Sony Extra Bass headphones give Beats a run for its money

Sony's Extra Bass headphones are a worthy rival to Dr Dre's Beats. And they come at a budget-friendly price too.
Handout of Sony's Extra Bass headphones. Courtesy of Sony
Handout of Sony's Extra Bass headphones. Courtesy of Sony

Apple bought Beats Electronics earlier this year in an acquisition said to be worth more than US$3 billion. It seems headphones are now, officially, a stand-alone product that fights on its own merits.

Ever since Dr Dre’s Beats appeared on the scene in 2008, headphones have been attributed with cool – mainstream cool. Before that, to go out in an oversize pair of external headphones you had to be seriously in touch with your inner style or deeply in love with your music.

Apple’s iPods had made music eminently portable, but its free ear buds had so little audio goodness it made Dr Dre and partners sit up and realise there was a major market waiting to happen.

In 2012, Beats had almost 70 per cent of the US headphone market, according to NPD Group.

This leaves everybody else playing catch-up – even the granddaddies of audio, people such as Sony and its new headphones called “Extra Bass”.

The headphones look good in block colours and are very comfortable to wear. The ear pads are deep and soft, although there is some sound leakage, which, as a signed-up member of the parent club, I hate.

The bass is cranked up high and can be further enhanced with a sliding vibration control at the bottom of the right-hand ear pad. These headphones are definitely set to fight Beats in their own backyard, although Sony has used the power of its corporation to produce a set of headphones that go head-to- head with its baddest rival, but at a fraction of the cost. The headphones can work wirelessly with the addition of a couple of AA batteries and the cable, should you eschew the batteries, is tangle-free.

If junior finds Santa has left a pair for him he may be disappointed he didn’t get some Beats – but that won’t be because of the Sony sound.

Q&A

So what is this vibration booster all about?

Well it’s said that it gives you that “in the club” feeling. It enhances, the already powerful, bass. So if you are listening to, let’s say, Cypress Hill then you may turn (slide) the slider to 11. However, should you feel The Carpenters are more your thing today, slide it down.

Karen Carpenter doesn’t do bass?

I’m not sure Richard or Karen knew what bass was.

Can I exercise wearing these headphones?

No, these bad boys are not for the active. I found that just wearing them while sitting down meant I had to give them a wipe once I’d listened to a whole album. The noise cancelling means they have to be snug as a bug-in-a-rug.

They look heavy.

They are not heavy in any way. Once I was wearing them, with batteries included, it felt totally natural – even though I looked like a cyberman.

Is Sony cool though?

These look and feel cool, but what do I know?

Where can I buy them from?

From all Jumbo Electronics stores for Dh399.

How does that compare to Beats by Dre?

Your cheapest pair of Beats will set you back Dh929, so if you want to stick to a budget this festive season you know what to go for.

ascott@thenational.ae

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Published: December 15, 2014 04:00 AM

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