You might expect to see scores of people wearing Beats headphones while wandering around somewhere like London. But in the last month, we’ve actually seen more with Sonys on their heads because — killer feature — many of its pairs aren’t that pricey. And the Sony MSR-XB650BTs fall squarely into that bracket, getting you a street-ready look and that all-important big brand name at a fraction of the price.
The XB650BTs are moody-looking as you like, squeezing the most out of what is a pretty standard wireless headphone. Those sharp cups could easily be aluminium, but are actually plastic. Who’s going to know without getting their hands involved, though? Like other XB-series sets, the XB650BTs have giganto pads that are like lilos for your ears. However, we probably wouldn’t run with them on, as too much lateral movement tends to make them break free after a while. They don’t fold-up either: Sony wants you to wear them around your neck like someone from an advert. Or a footballer.
Battery life is a feature worth highlighting. At up to 30 hours, the XB650BTs are among the longest-lasting affordable wireless headphones. There’s no way to plug in a cable when the battery does run out, though, so keep them charged.
The sound is a real mix of B+ and C- fodder, and it’s all about the “Xtra Bass” family these headphones are part of. Mids and treble are clean and clear, but the bass is out-of-control and emphasised beyond the capabilities of the drivers, making it distort in an ugly fashion during bass-heavy parts of a mix. Even Beats headphones don’t do this anymore. Maybe you like the sort of bass you’d hear if you put your ear to the wall of a club, but it gets old pretty quick.