I have tried a couple of headphones, ranging from low to high quality over the last few years. Needless to say, they all have their pros and cons. Strictly speaking within the confines of “pros and cons”, it would take this Sony MDR XB950bt review to another level of discussion because that particular “best” standard is defined by each user based on his or her personal standards.
On the contrary, just by scrolling down, you’ll find out that this is a very lengthy and detailed review of the Sony MDR XB950bt Bluetooth headphones; it discusses some unlikely issues, troubleshooting and obviously the lengthy pros and cons that only a true headphones’ fan will understand. I normally don’t write such detailed reviews, but the MDR XB950bt headset really calls for attention. Sony needs to fix a few things and people need to hear about it!
The good stuff about Sony MDR XB950bt headphones:
- Sony MDR XB950bt Vs. your common Beats headphones:
I spent almost $300 on a dandy pair of Beats headphones at Amazon. The glossy blue color and of course the brand name itself pulled me into buying them. Later on, I did a comparison and found out that Beats headphones are not that good as they are advertised.
They have flaws, and in many other ways, you’ll find not only better build quality but also amazing results from other companies’ headphones. This is where the highly anticipated Sony MDR XB950bt, minus the build quality factor obviously. Yeah, these headphones also have a mechanical flaw and some setbacks, but they made up for it through amazing long lasting results.
So if you are a first timer, and are juggling brand names, such as Bose, Sony, Beats etc., I’d strongly advise Bose and Sony. It depends on your budget in the end though.
- Great sound quality: Mentioned earlier as well; Sony is undercharging for Sony MDR XB950bt without sacrificing the most important element here. It is the sound quality, and believe me, after you have burned in these headphones, you’re gonna love their sound quality.
- The Bluetooth profile on Sony MDR XB950bt works well with almost all smartphones out there. You can easily take phone calls while the headset is connected to your mobile phone. If the phone call comes in between an ongoing soundtrack or a movie, the smartphone will automatically pause/ fade the sound so that it doesn’t interfere with the call.
- Amazing battery life: Sony did a great job on the battery performance. Unlike many other headphones, the Sony MDR XB950 and its variants have been known to give an unprecedented 10 Hour+ battery performance.
- Comfortable fitting: The earphone pads, or some people like to call them ear cushions, are very comfortable. They are round in shape and cover your ears in all their entirety. Sony made these ear cushions this way to help maximize the noise isolation feature, and also provide a certain level of comfort. But please note that long hours of excessive use will cause your ears to grow warm and sweaty.
To sum it up to this point, I found using Sony MDR XB950 headphones an overall satisfying experience. Also, I noticed that when connected through Bluetooth mode, the headphones range was more than average. For instance, I was at a good 30 feet distance the last time while streaming music directly from the computer on this headset. In your case, the range may vary because of wall, isolation effect and possibly other obstructions between the headphones and the source.
Bad stuff about Sony MDR XB950 headphones | Issues that need immediate attention:
- Lousy mechanics:
Imagine spending almost $150 on a neat headset, only to find out later that its latches are coming loose. I’m not the only person complaining about the mechanical issue on these headphones. You can Google “Sony MDR XB950 yoke issue”, or “how to fix Sony MDR XB950 earphone yoke easily”, etc. and you will find out that the particular metallic/ aluminum yoke which connects the earcups on each side to the headband can come off without prior warning.
Meaning that you could be casually using the headphones and suddenly, when you are least expecting it, the yoke breaks on either side, while leaving the respective earphone hanging out like an eyeball! Maybe Sony wanted to save a dollar or two on the yoke quality, or maybe the Sony MDR XB950 was not made for different head sizes, but whatever the reason is, this yoke/ metal connector can break off anytime.
How to fix Sony MDR XB950 yoke problem at home?
If the yoke/ connecting metal strip is broken on your Sony MDR XB950 earcup*(s), you are pretty much done with the headset. Sure, you can file for a warranty/ replacement claim, but Sony will not help you because they are adamant on the fact that you used undue amount of force which caused the yoke to break.
Obviously at this point, you cannot throw these headphones away because the sound quality is still awesome and they are practically working, except for the unwilling earcup hanging lopsidedly. Here’s how you can fix the issue at home, with a little bit of effort:
- Head over to Macy’s, 7 Eleven, Home Depot or any hardware store to buy aluminum bar stock. They will offer you angled aluminum bar stocks or the normal ones. The size should be around 1 Cm – 2 Cm, ranging to a width of 1/16”. You will also need a small handheld hacksaw (it is like a metal strip with really rough edges to help cut through metal etc.), and a bottle or tube of super glue.
If super glue is not available, you can ask the Home Depot guy to give any other alternative, which is good enough for the task. They won’t understand anything about Sony MDR XB950 yokes, so just tell them that you need to attach a small metal joints etc.
Also with the hacksaw, you need to go slow. Take your time and carefully smooth out any rough edges so that they don’t create friction against the default stock areas of the headphones.
- If there are any small parts broken, you can use the super glue to join them. Obviously, you’re going to need to fix the small parts before moving to the actual task. Don’t apply too much super glue; just a dab here and there will suffice.
- Finally, it is time to fix the yoke. The bar stock is supposed to slide in between where the old yoke stock was, and the other end is supposed to be connected to the earcup. You need to apply the glue at one side first, slide in the bar stock and then hold it in place with a strong clamp; these clamps are usually available from office supply shops or you can use a normal file cover clamp as well.
- After 7 to 8 hours, it is time to take off the clamps and test the handiwork.
If, by any chance, the yokes are stuck at one place, resulting in preventing you to rotate the earcup, it’d mean that you have applied too much glue. In other words, you have messed up on the super glue application part. The workaround is easy; you can find a lot of YouTube videos to help remove super glue without causing further damage to the previous headphones’ hardware.
Some additional information for reference:
Since a lot of customers experienced similar issues, props go to a Verified Amazon Customer for not only highlighting the Sony MDR XB950 yokes problem, but also writing down an in-depth guide on how to fix the headphones yokes at home. He has also uploaded step-by-step images so that you can easily follow the visual cues. I am posting his original images here for you ready reference.
Other things to keep in mind:
Sony has already released a couple of other headphones after reviewing common setbacks in a number of existing products. Particularly talking about these headphones, here are some of the suggestions based on my usage.
- A dedicated noise cancellation feature was not needed. The headphones have volume settings high enough to help reduce/ block outside noise. Especially when you are considering their earcups’ tenacity to fit in place, I bet you can’t even hear a truck’s engine out there in the open.
- Mechanical issue: of course, I talked about the mechanical yokes issue in detail earlier. The yokes on Sony MDR XB950 tend to fall apart easily, regardless of how careful you have been with them. All thanks to super glue and bar stock aluminum pieces, there is a simple workaround to get things patched up and going.
- Bass quality: Sony introduced the bass boost feature in the Sony MDR XB950 Bluetooth headphones. It is not needed all the time because by default, some songs are already enriched in bass tones. What I suggest is that you only use this setting whenever needed.
- What? No carrying case? A travel bag would have been a nice addition to these headphones. Especially because they are not cheap, while other companies are releasing their earphones, to say the least, with a colorful assortment of packing bags, headphones cases etc.
- Lack of wall charger also limits your capacity to charge Sony MDR XB950 on-the-go.
What else is left there? Nothing, I guess. On a serious note, only the mechanical flaw and their failure to fold, I think these headphones are fine.
Closing thoughts and last minute tips for first time buyers:
Given the fact how Sony introduced new, and relatively unheard-of features, such as Volume quality adjustment etc., I’d strongly recommend these headphones to all the audiophiles out there. Of course, the tide does not stop here; one can always go for high end models if budget permits. For fun, savvy and a satisfying experience, Sony MDR XB950 wireless Bluetooth headset is your go-to device at Amazon (*or other online retailers) these days.