Sony ULT Wear review

All about the bass

Sony ULT Wear review

Somewhere out there are those who prefer to feel the bass in music instead of just hearing it. If you’re among them, then Sony’s new ULT series of audio products are for you. The series was launched in India with a pair of headphones, a couple of Bluetooth speakers and a towering party speaker that is sure to wake up the next-door neighbours.

For the past few days, my ears have been treated to the Sony ULT Wear noise-cancelling headphones. And having tested them at home, office and long commutes, here’s our Sony ULT Wear review.

Sony ULT Wear design

On paper, Sony’s new headphones sit below the flagship 1000x series. But the design and the way it feels in your hands will make you question its mid-range credentials. In terms of looks, the headphones share some DNA of the more expensive Sony WH-1000XM5.

The foldable concept is retained, which makes it easy to carry the headphones. They may look large at first, but they fold and nestle comfortably in their hard case.

The ear pads are large and cup around the ears for a comfortable fit. I recently wore them on a flight from Delhi and while I could feel a bit of the weight on my ears, at no point did it get uncomfortable. The headband too is slimmer and more in line with Sony’s flagship series.

Sony ULT Wear review

The placements of the buttons too feel familiar, with the power button, ANC toggle, Type-C port and 3.5mm audio jack, all placed on the left earcup. There’s however one visible difference – the presence of a large ‘ULT’ button, but more on that later. The right earcup is quite spartan in comparison, and is meant for the touch controls.

All in all, the Sony ULT Wear is built well with a great form factor, just the right amount of heft, and offers a comfortable fit.

Sony ULT Wear controls

Just as we’ve seen before, you can use the Headphones app to connect your smartphone with the ULT Wear. The process is quite straightforward, and our pair of new headphones was up and running in no time.

Bluetooth connection was fast and stable in my experience. The headphones also support multipoint connectivity, and seamlessly switched between my phone and laptop.

Sony’s app offers easy access to a bunch of controls, including playback controls, an equaliser, a visual representation of the bass levels, and more.

Sony ULT Wear review

The physical buttons on the earcups are easy to find when you’re wearing the headphones and have a good tactile feel. The aforementioned ULT button is not a mere badge, but actually toggles between bass levels – essentially going from zero (ULT off) to feeling the bass (ULT 1) to teeth-rattling (ULT 2).

The right earcup may look plain, but actually supports a bunch of gestures and touch controls. Touches for controlling the music playback worked like a charm.

But what I really enjoyed is when you cup the right earcup with your palm, it temporarily enables transparency mode. Say you’re listening to music when your colleague walks to your desk, instead of pausing the song, you can temporarily enable transparency mode to hear what they have to say.

Sony ULT Wear sound

It shouldn’t come as a massive surprise when we tell you that the Sony ULT Wear sound good. Whether you’re listening to Virginio Aiello’s Van Gogh or a latest Bollywood dance song.

That said, these cans really come into their own when you listen to a bass-heavy track. My go-to track to enjoy has always been 50 Cent’s Candy Shop (yes, I’m that old!), and oh, do these headphones deliver! You can feel the lower-end oomph in the track even when ULT is off, but crank it up two notches, and you’ll feel your teeth rattle.

The sound is anything but subtle, and the bass levels could get overwhelming for some. But Sony is clear about its target audience who are bound to love this boomy experience. If you’re unclear where exactly you stand, ULT 1 is the safe space, where you can feel the bass without getting drowned in the low end.

Sony ULT Wear review

Beyond music, the headphones are equally adept at handling games and OTT content. To test these headphones, I rewatched Mad Max: Fury Road on a tablet, and the experience was top-notch. It’s as if these Sony headphones were tailor made for the movie’s rumbling post-apocalyptic vehicles and Junkie XL’s percussion-heavy background scores.

Sony’s flagship series is known for their noise-cancelling capabilities, and the ULT Wear is on par, courtesy of the V1 processor. The headphones were easily able to drown out the airplane engine noise, and the usual hubbub on the office floor.

The noise cancelling feature does impact the battery life, but not by a lot. You can easily go through an entire day and more without having to charge the headphones. In fact, since getting my hands on them, I’ve not had to charge them, despite putting them through the paces.

When it is time to charge though, you can use the Type-C cable bundled in the box. Talking of Type-C, it is a tad surprising that the Sony headphones do not support audio via the port. In a time when phones have largely ditched the audio jack, Sony continues with it. So, those who prefer wired playback will have to depend upon the good ol’ 3.5mm port.

Sony ULT Wear review

Unboxed Take: Who should buy the Sony ULT Wear?

Sony’s so called ‘mid-range’ ULT Wear headphones are more premium than what they seem at first. They’re built well, are comfortable to wear, and the noise cancelling remains top-notch.

Its audio performance is what will make or break buying decisions. Don’t get me wrong, the ULT Wear sound great. But the bass-heavy approach is not for everyone. While some prefer the brain-shaking bass when listening to music, others don’t.

If you fall in the former category, then the Sony ULT Wear are absolutely for you, and at Rs 16,999, offer a lot of bang for the buck. Others can opt for Sony’s own WH-XB910N, the Harman Kardon Fly or the JBL Live 660NC.

For this reason, we rate the Sony ULT Wear 4/5. Stay tuned to Unboxed by Croma for more in-depth reviews.

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