- Excellent work of active noise reduction.
- Good ergonomics and ease of listening.
- Pleasant, soft sound with a bias in the bass.
- Despite the full-sized form factor, the headphones are convenient to use when traveling.
- Currently, the LDAC codec can only be used with Sony equipment.
Consistently working on the best active noise-canceling headphones, Sony MDR-1000X, the company released an updated version of the Sony WH-1000X M2. These headphones look very similar, but there have been changes inside, so the review will not hurt because the changes, although not revolutionary, are worth a separate mention.
Equipment of Sony WH-1000X M2
Pulling the black tray out of the paper case, you open the box in which you will see a hard carrying case in which the headphones are.
- Adapter for connecting headphones in an airplane by wire;
- MicroUSB charging cable;
- Audio cable with 3.5 mm jack;
- Hard case for transportation.
Construction and Design: Sony WH-1000X M2
As soon as you take the Sony WH-1000X M2 headphones in your hands, you understand that the company has been engaged in audio equipment for a very long time and can’t do anything in principle. The appearance is pleasant. It is immediately clear that these are not cheap Chinese headphones, but an expensive product. Even though the structure’s base is made of plastic, the headphones feel solid, tightly, and reliably. There are no complaints about the build quality or construction. On the outside, the earphone cups are decorated with plastic with a relief very reminiscent of genuine leather. If you do not peer carefully, it seems that the headphones are covered in genuine leather. To create a high style of headphones, the manufacturer removed all the markings from the outside. It is not there. There are only headphones and nothing more except the NFC logo on the left bowl, which stands out from the general concept.
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As for comfort – Sony WH-1000X M2 headphones do not cause any complaints. You need to correctly adjust the extension length of the headband at the beginning of use, after which you can wear headphones for hours without the slightest discomfort. The ear fits completely inside the ear cushion. The only nuance is the closed design of the headphones. If you decide to move actively listening to the headphones, your ears will sweat, but this is the case with any headphones of a closed type, so I can’t write this down to the disadvantage of the Sony WH-1000X M2. The headband pressure on the head is minimal. Earpads take up most of the load, but due to the foam filling, they evenly distribute the headphones’ weight over the head, so there is no sense of pressure or compression.
The individual drivers responsible for active noise reduction are located in the center of the bowls, approximately at the place where the ear canal will be located, so Sony tried to make noise reduction as efficient as possible and succeeded. Shimoda really works very well.
Charging with headphones has a MicroUSB port, not a USB type C, as on most new products, but this does not affect the functionality. The charging port is located on the right side, and the audio cable connector on the left, so you can listen to music while your headphones are charging, which is undoubtedly a design plus.
Headphones have a fairly convenient interface for controlling music playback, which is implemented as a touch panel on the right bowl. This panel works only in wireless mode. I am not a big fan of the touch panels on the headphones, they usually do not work very well, but in the Sony WH-1000X M2, the sensor worked very adequately. There are basic functions, such as tapping forward and backward to switch the music track, moving your finger up and down to adjust the volume, and pressing to play/pause music.
If you hold your finger on the right bowl for a long time, your assistant will be activated by default, be it Siri, Bixby, or one real Google Assistant. This puts the functionality of the Sony WH-1000X M2 at the level or only for its main competitor – Bose QC35 II. However, this Sony is head and shoulders above its more expensive antagonist when it comes to wireless technology.
Wireless Features of Sony WH-1000X M2
You can use a 3.5 mm audio cable at any time to listen to music, but I doubt that you bought a Sony WH-1000X M2 to listen to them using a wire. Of course, these headphones are primarily designed to work using Bluetooth, and they are good.
Sony WH-1000X M2 supports the best LDAC codec to date, which allows you to listen to Hi-Res recordings. But this codec has one problem; it only works if your source is a Sony brand sound because Sony does not allow this technology to be implemented by third-party manufacturers. If you don’t have a Sony phone, the headphones will suggest using the aptX, aptX HD, and AAC codecs, which are the best for Bluetooth for Android and Apple, respectively. If your phone does not support any of these codecs, the headphones will go into the SBC codec mode, which is standard for Bluetooth and the worst in all present quality. Make sure that your phone supports at least aptX codec. Otherwise, you will not like the headphones’ sound, and this is not the fault of Sony WH-1000X M2 – the very simple SBC codec is to blame.
Also, there is a special application, the Headphones Connect app for smartphones, which allows you to control many headphones’ parameters. For example, you can change the active noise reduction mode to the noise surrounding you and even adapt its efficiency by indicating the current atmospheric pressure. You can also use the equalizer with flexible and powerful features and use the ability to superimpose various effects on the sound, such as an echo, a stadium effect, or activate the virtual surround sound function. Of course, the most useful features are the adaptation of the noise reduction and the equalizer, but many may also like the individual effects.
How well does active noise reduction work?
In short – it works great! And now a few details. First of all, I want to note that before using active noise reduction, it is better to install the application on the phone because there is a special test in the application, having passed which you will help the headphones adapt the work specifically for your ears and the noise reduction efficiency will increase.
Another point associated with good noise reduction performance is good passive noise isolation. Even with disabled active noise canceling, headphones can cope well with noise isolation.
When active noise reduction was turned on, I noticed a quiet white background noise. It appears on all headphones with this technology. On some models, it is louder. On some quieter, in our case, it was hushed and was heard only during complete silence around. If you start listening to music at a minimum volume, you will stop noticing it. These are the costs of the technology, and nothing can be done about it.
I did not have the opportunity to fly in an airplane to test the Sony WH-1000X M2, but I could take a ride in the subway car. I think it was loud enough to appreciate the noise reduction.
Judging by our measurements, Sony WH-1000X M2 headphones’ active noise cancellation is one of the best on the market. It’s not that it copes well with the medium and high ranges, it was not very difficult to achieve this, and competitors in the person of AKG or BOSE also coped with this. Surprisingly, the headphones cope very well with very low frequencies, which is very difficult to do due to the large long wave of sounds. But Sony did it! In fact, it can be argued that the Sony WH-1000X M2 headphones had one of the most effective noise cancelers on the market in 2017.
But such an outstanding noise reduction system has a downside – it works too well. It’s one thing when you are sitting in a subway car or flying inside an airplane, you are relaxed, and you have nothing to fear. If you walk along a busy highway, you may not hear the noise of a car approaching or a crazy cyclist rushing towards you. For such cases in the proprietary application, there are special noise reduction modes for various conditions. Choose the one that best suits yours, and then the treacherous cyclist will not come as a surprise to you.
Sound Quality Sony WH-1000X M2
I am not a big fan of Bluetooth headphones when it comes to sound quality, but I can say that Sony has accomplished the almost impossible by creating the LDAC codec. With it you can get very high-quality sound without wires. And this is no accident because Sony is one of the few companies that has invested a lot of work in the research and development of wireless data transmission technologies.
Right out of the box, the headphones are tuned to emphasize the bass a bit, taking the midrange into the background, but the overall sound remains pretty clear – unusual and curious.
Nevertheless, not everyone will like this sound. For this reason, again, you need to use an application in which you can adjust the equalizer as you like. I did not notice any problems with channel matching or distortion. The headphones work clearly and stably.
But remember that the equalizer only works if the headphones are in wireless mode. As soon as you connect them through the wire, they will return to their original sound character.
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To my great regret, modern trends follow the simplest way for the impression of an ordinary buyer of headphones – the more bass, the better, and Beats has become a trendsetter in this area. Yes, sometimes you want to turn on driving music, unscrew the bass and listen to a sound for a couple of minutes that will beat your life out with the help of a powerful, loud, and deep bass. But to listen to the sound with such a character all day – I doubt it. Even bass lovers get tired of this sound pretty quickly.
If you want a more natural-looking headphone sound, in the application, decrease the bass by a couple of units and increase the volume to frequencies from 400 Hz to 4 kHz, but increase gradually to stop in time. In this case, you get a good natural sound.
But I find fault with that, and frankly, the Sony WH-1000X M2 headphones play perfectly. All frequencies are clean. There are no sibilants, no extraneous stray sounds. There is no sand either. If you take the equalizer for a few minutes and adjust the headphones’ sound for yourself, I’m sure the headphones will please you for a very long time.
Sony WH-1000X M2 does not prefer genres, although without using an equalizer, they gravitate to modern electronic music. The vocals sound clean, soft, and pleasant. Yes, maybe this is not the best sound in the world, but for wireless Bluetooth headphones, I am sure it is the best that can be achieved today.
And remember that I listened to headphones with the active LDAC codec and on Hi-Res recordings, if you do not have a Sony phone, then the headphones will sound a little easier and less detailed even when using aptX codecs.
Conclusion: Should you buy Sony WH-1000X M2?
In 2016, Sony released the Sony MDR-1000X headphones, the successor to this model is no less special. Honestly, I like these headphones even though they are a victim of the audio industry trying to catch up with the Beats. Although deep and powerful bass is good, the current tendencies towards the overwhelming enthusiasm for low frequencies are puzzling, and they are … wrong. Sony has done a fantastic thing that allows consumers to customize their own sound and completely bypass the marketer’s opinion of good sound. The WH-1000X M2 sound sounds fantastic, even if you don’t mess with the equalizer settings.
Active noise cancellation… it’s really amazing. ANC’s adaptive features are simply awesome technologies that will appeal to anyone who likes to customize the sound in their headphones to their taste and needs.
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Obviously, $180 is a lot of money to spend on headphones, and if you want to make a bargain – look for the MDR-1000X at a great discount. I’m sure that they will be sold out by stores very soon. Although you will lose some of the ANC efficiency and impressive application functionality, they are almost as good.
I highly recommend the Sony WH-1000X M2 headphones to anyone who wants to get one of the best active noise-canceling options with great sound and pleasant ergonomics.
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