Sony MDR-XB300 Headphones - Black

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SONY MDR XB300 EXTRA BASS HEADPHONES

Sep 4, 2010
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:These headphones have a very wide frequency range.

Cons:They limit the types of music that one can listen to.

The Bottom Line: These headphones are able to reproduce subsonic frequencies, but their sound is average at best for most listening uses.


SONY  MDR  XB300  EXTRA  BASS  HEADPHONES

         Obviously no one can deny the popularity of bass heavy music today.  Hip-Hop and dance club styles of music are very popular today, and no one can deny that these types of music are certainly bass heavy.  It only stands to reason that electronics manufacturers would eventually recognize that a set of headphones that could accurately replicate the sound of this type of music in a pair of headphones was a very saleable idea.  With this in mind the engineers at Sony have come up with a line of headphones that are designed to give an exaggerated bass response to the music that one is listening to.  The XB in the name Sony MDR-XB300 stands for extra bass.  I decided that it was time for me to give a serious listen to the Sony MDR-XB300 Extra Bass Headphones and weigh in on my opinion. 

           The Sony MDR-XB300 Extra Bass Headphones have a list price if $49.99, but they can readily be found selling for as low as $29.25.  O.K., so right away one can see that at this price, we are not talking about top of the line audiophile or professional grade listening equipment. Since the cost of the Sony MDR-XB300 Extra Bass Headphones have a relatively modest price tag, it is likely that the average consumer who is considering purchasing these headphones is likely to be a novice user, and as such, the novice user would not be expected to know and understand all of the technical jargon that goes into a description of the various specifications that differentiate one pair of headphones from another.  Bearing this in mind, I shall endeavor to avoid jargon and keep the use of technical terms to a minimum.  Whenever there is a need to use technical terms, I shall endeavor to explain the meaning of these terms in clear and simple to understand language.

           The Sony MDR-XD300  Extra Bass Headphones have a supra-aural closed back design.  This means that the padding of the headphones sits on your ears and that they do not form as tight a seal on your ears as would headphones that are circumaural in design.  The ear pads are relatively large and soft and they both appear to be quite comfortable, as well as actually being relatively light in weight.  The closed back design does a fairly adequate job of preventing sounds from leaking out of the headphones, while at the same time it is not so constraining as to prevent complete unawareness of what is taking place in the environment.  My guess is that if you were in a library listening to hip hop, the person next to you would definitely be able to grove to what you were listening to in your phones as well.  Obviously, this is not always a good thing, and can actually be a nuisance in certain circumstances.  On the other hand, there are many circumstances where being aware of the sounds that might be taking place in your listening environment would be good thing.

           Although the Sony MDR-XB300 headphones are a bit on the large side, they are surprisingly light in weight, and weigh only 4.23 ounces, which is not too heavy at all.   The length of the cable is just slightly under 4 feet, and it was flat instead of the typical rounded shape.  It also appeared to be a bit more durable than is often the case in headphones in this price range.  The cord was two sided, meaning it was "Y Shaped" and each side of the cord was attached to one of the speakers.  Personally, I have always preferred a cord design that is single sided, as I find split or "Y Shaped" cords are more prone to breakage and tangling.  At the end of the cord there was a gold platted L-shaped stereo mini-plug, which can also be converted with an adaptor to suit a quarter inch stereo plug.  The headband is just plain plastic, but it did not seemed to pose a comfort problem, probably because the headphones themselves were so light in weight.

            The Sony MDR-XB300 Extra Bass Headphones have a Sensitivity of 100 dB/mW.  O.K., so what does that mean?  Headphone sensitivity is measured using 1/1000 of a Watt of power (1mW), and then measuring the sound pressure level (SPL) in dB at the earpiece of the headphones.  The Sony MDR-XB300 Extra Bass Headphones have an average degree or level of sensitivity for headphones in this price range or category.  The Sony MDR-XB300 Extra Bass Headphones have an Impedance of 24 Ohms.  This means that they would be considered to be low impedance headphones.  People who may be considering using the Sony MDR-XB300 Extra Bass Headphones with an MP3 Player should be pleased with this, as all other things being equal, the lower the impedance rating that a set of headphones has, the louder they are apt to seem.  However these are not going to be the loudest set of headphones that one is going to run across, as many inexpensive headphones that are designed to be used with portable listening devices have an impedance rating of 16 Ohms, and in some cases less, and as such they will appear to be louder.  However, these headphones are more than adequately loud enough for most listening purposes.

           Coming from a studio background, where one strives to use equipment that has a flat or unsweetened response, it at first seemed a bit peculiar to me that anyone would want to use a pair of headphones that had the potential to dramatically enhance bass response.  However listeners who are into music that is very bass heavy would naturally like a pair of headphones that comes close to replicating their listening experience of being in a dance club, or when listening to music through a bass enhanced stereo system, as is becoming more and more popular.  Well the Sony MDR-XB300 Extra Bass headphones are designed to do just that. The Sony MDR-XB300 Extra Bass Headphones have a Frequency Response of 5 Hz. to 22,000 Hz.  This means that these headphones are able to handle frequencies between 5 Hz. to 22,000 Hz. without distorting.  This extended frequency response may seem a bit odd to some of the readers of this review, since the range of hearing for a healthy young adult is usually between 20 Hz. and 20,000 Hz., and most musical instruments do not come anywhere near producing sounds above or below the range of human hearing.  So why would anyone want or need a set of headphones that has such an extended frequency response, unless of course they are planning to let their pet porpoise listen to their favorite recording of a chorus if dolphin's vocalizing.  Well the answer to this question is deceivingly simple.  Although most music instruments do not produce sounds above or below these frequencies, it is extremely important to be using a set of headphones that will not distort when one is trying to listen to musical passages over extended periods of time, as listening to distorted sounds can very easily fatigue a listener.  Thus, a set of headphones with an extended frequency response, such as is the case with the Sony MDR-XB300 Extra Bass Headphones, are less likely to be subject to distortions from musical notes or their high or low overtones.  This is very important in any listening situation, as one does not want to erroneously think that a track was recorded with distortion, when in actuality it is the headphones themselves that are causing the distortion that is being heard. 

           Given that the Sony MDR-XB300 Extra Bass Headphones can handle low end frequencies all the way down to 5 Hz., it is unlikely they will distort on the low end due to not being able to handle the low end frequencies.  It is also unlikely that they will distort in these low end frequencies for another reason, and that is that most musical instruments can not go that low, and CD's of recorded music are also unlikely to contain notes that go that low either.  Further most CD players are not capable of even reproducing sounds that low, although some very high end ones are.  There are however "test CD's" that are used to test or diagnose an audio system that may go that low.  A recording trick that some home studio recording enthusiasts might want to consider is to try the following.  If you want to make a room rumble and the internal organs of your listeners vibrate, use a synthesizer to place a very low end sound in a piece of music.  Although your ears will not be capable of hearing it, if you have a very good monitoring system with the capability to reproducing ultra low end frequencies, the room will vibrate and you will feel the vibrations in your body.  Of course you are going to need a high end subwoofer to appreciate this effect, as a normal set of stereo speakers will not be capable of reproducing the sound, and of course your ears won't register it either.

            As I mentioned above, the frequency response of the Sony MDR-XB300 Extra Bass Headphones is from 5 Hz. to 22,000 Hz.  From this one might naturally assume that the mids and highs would sound fine, and that all one would get is an exaggerated low end.  Well, I am afraid the assumption would be wrong.  Just because the Sony MDR-XB300 Extra Bass Headphones have the ability to reproduce the mids and high end does not mean that they do it well.  The upper midrange and the highs were tinny, as well as being a bit harsh and abrasive.  I guess this is O.K. if all you are looking for is a heavy bass end, but to me this seemed not to be what I was hoping for from Sony, even in a set of headphones as inexpensive as these are.  Further, to my ears, the low end was not clear or distinct, and was a bit disappointing.


            So who are the Sony MDR-XB300 Extra Bass Headphones best suited for?  If you are a serious music listener or audiophile you will be disappointed.  If you are looking for a set of reference monitor headphones for your home studio, you must look elsewhere.  If you are a person who wants to listen to recordings of music which are not colored or sweetened, then these headphones are definitely not what you are looking for.  These headphones would be worthy of consideration for a person who wants to have an inexpensive set of headphones that are going to exaggerate the bass response and deliver a powerful low end, and that makes them an adequate choice for listening to certain types of dance music, hip hop, or rap music.  However, there is no getting around the fact that hip hop, rap, or dance music would certainly sound better and more clear through a better set of headphones than the Sony MDR-XB300 Extra Bass Headphones.  They might also enhance the sound of certain computer games.  I ask you to keep these points in mind when considering these headphones.  They do an adequate job for the type of listening conditions and situations that I described in this review, but that is about all.  However, they are not very versatile, and as such are not the best choice for all around music listening.

           Well I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my review, but now if you will excuse me, I must get back to my practicing my guitar.


Recommend this product? No


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