Summary – Sony MDR-XB90EX Earbuds
Before we begin this review you should ask yourself two questions. First, do you like bass? Second, are you willing to splurge an obscene amount of money for a pair of earbuds? If your answer is yes to both questions, read on!
The Sony MDR-XB90EX is quite simply, the undisputed champion of bass and the very best bass earbuds you can find on the market. We have affectionately dubbed these earbuds the “king of bass”. While the price is quite steep as these earbuds are now imported directly from Japan, they are designed for serious audiophiles who want to take listening to bass heavy music to a whole new level. These earbuds feature an advanced direct vibe structure which forms an acoustically tight seal around your ears to maximum sound isolation and deliver extreme bass performance. It also features a unique angle duct design which directs high-range sound into your ears and complements the extra bass. These earbuds have a vertical in-ear design which makes it slimmer and lighter for a better fit in the ears. The XB90EX earbuds also come with a tangle-free serrated cord with tiny grooves on its surface to reduce tangling. If you are serious about bass and love bass heavy music, the XB90EX earbuds are definitely the ones that will blow your mind. We have no doubt that the Sony MDR-XB90EX is the best earbud available today for bass lovers and audiophiles alike.
Pros & Cons
The Pros. Extremely powerful bass – the bass is strong enough to rattle your head. Wearing these earbuds is like wearing a mini home theater system on your ears; you get detailed sound reproduction, crisp midrange and tight bass that does not muddy into the mids. The sound feels spacious, crystal clear and very well defined. The bass stays where it should be and hits hard especially with electronic dance music and pop music genres.
The Cons. The Sony MDR-XB90EXs are some of the most expensive earbuds on the market now, and the price is a little steep unless you are a serious audiophile with the budget for these kinds of earbuds. The XB90EXs also require slightly more power to drive them, and may require a portable amplifier if your smartphone auxiliary output does not produce enough power to drive them. While they are great IEMs that produce a stunning amount of bass, they are slightly bulky and do leak some sound which may make them unsuitable for wearing in quiet places such as libraries. These are earbuds that you definitely cannot take to the gym nor do sports activities as they will most likely fall off from their bulky size.
The sound performance of the Sony MDR-XB90EX is very crisp, solid and detailed. The sound signature of these earbuds feels tight and slightly warm, and definitely bass-leaning. The acoustic drivers on these earbuds are able to deliver a very satisfying massive amount of bass – the bass is clear, tight and punchy and does not muddy into the midrange at all. The treble and highs are crisp and clear and do not sound recessed or harsh at all; there is no sibilance while playing bass heavy music. When listening to soundtracks from electronic dance music and rock genres, we were quite surprised that the sound actually feels spacious and clear and very well defined, with a transparent high treble response. You can also adjust the EQ settings on your music device to get more bass, although this should be done carefully not to past the distortion limit. The bass on these earbuds feels tight and not overwhelming – it stays where it should be as bass, and does not mix with the other midrange frequencies or bloat up the sound. The bottom line on these earbuds is that if you enjoy very hard hitting bass with distinct clarity in the music, you will definitely enjoy the MDR-XB90EX.
Do bear in mind that the XB90EX do require more power to drive them, and you may have to raise the volume on your music device in order to get the best sound performance. You may wish to use a portable amplifier for these purposes, although this should not be an issue with most smartphones and music devices. These earbuds do provide a good deal of sound isolation; that being said, they do leak some sound which may make these unsuitable for listening to loud music in a quiet place such as a library.
The downside of the Sony MDR-XB90EX lies in its comfort area. Although there are many comfortable IEMs on the market to choose from, including the Shure line of IEMs, these earbuds are pretty bulky and may cause ear fatigue after prolonged periods of time. This is because these earbuds feature large drivers that render the earbuds a little heavy for IEM purposes. We liked the angled design which makes it more comfortable and for a better fit; that being said, they are definitely not suitable for sports use as they might come a bit loose. These earbuds are best used for sedentary listening purposes or for commuting.
While the Sony MDR-XB90EX are certainly pricey and are slightly bulky, they are really the undisputed champion of bass earbuds on the market right now. The bass that these earbuds produce is simply phenomenal and powerful – you really have to listen to these earbuds to believe the quantity and quality of bass that it can handle. The sound quality of these earbuds is very good, with crisp highs and detailed midrange that sounds natural and smooth. It has a tight and slightly warmer sound signature than most IEMs, but definitely delivers very high quality sound without any issues. The only downside is that these earbuds feel slightly heavier and bulky when worn in the ears; this should not stop you from getting these earbuds however, as they produce some of the purest and most powerful bass you will ever hear. If you are looking for the absolute king of bass, the Sony MDR-XB90EX should be your very first and last earbud you ever have to buy.
Be sure to also check out our reviews for the best bass earbuds you can find in the market which are now selling at very good discounted prices.