Since the launch of MDR-1000X , Sony, along with Bose and Sennheiser, is at the forefront of noise-canceling headphones. Now the Japanese manufacturer wants to push the bar even further with the WH-1000XM2.
Externally, the new model is almost identical to the predecessor MDR-1000X (to test) . In fact, Sony has done everything right here: The closed in black and gold available WH-1000XM2 is well-made, robust, provides a comfortable fit, is collapsible and thanks to rotating earcups in the included carrying bag to save space. With 279 grams (without cable), he also turns out as an over-ear listener easily.
Technically unchanged is the good external damping in both directions as well as the 40 mm drivers with neodymium magnets with aluminum-coated membranes. The WH-1000XM2 also relies on Bluetooth 4.1 and current codecs such as AAC, aptX HD and is also suitable for hi-res material thanks to LDAC.
The battery, which is fully charged after four hours and offers up to 30 hours of play time depending on the usage (noise cancelling, cable or Bluetooth operation), has gained in performance. Thanks to the fast-charging function, however, a playing time of just under 70 minutes can be achieved after just ten minutes of charging. A supplied cable allows passive as well as active noise cancelling operation.
The WH-1000XM2 sits comfortably and safely on the ears thanks to artificial leather upholstery on the bracket and the ear cups – for my terms, even better than its predecessor. The ease of use on the headphones is still excellent: remaining on the left auricle are the on / off switch, which also performs the pairing and a second switch, with the noise canceling and the later explained ambient sound function switch and an automatic, unspecified sound optimization can be started.
The comfortable touch functions work by touching the right auricle. By double-clicking the music and call control, by vertical and horizontal wiping movements, the volume control and track skipping. If you place the palm of your hand over the auricle, switch on the interaction with the environment temporarily. In the same way, the voice function of the smartphone can be activated. Bravo!
In contrast to the predecessor model, the different functions for noise canceling and sound manipulation can now be controlled via a free iOS and Google app. This results in a variety of refined control options, which were in the MDR-1000X only by keyboard shortcuts on the handset switchable, if any. For example, the intensity of ambient noise is now freely adjustable and a configurable equalizer has been added to the equipment.
The technical outstanding feature of the WH-1000XM2 is the active noise reduction, which detects ambient noise via microphones on the ear cups and effectively reduces them in the useful signal. Sony takes advantage of this, because noise cancelling is for me the best thing the market currently has to offer. In fact, ambient noise can be efficiently filtered out, so ideally, you can enjoy music or just silence with this headset in a remote without distraction.
In addition, the headphones can also respond automatically to the environmental situation. By measuring air pressure, the electronics can differentiate between walking, jogging, local public transport and stationary travel (train, airplane) and adjust the profile accordingly. The “Ambient Sound Control” parameter can now be used to determine the extent to which ambient noise reaches the ear, which is quite sensible and important in road traffic. Instead of the two-stage circuit in the predecessor one adjusts the intensity for the above-mentioned profiles now by sliders on the Smartphone, which compares to a height filter acts.
There is also the option to let language through a narrow middle band better penetrate, which also works well. Is ambient sound activated, A minimal amount of ambient noise is always transmitted, revealing subtle noise in very quiet environments. In summary, Sony deserves the utmost respect for the current version of Noise Canceling. Only responsive to wind noise, the WH-1000XM2 reacts sensitively – like its competitors.
Sonically delivers the new Sony from a harmonious performance – he is a high-quality headphones, which shows few weaknesses. The WH-1000XM2 sounds very balanced and covers the entire spectrum from low bass to transparent heights in a convincing manner. Its other positive qualities include an authentic dynamic image and a generally rich detail. Thus, this headphones is suitable for any genre without restriction.
The bass range is punchy, but not overemphasized. Contoured playback makes it easy to see both dynamic gradations and tonalities. The system also reproduces real deep bass with a powerful level. The midrange scores with balance and realism. Warmth, fullness in voices or acoustic solo instruments as well as biting, for example of electric guitars and hard-hitting piano, are aptly and immediately depicted, depending on the style and instrument. Finally, the high-frequency range also offers a beautiful transparency and resolution, without intrinsically annoying hardships. Thanks to its compatibility with hi-res material, the frequency response for such material is up to 40 kHz.
There is also little to complain about the picture of the stereo panorama. The WH-1000XM2 provides a stable, well-resolved base and allows movements to be detected at all times.
Finally, the headset is also able to map the necessary room information. Only those who demand more at this point, must probably say goodbye to the idea of a mobile closed solution.
Interesting: In the WH-1000XM2 an optimization of compressed audio files can be activated, which also calculates regular PCM sources on 96 kHz and 32 bits. In practice, the effect was rather reversed. With deactivated DSEE-HX option I got the best results. Finally, the integrated hands-free system also delivers good voice quality.
The fact that Noise Canceling creates a decidedly quiet listening environment enhances the listening experience, allowing the WH-1000XM2 to demonstrate its full potential in mobile applications. Despite first-rate sound performance, I would not put the WH-1000XM2 on a par with explicitly audiophile-designed models for home use. In the direct comparison, the airiness and the spatial image is less pronounced and the sound “sticks closer to the ear”, as is the case for example with an open headphone such as the Sennheiser HD 660S (for testing) .
The switchable selection of different room simulations in the app, I rate more as a gimmick. Here, additional information is added, giving the images more space. In most cases, however, this interferes with already existing spatial information of the sound source, which leads to a loss of definition and directness. The same applies to the alternatively callable placement of the playback in a virtual surround field.
I do not understand why I wanted to move a sound source laterally or listen behind the head. And finally, audiophile listeners are more likely to vilify the equalizer. But that’s it: who likes to listen linearly, turns it off and who likes to enjoy fat basses in the sport, selects the appropriate profile!
My Ratings for Sony WH1000XM2
Overall Score: 4.5/5
Quick Technical specifications
- Design: Over-Ear
- Assembly: Closed
- Transducer: dynamic
- Audio transmission area (listener): 4 to 40,000 Hz
- Impedance: 47.1 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL): 105.68 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head: 527.5 g
- Weight with cable: 303 g
- Weight without cable: 279 g
- Cable length: 150 cm
- Plug adapter for use in aircraft
- Headphone cable (about 1.5m, OFC wires, gold-plated stereo mini-plug)
- USB charging cable
Additional Product Information
- Also available in gold
- BT version: 4.1
- BT profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC
- Supported copy protection method: SCMS-T
- Battery charging time: approx. 4 hours
- Battery life: max. 30 hours (NC ON), max. 38 hours (NC OFF)
- Battery life (stand-by time): max. 40 hours (NC ON), max. 200 hours (NC OFF)
With the WH-1000XM2 Sony placed a headphone on the market, which seeks like no other device to eliminate the pitfalls in mobile operation for the highest possible sound enjoyment. With its excellent sound, it lays the essential foundation, which is adorned by an elegant operation and impressive functions and thus grow together to form a highly functional overall product. In the area of noise suppression by means of variable profiles and the possible interaction with the environment, he actually achieves an unprecedented level. Anyone who experiences this would like to treat themselves undisturbed moments on the way. The surcharge for the MDR-1000X is moderate, so the purchase recommendation is clear for the new model.