While noise-canceling headphones have become the norm among travelers and audiophiles, it all comes on the level of comfort that the headphone can provide, along with its compatibility with other media devices and how much noise can it cancel out. Get insights through this Sony MDR-1000X review, the Noise canceling wireless headphones.
Sony MDR-1000X Design and Comfort
At first glance, the Sony MDR-1000X looks and feels like any other normal wireless headset in the market without any aggressive design cues, but there is more to it than you think. Adjusting the size of the headphone is very smooth and easy. The headphone stayed firmly over my head with the selected length, while I walked around the office space and when walking down the escalator of the Dubai Metro. The Sony MDR-1000X has a series of dedicated control buttons and capacitive touch panels. Sony placed the power button, the NC button, and an Ambient mode button on the left-sided ear cup. Reaching those controls with my thumb while wearing the device is easy, once you learn where each button is placed since you can’t see them while pressing the buttons. Oh, and there is a full-size 3.5mm audio jack as well.
There is a micro-USB port on the right-side cup of the Sony MDR-1000X for charging the device. Yes, it’s not a USB Type-C port. Sony has integrated a capacitive touch panel on the outer area of the right cup that allows users to control the music or phone calls with a simple tap and swipe. Tap the middle portion of the cup and you play or pause music, or accept a call. Swiping left or right plays the previous or next music track, and swiping up or down, increases or decreases the volume. Do you see a mic-like integration on both the left and right cups? It’s mainly meant to serve the Ambient modes which I will talk about at a later point. The ear cups are covered with a soft material that felt quite comfortable in my ears, and I did not experience any ear-strains while wearing it for a continuous few hours. However, it does tend to get a bit sweaty in time, which wasn’t a major concern for me. But when wearing it outside during the recent cold nights of Dubai, I didn’t experience those sweaty issues. The headband also features a soft material underneath the holder.
Overall, in the Sony MDR-1000X review, we felt it to be impressively light while I wore it over my head. The headphone is about 275g only.
Sony MDR-1000X Specifications
The Sony MDR-1000X features a 40mm dome-type driver unit (closed type dynamic) with Neodymium magnet, with the frequency response ranging from 4Hz to 40,000 Hz. The headphone cable which comes bundled with the headphone package is about 1.5m long, and comes with a gold-plated stereo mini plug. The sensitivity rating of this headphone is rated to be between 98-103dB/mw. The impedance rating is 46 ohm when the unit is turned on, and 14 ohm when the unit is turned off.
Sony says that that the MDR-1000X can go up to 20 hours of use with NC turned on, and about 22 hours with NC off. In my time of usage, I was able to use it almost three days (not continuously) while connected to my Sony Xperia Z5 Compact and Sony Walkman A15 player.
Sony MDR-1000X Compatibility and Connectivity
While the Sony MDR-1000X features NFC connectivity, I decided to do a series of tests which includes its compatibility and flexibility with popular media devices. Yes, my Sony Xperia Z5 Compact and Sony Walkman A15 connected flawlessly with one-tap NFC connection. What’s interesting is that you can connect your devices to the Sony MDR-1000X while the headphone is turned off via the NFC. Neat feature, right? We tried waking up the headphone via the NFC with my Xperia smartphone, the Walkman player and even a Huawei Mate 9 which we reviewed recently.
My next test was to see how the headphone handles multiple connections simultaneously. After syncing the Walkman via NFC with the headphone, I went ahead to tap the headphone with my Xperia Z5 Compact smartphone. It happens so that after syncing with the Xperia Z5 Compact via NFC, the Walkman A15 surprisingly got disconnected. So, to be clear, the Sony MDR-1000X doesn’t accept multiple NFC syncs for some reason. That said, I was able to manually connect both my Xperia Z5 Compact and the Sony Walkman A15 with the headphone at the same time via Bluetooth.
Next, we wanted to find out if the headphone was capable of prioritizing devices accordingly. (This is when both the Xperia and the Walkman were connected to the Sony MDR-1000X). So, we first played some music from the Walkman player which did reflect in the headphone with no issues. Our next step is to make an incoming call from another smartphone to the Xperia Z5 Compact. The Sony MDR-1000X immediately paused the music from the Walkman and started to alert about the incoming call. We accepted the call via the headphone’s touch panel, and then the conversation started.
Once we disconnected the call, the Sony MDR-1000X resumed the music from the Walkman A15. We tried the same logic by using other smartphones such as the Huawei Mate 9 and the Apple iPhone 7 Plus, instead of the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact. The Sony MDR-1000X was able to flawlessly pause and resume the music and calls from non-Sony products with no issues. A good feature indeed!
However, it appears that the Sony MDR-1000X disconnects off from its connected wireless devices if you use the wired connection with any laptop. I should also mention that while connecting the Sony MDR-1000X to the new PS4 DS4 controller via 3.5mm audio wire, the DS4 controller wasn't able to recognize the headphone. The controller chose to play the audio from its own inbuilt speakers while playing Uncharted 4 on the Sony PlayStation 4 Pro.
Sony MDR-1000X Performance
As a long-time user of Sony MDR Extra Bass EX noise-isolating headphones, it’s time to find out just how effective is Sony’s noise canceling through this Sony MDR-1000X review. Noise-canceling can be turned on easily by simply pressing the NC button that’s placed on the left ear cup. The headphone cancels out most of the noise from outside and creates a closed air-gap like experience. Yes, the Sony MDR-1000X does a good job with the NC feature while I walked around the busy streets and in the Metro trains, although some voice could be heard. The sound quality of the Sony MDR-1000X is impressive with the NC activated. However, I couldn’t get the same bass effect as my EX series headphones, which is quite understandable since the Sony MDR-1000X isn’t classed as a Bass-focused headset.
The Sony MDR-1000X also features two modes of Ambient noise that can be switched by simply pressing the Ambient mode button. There are two Ambient modes: Voice and Normal. While on Ambient Normal mode, the headphone was capturing almost everything around the neighborhood, which seemed a bit annoying at times. It seemed like I was hearing more through the Ambient Normal mode, more than what I would have heard originally with my own ears. I swore that I could hear birds when they weren’t around.
The Ambient Voice mode, however, was able to isolate the outside noise and focus only on people’s voice who are nearby. I also got the opportunity to try out the Ambient modes during a windy night. The Ambient Normal picked up the wind noise a lot, which was unusable. But the Ambient Voice was somehow able to pick up only the voices despite the windy weather (I could still hear some wind). However, noise-canceling worked like a charm during that night.
Another great feature of the Sony MDR-1000X is the ability to talk to anyone around without the need to take off the headphone, or to turn off the device. The trick is simple. Simply place your hand over the right ear cup (which also houses the touch panel controls), and the Sony MDR-1000X activates the Ambient mode for you to talk to anyone. The headphone also pauses any music if you perform that gesture.
When it comes to calling quality, the Sony MDR-1000X did a good job of canceling out most of the outside noise, while I was walking in the busy streets of Karama during the evening time. However, that isn’t the same case with the person with whom I was on a call. Instead of only focusing on my voice, the inbuilt mics of the headphone picked up most of the noise surrounding me, which was quite disturbing for the recipient. I think Sony should have implemented the Ambient Voice mode for phone calls so that recipients don’t hear the entire world while talking.
While I certainly enjoyed using the Sony MDR-1000X Wireless NC headphones during the whole week, there are a few kinks that need to be sorted. Apart from the fact that the headphone does offer great noise canceling, the Ambient modes do need some improvements, especially the Normal Ambient mode which picks up a lot of noise from the outside. This also affects the recipients while making a phone call. I like the part where the Sony MDR-1000X works with multiple devices at once, and when it knows to prioritize each connected device. Waking up the headphone from a switched off state by simply taping with other NFC-enabled device is also a great feature. However, the Sony MDR-1000X NC headphones cost AED 1499 which is quite expensive.