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[Review] Sony XB500, Budget Bass Lovers Full-Sized Cans

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 




Pros: Deep well extended bass, rather clear sound, comfort

Cons: Rolled off highs and upper mids.


Unfortunately I do not have the packaging or accessories for the XB. I am borrowing these from a friend and the box has been since thrown away.


Design and Build Quality








The first thing you'll notice is how huge the pleather pads are. They look rather silly to be honest, but actually provide a nice seal around the ears and help provide decent isolation. The pads are also very comfortable, though they get warm during extended listening. The headphones themselves are made of plastic, there's nothing special here but they feel solid enough. On either side of the headband where it adjusts Sony is written. Below that on the cups the model number and side indicator is given. 


Each cup has a flat sturdy feeling cable coming from it that meets at the Y-split. The cables feel flexible and well made. The Y-split is simply a blank plastic almost rectangle that combines the two sides. The cable terminates into a gold plated 3.5mm L shaped plug which feels well made.


The XB500 won't bat any eyes with it's plastic build but it feels well made regardless. The comfort provided by the enormous pleather pads is fantastic and the XB500 sit light on the head while feeling secure. For the $50 these can be had for I haven't found another full-sized headphone that has the comfort the XB500 have. Above average build quality here.


Sound Quality


These have had at least 50 hours of use from my friend so I jumped right in to listening.


The model is called the XB500, which stands for Xtra Bass. The XB500 do not fail on that department. These are certainly basshead headphones and are capable of pumping out some serious bass that's not only well extended, but surprisingly well controlled with good speed for the quantity. The bass is certainly the focus here and it gives the headphones a warm sound. On bass heavy tracks I find my ears vibrating, though the bass isn't as overwhelming as I would expect out of a headphone marketing itself as "Xtra Bass." The mids are surprisingly rather clear, but the upper mids are rather recessed causing them to feel as if they're towards the back. The highs are the weakest point of the XB500, there's really nothing special here. The highs are rolled off and don't make much of an impression.


The soundstage of the XB500 is rather intimate with decent separation and air to it. The XB500 have a nice balance of aggressiveness and finesse to them which is surprising. During live album listening I feel as if I'm in a nicely tuned venue and I'm rather close to the stage. Most of the crowds sound as if they're behind me. The XB500 have nice punch and energy to them making music very fun to listen to.


Music time!


Rage Against the Machine - Killing in the Name

Rage's first album has long since been praised for it's excellent production qualities of it. The XB500 give this song a nice punchy feel to it with nice aggression. The vocals are definitely a bit behind the punchy kick drum and bass. The guitars have a nice crunch to them, but are a tad too laid back. The hi-hats of the drums are able to be heard but I have to actively listen for them, even the cymbals are really lacking. The XB500 have good energy despite their downfalls and I am nodding my head listening to this.


The Beatles - Rocky Racoon

I absolutely love this song due to it's beautifully clear guitars and lively tempo changes. The guitar right away sound a bit too warm for this song unfortunately, the vocals are nice and intimate though. Once the bass comes in though the XB500 focus on that slightly drowning out the hi-hat hits, the snare drum is lacking as well. The harmonica in the right ear sounds clean and clear though, but only because the bass is panned to the left. Thankfully most of the other instruments are in the right ear, including the olde time piano which has nice clarity to it. The XB500 are a bit too bass heavy for this song to really shine, but it doesn't sound horrible on them.


Bob Marley & The Wailers - Is This Love

Fantastic production quality is found here along with some minor details make this a fun song to listen to. The bass is strong, but not overbearing as Marley's voice sounds clear and smooth. The background vocals during the chorus even sound clear. The guitar is easily heard clearly in the left ear, while the drums are overall drowned out, but the percussion fills are nice and intimate sounding. The little guitar fills unfortunately are barely audible and it's hard to hear them. This takes away a lot of intricacies of the song as the guitar has plenty of little fills throughout the song. The XB500 though sound good with reggae, which generally focuses on bass as it is.


Kanye West - Power

Since these are focused on bass I feel it necessary to pick a song with heavy bass. The kick drum has a massive amount of authority here rattling my ears every few seconds. The minor details in the song are lost, but the vocals and background vocal samples sound clear. The song has a lot of energy with the XB500 and is very fun to listen to hip-hop on these. Thumbs up.


Rubblebucket - Came Out of a Lady

This is a highly energetic song with a lot going on from various instruments. Unfortunately the percussion is almost drowned out by the too prominent bassline. The vocals are a bit recessed, but the whistling is heard clearly. The guitar is a bit recessed as well, but it works for this song as the guitar isn't the focus here. The horns sound energetic though despite being slightly recessed. The song is just too bass heavy through the XB500 though to fully enjoy it.




The Sony XB500 are surprisingly clean sounding with good bass control. The upper mids and highs are certainly the weakest part of the sound from the XB500, but they produce a nice lively sound that almost makes up for it. The intimate soundstage has a nice feel to it and I'm really enjoying certain genres through these. The XB500 have a good build quality for the price and fantastic comfort thanks to the huge pads. Most cheap bass oriented headphones tend to have slow and bloated bass. The XB500 manage to have decently controlled bass with great texture and extension on it. Bass heads looking for a budget option would surely be happy with these.

post #2 of 8

Quite a bit same thoughts as I have, did you ever try EQing these, they are a little recessed especially at 3.5~4kHz as well as above 10kHz. Fiddling with EQ and boosting the mids and highs a little will really help, they are the headphones that respond the best to EQing I've found so far. I don't need a lot of EQ tweaks on my DAC/EQ I use to really get to some wonderful results, something I'd easily pay $150+ for. I think they are very dynamic and forward sounding headphones with a little bit EQ tweaking, without EQ they are a bit too smooth/warm sounding overall and the micro details doesn't reveal in an optimal way which is fixed with the slight EQ tweaking (but on my source depending on port and output device I use it's almost optimal without EQing too). The soundstage is the most fun in a headphone I've heard, you're exceptionally close to the stage and sounds like the instruments and vocals are quite close to you like being in the same room but the positioning is clear (you'll even distinct sounds behind you) and it sounds reasonably airy thanks to the semi-closed design. The lower mids are wonderfully forward making the mids sound very "fat", very full/weighty or whatever adjectives you could use to describe it but it's critical to tweak the 250Hz area or so a little, it's like doing removing a filter off of the midrange, the headphone.com and innerfidelity response graphs show how the bass emphasize extends all the way to 300Hz in a nearly flat 15dB boost which is the reason for mids without EQing to sometimes sound a little too warm or smooth. And like you said even if the bass quantity is among the very biggest you'll find a headphone if not the biggest, they do a decent job when taking the quantity into account at being controlled, not too bloated, they do a better job at this than XB700 in my ears. They do have a bit of reverberation in it but it's not too excessive and makes it sound more like a subwoofer than typical headphone's fast/tight bass. Panasonic HTF600 has a very similar kind of bass response, only a bit weaker.




How much you have to boost mids and highs will vary depending on source/EQ but for example at around 2kHz and 8kHz it's quite nicely forward compared to 1kHz and 4kHz. If you boost 2kHz too much you could even end up with harsh mids/vocals which doesn't even happen with every headphone even when boosting a large amount.


The frequency response from headphone.com and innerfidelity



Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 10/5/11 at 9:01am
post #3 of 8

how do these compare to the 2 beats solo's,hd and studio's 

post #4 of 8

The XB500's are better in pretty much every1's opinion I've seen comparing those. They are bassier than Studios, quite similar to Solo non-HD in quantity to my understanding but more refined in the whole range. They aren't awesome out of stock, for bassheads they will do fine and definitely worth $50 or a bit more even (I'd say ~$80 to me personally) but they can be made sounding nice with whatever music you throw at them with the price taken into account with some EQing (to me a good 150~$200 headphone), trust me I've EQ'd a lot of headphones, none have had so much potential as XB500.

Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 10/5/11 at 8:30am
post #5 of 8

i'm very stuck between ordering the XB500 at around $50 or the audio technica m50 at $159... triportsad.gif... auditioned both and found the XB500 bass to be over slightly empowering some songs even though i set a "bass reducer" or "treble booster" eq using my ipod classic. sigh...


the m50 gave me sharper and clearer sound on some parts. (are these called midrange, i'm a newbie in this)  XB500 on treble booster is great too, but i'm not sure if i should give the sharper details of the m50 a miss... or should i just order the XB500 and save $100 odd.


someone help me out please.......


edit: btw, i listen to the downtempo, triphop chillout lounge etc genre

also, if someone has the ipod classic, which setting do i choose to reduce bass + increase treble?

Edited by babagaga - 10/5/11 at 10:52am
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

Try the XB700 out, you might find middle ground.

post #7 of 8

Nice review keanex. Short and precise. 


Im not a basshead, but i want to give them a try. If i cant borrow them from someone i will have to buy a pair. 

post #8 of 8

I love the Sony XB500s for what they are; big bass headphones for sub woofer demanding music. The majority of dubstep, dnb and the likes are recorded with sub-woofers in mind, thus the bass kicks in sooner so you really need a highly colored headphone to compete. They're so much fun I retired my Ultrasone HFI-780. What the XB500s are not is accurate, they destroy any real instruments and vocals don't stand a chance. 

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