The idea of spending more than Rs. 20,000 on a good pair of wireless headphones is no longer an exotic concept, and some of our favorite picks over the past year have cost more than that amount. High-end over-ear headphones, or anything with the Apple logo at a high price, may not raise many eyebrows, but is there any point in spending the big bucks on neckband-style wireless in-ear headphones like this pair? Many may disagree, given that this design is typically associated with affordable wireless space.
With the WI-1000XM2 Noise Canceling Wireless Neckband Earphones, Sony wants to change your opinion. Priced at Rs 21,990, these earphones come with all the bells and whistles, including a hybrid dual-driver setup, active noise cancellation and better codec support. We put these new high-end earphones through their paces in our review.
Sony WI-1000XM2 Design and Specifications
We’ve seen a lot of neckband-style wireless earphones, most of which cost less and look very similar to each other. Sony WI-1000XM2 manages to differentiate itself in this segment with design, build quality and content of sales package. The handset looks good due to the beautiful matte finish. It also has a strong and very flexible neckband and simplified controls. The large modules on the ends of the neckband hold the battery and audio hardware, but aren’t too bulky. There’s just a button on the neckband for power, as well as a USB Type-C port (covered by a flap) and a 3.5mm socket for connecting a stereo cable for wired listening.
Two short cables extend from the neckband to the earpiece, with an inline remote on the left cable. In addition to controls for volume and playback, there’s also a customizable button on the remote that can be set to control noise cancellation levels and ambient sound mode, or invoke Google Assistant or Alexa. There’s also a microphone for voice calls and voice assistant interactions. For personalized responses using Alexa, the headphones must be linked to your Amazon account via the Alexa app. When paired with Apple devices, a double-tap of the middle button invokes Siri.
The earbuds have the same matte texture and finish as the neckband, and have a microphone on each side for noise-canceling functionality. The earbuds extend outwards for a comfortable and comfortable in-canal fit. The short flat cables produced a fair amount of cable noise against our clothes, which interfered with both audio quality and noise cancellation, and it’s quite an annoying thing to deal with at this price point.
The sales package for the Sony WI-1000XM2 includes an excellent carrying case, a USB Type-C cable for charging, a stereo cable for wired connectivity, an airplane adapter, and a total of seven pairs of ear tips (four pairs of silicone tips). , and three pairs of foam tips) in various sizes. We found that the larger silicone tips gave us the best fit, but that’s a completely subjective matter. Nonetheless, it’s great that there are so many options to choose from.
Like many of Sony’s other flagship audio products, the WI-1000XM2 is very technically capable, using current-generation hardware and software. The headset uses the company’s QN1 noise cancellation processor for its flagship feature with dual microphones, along with previously-seen technologies like atmospheric pressure optimization and the company’s excellent ambient sound mode. You also get Bluetooth 5, and support for LDAC, AAC, and SBC codecs. The hybrid dual-driver system consists of a 9 mm dynamic driver in each earpiece and a balanced armature driver with a frequency response range of 3–40,000 Hz.
The Sony WI-1000XM2 can be controlled using the Sony Headphones Connect app, which is available for Android And iOS, The app lets you set up adaptive sound controls (which change the ambient sound or noise cancellation settings according to your surroundings), adjust the equalizer, and change other key settings on the headset. You can also set up 360 Reality Audio, a format developed by Sony that is said to make music more impressive and detailed. We weren’t able to test this feature as none of the major apps in India support it yet.
The Sony WI-1000XM2’s battery life is reasonably normal—we were able to get around 9 hours and 30 minutes of use on a full charge. The headset supports fast charging, and Sony promises 80 minutes of usage after 10 minutes of charging. It took us about three hours on a full charge.
Sony WI-1000XM2 Performance
Though the idea of spending more than Rs. The 20,000 over wireless neckband earphones will make many potential buyers think twice, with the Sony WI-1000XM2 doing its part in convincing us of its usefulness, especially when it comes to performance. Backed by a hybrid dual-driver setup and improved codec support, the Sony WI-1000XM2 sounds impressive, helping competently with effective noise cancellation and stable connectivity.
For most of this review, we had the headset paired to the OnePlus 7T Pro (Review) using the LDAC Bluetooth codec, but we also had the Sony WI-1000XM2 paired with the Apple iPad mini (2019) using the AAC codec tested. We found the sound objectively better when using the LDAC codec, but with AAC the performance wasn’t far behind.
Sony’s product range names usually indicate how a pair of headphones or earphones is expected to sound – an added bass product will conceivably have more oomph on the low end, while 1000X-series models offer a more rounded sound signature. focused on expansion. The WI-1000XM2 gets this right, with wide and rich sound for a wireless earphone.
Many faint details can be heard clearly in the track, combining well with a wonderfully detailed soundstage, which gave the music we were listening to a distinct sense of direction and feel. Even within the headphones’ two channels, we were able to hear a unique dimensionality to sound that we haven’t heard even with full-size pairs of headphones that use larger drivers. When we played music by Marcus Marr, it was a busy and expansive track, with all its details demonstrated by the WI-1000XM2 earphones.
The kind of aggression and punch you’d expect to hear on an XB-series headset isn’t inherently present, but it’s adequately made for a sonic signature that favors frequencies in the range. That said, the sound has a fair amount of attack and drive throughout the range, which we found sharp, focused and rich. Listening to Feels Like Summer by Childish Gambino, we could feel the crunch in Donald Glover’s vocals, even as the bass roared softly and blared high.
Much of this quality in the frequency range can be attributed to the hybrid dual-driver setup and excellent tuning of the drivers. The distinct benefits of a dual-driver setup are easily audible, defined and tight with low-end sound thanks to the fact that dynamic drivers are dedicated to getting that right.
Balanced armature drivers also worked well, but weren’t as tight and crisp as the mids and highs. Listening to a higher-resolution version of Gotye’s State of the Art gave us just a little more drive in the bass hits and low-end instruments, but it didn’t affect the mids and highs, or even the overall detail and imaging. Did not fall Sony WI-1000XM2.
Looking at past audio performance, we come to terms with noise cancellation with the Sony WI-1000XM2. Although not quite as good as the Sony WH-1000XM3 or the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700, the Sony WI-1000XM2 does a decent job of cutting out background sound. Like the AirPods Pro, it’s quite effective given the in-ear design, but the experience largely depends on us selecting the ideal ear tips and getting a good fit.
Sounds like the sound of air conditioning, traffic and chatter in crowded places were largely silent and could only be heard faintly if we really tried to listen. Other voices, such as the people around us speaking, softened enough. It also improved our music listening experience, reducing any distractions. However, we did experience some cable noise, which negatively affected the overall experience when moving around a lot.
The ambient sound mode is adjustable and worked well for us at medium levels, but turning it up to 20 via the app made things around us unnaturally loud and amplified; Even extremely low voices, to extreme levels. We also tested the Sony WI-1000XM2 as a hands-free headset for voice calls, and were pleased with its performance. We didn’t have any issues with voice quality on both ends of the call.
Although we started with the impression that the Sony WI-1000XM2 is probably a bit pricey considering its design and form factor, these earphones have managed to impress us. Like many of Sony’s flagship audio products, this headset is technically capable, sounds good, and does a decent job with active noise cancellation. There are minor issues like cable noise and average battery life, but our experience with the headset was positive overall.
This is one of the best pair of wireless neckband-style earphones you can buy right now, but if you have Rs. 20,000, we’d make sense to invest in a pair of fully featured, over-ear headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM3. It’s really only if you come across a niche where the distinctive benefits of this form factor are what you want, then the Sony WI-1000XM2 is definitely worth auditioning for.
On the other hand, similarly priced options such as RHA T20 Wireless Might also be worth checking out for more audiophile-friendly sound. You might also consider a good pair of true wireless earphones like the Apple AirPods Pro or the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless, which have a more convenient form factor.
worth: Rupee. 21,990
- looks good, is comfortable
- good noise cancellation
- wide, rich sound
- tight bass
- LDAC, AAC Bluetooth Codec Support
- cable noise
- simple battery life
- Expensive for wireless neckband earphones
Rating (out of 5)
- Design / Comfort: 4
- Audio Quality: 4.5
- Battery Life: 3.5
- Value for money: 3
- Overall: 4
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