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Hands-on Gear Review
Sony XB50BS ReviewPrice: $80 List
Pros: Good battery life, comfortable
Cons: Average sound quality, protrude from the ear quite a bit
Bottom line: Good earbuds that are outclassed by others in the same price range
Offering good comfort, battery life, and athletic performance, the Sony XB50BS is well rounded and versatile. However, the sound quality they produce is only average. This doesn't relegate them to the trash bin, but the JBL Reflect Mini offers better sound quality and a slightly longer battery life at the same price. While the Sony XB50BS is a great pair of earbuds, they just can't compete with the JBL Reflect Mini, which would be a better choice for pretty much everyone.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Sony XB50BS is a good all around pair of earbuds, but it can't match the performance of other models in the same price range. You won't be disappointed if you buy these, but there are other models that cost the same and are even better.
The Sony XB50BS sat right in the middle of our overall scores. Below we'll discuss all of our different testing metrics, and how the Sony XB50BS performed in each.
This was the one metric that held the Sony XB50BS back a bit. It earned an average score of 5 out of 10. In our testing these earbuds had a lot of bark but not much bite. That is to say they had the most powerful bass of any of the earbuds in our selection, but had very poor clarity. That resulted in a deep, powerful sound that was often muddled and lost much of the nuance of the songs we were listening to. Music doesn't sound bad in these earbuds, just somewhat garbled in relation to other earbuds that we tested. If all you care about is a booming backbeat these are great, but if you want a well rounded composition you'll want to look at the JBL Reflect Mini or the Bose SoundSport.
We really didn't like these earbuds for making calls. In our testing both the caller and the callee was treated to the kind of broken up, static cacophony that will get you booted off of a conference call.
The Sony XB50BS shared the top score of 8 out of 10 in our comfort testing. This was largely thanks to the four options it offers for earpieces sizes and three options for ear fin sizes. This let everyone who tried these earbuds on to find a combination that worked comfortably in their ears. These earpieces do have a slightly larger profile, so there is a good amount of plastic sticking out f your ears. This can get slightly annoying, but the comfy fit largely made up for it.
The Sony XB50BS was just behind the top scorers in our athletic performance testing, earning a 7 out of 10. The comfort fit translated into a stable feeling, so we never felt like the earbuds were going to fall out, even when our burpee technique got sloppy. They lost out on a top score because of the large plastic pieces that protrude from the ear. These pieces could create a slight tugging sensation when jumping around that was slightly annoying. Eventually we learned to ignore it, but it was less than ideal.
The Sony XB50BS did quite well in our battery life testing, holding out for a full 10 hours. This put it towards the top of the leaderboard.
The Sony XB50BS earned and average score of 5 out of 10 in our portability testing. This average score was because of the large profile of the earbuds themselves, which have large plastic pieces that stick out quite a bit.This makes it harder to slide these earbuds into the front pocket of your jeans. Otherwise they use a low profile cable and can pack down fairly small, but don't practically disappear like some of the other models we tested.
The Sony XB50BS offers decent all-around performance at a list price of $80. This is a fairly good value, but the JBL Reflect Mini offers better all-around performance at the same list price.
The Sony XB50BS is a fairly good set of earbuds, but at this price point you're likely better off with the JBL Reflect Mini.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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