Preliminary impressions of Sony MDR-XB600 headphones
Mar 6, 2013 at 9:51 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1


500+ Head-Fier
Jan 6, 2013

I am about 4 songs in and some preliminary impressions. It will take me longer to write a proper review but I find first impressions to be fleeting but truthful.
1. These are very sensitive heapdhones.
2. They have good clamping pressure but can slide off your head
3. Incredibly well built and they look fab
4. They are colored as all hell.
Sensitivity: The rated sensitivity is 104db at 1mw and I am inclined to believe that specification. I'm listening at 1/4 volume on my Audioengine D1 USB DAC and it's as high as I can stand. Note, this is DIRECTLY into my D1, NOT through my FiiO E9. I wouldn't even THINK of plugging these things into an amplifier good god!
Fit, comfort, and wearability: The clamping pressure is right up there with pro models and DJ headphones. However, the leather type earpad material which is stretched over memory foam, slides quite easily over your ears until body heat softens them up. The result of this is that when I first put them on they slid right back off the first time I turned my head. After 10 minutes of wearing them they fit solidly and border on a little too snug, but like a leather car seat, be prepared to do a lot of sliding when they're cold.
Build Quality: They come in a re-usable case.....IT might be cardboard but it looks really nice actually, has a hinged lid, and can securely be reused to store the headphones. Opening them reminded me a little of opening Apple packaging. These are all plastic, but so is an Ipod if you think about it and like an Ipod it's beautiful, simple, and it begs to be touched, adjusted, looked at, and enjoyed. Sony went with the same design as their new flagship headphones, a folding design with full swiveling ear cups that can lay flat. I have some MDR-V6 which also fold flat but I find those much easier to handle and put on. The XB600's are as deft at dodging your hands as any Grado, every time you grab for a cup it just pivots out of your reach. The headphone cable is short at 1 meter and unusually they went with a 2 ear Y split cable, and it's flat. You read me right, it's as flat and black as a piece of evil Fettuccine. The cable looks strong enough to tug on and seems very durable. It's actually easier to roll the cable up for portability with a flat cable.
It does not look like the ear pads are replaceable. I don't see any ring where they slip on and they appear to be glued directly to the headphones
Sound Quality: Bass......a lot of bass but a good portion of it is in the dreaded 100 to 160hz range giving them a heavily colored, 'cheap' quality to the lower end. I'm still trying different kinds of music, currently dubstep, and the main impression I come away with isn't that they are veiled which is what i would expect. The treble sounds alright actually, but there is so much high bass that it muddy's up the whole sound field making them seem at first glance to be a little veiled. Listen to a piece of music without much bass though and they sound pretty good. I will be writing up a proper review with more detail and comparisons to other bass heavy headphones like the Senn HD419's. So there you have my first impressions.
Here is a preliminary equal loudness contour I built using sinegen. This still results in hella bass but takes some of the rough edges off. Sinegen revealed what my ears already told me, these are not flat headphones even in the midrange. The sound changed in apparent volume like up down up down up down up down as I swept up to 10,000hz. I had to put a lot of negative gain at several frequencies to compensate and flatten and there were 2 fairly deep dead spots that required up to 8db of boost to compensate. I also noted some driver matching issues at certain frequencies causing the sound to be louder in one speaker than the other. This is fairly normal on lower end headphones but there were entire ranges like 8800-9000 that had the sound coming much louder out of one side than the other.
Filter Settings file

Room EQ V5.01
Dated: 29.02.2012 20:04:50

Notes:XB600 Equal Loudness q of 2.8 is 1/2 octave  q of 1 is 1 1/3 octave

Equaliser: Generic
No measurement
Filter  1: OFF PK       Fc    20.0 Hz  Gain   0.0 dB  Q  1.00
Filter  2: OFF PK       Fc    30.0 Hz  Gain   0.0 dB  Q  2.00
Filter  3: OFF PK       Fc    40.0 Hz  Gain   0.0 dB  Q  2.00   
Filter  4: ON  PK       Fc    100.0 Hz  Gain   -3 dB  Q  7.00   
Filter  5: ON  PK       Fc    450.0 Hz  Gain   3.0 dB  Q  7.00   
Filter  6: ON  PK       Fc    140.0 Hz  Gain -8.0 dB  Q  2.00   
Filter  7: ON  PK       Fc    2500.0 Hz  Gain   -4 dB  Q  5.0  
Filter  8: ON  PK       Fc    4400.0 Hz  Gain   -2 dB  Q  4.0  
Filter  9: ON  PK       Fc    3600.0 Hz  Gain   8.0 dB  Q  5.00   
Filter 10: OFF PK       Fc    6000.0 Hz  Gain   0.0 dB  Q  10.00   
Filter 11: OFF PK       Fc    7000.0 Hz  Gain   0.0 dB  Q  5.00   
Filter 12: ON  PK       Fc    8390.0 Hz  Gain   5.0 dB  Q  6.00    
Filter 13: OFF PK       Fc    9000.0 Hz  Gain   0.0 dB  Q  6.00
Filter 14: OFF PK       Fc    10430.0 Hz  Gain  0.0 dB  Q  8.00   
Filter 15: OFF PK       Fc    11000.0 Hz  Gain   0.2 dB  Q  4.32   
Filter 16: ON  PK       Fc    6800.0 Hz  Gain   3.0 dB  Q  5.00   
Filter 17: ON  PK       Fc    5000.0 Hz  Gain   -5 dB  Q  1   
Filter 18: ON  PK       Fc    7236.0 Hz  Gain   -2 dB  Q  8.00   
Filter 19: OFF PK       Fc    15000.0 Hz  Gain   8.0 dB  Q  2.0
Filter 20: OFF None
So I listened to them a few hours with the EQ profile, played some games, and they sounded allright. I started to get used to the sound. I just switched back to my DT990's and it's a night and day difference, in fact it's not even close, the XB600's are not even high fidelity let alone audiophile or 'HD'. For the $40 price tag I got them for they are allright I guess, at least they are well built.

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