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Headphones item created by , May 5, 2010
Pros - Bass, Look nice, Value, Comfort.
Cons - Everything Else.
I am not a hater of this headphone, even though I am a pure bass head, but want excellent clarity and detail retrieval. These fail at anything that is not bass. Highs and mids clarity is pretty bad. It just sounds so plasticky and echoey, I cannot explain it. The overpowering bass, maybe too overpowering for my taste, takes over the entire spectrum. The soundstage is pretty dang tiny, which means that these are the WORST CHOICE for gaming. If you want a great headphone, buy the Panasonic HTF 600, which is cheaper than the Sonys by a bit, and demolish them in detail retrieval, clarity and soundstage by a mile, and can satisfy any bass lover. Bass on the Sonys are pretty muddy IMO, but for consumer bass heads (not audiophile bass heads like me), this is the best choice in the whole entire world. On a positive note, they look awesome and are extremely comfortable.
Pros - Bass, Super Plushy Earpillows, Lightweight.
Cons - No Padding On Headband, Earpillows Get Very Hot Very Quick, Bass Sometimes Overwhelms Everything Else.
So, a few months ago, I set off to find the most eardrum shattering bass I could buy under 100 bucks, and I struck gold. Behold, the Sony MDR-XB500. Simply put, the most punchy bass you can buy in a set of headphones. On to the review.
Value: A perfect 10 out of 10. These headphones can easily compete with those that are 3 or 4 times their price, and still end up winning. If you are on a budget, and you want bass, here is your set of headphones, sir or madame.
Audio Quality: 8 out of 10. Right out of the box, not only will you hear the bass, you will FEEL the bass. And it's not held back either. The bass is like an angry dog , it will bite you given the chance. In some cases, such as dubstep and hip hop, this is a good kind of bite. However, when playing Beethoven's 9th Symphony, the bass is a little too over-emphasized. Be sure you have a good equalizer if you want to get the most out of these headphones.
Design: 6 out of 10. Well, these headphones, let's be honest, are not very fashionable. Pillows for earpads? A little bit much, even for myself. The Y cable gets annoying sometimes. And the adjusters on the headphones will slip out of place constantly. There is even a specific way you have to hold them if you don't want them falling down all the time. That being said, Sony has still managed to somewhat pull off a halfway decent looking pair of headphones. IMO, they still look a bit funky.
Comfort: 8 out of 10. There are only 2 reasons why this is not a 10. 1, the earpads are like sponges for sweat, and they get very, very hot very, very quickly. So super-sweaters be warned. And 2, the headband itself has near to no padding on it whatsoever. It is actually very hard. But, because the headphones are more lightweight, this really doesn't become an issue considering that you have the headband properly adjusted.
Overall: 8 out of 10. I am very satisfied with this pair of Sony headphones. Listening to anything from Dubstep to Classical, these headphones will deliver excellent sound and incredible bass. And at a pricepoint of around 50 bucks... Bassheads, these headphones are definitely not to be missed. If you don't already have yourself a pair, go get yourself one right now! Thank you for reading.
Pros - Drivers deliver the extra bass promised, can handle a lot of input
Cons - cheaply constructed, not great for some genres
On christmas 2011 I opened a gift from my mom that not only surprised me, but made me grin with anticipation. The sony mdr XB500, dynamic open backed headphones, where not exactly what I expected. I have to say that as much as I expected a lot of extra bass, I thought it was almost pointless how internally eq'd they were, even if I turned on a bass reducer, or put them through a headphone amp, they wouldn't do what I wanted them to do. All that aside though lets get into a formal review. The XB-500 are made almost 100% of plastic, which would be okay, if it wasn't the same cheap plastic you find on their 10 dollar ear buds. Considering the plastic their made of however, they have held up very well, and I take them everywhere, including to snowboard once. So the build isn't top notch. One thing about these headphones that is top notch, however, is the comfort. These headphones have two insanely plush, and thick, leather pads. Its literally like putting two pillows on either side of your head, if the pillows were blasting dubstep in your ears. Its almost worth having them to just put on your head every now and then. Another thing I was pleased with was the cable. Its a flat cable, which doesn't tangle, but it still can get into knots, and it also has very minimal noise. If you turn of your music completely and rub the cable, sure you'll hear some noise. If you have your music at 50 even 25% you won't notice. The only problems with this cable is 1: It goes into both cans, and 2: its not removable, even though it has a design that makes it look like it is. The sound quality is not bad by any respects. The Highs are very clear, and the mids are pronounced, which would be great if the bass wasn't overshadowing them... completely. I have come so close to getting them to a flat enough tone that they sound amazing, but have never quite pulled it off. That being said, these headphones have a amazing soundstage for the price, so plug in some Bon Iver and close your eyes, and he might as well be playing a personal concert for you. The instrument separation is fine, not to go crazy over but no tracks get muddy, and you can always tell everything apart. Overall these headphones are a great buy, but only if your a bass head. Overall I would give them a 7/10, because their definitely not audiophile grade, but they totally kick the beats by dre's sorry ass.
Pros - Very flexible cable, very comfortable pads
Cons - Y-cable, don't isolate well, pads get sweaty pretty quickly, uncomfortable headband
I've listened to them about half an hour.
They are sold as extra bassy, and so they are, indeed.
Pros - Punchy bass great for bassheads, top-notch comfort, affordable price, high quality build
Cons - mids and highs are overwhelmed by bass, low volume
The first time I unboxed these cans, the first impression were whoa that is some big cushions as Sony would refer to them as "king-sized" cushions.
Sound Quality: These are true basshead cans, these cans are best among the Sony XB series (XB1000, XB700, XB300) because of their balance. The other XBs produces unnatural bass sounds. While it is better than its other brothers, this is still no match to Audio-Technica PRO700MK2s when it comes to bass quality and volume. The mids and highs feel distant, yet they are very clear.
Build Quality: I've tested the XB300s before bent them all the way 360 degrees and the band won't break. The only weakness I see in these XB series cans are the hinges that holds the cups. But, you have to totally abuse them in order for them to break. It is entirely made out of high quality plastics and they are very good.
Design: When you bring these cans out in the open, people will immediately recognize you as an audiophile due to the size of those cushions; however, girls may see you as a geek lol. In my personal preference, I wouldn't use them as portables as they are too big. I will instead go for the XB300s. I also love the flat spaghetti like cables. These cans is better to stay in homes.
Isolation: Unlike the XB300s, the isolation of XB500s are terrible. They don't block outside noise, and they leak massively which is entirely the opposite of the 300s. I find them very good when playing movies, they feel real because of their massive sub-woofer sound.
Comfort: Nothing comes close to this when it comes to comfort; although, they may cause your ears to be warm in the summer since they put a seal around your ears. The cushions hugs to your ears like marshmallows.
Value: the price is a steal, you won't find a headphone with this quality.
Pros - Tons of tight bass, responds well to EQ, comfortable pads, easy to drive.
Cons - Iffy build quality, still veiled after EQ, lacks detail.
When I first put on the XB500s, I have to say, I was rather impressed by how they felt. The giant pillow pads gave a unique feeling that was far different than typical pleather pads in this price range. My main issue came when I began to actually listen to them. I did notice that the overall build quality felt a little spotty and I worried that I would break them with a relatively minor mistake. The volume was high coming even out of a portable source, so amps are unnecessary.
In their field of expertise, bass-heavy music, I felt like they did an acceptable job. The bass was incredibly overpowering, but it felt fitting. I had never had a pair of headphones produce that kind of rumble before, the sub-bass was excellent and the bass was all around very tight and well done. My main problem was that they sounded mediocre at best in genres out of their comfort zone. For much more lighter acoustic music or classical the bass shows up all over the place in areas it shouldn't and simply distorts the sound to no longer being fun to listen to. For an idea of how much bass and rumble these things bring, I can EQ down the bass 10dB and they still slam harder than some of my headphones. The mids and highs on these headphones really are not there.
That said, they do respond well to equalization. I feel like the reason they respond so well to equalization isn't some innate characteristic of the headphone driver being very adaptable as much as the headphones are already so imbalanced that balancing them out improves them all-around. The sound really clears up if the 100hz range is brought down compared to the mids and highs. Even after this improvement, however, the mids and highs still felt like they were veiled.
I feel like the XB500s could be a competitive headphone in the $30-40 range, fighting against cans like the JVC HARX700 and HTF600, but they are a bit outclassed in the $50 range for most general usage. For someone who is a total basshead and wants bass at the sacrifice of all else, I suggest the XB500s. Otherwise, I feel like many other less headphones in the price range offer a greater amount of clarity, sound quality, and build quality.
Pros - Very comfy, Good soundstage, Deep bass, Make u feel the beat, Highs n Mids are good with EQ tweak.
Cons - Needs EQ tweak(not really a con), Might make some ears sweat during prolonged usage.
THE best for bassheads, worth every penny...
Pros - Deep well extended bass, rather clear sound, comfort
Cons - Rolled off highs and upper mids
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 $30 shipped. It's the Panasonic RP-HTF600-S. Plus it looks nicer, is constructed better, and sounds better out of the box with all the bass. All for less. So if you're interested in the XB500, please, take a look at the RP-HTF600. I consider it the replacement of the budget-bass-head-king from Sony.
Pros - Bass extension
Cons - Mids are recessed
At a low enough price these are worth grabbing (40$). At standard MSRP of 70$ they aren't.
Overall I'd compare them roughly to the sound quality of the Panasonic HTS600, just at nearly twice the price.