Sony WH-XB700 review: Big bass, warm sound and a terrific battery life

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The Sony WH-XB700 were launched in India last month with a price of Rs 8,990. For its price, Sony promises deep and punch bass, good vocal clarity and an excellent battery life.

Sony has proved that it is capable of delivering premium wireless headphones that offer exceptional sound. The WH-1000XM3 (Review), for example, are one of the best over-the-ear nose cancelling headphones you can buy under Rs 30,000. They are primarily for audiophiles who love a crisp and balanced sound that work with almost any genre of music. But Sony also caters to a large section of the society that want affordable headphones that mainly deliver thumping basslines. Sony has the Extra Bass series for that and today we’re looking at the Sony WH-XB700 on-ear wireless headphones.

The Sony WH-XB700 were launched in India last month with a price of Rs 8,990. As part of the Extra Bass series, the WH-XB700 are, of course, a bass-heavy pair of headphones, but Sony is also promising good vocal clarity, which often tends to get suppressed with such headphones. Additionally, the company also promises a 30-hour battery life and a comfortable, lightweight design. Do the Sony WH-XB700 deliver on these promises and are they worth their asking price. Read our review to find out.

Sony WH-XB700 Design and Comfort

The Sony WH-XB700 are a simple and modest-looking pair of headphones that are quite lightweight. You won’t find any fancy accents here and there or metal used to make the device look more premium. Sony has used a combination of plastic and soft cushions that helps keep the headset light and easy to wear for a while.

There is a generous amount of cushioning around the ear cups and part of the headband that rests on the top of your head. On-ear headphones can be troublesome for people who may find the pressure on their ears too much. While it will still affect those with sensitive ears, it does help in reducing some of the pressure on the ears. Depending on your threshold, you can either wear the headset for a couple of hours or no longer than 30 minutes. While I found the cushions comfortable enough, my ears did get quite warm and I often had to lift the cans to let my ears breath a little.

You won’t face any issue wearing the Sony WH-XB700 for a couple of hours at a stretch, whether it is while commuting or at home. Since the earcups don’t wrap around your ear to create a seal, there will be some amount of external sound that gets in, but the headphones still manage to offer good isolation.

The cans are attached to a swivel mechanism that lets you turn the earcups flat for easier portability. However, the headphones can fold up like the 1000XM3 so they’re not as space saving as Sony would have you believe. The headband can extend quite a bit, revealing a metallic inner frame.

On the bottom of the left ear cup, you’ll find the power button, a Custom button to invoke Google Assistant or Alexa, a 3.5mm port for wired listening, a microphone and a Type-C port (thankfully). The right ear cup is where you’ll find the volume and play/pause buttons. The buttons a tactile and easy enough to distinguish.

Sony WH-XB700 Sound Quality

As the WH-XB700 are bass-heavy headphones, you’re likely to find a good amount of thump in pretty much any song that offers the slightest hint of a bassline. That being said, there is a thin line between being boomy and being so boomy that it overpowers everything else. Luckily, the WH-XB700 avoids the pitfalls of the latter and manages to find a pretty nice balance where the bass offers a good resonant sound while the vocals remain clear as well.

I checked out Bunker and Fever by Balthazar, which are bass-centric songs offering some funky bass riffs that resonates in your ears, offering the right punch without clouding the vocals. The highs are a little more muted, and the headset doesn’t offer the best separation or soundstage in busy genres like rock or jazz.

The WH-XB700 are better suited for genres like Pop, Hip-Hip or acoustic genres that focus on fewer instruments. 3005 and Sweatpants by Childish Gambino offer a pretty rumbling bass which sound pretty powerful on WH-XB700, but despite the boomy sound, Gambino’s voice remains clear and balanced. The higher registers do get muted and overpowered, but you won’t be bothered about that in such songs.

In songs like Blood Like Lemonade by Morcheeba and Hell After This by Dido, you can feel the artificial bass boost, which bassheads wouldn’t complain about. I would have found issue with this had the mids and vocal range of these female singers been recessed, but luckily that doesn’t happen.

Overall, the WH-XB700 sound warm rather than bright. There is a clear emphasis on bass and vocals while the highs are toned down. It leads to a comfortable listening experience that’s great for a few genres and even better if you’re watching movies and want to feel like you’re in a theater with woofers booming at you. However, you won’t find a balanced sound here and picky audiophiles will have issues with sound separation and narrow soundstage.

You can also download the Sony Connect Headphones app for iOS or Android to tweak the bass to your liking. You can reduce the bass so that the vocals are clearer or you can punch it if you really want the headset to rock you. You can also tweak the soundstage, though it doesn’t really help in making things better.

Pairing the WH-XB700 to your phone or laptop is simple enough. You have to press and hold the power button to enable the pairing. The headset also supports NFC for an easier touch-to-pair process.

As I mentioned earlier, the headset does come with a built-in Google Assistant or Alexa button that you can assign using the app. Unfortunately, there is no Siri support if you’re using an iPhone. While call quality is decent, the microphone isn’t great at picking up your voice and blocking external sound, so the caller will have trouble hearing you if your outdoors.

Sony WH-XB700 Battery

Sony promises 30 hours of battery life with the WH-XB700. While it is hard to test this without a continuously wearing the headset for 30 hours, the estimate seems right. I used the WH-XB700 for around two hours everyday during for a full week and I was still left with a lot of battery in the tank. Suffice it to say that battery life will not be an issue here and you will go through a week easily even with prolonged listening sessions.

The WH-XB700 support fast charging, which is nice to see. Charging the headset for 10 minutes should provide around 90 minutes of music playback. It takes over three hours to full charge the headphones from zero to 100 per cent. If the battery somehow does die on you, you can always use a 3.5mm AUX cable for wired listening.

Should you buy the Sony WH-XB700?

The Sony WH-XB700 is not just for bassheads looking to get immersed in good vibrations. Sony has done well to make sure that vocals are prominent as well, so you get a warm and pleasant listening experience. The battery life is absolutely exceptional and that alone should make you happy.

Comfort is always an issue when it comes to on-ear headphones. Personally, I found the padding comfortable enough and the pressure on my ears to be on the lower side, but my ears did get uncomfortably warm after about 15 to 20 minutes due to the Delhi heat, causing me to air them frequently. While the headphones sound pretty good for bass lovers, the real question you will have to ask yourself is whether your ears can handle the cans or not. I would recommend trying them out at a store rather than purchasing them online.

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