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Sony XB900N Review: All about that bass

And then some

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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.

SEE ALSO: Sony WF-1000XM3: Masterclass in noise cancellation

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Realme Buds Air: Affordable true wireless earbuds

Cheaper ‘AirPods’

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Seems like everyone’s making true wireless earbuds now so Realme decided to join in the fun as well with the Realme Buds Air.

In true Realme spirit, the Realme Buds Air promises to offer quality performance at a competitive price. The company claims it’s the first in its price segment to implement a dual-channel transmission tech for enhanced audio. This helps with minimizing latency which should be perfect for mobile gaming fans — a segment of the market that Realme has been aggressively catering to.

In terms of sound quality, Realme says it has a 12mm bass sound driver that “delivers intensive and powerful audio quality without compromising richness and fidelity.”

While it doesn’t have any fancy noise canceling tech, the company says it does have the capability of filtering out noise. This should help with day-to-day calls and your music listening sessions.

The Realme Buds Air also has a built-in Google Assistant so you can use voice command for various things. It’s also easy to control. You simply need to tap the buds to control what you’re listening to.

It also has the ability to to pause when you take the them off and will resume what you’re playing once you put them back on.

Just like its look-alike — the Apple AirPods — these earbuds comes with a charging case that you can juice up wirelessly or through USB-C.

Pricing and availability

The Realme Buds Air comes in three colors: white, black, and Realme’s signature yellow. It will sell for PhP 3,990 starting January 22, 2020.

As an initial offering, it will be available at a special discounted price of PhP 2,990 on Realme’s official Lazada store on the following dates: January 22, 29, and February 6.

Realme is also giving away a free wireless charging pad to the first 100 customers. There will also be special vouchers on Realme’s official Facebook page from January 22 to February 6. The vouchers will further lower the price of the realme Buds Air by PHP500.

To entice more buyers, customers who will purchase both a Realme smartphone and a Realme Buds Air enjoy an additional discount of Php 1,000.

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PH3 wireless headphones is a wearable Filipino pride

A limited-edition offering that gives back

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Electronics manufacturer H-Audio has been providing quality products to its market when it comes to audio solutions. While they have a select lineup of offerings, it caters to different types of users.

What we have here is the PH3 that screams Filipino pride as soon as you put it on. Read on and find out if it performs as good as it looks.

It has a straightforward design

Red and blue stripes signify colors from the Philippine flag

Three stars and a sun on each earcup

Can’t get any more Filipino than this

Solid build quality

Headband has a good flex to it

Clasps comfortably on the head

Doesn’t come off easily

Comfortable ear cups

Earmuffs are made of memory foam

What I personally like about the PH3 when it comes to design is how it has a minimalistic kind of approach with just the three stars, sun, and stripes of red and blue. Apart from these Philippine flag-inspired colors, everything else is white. Sure, it might require extra effort to keep it clean, but it’s just something that works aesthetically.

Build quality feels durable and not flimsy which is what I look for next to sound quality. This is made possible by using stainless steel for the headband support and hard plastic for the rest — making it light, but tough.

It has a nice fit around the ears and wearing it for extended periods of time was still comfortable thanks to its memory foam earmuffs. I’ve used it a couple of times while running on the treadmill and the earcups remained snug and in place.

All-around performer

When it comes to sound quality, let’s get to the point — the PH3 delivers. It’s got warm and distinct mids, decent highs, and impressive lows. The overall sound is what you’d expect of closed-back headphones and leans on the muffled side of the sound spectrum.

Active Noise Cancellation option

One thing I noticed, though, is that sound leaks a little to the outside world so you might want to keep that in mind when you’re in an elevator with other people or something.

Connection via Bluetooth was easy and automatically pairs to the phone each time the headphones is turned on. That alone is a big check for me.

Micro-USB port for charging

The company says it has up to 20 hours of battery life. While I was not able to continuously use it, the headphones lasted me about five days with ANC off and mainly using it for music at the gym, walking around the neighborhood, or even just at home.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

H-Audio’s PH3 is a reliable pair of cans with minimal drawbacks. It might require extra care to keep it clean and sound leak at full volume might be an issue for a select few. Looking past those, however, you have a good set of headphones that not only performs well but also looks attractive with its touch of a local theme.

Additionally, its features like wireless connectivity and Active Noise Cancellation make operations easier and add to the overall music-listening experience.

Priced at PhP 7,480, proceeds will go to platforms to raise funds and help the underprivileged Filipino youth. The PH3 is available in select The Loop by Power Mac Center branches, Urban Gadgets, and The Listening Room. For more list of stores carrying their products, visit their Facebook page.

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Audio House is giving away freebies for Chinese New Year

Get a voucher or a standing fan for the new year

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Image by Humphrey Muleba / Unsplash

Chinese New Year is fast approaching once again. This year, Audio House is giving us more reasons to celebrate the festivities.

From January 18 to February 9, Audio House will give away SG$ 28 Ang Pow (red packet) vouchers or standing fan to every customer with no minimum purchase. Customers may use these vouchers to discount their next purchase.

Anyone is eligible to receive these freebies. For any successful friend referral, the customers receive an additional SG$ 1 to their vouchers. However, there’s a limit of 50 persons per referral.

In total, anyone can receive an SG$ 78 voucher eligible for any items in any Audio House store nationwide.

Here are the steps to receive the freebies:

  1. Register via Audio House’s website.
  2. A confirmation email with QR Code will be sent to the registered email address.
  3. Present the confirmation email with QR Code and ID at any Audio House showroom service counter to redeem either the ang pow voucher or the standing fan. Each can only redeem once.

The voucher is a great help for individuals gifting their loved ones with electronic items. With over 4,900 electronic items for sale, Audio House showcases major brands from all over the world. Plus, they give cashback in the form of vouchers on every item purchased. To learn more about Audio House, visit their website.

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