Sony WH-1000XM2 Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones - Black
Premium Bluetooth Headphones w/Impressive Sound/NC Quality
OVERALL: These are premium over-the-ear headphones that provide both excellent sound quality & excellent noise canceling (NC). They’re worth every penny of the modest investment required to purchase them.
UNBOXING: I felt like I was opening a box that contained a nice piece of jewelry. Sony’s packaging set my expectations high from the start, & I wasn’t disappointed. This is my 3rd pair of Sony wireless headphones, & these are by far the most impressive. They’re beautiful, sleek, & understated, w/a finish that looks like a cross between gunmetal gray & black nickel. In addition to the ample padding, Sony upgraded the materials used for the headband & ear enclosures, resulting in a most comfortable fit, even after many hrs. of use.
SOUND QUALITY: Sony’s Smart Listening w/Adaptive Sound Control auto-detects your activity, whether you’re flying, riding on the train or in the car, walking, or just waiting. Then it adjusts the ambient sound settings to ensure a fully immersive sound. For example, when I walk at the local college track, I can enjoy my music & podcasts while simultaneously maintaining awareness of everything & everyone around me, incl. other walkers/joggers who’re approaching from behind. And when I’m working on my laptop or my phone at the airport, I can still hear important boarding announcements w/reduced background noise. The Sony Headphones Connect App lets you customize your preferences for the finest definition & balance. And w/EQ adjustments, my music is taken to another whole level. But even before EQ tweaking, I experienced refined, smooth highs w/lots of detail, great mids, & good punchy bass. The powerful 40mm driver w/LCP (Liquid Crystal Polymer) diaphragm handles heavy beats & can reproduce a full range of frequencies up to 40kHz. And when I used the supplied 3.5mm wired connection to my laptop—wow! The Hi-Res Audio amplifier w/S-Master HX reduces distortion & reveals orchestral subtleties that I’ve never heard thru other headphones. And w/Sound Position Control, I can choose the direction that I want the sound to come from, just like w/a wireless speaker. So, if I’m sitting down w/a friend to my L & I want to move the music to my R, I can reposition the sound w/2 taps in the App. To control music playback, I just use the touch panel on the side of the headphones. I can change the music track, turn the volume up/down, & take/make calls by tapping or swiping the earcup panel w/my fingertip. And w/Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE HX), all my compressed digital music files (lossy MP3’s, MP4’s, & AACs) are upscaled so that the high ranges sound rich & clear, bringing them closer to the quality of Hi-Res Audio. Finally, Sony’s new LDAC audio coding technology transmits 3x more wireless data than conventional Bluetooth; so, I can enjoy the exceptional sound quality of Hi-Res Audio content like it’s meant to be heard w/a bit rate of up to 990kbps supported.
NOISE CANCELING (NC): 5-star feature! Sony’s adaptive/dynamic digital NC is optimizable. Sony’s Sense Engine ambient noise control system gives you different settings to block out loud sounds while still allowing you to hear voices. The Sense Engine uses feedback microphones on the inside/outside of the earcups so that you can tune in/out of your music w/just a touch of the earcup. Auto-calibration software pings out test tones w/resulting adjustments to deliver optimal sound. Sony’s Personal Optimizing scans the side of your head to measure how good the seal is. It analyzes your personal characteristics (head size, glasses/sunglasses, hair thickness, etc.). Sony’s Atmospheric Pressure Optimizing uses an atmospheric pressure sensor in the L ear to measure the barometric pressure in your immediate surroundings. Otherwise, a shift in atmosphere can reduce the sensitivity of the mics used for NC & upset the frequency balance. Instead, when the sensor detects such changes in atmosphere, Sony’s software applies a filter to compensate. So, whether you’re on a train or flying at high altitude, you get optimized results.
In my everyday real work world, the NC features of these premium headphones allow me to get lost in my work & remain oblivious to all the chatter & distracting noises outside my office. For anyone who works in close adjoining offices, & especially for anyone working in a cubicle, these are a must-have. With my previous headphones, I was sometimes forced to increase the volume to the ‘danger zone’ when in a loud environment, but not w/these. Now, I can keep my music at a consistent level whether entering/exiting loud rooms. And I love the “Quick Attention” feature! If someone needs to speak to you, just cup your hand over the R earpiece to mute what you’re listening to, & you’ll immediately hear the ambient sound & be able to engage in clear conversation. No more ripping off the headset or fumbling to mute your phone/laptop. Once the conversation is over, move your hand away, & the music, podcast, or broadcast volume returns to its previous level.
HANDS-FREE PHONE CALLING: This was amazing. Even when I’m in a space w/heavy background noise, the caller on the other end sounds crystal clear to me, as though I’m listening to him in an enclosed sound booth. The call quality is so high, I wish could take every phone call this way. The microphones (on both ears) are very good. In my tests, every caller said that I could be heard clearly.
APP: Sony’s mobile Headphones Connect App for Android/iOS w/Smart Listening technology works seamlessly w/the headset so that I can customize my headphones & adjust the level of NC/ambient sound that I want to hear. I can even disable NC entirely. The App works w/the accelerometers in your phone to determine whether you’re at rest (sitting/standing at your desk, etc.), in motion (walking; forget running w/these), or in transit (in a car/on a train)—& Sony’s Smart Auto-settings can adjust levels accordingly. Within the App, there are 4 different surround modes: Arena, Club, Outdoor Stage, & Concert Hall. I can also prioritize connection stability over sound quality (or vice versa) if I’m in an office or other environment in which there are competing wireless signals/devices. While the App allows me to do a lot of tweaking, I discovered that I’d often rather control the ambient sound manually, as the App seemed to lag ~10sec behind my changing activity or sound environment. Sometimes, the App even made a counterproductive change, & I’d have to change it back. But I’d still definitely download the App just for the benefits of the Equalizer. Note: The App works only w/your phone, not computers & Chromebooks, etc.
INTERFACE: Simple, intuitive, & easy to use. Playback is controlled by the touchpad’s touch sensors built into the surface of the R earpiece. The new added texture on the surface is more tactile & makes swiping sideways to change tracks & sliding up/down to change volume more certain. Even the double-tap required to play/pause music feels better. And you can control your phone’s voice asst. w/a quick touch. Sony has even reduced the button count on the edge of the L earpiece so that both the Ambient Sound & NC features are controllable by just 1 button instead of 2.
BLUETOOTH 4.1: I had no trouble switching between paired devices. There’s an NFC (Near-Field Communications) chip in the L ear for quick pairing. Just tap the L earcup w/your phone & it connects. No need to go thru the traditional Bluetooth menus to scan & select device. I get great reception & clarity at extended distances up to 33ft away. Supports HFP, HSP, A2DP, AVRCP Bluetooth profiles & even aptX HD & LDAC codecs for the phones that support it.
CONNECTIVITY: Includes a 6ft 3.5mm cable for wired connectivity.
COMFORT: Very comfortable, good cushioning, & light over-the-ear wear. Clamp force is just about right; they hold the sides of my head but don’t squeeze or feel vice-like. The texture of the outer earpiece covers is a little rougher than my last pair & helps the touch controls feel more tactile.
CHARGING: Includes short 3ft. micro-USB charging cable for lithium-ion battery. Unfortunately, you can’t use Bluetooth while headphones are charging. After a 4hr initial charge, I got ~30hr of use over a 1wk period while in wireless mode w/NC enabled. You can get up to 40hr in wired mode. You can also get 70min of play from just a 10min quick-charge. To help conserve battery life, the headphones automatically power down after 5min of inactivity.
CARRY CASE: The swivel designed earcups & cables fold neatly into the carry case for easy storage.
AIRPLANE ADAPTER PLUG: Plug the cable jack into the airplane adapter plug for easy in-flight listening.
CONNECTIVITY: Sony needs to upgrade these headphones from the older micro-USB charging std. to the newer USB-C charging & USB-C audio pass-thru for USB-C smartphones. Also, these cans don’t offer true Bluetooth multi-pt. connectivity. These headphones can make an audio connection w/1 device & a simultaneous connection w/another device, but they can’t make 2 audio connections at the same time. So, if I want to connect my larger-display tablet (for, say, Skype or Facetime, etc.) & simultaneously connect my smaller-display phone for phone calls, I can’t enjoy mic-activated conversations w/both. One device will be connected in headphone mode (no mic) & the other will be connected in headset mode. Sony needs to add this capability in its next headphone iteration.
INSTRUCTIONS: Although there’s a web-based interactive manual, the included instructions are so sparse that they’re practically non-existent. And not all of us speak electronics “iconography”.