Sony MDR – XB80BS Review

Sony, one of the most well-known brand out of Japan that has been seen in many electronic products. One of them is the Audio Department, where its Walkman becomes a historic invention in changing our way to listen to music. Then, of course, Sony begins to manufacture its own line of headphones & earphones. Sony MDR – XB80BS is one of the products that have come out in recent years which targets athletes and Bass lovers. With it being a Bluetooth earphone and costing around £80++ (or lesser depending on your source), we are here to find out if it is truly worth the cost, especially when a wired earphone can be had at a much cheaper price.

(this review is written with excessive care to avoid any errors, however, there might still be some appearing due to human error)

 

Packaging/Contents
Sony MDR-XB80BS Packaging Box
A cool looking packaging with Bluish-black design, just classy x sporty.

Sony has always been great in making professional looking packaging that means premium and style. Once you get a hold of the box, you will instantly feel it is different from other cheap knock-offs and be safely assured you are getting a quality item. The box is pretty simple in showing the colour of your earphones (there are red and black, mine is blue) and also small technical details below like Bluetooth, NFC, and waterproofing etc.

Sony MDR-XB80BS Contents
Pretty barebones but essential contents & extras.

Inside the box, you will find the earphone(not shown above), micro USB to USB A cable, a manual, a pouch and several ear tip options. The pouch is perhaps one of the best I have ever seen, with the opening being magnetic and overall it looks awesome. It fits well with the design of the earphone and I feel the premium-ness just from touching it. Ear tip options are the usual of SS, S, M and L, sadly, no other type of noise-isolating foam is included.

 

Build Quality
Sony MB*
The Earphone in its throne.

Man oh man, the earphone itself speaks for its quality and that Sony really wants this to be a popular headset with unique designs. Firstly, it is kind of made out of great quality silicone that is bendable and waterproof. Note that I haven’t really tried to fully submerge it in water, but I have tried washing it and it still works till now.

Wearing it involving putting it around your ears, which is a common way to wear for premium earphones nowadays. My ears seem to fit the loop around just enough that I don’t feel uncomfortable. You can either let the connecting wire to be at the back or front of your neck, I prefer the latter as I don’t like the wire touching the back of my head consistently, especially when I’m running.

There are three buttons, two of them for volume changing (which also acts as replaying the previous song or skipping the current song if you hold them for 3 secs longer), and one for the Power button(which also acts as play/pause, connecting to Bluetooth device and taking a call). I just want to say the button can be a bit hard to press due to the small clicking space but you will get used to it after a while.

Btw, wearing it makes you look bad-ass, or at least I feel like it XD

 

Sound Quality

I have tried Sony MDR – XB80BS with a 2014 Macbook Pro 15inch and my Sony Xperia XZ phone. As this earphone is exclusively for wireless listening only, I could not test it out with any DAC or other set-ups except for those with Bluetooth capability.

Macbook Pro – Bluetooth 4.0 (according to the Apple Store Spec list)using Spotify 320kbps and Youtube. In a normal volume listening, which is around 50% loudness for me, there is almost practically no difference between the two listening sources. I played some tracks such as ‘I See Fire’ by Ed Sheeran, JJ Lin’s ‘新地球’, Eminem’s ‘Phenomenal’ and Akon ‘Smack That’. Firstly, this is quite a bassy earphone, as its name ‘Extra Bassy’ has shown, so songs with heavy bass are amplified and I think it makes them a more enjoyable listening, especially when you are exercising. I think Sony knows who their target audience is and I applaud their effort in making a great bassy earphone that does not sacrifice much on mid and vocals. This is especially apparent as I can still listen to the other two songs by Ed Sheeran and JJ Lin without feeling the vocals are low quality, though it’s definitely not the earphone’s best area.

By using Spotify 320kbps and Youtube. In a normal volume listening, which is around 50% loudness for me, there is almost practically no difference between the two listening sources. I played some tracks such as ‘I See Fire’ by Ed Sheeran, JJ Lin’s ‘新地球’, Eminem’s ‘Phenomenal’ and Linkin Park’s ‘Numb’. Firstly, this is quite a bassy earphone, as its name ‘Extra Bassy’ has shown, so songs with heavy bass are amplified and I think it makes them a more enjoyable listening, especially when you are exercising. I think Sony knows who their target audience is and I applaud their effort in making a great bassy earphone that does not sacrifice much on mid and vocals. This is especially apparent as I can still listen to the other two songs by Ed Sheeran and JJ Lin without feeling the vocals are low quality, though it’s definitely not the earphone’s best area.

Sony Xperia XZ – LDAC (this is Sony proprietary Bluetooth connection which they claim can deliver CD like quality)

I use Spotify, Youtube, and USB Audio Player PRO. It may just be me but the LDAC improves the quality of the songs just a bit. With the same source, it seems Sony Xperia XZ is able to output louder, cleaner sounds to the earphone, but only by a bit, and can be unnoticeable when you are doing exercise or not concentrating. There are two settings for LDAC, I have tried out both the [Best Quality] & [Best Performance]. In a normal situation, both sounds the same, but upon getting away from the phone for 5 metres, the former will start to crack. The same happens when your surrounding is full of radio frequencies from phones, wifi, and other Bluetooth. I have tried walking around London Street and the Underground, but only the [Best Performance] gives a smoother playback compared to the cracky and often disconnected [Best Quality].

Interestingly, using the USB Audio Player PRO with [Best Quality] provides a greater boost in sound quality. Files played here are the original FLAC, so lossless quality. It seems the LDAC connection really is able to transmit CD-quality sound, or at least near the quality level. I am quite surprised to hear cleaner sounds with better control and the sub-bass can be heard a bit if you concentrate. Vocals improve as well, and the instruments have a clearer sound to it.

Sony MDR Xb 80BS review scoreboard

Anthony Bio page

 

Categories: Products ReviewTags: , , , , , , , ,

Anthony L Tjandra

A photographer and videographer that aims to capture the Heart behind the moments.

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