The Sony WF-1000X is not just about creating a good sounding pair of earphones, it is about killing the background noise with superior in-ear active noise-canceling. It’s an ambitious task for Sony, particularly at a sub-$200 price point, but the proof of this pudding. So just how solid are Sony’s wire-free earphones?
These are arguably the best in ear headphones under 200 that you can buy right now.
As wire-free earphones proceed, the Sony pair are among the most professional looking we have seen. They’re shaped like mini blimps, using a mock metal paint on the vast majority of the casing and a dark, translucent narrow front part.
It certainly makes for a distinctive aesthetic, especially with the blue light flashing at the top. But the translucent part is there for more than simply looks – it’s where the Bluetooth antennas are housed. By employing a more radio transparent material, it helps to ensure that the 2 earbuds remain able to search each other with respect to the phone/audio source.
One thing we love about the Sony layout is that the earphones remain small and cozy to wear. They don’t have the same snug and somewhat uncomfortable match as the Jabra Elite Sport. Rather, they’re light and compact, so that they do not need much to hold them on your ears. There’s a very tiny rubber “fin” to provide a little additional support. In our testing, they never dropped out, or felt loose, but that did not stop us feeling somewhat nervous about the lack of snug-ness.
The included charging case is 1 area where we watch Sony’s love for over-engineering come into play. It’s a lengthy plastic, pill-shaped box that’s made largely from plastic and covered in a thin metal outer casing. The lid is kept with a two-point hinge which you pull up, then off to get the earphone cradles.
Each earphone fits into its own cradle, branded with a white “L” and red “R,” color matched to the very same labels on the actual earphones. As opposed to use magnets which snap them in magically, you have to press them in until they click into position.
It is undoubtedly a trendy hinge system, and also the clips holding the earphones in place surely feel more protected than the Jabra Elite Sport (which have nothing except that the force of the lid maintaining them in bonded).
However, we wish that Sony had invested a bit more time perfecting the application of metal on the plastic innards. In our unit – and in other people we saw – the alloy casing became detached from the lid, and also would not stick back on again, thus leaving us with a plastic, unprotected portion of the circumstance. And that happened after just a day.
There’s a lot of bass – and good excellent bass in that. It will not get overly cluttered or undefined, yet manages to make a full and enjoyable profile. That’s not always common for in-ears.
Whether you are listening to lean acoustic audio, bass, and synth-heavy dancing music, or vocal-driven pop, then the Sony audio works nicely.
When listening we could nevertheless hear subtle background information, like the plectrum brushing round strings. Becoming super crucial, but we got the sense that the general sound might be a bit clearer and ring more purely. Especially considering these price #200
That said, the WF-1000X (Amazon) is easily among the best-sounding wire-free earphone options we’ve tested thus far, if not the best.
Noise cancellation & ambient sound
Now, Sony wants to build on that achievement with the addition of adaptive noise-canceling in the WF-1000X in-ears.
Concerning noise-cancelling, it’s among the best we’ve experienced in the in-ear category. It successfully cuts out airplane sound, bustling high streets, and standard chit-chat. In reality, together on your ear canals, the WF-1000X shut off you at a universe where you can only concentrate on the music.
It’s really impressive.
Like the Bragi Dash Guru, the Sony also has an ambient noise pass-through system that can be tailored to match your environment. Using Sony’s app, it is possible to accommodate it to prioritize people talking, or put it into normal mode to allow general noise through (traffic/sirens, etc.). The issue is, when listening to music at a reasonable volume, the ambient pass through really does not work that well – maybe not and the Bragi.
With the vocal setting selected on the WF-1000X, we could hardly hear people chatting to us in the same room, until they raised their voices. We tested the normal mode using a Boeing cabin where audio was playing loudly in the background. We could definitely hear it in the background together with the ambient setting changed on.
In real-life everyday scenarios, however, the ambient noise simply didn’t appear to come through clearly, or it – although obviously not being murdered by noise-cancelling – wasn’t clear enough to create the ambient management system worthwhile.
But for Sony, it’s not been a problem at all.
Thanks to the above Bluetooth radio placement and design, the earbuds stayed connected to each other the entire time we tested them. Not once did we encounter a drop-out, maybe not even for a split second, not even when our phone had been in our pocket.
Battery lifetime lived up to the promised three hours of continuous playback as well. In comparison to this Jabra Elite Sport’s 4.5 hours, that isn’t exceptionally impressive, but it’s possibly a slight compromise to be able to earn an earphone that is small and comfy to wear. It is plenty to get you through even the longest daily commutes, or even through a whole movie, before having to dock them at the case to recharge.
All-in, for example, battery top-ups offered by the battery-equipped carrying case, you receive around nine hours of use before you need to plug them in using the Micro-USB cable. It’s some way short of the Jabra in this regard, but better the Bragi’s Dash Guru in real-life use.
Sony has been making a huge push in the headset market within the past couple of years, and the WF-1000X reveal the company is intent on challenging in the in-ear market too.
The combo of top sound quality, an attractive layout, noise-cancelling and a comfortable fit make the WF-1000X the wire-free in-ears to conquer. Especially because we had been expecting a lot more undermine at this #200 price point. That sees Sony comfortably undercut and outperform its nearest rivals from Bragi and Jabra in the areas that matter for music lovers.
Simply put: the WF-1000X are comfortably the finest all-purpose performing earphones in the wire-free category.