I purchased the Sony WH1000XM2 bluetooth noise cancelling headphones last November in a gadget shop in Singapore Changi airport. There is an electronics shop right opposite the security gates as one enters into the duty free area, loaded with the latest and greatest gadgets, which is very clever on their part, as they catch all the folk like me on the way to the lounge.

Try the Sony Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones on Sir!

I wasn’t looking to buy a new pair of headphones, as my four year old Sony MDR-1RBT bluetooth headphones were still working fine. However the sound quality had always suffered on noisy aeroplanes as the headphones lacked the noise cancelling features.

The Bose QuietComfort 35 were on display right next to the Sony WH1000XM2. I knew what they sounded like because Jo has them and they sound and look great. Something though had stopped me from buying them in the past, probably the missus saying, “Mike you already have a perfect working pair of headphones“.

I was staring at the Sony WH1000XM2 headphones, thinking they looked remarkably like the Bose QC35, when the shop attendant came over and said “Try them on sir”, so I pulled out my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge smartphone (which was purchased in 2016 in this very shop) and touched it against the headphones. The headphones instantly paired via NFC (a very cool feature). I then placed them on my head. They felt amazing, not too heavy and the headband had a lovely soft cushion. They were easily adjustable and fitted over the ear without any problems.

Wow! the Foo Fighters – The Pretender was playing and they had never sounded this AWESOME before. It was like Dave Grohl and the band were standing right there singing to me. I almost forgot the shop attendant was standing next to me. I looked up and noticed he was talking to me, but obviously I couldn’t hear him over You’re the pretender, What if I say I will never surrender?“.

Touch sensitive buttons.

I reached up to turn the volume down, but there were no buttons on either side. Confusion??? I took the headphones off and the shop attendant pointed out that the headphones were touch sensitive on the right can (can = ear speaker). He showed me how to turn the volume up and down by touching in an upwards or downwards direction, and he mentioned that I should flick backwards to hear the previous song or forwards to hear the next song. One tap paused the song and another tap started the song. Holding a single finger down in the middle of the can muted the song and started Google Assistant (Ah! Okay Google works on these headphones – sweet). So I put them back on my head and followed his instructions and yes, the touch controls were very clever. One doesn’t have to tap too hard either. In fact I instantly preferred them over actual buttons, but it took a bit of getting use too and to know exactly where to stroke the ‘can’ so to speak. ūüėČ

Hold right hand over the can mutes the music and imports ambient sounds for conversations.

While the song was rocking out, the shop attendant held his hand over the right can and the music dialled right down and I could hear him talking clearly. The sound difference was incredible. He said, “This is a great feature of these headphones…”, and removed his hand from the right can and instantly I heard Dave Grohl saying I’m the voice inside your head”, (ha ha timely), he then placed his hand back over the right can, and again the music dialled right down and I could hear him saying, “… you don’t have to remove the headphones or stop or pause the music in order to hear someone speaking to you, just touch your whole hand over the right can…”. He removed his hand again and instantly I could hear Dave Grohl screaming, Mirrored in your stare, I’m what’s left, I’m what’s right, I’m the enemy ... It was totally incredible! SOLD! (What a great salesman). ūüėÄ

Other notable features on the Sony WH1000XM2

  • The Sony WH1000XM2 headphones have an Atmospheric Pressure Optimising feature that analyses the surrounding atmospheric pressure and then improves the Noise Cancelling performance based on your location in the sky, on a train, walking along a pavement or sitting in an office at a desk. (What on earth does that mean – It sounded too good to be true).
  • Enhanced battery to last 40 hours with an audio cable, or 30 hours wirelessly. (30 hours is a long time without a charge).
  • The Quick Charge function gains 70 mins of battery life with just 10 minutes of charging. (similar to my smartphone).
  • The headphones had a NC / Ambient button, which meant it could be turned on or off and it had a power button, which also doubled as a voice controlled notification for the battery.
  • The headphones charge port was the standard MicroUSB port. (Yes, a big deal for me when traveling as I don’t need to carry different cables for different devices).
  • The left can had a 3.5mm input jack and it came with its own cable and aeroplane adapter.
  • Phone app (Android and Apple support) that controls extra features. (similar to the Bose QC35).

Sony WH1000XM2

The Sony WH1000XM2 (S$513) were slightly more expensive than the Bose QC35’s (S$494), but I felt with those extra features it was worth the extra price. That is roughly ¬£280, which is still a lot cheaper than the UK and Amazon, but still expensive for a pair of headphones, but not that much if one can get three or more years out of them, as I have been doing.

Sadly I couldn’t make use of them on the flight home to London, as the battery was flat, but when I got home I gave them a solid charge and they were ready to be tested.

What I love about the Sony WH-1000XM2?

Detecting

Walking

 

On the train

  1. This Atmospheric Pressure Optimising feature that analyses the surrounding atmospheric pressure works really well. I have tested it in multiple scenarios already namely;
    1. If I am sitting in the car listening to some music it picks up automatically that I am in a location where my head or body is not moving around a lot (similar to sitting at a desk). Total noise cancellation is turned on automatically and all one can hear is the music or podcast playing and nothing else.
    2. If I start walking after a few seconds or steps the headphones pick up the movement and or the atmospheric change and the headphones let in more ambient noise, meaning there is still noise cancelling taking place, but I can hear more of the outside world. It is actually a great feature because now I am totally aware of my surroundings, while enjoying my music. The balance is just right. It is especially useful when one is crossing the road as I can hear the cars approaching, or when I am walking on the pavement I can hear people behind me and to the side of me.
    3. Walking onto a tube and standing right in the doorway, the noise cancelling and ambience is as above, but when the doors close and the trains starts moving, the headphones automatically switch to total noise cancellation mode, blocking out everything and allowing me to hear the music clearly. The second I get off the train and start moving again, the headphones switch to walking mode.
    4. On an aeroplane the Sony WH1000XM2 work the best. They completely blocks out the engine noise like magic! I’ve used the headphones for 10 straight hours on a flight to Houston, Texas and it was an absolute pleasure watching films, listening to my music, putting my hand on the speaker to hear the flight attendant speak and I even slept with them on, although I was upright.
  2. Sound quality across all types of music is amazing.
  3. Long battery life. I reckon I have charged the headphones twice since November 2017.
  4. Comfortable on the head but also around the neck.
  5. Foldable – both left and right phones can fold 90 degrees, making a very small footprint thus storage is not a problem whether in a bag or in the carry case.The Sony WH1000XM2 have a small footprint when folded
  6. No logos on the Sony WH1000XM2 headphones, means they are less likely to be stolen. (I’ve heard many stories of Bose QC30/35 headphones being stolen, could it be because Bose the logo appears on the sides of the headphones, who knows).
  7. It is very unlike me to buy something straight up without reading many reviews first, so it just goes to show what a great ear and eye I have for build & sound quality, but don’t take my word for it, see what the experts have said about the Sony WH-1000MX2:
    1. Trusted Review
    2. What Hi-Fi
    3. TechRadar
    4. pocket-lint
      (see below for a clue to the their scoring).Trusted Review for Sony WH1000XM2

What I hate about the Sony WH-1000XM2?

  1. The name Sony WH1000XM2 is a mouthful.