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Sony MDR-1000X review – one of the best noise-cancelling headphones money can buy

Sony has a rich heritage when it comes to audio products and it has poured all of those smarts along with the latest technology into its impressive MDR-1000X noise-cancelling headphones.

Sony, the company that invented the Walkman and re-defined portable audio, has always been a strong player in the headphone market and the new MDR-1000X is one of its best ever.

Noise-cancelling wireless headphones are something discerning audio fans don’t mind spending a few bucks on.

To get your hands on the Sony MDR-1000X will cost customers $699.95 which is $200 more than rival Bose’s excellent QC35.

But is it worth it? Let’s take a look.

DESIGN

The MDR-1000X headphones have a sleek design and aren’t too bulky with build quality up to Sony’s typical high standards.

They are not as “plasticky” as some other expensive headphones.

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They have a nice leather feel with easy access to the controls on the left ear piece and a touch panel on the right ear piece.

The ear cups and headband have luxuriously soft padding which makes them extremely comfortable to wear whether it’s on your morning commute or a long-haul flight.

When you’re done listening, the headphones fold down and can be stored in the supplied small travel case.

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NOISE CANCELLATION

Sony has raised the bar when it comes to noise cancellation. We’ve haven’t experienced better reduction of ambient sounds than with the Sony MDR-1000X headphones.

The headphone’s interior and exterior microphones can pick up everything from low frequency vehicle noise along with mid and high frequency sounds like voices and offset them to offer the remarkable sounds of silence.

And once it gets all of those unwanted sounds out of the way you can really enjoy your music in excellent quality.

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But Sony knows that noise-cancellation doesn’t suit every situation which is why you are able to control it with the MDR-1000X’s Sense Engine.

There are other modes like Voice mode so you can still hear things like flight announcements at the airport while Normal mode lets you hear important noises like nearby traffic if you’re out and about.

The MDR-1000X also has a personal optimiser feature which can tune the noise cancellation even further based on how you wear the headphones and the size and shape of your head by sending out test tones.

It can pick up things like if you wear glasses and have a lot of hair – or no hair at all.

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We thought the noise-cancellation, and the ability to control it so easily, was brilliant.

And if you’re looking at the reasons why these headphones cost more than others – this is one of them.

FEATURES

Control should be the middle name of the Sony MDR-1000X because you have so much of it when you’re listening to your music.

Apart from the noise cancellation controls on the left ear cup, what steals the show is the gesture touch panel control on the right ear cup.

From here you can navigate your music with a swipe and also control the volume or activate your smartphone’s digital assistant.

Placing your hand on the right ear cup can silence the headphones if you need to speak to anyone
Placing your hand on the right ear cup can silence the headphones if you need to speak to anyone

Another feature we loved was the ability to silence the headphones without taking them off if you need to speak to someone.

All you need to do is place your hand over the right earcup and the music instantly stops. And when you take your hand away, it starts up again.

This is another reason why these headphones stand out from the competition and cost more.

Even though the Sony MDR-1000X headphones are wireless, there is also a 3.5mm port on the left ear cup to connect a cable which is supplied with the device.

AUDIO QUALITY

All of the boxes up to this point has been well and truly ticked and the audio quality – the tent pole feature of the headphones – more than exceeded our expectations.

The powerful onboard 40mm driver has a liquid crystal polymer diaphragm and expertly handles the full range of frequencies.

Just streaming Spotify or Apple Music wirelessly over Bluetooth sounded spectacular with amazing depth, range and a precise helping of bass that doesn’t drown out the other elements of the music.

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Clarity was also superb so we could hear every detail no matter what type of music we listened to.

But these headphones can handle far more than that. They are tuned for Hi-Res Audio so if you have a library of Hi-Res audio tracks – or are thinking about creating one – then the MDR-1000X is the pair of headphones for you.

But it does upscale your regular MP3, ACC and WMA digital musical files and bring them close to Hi-Res Audio quality.

Also onboard is Sony’s LDAC technology which can squeeze in up to three times more data that can be streamed over Bluetooth.

And the more information you can stream, the better the quality and the better it sounds.

Another massive thumbs up here as well.

BATTERY LIFE

Being wireless and offering noise cancellation, the Sony MDR-1000X has a rechargeable battery onboard.

You charge it through the microUSB port on the bottom of the right earcup.

The good news is the battery will run for up to 20 hours while in noise-cancellation mode – that’s long enough to almost get you all the way to London from Sydney on a single charge.

You can squeeze out up to 22 hours without using noise cancellation.

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But even if you run out of battery you can still listen though the supplied audio cable.

PRICE

The Sony MDR-1000X headphones would rank as one of the best pair headphones we’ve ever heard.

And that luxury and quality comes a price tag of $699.95.

Its nearest competitor – the Bose QC35 (another excellent pair of wireless noise cancelling headphones at $499) can almost match the Sony headphones in audio quality but can’t match Sony’s support for Hi-Res Audio and upscaling.

Additional features like adjustable and personalised noise cancellation along with handy swipe gesture controls so you can navigate your music without touching your device will also delight users and make them appreciate the headphones even more.

VERDICT

The Sony MDR-1000X are one of the best noise cancelling headphones money can buy. If you have a true appreciation for audio quality and wireless convenience and control, these headphones are hard to beat.

 

Sony has a rich heritage when it comes to audio products and it has poured all of those smarts along with the latest technology into its impressive MDR-1000X noise-cancelling headphones. Sony, the company that invented the Walkman and re-defined portable audio, has always been a strong player in the headphone market and the new MDR-1000X is one of its best ever. Noise-cancelling wireless headphones are something discerning audio fans don’t mind spending a few bucks on. To get your hands on the Sony MDR-1000X will cost customers $699.95 which is $200 more than rival Bose’s excellent QC35. But is it…

Sony MDR-1000X

Rating - 100%

100%

PROS: Design, excellent audio quality, brilliant noise cancellation, great controls, audio upscaling, long battery life. CONS: They're not cheap. VERDICT: The Sony MDR-1000X are one of the best noise cancelling headphones money can buy. If you have a true appreciation for audio quality and wireless convenience and control, these headphones are hard to beat.

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About Stephen Fenech

Stephen is the Tech Guide editor and one of Australia's most respected tech journalists. He is a regular on radio and TV talking about the latest tech news, products and trends.

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