A Review Of Sony MDR-XB90EX In-Ear Bass Headphones

sony mdr-xb90ex

Sony is renowned for producing some of the best models of headphones and earbuds. The company offers a wide range of products in this regard – from noise-isolation and extra-bass earbuds to workout and sports earbuds. From their good reputation and history, Sony is earning the much-needed approval of several music enthusiasts because of its innovative features and sound quality.

If you are yet to experience their exquisite sound quality, here is a review of the one of their most talked about in-ear headphones – the Sony MDR-XB90EX. For quite some time now, this particular model has been assuring consumers value for their money.

A Review of the Sony MDR-XB90EX In-Ear Headphones

What is in the Box?

When you buy this product, expect:

  • Sony MDR-XB90EX in-ear headphones
  • 1 Clip
  • Zippered carrying case
  • User manual

Sound Performance

The sound from the ear-piece is very solid, crisp, and detailed. Just like in many Sony products, the sound signature of these earphones feels tight and warm, leaning more towards bass than treble. Unlike other earphones that mix low and midrange frequencies to bloat up the sound, the massive amount of bass pumped out of these earbuds is courtesy of its powerful acoustic drivers.

The highs and trebles are natural, crisp, and clear and don’t feel harsh or recessed at all – there’s actually no sibilance when playing bass-heavy music. For instance, when you play rock and electronic house genre, you find that the sound feels clear, spacious, and well-defined with a relatively high treble response.

You also have the option of adjusting the EQ settings on your device (smartphone, laptop, tablet, and more) to get more bass. However, make sure you do not exceed the distortion limit. Even with the pow​

The sound from the ear-piece is very solid, crisp, and detailed. Just like in many Sony products, the sound signature of these earphones feels tight and warm, leaning more towards bass than treble. Unlike other earphones that mix low and midrange frequencies to bloat up the sound, the massive amount of bass pumped out of these earbuds is courtesy of its powerful acoustic drivers.

The highs and trebles are natural, crisp, and clear and don’t feel harsh or recessed at all – there’s actually no sibilance when playing bass-heavy music. For instance, when you play rock and electronic house genre, you find that the sound feels clear, spacious, and well-defined with a relatively high treble response.

You also have the option of adjusting the EQ settings on your device (smartphone, laptop, tablet, and more) to get more bass. However, make sure you do not exceed the distortion limit. Even with the powerful bass, the earbuds do not feel overwhelming – they are easy on the ears. Bottom line, if you enjoy heavy bass with distinct clarity in your music, you will love these headphones.

Design and Build Quality

sony mdr-xb90ex

The Sony MDR-XB90EX is somewhat different from your normal earbud. It has a big belly to provide better bass. Even though most of the housing is made from thick plastic, the back is reinforced with aluminum for the ultimate durability. Also, the cables are flat and serrated, meaning that they can’t break easily.

These headphones have a solid build and don’t really contain any design flaws that could affect how these earbuds operate. They’re easy and convenient to carry around with you, and if you want to throw them in your bag, they won’t get tangled up as they’re coated in rubber plastic. These earphones have only two color options silver and black – you’ll have to settle for these two.

Some of the technical specifications include:

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Weight: Approximately 0.3 ounces
  • Plug: L-shaped stereo mini
  • Cord Y-type flat cord
  • Magnet: Neodymium
  • Diaphragm: PET
  • Frequency response: 4Hz-27,000Hz
  • Impedance: 16 Ohm
  • Power handling capacity: 200mW
  • Sensitivity: 106dB/mW
  • Driver unit: Dome-shaped (0.63”)

Comfort and Fit

sony mdr-xb90ex

Despite their bigger-than-average size, these Sony earphones are very comfortable to use and sit well in the ear canal. The earbuds come in small, medium, and large sizes. So make sure you select the correct ear tip size. If you want to have the ultimate bass experience, it is advisable to get yourself some comply foam ear tips for better sound isolation, hence, superb bass.

Unfortunately, the comply foam ear tips do not come with the earphones. You’ll have to get them separately but they’re definitely worth the purchase if you regularly listen to music.

Tangle-Free Cords

sony mdr-xb90ex

One of the most annoying problems with earbuds is tangled cords. It’s a very common nuisance that many earphone lovers have to deal with just because of poor design. Most times, you will end up with a broken earpiece because of regular tangling. Fortunately, with these headphones, you don’t have to worry about this tangling nuisance. The model is created with a tangle-free, serrated cord.

The main idea here is to keep your earphones’ cable from easily tangling when you throw it into your pocket or bag, thus giving it a long durability. Sony made the cord flat with tiny grooves on the surface for this particular purpose. So when you buy this product, you can be guaranteed mess-free operations.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • It has excellent bass.
  • Generally, it has high-quality sound that has clear and well-defined treble and vocals.
  • It has a very good impact.
  • It’s very comfortable to wear and fits perfectly.
  • It comes with a tangle-free cord.

Cons

  • It's rather pricey.
  • The big housing might not be comfortable for some users.
  • It doesn't have any mics or controls.
  • It may feel a little bulky for some users.

Factors to Consider With the Sony MDR-XB90EX Headphones

As with every product, there are some flaws and considerations to make, and the Sony headphones are no different. For example, when we scoured online comments, we found that some people were unhappy with how the earphones bulge out of your ear canal. Compared to competitor brands, these are one of the biggest earbuds on the market due to the battery that is stored inside. Consequently, you won’t be able to comfortably sleep while wearing them or wear a helmet on top of the earphones. But for most activities, this slight bulge shouldn’t become a big problem. 

Another factor to consider is that these headphones are fairly limited in what additional features they offer. For example, there’s no built-in microphone and they generally don’t look like anything significant or luxurious. They also lack a noise-cancellation feature that means there is some audio leakage so people can hear what you’re listening to. As a result, you should consider your environment before wearing these. They wouldn’t be suitable in a quiet office, for example.

Another flaw is the treble. Specifically, it’s not significantly balanced which can cause some issues depending on the music genre you like to listen to. Bass-boosting songs are ideal for these Sony earphones but live acoustics or high-pitched songs can be a little harsh on the ears at times. Finally, some customers experienced stiffness in the buttons after extended use, although Sony is happy to resolve any faults if you contact them. 

In-Ear vs Over-Ear Headphones

The differences between in-ear and over-ear headphones play an important part in your listening experience as well as durability and overall comfort. Let’s take a look at the main difference between the two and which type is right for you.

In-Ear Headphones

In-ear headphones feature tiny drivers, meaning the sound quality is generally worse than over-ear headphones. Sometimes, some brands can be tinny and not produce the best quality of audio you can receive. Thankfully, Sony MDR-XB90EX headphones have a superb audio performance because they’re designed by a reputable brand, so it’s definitely worth investing in a high-end brand if audio quality is something that’s important to you. 

This type of headphone tends to be less comfortable than over-ear since they sit inside your ear canal. After wearing them for long periods, you might notice some discomfort, and it can also be a challenge to find the perfect fit for you, although some brands come with multiple-sized earbuds.

So, what are the main benefits of choosing in-ear headphones? It all comes down to portability. Wearing headphones that you can easily and quickly insert into your ears is great if you’re in a rush or like to walk or run while listening to music. As the designs are smaller, you can conveniently store them in your handbag or even a small pocket without them taking up much room. You might also wish to purchase wireless headphones that are even smaller and easier to store while not in use. 

Finally, some music-lovers prefer wearing earphones that are less obvious, look neater and aren’t a fashion statement. For example, if you want to listen to music or retrieve important phone calls on the go, over-ear headphones might not be a suitable choice for you.

Over-Ear Headphones

Generally speaking, over-ear headphones tend to have better audio performance for a couple of reasons. First, as they’re larger than in-ear headphones, they can block out any ambiance noise so you only focus on the music you’re listening to rather than background talking or footsteps. Also, the drivers are much larger in over-ear headphones, meaning they can produce deeper and clear bass and overall tone.

Over-ear headphones are usually more comfortable than in-ear types because they sit around your ears and don’t offer any pressure inside the ear canal. As they sit on top of your ears, they’re usually covered with foam for ultimate comfort and to prevent any external noise distracting you from your music. This comfort means you can wear them for long periods of time and they’re more suitable for an office environment. Plus, if people see you’re wearing headphones, they’re less likely to disturb you, giving you the opportunity to really concentrate on the audio you’re listening to.

Another reason people tend to choose over-ear headphones is because they’re dramatic-looking and stylish. If you’re someone who loves owning branded clothing and accessories, you can show the world that you own high-end headphones which help to complete your overall look.

Finally, you might find over-ear headphones last longer since they require a case to store them in, meaning you’re less likely to throw them in your bag without any padding. This helps to keep you in good habits, and with thicker materials, and less small, finicky parts, they’re also less likely to break over time.

Alternative Headphones to Purchase

If you prefer to keep your options open and would love to look into alternative headphones to purchase, we’ve searched for the second-best earbuds to purchase. Let’s take a look at our findings. 

SoundMagic E11C

Features 

The best way to enhance your audio performance is to choose the correct tips for your ear size. A snug fit helps to isolate any background noise while ensuring that you only focus on the audio you’re listening to. As a result, you’re left with a well-balanced, fresh sound everyone will appreciate.

SoundMagic E11C hits bass notes with warmth and it comfortably reaches midrange frequencies. High notes aren’t too bright that they become uncomfortable to listen to but still deliver life and energy. If you like your music loud, SoundMagic E11C can produce a high volume without impeding the audio’s quality, although even at a medium volume, they over-deliver and help to reduce the battery life at the same time. 

The headphones perfectly combine separation, tone, and bass that means you can listen to an array of music styles as well as live performances. The latter really enhances these earbuds and really captivates the live vocals and instrumentals. 

Design

SoundMagic E11C headphones feature an angled jack between a straight angle and 90 degrees. Compared to previous editions of this model, they don’t have small plastic features to show which is the left and right earbud, so it’s your duty to remember which earbud is for the correct ear. This headphone is also equipped with a built-in microphone and buttons to control the playback and volume.

Compared to Sony MDR-XB90EX headphones, these don’t come with an extensive range of ear tip sizes, so they’re not suitable for a range of ears. In comparison with previous models, SoundMagic E11C headphones focused on improvements to sound rather than design. However, they do feature a silver-plated copper cable that provides some luxury to the set. To prevent the wires from getting tangled, these come with a storage case which also helps you to keep them organized and in good condition. 

Klipsch R6i II

Features 

These headphones reveal vibrant audio and really enhance live acoustics. Klipsch earbuds are also ideal for listening to piano and guitar instrumentals as you can hear high frequencies with ease and the earbuds make you feel as though you’re in the same room as the audio. Klipsch provides excellent tonal balance and the treble isn’t too sharp, though is more so than Sony MDR-XB90EX. These headphones don’t also have as much weight to the bass either.

Design

Perhaps the most beneficial feature of these headphones is the material and size of the buds. Klipsch claims that the design is to securely and comfortably fit inside your ear canal. Also, the oval tips provide a comfortable seal to provide noise insolation and improve the bass response, too. 

To look at, these earbuds are more attractive than Sony MDR-XB90EX, thanks to the aluminum elements and white cable that helps to add some shine and glamour of the earbuds. 

So your finger can easily remove the earbuds from your ears, the back of the earbuds are curved. Klipsch R6i II is perfectly optimized for Apple products as the playback and volume controls, although these don’t work with Android devices. 

Final Verdict of Sony MDR-XB90EX Headphones

Sony MDR-XB90EX in-Ear Extra Bass Headphones (Japanese Import)
  • The Advanced Direct Vibe Structure forms an acoustically-tight seal around your ears, maximizing sound isolation to...
  • With the angled-duct, you can hear clear high-range sound that complements your extra bass.
  • Enjoy maximum comfort while also keeping the ear buds from falling out.

While they are quite pricey, the Sony MDR-XB90EX is still an undisputed champion of bass in-ear headphones on the market. The phenomenal bass combined with natural, smooth, and well-detailed highs and mids, making it one of the best investments you’ll ever make. The in-ear extra bass makes these headphones stand out from competitor models while ensuring that they’re fun to listen to. 

The only downside is that they may feel a little bulky and heavy when worn in the ears, but this shouldn’t be a barrier between you and quality sound, should it? Looking after these headphones is easy since they feature a tangle-free serrated wire to reduce any tangling. This is a useful feature for anyone who regularly uses headphones and tends to throw them in a drawer to then use them an hour later.

If you don’t mind these little shortcomings, the Sony headphones will be one of the best and most durable in-ear headphones you’ll ever own. If you take your music seriously, make sure you purchase headphones that will help to bring out the details of the songs. What are your thoughts on these headphones? Do you own a pair? Or perhaps you know some excellent alternatives to the Sony headphones. Share your thoughts and feedback in the comments to keep this discussion going.