It's hard to strike a balance when it comes to headphones. There are those who are all for the noise canceling. Others want more punch in the bass frequencies for their drum and bass tracks. If you belong to the latter group, listen to our verdict on the Sony MDR-XB700 Extra Bass Headphones.
What one needs to realize, is that these headphones aren't exactly the smallest kid on the block. The king-sized ear cushions might seem daunting and unsightly once you put it over the head, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. The headband is devoid of any padding, which can be uncomfortable after prolonged use.
As it is with bass headphones, you'll find a copious amount of rubber insulation on its earpieces in a bid to isolate both the bass and the ambient noises from each other. To be honest, this does work in an obviously uncomfortable way. For one, the earpieces felt pretty constrictive. But to its credit, the XB700's insulation did manage to block out sufficient amount of ambient distractions while keeping the bass contained within. In its own way, the XB700 manages to keep the noise to a minimum, without the eerie dead silence that accompanies higher end headphones with noise canceling.
What's new on the XB700? A newly developed diaphragm on its driver unit that's suited for ultra-low frequency range. The long-stroke diaphragm is supposedly designed to deliver rich bass quality on its driver units. Now, drum and bass lovers, this is what you will want to know: how is the bass delivery of the XB700? Well, the bass is definitely strong with the XB700, but the downsides are also painfully obvious.
Firstly, when we pushed the volume to the max, we encountered a significant amount of cracking on its audio delivery. The bass can be too strong at times. Vocals (on the mid frequencies) and higher frequency audio such as the cymbal or guitars were drowned out by the overwhelming bass. As such, the XB700 is definitely suited only for heavier bass tracks with minimal amount of mid and high frequency audio ranges.
The Sony MDR-XB700, as you might have surmised by now, is more suited for a niche group. It does give off a solid punch on its bass front, but that's about it. Acting as a double-edged sword, the heavy bass delivery will push its higher frequency delivery to the background. Only if you are a drum and bass enthusiast, will you belong to the demographic that the XB700 is targeting with its S$199 price point.