On first glance, this headset appears to be shiny red hockey pucks linked together by a plastic and foam band. Thankfully, they’re a lot more comfortable than they look, and the sound they deliver is exceptional considering its low price point when compared to comparable headphones in its class.
These headphones feature comfortable ear pads that fit well around my slightly larger than normal ears. After a few hours of use, I found myself wanting to take them off not because the padding had become uncomfortable, but because the lack of airflow and sheer size of them makes your ears a bit warm.
The MDR-XB950BT headset connects to your device via Bluetooth, and can take advantage of one-touch NFC connection assistance so setting them up is actually remarkably easy. You have the option of connecting the included 3.5mm stereo audio cable to them which automatically turns the Bluetooth functionality off, causing them to work like normal headphones.
The 1.57 in drivers don’t require a preamp or high-powered audio device to provide plenty of volume. However, the bass boost feature is only available when you are connected via Bluetooth, making it difficult to take full advantage of the sound possible with these headphones.
Speaking of sound, these headphones sound beautiful. Wired or wireless, they deliver excellent sound that fits a variety of music genres. I even found that gaming on them worked very well, despite not being surround capable.
One downside to these headphones presents itself when you are using the built-in microphone. Once the microphone is turned on, the audio quality drops significantly. This is a common problem with Bluetooth headsets, but one that makes it a deal breaker for gaming applications.
The microphone’s audio quality itself: nothing special. It is fine for phone calls but if you plan to use it in a VOIP application where quality is generally good, you will be disappointed. The included audio cable does not have audio out capabilities, so you will be limited to listening through them while connected via wires.
Build and Features
Along the left earpiece you have access to the power button, which doubles as the Bluetooth connection button, bass boost, USB charging port, 3.5mm audio jack, and microphone.
The left earpiece features play, pause, forward, and rewind toggles as well as volume adjustment buttons.
All of these features are only available when Bluetooth is being used, so don’t expect to adjust the volume of your device with them.
These headphones are a great value for the money. They sound good, especially if you really love bass-heavy techno or hip hop, and maintain a solid Bluetooth connection at 15-20 feet.
At about $130 – $199, they certainly provide plenty of bang for your buck. Try to find them at the lower end of that price range, though.