SONY MDR 1000X
- Pros: Model in terms of comfort, the Sony MDR-1000X is especially distinguished by an extremely effective active noise canceling and excellent sound quality to a Bluetooth headphone. The many small features also contribute to the overall impression of this headphone.
- Cons: We sometimes regret the touch controls and the lack of a dedicated application.
- In short: Just like the latest model from Bose, Sony’s new headphones are a success. Comfortable, efficient and effective, hard to resist when on the ears. Unlike many anti-noise headphones, the MDR-1000X clearly pulls out of the game.
- NFC Bluetooth headphone
- Compatible LDAC
- Touch controls on the ear
- Active Noise Cancelling
- Ambient Sound Functionality
- Autonomy 20 hours
- Zippered protective case and airplane adapter
Sony MDR 1000X Review
Available for several months now, the Sony MDR-1000X is positioned as one of the most successful mobile headphones of the brand. Designed to compete with the Bose QC35 on its own ground, namely Bluetooth headphone with noise canceling, it could spring a surprise on this sector and establish itself as a benchmark.
For this second foray into the world of earmuffs (after Sony H.Ear already reviewed here), Sony has clearly not skimped on resources. Billed as a model in terms of comfort and noise performance, the MDR-1000X also promises a truly effective noise canceling, coupled with a Bluetooth-compatible operating LDAC and touch controls.
The headphone has however clearly not given the luxury to exceed the QuietComfort 35 in price. Besides the model from Bose, it will also count on the latest Sennheiser PXC 550 and the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 which in turn is slightly more affordable.
The headphone comes in a nice cardboard box covered with a blanket with its main features. The front displays a large photo of the headphone in profile, accompanied by a plethora of logos and certifications. At the back, we find a second photo of the headphone and the operation of the touch controls or the contents of the box.
Inside the box, the MDR-1000X is accompanied by:
- A rigid protective case
- A mini-jack cable 3.5 mm for wired listening
- A USB/Micro-USB charge its internal battery
- An aircraft adapter
The bundle is rather full, and this is the least thing for Sony MDR-1000X.
Design & Comfort
The Sony MDR-1000X contains broadly the proposed format of previous models in its range, quality appears clearly above the notch. At the first glance and first taken in hand, the latest headphone from Sony has a Premium side which clearly impresses.
The headphone is intended nevertheless quite minimalist, with a style that is both simple and uncluttered. If you are looking for something more discreet, note that the headphone is also available in a completely black.
Time for the details, starting as usual by the arch. Designed in metal, it gives the headphone a good hold while allowing it to resist shocks, twists and other extensions. Clearly, it is solid. Inside, there is a foam positioned on its central part. It is covered with a leather coating and brings, as we will see below, an excellent comfort once the headphone is on the ears.
The size of the hoop is obviously adjustable, and it is simply necessary to move the headphones downwards in order to increase its wingspan. The notches are well marked but have no visual reference. Also, note that this sliding part is not metallic but plastic.
Coming to the Sony MDR 1000X headphone, the first point to emphasize is the possibility to rotate both of them flat and towards the inside of the arch also. The Bose QuietComfort 35 and the Sennheiser PXC 550, which will allow the user to easily store the headphone in the case, will also improve comfort when worn around the neck. The hinges still seem of excellent quality and there is clearly a difference compared to some more affordable models.
The ear cups themselves have a pretty classic appearance, with an oval format that will perfectly encompass the ears once the headphone is in position. On the left side, there is a very discreet NFC logo, which as we will see a little below will connect the headphone to your smartphone without even going through the Bluetooth control panel.
On the left atrium, there are also three physical buttons positioned on the edge. Not necessarily the most accessible, they allow to turn on or off the headphones, to turn on or off the active noise canceling, and to modify the “Ambient Sound” options to which we will return in the following article.
There is also a 3.5 mm port that can be used to listen to music or watch a movie in wired form, especially when the headphone battery is flat. A cable with an angled connector is available in the box.
For the rest of the controls, it will be necessary to pass on the side of the right atrium. You will find a touch panel, similar to what proposes Parrot on its Zik 3. The gesture also remains identical, with a swipe up or Down to adjust the volume, and forward or backward to move from one track to another (fast forward and rewind while holding the position). It is also possible to pick up a phone call by tapping the headphone or even to call back the last caller. In use, these controls are particularly intuitive, even if you can regret a reactivity lower than that present on the tactile controls of the Sennheiser PXC 550.
Inside the ear cups, there are excellent-looking ear cushions with memory foam. The padding is thicker than it looks and contributes fully to the comfort of this Sony MDR-1000X. Another interesting little detail, the presence of a thin layer of foam at the bottom of the atria. For the negatives, it will be noted that it is not possible to remove the bushings and therefore to replace them.
We will finish with a quick turn on the carrying case accompanying this new MDR. Always very sober, it is a rigid pocket and zipped where one will come to position the flat headphone. Rather compact, it can easily be housed in a bag and has a small pocket at the back to store a cable.
Features and Active Noise Cancelling
Before focusing on the features offered by the MDR-1000X, let’s start with its connectivity. The headphone is primarily designed to operate in Bluetooth and features a built-in NFC chip. Thanks to this, it will be possible to connect your compatible smartphone simply by bringing it closer to the left earphone of the headphone.
If your smartphone or tablet is not NFC-compliant (Apple devices in particular), you only need to pick up the headphone from the list of devices available from the Bluetooth menu. The connection is very fast and offers a range of about 15 m. The last thing about the connection, note that unfortunately, it is not possible here to pair the Sony MDR-1000X to several devices simultaneously like Bose QC 35. So you cannot connect the headphone to your laptop while working and still being able to pick up a phone call.
Time to discuss noise canceling now, on this point, the Bose QC 35 finally seems to have found a true competitor to his measure! By activating the functionality via the button positioned on the left atrium, the headphone is able to cut a large part of the external noise without altering the sound experience (with a quasi-inaudible breath). If you are used to spending time in the morning and evening in transportation, this is a real bargain. Obviously, not all sounds are completely suppressed (especially in the upper part of the spectrum), but it allows to isolate effectively and integrate its small bubble to listen to the music peacefully or the film without necessarily having to increase the volume. A real success!
Another feature of the headphone is the Ambient Sound feature, which allows you to listen to your music while remaining attentive to the surroundings. It is possible to switch between two modes, normal and voices. The first one allows you to activate the microphones of the headphones to hear all that happens around us (the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 offers a similar functionality but QC 35 does not), while the second one focuses especially on the voices. In practice, it works rather well even if in both cases a breath is felt in the background.
If you only need to hear momentarily what is going on around you, when for example someone speaks to you, it is possible to place the hand on the right atrium in order to activate the punctual capture of ambient noise. By removing the hand, the headphone then automatically reverts to the conventional listening mode. Again, it works very well!
All these options are accompanied by voice announcements in English. In the absence of a dedicated mobile application, it is not yet possible to change the language.
On this point, the headphone provides a sound reproduction of very high quality, which is both rich and precise. The ensemble appears rather homogeneous and adapts without constraint to most musical styles.
The low frequencies show deep without disrupting the rest of the spectrum and are well mastered. Unlike a model such as the Sony MDR-XB950BTB, the headphones are not necessarily designed for bass heads. On the side of the mediums, the headphone emphasizes the vocal parts and provides a more than correct restitution. On the high side, the MDR may not provides a rendering as crystal clear as some sharper models but overall it remains more than correct according to us, with many details. Really, not much to reproach sound side to the new Sony headphones.
The majority of our listening has been done in Bluetooth and ANC mode, mainly via streaming applications such as Spotify, Tidal or Deezer. By disabling noise canceling and wireless connectivity, the sound is not particularly disturbed and the quality is fairly close.
The majority of recent Bluetooth headphones from Sony, the MDR-1000X is compatible with the LDAC functionality. As a reminder, it allows to have a transfer rate three times higher than that offered by the classic Bluetooth. It is thus possible to orientate itself towards Hi-Res files while benefiting from the comfort of a wireless connection. Obviously, to take advantage of this functionality it will be necessary to connect the headphone to a compatible player, and therefore turn either to a smartphone from Sony or to one of the audiophile players of the mark.
We will end with the quality of the voice calls. On this point, the Sony model has nothing to envy its competitors and offers a clear and intelligible capture from the moment when one is in a relatively calm environment. As often with integrated microphones, it will sometimes be necessary to switch back to the smartphone depending on the situation.
Sony announces a 20-hour autonomy in Bluetooth mode and with active noise canceling during operation. Numbers in line with those of its main competitors, and which allow recharging the headphone only once a week for 3 hours of daily listening. Clearly, there is plenty to do. As usual, keep in mind that this value may vary by a few hours depending on the listening volume, or by turning off active noise canceling.
Charging takes place in 4 hours via a USB/Micro-USB cable, to be connected to the right earpiece.
For a moment we were expecting a headphone able to compete with Bose QuietComfort 25, and especially its big brother the Bose QuietComfort 35. The Sony MDR 1000X (latest price) now stands out as the ideal candidate, competing with the industry’s leading industry in terms of active noise canceling while offering excellent comfort and sound performance.
It should be able to shade the model of Bose but also to all the other headphones integrating both a wireless connectivity and an ANC module. With the recent releases of the Sennheiser PXC 550, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 and the Parrot Zik 3, they are more and more numerous on the market and that’s good!
You will understand that this MDR-1000X is an excellent mobile headphone, and if you already have an LDAC-compatible player, you do not need to look any further. For others, tactile commands or the Ambient Sound feature will also tip the balance in its favor.