Sony WH-1000XM2 review: Powerhouse wireless headphones, but will you buy?
Sony WH-1000XM2 noise cancelling wireless headphones are attractive, comfy, and sound great.
The MDR-1000X headphones were praised for their impeccable sound quality and noise-cancellation features. Sure, they were expensive, but the Sony MDR-1000X sound absolutely great, even better than the Bose QuietComfort 35.
And one might be wondering what the next-generation over-ear wireless headphones from Sony sound like, and how they will be different from the predecessor. Make no mistake, the Sony WH-1000XM2 are a pair of excellent over-ear noise-cancellation headphones. The second-generation headphones are a little better than the original one, and that’s worth appreciating. Again, they come at a price. After all, the Sony WH-1000XM2 competes against the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. I have had used the Sony WH-1000XM2 for a week, and here is my verdict.
Sony WH-1000XM2 review – What’s in the box?
Once you open the box, you’ll find a leather case, so it’s easy to protect your headphones. And for a frequent traveller, it makes complete sense. Unzip the case and you’ll find the WH-1000XM2 headphones, and an airline adapter. Also, included in the box is a micro-USB charging cable, 3.5mm headphone cable, and the regular documentations.
Sony WH-1000XM2 review – Build and design
The Sony MDR-1000X had an excellent design, with very little to complain. The second-generation headphones look almost identical as the MDR-1000X. Although there’s a slight design change here and there, they are easy to miss. Sony’s logo, which is clearly visible on the earcups, has been painted in white instead of black. Our review unit had a gunmetal grey color, but the WH-1000xM2 also come in a beige-gold color combination.
The WH-1000xM2 is a well-designed pair of headphones, especially suited for a business traveller. In my books, Sony has nailed the design and honestly, it shows very prominently. And despite the fact that the WH-1000XM2 sporting a plastic exterior, these headphones feel premium in nature. They completely enclose the entire ear, thanks to soft leather padding, which I feel make them quite comfortable for an extended use. The headphones also offer a good fit, which is possible due to the strong and adjustable band.
Sony WH-1000XM2 review – Control mechanism, setup and connectivity
And on the bottom of the left earcup, you will find a 3.5-mm input jack, along with power and ambient audio adjustment buttons. The latter option lets you turn noise canceling on and off, and holding it for two seconds will launch an audio optimisation feature to customise the sound for your unique ears. The bottom of the right earphone features a micro-USB charging port. I still don’t know the reason why these headphones don’t use USB-C to charge, but it won’t be a major issue.
The control interface on the WH-1000XM2 is simple as it takes advantage of touch controls on the right-hand exterior surface. Swipe forward and backward to skip tracks, swiping up and down to adjust volume, and a double tap to play/pause your music. The touch controls however work only when the headphones are in wireless mode. A long press into the right-hand ear cup, the default voice assistant will be activated—whether that’s Siri, or the Google Assistant. However, unlike the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, there’s no dedicated button for the Google Assistant on the WH-1000XM2.
Pairing the headphones with the smartphone is simple. Install the Sony Headphones Connect app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store and follow the onscreen instructions. Press and hold the power button until you hear a voice that tells the headphones are in pairing mode, and then connect them with the smartphone or tablet of your choice. The headphones also support NFC for quick pairing with compatible smartphones.
I tested the Sony WH-1000XM2 with an iPhone 5c and Asus ZenFone 3 and had no connection issues at all. However, some devices might struggle, for instance, I faced problems when connected the Sony WH-1000XM2 with the Lenovo Vibe Shot. Speaking of the Sony Headphones Connect app, when paired with the Sony WH-1000XM2, it offers a lot many features. For instance, you can control adaptive sound, change the equaliser to better suit your preferences , and even change the balance of sound positioning.
Sony WH-1000XM2 review: Audio performance, noise cancelling and battery life
The WH-1000XM2s sound magical, especially if you listen to a track like “Kun Faya Kun” from Rockstar. What you get with the WH-1000XM2 is incredible details, crisp sound and decent mids and rather crisp highs. For a minute, I thought AR Rahman is performing right in front of me. I would say these are the among best studio-quality headphones because they give you an accurate and clean sound.
The WH-1000X M2 support Sony’s LDAC hi-res audio codec (works only with premium Sony smartphones, including the XZ Premium), high-end Walkmans, Sony Bravia TV, AV receivers, and its wireless speakers. If you don’t have access to these devices, the headphones also supports aptX, aptX HD, and AAC codecs.
Not only the WH-1000XM2 sound great, I found that the noise cancellation feature works well. I couldn’t test it on an airplane, but I did test the built-in noise cancellation feature during my regular commute to office on the metro and other noisy environments. Most times, the headphones managed to block the outside background sounds. Interestingly, Sony has added a mode called Quick Attention Mode. What it does is that it reduces the volume level when you cover the top of the right earpiece. I found this feature to be useful when you are waiting to hear important announcements.
The WH-1000xM2 promises 30 hours of battery life, around 10 hours more than the MDR-1000X. The headphones also have a quick-charge feature that allows you to get 70 minutes of play time from a 10-minute recharge.
Sony WH-1000XM2 review: Verdict
The second-generation Sony headphones, the WH-1000XM2, are much better than the MDR-1000X. The top-tier noise cancelling wireless headphones are attractive, comfy, and sound great. Then there is the price. At Rs 29,990, Sony WH-1000XM2 don’t come cheap. That’s a lot to pay for a pair of headphones. That said, you are paying the price for the sound quality and the brand name attached to them. Sony WH-1000XM2 goes against the Bose QuietComfort 35II, a pair of premium headphones.