While I have reviewed many headphones over the past couple years some of the cleanest and best noise cancelling headphones come from the house of Bose with their QC35. Sony had their Sony MDR 1000X in last 2016 but only got a brief listening to them so I couldn’t give my full honest opinion. This time around Sony has blessed us with a pair of their WH-1000XM2 Headphones which is the ones mentioned prior. I got to spend a great amount of time trying them out in various capacities to gauge after they are superior over Bose.
The 1000XM2 are available in two colors which are Black and the other being Gold which I’m using. They reminiscent more of a Champagne Gold in my opinion. Design wise they are pretty clean with nothing really unorthodox going on. Headband has the ability to bend a bit and underneath that is cushioning for the top of your head. Memory foam is used for the ear cups which prove great comfort and even start the noise cancelling process before you even flip the switch.
Earcups swivel out and also fold in for easy storage in the included headphone case. Thanks to its minimalist look you have no idea each ear cup holds functionality. The left side has NFC which works flawlessly using it with a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and LG V30. There is a visible power button and also a button for Noise Cancelling and Ambient. Oh yes there is a 3.5mm audio cable port as well. Move over to the right side is just a port for microUSB charging. Hopefully headphones will start moving over to Type C. Now what’s not visible on the right is more controls. “Double Tap” to play, pause, answer calls, “Swipe Left & Right” for track changing and “Swipe Up & Down” for volume controls. It worked mostly without issue each time and no delays or freezing. It may alienate those that are familiar with buttons though and if you can’t adapt would have to utilize the controls via your smartphone app.
Features / Sound
As I mentioned earlier the WH-1000XM2 have a lot going on and under the hood it gets even better. Sony of course has their Hi-Fi offerings such as LDAC, S-Master HX and DSEE HX if you have compatible Sony device but they also offer other things such as AptX HD by Qualcomm. AptX can be found in a decent amount of smartphones but not alot have AptX HD. AptX HD basically gives you CD quality sound over bluetooth which has been hard to provide and wired was usually the option. Just make sure you have a compatible smartphone such as the LG V30 or OnePlus 5T which I used to test it out. There are other devices available you can check HERE. Using the 3.5mm audio cable and connecting to the LG V30 makes the M2 sublime thanks to its onboard Quad DAC and various audio enhancements.
WH-1000XM2 are defaulted to noise cancelling and once you have it on there is no reason to ever switch it off. Mixing noise cancelling with the coverage of the earcups will put you in music listening bliss. Bass is nice and punchy, hard hitting but not too crazy. Vocals are clean, clear, crisp. Everything is at a nice level playing field and nothing sounds out of sorts. Of course if you want to make any changes you can download Sony’s “Headphones Connect” app and make changes. There are other features on there such as Battery indicator and other things.
Like I mention in most my headphone reviews, I live in NYC and take the trains back and forth on a daily basis. Sitting or standing on the train has been a good way to test out the Noise Cancelling and even the Ambient features. With Noise cancelling it blocks just about everything around me and Ambient is great to have enabled when you want to be able to hear the various MTA announcements that happen ever so often. Battery life has been estimated to be about 30 hrs and I can say I recall only charging these a handful of times throughout my usage of them.
Without question the WH-1000XM2 are an exceptional pair of headphones are great for travel thanks to its noise cancelling and ambient aware feature. They have a clean design mostly relying on touch controls which work great but may not be a cup of tea for everyone. On the audio side they sound gorgeous and also reach out to those wanting even more thanks to its based in suite of hi-res codecs. That’s as long as you have an Android or audio device that supports the codecs. This is of course does come at a hefty pricing of $349.99 putting it head to head with Bose’s QC35. This time around Sony may have taken over the crown for best noise cancelling headphones.