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Sony MDR-XB500 40mm XB Diaphragm Driver Extra Bass Headphones

95% Positive Reviews
Rated #243 in Headphones


Pros: BASS, comfortable, inexpensive

Cons: A little flimsy, recessed highs & mids, short cable

Sony MDR-XB500 Affordable Pulsing Throbbing Gobs of Bass


The XB500 is pretty well known to all at this point, however there's more to this little headphone that the immediate and obvious, which is the extra bass that they market the XB line towards and deliver with authority. They are some of the best basshead cans for the cost. But there's actually a gem out of the line and that's the XB500 because it's actually quite capable of more than just pulsing throbbing gobs of bass. It's an interesting little headphone, so let's get to know it if you're interested in a bassy headphone that can be altered a tad through equalization to be so much more.


I received my XB500 second hand, so I cannot go into detail about the packaging, but I do know that you can get it for $49 shipped from Amazon and other stores, and it comes with a carry bag that is not that impressive, but it's an accessory so why not mention it.




Summary for those who are not already familiar with the XB500:


  • Full size circumaural closed back headphone
  • Enhanced, emphasized and delivered bass response (basshead class)
  • Comfortable big soft pillow pads
  • Style is relative, you either like them, or think they look silly
  • Short cord, terminates into 3.5mm
  • Easy to drive, no amp required
  • Massively benefits from equalization (EQ)
  • Ideal for electronic bass musics (and others, with EQ)
  • Recessed mids, recessed highs (this can be corrected with EQ, big time)
  • Did I mention bass? Gobs of throbbing pulsing bass?


Construction, Materials & Comfort:


The XB500 is made entirely of plastic, with a short flat cord that terminates in 3.5mm and has big soft pillows that are very deep. At first they look too big, too silly, but that's if you see the XB700 and higher versions which do have larger pillows, the XB500 is actually not too big, it's pretty normal and I'll show comparisons of it's size to other headphones backings to sort of drive that home. They're actually quite normal, so not silly, which was a surprise to me when I took the dive (I expected them to be a little too silly, but they were not I found).




The framing is pretty slim and skinny and does feel a little flimsy. The headband is padded, but not very much. It is however pretty broad so it doesn't cut or anything. It leaves a proper headphone dent in your hair. Deal with it. It adjusts to good sizes, so should fit any head basically unlike other headphones that I've tried.




Wearing it is pretty comfy. It's a very soft, pillowy pad and it doesn't clamp. It does however get warm, as those pads are pleather and sit on your skin, get a little oily and then get warm. So you sweat a little unless it's already really cool and not humid where you are.






Overall, decent build, but don't sit on them, or you'll be ordering new headphones.


Here's some size comparisons:
















Sound Characteristics:


What really matters about the XB500 is the sound, and there's one reason you're looking at this headphone. Someone told you it was bassy as all get out, and they are right. Alternatively, you may have noticed them on the bottom shelf at Best Buy or something, right below the Beats. Har har. So let's get into the sound more and more specifically into the interesting behavior of the XB500 and what you can do with it.


Quick summary for the impatient:


  • Recessed mids, recessed highs (very damp sounding, not harsh at all, dull even)
  • Throbbing, pulsing, gobs of bass
  • Impactful with bass, it slams you, it's not just reverb
  • Below average isolation
  • Normal sound stage for a closed headphone


Music tested, from my trusty test-group that I tend to use on all headphones (all lossless), included: Ani Difranco (Acoustic, Female Vocals), Regina Spektor (Folk, Pop, Female Vocals), Sierra Hull (Folk, Blue Grass, Female Vocals), Euge Groove (Jazz, Bassy), Ludovico Einaudi (Classical, Piano), Keith Jarrett (Classical, Piano, Live Concert), Bach Cello Suites (Classical), The Cranberries (Pop, Female Vocals), Elton John (Classic Rock),  Avantasia (Metal, Fantasy), Buckethead (Alt. Metal), Rusko (DubStep), JesusDied4DubStep (DubStep), Bay Area Dub (BAD) (DubStep), DJ Fresh (DubStep), Foreign Beggars (DubStep), Stinkahbell (DubStep), DeadMau5 (DubStep), Skrillex (DubStep), Robyn (EDM), BT (Trance, Techno), OceanLab (Trance, Techno). Lots of bass heavy muscis.


Hardware used, Sansa Fuze, Vivid V1 Technologies DAC/AMP, Matrix Cube DAC/AMP, Schiit Lyr, Auzentech Forte Soundcard and my Droid Incredible.


Treble (Highs):


Right away, you'll notice the highs out of the box are low. They're diminished. Recessed. You feel like it's damp. The bass is slamming and humming around, but the highs are just distant sounding like they were turned down. That's because they were turned down. This is not a detail headphone. This is not a headphone for airy instrument listening. You're not getting the XB500 for the treble though. This is known, and expected, but we have a solution for this that is simple and highly effective, more on that later.




Mids are also recessed, diminished. You feel like vocals are wet and distant. Everything for that matter is. It's all in the background, takes a step back, for the bass to come forward and just own the floor. There's not really much you can really do here, except notice they're not detailed, there's not a lot of congestion thankfully, but out of the box, the mids are just not doing work. You can however of course correct this, which is again, going to be focused on in a minute.


The idea here to take home is that there's nothing special about the Highs & Mids stock, other than they're really recessed and diminished. But they're actually just a sleeping giant waiting to be awaken. Move on to the Equalization section for more information.


Bass (Lows):


This is what it's about. The bass of the XB500 slams, it has impact, it hits hard and low. It's a complete basshead can where everything goes out of the window in favor of bass, hence the complete lack of anything to talk about for highs & mids. The bass is absolutely monumental. I can't even express it other than to say you've got hear it. You've probably heard some bassy headphones. Probably heard a nice subwhoofer. When you feel the XB500's slamming bass reverb tones into your skull, you'll either love it as it really rustles your jimmies, or you will think it's just too much and you will scuttle back to your non-basshead headphones a little traumatized and wonder why people like this headphone. This is a basshead headphone. You only get it, if you really like heavy gobs of throbbing, pulsating, bass. The bass quality is actually great, it's not just quantity, the quality of this bass is also nice. The impact is good, the control is good, the tightness is good and recovery is good. Absolutely nothing wrong with the bass here, it has it all, it was built for it.




Out of the box, the XB500 is a bassy basshead headphone, and nothing more. But there's a sleeping giant in there. I've yet to find a single headphone that equalizes as well as the XB500 does. A few bumps in the mids and highs bring the mids and highs out of the fog and into the sound stage and it's a totally new headphone. Suddenly other genres can be played, with lots of bass, but still sound right thanks to now having adequate mids and treble. It doesn't distort out either. That's why it's so special. It's like it was purposefully dropped, which leaves all that room to bring it back up should you want to. I did, and man, what a good headphone with this small easy everyone-can-do-tweak. I tested acoustic, with the highs & mids increased, and it did it rather well considering it was awful for that kind of music prior to equalization. I used FooBar2000, so here's my quick equalization settings to bring out the highs and mids to a level that makes it sound more balanced, and when done, to me, sounds like a much better and far more expensive mid-tier headphone does, yet it's only $49 for this thing, and retains all the throbbing good slamming bass that you got it for. Literally, a sleeping giant in this regard.






There's actually less than average isolation for a closed headphone here. Those pads let a lot of sound through. It doesn't do it in a way that is degrading to the sound, but be aware of it, because if you plan on using these around other people or in a quiet place around people, they will hear what you're listening to pretty easily. It doesn't dump out like a Grado. But it's definitely not isolating the way some other closed headphones do.




Sound stage is pretty normal. It's not cramped, but it's ok. It has a lot to do with the depth of the pads. Sound stage seems to go up with space on headphones in general. So big cups and deep cups tend to have better sound stages. It sounds good. Especially when you equalize the mids and highs up to make it a more balanced, yet bassy, sound.


Conclusion & Closing:


The XB500 really is a basshead headphone that will deliver the gobs of throbbing pulsating bass that you crave if you're a total basshead. It can become quite a bit more if you equalize it and it can suddenly handle all genres of music pretty well. The quality of the bass is very good as well as the quantity, which is pretty distinct about the headphone, as it also has impact as well as just good bass sound and low tones. Very few headphones, especially in the price range and even in the mid-tier price ranges can get that kind of bass. It does it at a price of course, the highs & mids, but again, this headphone benefits from equalizing like no other. All headphones can benefit a bit from tweaking for your own personal sound signature. But the XB500 takes it without distorting and really just comes to life. It's an ideal headphone for someone looking for an inexpensive way to get into Dance, Trance and Dubstep for example where it's all about the bass. Equalized, it can do anything pretty well. Not perfectly of course, but very well, which is opposite of what it was out of the box, stock.






Quite a while after reviewing this headphone, I stumbled upon a headphone that covers the same bases as the XB500, it does the bass, it does the slam, and it actually sounds so similar that it's scary, but already has increased mids & highs, unlike the XB500, so it doesn't need to be equalized to make it balance out for all music genres. And it happens to be $20 cheaper, so it's only $30 shipped. It's the Panasonic RP-HTF600-S. Plus it looks nicer, is constructed better, and sounds better out of the box with all the bass. All for less. So if you're interested in the XB500, please, take a look at the RP-HTF600. I consider it the replacement of the budget-bass-head-king from Sony.


Basshead Approved.




Very best,


Pros: Cheap, good lows, extremely comfortable, sort of isolating, short wire, tiny plug

Cons: Headband and joints feel flimsy, veiled and uninvolving mids could use more definition

It's an unfair comparison, but I'll compare them to AKG K 272 HD, source being FiiO E7 USB DAC for both. (I equalize the AKG by +3dB through 20-80Hz)

The soft, pillow like earpads are a godsend. The leatherette feels comfortable, and doesn't cause sweating. The joints and headband aren't as assuring, and feel prone to breakage. Since they're a gift for my gf I won't break them just to try it out. Oh well, atleast they're very light and you just forget about them in five minutes. The short cord has a cute tiny 1/8" plug that won't get in the way with portable use.

First time playing Ayreon on them, which has plenty of beautiful female and male vocals, melodic instruments, reverb and all sorts of funky effects, I found the XB-500 mids lacking, and they just didn't seem to come from anywhere in particular, and there was this weird veil that took all the detail away. After the headphones had burnt in my ears in a week, the mids didn't bother and I wholeheartedly found the sound enjoyable, with a really entertaining lows and good highs. For 40€ the SQ is great, although bass at times felt a bit bloated and uncontrolled. With gaming the mid-range veil and smooth bass are a non-issue, and in gaming the soundstage doesn't run inside my head too much, so for gaming they're a really valid option, although they're certainly not horrible for music use either. Definitely not for the most critical listener, though.

   When my ears had settled for these cans and I swapped to the 272 HD, my ears faced a complete blackness in mids and highs and the dimension was far greater than with the XB-500, like there'd be another world inside the headphones. The bass felt a bit clinical and fell short after getting used to more, so props for the XB-500 making things sound 'fun' and groovy. All in all I preferred the bloated bass while gaming and listening to some genres like dubstep and rap, but with dance, metal and electronic music the 272 HD feels much more at home due to the crystal clear detail all around (especially when the shortcomings of bass are equalized.)

I'll listen to them for a month before handing them to my gf and see if my opinion changes, but I think I'll look for Beyerdynamic offerings the next time I feel like I want something with bass. They're a lot more expensive though, so I've got to cut the XB-500 some slack and admit they're awesome for the price. I'll try out the XB-700 if their mids would be better. I'm not rushing to the store to get another pair of XB-500 for myself, I'm sure my gf will plain love them! Although the overall tone of this review is positive and I like them, there's just something I'm missing that I have in the AKGs, hence the sub four star rating. Still, great value.


Pros: Bass, Comfort,durability

Cons: Non-folding,No hard case, non detachable cord

Ok we'll these were my first over ear headphones I fell in love with and there's plenty of reasons for that, I'll talk about the durability, comfort level and mind blowing bass first

- Durability
These have a plastic design so you might be saying durability ¿? Their plastic but! I have hauled these around as my daily drivers for almost two years now keeping them in my pack pack taking them on road trips and long bus rides and they have held up fine. They have taken a beating and lots of drops as I bought them when I was a freshman and am now a senior and I have to say it was the best buy because needless to say I wasn't carefully at all with them in the beginning and I'm sure I've stepped on them once or twice over their lifetime.

- Comfort
I have yet to see a pair of headphones that match these in comfort, the headband isn't super tight so a lot of movement will cause them to slide on your head but to me that's not at all a downfall because their over ear cans so most generally you won't be crazy active in these cans. I have ran with these on at cross country meets and they will stay on when running in them as long as you aren't thrashing your head around. The soft pads these sport are amazing, I've had multiple people tell me they are the most comfortable headphones they've tried on and I totally agree I can listen to these indefinitely and have no issues of ear soreness or head fatigue.
- Bass
Now if your not a bass lover you might think why would I want to get a pair of cans that are designed with bass as a key point we'll you wouldn't so theirs no argument there but IMHO these bass cans have a nice tuning to them so the bass doesn't over power the music, unless you tune it up with EQ's, so you still hear great music just with a bit more bass. The highs could be more crisp and the bass does bleed into the kids but no worries there for me. I claim to anyone that these headphones will make Beats by Dr. Dre look like little kids headphones and beat lovers always disagree until they put them on and see for the selfs that you can have good bass headphones without sacrificing good quality music, not to mention only half the cost.

Overall I give these headphones a 9/10 because of some key cons to the design. They don't have a detachable cord so if you rip out your cord your out of luck and they do not come with a hard case only a soft pouch so they could be damaged inside your bag moving around, and lastly they do not fold so they can become a big hassle to pack along on a road trip because they aren't very compact. In the end I love these headphones and even if your not a bass head I think you would too as they are superb in comfort level and I after all If you can't wear your headphones then they just are an expensive necklace.


Pros: Great headphone for those looking for ONLY bass

Cons: Mid / Treble is heavily drowned out, very veil sounding

This is my review for the Sony MDR-XB500 Extra-Bass Headphone.


My initial reaction to this headphone was just 'WOW' and not in a good way. I was amazed at how much bass a headphone can have! I should emphasis at the point that this headphone is not used / was not intended to be used for mixing and mastering, so you first have to understand that this headphone is made for those that love the fun sound signature of having a really bassy headphone and nothing else! However, I found this problematic as the headphone just provided too much bass and there was not much else to be enjoyed.


I made a note in my video review that this is still a headphone and therefore, it must be judged to be such. In other words, you cannot only judge only the bass region, but all the other regions must also be taken into consideration, and this is where the XB500 fell short of being a good headphone. All the other frequencies aside from the bass region was frankly.... not very good.


Therefore, I suggest to recommend a headphone for those that enjoy bass, but also at the same time wanted really good sound quality for the price, get the Logitech Ultimate Ears UE6000 ! What a great headphone that is for bass lovers and it even comes with an extra, which is the noise cancellation circuit! I hope I was not too hard on this review, but I really hope to share my thoughts on how I thoughts about this headphone!


For a more detailed review, please see my video review located here:


Pros: the sound is good for 80 bucks maximum.soft cushions will never hurt your ears ever.

Cons: headphones in the 60-100 price range sound better even when bassboosts are applied via an equalizer.

After being a basshead for like 4 years it dawned on me i didnt need to buy headphones like this because 2 years ago i discovered equalizers that actually does that.I was curious as to why the flat response fellows wanted flat response headphones, when i found that thing i understood.also the bass extensions comes directly from the cussions, i took those off(not recommended) and they sounded like a slightly watered down grado 80 dollar set.


these headphones are far from the worst option for mixing, but if not EQ'd they will be tricky to mix on :/


three years ago i would look at this review and say wtf, but i get it now.dudes you better off with dt660s.


Pros: Bass and recessed highs

Cons: In my opinion. Could still use more bass.

Love these head phones. I own 2 pairs. One remains brand new in the box until my other pair breaks. The pair I am using I have had now for 2 years +. I take them everywhere and do everything in them. You would think they are a pair of earphones with how much I use them. I love how light they are. I get no head fatigue or ear fatigue. My ears only get hot when I run in them.


A lot of people complain that the bass is too overwhelming. Coming from a guy who has 2 12s in his car on a 8,000 real watts (2 alternators, 3 batteries). No these are not too much bass. I could definitely go for some more. But they are great the way they are. I love the recessed highs because I really dislike bright highs. Mids could be be better of course.


They may feel flimsy but they have lasted me 2 years + going everywhere with me. Even in my back. And I do not use a carrying case of any kind.


Pros: A lot of bass, lightweight, very comfortable, cheap, easy to power.

Cons: Very recessed mids and highs relative to the bass, muddy sound, low overall sound quality with very little detail, short cable.

I bought these headphones just for the fun of it, to see how they sound with all that apparently amazing bass.


Well, for $50, they're ok sounding for extra bass headphones.  They do have a lot of bass, but its not a high quality detailed bass, its that one-note boomy mess that makes

a boomy muddy messy veil over the rest of the sound frequencies.   Compared to my 6 year old Sennheiser HD212pro, which was a headphone in the same price range back then as the XB500 is today, I'd say the HD212pro is considerably better in about every single way. While it doesn't have quite as much bass, it has about 90% of the bass quantity and higher bass quality, while the rest of the frequencies are much less recessed and much more detailed. 


Also, the extension and punch of the bass on the XB500 doesn't seem to be great.  For example, and this is going to sound crazy to some people,  AKG K701 has much better bass extension. Bass on XB500 noticeably rolls off, regardless of amplifier used, and especially when used unamped out of some portable device. If I were to test both headphones at lets say 80 hz, and volume match them, then playing a 30 hz tone on both headphones would reveal that K701 stayed pretty much at the same volume level, while the volume on the XB500 dropped considerably. 


Another thing is the punch of the bass. Again, even compared to so called "bass light" headphones such as K701, XB500 has less bass punch. It's just too slow and muddy to have any sharp and fast punchy impact.  Listening to Infected Mushroom albums, its clear the K701 is in a different league when it comes to bass punch, so, for an "extra bass" headphone, XB500 doesn't really do that well.  Well, it has a lot of bass quantity, but in a positive and negative way depending on the recording. Sometimes, the bass is ok, when the only thing in the track you're listening to is bass, and everything else is pushed back.  If you listen to a bassy track that has a lot of other sounds going on in the mids and highs, its going to be a muddy mess.


Going from HD212 to XB500 on certain more congested track feels like you've added some pillows between the drivers and your ears that block all the sound except the bass, and still, there's not that much more bass on the XB500.


All in all, it gets a good mark for portability, lightness, comfort and a lot of bass, which is good if that's what you're looking for.

If you want a bassy headphone that does all genres well, look elsewhere.  I mean, the clarity and detail of the mids and highs in the XB500 is on a level of earbuds that I got with my Samsung Galaxy phone.


Pros: good bass, comfortable

Cons: bad sound quality

It is very good for the price but the sound quality is not as good as i thought it would be but the bass is very good. i find the bass as good as the beyerdynamics dt 770 80 maybe even more so as it really gets in your face but the beyrdynamics are much clearer 


Pros: super soft pads, clear bass, good highs and lows.

Cons: Like taping hot hands to your ears. Headband could be softer. The mids are pretty tinny.

For the price these are the best headphones I have gotten or tried from a big box store. Other than the lack of band padding and how hot my ears get I don't have any complaints.


Pros: FANTASTIC comfort, Clear sound, Flat cable, Headband bends nicely

Cons: Cables aren't detachable, Cables feel a bit loose, Not as closed as you'd like to believe

I got these used from my friend because I wanted a closed back can for walking around school with, and he was selling them like-new (2 hours max) for $20 eek.gif



I absolutely love these headphones, and their warm luscious sound was a nice change from my Sennheiser HD518s. These can be run clearly and cleanly out of almost any source, although if you REALLY want brain mashing bass, a FiiO e7/E17 with bass boost will smash your skull.


Don't get me wrong if you think that these are just a basshead's cans, these have clear sound throughout the spectrum, the highs sparkle, the mids come through clear and present, and the bass, well, the bass is thumpy, and just sounds fun.


Their soundstage isn't as wide as my HD518's, it is still quite good, especially for a closed can. It has a very IMMERSIVE sound, and vocals can sound as close as up to your ear, or sound like they're a mile away. It has more of a fun than a critical sound.



The design has some flaws, but not many, or any deal-breakers.


1.) The flat cord is a lot more useful than you'd expect, it really does keep it from tangelling, but with that comes a downside (mostly for me and other OCD people) in that the cord becomes 'wavey' when you lay it flat.

2.) The ultra-light headband is awesome, and really trims down on the weight.

3.) The sliding motion of the headband is smooth, and easy to pick notches, while not slipping while you're wearing it

4.) Earpads get warm within an hour, but usually a quick lift off of your head will cool it down.


1.) It seems to me that either 1. the Y split is too far down the cable, or 2. the cable is just too short

2.) where the black rubber connects to the silver plastic on the earcup, they separate, and feel really loose.

3.) Although the vents on the earcups do help with overall sound, it makes them leak noticeably, and it doesn't isolate as well as it could.

4.) Earpads are very squishy, people in the hallway come up and squish them sometimes XD.


Final Notes

I love these cans, and would definitely recommend these if you can find them for less than $75 USD. A basshead would love these, and so would the average person. If you're looking for a set of critical listening cans, these are not it. These have a very warm and fun sound. Great for rap/hip-hop/pop/ALL electric music, or other bass heavy music. Decent with rock/metal, but not very good for classical, or jazz. These are great headphones, and if you end up buying these, I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Sony MDR-XB500 40mm XB Diaphragm Driver Extra Bass Headphones

New Extra Bass Series Headphone - 40mm XB diaphragm driver units for Dynamic Deep Bass - Frequency response: 4-25,000 Hz - Sensibility: 104dB/mW

FeatureCarrying pouch
Height4.5 inches
Length11.5 inches
Weight2 pounds
Width9.5 inches
List Price$79.99
Package Quantity1
Product GroupCE
Product Type NameHEADPHONES
TitleSony MDR-XB500 40mm XB Diaphragm Driver Extra Bass Headphones
Is Autographed0
Is Memorabilia0
Legal DisclaimerWe do not in any way represent that any part we sell is legal to possess in your jurisdiction. Check with you local authorities to ensure it is legal for you to possess before buying!
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