assistant nor this adventure undertaken with Alexien Modo. Technophile, self-taught and loving popularization, I try to make our common passion easy to access!