Sony WH-1000XM2 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphone: Review - Different Scene, Different ANC


Sony launched the MDR-1000X active noise canceling headphone in September 2016 and named the 1000X as a brand, introducing a number of active noise reduction Bluetooth wireless headsets. This includes the most-like-MDR100X headphone, WH-1000XM2, true wireless WI-1000X and so on. As can be seen from the last two characters of WH-1000XM2, it is the second generation MDR-1000X. Thanks to a reader sent this WH-1000XM2 headset, we have just bought a MDR-1000X, so today's review mainly compares the difference between the two generations of headphones 1000X. MDR-1000X headset after the release of 1000XM2, at the end of 2017 made a similar clearance sale, the price discount to less than 1500 yuan (about $250), and has been suspended; WH1000XM2's official price is marked at 2899 yuan (about $400), the actual online shopping price is about 2,000 yuan(about $300).

Functional Adjustment: The appearance, package and carrying case of the WH-1000XM2 headset, are basically the same as those of the MDR-1000X, with gold and black appearances. Specific experience is not described in detail, refer to our previous evaluation of the article "Sony MDR-1000X Bluetooth wireless headset noise canceling headphones Assessment Report" [Author: Soomal]. From a functional point of view, the 1000XM2 does some minor adjustments compared to the first generation 1000X headphone.

Looking at the buttons on the lower side of the right channel, you will find that it change from the three buttons on the 1000X to two, which is the combination of noise canceling and Ambient Sound Mode button in one. Functional viewing, the environmental sound is actually an active noise reduction in a special pickup state, or the active noise reduction switch is a mode of 100% elimination of environmental sounds, showing Sony¡¯s utmost pursuit concept. However, the 1000XM2 also removes the 1000X right channel gesture control to turn on ambient sound. On the 1000X, you can cover the outside of the unit with your hand and open the ambient sound in a cool way. There is no change in other aspects.

It is necessary to add what is called Ambient Sound here. Recent years, ANC headphones were adding "ambient sound" function to lower ANC degree. Specifically, it can reduce a part of the frequency range of active noise reduction. At the same time, because the active noise reduction has a microphone on the earphone, it can enhance a certain frequency range. For example, the environmental sound vocal mode is to strengthen the external mid-high sound through the microphone, even if you are listening to music, you can also open the environment to hear the voice of the world outside the headset. As the earliest design of environmental sound from sports headphones, so it is also to solve the potential safety problem for many years on the use of active noise canceling headphones in outdoor use cannot hear the external noise may brought.

Added app: In terms of software, the environmental sound function has been strengthened. The new generation of 1000X series has a smartphone app support, which is not the treatment of the MDR-1000X. After connecting the WH-1000X headphones for the first time, you will be prompted to install Sony's "Headphone" app as shown. The app is divided into the following functional areas from top to bottom, including the top-level adaptive ambient sound, noise reduction use environment detection, virtual surround sound, EQ, and DSEE switch.

Adaptive ambient sound or adaptive noise reduction is a feature that first-generation products cannot achieve. From the app's interface we can easily understand the role and meaning of this function. Follow the wizard to use, the software will detect the status of the headset you are using, such as the top icon display is divided into sit-down [official called stop], walk, run, and bus. These four states are actually software-friendly switching. For example, if you are sitting at home, it will use the stay mode. Then you go up to the toilet, it will cut into the walking mode. It is actually not too smart. What is the content of the four modes of switching? As shown below the slider, it is 0-20, a total of 21 levels of environmental sound level, the greater the number can hear the sound of the outside world. Level 0 is not displayed, that is, active noise reduction is fully activated without ambient sound.

The environmental sound of the walking mode is 12, the ambient sound of the running mode is 20, and the environmental sound of the bus mode is 0. As mentioned above, environmental sounds are used to ensure that you do not remove too much outside noise due to noise reduction and may cause safety problems. For example, vehicle sounds not being heard would cause safety problems, while multi-level environmental sounds would help. If it is relatively low, for example, within the range of 10 stops, the low-frequency noise would be filtered; and when the maximum value is 20, most of the low-frequency sound can be introduced. This is why when running, noise reduction is almost off. In addition, there is a voice mode that can be used to amplify mid-range and mid-high frequencies. Adaptive noise reduction can be manually turned off.

According to the functional area, the ambient sound function is followed by noise reduction environment optimization. It is responsible for detecting the optimization of the earphone and the user's face shape, ear and use environment, which is also available on the 1000X, long press the button. However, we can see more clearly from the app. Atmospheric pressure, human ears, and human faces are the main contents of this project optimization. The bottom virtual surround sound and EQ, it is clear, do not need special instructions, but this set of EQ preset several programs is still good, is not an exaggeration, just fine-tuning.

In general, the WH-1000XM2 has added a mobile app to the first generation 1000X in terms of functionality, making the setting of the ambient sound more subtle, but this does not seem to be used in Sony's Walkman. Fortunately, LDAC can theoretically be used on Android 8.0 system phones. The EQ, virtual surround sound, etc. are also features that have been added to the first generation MDR1000X

Active noise reduction experience: Compared to the first-generation MDR-1000X headphone, the degree and style of active noise reduction of the WH-1000XM2 is basically the same as that of the MDR-1000X, and is in a noisy environment, such as next to a busy highway, or on the street, it can be found that 1000XM2 is still slightly stronger than 1000X in the noise reduction on mids, but it can basically be considered that the noise reduction is the same. For details on the noise reduction effect, refer to our MDR-1000X evaluation report, which belongs to one of the top noise reduction effect headphones.

Sound performance: The sound style of the WH-1000XM2 is basically the same as that of the MDR-1000X. There is no need for further illustrations, refer to the previous MDR-1000X evaluation. Although the two headsets have a small difference in bass and style details [1000XM2 bass feels slightly better in power, and the volume feels a little more], we suspect that this is the difference brought about by the correction of the noise reduction environments of the two headphones. Because we made a minor mistake in the test, including the last Beats Studio3 test comparing 1000X, we forgot to correct the newly purchased 1000X headphone, so the result is that the low frequency is less than the corrected one. Because we really forgot 1000X this function, we didn't remember until this review.

What is worth noting is that we talked about the MDR1000X review. The advantage brought by LDAC is the density and texture of the sound in the dynamic and intermediate frequencies. When using LDAC, Sony¡¯s two headsets¡¯ bass will improve relatively, and the sound will become more compact, elasticity and dynamic.

Summary: Sony WH-1000XM2 should be regarded as an advanced version of the MDR-1000X program, supporting mobile apps to make it look more like a smart product. Whether the environmental sound refinement or adaptation may vary from person to person. The role of EQ and virtual surround sound is also icing on the cake. In terms of active noise reduction performance, the 1000XM2 has a very small increase, while the bass details have been increased by a certain extent with respect to a 1000X generation, and others are basically the same. So it is very clear how to choose from WH-1000XM2 and MDR1000X.

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