“The over-achieving Sony WH-1000xM2 are, quite simply, the best noise-canceling headphones you can buy.”
- Beautiful, dynamic sound signature
- Extremely comfortable
- Excellent noise-canceling
- Long-lasting battery life
- Touch controls occasionally lag
When the box for the WH-1000xM2, the second generation of Sony’s top-tier wireless noise-canceling headphone line, materialized for review, we began asking a rare question: Can you make the best headphones even better?
After weeks of testing, we are happy to share that the follow-up to Sony’s outstanding MDR-1000x has answered that question with a resounding, “Yes.” We can’t say we’re surprised. The WH-1000xM2 retain the same plush comfort, near-perfect noise-canceling, and detailed sound signature that we adored on the original model, but add in 10 hours of extra battery life and even more tech features, all while lowering the list price $50.
In terms of sequels, the added tech and lower price help these feature-packed Bluetooth over-ears rank somewhere among The Empire Strikes Back and The Godfather: Part II, easily earning the company the first back-to-back five-star reviews we have ever issued for
Out of the box
Once you dig into the box containing the WH-1000xM2
Once we dug in to the zippered case we discovered our review
Features and design
The WH-1000xM2 will look right at home in the business-class section of your next flight, just like the original MDR-1000x, with subtly-styled earcups and a tasteful metal accent on the headband. Sony’s logo remains the flashiest design element, located just above each earcup, but even the company’s moniker has been implemented is done in muted gray.
The WH-1000xM2 are among the most comfortable
Plus, puffy leatherette still surrounds each earcup and the upper part of the headband, combining with the headphones’ perfectly adjustable suspension system to continue the prior model’s rein as among the most comfortable
On the bottom of the left earcup, you’ll find a 3.5mm input jack for the provided cable, along with power and ambient audio adjustment buttons outfitted with two differently sized plastic nubs on each button to make them easy to distinguish while the
The bottom of the right earphone features a micro-USB charging port — just four hours of charge time fuels the WH-1000xM2 with an astonishing 30 hours of battery life, a full 10 hours more than their predecessor’s already impressive 20 hours. The
Underlying the classy exterior of Sony’s flagship
Impeccable noise-canceling creates a pristine canvas over which to paint sound, even in the noisiest of settings.
One still-awesome feature that holds over from the previous model is the fact that you can cup your right ear to temporarily lower the volume of music and let in outside noise, allowing you to leave your
Speaking of Bose’s industry-leading noise-canceling headphones, the WH-1000xM2 also have two sets of microphones for each ear — one interior and one exterior — allowing for the same excellent noise reduction. While the QC-35 retain a slight edge overall in terms of outright noise-canceling ability, this generation of 1000x nips even closer at Bose’s heels, providing better reduction of voices, but muting ambient sounds like keyboard clicks and the low whir of HVAC systems slightly less. That said, these are top-tier
Speaking of customizing the sound, the WH-1000xM2 pairs with Sony’s Headphones Connect app, which allows you to control ambient sound, optimize audio based on atmospheric pressure (great for flying) and head shape, equalize the sound, and even place the simulated “location” of the audio — choosing between a normal headphone mix as well as one front, two side, and two rear placements. We’re not sure why you’d want your favorite tunes to sound like they are coming from behind you (or really anywhere besides the standard stereo mix that most
As with most quality Bluetooth headphones these days, pairing with the WH-1000xM2 is quick and painless. Either install the Sony
For wired listening, simply plug in the attached 3.5mm cable to the
Just like the previous MDR-1000x model, the 40mm dynamic drivers inside the WH-1000xM2 propel a warm and inviting soundstage that really brings music to life. The
On perennial audio testing favorites like Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors, this is especially apparent, with a shocking amount of depth inside of the hyper-subtle mixes on songs like The Chain. Creamy snare drum tones pair with warm acoustic guitars and clear, layered vocal lines to create a wall of sound that is among the most impressive we have heard in a headphone at this price point, bells and whistles aside.
The WH-1000x don’t just sound great on throwback hits, though. Amazing 2017 releases like Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. and Perfume Genius’ No Shape come through with nearly as much depth as they do on the high-end speakers we currently have in our audio testing room, with wide stereo imaging and superb definition in the vocal range that almost makes it feel as though the singer is in a sound booth right in front of you. In general, there wasn’t anything we didn’t love hearing on these Sony gems. From gently reproducing finger-strummed guitars on Elliott Smith classics to banging out early Outkast hits, there seems to be no music ill-suited to the WH-1000xM2.
A warm and inviting soundstage really brings music to life.
Part of that is due to an excellent audio processing engine — something Sony calls DSEE HX. This is designed to “upscale” even hyper-compressed audio, improving the sound of even the lowest fidelity tracks when listening wirelessly, meaning that lossy tracks from YouTube or Spotify’s lower-quality free tier sound good.
This, plus an excellent built-in digital-to-analog converter (LDAC) inside the
When listening to the
Sony offers a one year limited warranty on the
The Sony WH-1000xM2 are a feature-packed set of wireless,
Is there a better alternative?
The WH-1000M2 compare in price to the aforementioned Bose QC35, but outperform them in every way except for outright noise-canceling ability. Those interested in a similarly feature-packed set of
How long will it last?
Sony has a history of manufacturing extremely durable and high-quality products, and given the excellent build quality of the WH-1000xM2 and the extended time we’ve spent with the original MDR-1000x model, as well as the included hard case, we imagine they will last for many years of regular use if treated properly.
Should you buy it?
Absolutely. The WH-1000x have impeccable sound, offer great comfort, and have near-perfect noise canceling at a very reasonable price point, easily ranking among the best premium
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