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This is an in-depth review of the Sony WH-1000XM2 Bluetooth noise cancelling wireless headphones in comparison to their predecessor, the Sony MDR1000X.
To find out what other excellent noise cancelling headphones are out there, check out my complete round-up.
Reviewed Brands and Products
Sony WH-1000XM2 Review
- Adaptive and customizable noise cancellation
- Incredibly authentic sound signature
- “Quick Attention” feature
- Intuitive touch controls
- Best-in-class 30-hour battery life
The Sony WH-1000XM2 is the successor to the older Sony MDR1000X headphones, and a step up from the less expensive WH-H900N. The materials Sony used for its flagship device don’t look cheap, but neither do they feel like premium build quality. For the headband, Sony chose exposed stainless steel, which looks cool. Unfortunately, all the other components are made from the same plastic as the entry-level WH-H900N set of headphones.
Related article: Sony WH-H900N Review and Comparison to the Sony WH-1000XM2
The sound quality and active noise cancellation (ANC) offered by the WH-1000XM2 are top-notch and on par with the Bose QuietComfort 35 that I have owned for the past few years. I’d argue that the audio quality of the Sony headphones is even better than that of the Bose. To help you fine-tune how the noise cancelling works, Sony provides different modes and customization options via its mobile app. Additionally, if you give the app access to your location, it can automatically detect if you’re in a car, bus, train or airplane, or if you’re stationary, walking or running.
On top of that, the Sony WH-1000XM2 has an atmospheric pressure sensor that you can use to adjust the ANC level based on how you wear the headphones and any changes in pressure (for instance, if you’re aboard an airplane). I tried optimizing the noise cancellation settings while on a recent flight to D.C., but didn’t notice a considerable difference compared to the standard settings. In other words, noise cancellation worked excellent both before and after running the optimizer.
Audio and Sound Quality
The audio and sound quality of the Sony WH-1000XM2 are excellent, thanks to the various technology innovations Sony built into this pair of headphones, including:
- DSEE HX
- aptX HD
Without going into too much detail, these audio formats enable the transmission of more bandwidth over Bluetooth, and they restore the high-range sound lost in compression of commonly-used audio file formats. As a result, you get incredibly hi-res audio output that you can further customize using the Sony mobile app (which is available for both Android and iOS devices).
As of this writing, I have worn this pair of headphones for approximately three hours and they still feel good—especially on my skull. But I can already tell that I’m developing minor pressure points around my ears, which is likely caused by the relatively small openings of the ear pads. Overall, I would rate the comfort level of these over-ear headphones about the same as the Bose QuietComfort 35 and much higher than the Beats Studio wireless series.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 features the most extended battery life I have seen in wireless noise cancelling headphones. Fully charged, you can use them for up to 30 hours non-stop. If you turn off the active noise canceling option, you get eight more hours of battery life. That’s incredible, and it competes with some of the wired headphones I have recently tested. If you do run out of battery, a 10-minute quick charge gets you another 70 minutes of battery life. That’s nothing short of amazing!
To test the quality of the microphone in these headphones, I used the Voice Memos app on my iPhone. First, I recorded a short sentence without any ambient noise, and then I added some synthetic noise via iTunes. You can listen to the results using the embedd