Sony WH-1000XM2 Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones (review)
4.2Overall Score

Price (RRP): $499
Manufacturer: Sony

Sony’s WH-1000XM2 are its premium noise cancelling headphones packed with just about every feature you could imagine.

There is no point comparing the pros and cons of the top-drawer Bluetooth ANC (automatic noise cancelling) headphones because I have tried most of them – Sennheiser PXC-550, Bose Quiet Comfort II, JBL, Plantronics, Beats, AKG, Parrot, etc. – and they are all very good in their own way.

So how do you decide what to buy in a crowded market? The answer is what feels most comfortable for your head and what sounds good to you.

For example, my wife loves the Bose QC (small and cute), I prefer the Sennheiser PXC (a real man’s headset), my impoverished adult son likes SMATE (cheap and cheerful), my adult spendthrift daughter likes Sony (classy), and a friend has a Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 (good value).

So, we have to look at points of difference.

In Sony’s case its ANC is adjusted to compensate for altitude – sounds are heard differently at 40,000 feet to sea level. I have to say that ANC is extremely effective – the equal or better of Bose or Sennheiser. This technology is currently unique to Sony.

Improvements over its predecessor include better ANC, longer battery life (claimed 30 hours with Bluetooth/ANC and 40 hours wired/ANC), quick charge (10 minutes for 70 minutes play), greater durability, and refreshingly a lower retail price.

They still lack one important feature – the ability to charge from micro-USB and play at the same time via either 3.5mm cable or USB. If this feature is important look to the Sennheiser or others that that treat the headphone as a USB digital device.

Out of the box

  • Headphones
  • Dual 3.5mm mono to stereo adapter (suits most aircraft outlets)
  • 5mm to 3.5mm stereo headphone cable (approx. 1.5m)
  • 600mm USB-A to micro-USB cable charging cable (too short)
  • Compact, semi-rigid, oval-shaped carry leatherette, fabric, zippered carry case

Set up is as simple as charge and plug-in or Bluetooth pair via NFC or discovery. You can also load the Sony | Headphone Connect app for iOS or Android for additional features.

The phones fold up (the cups go sideways) to fit in the carry case.

There are two buttons – one for power and Bluetooth pairing and one for Noise control and ambient noise adjustment. Volume up/down, pause, and track forward and reverse on the right ear and access by touch.

I like the clean, business-like, minimalist and understated all black. The Gold version has a little more bling appeal.

Fit and comfort

These are compact headphones at 275g. I have normal sized ears and the over-the-ear fit is quite comfortable and snug – good for noise isolation. If you have big ears test them first for comfort before purchase.

How do they sound?

Excellent – They are Sony’s typical sound signature of warm and sweet (bass/mids boosted, treble recessed) and that offers a lot of scope to play with the app’s equalisers and pre-sets to get anything from Bass to mid-centric. Frequency response is 4-40,000Hz (LDAC content) – way outside human hearing.

There is plenty of volume up to 103dB – the equivalent of using a blow dryer.