Sony has some of the best wireless tech going, and in sound tech terms the Sony XB80BS headphones are really quite special.
Sony is a wireless master at this point, so it’s no surprise the Sony XB80BS’s wireless performance is top-notch. These earphones also have NFC, allowing you to hook your phone up (if it has NFC) by just holding it to the left earpiece. They also support LDAC, Sony’s proprietary format that transmits three times the data of normal Bluetooth for a “less digital” sound.
To fit in all this tech, Sony has had to make the XB80BS headphones rather large by non-headband standards. The earpieces snake around and increase in size as they wind down to meet your earlobes. They’re anything but slight, and can be particularly awkward if you wear glasses. Power and volume controls are squeezed onto the right earpiece, and this side’s bottom pops off to reveal a microUSB charge socket.
You might expect the battery life to be amazing given the big stems, but at seven hours it’s only OK.
It’s also important not to assume that the best wireless tech automatically means the Sonys have the best sound. These headphones sound good, but they’re not class-leaders.
Like other “XB” (extra bass) earphones, these have powerful bass, but, unlike the XB650BT headphones we reviewed recently, it doesn’t distort under pressure. It can seem a little disconnected from the rest of the sound, though, and the New Balance PaceIQ and Bose SoundSport Pulse rivals have more engaging mids and treble. The Sonys do sound good enough to use as your everyday listen, as the stereo image is quite wide, but you can do even better.