In case you’ve been keeping a watch on the whole Noise Cancelling headphones scene, you’ve probably heard the news — Sony makes some of the best Noise Cancelling headphones in the business.
Nowadays if you ask most tech people — what’s a good pair of noise canceling headphones? The answer will almost always be — The Bose Quiet Comfort series or, more recently, the Sony 1000XM3.
Now, the 1000XM series are Sony’s flagship noise canceling headphones. And flagship headphones tend to cost a premium, which they’re totally worth for sure, but not everyone can afford super premium headphones!
That’s why I was happy to see Sony announce the new XB-900N recently. The Sony XB-900N, or the 900N as we’ll call it for the rest of this review, are a much more approachable pair of noise canceling headphones.
So while they probably won’t have the same level of noise-canceling power as the 1000XM3, there’s still a lot to like here, especially at this price point.
Expensive looking without being THAT expensive
The 900N shares a lot of design similarities as the more premium XM3, which is a good thing because that means these headphones look expensive.
The exterior is mostly hard plastic, and the headband has a nice foam padding on the underside. There’s also a tiny NFC logo on the left side which you can just tap a compatible Android phone against, to pair it with these headphones, which is super convenient.
Apart from that, there’s Sony branding on both earcups as well, and you’ll notice bass vents present which look pretty cool.
On the left earcup, you’ll find two buttons and ports present, along with one of the two microphones. One button is for power and the other button can be set to trigger your phone’s voice assistant but I’ll talk about that a bit later.
On the right earcup you’ll see the second microphone, along with an entire flat surface which is touch-sensitive.
Just like the XM3, the flat outside of the right earcup has touch-enabled pads. It’s one large solid piece though, so there’s no separate sections with different features like on the XM3.
Easy navigation and control
You can swipe up or down vertically to increase or decrease your audio volume. Swipe sideways to skip tracks, and double tap in the center to pause music. You can also tap the center of the earcups to answer or end a phone call.
But my favorite feature has to be the “quick attention mode.” It automatically and instantly lowers the volume of whatever you’re listening to, in case you need to speak to someone in front of you, or listen to something going on around you. All you have to do is cover the right earcup with the palm of your hand.
This feature is really handy, especially if you’re like me and like to wear your headphones in the office, or in a cafe, and some random human comes up to you and says something.
These gestures take a little getting used to, and you’ll either find them super useful or super frustrating. Either way it’s still cool to have.
Support for a virtual assistant
Speaking of frustrating, like I mentioned earlier, Sony allows you to choose between Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa for a dedicated button on the 900N. But if you choose to have a digital assistant then you’ll lose the ability to use that button to cycle between noise canceling modes.
Not that there’s too many Noise cancellation modes on the 900N, there’s two – an ambient mode where the noise cancellation is less aggressive and you can hear what’s happening around you, or the full-on noise cancellation mode.
Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of digital assistants on phones. I use Google Assistant all the time on my Google Home, likewise for Alexa on my Echo, but on my phone I just never find them quick enough. So while I might not find this particular feature very useful, I understand that some of y’all out there might really like it, so here you go.
Just FYI, you can turn off the noise cancelling on these phones as well, but I’m not entirely sure why you’d want to, since it doesn’t really affect the audio quality TOO much. And while these are primarily marketed as wireless headphones, you can use them wired as well. Which will help get even more battery life out of these headphones, if necessary.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the headphones also fold up for easy storage when not in use. It comes with a nice carrying case too which makes it much easier to carry around when you’re not using it.
Something you can wear for hours
Sony has done SUCH a great job on nailing comfort on the XB900N. Just like the more premium 1000XM3, there’s a cushy headband (with very prominent Sony branding), and super soft, sturdy earpads that have an around-the-ear fit.
The headband in particular has a good enough tension with the headphones feeling nice and secure around your ears. This helps give a good amount of noise isolation to help with the noise cancellation.
The headphones weigh a very light 254 grams so even after wearing them straight for a few hours, I never felt like it was pinching my brain too much.
That being said, I will mention though, that it’s been a little too humid where I live for the last few weeks and as a result if you’re in a really humid environment, there can be quite a bit of moisture built up between your eyes and the earpads so you’d want to take a break every hour or so.
But essentially the Sony XB900N is meant to be used for travel. Your daily commute to work, or a flight, or long bus or subway ride, and in these scenarios you could comfortably wear these headphones for hours.
More codec options for a better listening experience
The Sony WH-XB900N headphones are powered by 40mm dynamic drivers, with a frequency response range of 20-40,000Hz when used with Sony’s own high-quality LDAC codec at 990kbps.
They connect over Bluetooth 4.2, but there’s also support for a whole bunch of bluetooth codecs, which is something Sony does that most other headphone companies do not. There’s support for AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX HD, and LDAC codecs.
If you’re only going to use these headphones with an iPhone or an iPad, then it’ll stick to the AAC codec.
BUT if you’re using it with an Android phone, or anything with better source equipment, you’ll get to try out the additional codec support which definitely helps with a better listening experience.
Like for example, if you’re using it with the OnePlus 7 Pro, you’ll be able to use the LDAC or aptX HD codecs.
But let’s talk about how good the noise cancellation is.
No QN1 chip but still gets the job done
The Sony XB900N does not have their new QN1 noise-cancelling chip that’s used on the flagship XM3. Like most other headphones, the DAC (digital-to-analog converter) has to handle noise cancellation duties as well. It won’t be as impressive as the XM3, which also customizes the ANC for atmospheric pressure when you’re on a plane, but it still does a really good job.
Once you switch on that noise cancellation, all those annoying sounds in the background around you just fade away. Granted it’s not as silencing as the XM3, but it’s definitely one of the best at this price range.
All about that bass
Now I’m not sure if you noticed this, but the “XB” in “XB900N” stands for “Extra Bass.” The very prominent branding on the box mentally prepares you for this. As a result, the XB900N is more suited for bass-heavy music styles that have a lot more thump. If you’re a fan of EDM, Hip-hop, or bass heavy POP tracks then you’ll love the audio quality.
But if you don’t listen to a lot of bass-pounding tracks then you might find the audio quality a little exhausting. Thankfully, in this case, you can use Sony’s “Headphones Connect” app to change the default, bass heavy equalizer to a different soundstage.
The Sony Headphones Connect app also allows you to tweak more settings for the headphones, including the equalizer I mentioned, adaptive sound control, ambient sound control, Sony’s DSEE sound enhancement system, and more. You can also use them to answer phone calls, and the microphone quality is superb.
Overall though, I’m quite a fan of the audio tuning, but then I’m all about that bass. Vocals are crisp, and that thumpy bass is tight, and resonates inside those earcups. There’s clear, clean audio coming through across the frequency range. And for softer, instrumental, or acoustic genres of music, you could just tweak things in Sony’s headphones app.
Superb battery life
The Sony XB900N boasts 30 hours of battery life with Noise Cancellation switched on. Not only is this just like the more expensive 1000XM3, but it’s pretty much very accurate.
I used these during writing and video editing sessions in cafes for about three to four hours each day for about an entire week before I even got a low battery alert. That’s just freakin’ awesome.
When it comes to charging the headphones, the first positive surprise is that it charges over a USB Type-C port!
It’s really great to see Sony adopt this incredibly convenient standard, especially if you only have type-c cables around like I do.
I mean come on, it’s 2019.
Coming to charging specifically, a ten minute charge will give you about an hour worth of battery life, but a full charge can take about three to four hours depending on the charger you’re using. It’s not great but it’s not too bad either considering the kind of battery life you’re getting.
Is the Sony XB900N your GadgetMatch?
At US$ 250, the Sony XB900N is worth every penny.
It has sound quality that rivals headphones that cost a lot more. That, combined with the solid noise cancellation, make it a really great buy at the price point.
Now, remember, the audio tuning tends to be a little bass-heavy so if you like that you’re set, but if you don’t then you will have to make equalizer tweaks to handle that. But then again if you want THE BEST audio, you’ll have to spend a bit more and get the Sony WH-1000XM3.
But at the price point it sells at, there’s just no beating the Sony XB900N as an all-around package. There’s great battery life, good audio drivers and, support for a whole bunch of bluetooth audio codecs. Sony has another winner on their hands.
Definitely recommended. This is going to be THE pair of headphones I recommend in this price range for a while.
Unboxing the Apple AirPods Pro
Noise-cancellation in a small package
Earlier, Apple quietly revealed the AirPods Pro on their website. Completing Apple’s “Pro” lineup for 2019, the AirPods Pro promises an immersive audio experience with Active Noise Cancellation.
Of course, we’ve got our hands on the hottest gadget in the world of tech right now. Let’s unbox the Apple AirPods Pro!
The packaging comes in the usual white box with an illustration of the new AirPods.
Of course, what’s a retail box without a manual?
Here’s the AirPods Pro case…
It’s shorter and wider compared on the original AirPods case
It comes with its own lightning cable…
And two sets of ear tips making sure you have the right fit.
Here’s how the AirPods Pro looks alongside its charging case.
The AirPods Pro looks pretty much like the non-pro version when worn.
Have you been waiting for these noise-cancelling earphones?
Apple officially announces the AirPods Pro
It now has Active Noise-Cancellation and extra ear tips
Remember when we bumped into an OEM Case Maker in Hong Kong and confirmed the AirPods Pro will be coming? Well, the long wait is over as Apple quietly revealed the AirPods Pro through their website. The latest AirPods completes Apple’s “Pro” lineup for 2019 — iPhone 11 Pro, iPad Pro, MacBook Pro, Mac Pro, and the Pro Display XDR.
You can find a plethora of wireless earbuds around, from major brands, down to clone makers. In fact, Sony launched the first true noise-cancelling earbuds with the WF-1000XM3. Other major companies (such as Microsoft with the Surface Buds and Google’s New Pixel Buds) followed the wireless buds “trend”– so what’s with the AirPods Pro hype?
Other than the new design (that honestly looks like a miniaturized hair blower) and a wider case, it’s packed with serious audio tech. A lot of audiophiles have been loving their AirPods, what more with the AirPods Pro?
If you’re one among those people who use the good ol’ AirPods (including me), you can still hear your surroundings around, even if you max out the volume of your music. With the AirPods Pro, you don’t have to worry as it now has Active Noise Cancellation.
It’s possible thanks to the H1 chip and sensors, capable of delivering immersive audio experience in a small bud package. The opposing inward and outward-facing microphones equal the amount of unwanted external sound through Anti-Noise.
Not used to complete music isolation? You can press and hold the Force Sensor on the stem to switch to Transparency Mode — ideal for a more natural environment, especially when you want to hear people around you. The sensor also lets you switch between songs and answer calls in between.
Apple promises that you’ll feel your music more than the headphones as they incorporated air vents to alleviate the pressure. The microphone also features an expanded mesh that improves the quality of calls even in windy situations.
With comfort in mind, there are three different earbud tips that cater to various ear sizes. Adaptive EQ also helps in tuning the music to the shape of your ear, for a richer and clearer listening experience. For fitness freaks, it’s now a perfect gym partner as it features IPX4 sweat and water resistance.
The features we love are still here
Just like the older AirPods, you can activate “Hey Siri” hands-free with your voice. You can switch between music, answer calls, ask for directions, all without lifting your finger. Audio Sharing is also present, so you can wirelessly share the music or podcast to someone (and dongles should be a thing of the past).
With a single charge, expect up to 4.5 hours of listening and 3.5 hours with talking. A 15-minute charge with the case will get you another hour of listening and talking. You can expect more than 24 hours of usage with a fully-charged wireless charging case. It’s also Qi-compatible, so you can charge it wirelessly wherever you go.
Pricing and availability
It retails for US$ 249 in the United States and SG$ 379 in Singapore. In the Philippines, it sells for PhP 14,990, which is worth PhP 3,000 more than the recent AirPods 2 with wireless charging case.
It’s currently available for pre-order in the United States and 25 other countries (such as Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong) while in-store availability will roll out later this week. Apple will start shipping out orders on October 30, 2019.
Availability in other regions are yet to be followed.
Best AirPods cases: 3 classic neutrals to go with your wardrobe
Black, tan, or white?
Much has been said about the AirPods. They’re hideous, overpriced, and of late — an unlikely status symbol. Apple is rumored to be launching a premium, even more expensive variant of the wireless earphones this holiday season.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? As with every new iPhone launch, the launch of the AirPods Pro signals the perfect time to buy the older model — if its price tag drops. And just like a new iPhone, this also means a good time to dress up and buy protection for the next ubiquitous item in your purse. There are plenty of colorful options out there, but in this list we stick to three classic neutrals so they don’t attract any more unnecessary attention than they already do:
Black doesn’t always have to be plain and boring. Patterns and textures can add that extra playfulness you might need from any accessory — whether that’s a headband, a belt, or a pair of boots. The same goes for this DOTTY AirPods case from LAUT. It helps that polka dots are on trend right now, although it’s one of those prints that never really goes out of style.
Feel like going for a rugged yet polished look? This genuine Horween leather case from Nomad might be your match. The official color name of what we have is called Natural Leather, and it goes well with pretty much every summer and fall accessory in anyone’s wardrobe.
If you’re anything like me and one of the reasons you like Apple’s AirPods over other wireless earphones is the fact that it comes in white, then LAUT’s marbly white silicone case is perfect for you. It also comes in black, but the white version is understated yet elegant, and doesn’t clash with the rest of your things — it compliments everything else that you own.
Do you own a pair of AirPods? What case do you use to protect them? Let us know in the comments below!
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