Thursday 21 June 2012

Real bass from a pair of cans... at a price

Lots of bass.. no kiddin' !

As a developer, i tend to spend quite some time at my desk, trying to concentrate to come up with solutions to programming challenges. However, in our new office building we don't have the luxury of separate rooms. Instead, we are all in one big open space. While this has its advantages (more interaction, and a nice, roomy atmosphere to name a few), the drawback is also evident: no quiet places to just think and write code! So I went looking for a pair of headphones suitable for office use. Obviously my trusty Sennheiser HD590 would not fit the bill. I still think they are very nice sounding, but they are also too big, and too expensive to just leave at the office. And on top of that they are open, which means that a lot of sound will leak at higher volumes - a good way to annoy your co-workers!

What am I looking for?


My perfect pair of office cans have to be comfortable enough to wear for several hours a day. Because of the music I like to listen to at work, they have to be able to produce serious amounts of bass, without leaking too much sound to the outside world. And of course they need to be cheap enough to leave them at the office without requiring a personal safe!

So here it is: the Sony MDR-XB300


After spending way to much time looking around on the internet, I decided to buy the MDR-XB300, a pair of on-ear, closed  system headphones from Sony. These can be had for around $30.00, are very comfortable, and promised to have Extra Bass (hence the 'XB'). Webshop delivers them at your doorstep without shipping costs, and with a 30-day return policy. What's there to lose?

The test


Right out of the box this pair of  'phones delivers what's on the box: deep bass, and LOTS OF IT! In fact, too much bass for many kinds of music. In contrast, the mids and highs are almost nonexistent. After some 50 hours of break-in this improves somewhat, but it still sounds like having a subwoofer strapped to your head. But you know what? That's fine with me, because I wasn't looking for audiophile quality anyway!
Leakage is much less than the open HD590's, and very much acceptable for office use. The pads are soft enough to allow listening for hours on end, but not so soft that they will slide off of your head.
The built-in laptop audio amp seems to struggle sometimes because of the low impedance (24 Ohms), so the sound may benefit from a decent headphone amplifier.  This I will review in my next post!



They may not be for everyone, but for me, they get the job done. Lots of bass, and good damping of outside noise. They are now a permanent part of my office setup.

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