Sony WH1000x M2 Active Noise Cancelling – REVIEW

The Sony WH1000x M2 Active Noise Cancelling headphones bring extremely high-quality noise cancelling and solid sound in a really attractive package.

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I have just finished reviewing the Bose QC35ii’s. They’re a great pair of headphones but they were so similar, practically identical to the previous generation that it wasn’t much of an upgrade, but hey, if it’s not broken, why fix it right? Could it be the same with the Sony MDR-1000x from last year, and the WH-1000x that was just recently released? I personally paid for both of these. The new model retails for $349 at the time of this review; however, I’ll place my affiliate links up above. Click on those links and they’ll give you the most updated prices in real-time – you never know when these things might go on sale.

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PHYSICAL FEATURES & COMFORT
Jumping into the physical features, they look nearly identical to the MDR’s. There’s the same great leather headliner up top, durable metal frame, the arms are clicky and hold it shapes. What is different, I loved my MDR’s earcups with its faux leather backing. It’s smooth and soft like a nice pair of leather shoes, but on the new WH, they went with a harder more plastic feel with less of that leather or rubberized material… Either or, it’s a minor difference and maybe the only difference I could notice.

STRESS TEST
Doing my stress test, and I’m aware, it’s over the top, but… I look for the weak spots so you don’t have to. I haven’t had a pair of headphones break on my channel, but what I looking for are any seams popping, cracks or creaks, anything that may be of concern that we can find immediately. With my assessment, no concerning noises, the headband up top looks and feels to hold up fine, and the issue around the arm didn’t seem to pose an issue. With the MDR’s, many on Reddit and various forums showed the left earcup near the joint were brittle or breaking within several days to only several months.

The MDR’s I own are the same ones I’ve had since my review. Thankfully I don’t see any issues. With the WH, the new model feels to use slightly different plastics as it feels smoother, but construction wise, they look identically the same. Keep an eye out for this. If you’re reading this review a month or two after the release, comment down below and tell us if the WH1000x are still holding up fine.

WEIGHT & COMFORT
Regarding comfort and weight. I’ve placed these on my scale and both the old model and new ones are practically identical. Although not the lightest pair of headphones you’ll have, the weight distribution is even… and honestly, they felt comfortable even for long-term wearing. No pinning and pinching at the crown of the head, and no jawline fatigue from wearing these for extended periods of time. Overall, they are comfortable to wear.

Speaking of long-term wearing, the earpads do feel good. However, I do notice my ears heating up a bit after 30minutes. They’re not as airing and spacious feeling as some of the other flagship ANC headphones out there, but the 1000x were still within reason of being comfortable. As a side note, yes, the earpads are removable and replaceable.

HEADPHONE LAYOUT
Moving on and taking a closer look. On the left, Sony removed and then combined the Noise Cancelling button with Ambient Aware. I believe I mentioned this in my original 1000x review, the buttons were somewhat hard to find on day one since the raised nubs are subtle, but on day two, they’re slightly easier to find. Directly below the On/Off and Pairing button is an input for a 3.5mm cord for physical connections. On the right cup, you simply have Micro-USB 2.0 and oddly again, another flagship postponing the newest USB Type-C. Honestly, we might have to wait until 2018.


BATTERY
Since we’re touching base on this, Sony has increased and claimed up to 30 hours of use on the new model. And up to 40 hours if you use the wired cable with Active Noise Cancelling on. This is class leading and ties with the Sennheiser PXC550’s as they offer the same up to 30hrs of use when going wireless.

With my test at 50% volume, from a full battery to dead, I achieved 27 hours and 23 minutes to be exact. Another feature that many overlook, if you need fuel right away, plug these in for just 10 minutes, and you get 70 minutes, or an hour essentially of music playback.

FEATURE PACKED
Touching base on what features this has, Sony and Sennheiser shined last year with a barrage of smart and practical functions – These things are really high tech! Here’s a quick run-down and my thoughts.

First up, Ambient Aware. The built-in microphone turns on while Active Noise Cancelling turns off, and the experience is as though there’s no Passive noise isolation from the physical earcups. You basically can hear your surroundings as if you were wearing nothing.

Second, we have the very easy to use physical touch controls. On the right earcup, swipe up and down to increase and decrease volume, swipe forward and back to skip or go back on songs. Double Tap to pause and play. And if you hold, this does bring up Google Assistant or Siri on your phone. All you need is a very subtle gentle touch to activate the action. I loved this.

Third, let’s say someone walks up to you at the office or on the street, instead of taking the headphones off, just palm the right earcup and cover it. This drastically lowers the volume of your music, turns off ANC, but turns ON Ambient aware so you can hear your environment. As soon as you let go, everything reverts back immediately and you continue with your music. Not having to take off your headphones is very convenient.

Fourth, the app isn’t pretty by any means, but, it’s one of the most robust I’ve used. Info and more importantly adjustments to Active Noise Cancelling performance are done automatically and visually represented here. Or you can optimize the ANC performance to your environment by calibrating it. Sound position is self-explanatory. The next is Surround Sound profiles to simulate different environments which I felt had taken away from the great audio experience out the box, more on that later… but below that is an equalizer to tune your audio manually and last, you can switch between LDAC and AptX versus the standard, lower quality SBC. And as a side note, LDAC was once only available on Sony phones, but moving forward, phones with Android Oreo will have LDAC available. Combine a device and in this case a pair of headphones with the LDAC support, and you’re getting much high audio resolution than the current commonplace, AptX.

BLUETOOTH RANGE
Alright, getting out of the technical jargon, touching base on wireless performance range. Sony is offering Bluetooth 4.1. Wireless range wise, I was able to get 64 linear feet before the audio started to crackle.

PHONE CALL PERFORMANCE
Regarding phone call performance, it was very good with my voice coming across very clear and audible, however, it does pick up background noises quite easily. This is quite common on headphones that I’ve tested.

ACTIVE NOISE CANCELLING (ANC)
Touching base on active noise cancelling. In my previous review of the MDR-1000x, I said Sony had outperformed Bose by a small fractional measure. This time around and after recently reviewing the Bose QC35ii’s. The new WH-1000x distinctly over Bose can block out more noises. This time, at least for me, it’s much more noticeable. Testing this in the same areas as all my ANC headphones, that’s walking through the city and taking all the noises in. Sitting at the coffee shop at 2 pm when most people need that 4th cup of coffee, it’s loud and busy in there. Sony simply does a better job at cutting out voice chatter, to airiness when walking outside, cars driving by, items moving around, etc. Either way, you still hear the background noise slightly.


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AUDIO QUALITY
Jumping into audio quality, getting this out the way, both the old and the new 1000x’s sound the same or nearly identical at most. I sat there all morning swapping both headphones back and forth and the only difference that might even be present based on human ear listening… was the bass. The WH1000x once in awhile sounded to offer a cleaner sub-bass level that doesn’t sound as muffled or as droning as the original. But honestly, they both were so close, it’s hard for anyone to tell a difference in my opinion. But getting into bass, I would not consider these as bassy headphones, but more on the level of bass boosted. You get a lovely thump and punch on EDM, pop and hip-hop genres that makes these genre’s shine so much. This isn’t a comparison review, but considering I recently tested the Bose QC35ii’s, these do have ever so slightly more bass.

Although more and not sounding flat, the Sony’s in general still provides a clean and accurate audio representation of your music. Jumping into the mid-range frequencies, we’re talking about vocal performance, where most instruments are heard by the human ear, and also the area where if there’s crappy audio, most people distinguish it here. It’s very clear, articulate and full of resolution and detail. Not overly bright but forward to stand out against the lower frequencies. Absolutely loved it. The soundstage feels airy and open with audio direction being very distinct. And I didn’t turn on any additional surround sound features or adjust the equalizer in the apps.


Getting into high frequencies, this is where you hear toms, the upper end of kick-drums, snares, cymbals, it is sharper than the Bose QC35’s, and thankfully not as sharp as the V-Moda Crossfade 2’s I just reviewed on the channel. The 1000x gets up there right before it blows out and causes that ear ringing and tingingness that you might get when it’s too strong.

Overall, the audio experience is immersive and has a lot of color and personality. It has a lot of attack and gets me moving, it makes me bob my head to the beat. Folks, be ready for my head to head comparison review coming soon. I love my Bose QC35’s and they have their own pros as well, but these Sony’s are amazing at the moment. Comment down below… Are you team Sony or Team Bose? Thanks for reading, folks. I’ll catch you guys on the next one.

[table id=1 hide_columns=”all” show_columns=”a,b,h,m,o” /] Specs from manufacturer. If incorrect, please contact us.