TEST: Sony XB550AP EXTRA BASS headphones

  • Sony's XB550AP headphones are a great buy for the price. Image credit: Sony
  • The swivel action is practical and surprisingly useful. Image credit: Sony
  • The headband is fittet and sturdy. Image credit: Sony
Date:28 July 2017 Author: Nikky Knijf Tags:, , ,

Sony does headphones well and XB550AP EXTRA BASS headphones are no different. Here’s why.

I’m bobbing my head while listening to low-fi hip hop on YouTube. It’s atmospheric and bassy – the perfect thing to help me maintain focus. The volume is loud enough to drown out the bulk of the noise in the office, but quiet enough to hear my fingers strike the keys of my mechanical keyboard. I can hear the soft drone of voices – inaudible. Ooh, a good beat, I think and I turn up the volume. The ambient sounds of the office melt away. I am transported.

There is something to be said about finding quality headphones. In a world of overpriced brand names with questionable lifespans I’m always looking for an investment buy. And trust me – I’ve tried a variety.

Some XB550AP background

The XB550AP Extra Bass headphones are on “long-term loan” from our tech ed, Lindsey Schutters. Why, you ask? Well, I’ve gone through six pairs of headphones in the last five years – they just don’t last. And I can’t be bothered with “in-ear” headphones.

Save one, my headphones have all gone the same route: the cord dislodges from the earcup. And it never dislodges far enough away from the cup to allow me to just hack it back together. Oh no! They either break right next to the cup or on the inside. And don’t dare think I abuse them. Headphones are for office use and live resting over my second screen.

So for the last year I’ve been rolling with these: a promotional pair of headphones that are held together with tape, sheds plastic dandruff and only have sound in one ear. I take it Lindsey pities me, but I’m grateful.

Yays and neighs

Perched firmly over my head, hugging my ears, I’ve been working with the Sony’s on for almost six hours. The on-ear is starting to become uncomfortable, but it’s lasted well. On a normal working day I’ve spent maybe a grand total of three hours donning the headphones and then there’s no discomfort. I’m crediting the soft cushioning for this. They sit firmly and don’t slip off my head, but I can’t heaven feel the headband.

The earcups and headband have a swivel feature. At first I thought this was silly, but it’s mega useful for quickly listening to something without putting the entire headband over your head, or when handing it to someone to listen. The swivels put less stress on the cups and is surprisingly sturdy.

In case you were wondering, yes, this cable is probably going last a long while. The cable is flat and textured and the where it enters the earcup is reinforced with a one centimetre cover. This will stop the cable breaking off at the earcup.

EXTRA BASS is not just a promotional thing, it’s real. When you turn up the bass the result is pretty impressive, but think sound desk, not street racer.

My top complaint would be that the remote control doesn’t work with computers and older model phones. On PC and Mac you’ll have to stick to your regular volume controls, but when using a newer model smartphone it works well.

Some specs

Colours: red, blue, black
Cable: flat, serrated, tangle-free
Cable length: 1,2 metres
Remote: play/pause, call answer/end
Calls: hands-free with newer model smartphones
Price: $49,99

Sadly, we can’t quite find them

Yup, that’s right, we can’t seem to find them. Sony is currently offering them for free when you buy an Xperia XZ phone (seemingly on contract only). But other than that, they are quite illusive. So, if you happen to stumble on a pair in a shop or online, get them.


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