Sony’s WI-1000x headphones are the constant travelers perfect headphones. It’s a statement that lacks humility but I speak from the perspective of the constant traveler. I live in NYC and you don’t have to be a native to know that its fast moving, crowded and noisy…noisy as hell. Even more so if you take public transportation. So it’s befitting that for a person like me that wants to block out noise and listen to my music that I have a good set of noise cancelling headphones.

The WI-1000X’s are not the first of it’s kind but for me it’s the first time that I’ve used a pair of neckbuds that I actually like. I tend to be more of an on ear, blast my music as loud as I can kinda guy but these headphones opened up my mind quite a bit.

DESIGN

I’ll start with the overall look of the WI-1000X. The look of the WI-1000X is standard for wraparounds. A little bit of sleek, plastic and rubber. Volume, power and the mic are located on the left ear side. With the ambient toggle on the right. There is an indentation about halfway around and under the neckband to discreetly hide your headphone cable to keep your earbuds from just hanging around. I’m so glad that Sony did it this way as opposed to magnetizing the earbuds themselves. I hate that. The headphones as a whole unit are super light and portable but unfortunately you can’t put them in your pocket but Sony included a nice little carrying pouch to carry your headphones around so it’s not too much of an inconvenience. Lastly, the earbuds. Nothing special with the earbuds and depending on your ears they’ll seem a little big but you do have optional size silicone bud replacements so you can make them fit to your liking. I have the Sandy Tan pair (I’m almost positive that’s not the color name) and I do like it. Normally, I’d go black but I’m not mad at these.

FUNCTION & APP

If you plan on getting the best sound out of your headphones nowadays you can rest assured that there is going to be an app associated with it. Such is the case here. Sony’s “Headphones” app is the default hub for these headphones or any Sony headphones you have. If you love your Sony headphones and you intend to use this app then this will be the point where you become frustrated.

It’s not that the app is all bad, it’s that the app is confusing in terms of what it does for the sound you get. For example, and try to follow me here, there are 4 different sound options and I hardly know what either of them do. You have ambient sound control, adaptive sound control, Noise cancellation optimization, Sound position control and a sound quality mode. See the problem here? For arguments sake however, I’ll start with adaptive sound control.

The adaptive sound control mode is supposed to change the sound quality based on how fast you’re moving and where you physically are (At least that’s my understanding of it) so if you’re inside or outside the adaptive sound will adjust accordingly, if you’re on the train or bus, again, it will adjust. While this may seem cool, I found it to be incredibly annoying most of the time I used it. In my personal experience I would be walking leisurely and if picked up my walking pace by chance than the adaptive control would think I was running and then interrupt my music to make the change, if I changed environments like walking down a hallway to a more open space then adaptive control would interrupt again, you get the idea. Ultimately, I turned it off.

Ambient sound control was simple enough. It’s just a feature that controls how much of the noise cancellation you need based on your preference and where you are. I actually liked this function. Noise cancellation is great but you can find yourself being unconsciously oblivious with it cranked up all the way. It’s nice to be able to change the level of this feature while being able to focus on voices for phone calls even with noise cancellation enabled.

Sound position control? I get the concept with the head positioning but I can’t say I’ve experienced what it actually does.

Sound quality mode is another confusing function. You have the option to stabilize your sound as it pertains to any loss in connection between your headphones Bluetooth and phone but if you want to change sound quality and use the equalizer you have to disable this function. Why can’t we have it both ways? A stable connection with great sound quality. Shouldn’t a stable connection kind of be a default feature anyway? After all, they’re wireless bluetooth headphones, isn’t that kind of the point?

I didn’t want to come across as a malcontent when speaking about the Sony headphones app but It was hard for me because I just didn’t like it. I didn’t find it to be helpful in creating the sound that I wanted to get out of the WI-1000’s and truth be told these headphones sound so good that I’m not sure that it’s even necessary to use the Sony headphones app. The good news? An update or two can fix all of the issues I have with the app, so all is not lost. If you don’t notice any of these issues then completely ignore everything I said here. It’s not the reason to pick these headphones up. The sound is.

SOUND

I’m no audiophile but I like good sound and if it’s one thing that the WI-1000x’s deliver, its great sound. It’s tough to get into the hardcore specifics, intricacies and nuances that come with grading audio but I can give you an idea of how I felt/feel when I use the WI-1000X’s. There is no genre of music that doesn’t sound good when listening to it on these headphones. That’s not easy to say, especially because of the type of music that I listen to. Hip hop is always my litmus test for audio because it’s so complexed. There’s bass and a variety of sounds that go into it that so many headphones I’ve used get wrong. Either its too bassy or it has too much treble, never really a good balance. With these headphones for as small as they are give you so much clarity and the right amount of bass and vocals. Never too much of anything. It’s balance. That’s just putting simply. Hendrix, Coldplay, Donald Byrd are all things I listen to and combined with that noise cancelling it sounded immersive and crisp and the outside world just wasn’t there. It’s a testament to how much focus Sony put on making these headphones stand out from other pairs that offer similar features.

FINAL THOUGHTS

At $299 ($248 on Amazon right HERE) the WI-1000x’s are a bit pricey but nowadays we should come to expect that with good quality comes a certain pricepoint. These headphones walk the line and don’t go over it. You’ll get a quality sound, great for all of your music that gives you an escapism from the outside world in small, discrete form factor. I wasn’t a fan of neckbuds and to a degree I’m still not a fan but these headphones have changed my mind. Do I recommend these? An emphatic, yes. You won’t be disappointed, unless you use the app but overall these are worth every penny. You don’t have to be an audiophile either.

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Mike Bitter is a born gadget head and true lover of technology. It all started with computer classes at age 10 and his first PC the Tandy 1000. From then on he found his love and he became a gamer and a PC builder and has not stopped since. He specializes in hardware, troubleshooting and custom PC building. He’s known as the “fixer” amongst his friends whenever there is a problem with a PC or a Mac. He’s also fully immersed in all things that pertain to the world of computers and gaming. He's an 80's baby and he grew up watching technology evolve from the NES to PS4 and from the Commodore 64 to the iMac. He has a unique and minimalist perspective on technology and is here to help the average person to understand technology today.