Give us a cheer if you love bass!
While Skullcandy, JBL and newbies like BoAt flood the market with bassy headphones to headbang on Gully Gang and Tiësto, Sony revamped its Extra Bass series to give your ears a proper workout. And by workout, we really mean it.
The Sony XB (Extra Bass) 700 is a bass monster with a few touch ups borrowed from the champ, Sony WH-1000XM3, which right now, is our favourite headphone to pick before a 17hr flight to the US.
We put these on in trains, planes and inside our homes to find out whether these do justice for what it's worth and whether if these could make home on your shoulders for the summer.
Design: Sophisticated cups of tunes
These bass bangers come in two colours - Blue and Black with a matte plastic finish crawling all over it. The headphone’s made with great quality hard plastic and doesn’t feel too heavy on the head too. The minimalist-sober design looks quite neat and tidy even if it’s just lying on the desk or tucked in your backpack. However, we wished it folded to save space or arrived with a protective case/sleeve.
The headband feels firm and has a leathery feel with a soft cushion underneath the band which is comfortable for long sessions of binging on Netflix.
The earpads cover an average sized ear, although wearing these for a little more than an hour might get a little tiresome, but take a breather and make a few adjustments and it’ll feel alright.
Thanks to its comfy cushion on each pad, it keeps your ears warm (not like we need it!) and muffled. And if you’re going to use these for workouts or walks, you might want to clean off the sweat after you’re done.
Features: Oh so many of them?
Now, for ₹8,990 there’s not much to expect from a commercial headphone. But considering the fierce competition, Sony’s gone all out and crammed the basic requirements, well, except for noise cancelling and gesture controls.
If your smartphone’s good enough, pair the Sony’s using NFC for quicker and seamless connection. All you need to do is tap the phone on the left cup, wait for the Google Assistant to pair the phone and you’re ready to stream and play. Tada.On the right cup, there’s the regular play/pause and volume up down button which is easy to reach out to and use. The left cup has a power button, a Google Assistant/Alexa button, a USB Type-C port and a headphone jack (with a wire in the box) for passive listening or if you run out of battery. Oh goody!
The Google Assistant/Alexa button is quite handy at coffee shops or at home but might not do so well in crowded or noisy environments. Press the button once and it’ll read out the current time and your recent notifications. If you want to reply to a text, press and hold the button, and reply via voice. It’ll repeat what it’s understood and ask for a confirmation before sending it out.
We tried replying to a WhatsApp in Mumbai’s local train, and after exactly three tries we finally got it to type “all is good”. It’s not very accurate, but it’s a cool feature to use when you’re busy mixing tracks or while running. Although, we wonder what those people must be thinking...
But hey, it can also do the regular ‘what’s the weather?’, ‘set reminders’, ‘tell me a joke’ kind of stuff too.
There's an app too?
We made full use of the Sony Headphone app (iOS/Android) which lets you control the audio preset to your liking. Switch it to Arena, Club, Outdoor Stage, Concert Hall or keep it default.
There’s also a knob to play around with the amount of bass required. If you’re not too fond of the bass, you can lower the level, but it won’t completely disappear. Personally, we preferred keeping it two to three notches lower than default, because it just felt too bassy and seriously gave our ears a little tremble. Now, imagine pumping the bass to max. You’d either have to be mentally insane or on high dosage of smack.
Apart from these features, you can set headphone priority to either sound quality or stable connection, switch on or off Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE), set the assistant and more.
Performance and Battery
The Sony XB700 obviously oozes with A LOT of bass, but it keeps space for the mids and highs to play their part too. Sure, it’s tuned to make your head bang if you’re into rock, electronic or dhinchak bollywood, but it doesn’t trump the vocals, so you don’t complain of missing out on Logic’s smooth voice because of the bass guitar doing its thing in the background.
Don’t you lower your head though. These bass monsters have a few tricks up their sleeves to sway other musical genres too. If you’re into country, folk and classical music, these are pretty good and does the job fine for ₹8,990.
Son’y DSEE feature is an advantage for rookie audiophiles who still listen to downloaded MP3 files. For those who don’t know, it’s Sony’s own software which upscales lossy MP3s or AACs tracks into almost high-res quality music.
With 30 hours of battery, you can go about 10 rounds of PUBG, watch a season of FRIENDS for breakfast lunch and dinner and listen to tunes while commuting to work and back. That’s a lot of battery considering the price.
Need a quickie before you head out to the gym? Plug it via the USB Type C cable for about 10 minutes and you’re good to headbang for another 90 minutes. Once you’re back, you can leave it alone for 4 hours and you’re good to go again.
Sony WH-XB700 verdict
The Sony XB700 are a great pair of wireless cans for the price. Keeping aside the prowess of bass, it brings great features, decent build quality, great connectivity and of course, the Sony badge, all for a cool ₹8,990.
These lean more on the bassy side in terms of audio quality, but if you're a casual listener who just wants an affordable headphone with decent audio quality, enough to make you headbang to the music you love, then these will do the job and bring that smile on your pretty face.