Noise-canceling headphones, especially ones that also have good sound quality and comfort, tend to be expensive. If you don’t have $300 or more to spend on a set of cans, Sony’s latest headphones aim to make noise canceling a little bit more accessible at $250.
Noise canceling aside, the design of the new XB900N over-ear headphones ticks a few important boxes. The ear cups can swivel and fold, making them easier to rest around your neck or bundle up in your bag, and the headband was designed to be comfortable, which is essential for long flights or study sessions when you’ll have these on for hours at a time.
The XB900N’s other skill is hinted at in the name: XB stands for “extra bass,” so you can probably expect a thick layer of bass in the sound presentation. This is great if you happen to enjoy a bass-heavy sound, though they may not be the right fit if you prefer a more balanced sound.
Given the slightly cheaper price compared to Sony’s flagship noise-canceling headphones, the 1000X M3, it’s almost a given that corners have been cut. Extra bass in the sound profile could be used to mask weaker sound quality, and we don’t know how much of this model’s noise-canceling ability leans on merely barraging your ears with bass, so you might want to see if you can try them out before buying. Also, the shiny Sony logo running up the headband’s side isn’t a good look.
Still, there are some impressive features here. Sony claims that these can last 30 hours per charge. The XB900N will support Google Assistant and Alexa at launch. They charge via USB-C, which is good news if you have a lot of devices with that port. Finally, this set of headphones is controlled by touch gestures. They’re mapped out exactly like the 1000X M3s, which is fine in most scenarios (though we hope that it’s not equally affected by cold, windy weather).
In short, if you’re okay with lots of bass in your sound, this could be $250 well spent.