By Paisal Chuenprasaeng
The WH1000X Mark 2 headphones from Sony allow for precise control over surrounding noise
Sony’s WH1000X Mark 2 overear Bluetooth headphones reproduce impressive music quality for travellers thanks to effective noise cancelling and ambient sound technologies.
Light and foldable and shipped with a carrying case and an adapter for use on board planes, it comes with a button to switch between effective noise cancelling and ambient sound control. That means they’re safe for walking around in.
You can also control play by simply tapping and swiping on the right ear cup, which is really a smart design concept.
These are High-Resolution Audio headphones supporting frequency response from 4Hz to 40,000Hz when you use wired headphones with a provided audio cable.
As Bluetooth headphones, Hi-Res Audio sound is still possible, but with a slightly less resolution when the 1000XM2 is connected to a music player or phone that supports Sony’s LDAC 96kHz codec.
The headphones will also work with the aptX HD codec, which is a high-definition sound codec that is getting more use among new portable music players and new models of phones.
The 1000XM2 uses 40mm dome-type drivers and aluminium-coated Liquid Crystal Polymer diaphragms, resulting in good sound quality.
The micro-USB port on the right ear cup is for recharging the builtin battery. You can use the provided USB cable to connect to your computer, turning the headphones into a High-Res sound system or a headset for making video calls.
The builtin S-Master HX amplifier reduces distortion and brings out all the subtleties in the music. It deploys a Digital Sound Enhancement Engine HX (DSEE HX) to upscale compressed digital files, bringing them closer to the quality of High-Resolution Audio. By restoring the high-range sound lost in compression, the engine reproduces digital music in rich, clear tones.
The noise-cancelling circuit actually senses outside noise with builtin microphones and sends an equal-but-opposite cancelling signal to the headset.
A toggle switch on the left ear cup turns on and off the noise cancelling and the ambient sound control function. The button will cycle through these three modes when pressed. You’ll hear voice guidance as to which mode is on, or you can glance at the LED indicator next to the NC/Ambient button. When it’s green, noise cancelling is active. Yellow means Ambient Sound Mode is on. When both are off, you see a flashing green.
You can use the Sony Headphones Connect app to control and personalise these functions.
Meanwhile, Automatic AI (Artificial Intelligence) Noise Cancelling constantly analyses ambient sounds and automatically selects the most effective cancelling mode – NC Mode A, B or C.
Mode A is good when you’re riding in a plane, because Atmospheric Pressure Optimising kicks in at high altitude. Mode B is mainly for buses or trains, while Mode C is useful in an office environment where copiers and air-conditioners might be making a mild racket.
Another function further optimises noise cancelling by detecting the shape of your face, your hairstyle and whether you’re wearing glasses, as well as pressure changes on board a plane.
Even if you’re not flying, you should activate this function the first time you use the headset. Hold the NC/Ambient button until you hear the voice guide say, “Optimiser started.” Once the process is finished, it tells you so.
In Ambient Sound Mode, you can hear what’s coming into the microphones embedded in the left and right units. That’s how you avoid walking in front of a bus.
Use the app to switch between Normal and Voice modes. In Normal, you can hear surrounding sound just as though you weren’t wearing the headset. In Voice, you might have rock music banging away and you’ll still be able to hear stuff like Skytrain station announcements.
The app makes use of the headphones more fun and allows you to better control its functions and sound quality.
Among other things, the app displays the remaining battery life and the Bluetooth connection codec. You can even auto-adjust the noise cancelling by behaviour recognition, allowing the headphones to detect, for example, whether you’re walking or sitting.
You can use the app to select which direction the sound is heard from, or choose virtual surround sound in several modes, including Arena, Club, Outdoor Stage and Concert Hall.
The app will help you pick equaliser settings, including Bright, Excited, Mellow, Relaxed, Vocal and Bass Boost.
Connecting the headphones to a phone with NFC (Near Field Communication) is a breeze. You simply align the “N” mark on the left cup to the one at the back of your Android phone and NFC pairs them up. I did this instantly with a Sony XZ Premium phone.
Listening to Hi-Res Audio songs from my XZ and from Sony’s NWA25 Hi-Res Audio Walkman, I found the music quality impressive, with good details and powerful bass.
There’s a touch sensor panel on the right ear cup for controlling music on Bluetooth-connected devices. Tap twice to pause a track and double-tap to resume play. Swipe forward to skip to the next track. Swipe up repeatedly to increase the volume and down to lower it.
The battery life is a decent 30 hours and quick charges are possible. You can get 70 minutes of playback with just a 10-minute charge.
The Sony WH1000X Mark 2 has a suggested retail price of Bt14,990.
KEY SPECS: WH1000X Mark 2
– Headphone type: Closed, dynamic
Driver unit: 40mm, dome type (CCAW Voice Coil)
– Magnet: Neodymium
– Impedance: 46 ohms (1kHz) when connecting via the headphone cable with the unit turned on, 14 ohms (1kHz) when connecting via the headphone cable with the unit turned off
– Frequency response: 4Hz to 40,000Hz
Sensitivities: 103dB/mW (1kHz) when connecting via the headphone cable with the unit turned on, 98dB/mW (1kHz) when connecting via the headphone cable with the unit turned off
– Inputs: Micro USB, Stereo Mini Jack
– Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.1
– Supported wireless audio formats: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC
Bluetooth profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP
– Battery: Fourhour charge time, 30 hours playback with NC on
– Weight: 275 grams