The Sony MDR-1000x are well-designed and sturdy wireless headphones with one of the best noise cancellation we've measured so far. They're comfortable and packed with active features that make them versatile enough for most use cases. They don't have the best sound for more critical listeners, but their overall performance makes them great headphones for every day, casual use.
- Excellent noise cancellation.
- Sturdy and durable build quality.
- Great active features.
- Slightly inconsistent sound when wireless.
- A bit leaky at high volumes.
Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.
The Sony MDR-1000x are well built, premium-looking headphones with a sleek wireless design. They have a durable headband that's reinforced with a metal frame, and large ear cups that are comfortable to wear for long listening sessions but lack a little padding compared to the QuietComfort 35. They're also stable enough to run with, although, they're not the ideal headphones for sports due to their bulkiness and sometimes wonky touch sensitive controls.
The Sony MDR-1000x look stylish and high end. They're made with premium materials and come in two color schemes; Beige and Black. They look slightly similar to the MDR-100AAP, but the headband and ear cups are a lot denser and look more robust. Unfortunately, although the headband lays pretty flat on the head, the thick ear cups tend to stick out. This makes them look like earmuffs on your head, which might not be for everyone.
The MDR-1000x are comfortable headphones but lack a bit of padding. They don't exert a lot of pressure around your ears, and they're also relatively lightweight for their size and build quality. However, the padding on the ear cups and the headband are not as thick as some of the other headphones in their price range like the QuietComfort 35 or PXC 550 Wireless.
The MDR-1000x have a good, tactile control scheme that offers a decent amount of functionality. They provide touch sensitive controls for volume, call/music, and track skipping. Additionally, they also offer aware modes to reduce the noise cancellation. This can be done with the ambient sound button that can selectively filter background noise while allowing you to hear voices with relative ease or a unique hand gesture that allows you to momentarily stop all audio and hear an on-going conversation by covering the right ear cup with your hand. Unfortunately, the touch sensitive control scheme is not as precise as physical buttons.
These headphones are a bit bulky, but they're just tight enough, to not be uncomfortable yet maintain a stable fit. Additionally, they're wireless, and won't be yanked off your head because the audio cable got tangled or hooked on something. However, because the ear cups are moderately heavy and stick out a bit, they will sway if used while doing strenuous exercise. In short, they should be stable enough to run with but won't be the ideal headphones for sports.
These headphones are slightly bulky however they fold into a relatively compact format for easier transportation. They're a bit cumbersome to carry on your person and won't fit into most pockets, but they're portable enough to fit into bags and maybe some larger jacket pockets.
The build quality of the Sony MDR-1000X is sturdy and durable. The materials used feel premium, the headband is reinforced with a metal frame, and the ear cups are dense and feel robust enough to withstand a drop from about shoulder height. However, there are a lot of moving parts, which allows them to fold and be more portable but also could be potential weak points that will wear over time, especially, that the connecting joints are made out of plastic. It's a tough plastic, but it won't be as durable as some of the headphones we've reviewed that use a bit more metal in their build.
Update 18/07/2017: Multiple users have experienced a build quality defect, resulting in a broken headband. We have therefore adjusted our build quality score to reflect this manufacturing issue. Read more
The MDR-1000X are very good sounding headphones, but a couple of issues that only show up while using them wirelessly, have made the overall score to drop significantly. They have excellent Bass and Mid Range reproduction, and the Treble Range is also well-balanced up to very high frequencies (10KHz). However, above that range, the MDR-1000X performs poorly in Frequency Response, Imaging and Distortion, resulting in a rather closed-up, airless and colored sound. But odd behavior at very high frequencies are not very audible and won't be noticeable to most casual listeners.
Excellent Bass Range performance. Low-bass is well extended down to 10Hz, and the rest of the response is virtually flat as well. The only remarkable thing here is the slight elevated high-bass which could add excess warmth and muddiness to the mix. However, at 3.9dB the effect will be subtle.
Very good Mid Range Performance. Just like the Bass Range, the Mid Range is produced virtually flawlessly. However, because of the small bumps around 500Hz and 2KHz, certain instruments and mixes could potentially sound a little forward.
Average Treble Range performance. Low-treble and treble responses are excellent. The only small note is the slight bump in the sibilance range, but the peak is too narrow and small to be significant. High-treble performance, however, is quite poor and tends to take the airiness and brilliance out of mixes. It should be noted that this behavior was only seen when the headphones were used wirelessly. When connected through the wire, the high-treble becomes quite flat and doesn't show the steep roll-off. If this is not part of a feature, we suspect this may be a firmware issue, since we could replicate the issue on Windows computers as well as Apple phones, but not necessarily on Android phones.
Decent frequency response consistency. The Bass Range of our Over-Ear and On-Ear headphones are measured on 5 different human subjects, 5 times each. And the MDR-1000X show exceptional consistency in the Bass Range across multiple individuals and re-seats. For the Treble Range, the graph shows the consistency of the response across 5 different re-seats on our HMS (Head & Mouth Simulator). Depending on the positioning, there could be noticeable shifts of up to 6dB at 6KHz, which would be noticeable and significant.
Poor Soundstage. Due to the closed-back design and excellent noise-cancellation, the MDR-1000X don't score well in Openness, which translates into a closed-up and isolating sound. On the other hand, the PRTF score which shows the headphone-pinna interaction, is decent and on-par with most other Over-Ear ear cups with similar size and depth.
Average Imaging. The phase shift in the Bass Range although measurable, won't be quite significant since humans are less sensitive to low-frequency phase shift. However, the excess phase shift happening above 10KHz will have a noticeable effect on Imaging. Overall, the high-treble on the MDR-1000X behave quite poorly in Imaging, Distortion and Frequency Response while used wirelessly. The large phase mismatch number is also because of the high-treble mismatch and the matching in Bass and Mid Ranges are decent.
Poor harmonic distortion performance. Although the overall distortion response is quite elevated, regardless of the level, the massive THD numbers reported here are mainly due to the spike above 5KHz which only occurs while using the headphones wirelessly. Subjectively, these headphones sound colored, probably due to the high ratio of second-order harmonics, but they do not sound distorted. The high amounts of second-order harmonics and the high-treble roll-off resembles what one would call the "tube sound", but we don't suspect this was intended. Regardless, we score headphones for transparency and therefore high amounts of harmonic distortion will be detrimental to the Sound Quality score.
The MDR-1000x have one of the best noise cancellation that we have measured so far. The default noise cancellation level is great but what really sets these headphones apart is the self-tuning feature. By keeping your finger on the 'NC' button for a brief moment the headset auto-calibrates to the unique fit created for each individual. For example, if you wear glasses the noise canceling will adjust and take that into account. The only downside to their isolation performance is that they a leak a little at higher volumes.
Excellent Noise Isolation. The MDR-1000X is currently our best performing noise-cancelling headphone, easily out-performing the QuietComfort 35. They achieve, in average, more than 17dB of isolation in the Bass Range, about 24dB in the Mid Range, and more than 38dB of reduction in the Treble Range. They don't produce much self-noise either, especially for the amount of isolation they achieve.
Average Leakage performance. The significant portion of the leakage sits between 500Hz and 8KHz which is a broad range. However, the overall level of the leakage is low, so the sound leaking out of these headphones would be relatively quiet but mid-rangy.
- 100% SpNR
The MDR-1000x have a great set of active features. They have a reliable and relatively fast wireless connection that supports the aptX codec including some codecs we have yet to test such as AAC and LDAC. The connection rarely dropped any audio below 50 ft and the NFC chip makes them easy to pair. They also have a good battery life that has an auto-off feature when not playing any audio which saves a lot of power but unfortunately means you will lose the noise cancellation if you're not playing anything. This can be a bit frustrating if you just want to use the headphones for the noise canceling.
The Wireless range and latency of the MDR 1000X is above average but won't be the best for movies and games. They maintained a stable connection up to 50 ft when the Bluetooth device was placed in an another room. They're also easy to pair thanks to NFC support, but unfortunately, the slight latency will cause sync issues when watching videos. We have not yet tested the other available codecs like LDAC or AAC, but they are more audio quality codecs, not latency improving ones.
The MDR-1000X have a good battery life at 24 hours of continuous playtime when the noise canceling feature was enabled. They also have a good battery saving feature that automatically switches off the headphones when you're not playing any audio. Unfortunately, they take quite a while to charge, and if you plan on just using the noise canceling feature without connecting to a Bluetooth source, then they will shut off automatically which can be a bit frustrating. They also can't play audio while charging.
No compatible app.
In the box
- Sony MDR-1000x Headphones
- Audio cable
- USB cable
- Carrying case