The idea of spending over Rs. 20,000 on a good pair of wireless headphones is no longer a foreign word, and some of our favorite picks from last year have a significantly higher price tag. High-end in-ear headphones or something with an Apple logo at a high price may not raise a lot of eyebrows. But does it make sense to spend a lot of money on neckband style wireless in-ear headphones like these two? Many people may disagree when you consider that this design is usually associated with affordable wireless space.
Sony wants to change their mind, because the WI-1000XM2 can be used to use wireless earphones with neckband for noise reduction. Priced at Rs. 21,990, these all-in-one earbuds, including a hybrid dual driver setup, active noise cancellation, and superior codec support. We put these new high-end earphones through their paces in our test.
Sony WI-1000XM2 design and specifications
We have seen many neckband style wireless earphones, most of which are cheap and similar. The Sony WI-1000XM2 manages to distinguish itself in this segment through design, build quality and the content of the sales packaging. The headset looks good thanks to its beautiful matt surface. It also has a strong and very flexible neckband and simplified controls. The large modules at the ends of the neckband hold the battery and audio hardware, but are not very heavy. There's only one button on the neckband for power, plus a USB Type-C port (covered by a flap) and a 3.5mm jack to connect a stereo cable for wired listening.
Two short cables run from the neckband to the earphones. There is an inline remote control on the left. In addition to the volume and playback controls, there is also a customizable button on the remote control that you can use to control the noise reduction level and ambient sound mode, or to access Google Assistant or Alexa. There is also a microphone for voice calls and interactions with voice assistants. For personalized responses with Alexa, the headphones must be linked to your Amazon account via the Alexa app. When paired with Apple devices, Siri is accessed by tapping the middle button twice.
The earphones have the same matt texture and surface as the neckband and a microphone on each side to suppress noise. The earphones extend outwards and ensure a comfortable fit in the channel. The short flat cables made a lot of cable noise on our clothing that affected both audio quality and noise cancellation, and this is a pretty annoying thing to deal with at this price.
The Sony WI-1000XM2 comes with an excellent carrying case, a USB Type-C cable for charging, a stereo cable for cable connections, an aircraft 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 large silicone tips gave us the best fit, but this is a completely subjective matter. Still, it's great that there are so many options here.
Like many other flagship audio products from Sony, the WI-1000XM2 is technically very powerful and uses the latest generation of hardware and software. The headset uses the company's QN1 noise reduction processor with two microphones as a key feature, as well as well-known technologies such as atmospheric pressure optimization and the company's excellent ambient noise mode. You also get Bluetooth 5 and support for the LDAC, AAC and SBC codecs. The hybrid dual driver system has a dynamic 9 mm driver and a driver for symmetrical anchors in each earphone with a frequency range from 3 to 40,000 Hz.
The Sony WI-1000XM2 can be controlled using the Sony Headphones Connect app, which is available for Android and iOS. With the app, you can set up adaptive tone control (which changes the settings for ambient noise or noise suppression according to your environment), adjust the equalizer and make other important settings on the headset. You can also set up 360 Reality Audio, a format developed by Sony to make music more intense and detailed. We have not been able to test this function because no large apps in India support it yet.
The battery life of the Sony WI-1000XM2 is normal at best – we could use about 9 hours and 30 minutes with a full charge. The headset supports fast charging, and Sony promises 80 minutes of use after 10 minutes of charging. A full charge took about three hours.
Sony WI-1000XM2 performance
Although the idea of spending over Rs. 20,000 wireless neckband earphones will make many potential buyers think. The Sony WI-1000XM2 did its part to convince us of its usefulness, especially in terms of performance. The Sony WI-1000XM2 impresses with a hybrid dual driver setup and outstanding codec support. Effective noise reduction and stable connectivity help.
For most of this test, we paired the headset with a OnePlus 7T Pro (test) that uses the LDAC Bluetooth codec. However, we also tested the Sony WI-1000XM2 with an Apple iPad mini (2019) that uses the AAC codec. Objectively, the sound was better when using the LDAC codec, but performance with AAC was not that far behind.
Sony's range of names usually indicate what a headphone or earphone should sound like – an extra bass product is likely to put more pressure on the bottom, while the 1000X series models provide a rounded acoustic signature that focuses on details concentrated. With the WI-1000XM2 this is correct. The sound is detailed and rich for wireless earbuds.
Many weak details in the tracks were clearly audible, which combined well with a luxuriously wide sound stage that gave the music we were listening to a strong sense of direction and feel. Even within the two channels of the headphones, we could hear a unique dimensionality of sound that we haven't even heard with large headphones with larger drivers. This was demonstrated very well when we played The Music by Marcus Marr, a busy and spacious track whose level of detail came into its own with the WI-1000XM2 headphones.
The type of aggression and punch you expect from an XB series headset isn't there, of course, but it's offset by an acoustic signature that favors frequencies across the range. That means there is a lot of attack and drive in the sound over the entire range, which we found to be sharp, focused and rich. When we listened to Childish Gambino's Feels Like Summer, we could feel the crispness of Donald Glover's vocals, even when the bass rumbled softly and the highs sparkled.
Much of this quality in the entire frequency range is due to the hybrid dual driver setup and the excellent coordination of the drivers themselves. The typical advantages of a setup with two drivers are easy to hear. The sound in the lower section is clear and precise because the dynamic drivers are designed to do exactly that.
The balanced anchor drivers also do a good job, but the mids and highs weren't quite as tight and crisp as the lows. When listening to a high-resolution version of Gotyes State Of The Art, we found a bit more drive on the bass hits and low-end instruments, but this didn't have a negative effect on the mids and highs or even on the entire detail and the imaging Sony WI-1000XM2.
If we leave the audio performance behind, we can get noise reduction with the Sony WI-1000XM2. The Sony WI-1000XM2 is not as good as the Sony WH-1000XM3 or the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700, but it cuts out a lot of background noise. Like the AirPods Pro, it's quite effective due to the in-ear design, but the experience largely depended on us choosing the ideal earplugs for us and getting a good fit.
Noises such as the hum of the air conditioner, traffic and chatter in crowded places were largely muffled and could only be heard quietly when we really tried to listen. Other sounds, such as B. People in our area have been sufficiently damped. This also improved our listening experience by reducing distractions. However, we've noticed cable noise that negatively affects the overall experience when we move around a lot.
The ambient sound mode is adjustable and suitable for us at about the medium level. However, if you set it to 20 via the app, the ambient noise becomes unnaturally loud and amplified. Even the slightest noise is too loud. We also tested the Sony WI-1000XM2 as a hands-free headset for voice calls and were satisfied with its performance. We had no problems with voice quality at either end of the call.
We came up with the idea that the Sony WI-1000XM2 might be a little too expensive due to its design and form factor, but these earphones managed to impress us. Like many of Sony's leading audio products, this headset is technologically powerful, sounds good, and does a good job with active noise cancellation. There are minor issues like cable noise and average battery life, but our experience with the headset has been broadly positive.
This is one of the best neckband style wireless earphones you can buy right now. We think it wiser to invest 20,000 euros in a fully equipped over-ear headphone like the Sony WH-1000XM3. Only if you find yourself in a niche where the specific benefits of this form factor are what you're looking for, is the Sony WI-1000XM2 definitely worth an audition.
On the other hand, you should try options similar to the RHA T20 Wireless to get audiophile sound. You can also consider a good pair of real wireless earbuds, like the Apple AirPods Pro or the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless, which have a more practical form factor.
Price: Case 21,990
- Looks good, is comfortable
- Good noise cancellation
- Detailed, rich sound
- Tight bass
- Support for LDAC and AAC Bluetooth codecs
- cable noise
- Ordinary battery life
- Expensive for wireless neckband earphones
Reviews (of 5)
- Design / comfort: 4
- Audio quality: 4.5
- Battery life: 3.5
- Value for money: 3
- Total: 4