Sony’s Extra Bass headphones have been a staple for a few decades now, and generally Sony holds up its end of the bargain and delivers plenty of bass. The term Adaptive Sound is used in different definitions by different companies. Google uses the term for its Pixel Buds A-series, meaning that the sound automatically adapts to ambient noise. Sony uses it to mean that the headphones study your habits and determine what settings, such as Ambient or ANC, you typically want when you have a lot of location input.
On board the WH-XB910N, Sony offers the usual support for Bluetooth codecs AAC and SBC. For Android users, there is also LDAC support to get better audio quality than AAC or SBC (on Android). By default, the WH-XB910N runs on AAC with my Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3. In the Sony Headphones Connect app, you can prioritize connection stability or audio quality. For whatever reason, both settings result in an AAC Bluetooth codec connection.
There is nothing wrong with AAC per se, but LDAC is preferable for Android devices, while Apple users get the best results with AAC. The headphone jack is still the best choice for audio quality. The headset also has a 10-minute quick charge feature that allows for four and a half hours of audio playback, though Sony doesn’t specify if this is with or without ANC. It charges via USB-C, but if you’re stuck and the headset doesn’t work, you can use the headphone jack.
A few years ago, the ANC and isolation performance of the WH-XB910N would have been worthy of a flagship. In fact, the ANC is similar to the older (in technical years) Sony WH-1000XM3. In other words, the WH-XB910N attenuates bassy sounds by more than 20 dB at 100 Hz, leaving them a quarter of their volume. This ANC drops off quickly in the sub-bass region, but it’s still a respectable performance for a mid-range headset.
Meanwhile, the WH-XB910N’s passive isolation does a very good job of attenuating high frequencies, and the 8 kHz frequencies are one-sixteenth as loud as they would sound without the headset. Normally, isolation does the main work on high ambient noise, while ANC is best at filtering out repetitive low-level noise like air conditioning.