- Powerful bass
- Stylish look
- Long battery life - up to 22 hours
- Efficient Active Noise Reduction
- Convenient controls
- The headphone sound is not universal, most suitable for modern popular and electronic music
- The internal free space of the ear pads is small, so I recommend trying on headphones before buying
Headphones Sony MDR-XB950N1 come in a large cardboard box, on the front side of which the phrase “Extra Bass” is displayed in large letters, which explains everything about this model: its purpose, target audience and the main musical genres for which these headphones were created. But first things first.
- 3.5mm detachable audio cable
- Micro-USB charging cable
- Cloth bag for transportation
- Instruction manual
Sony MDR-XB950N1 is a full-size wireless headphones that have a number of design features. The first feature is the shape and size of the ear pads. The second is the headband design. The third is the presence of an active noise reduction system. And, probably, my favorite feature is that all control is done using the usual buttons, not the touch panel.
The headphone bowls are made entirely of plastic, from the outside they look very simple, but at the same time stylish. The body of the bowl has a small thickness of 1.5 cm, but the ear pads that are installed here have a thickness of almost 3 cm, and it is their volume that creates the illusion that the headphones are large and loose. Although, if you put them on your head, they will not stand out among many competitors.
The bowls are attached to the headband through 3 swivel mechanisms, so they can be rotated in any direction and even folded inward, which makes the Sony MDR-XB950N1 great for trips and walks, as if necessary, they can be put in a backpack, and they will not take up much space there.
In the upper part of the bowls, which is usually closed by a headband mount, are massive metal grids that most likely protect microphones that are designed to operate an active noise canceling system.
On the left side, on the outside, there is an NFC sensor, with it you can connect the headphones to a new phone or laptop with one touch.
The buttons are located on the left bowl:
- Power on / off
- Turn on / off additional bass boost
- Enable / Disable Active Noise Cancellation
- Micro USB Jack
- Audio cable jack
There are buttons on the right bowl:
- Volume control
- Full control of music playback: start / stop, switch forward, switch back.
The headband is a thin metal plate, which is a frame for attaching the sliding parts that hold the bowls, as well as for soft upholstery, which softens the headphone contact with the head.
The design is simple and at the same time effective. But, in my opinion, its main advantage is that all the elements are visible, there is no closed part, inside which something mysterious moves, and it is not clear how strong it is, in what state it is now and how much longer it can survive. In the case of Sony MDR-XB950N1, all functional elements are open, they look nice, and you can always soberly assess the state of the entire structure.
When listening to headphones, the headband touches the top of the head, however, it does not cause severe discomfort, although the feeling of touch does not disappear for the duration of listening. In some cases, with other models, after 10-15 minutes of listening, you can forget that the headphones are generally worn on the head, in the case of the Sony MDR-XB950N1 you will not forget this, the headphones feel constantly, but there is no inconvenience.
Such puffy ear pads Sony MDR-XB950N1 made for a reason, but in order to achieve maximum passive sound insulation. Let’s not forget that these headphones are designed for use outside the home: on the street, in transport, on airplanes and in subway cars. For this reason, an active noise canceling system is introduced into the headphones, and for its effective operation it is necessary to ensure that the headphones have good passive noise isolation, because what’s the point in the system if the ear cushions easily pass external noise into the headphones. The same approach is promoted by many manufacturers, and it is justified. Moreover, due to good noise isolation, it is not always necessary to turn on noise reduction, if it is not very noisy around, then you can comfortably listen to music without it, which will save a little battery power.
The ear pads are made entirely of synthetic leather, it is quite durable in appearance and quite soft. It feels nice on the head, ear pads press slightly more than average on the head. The pressure is also not accidental, it is necessary in order to firmly press the ear pads to the head to minimize the penetration of external noise. But due to the large area of contact between the ear pads and the head, this pressure does not have a serious effect on listening comfort.
However, like many other Sony headphones, the internal space of the ear pads, in which the ears of the listener are enclosed, is small, and therefore the headphones are not suitable for everyone. In my case, the ear pads were a little small, still half a centimeter high, and it would be wonderful. Therefore, if you know that your ears can be considered large, try to try on headphones before buying, and only if they fit, buy.
Active Noise Reduction
Sony is able to create very effective active noise cancellation systems, as demonstrated by the flagship Sony WH-1000XM3.
In this model, the system works less efficiently, especially at high frequencies. Nevertheless, its work significantly reduces the overall level of background noise, and low-frequency noises, which make up the lion’s part of the sound of automobile engines and jet aircraft turbines, are especially effectively eliminated. With Sony MDR-XB950N1 headphones, driving in public transport becomes much more comfortable, but most importantly, thanks to them, you can not increase the volume level of music, which will favorably affect hearing fatigue and its health.
To check the quality of the microphone, I made several test calls on a cell phone, as well as using the Skype program.
As a result of the calls, I can say that the headphone microphone works well, there was almost no extraneous interference, the voice was transmitted clearly and clearly, with a good volume level. As far as I could see, the headphones do not remove the background sound that surrounds me, and broadcast everything that the microphone hears, so you can talk in comfort only if it’s not very noisy around you. Calling from the subway or from another busy place is not a good idea.
The headphones use the Bluetooth 4.1 module, SBC, AAC and aptX codecs are supported, so the headphones can be recommended for listening not only to music stored in compressed form, but also for better materials.
During the test, I was pleased with the stability of the signal, I was able to move about 20 meters from the phone before the first noise appeared during the transmission of sound. In the conditions of the apartment, the communication range decreased to about 15 meters, while there were 2 walls between me in the headphones and the phone.
It would seem that in 2018 it is silly to check wireless headphones for a delay in sound playback, however, until now, many models are only suitable for listening to music, but for films and games they are not suitable, because sound is played later than the image and there is a desync.
I checked the Sony MDR-XB950N1, in this case everything turned out in perfect order, while watching a movie, the sound was clearly synchronized with the image, so the headphones can be considered completely universal.
During the test, I spent many hours listening to music in the Sony MDR-XB950N1, but I did it mainly at home, because it’s cold outside, and you won’t wear a hat with full-size headphones. Nevertheless, I went out into the street several times for a short time to evaluate the effectiveness of the noise reduction system.
I want to separately note the controls, they are made competently and conveniently spaced in different bowls of headphones so as not to get confused. You quickly get used to the buttons, remember their location and then you begin to use them accurately.
The effectiveness of the active noise reduction system seemed to me sufficient to comfortably move around the city on any type of transport, it significantly reduces the volume level from the noise of the engines and mechanisms. It does not completely eliminate them, however, makes listening to music in difficult conditions much more enjoyable.
On the head, the headphones sit tightly, confidently, however, with a sufficient level of comfort to calmly listen to your favorite music for several hours in a row. Of course, I will not argue that you can sit in these headphones for 4 or 5 hours in a row, I think that during this time my head will get tired, but 2 or 3 hours is quite realistic.
Due to the fact that there is not much space inside the ear pads for the auricle, it is advisable to try on the headphones personally before buying, because it will be a shame if you find after the purchase that your ears just do not fit inside and listening to headphones will be uncomfortable for a long time.
The battery life of the headphones is announced up to 22 hours with an active noise reduction system. In my case, the headphones worked for about 20 hours, which is a good result. But even if the battery runs down, you can connect the headphones with a wire and continue listening to music.
Companion application for the phone
To access the full functionality of the headphones on your phone you need to install the proprietary application Sony Headphones Connect.
Installing the application will give you access to the following Sony MDR-XB950N1 features:
- Headphone firmware update
- Ability to select multiple surround sound settings (VPT)
- The ability to flexibly adjust the gain / decrease of bass (this is not a full equalizer)
- Ability to enable / disable the active noise reduction system
Sound quality when playing music
The sound quality of the Sony MDR-XB950N1 headphone is a rather controversial issue, as this model is obviously aimed at a specific group of people who like very specific musical genres, namely, modern electronic and popular dance music. And therefore, I can not unequivocally give a verdict to the sound of the headphones.
The thing is how honest the company that produces headphones is with us as potential listeners. In the case of Sony MDR-XB950N1, the character of the sound in bright capital letters is indicated on the packaging – “Extra BASS”, and therefore it is not entirely appropriate to evaluate the sound of the headphones in general and compare them with universal models from both competitors and other Sony models.
The sound of the headphones is entirely devoted to one task – to make the bass so powerful, deep and all-pervasive that you are completely satisfied, and, believe me, if you like modern electronic music and powerful low frequencies, your search for the perfect headphones is complete. Buy Sony MDR-XB950N1 and be happy.
But this coin has a downside, and more specifically – medium and high frequencies. The bass in the headphones so prevails over the rest of the sound spectrum that they fade into the background and do not even try to prove something, they modestly stand nearby and make rhythmic, but simple movements, while the bass spins in the center of the dance floor on the head, making all kinds of somersaults and complex body movements that make even grandfathers and grandmothers dance, despite the prosthetic joints and rheumatism.
I want to say that if you want universal headphones in which you can listen to relaxing jazz in the evening, and in the morning, on the way to work, turn on a trance or a harkdor, then the Sony MDR-XB950N1 is not for you.
This model will not be able to fully play the recording of live musicians performing incendiary flamenco or a ballad about love. These headphones are completely created in order to give heat, and they do it wonderful.
Everything that is written above is written about the mode with the low-frequency gain disabled, if activated, the bass becomes so all-consuming that you don’t want anything else in this life. But at the same time, the headphones can easily cope with this, there is no blocking of sound, no distortion, no bubbling and humming, the bass is deep, powerful, energetic, but clean and transparent, albeit relatively slow.
Probably, I will not even separately describe the nature of the sound of medium and high frequencies, for any mode of operation of the headphones, they are in the background as a dancer, and therefore, it’s probably not worth evaluating them like in other universal headphones, otherwise the review will be too sharp and critical. But, as I wrote above, these headphones are honest with you from the moment you saw them on a shelf in the store until the moment you printed them out, put them on your head and turned them on. And therefore they can do anything.
Headphones Sony MDR-XB950N1 left a rather controversial, but generally pleasant sensation of acquaintance. An effective system of active noise reduction will definitely make trips in transport more comfortable and quiet, the appearance is perfect for young people, who, in fact, they are intended in the first place.
Long battery life and convenient controls complete the list of unique advantages.
The sound in the headphones is powerful, deep and all-pervasive, but remember that it is only for those who are young in soul, body and able to withstand the deepest and most powerful bass in life without losing their minds. If this is you, then the Sony MDR-XB950N1 is for you.
For an older and calmer audience, I suggest paying attention to the Sony MDR-1Am2.
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