- Table of Contents
- Active Features
In the box
The Sony WH-1000XM2 are a good wireless noise-canceling headset for commuting. They're slightly better and more customizable than the MDR-1000X. They have about the same performance in most aspects but with a more consistent sound quality and a great app. This makes them one of the best noise-isolating headphones we've tested and a good option for frequent flyers and daily commuters. Unfortunately, they won't be ideal for watching a lot of videos due to their relatively high latency.
These Headphones are currently our best Noise Cancelling Headphones - Alternative with more Customization Options.
- Excellent noise cancellation.
- Great active features and app support.
- Comfortable and premium looking design.
- Poor latency for watching videos.
- Not ideal for making calls.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 are a slightly updated version of the MDR-1000X. They have a two-tone color scheme that stands out a bit more than the original black version. They also have a simpler control scheme with one button to control the ambient modes and noise canceling instead of two. They're a bit more comfortable thanks to the softer ear pads but the rest of the design is pretty much the same. They won't be the best headphones to exercise with since they're a bit bulky. Although they look and feel well-built, they may be susceptible to the same headband defect as that of the MDR-1000X.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 look quite similar to the MDR-1000X. They have slightly softer padding, but you won't be able to notice the difference by just looking at them. One of the few changes in their design is their color scheme. They have a two-tone black and grey finish, and the ear cups have a slightly matte and rubbery coating that makes them stand out a bit more than the original model. However, they're not very distinguishable from one another at a distance.
The Sony 1000XM2 have slightly better padding on the ear cups but are not distinctively more comfortable than the original MDR-1000X. The ear cups are large and fit well around most listener's ears without being too tight. The headband isn't as generously padded but doesn't put much pressure on the head. They're comfortable enough to wear for long listening sessions and the better padding of the ear cups means they will be less fatiguing after a few hours.
The Sony WH-1000XM2, like 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. Unlike the previous models though, the noise cancellation button now doubles as the aware/ambient modes switch. However, they still have the somewhat unique hand gesture that allows you to momentarily stop all audio and hear an on-going conversation by covering the right ear cup. Unfortunately, the touch-sensitive control scheme is not as precise as physical buttons which may cause a couple of accidental inputs.
- 100% Avg.Temp.Difference
The Sony WH-1000XM2, like most closed back over-ear headphones, are not the most breathable design to take to the gym. They create a good seal around your ears which prevents a lot of airflow and therefore make you sweat a bit more than usual especially if you're doing more demanding exercises. They should be fine for more casual uses only warming your ears after extended listening sessions, but they will not be ideal for running and working out.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 are the same size as the MDR-1000X. They also fold into a more compact format which makes them somewhat portable but a bit difficult to carry around on your person. They will easily fit into a bag or backpack and they come with a pretty good and sturdy case.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 are well-built premium looking headphones. The ear cups are dense, well-made and feel durable. The headband is also a nice blend of metal and plastic that gives it a unique look and a flexible design. However, like the previous model the hinges and the part of the headband that connects to the ear cups are still plastic. This means they may also be susceptible to the headband defect that caused the original MDR-1000x to receive a lower score. However, until we receive more reports on the WH-1000xm2 headband having the same issue as its predecessor, we will continue monitoring its durability and update the score accordingly.
The Sony WH1000XM2 are stable enough for a light jog but will not be the ideal headphones for working out and exercising. Their wireless design and slightly tight fit make them a bit more stable since their less likely to fall off your head because the audio cable got hooked on something. However, because the ear cups are moderately heavy and stick out a bit, they will sway a lot depending on the intensity of your work out routine.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 is a decent sounding pair of closed-back over-ear headphones. They have a very good, consistent, and deep bass, with adequate thump and punch. They also have a good mid-range, and a nearly flat and neutral treble range, which is important for a balanced reproduction of vocals and lead instruments. However, their bass tends to sound a bit muddy and cluttered, and their treble lacks a bit of airiness. Compared to the MDR-1000X, they have a slightly forward sound and improved imaging and distortion performance, but the difference won't be noticeable to most. Also, like most other headphones, they don't have large and speaker-like soundstage.
The bass of the Sony WH1000XM2 is very good. Their LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 10Hz, which means they are able to produce low thumps and rumbles. Also, the entire response is virtually flat across the bass range, but consistently over our target by more than 2dB, especially in high-bass. This results in an extended and punchy bass, but with the downside of sounding a bit boomy and cluttered.
The mid-range performance of the Sony WH-1000XM2 is good. Low-mid is flat but with a negligible tilt favoring lower frequencies. The bump in high-mid brings and vocals/leads slightly to the front of the mix. Overall, the mid-range is slightly more forward sounding than that of the MDR-1000X.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 have a very good treble range performance. Low-treble and mid-treble are flat and within 2dB of our target response. This ensures a balanced reproduction of vocals and leads. In high-treble, these headphones have fixed the steep roll-off issue that the MDR-1000X had and although this will give more "air" to the treble of XM2, the effect will be quite subtle.
The frequency response consistency of the Sonys are very good. Similar to the MDR-1000X and QuietComfort 35, the Sony 1000XM2 seem to be using its noise cancelling system to check for bass consistency. Therefore, in the bass range they perform extremely consistently across our five human subjects. In the treble range, they are decently consistent, but not as much as the bass range, showing about 6dB of deviation between 2KHz and 10KHz. This results in a consistent delivery of bass and treble across multiple users and re-seats.
The Sony WH1000XM2 have great imaging. Their weighted group delay is 0.15, which is very good. The graph also shows that the entire group delay is below our audibility threshold, which was not the case with the MDR-1000X. Our L/R drivers of our test unit was also very good in terms of frequency, amplitude, and phase matching. This is important for proper and accurate localization of objects (such as voice, footsteps, and instruments) in the stereo field.
The soundstage of the Sony WH-1000XM2, like most other closed-back over-ear headphones, are poor. The PRTF response shows a good amount of pinna activation, which suggests a relatively large size for the soundstage. However, the peak in the PRTF around 2.5KHz could indicate a soundstage that feels a bit unnatural. Also, there's not a notch in the 10KHz region, which could result in the soundstage to be perceived as located inside the head.
The harmonic distortion performance of the Sony is below-average. The overall response is rather elevated throughout the range, and nearly identical to the 1000X model up to 8KHz. However, the excess THD that we experienced above 8KHz with the 1000X, has been addressed with the Sony WH-1000XM2.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 are on par with the previous model in terms of isolation, and they're still one of the best headphones to cancel ambient noise. This makes them a great option for commuting and traveling. They also don't leak much at average volumes so you can use them in quieter settings without distracting the people in your vicinity.
The active noise cancelling (ANC) system of the Sony WH-1000XM2 is excellent. They perform nearly identical to the 1000X, within our margin of error. They achieve about 19dB of isolation in the bass range, which is important for cancelling out the rumble of airplane and bus engines. In the mid-range, where the bulk of speech sits, their reduction is more than 26dB. In the treble range, important for cutting out sharp S and T sounds, the Sonys achieve a isolation of 40dB, which is great.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 have an average leakage performance. The significant portion of leakage sits between 500Hz and 2KHz, which is a relatively broad range and will sound fuller than that of in-ears and earbuds. The overall level of leakage is not very loud either, but it would be audible to people around you at loud volumes and in quiet environments.
The integrated microphone of the Sony WH-1000XM2 has a poor performance. Speech recorded or transmitted with the mic of the Sonys will sound noticeably veiled and also slightly thin, which makes speech a bit difficult to understand over the phone. They also don't fare well in moderately loud environments, as they will struggle to separate speech from ambient noise in a place such as a busy street.
The recording quality of the Sony 1000XM2's mic is mediocre. The LFE is at 276dB, meaning recorded voice will sound slightly thin. HFE is at 3.2KHz resulting in the recorded speech to lack presence and detail. The frequency response between LFE and HFE is also quite inconsistent. Overall, speech may not be easily intelligible with them over the phone.
- 100% SpNR
The microphone on the Sony WH1000XM2 has sub-par noise handling as it achieves a speech-to-noise ratio of only 6.5dB, which is quite low. This means that the Sony won't be able to separate speech from noise in environments with even moderate amount of ambient noise.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 have a better battery life and a great app that offers a lot of control options absent on the MDR-1000x. The customization options and features offered by the app make the experience a lot more personal. You can now EQ the sound profile to your liking with a good parametric equalizer or presets. You can also add effects, choose from different adaptive noise canceling profiles and even select an audio quality priority that enables, LDAC, aptX and aptX HD which is a great addition, especially with Android Oreo devices.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 have a good battery life that will last you all day. They also have a quick charge feature that provides about 50 mins worth of playtime from a 10 mins charge. However, they take quite a while to fully charge at 3.6 hours, and they also don't automatically switch off anymore when they're connected to a Bluetooth source, and the adaptive sound is disabled. This is a partial fix that does not resolve the auto-off issue of the original MDR-1000x. When not connected to a Bluetooth source, they switch off within 5 minutes to save power, which is decent but flawed. Ideally, a timer feature in the app would have been a great addition.
The Sony WH1000XM2 support the Sony| Headphones Connect app which gives them a lot more versatility and control options than the MDR-1000x. The app is well designed, easy-to-use and offers quite a few features that aren't common even for other wireless noise-canceling headphones. It gives you live data on the adaptive noise canceling. You can also calibrate the ANC directly in the app instead of holding the NC/ambient button. There's a great parametric equalizer with presets, an in-app media player, as well as room effects and sound position options. The only thing really lacking in this app is an auto-off timer, but overall it's a great addition and one of the biggest differences between the WH-1000xm2 and the MDR-1000x.
- 10% Bluetooth
- 32% Wired
- 10% Base/Dock
- 22% Wireless Range
- 25% Latency
The Sony WH-1000Xm2 are equal to the MDR-1000x in terms of connection options. They 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. Latency, however, is a bit worse on this model than on the previous one but the line of sight range is better.
- 79% Multi-Device Pairing
- 20% NFC
- 0% PS4 Compatible
- 0% Xbox One Compatible
The Sony WH-1000XM2 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.
- 13% Analog
- 9% USB
- 26% PS4 Compatible
- 26% Xbox One Compatible
- 26% PC Compatible
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.
- 4% Optical Input
- 22% Line In
- 4% Line Out
- 22% USB Input
- 4% RCA Input
- 9% PS4 Compatible
- 9% Xbox One Compatible
- 9% PC Compatible
- 2% Power Supply
- 13% Dock Charging
The Sony WH1000XM2 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.
These headphones have a good overall wireless range. They perform a bit worse indoors than the MDR-1000x but do better in direct line of sight. It's not a big difference, however, so they should both be a good option to use with a fixed Bluetooth source and especially if you keep your mobile device on you.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 have a bit more latency than the than the original MDR-1000X. This redesign seems to focus more on improving sound quality and addding sound quality codec options than on low latency. So while the WH-1000XM2 will be good for streaming audio, they won't be ideal for watching videos. If you need to watch movies either use them wired or get the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x for their wired connection and good sound.
In the box
- Sony MDR-1000x Headphones
- Audio cable
- USB cable
- Carrying case
Compared to other Headphones
The Sony WH-1000Xm2 are a well-built and premium looking noise-canceling headset. They have a good sound and lots of customization options thanks to the new app support. They're also one of the best noise canceling headphones we've measured which makes them a good choice for commuters and travelers. However, their bulky design might not be as versatile as some of the headphones they are often compared to.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II are a minor update to the Bose QuietComfort 35 with a better control scheme. You now have a bit more control over the noise cancellation even without the app, and you get Google Assitant built-in. They're still one of the best noise-canceling headphones with a comfortable, easy-to-use design and a very good sound. They do not look as high-end as the Sonys for the same price but do offer a versatile design that's great for commuting and sounds a little better out of the box. Unfortunately, their sound can't be customized like the Sonys which means if you prefer a more flexible set of features and better noise cancellation, the WH-1000Xm2 is a better choice. But if comfort, sound and ease-of-use is a top priority, then go for the Bose.
The Sony MDR-1000x are the older model of the WH-1000xm2. They have the same design and a similar performance but the addition of the customizable app changes the experience quite significantly for some listeners. If you're on a tight budget then get the MDR-1000x. They sound as good as the newer model and isolate enough for most commuters, but they have a slightly more inconsistent sound, you can't easily switch between codecs, and no customization options since they do not support the Sony| Connect app.
The Beats Studio3 Wireless have a more slick design that looks good and is versatile enough to be suitable for sports. They do not have quite the same high-end feel as the WH-1000xm2, but they have a better wireless range and a good battery life with an excellent quick charge feature. Unfortunately, their noise cancellation doesn't quite measure up to the Sonys, so if noise isolation in noisy environments is most essential for you, get the XM2 but if want a more versatile design and have an iOS device, then the Studio 3 are a great alternative.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless are a versatile wireless headset with great customization options and a good sound. They don't cancel noise as well as the WH-1000XM2 but provide more control over their active features and the Sennheiser Captune app is a bit more customizable. They have a comfortable design that's slightly more well rounded than the Sonys thanks to their tighter fit which makes them more suitable for sports. If you need the most isolation for you noisy commutes then get the WH-1000XM2 but for mixed usage, the Sennheiser have a slightly sleeker and more versatile design.
Questions & Answers
QuietComfort 35 and WH-1000XM2 sound very close to each other, and we recommend them over the PXC 550 Wireless. The Sony sounds slightly muddy in high-bass, but that's easily correctable with an EQ. In comparison, the Bose maybe a bit too bright for some.
It would probably better to decide between the two based on other factors like comfort, battery/wireless performance, and leakage.
The WH-1000XM2 has a noticeably better noise cancelling system and a more neutral/balanced bass. The downside of the Sony is its slightly muddy sound, but a few dBs of cut around 180Hz even on an app like Spotify would take care of it.
The BackBeat Pro 2 has a hyped bass which is more "exciting", but it definitely kicks a bit too much on some tracks (which some may like). A little bit of cut around 30Hz will correct most of the BackBeat's issues.
Also, please note that these are just general comments. EQing is highly dependent the sound profile of each track, which can vary a lot.
We have updated the battery text for the WH-1000XM2 review to reflect this, and we agree that a firmware update from Sony, with an auto-off timer option, would be a quick and ideal fix for this issue.
However, we've also noticed that OS-specific compensation for latency does happen with certain headphones. For example, headsets with the W1 chip do not have as much latency when connected iOS devices. We do not yet have a way to reliably measure these OS-specific improvements as only external Bluetooth dongles are compatible with our testbench for now.
We connected our Sony WH-1000xm2 headset to 2 iPhones, both on ios 11, and switched the sound profile to "Excited". We then measured the bass response of the Sonys, turned them off and back on again, but didn't notice any significant increase in bass upon reconnection. Below is the attached measurement before and after reconnecting the headphones.
We did notice though, that switching the EQ profiles disables the DSEE HX auto mode, and also switched the AAC codec to SBC on one of the ios devices, which may be partially the cause of your issue, but in our test, it didn't make a significant difference in bass. Reinstalling the app may help but we cannot reproduce this issue with our WH-1000XM2.
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