In a world where the device you keep with you all day is devoid of a 3.5mm headphone jack, wireless headphones suddenly become far more attractive than they have been in the past — at least, for me. I’m currently living the dongle life, and let me tell you, it’s awful. Those nasty things are fragile, tiny and infuriating to use on a daily basis.
Bluetooth, then, looks like the most viable alternative. But when you buy Bluetooth headphones, you don’t just want plain old Bluetooth headphones. At least, not when you have the option to pick one up with state-of-the-art noise cancellation technology.
That, young grasshopper, is where Sony‘s stunning lineup of 1000X headphones come in.
Before we delve too deep into this topic, let me just clarify that I’m not an audiophile. My ears are nowhere near sensitive enough to easily tell you which headphones are the best just by the way they sound. In fact, they’re really weirdly shaped so most in-ear headphones don’t even fit.
But, like you, I know the kind of sound I like. If your only criteria is sound quality, this article isn’t for you. You can probably find a tonne of reviews for them on YouTube.
I’m here to tell you about everything else.
Now I’ve had hands on sessions with some of the biggest contenders in this segment of fairly high-end wireless headphones that have active noise cancellation. I particularly liked Bose‘s QuietComfort 35s (about RM1,999) because they do exactly what their names suggest: They keep things very quiet and are really, really comfortable.
Then I got to spend some time with the Sennheiser PXC 550s (around RM2,199) which I didn’t really like because of their earcup-swivel-power-switch-thing and the boomy low end. Also, they’re ridiculously expensive. Most recently, I got to check out JBL’s very own Everest Elite 750 NC headphones…but I also didn’t like them because of their lackluster noise cancellation.
Yesterday though, I was super stoked because I finally got to give Sony’s brand new — and very well received — take on wireless ANC cans. These are called the WH-1000XM2 and they’re awesome.
For RM1,599, they’re less expensive than the MDR-1000X (RRP1,699) it succeeds. And although these new cans look nearly identical, Sony’s made some tweaks to the active noise cancellation with a new SENSE ENGINE and something called Atmospheric Pressure Optimising which is supposed to make sure changes in air pressure don’t affect the sound quality.
Those sound like really nice buzzwords to put in their marketing material but do they actually work? Well, I can’t tell you about the whole change in air pressure part, but I can tell you that Sony’s noise cancellation is the best I’ve heard yet. It’s almost magical.
Just switch these puppies on, play a song and poof the world disappears. You see mouths moving, the television dancing about, but you don’t hear anything but the music you’re playing. And it even works really well at fairly low volumes. It’s awesome.
But that’s not all, Sony’s also got perhaps the best headphone control interface I’ve ever had the pleasure to use. Play/pause, forward, back, and volume controls are handled by the touch-sensitive surface of the right earcup. Sure, we’ve seen touch interfaces before but there are two things that make Sony’s implementation so good:
1. The surface area to touch is massive and even energetic swipes and taps do little to shift the headphone’s position on your head.
2. That earcup has a really nice texture that makes it really easy to swipe your finger across.
Then you have the smaller stuff like the fairly solid build quality and the ever convenient NFC pairing that didn’t fail any of the three separate times I tried to pair with it. What’s more, these cans can reportedly play up to 30 hours of music continuously with active noise cancellation turned on. Switch ANC off and battery life goes to 40 hours. If you happen to want to plug in a cable to listen to music, the cable also supports Hi-Res audio playback.
However, there is no such thing as a perfect product and that also includes the WH-1000XM2. My biggest problem is that it looks really boring. Now we know Sony can make pretty things and pretty headphones but these look really dull. In black you could maybe make the argument that they’re “classy” but I think Bose’s QC35s carry that look of far better.
They’re also not as comfortable as the QC35s which is a bit of a bummer when you consider the fact that these are things you’re gonna leave on your head all day. But these are really just small complaints that don’t taint the bigger picture. Droplets in a roaring sea of awesome, if you must.
What Sony has here is a fantastic product. Their killer combination of price, features, and jaw-dropping noise cancellation is really hard to beat.
Plus, if you’re not a fan of over-ear headphones, Sony’s also launched two pairs of in-ear headphones: The WI-1000X headphones that come with a neckband and the truly wireless WF-1000X.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how good these are because they just don’t fit in my ears. I do have some pictures though:
For those who haven’t tried neckband in-ear headphones before, these guys are actually really comfortable. It comes with active noise cancellation and has a battery life of 10 hours on a single charge.
The cables connected to the earbuds are pretty long so they should fit anyone even if you have a really long neck. Excess cables can be tucked neatly into the neckband. Speaking of the neckband, it will actually vibrate when you get an incoming phone call.
You can also hook these guys up to the supplied cable and they will support wired Hi-Res audio streaming. More details can be found at the Sony website. The WI-1000X is priced at RM1,499.
Sony’s truly wireless in-ear headphones are really fascinating because they’re tiny but also come with active noise cancellation. According to my colleague over at SoyaCincau BM, these guys sound pretty good and have really impressive active noise cancellation.
Much like any other truly wireless earbud, Sony’s headphones come with a carrying case that also doubles as battery pack. The headphones themselves will last 3 hours on a single charge but the cage can extend that to 9 hours total playback.
You also pair your phone to these headphones via the case (it has NFC huzzah!).
There’s also a little hook in the case so the earbuds don’t fall out when you open the case.
These headphones are priced at RM899. More details can be found at the Sony website.