The Sony MDR-1000x are above-average headphones for most use cases with excellent noise cancelling, which makes them a good choice for commuting and traveling. They're comfortable and decently well built with a lot of features but no app for added control like with the Sony WH-1000XM2. They also have a few flaws with their sound quality which won't be ideal for more critical listeners, but their overall performance makes them good headphones for every day, casual use.
The Sony MDR-1000x are premium-looking headphones with a sleek wireless design. Unfortunately, despite their high-end build quality, their headband is prone to breaking if you fold them and carry them often in your bag, even if you put them in their case. On the upside, the large ear cups are comfortable to wear for long listening sessions although they lack a little padding compared to the QuietComfort 35. They're also stable enough to run with, but they're not the ideal headphones for sports due to their bulkiness and sometimes wonky touch-sensitive controls (see our recommendations for the best over-ear headphones for working out).
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 Sony 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, but they are more comfortable than the Sony MDR-XB950N1.
The Sony 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 have a typical closed-back over-ear fit that will make your ears a little warm during longer listening sessions. This also means that they will not be the best option for sports and more strenuous activities but on the upside, they are not less breathable than most typical over-ears and should be fine for casual use.
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 looks premium and well built but isn't as durable as once expected. The materials used feel high-end, the headband has 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
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.
The Sony MDR-1000X are very good sounding closed-back over-ear headphones, but a couple of issues that only show up while using them wirelessly have made the overall score to drop significantly. They have an excellent, deep, and consistent bass, and an even mid-range. This makes them suitable for a variety of genres, especially bass-heavy ones. However, their bass could sound a bit boomy, and their mid-range sounds a little thick and cluttered, especially on vocals. Their treble range is also very flat and well-balanced for the most part, which is important for vocals and lead instruments. However, in high-treble (above 10KHz), these headphones perform poorly in frequency response, imaging and distortion, resulting in a bit of an airless and colored sound. But this odd behavior only happens when used wirelessly and is not very audible or noticeable to most listeners.
The Sony MDR-1000X have a great bass performance. The LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 10Hz, which is excellent. Low-bass, responsible for the thump and rumble common to bass-heavy music and film scores is over our target by almost 3dB. Some people may like the extra thump. Mid-bass, responsible for the body bass guitars and the punch of kick drums is also hyped by about 3dB. The main remark here though is the 4dB bump high-bass which could add excess muddiness to the mix.
The mid-range is very good. The overall response is quite even and flat, but shows a bit of a tilt favoring lower frequencies. The 2dB overemphasis in low-mid adds a bit of thickness to vocals and a bit of clutter to the overall sound. Mid-mid and high-mid are within 1dB of our neutral target, so the overall mid-range will sound well-balanced, but a bit heavy on the lower mid-range.
The treble performance of the Sony MDR1000X is above-average. Low-treble and treble responses are excellent and within 1dB of our neutral target. This results in a well-balanced reproduction of vocals, instruments and cymbals. High-treble performance, however, is quite poor and tends to take the airiness and brilliance out of mixes. However, this won't be as noticeably as a dip in low-treble or mid-treble. 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 as steep of a roll-off.
Above-average frequency response consistency. The bass range of our over-ear and on-ear headphones are measured on 5 different human subjects, 5 times each. The Sony MDR-1000X show exceptional consistency in the bass range across multiple individuals and re-seats. The graph in the treble range shows the consistency of the response across 5 different re-seats on our dummy head. Depending on the positioning, there could be noticeable shifts of up to 6dB at 6KHz, which would be noticeable.
The imaging performance is decent. Their weighted group delay is 0.45, which is good. The graph also shows that almost the entire group delay is below our audibility threshold. Also, the L/R drivers of our test unit were very good in terms of frequency and amplitude matching. This is important for proper and accurate localization of objects (such as voice, instruments, video game effects) in the stereo field. The phase mismatch in high-treble and the dip in group delay in the same region is the main reason for their lower imaging score. However, this won't be noticeable to the majority of the users and shouldn't be a concern. The newer WH-1000XM2 though doesn't have this issue.
The soundstage of the Sony MDR-1000X, like the WH-1000XM2, is sub-par. The PRTF response shows a good amount of pinna activation, which suggests a relatively large size for the soundstage. However, the bump around 2.5KHz could indicate a soundstage that feels a bit unnatural. Also, since there's not a notch in the 10KHz region the soundstage is perceived as located inside the head.
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 newer WH-1000XM2 doesn't have this issue.
The Sony MDR-1000x have one of the best noise cancelation 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 Sony MDR-1000X, along with headphones by Bose and B&W, is one of the best performing noise-cancelling headphones we have measured so. They achieve more than 17dB of isolation in the bass range, which is very good. This is where the rumble of airplane and bus engines sits. In the mid-range, important for cancelling out speech they isolate by about 24dB which is great. In the treble range, occupied by sharp S and T sounds they achieve more than 38dB of isolation, which is also great.
The leakage performance is decent. 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. With the music 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 39dB SPL and peaks at 54dB SPL, which is just above the noise floor of an average office.
The Sony MDR-1000X have a mediocre integrated microphone. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with this mic will sound a bit thin and noticeably lacking in detail. It may also be prone to pop and low rumbling sounds. In noisy situations, it struggles to fully separate speech from background noise even in moderately loud environments, like a busy street.
The microphone has a below-average recording quality. The bumps below 100Hz make it prone to pops and rumbling noises. The dip at 200Hz though, make recorded/transmitted speech slightly thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 3.3KHz is not great and results in a speech that lacks detail and sounds muffled.
The integrated microphone of the Sony MDR-1000X is sub-par at noise-handling. In our SpNR test, they achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 8dB, indicating they are best suited for quiet environments and will struggle to separate speech from ambient noise in moderate and loud situations.
The Sony MDR-1000x have a decent battery life but lack an app for added customization options. This makes these headphones a lot less customizable than similarly designed models like the PXC 550 wireless from Sennheiser or even the updated Sony WH-100XM2. On the upside, their battery life will last 23 hours of continuous listening even with the noise canceling on which should be more than enough for most activities and will easily last you the whole day even if you're a heavy user. Unfortunately, they take a fairly long time to charge and their auto-off feature can be a little aggressive and cannot be disabled.
The Sony 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.
The Sony MDR-1000x are Bluetooth headphones that come with a standard audio cable with no inline remote. This means they will not have a microphone that's compatible with consoles but you can always use them wired for audio with your Xbox or PS4 controllers. Unfortunately, like most Bluetooth headphones, they have a bit too much latency to watch a lot of video content or for gaming, although their latency performance is a little better than the WH-1000XM2. On the upside, they have a great wireless range, a stable and reliable wireless connection and support aptxXand LDAC.
The Sony MDR-1000X do not have simultaneous multi-device pairing like the Bose QuietComfort 35. But on the upside, they do support NFC which makes pairing with smartphones a bit easier.
These headphones come with an audio cable with no in-line remote or USB adapter. This means they do not have a mic that is compatible with consoles.
These headphones do not have a base/dock. If you want a versatile headset with a base that you can also use wired, check out the Arctis 7 by SteelSeries.
The Sony MDR-1000x have a bit too much latency to comfortably watch a lot of video content despite having aptX. At 180ms for SBC and 156 when paired with an aptX ready device they perform a lot better than average Bluetooth headphones but will still not be the best choice for latency-sensitive use cases like gaming.
The Sony MDR-1000x are a decent mixed usage headphone with great noise cancellation. They cancel noise a lot better than some of the similarly designed wireless over-ears below which makes them a good choice for commute and travel. They also have a premium look and feel, great wireless range and battery life but a weak headband design that's prone to breaking under moderate physical stress which will be a deal breaker for some. See our recommendations with the best noise cancelling headphones and the best headphones for music.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 are a slightly better headset than the Sony MDR-1000X, but not by much. The WH-1000XM2 have a more customizable sound and better control over their noise cancelation feature than the original MDR-1000X, thanks to the headphone's Connect app. The XM2 have also received fewer complaints about poor build quality with the headband, making them a bit more durable overall than the older model. On the other hand, the Sony MDR-1000X do better in the mid-range, although not by much, especially since you can customize the sound of the XM2. But on the upside, they're a bit more affordable since they are the older generation of the same headset.
The Sony MDR-1000X are a slightly better wireless noise-canceling headset than the Sony WH-H900N. The MDR-1000X have better noise cancelation and a better battery life that does not take as long to charge as WH-H900N. On the other hand, the 900Ns have a better-balanced default sound and you can customize their sound profile with the Sony Headphones Connect app, unlike the MDR-1000X. They also have a slightly sleeker and more fashion-forward design that some may prefer over the very professional look of the MDR-1000X.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II are a better headphone than the Sony MDR-1000X. The Bose have an easier-to-use, lightweight, and more comfortable over-ear fit than the Sonys. The QC 35 II also have a better sound quality that packs a bit more bass than the MDR-1000X and sounds a bit clearer with instruments and vocals. The Sonys, on the other hand, have more features and support multiple high-quality audio codecs that we haven't had the chance to test yet. They also look more premium and have an equally good and more optimized noise-canceling performance.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 are a better headset overall than the Sony MDR-1000X. They're a bit more comfortable and have a more consistent and balanced sound quality than the Sonys. The Bose are also easier to use and can easily pair with 2 devices simultaneously. The Sony MDR-1000X, on the other hand, have a very similar noise cancellation feature but with a more premium looking build quality and touch-sensitive controls. However, they have a few manufacturing defects that make the headband a bit more susceptible to breaking under stress than the Bose.
The Sony MDR-1000X have a similar performance to the JBL Everest Elite 700 overall. The Sony are not as tight on the head as the JBL, which makes them a bit more comfortable to wear for longer listening sessions. They also have a longer battery life, more customization options, and they support more codec options than the Everest Elite 700. On the other hand, the JBL have a unique noise cancelling feature since you can control the amount of cancellation in each ear cup. They also have a slightly better wireless range and lower latency, although both headphones will not be ideal for watching a lot of movies.