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This is an in-depth review of the Sony WH-H900N Bluetooth Noise-Canceling Headphones and comparison to the more expensive Sony WH-1000XM2.
I picked up a pair of the Sony WH-H900N headphones the other day and was excited to give them a try because I had never owned noise-canceling headphones from Sony before. The Sony WH-H900N Bluetooth headphones feature a slick design without any visible playback controls that you would find on most other noise-canceling headphones. That’s because Sony decided to make smart use of touch sensors that they built into the right earcup. Using those touch controls, you can:
That may sound confusing at first but Sony implemented those touch controls very well, and I found them to be intuitive.
The other feature I liked is what Sony calls “Quick Attention.” By covering the right earcup with the palm of your hand, ANC turns automatically off, and the headphones lower the playback volume if you are listening to music. I don’t know how often I had to press pause and take off my Bose QuietComfort 35 on an airplane to listen or talk to a flight attendant. With the Sony WH-H900N, I only have to touch the right earcup instead of taking them off.
On a recent trip to Florida, I was walking up to the gate agent at the Atlanta airport to board my flight. So I could hear what the agent was saying, I activated Quick Attention by covering the right earcup with my hand. The whole interaction took about 15 seconds and, honestly, it felt a bit weird running around with my hand on my head. If you think the same way, the Sony WH-H900N headphones also have a button on the left earcup to allow ambient sound through. But while Quick Attention amplifies ambient noise, pressing the NC/Ambient button doesn’t, it just lets it through. As a result, Quick Attention works better in noisy environments because it amplifies the sounds around you while pushing the NC/Ambient button is more convenient because you can press it once and let go.
The noise-cancelation on the Sony WH-H900N headphones works well and better than in other Bluetooth noise-canceling headphones I have reviewed, but it’s not as good as in the more expensive Sony WH-1000XM2 (Amazon) or my trusted Bose QuietComfort 35. Still, using Sony’s Headphones mobile app (iOS), you can control the active noise cancelation (ANC) mode and choose between
Additionally, you can tweak the equalizer, toggle DSEE HX, Sony’s digital sound enhancement engine to restore the high-range sound lost in compression, on and off and change the priority between sound quality or a stable Bluetooth connection. During this review, I have used the default setting “Priority on sound quality” and never ran into any connectivity problems.
For times when you just want to listen to music and don’t need active noise cancelation, you can turn ANC off via a button on the left earcup to extend the headphone’s battery life to a whopping 34 hours.
Judging the quality of sound and audio objectively is difficult, mainly since I’m not a pro. I just like music and I enjoy good audio. So far, the Sony WH-H900N Bluetooth headphones haven’t disappointed me. The sound is crisp and clear with decent bass. If you don’t like how the WH-H900N sound out of the box, you can change the equalizer settings using Sony’s mobile app. Sony offers some presets, and you can create custom EQ settings.
The Sony headphones are relatively lightweight and comfortable, but the earcups are on the smaller side, and the headband padding could be a bit denser. During my tests, I have worn the WH-H900N for a couple of hours in a row, and I felt only minor pressure points developing on my skull.
Sony decided to use synthetic leather for these headphones, which may impact how “hot” they feel when you wear them over long periods, so keep that in mind.
Ultimately, your level of comfort depends on how long you intend to wear these headphones. If you only use them for a couple of hours at a time, you won’t have any issues. But if you want to wear them for a 10-hour transatlantic flight, you may feel pressure points on your head and ears, especially if you have large ears. Should the headphones start feeling uncomfortable after a few hours of wearing them, take them off for a few minutes before putting them back on.
With noise cancellation (NC) active, the rechargeable Lithium battery of the Sony WH-H900N lasts for up to 28 hours before you need to recharge them using the included Micro-USB cable. If you turn NC off, you can get up to 34 hours of playback time out of WH-H900N. Overall, I have been more than satisfied with the battery life of these headphones, and there are only a few other models that beat Sony in that category.
I tested the microphone of these headphones to make a couple of phone calls from a relatively quiet office environment, and based on the feedback I have received; my voice sounded crisp and clear. To see how Sony’s headphones would perform in noisy environments, I played “airplane sound” on my iMac on full volume while recording a short voice memo on my iPhone. You can listen to the recording using the embedded media file below.
If the embedded audio file above doesn’t play in your browser, here is a direct download link to the M4A file I recorded to test the microphone of the Sony WH-H900N headphones with and without background noise.
The MSRP for the Sony WH-H900N is almost 300 dollars, but I have seen them cheaper on Amazon. If you are willing to pay $300 for noise-canceling headphones from Sony, I’d recommend getting the WH-1000XM2 instead, because they offer better noise cancellation. But if you find them for less than $300, the WH-H900N offer excellent value and I’d grab them.
The Sony WH-H900N come with a soft storage pouch, an audio cable with a 3.5mm headphone jack, a micro-USB charging cable, and a warranty card.
While the storage pouch has a fleece lining, I wish Sony would provide a hard case, so you can better protect the headphones while they are in your backpack.
|Wireless||Bluetooth 4.1||Bluetooth 4.1|
|Battery life (Wireless playback, ANC on)||28 hours||30 hours|
|Battery life (Wired playback, ANC on)||28 hours||N/A|
|Battery life (Wireless, only ANC on)||N/A||N/A|
|Battery life (Wireless playback, ANC off)||34 hours||38 hours|
|Charging time||6 hours||4 hours|
|Quick charge||10 min for 65 min||10 min for 70 min|
|Audio||DSEE HX, SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC||DSEE HX, S-MASTER HX, SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC|
|Noise-cancelation||Active, AI||Active, AI, Customizable, Atmospheric Pressure Optimizing|
|Playback controls||Touch sensor||Touch sensor|
|Material of earpieces||Synthetic||Synthetic|
ANC: Green = Excellent (25db+) | Yellow = Good (21 – 24db) | Red = OK (20db)
MIC: Green = Good | Yellow = OK | Red = Poor | Blue = Not tested
I much enjoyed doing this Sony WH-H900N review. And while Sony noise-canceling headphones were not on my radar for a long time, the company managed to surprise me with innovative features, such as touch sensors and an overall solid product offering.
I consider the WH-H900N middle of the road headphones, both from a price, as well as a feature perspective. As a result, I would recommend them to a friend.
I was born and raised in Austria. I speak German, English, and Spanish. Since moving to the U.S., I have lived and worked in the greater Atlanta area. In my twenties, I was a professional 100m sprinter. These days I do mostly CrossFit. I'm a technologist and Apple fan. I love science and don't believe anything unless there is proof. I follow a Ketogenic Paleo diet and intermittently fast every day. I'm married and have two trilingual kids. My goal with this blog is to share what I learn so that you can spend time on something else. Check out my latest Diet, Fitness, and Technology articles.
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