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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

Accessories

Unboxing a CUSTOM Apple Watch Series 5

Titanium is a new option

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This is our Apple Watch Series 5 Unboxing and Hands-On.

For the first time, you can customize Apple Watch Studio, pick your case, and your dream band before you check-out. Apart from the usual aluminum and stainless steel, this year ceramic is back, and titanium is a new option.


In this video, we unboxed a custom Apple Watch. I chose a 44mm Apple Watch with a stainless steel with a Milanese loop. Go over the new features in Series 5 and WatchOS 6.

More from Apple: iPhone 11 | iPhone 11 Pro | Apple Watch Series 5 | iPad 7th Gen

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How to wear nude: The perfect summer to fall transition

Look chic this transitional season with a color you most probably have in your closet

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The combination of cool breeze and sunny skies can only mean one thing: summer isn’t completely over but autumn is almost here. Dressing during this transitional season can be tricky — sweaters and boots can still be too warm during the day, yet the wind can easily blow your favorite summer dress up.

And then there’s color. Summer whites and bright colors have to slowly start taking a back seat to give way to fall’s earthy tones. My go-to during this summer-to-fall transition is a closet staple all of us should already own: nude. All 50 shades of it. Here are some styling tricks you can take note of before heading out this month of September:


Layer with linens

Linen-blend paperbag shorts from & Other Stories

There are very few things more comfortable than linen during the summer. On days when temperatures fluctuate more than usual, wearing layers with a linen piece can be your go-to. Combine it with something warmer like a cotton sweater. You can also throw a blazer on top if the weather permits.

Slip into a slip dress

Slip dress from ARA

Who says you need to give your slip dresses a break this season? You can keep wearing those silk pieces as you transition into fall with a warm turtle neck sweater underneath or over it to turn it into a skirt.

Keep calm and carry the mini bag

Leather mini bag from Looks Like Summer

Mini bags may be the it accessory this summer, but it doesn’t mean you have to wait until next year to keep using them. Neutrals like nude will work with your outfit when styled appropriately for the season, even when the item is no longer trendy.

Power dress with an extra long coat

Nude trench from & Other Stories

Sweating underneath a powerful outfit is neither attractive nor commanding. Power dressing when it’s hot and humid out is not easy, especially when getting to work involves a lot of walking or subway rides. During this summer-to-fall transition, you can bring that light-colored coat from spring and wear it over your work outfit when needed. Plus points if your smartphone (or its case) doesn’t ruin the look, but actually matches with it. Thankfully my Almond OnePlus 7 Pro does.

There are many other ways to survive the summer-to-fall transition as stylishly as possible, but there’s nothing like sticking to pieces you most probably already have in your wardrobe — and styling them for the season — instead of buying more pieces that you won’t be able to wear until next year. There is, for sure, something nude in your closet that’s begging to be worn. It’s a staple that works with almost anything, may it be summer or fall.


HOW TO WEAR SERIES

How to wear red: 3 stylish pairings to try
How to wear pink: 4 ways to look chic and grown-up

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Huawei Freebuds 3: AirPods with noise cancellation

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Huawei has never been shy about putting their products up against Apple’s. And the Huawei Freebuds 3 is no exception. It’s essentially the AirPods, but better.

The Huawei Freebuds 3 clearly has its crosshairs on the AirPods. One look and you know that’s what Huawei was going for.


 

It’s not the earbuds that some people find intrusive. These fit nicely in your ear without feeling invasive.

The other thing that sets it apart is adaptive noise cancellation. Thanks to the Kirin A1 chip, the Freebuds 3 is supposedly capable of 15-decibel ambient noise reduction. That’s remarkable for its size and easily blows the AirPods out of the water. It even has what it calls the bone sensor. The tech claims it can better pick up your voice through bone vibrations so that your voice comes across clear during a call.

Controls are also built into the the earbuds. Double tap the right to play or switch music. Do the same on the left to turn on/off ANC function.  And much like other wireless earbuds of note, playback pauses when taken off, and resumes once put back in.

These earbuds promises up to 4 hours of playback time and up to 20 hours with the charging case. Speaking of charging, you can juice it up via USB-C and the case also supports wireless charging. Pricing has yet to be announced but the device will go on sale later in 2019.

Oh and, it also comes in black.

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