Standing in the entrance area of a metropolitan railway station and appearing like in a film… All around you is a hectic bustle that you can only see or smell. Noise-canceling robs users of their sense of hearing – in favour of silence and undisturbed musical enjoyment. It’s amazing how much unwanted noise you can absorb in the everyday commuter jungle. The Sony WH-1000XM2 will lose weight once after an hour of listening time, and then you will first become aware of this situation. A comparable shock experience as when you leave a dark room and look into a bright light. Noise suppression is now a D A S feature for headphones, not just for the premium class.
The Sony WH-1000XM2* are still one of the most popular headphones in the upper price range. They attach particular importance to noise cancelling and innovative operation for everyday use. I tested them for Basic Tutorials for a month.
Out of the Box
For currently € 139.99 * the buyer can call the headphones his own. The headphones come with a hard case for transport or storage, a high-quality aux cable, an aircraft adapter and corresponding literature. The battery of the Bluetooth headset should last about 30 hours. The target group is, as the marketing very concisely illustrates, the upper-class segment. However, our test will show that the Bluetooth NC headphones are not only suitable for “frequent fliers”, but can also be integrated perfectly into everyday life.
Design and Quality
The headphones have a nice dark grey surface made of hard plastic, the earpiece is made of aluminium. The colour of the headphones is dark grey and black. For my taste they are too inconspicuous, a few colorful ornaments (as with the successor XM3) would suit the headphones well.
I personally don’t like the outer coating of the auricles very much, it destroys the valuable design. But there are no disturbing buttons on the auricles. Despite intensive test use and several pre-testers, there are only a few scratches on the surface, which speaks for the quality.
The joints do not squeak and can be moved comfortably. They allow an auricle to be folded in and screwed in so that they can be stowed in the case in a space-saving manner. The size adjustment is more than sufficient and has numerous points at which it engages. Thanks to the aluminium rail, the headphones withstand the bending test without any problems.
The inconspicuous design gets some -subjective- criticism. It is a fight of faith in both colour variants: boring or beautiful simply, in the end everybody has to decide for himself. There is nothing to complain about in the workmanship.
After the “superficial” we continue with the key points…
The Sony headphones are very comfortable, the closed ear cups fit perfectly to the contours. The weight is light with 275 g, they hardly press. The ears are not completely enclosed, a small part lies in the ear cushions.
The headphones do not slip and, although they are so comfortable, sit well on the head, even during movements. Therefore, they are always suitable for sports. Even spectacle wearers can get away comfortably.
The noise cancelling of the headphones is top class, they make bose strong competition. The complete package of the different configuration levels paired with one of the best developed NC services convinces in our test.
In addition, Adaptive Noise Reduction is a useful feature. The headphones must always reconnect, which is annoying in the auditory flow, but then the NC is perfect. The microphones pick up all noises and intelligently adjust the NC (Noise-Cancelling) to them. When you get on the train, for example, the headphones perceive the changed background noise and select the appropriate suppression mode. This also worked well in the test, with the interruptions interfering.
Unfortunately, because of the comfortable ear cups, the headphones do not intercept much external noise. The person sitting next to you therefore already hears at medium volume.
The function of letting ambient noise pass through works very well. The quality is better here than with any competitor. So if you want to hear more, that’s fine. To switch over for a short conversation, for example, simply place your hand on the auricle – practical! You have a hearing aid function in your petto. Let us now come to the most important feature for headphones…
The sound quality is not noticeably better than via Bluetooth, despite the twice as high frequency range (4 – 40,000 Hz) with jack connection and amplifiers. This speaks first of all for the wireless connection. The sound evaluation is critical according to the price class.
The bass comes for the price too dull, imprecise and too weak. The equalizer function of the app only shifts the weak points differently. The middles are strong and full, the heights weaker. The strong mids can catch the sound, which makes it look unnatural. The weak point becomes apparent in quieter musical genres. Nevertheless, the drivers deliver a solid sound quality with the 40 mm driver. The sound can be rated as good despite the criticisms.
Thanks to the DSEE HX function, Sony headphones usually iron more away than other headphones. Optimizing music files in this way distorts the audio source. This can be good, because they deliver a usable sound even with worse source files, but the sound is unnatural at a higher level. If you look at the sound in isolation, you have to admit that Bose, Beyerdynamic, Bowers & Wilkins, Teufel and Sennheiser, for example, are ahead in the price segment. The powerful NC disturbs the sound of the Sony headphones a little. But does one notice this in everyday life with every piece of music? – I don’t think so. Therefore, many will be very satisfied with the sound of these headphones. But at this point it is important to mention that there is still room for improvement, but mostly also in terms of price. Until you have a better comparison piece on your ears, you should be fully satisfied with the sound. If you don’t need other features such as noise cancelling, Bluetooth function etc., then you will get better off with other models of the same sound performance.
The core elements sound, noise cancelling and workmanship are not yet sufficient for the label “Excellent”. Nowadays, headphones also have to offer other functions in order to assert themselves in the competitive market. These will be discussed in the following…
Operation is one of the key strengths of the Sony WH-1000XM2. Control is primarily via touch sensors, which are operated by hand on the right auricle. An exciting thing, but if you prefer haptic buttons you will be disappointed.
For pause/play, call control you have to tap the auricle twice, for volume, wipe song forward and back to a corresponding side. The ambient sounds can be heard as described for the NC with the laying on of hands.
You have to get used to this a little at first. In the beginning, I often accidentally touched the auricle and carried out an action that was not planned in this way. After a few days it’ll work out fine. For the public, it may look a little stupid if someone seems to hit his ear. On the other hand, it also has a futuristic style to operate the headphones by touching them.
The Quickstart is very attractively designed and quickly introduces you to the operating options and all important functions with pictures. The “Reference Manual”, on the other hand, is not user-friendly. The speech feedback unfortunately comes with a poorly resolved voice.
There is nothing wrong with the Bluetooth function. The headphones cover a connection range of approx. 10 m with a 2.4 GHz band. They support all modern and popular audio formats. The connection was hardly interrupted during the test period.
You can safely store your headphones in the black hard case included in the scope of delivery. This is well made and offers a good shelter for the high-quality headphones. But they have to be folded to fit in. Since the whole procedure with folding, folding, fitting into the form and zipping takes longer, it is impractical in everyday life. I’m more of a fan of “just in there.” Thanks to a small handle, the bag can be carried with a finger or attached to something.
The bag is unfortunately somewhat impractical, but functional and a chic addition.
What would an upper class technical product be today without an app? Sony obviously thought the same of itself and therefore offers an app for Android and iOS, which is supposed to upgrade the headphones additionally. The Sony Headphones App has a wide range of functions. The connection with it runs reliably with the test object, this must be connected with Bluetooth.
Unfortunately, changing the sound mode is always tied to a new connection, which is annoying in practice. In the equalizer function, the user can choose between preset configurations or set his own presets. The battery query in the app rounds off imprecisely.
The application is beautifully designed and offers many functions, but not all of them are equally useful. Many configuration options “make the headphones worse”.
Conclusion of the Sony WH-1000XM2 Review
The headphones set standards in innovative operation, noise cancelling and wearing comfort. They have a good sound and make an excellent overall impression in our test. Numerous additional features also contribute to this. They are just as suitable for sports and longer audio book sessions as they are for everyday use. You’re an all-rounder. You should be aware that you are not only investing in sound, but also in a lot of technology. So if you don’t want to be very meticulous about sound, the Sony WH-1000XM2* is the perfect choice. We can also give a buy recommendation with a clear conscience due to the price difference compared to the successor model.