If you are looking for high-quality headphones for under 50 dollars, chances are you have stumbled upon the Sony MDR-XB550AP. This pair of headphones has been around for years now, and with “XB” standing for “extra bass”, it is a well-considered option for affordable, bass-heavy headphones. In addition to that, Sony has been around for years and it is one of the most reputable companies in the audio niche. But what about everything else? Is their design modern? Are they easy to use and functional? In this review, I will cover everything you need to know before buying the Sony MDR-XB550AP, so that you are fully aware of its pros and cons before you decide on purchasing them.
SONY MDR-XB550AP Review
Headphones are all about sound performance, right? Well, there are certainly other important factors as well, but no one wants to listen to bad-quality audio with his new pair of headphones, even if they are really cheap. This is where the Sony MDR-XB550AP manage to shine: featuring 1.18’’ dome-type driver units with neodymium magnets, they cover a wide frequency range of 5 Hz to 22 kHz. In terms of frequency performance, they manage to deliver loud and tight bass, while the middle and high frequencies come out precise and clear. As their name suggests, they are really good with bass-heavy music and you will enjoy listening to funk and electronic music a lot.
On the other side, if you are not really a fan of the low end, the bass of these headphones might seem a little bit “too much” for you. In terms of volume output, the Sony MDR-XB550AP are loud enough for most occasions, but they perform better at louder volume, as they tend to be a little flat when you lower the volume (they come with 24 Ohms of impedance). Unfortunately, they don’t come with active noise cancelling technology, but they provide you with enough passive noise cancellation thanks to their closed-back design, so that you can use them while commuting. All in all, the sound performance is surprisingly good for their price, especially considering their low end performance.
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The design of these headphones is one of their greater advantages: the Sony MDR-XB550AP not only sound good, but they look good as well. Their modern-looking and minimalist design comes in a variety of five different colours that you can choose from (black, red, blue, green and white) with a metallic headband and a matte finish over the earcups. They sit close to your head and they are discreet enough to wear them in public. The flat cord and in-line button also look sleek, complimenting the classy appearance of the headset.
The Sony MDR-XB550AP is an easy-to-use headset that comes with a flat, anti-tangle cable that saves you time from trying to detangle the cord. In addition to that, it features an in-line control button that you can program to your liking, in order to pause and resume songs without touching your device. The cord also incorporates a microphone that lets you take noiseless calls from your phone using your headset. However, note that this headset is neither sweat-proof nor waterproof, and thus it is not recommended for those who intend to engage in physical activity outside while wearing it.
The Sony MDR-XB550AP comes with old-school wired connectivity, featuring a 3.5 mm male connector that is compatible with audio devices, smartphones, tablets and computers. That makes them really easy to connect them to anything (you literally plug them and they work), but they lack certain features that come with wireless headphones, such as tweaks and adjustments from a dedicated app. On the other side, you can always be sure that they will never run out of battery and leave you without the ability to listen to music while commuting.
This headset comes with on-ear design but despite that, it is quite comfortable. This is achieved thanks to the expandable headband that you can adjust to fit your head, as well as the padding inside the earcups. The soft cushions combined with the overall lightweight design, allow you to wear these headphones for long hours without feeling any discomfort. Unfortunately, they don’t ship with any extra ear cushions to replace them in the long run, but we expected this considering their price. If you want extra ear cushions, then you have to increase your budget by at least 100 dollars.
It is widely known that In the sub-50-dollar price range, build quality is the first thing that companies tend to sacrifice. As a result, consumers usually don’t expect affordable headphones to last for long. However, durable headsets are actually more inexpensive, as they save you from buying a new pair in the long run. Luckily, great build quality is one of the biggest pros of the Sony MDR-XB550AP: this pair of headphones comes with many parts that have been reinforced with metal. That allows them to last longer and withstand more damage compared to other headphones in this price range. The anti-tangle flat cable adds to durability as well. The only drawback we found is that you cannot replace the ear cushions that might wear off after months of heavy use.
So, is this pair of headphones worth it? There is only one thing that we haven’t covered yet, and that is the price. The Sony MDR-XB550AP are very affordable headphones and considering their specifications, they are really good value for money. Their sound performance is well balanced and covers the whole audible frequency spectrum, and they perform exceptionally well at the low end. They are quite good-looking, coming in many different colours, and their wired connectivity makes them easy-to-use and compatible with every device. They are comfortable to wear for long hours and their build quality ensures durability, raising their value even more. They certainly lack some features, such as waterproof certification, extra ear cushions and active noise-cancelling technology, but these can be considered minor drawbacks in this price range. To sum up, the Sony MDR-XB550AP are really worth your money if you are looking for high-quality affordable headphones.