Sony MDR-XB700 headphones review

News Julius Belcher 16:37, 22 Sep 2009

We review the new Sony MDR-XB700 headphones, its latest can-type headphones, aimed at DJs and bass-heads

At first glance, Sony’s MDR-XB700 headphones are huge in both power and stature. With enormous heavily cushioned cans and a wide headband, these headphones give the listener ultimate comfort, albeit at the expense of portability. But, then these aren’t for your average iPod-wearing commuter.

Straight out of the box, the MDR-XB700 impressed, not just their size but also the quality of finish. The aforementioned enormous cans are so plush they are like strapping two large pillows to your head. In fact, one could almost get comfortable enough to nod off – if it wasn’t for the equally enormous bass kicking you in the ears.

The cans are covered in a very soft urethane (faux-leather to you and I), which is very nicely stitched and feels as good as it looks. They’re attached to brushed stainless steel extenders and the headband has a further urethane covered foam padded section on top of the head. Finally, the cable is flat, which prevents tangling, although it is a little on the short side which is a shame as DJ and home stereo headphones usually benefit from longer cabling than you require on a personal stereo.

Once on, the headphones do feel very comfortable and aren’t particularly heavy considering their size. They also have very deep cans, meaning the speaker isn’t pressed right into your ear - this delivers a slightly more natural sound, as opposed to being as direct and in-your-ear as traditional headphones. 

Performance-wise, Sony claims the MDR-XB700 has a super-low bass frequency and, in headphone terms, a massive 50mm bass driver unit. Thus we started our tests with thumping dance music to test out the theory. Despite not necessarily being everyone’s favourite genre, anyone trying these headphones would be impressed by the massive depth and richness of sound. This was further tested with opera and classical music, with equally exceptional results.

For those of us who don’t just want the bass bin from a 19 year-old’s Fiesta strapped to our heads, the MDR-XB700 provides a very good mid-range and high pitch treble. That said, without adjusting equaliser settings, the bass is a little overpowering for most music. In Prokofiev’s Dance of The Knights, for example, the drum and deep brass and woodwind drowned out the higher-pitched instruments.

If not carefully adjusted the excessive bass can detract from the overall listening experience, so it does take a bit of tweaking to get just right.

Essentially, the MDR-XB700s are very comfortable and nicely made and finished, although they probably aren’t for everyone. Their size can be a hindrance, and the bass heavy sound reproduction will put those with more eclectic music tastes off. But, Sony does market them as being aimed at the DJ and club music lovers – for whom these will be exceptional.

Sony MDR-XB700 headphones info

Typical price: From £80

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Pros:
Excellent finish and comfort
Superb bass and depth of sound

Cons:
Too short cable
High levels of bass for some music

Verdict: Superb sound quality and comfort for bass-heads, although a little bass-heavy for the rest of us

Rating:

More info: Sony website

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