Are these the world’s best ANC ear buds? Sony WI-1000X (review)
4.3Overall Score

Price (RRP): $449.95
Manufacturer: Sony

Sony’s WI-1000X Bluetooth Noise Cancelling earbuds deserve 5 out of 5 – even if you prefer over-the-ear style headphones.

Everything it does is just so good. I have tested earbuds from other major brands, but none left me so excited at the sound, let alone the noise cancellation quality.

It is the same way I felt recently when I reviewed the Sony WH-1000XM2 over-the-ear headphones – glorious sound and noise cancelling. I declared that this is now the one to beat.

Out of the box Sony WI-1000X ANC ear buds

First, let’s look at what they are – it is not just a set of buds but the neck collar that goes with it to give a perfect listening experience – from a set of buds!

The 61g neckband houses a 10-hour battery. No, it is not as long as the headphone version simply because there is a lot of electronics to fit into a small space.

Here you have NFC pairing, micro USB input (battery charge and conversion from 3.5mm and aircraft audio) and the usual Bluetooth controls on/off, ANC on/off/ambient, volume up/down, and forward/back track

Battery

Charge time is around 3.5 hours. No charger is supplied, and it refers to using a PC or Mac – that is usually 5V/500mA. Sony claim fast charge (presumably on a 5V/2A charger) of 15 minutes gives 70 minutes use.

Here is my only complaint – the unit, like its headphone sibling, cannot be used during charging.

In tests, I was able to replicate Sony’s claims of 10 hours with noise cancelling and 13 hours without. I was unable to test the ‘standby’ time (used as noise cancellation only) of 17 hours.

How does it sound?

All tests were done using aptX HD source. I did not have a Sony LDAC device that would have transmitted even more data.

The trick to all buds is to get the right fit. It supplies three sets of silicone rubber in SS, S and L sizes and three sets of Triple comfort (Comply) foam buds in S, M, and L as well as an M set on the earbuds.

I have average sized ears but needed to use the large foam buds. I did not mind the silicon buds – I just felt more comfortable with the foam ones.

You cannot reliably measure volume in buds – they were head-bangingly loud. Nor is it easy to measure total harmonic distortion – imperceptible. Sony claim a 3-40,000kHz frequency response – well beyond human hearing and beyond what Bluetooth can transmit.

The straight unadulterated sound has good bass and mid-range and slightly recessed treble – a typically warm and sweet Sony sound signature which means you can pump up the bass or ramp up mids for vocal.