Sony s flagship headphones of 2016, the Sony MDR-1000X, were well received. Numerous awards and best-of lists made it a serious challenger to Bose’s very popular QuietComfort 25s which had long reigned as the top noise-cancelling headphones.
And it was, before Sony WH-1000XM2 arrived on the scene.
These Sony headphones make their debut in IFA 2017, and just like the ones that came before them, they were well received. They too won numerous awards in spades while becoming our choice for the most notable noise-canceling headphone 2018 due to its excellent isolation and dedication to Hi-res Audio playback over Bluetooth.
Sony announced the MDR-1000XM3 headphones at IFA 2018. Compared to their previous model, M2s, it is lighter and can be folded up around the headband for easy carrying.
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Who’s it for, and really should you buy it?
Well OK, to be totally honest, investing in a couple of the Sony WH-1000XM2 for everyday listening will be somewhat overkill. Like its predecessor and any other premium set of headphones on the market today they are best applied to flights or long commutes to filter noise.
There are three neat tricks here that may make you want to select the Sonys over the competition: first, an ambient noise mode that only lets in mid-to-high frequency tones (loudspeaker announcements maybe), and secondly, an instant Attention mode which allows you to let in every outside noise without removing the headphones.
Quick Attention is a suitable mode when giving single glasses or two orders on an airplane, or for example talking with a coworker for short moment before getting back to work.
Sony’s new 1000XM2 and 1000XM3 have a Hi-Res Audio playback capability, called LDAC with its accompanying player of the same name.
If your device doesn’t support aptX HD or LDAC then you may want to consider high-resolution devices like Sony’s WH-1000XM2. These not only offer standard resolution, but also upscaling technology for a better sound quality.
In a nutshell, they are active noise canceling headphones that not only cancel sound effectively but also make the music playing on them sound better.
Sony WH-1000XM2 price and release date
Sony explained to us that their WH-1000XM2 wireless headphones are a flagship product, which means they have plenty of features, including the ability to sound like you’re listening through an expensive headset.
I thought the Bose QuietComforts would beat Sony’s WH-1000XM2s, but I was wrong. The MSRP on Sony’s headphones is $350–that seems in line with what people are currently paying for them.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 headphones have a high price tag for many, but they are worth the cost. A few reasons why:
1) The feature on the headphone that blocks ambient sound is unique and promotes safe noise levels in public areas like airports where people are constantly chatting
2) They provide clear, crisp sound across all
The headphones come with four microphones, which according to Sony are designed for clear voice transmission.
The WH-1000XM2 includes a state of the art noise cancellation module that handles most calculations instantly so less power is needed through an additional processor. The touch capacitive earcup allows for high quality audio reproduction and it’s not surprising then that the price starts make sense.
The Sony MDR-1000XM2 has been on the market since June 2017.
Sony WH-1000XM2 business-class design
The Sony WH-1000XM2 wireless headphones are built incredibly well. The metal bridge on these comfortable headlphones is padded at the bottom and embracing for your head, while faux-leather ear cups offer comfort and cooling even after extended use. They are not as lightweight as other options, but users can wear these for hours without their neck becoming strained.
These headphones are minimalist, with an emphasis on business class. They are available in only two colors: all black or all white, and they also have limited decoration (a Sony logo engraved above each earcup).
On the left earcup, there are only two buttons: one for Power/Bluetooth and another to cycle through the three noise cancellation settings (on, ambient, off). Below both of these buttons is an auxiliary jack that is mirrored by a microUSB port on the other earcup.
Overall, the design of these headphones is excellent. The only concerns to address are with how they’re constructed. The part that connects the earcups to each other and stretches across your head is made out of metal due to its capability for maintaining tension better than plastic could.
This has not caused any problems, but it does seem like a potential weak spot and may break with little force.
The other problem which is more of an individual gripe instead of a target imperfection is that the WH-1000XM2 uses touch controls, exclusively. To skip to the next song or topic, you swipe on the proper earcup (or swipe left to return). Pausing is done by double-tapping and then resuming the same way.
Swiping down on one earcup will decrease the volume, and swiping up with increase it.
If you’ve used touch-capacitive headphones in the past, this will seem normal to you. However, hand these headphones off to someone who’s not familiar with touch controls and they’ll be utterly confused.
The touch controls don t work when the 3.5mm cable can be used, which means you need to take your phone out when you would like to change the music. The touch controls could ve been avoided with a far more traditional control scheme as an in-line microphone.
In addition to the 3.5mm cable, the Sony MDR 1000XM2 includes a hardshell case and microUSB cable.
Sony WH-1000XM2: first-class performance
Noise-canceling headphones generally sound subpar because of the high quantity of parts crammed into a small space.
Although there are a number of headphones conceived for travel, the Sony WH-1000XM2 is different.
Our flat(ish) EQ was pleasurable to listen to for long periods of time and had wonderful highs. The bass is nice and weighty. Don’t expect the same bloated amount of bass you would get from other manufacturers though because it’s not here with these headphones.
The WH-1000XM2 will sound better when using an Android device that supports the aptX HD standard. They’ll sound even better if you can find a device with LDAC support (standard on every Android device from Oreo onwards).
In comparison to reducing the sound of your audiophile cans, you will be looking for noise canceling headphones. One particular headphone that does this job well is just not Sony WH-1000XM2.
We lacked the opportunity to review these headphones from a flight, so we resorted to more pedestrian means of transportation (trains and car rides), crowded locales and simulated test environments (a jet engine noise played over our home speakers) to test them out.
When subjected to a loud, resonating noise, the 1000XM2 model would often produce an audible buzzing sound; but by no means was this a fatal flaw.
Sony WH-1000XM2 s noise cancellation capability may be especially impressive. With Ambient Noise mode selected, announcements made over a public area PA system could theoretically be heard through the headphones, giving us time to switch to Quick Attention mode and listen in on what’s being said.
Quick Attention mode may be the star of the show here, letting you quickly pipe in external music without removing the headphones and reducing the quantity of the music. It’s a quality you won’t find on Bose-branded headphones and it sets Sony apart from others.
Sony WH-1000XM2: battery life
Sony claims that the WH-1000XM2 can last for a whopping thirty hours, which was proven correct during testing.
Using Bluetooth, the battery will last around 10 hours – longer than both the Bose QuietComfort 35 and wired batteries.
The last cool feature of these WH-1000XM2 wireless headphone is the quick charge function. With a 10 minute charge you can get about 75 minutes worth of playback time from them, so there s no need to worry about forgetting to charge your headphones before heading out the door.
The Sony WH-1000XM2s are an excellent wireless revision of one of the best noise-cancelling headphones you can buy. The Bluetooth is excellent, and they sound great. Their cost is on par with other top brands like Bose. They could have a slightly shorter battery life than Bose’s flagship over-ear headphones, but Sony’s WH-1000XM2 outclass the QC35 with regards to performance and feature-set.
There are few complaints with the WH-1000XM2, which means that the couple of small problems it can have stick out.
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The headphones have one sound flaw – the padding on the headband can be weakened. The controls also take time to master, but some features are innovative and worth getting used to it for more in-depth listening. Worst of all, there’s a slight delay when using the right earcup wirelessly with touch capacitive pads disabled.
There is no doubting that the Sony WH-1000XM2 are a great pair of noise cancelling business grade headphones for long flights. Not only do they block out sound very well, but music will be heard with increased clarity and minimal background noise.