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Sony WI-XB400 Review

Last updated: 8 months ago
7 min read
Editor
rating
3.1
Sony WI-XB400 magnetic buds

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Sony WI-XB400 are affordable wireless earbuds with long-lasting battery life and great ergonomics, but the sound quality isn’t very compelling.

The Sony earbuds have a heavily recessed midrange and surprisingly balanced bass, considering the “extra bass” badge. You can find a more detailed sound description below.

On the other hand, the battery life is great for a wireless bud, lasting for around 12 hours on a single charge. You can knock it right up with fast charging via a USB-C port.

Also, the ergonomics are excellent, and earbuds feel comfortable in your ears. However, the stability is only suitable for walking, and the durability leaves much to be desired. More on that later.

So, for whom are these wireless earbuds? Are they worth buying at the currently discounted price of $28? Read our full review before making a decision.

  • Reliable Bluetooth connection
  • Comfortable fit
  • Great battery life
  • Decent sound with tight bass …
  • … but overly recessed midrange
  • Lack of sweat resistance
  • Noticeable cable noise
  • Below-average stability for sports activities
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CONTENTS (show more)

    Sound

    Star Rating
    3.0 Good

    The sound feels muted in the midrange and some parts of the treble, whereas the bass stays fairly balanced and controlled.

    Check the Sony WI-XB400 Sound Test

    Sony WI-XB400 Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Learn how to understand sound comparisons.

    Sony WI-XB400 sound a bit off, to put it mildly. Not only do they lack thunderous bass associated with the “Extra Bass” label, but the other areas are recessed in a way that makes songs sound funny.

    Bass: Less Bass Than Expected

    The bass isn’t neutral, but it’s also far from bassy. Compared to more natural-sounding Sony WF-1000XM4, they only have a few dB louder bass response.

    That’s very unusual for “Extra Bass” headphones, which usually sound bloated with bass.

    Instead, Sony WI-XB400 output a relatively impressive bass accuracy (for the price) with good extension and just the right amount of rumble.

    Bass kicks are precise, preventing drum solos from getting buried under the mix. I had no problems listening to a variety of music genres.

    Midrange: Unusual Tuning by Sony

    This is where things get messy. The transition from high-bass to mid-range produces a more neutral sound, which prevents the bass from muddying the mids.

    However, Sony decided to recess the midrange at around 2kHz and then bring it back up at around 4.5kHz. That creates a weird imbalance, making the sound feel muted and boxy as if a large portion of the music is missing.

    Instruments are hurt the most, lacking detail and presence in the mix. Vocals also lack texture and sound a bit dry.

    Treble: Lacking Some Air & Clarity

    Higher frequencies are muted, as well. While cymbal crashes have a good presence and decent texture, they lack air.

    The mid-treble dip between 5-10kHz is too deep, taking away the clarity. Consequently, the treble sounds dull.

    Sony WI-XB400 Frequency Response

    Sony WI-XB400 frequency response

    Jumping to the soundstage, it’s decent in size and equally large in both width and depth. It’s comparable to most in-ear headphones.

    The imaging is good, with some blurry spots between the right/left channels.

    So, did Sony mess up the tuning?

    During my testing, I’ve noticed that the 12mm drivers sound capable enough to deliver dynamic, crisp sound, but they’re held back by weird default tuning.

    Thus, I don’t know why Sony decided to butcher the WI-XB400 and waste their potential.

    What’s the bottom line?

    At the current price of $28, they’re still worth considering. However, Skullcandy Dime are a better option if you care about the sound.

    On the other hand, they aren’t worth their original $50.

    Comfort & Fit

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    While the comfort is great, the earbuds’ neckband design hurts the overall stability. You can use them for walking, but they’re unusable for running.

    Sony WI-XB400 apparently only come with 3 sets of ear tips, small, medium, and large. Interestingly, no matter which ear tip size you use, they all provide an equally tight seal.

    The wireless headset itself fits comfortably and don’t create any hot spots. All ear tip sizes provide a decent level of stability when moving around.

    Sony WI-XB400 earbuds
    Sony WI-XB400 design fits comfortably in your ears without causing fatigue.

    However, earbuds start siding out of your ears as soon as you start running or shaking your head. That can happen quickly, but thankfully the cable catches the flying earbud. There are no fins or hooks to ensure a more stable fit.

    The reason for the instability are the cable and two bulky modules that bounce around uncontrollably. You can’t clip the wire on your shirt or tighten it against your neck (like in Plantronics BackBeat FIT350).

    Check other ways on how to keep your earbuds from falling out.

    Also, modules sometimes slide over your shoulder or get tucked under a shirt, pulling out the buds when you try to turn your head.

    Therefore, Sony WI-XB400 aren’t designed for sports activities. They’re only suitable for light walks and home use.

    Durability

    Star Rating
    2.0 Adequate

    While the overall build quality resembles other wireless earbuds under $50 that don’t have an official IP rating, one flaw makes them more vulnerable to water damage, lowering their score.

    The overall aesthetics and build are almost identical to Beats Flex. Both have a flat cable to prevent tangling, use 2 modules on each side, and magnets to connect both earbuds.

    Sony WI-XB400 charging port
    The flap over the charging port isn’t practical. I’ve seen many torn flaps and this one is going to tear eventually.

    Furthermore, they lack an official IPX rating, meaning that even excess sweat could potentially harm them.

    However, almost all earbuds use some kind of metallic or fabric mesh in the nozzle to protect the internals from debris, earwax, and sweat. Learn how to clean your earbuds.

    Here’s the deal:

    Sony WI-XB400 don’t have a mesh. You can clearly see the driver through the nozzle, which is highly concerning.

    Sony WI-XB400 exposed driver
    Clearly visible internals (driver) of the Sony WI-XB400 wireless headphones.

    Why is this important?

    It means that the internals are exposed to all of the above-mentioned things. That isn’t encouraging for extended longevity.

    Even with careful usage, you can expect dust and earwax collecting in the nozzle and negatively altering the sound quality. It’s a shame Sony didn’t bother to protect the drivers.

    Of course, at the price of under $30, it won’t hurt too much if they suddenly stop working. However, this is still unnecessary.

    Battery

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    The results of our battery test:

    The battery life of 11 hours and 58 minutes falls short of the advertised 15 hours of playtime. Still, you get a USB-C charging port and a fast-charging capability.

    Sony WI-XB400 battery comparison

    Sony WI-XB400 battery life comparison

    On 50% volume, you can expect around 12 hours of battery life, depending on usage. While that’s still a respectable duration, it is 3 hours short of the Sony claims (they advertise 15 hours).

    Nevertheless, you’ll still get a full day or 2 of battery out of Sony WI-XB400 without reaching for a charger. And when you need a charger, wireless earbuds top off pretty fast.

    A 10-minute fast charge gives an extra 1 hour of runtime.

    Features

    Star Rating
    3.0 Good

    The feature-set is reasonably good for the price, with multipoint support and reliable physical controls.

    Sony WI-XB400 come with a pretty standard set of features for the price, with a highlight being multipoint support for connecting multiple devices.

    Like other wireless earbuds, these too rely on physical buttons for playback control.

    Sony WI-XB400 controls

    • Play/pause – single tap on the power button
    • Answer/end phone calls – single tap on the power button
    • Summon voice assistant – double tap on the power button
    • Raise the volume – single tap on the “plus” button
    • Lower the volume – single tap on the “minus” button
    • Skip track – Hold the “plus” button for 1,5 seconds
    • Repeat track – Hold the “minus” button for 1,5 seconds
    Sony WI-XB400 controls
    Inline control module for essential playback commands.

    Unlike Beats Flex, you don’t get app support or firmware updates. Magnetic earbuds also can’t pause the playback when attached.

    Furthermore, there are no built-in EQ profiles to toggle between.

    Microphone quality

    The call quality sound is improved over Sony WH-CH510‘s disastrous performance, but it still isn’t great.

    Sony WI-XB400 microphone test

    Even in a quiet room, your voice pops and distorts. The aggressive background noise cancelling even cuts away tiny bits of words and stitch them together, so it appears as if you speak faster than usual.

    Thankfully, you’re reasonably understandable, so the person on the other side should know what you’re saying.

    On the other hand, speaking in loud environments further distorts your voice. It’s barely understandable.

    To conclude, while Sony WI-XB400 are fine for making emergency calls, try to avoid making regular phone calls.

    Noise Isolation

    Star Rating
    3.0 Good

    Sony earbuds are only decent when it comes to passive noise isolation. They pass through a good chunk of ambient noise, but it’s fine as long as you play music.

    Ear tips on the Sony WI-XB400 create a good seal between you and the outside noise. It isn’t outstanding, but it will provide good isolation when listening to music during your daily commute.

    Sony WI-XB400 vents
    Two big air vents on the back of the earbuds.

    The housing has 2 vents to prevent the sound from getting bloated. It also helps to tighten up the bass.

    However, those vents are bigger than usual, which could be why they pass through more noise than other earbuds, despite an otherwise good seal. Meaning, you can find earbuds with better noise isolation elsewhere.

    Wireless neckband design also means you’ll experience some cable noise. Thankfully, it’s barely noticeable and it doesn’t interfere with the music, so it shouldn’t bother you too much.

    Bluetooth

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    Sony WI-XB400 provide decent Bluetooth capabilities with a stable Bluetooth connection and range, multipoint support, and no video lag.

    Wireless earbuds use Bluetooth 5.0 to establish a stable, stutter-free connection. During normal usage, with a smartphone in my pocket, I haven’t experienced any random dropouts.

    The Bluetooth range is also good, albeit just slightly better than average. Ear buds manage to endure around 50 feet of distance, with 2 brick walls in between.

    How to pair Sony WI-XB400?

    1. The pairing process initiates as soon as you turn them on for the first time.
    2. To connect them to a secondary device, first, turn them off and then back on while holding the power button for 7 seconds or until you hear a “pairing” prompt.

    The latter can be useful since Sony WI-XB400 support multipoint. You can pair them with 2 different Bluetooth devices and switch between them simultaneously.

    Sony WI-XB400 in a rock
    Sony WI-XB400 provides you with great Bluetooth connectivity.

    What Bluetooth Codecs Do They Use?

    Bluetooth earbuds rely on SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs to transfer audio, with the latter being a default option on both Android and iOS.

    Is There an Audio Lag?

    Audio is perfectly in sync when watching videos on YouTube, no matter what operating system you use.

    On the other hand, there’s a minor delay during mobile games. However, it shouldn’t be too distracting unless you’re into competitive games.

    Should You Get Sony WI-XB400?

    Star Rating
    2.5 Average

    If you can get Sony WI-XB400 “Extra Bass” wireless earbuds under $30 (currently selling for $28 on Amazon), they’re a pretty decent pair. As long as you aren’t critical about sound and don’t look for something to work out with.

    If that’s the case, then you’ll enjoy a comfortable fit, good battery life of 12 hours, multipoint feature, and zero-lag performance.

    However, if you’re looking for fantastic sound quality and durability, you should look under the best wireless earbuds.

    How Sony WI-XB400 compare to the competition?

    • They have a slightly longer battery life than most wireless earbuds, which mostly last between 6-12 hours on a full charge.
    • Ear buds offer similar features, like button controls, multipoint, and fast charging.
    • Unlike similar wireless earbuds, they lack water resistance.
    • The overall sound signature isn’t ideal, as it heavily alters the midrange, whereas the competition is a bit more balanced.
    • Overall stability isn’t impressive, but that is associated with most wireless earbuds.

    Sony WI-XB400 Alternatives (neckband design)

    Beats Flex

    Beats Flex earbuds

    Beats Flex Bluetooth headphones have a better-balanced sound profile with a less detailed presentation.

    Comfort-wise, they are very similar headphones, with slightly worse overall stability. On the other hand, they better isolate passively.

    Long battery life of 12 hours is on par with the WI-XB400. However, they offer a companion app for Android and potential firmware updates. Both support multipoint.

    Beats Flex review

    Plantronics BackBeat FIT 350

    Plantronics BackBeat FIT 350 earbuds

    The sound signature is bassier, but the rest of the frequency response is more balanced in comparison.

    These are more sports-focused wireless earbuds with an ear hook design, good quality braided cable, and a clip to shorten the wire against your neck.

    Battery life of just 6 hours per charge is relatively low for today’s standards. On the other hand, earbuds offer an IPX5 water-resistant rating.

    Plantronics BackBeat FIT 350 review

    What’s in the Box?

    Sony WI-XB400 accessories
    • Sony WI-XB400 wireless earphones
    • USB-C cable for charging
    • 3 pairs of silicone ear tips (S, M, L)
    • User guide

    Specifications

    Type: Wireless earbuds
    Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Back design: Closed-back
    Drivers: 12mm
    Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Impedance: 32 Ohm
    Weight: 0.74oz (21g)
    Mic & Controls: Yes
    Water resistance: None
    Battery life: 15h
    Charging time: 3h + quick charge – USB-C
    Active noise cancelling: No
    Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC
    Wireless range: 50ft (15.2m)
    Microphone: Yes, one

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