Sony has undoubtedly been one of the pioneers of the audio industry for a very long time now. Its famous walkman series proved to be a revolution in portable audio industry. Today I have the Sony MDR – XB50BS Sports Wireless earphones which were launched back in 2016. Interestingly, these earphones still retail for an MRP of Rs 5,490 which was a little surprising for me since earphones tend to sale for a lot less than the MRP as they grow old in the market. Nevertheless, I had the Sony MDR XB50BS for just over a week and here is a comprehensive review of the same.
Unlike most of the semi-premium wireless earphones, the Sony MDR XB50BS is built out of plastic. The housing here is pretty big so naturally there is no neckband. Now, I am personally not a fan of plastic as a material when it comes to gadgets and for a price of Rs 5,490 – these earphones certainly feel cheap. That said, the plastic build helps reduce the weight it has on the ears. If I talk figures, these earphones weigh about 22g. The cable that connects the two earpieces is flat and is of decent quality. The inner side of both the earpieces is textured while we get some sort of aluminium finish outside but I am pretty sure that is plastic as well.
The power button and volume rockers are placed on the right ear-piece and are made out of plastic as well. The power button can take/end calls while the volume rockers can act as forward and backward button. There is an LED indicator on the right earpiece as well along with a tiny microphone which sadly does not act as noise cancellation microphone.
The actual earbuds are angled and does come with an ear-hook. If rest of the design feels cheap for the price, the ear-buds and ear-hooks definitely feels premium. Further, we get three extra ear-tips along with the ear-hooks for a better fit for different sized ears. The Sony MDR XB50BS also comes with IPX4 splash and sweat resistance. No wonder, they are being marketed as Sports Wireless earphones. I might be a little more picky here, but these earphones are not magnetic as well so even though they sit pretty comfortably around your neck, there is always a chance of you losing them as they don’t stick around.
When it comes to the comfort, the Sony MDR XB50BS does earn some points. Even with my extended usage, these earphones felt really comfortable in the ears. The angled earbuds along with ear-hooks sit nicely in your ears and they also help them stay there even when you work out or do some sort of physical activity. I did took these to a couple of my workout sessions and they held up just fine. The ear-hooks are easy to replace so if the default size doesn’t suit you well, you can always try the extra ones inside the box.
Connectivity and Battery Life
Holding up the Power Button for about 5-6 seconds take these earphones to pairing mode after which it is the usual drill. However, the Sony MDR XB50BS also comes with NFC functionality which is not something you see in a lot of wireless ‘earphones’. NFC has never been my favourite method to connect to a bluetooth headset and this was no exception. Even though having the NFC functionality is a good thing, you are better off with the conventional bluetooth pairing. When it comes to bluetooth connectivity, I didn’t have any sort of problems or connection drops.
For the battery life, Sony claims that these earphones can serve you for about 8.5 hours of continue music playback. Atleast, that is what is written on the box. In reality, these earphones can last anywhere between 7 hours to 7.5 hours which is still decent. And it takes about 2 hours to go from no charge to full charge.
Alright then, let’s come to the point. So how do the Sony MDR XB50BS sound? Or to be more precise, do they justify the price tag?
As the name suggests, these earphones lie under the ‘Extra Bass’ lineup from Sony so naturally thee is a lot of bass here. There is a 12mm driver inside which offers some really good sound output. Yes, there is loads of bass, which is definitely a thumbs up for some users. Sony has certainly boosted the lows but in no way these earphones sound cheap. Instead, the bass is extremely rich and is enjoyable if you listen to a lot of EDM, dubstep or even pop music. However, if you are more of an acoustic person or listen to a lot of metal music, you might be a little disappointed here.
Apart from the bass, the highs on these earphones is pretty commendable so if you are to watch a lot of videos or movies, these will do the job. However, what was utterly disappointing is how mudded are the mids. I know mids are perhaps the most neglected area of audio listening but I did expect better from the MDR XB50BS. Further, the soundstage on these earphones is average at best. At times, it is really really difficult for you to separate different layers or instruments playing at the background.
These earphones quite bluntly screams bass supremacy and if you don’t fall in that category, you are better off with something which sounds more balanced. I am not an audiophile by any means but Sony is clearly targeting a specific yet major audience here.
Another area where these earphones fall miserably is the in-built microphone. The placement of the mic itself did not make sense to me and the performance just added to it. During all the calls which I took with these earphones, I eventually ended up switching to the phone’s earpiece. This was certainly a deal breaker for me. I mean not able to attend calls properly on a wireless earphones kind of defeat its purpose. If I keep that aside, the power button and the volume rockers worked just fine.
Should You Buy The Sony MDR XB50BS?
Priced around the Rs 5,000 mark, I would have still given these earphones a thumbs up if we had some sort of price cut. However, in 2018 – the Sony MDR XB50BS is hard to recommend. Don’t get me wrong, they sound incredibly well and does deliver on what Sony claims, however, it just falls short to justify the price tag when we take it as an overall package.