IFA 2016: A first looks session with Sony's MDR-1000X
Sony has been working on noise-cancelling headsets for a while now, but so far the 'king' of such headsets has remained the Bose QuietComforts. That may soon change though, as Sony’s latest headset - the MDR-1000X - is said to offer their best ever noise-cancellation performance.
For a start, it uses a Dual Noise Sensor technology with a pair of Feedforward microphones and Feedback microphones in each ear cup to more accurately capture the ambient noise around you, thus producing a more accurate inverse sound wave with which to cancel the noise. We tested these against a speaker playing various noises, and left convinced by its noise-cancelling prowess.
The MDR-1000X also has a 'Personal NC Optimizer' that plays a series of tones to calibrate the headset to exactly match the shape of your ears. We tried this feature, and it really did feel as though it improved the noise-cancelling performance significantly.
The best way we can describe the difference in noise-cancelling when compared to what you get on the Bose QuietComfort 25s is that the MDR-1000X feels like it creates a vacuum in which you can enjoy your music, while knocking out about as much external noise as Bose's headsets.
There's also have a new Quick Attention” mode, which lets you temporarily suspend the noise-cancelling capabilities simply by placing your hand on the right side of the headphones. It’s fast and easy, and it allows you to hear someone without having to pause your music. There’s also an “Ambient Sound Mode” that lets you vary the amount of noise-cancelling applied so you can still hear what’s going on around you. Handy when you need to stay aware of your surroundings for sure.
A 40mm aluminum-coated LCP diaphragm makes for clear mid-range sound, while S-Master HX and LDAC technologies have been incorporated so you get the best possible listening experience, whether you use the headphones wired or wirelessly. It has a frequency response of 4Hz - 40kHz, and supports SBC, AAC, aptX, and LDAC. You’ll get about 20 hours of wireless performance with noise-cancelling enabled and the headphones swivel and fold down for easy transportation.
We were able to get our hands on a set of headphones for a quick audition, and were impressed by the punchy bass delivered on Meghan Trainor’s Me Too. Trainor’s vocals stood out from all that bass easily, and the headphones provided a very enjoyable rendition overall.
Moving on to Lay Me Down by Loretta Lynn, we were impressed by the nice warm quality produced on the track. The guitar work in this piece really sang out, and Willie Nelson’s vocals were reproduced with good clarity, speaking to the quality of these headphones in the mid-range.
We ended our quick testing with a recording of Vice by Miranda Lambert. This piece started with a segment of vinyl player playing and we could clearly hear the scratching sound one gets when you play an older, slightly scratched vinyl before Lambert’s vocal cut through. Sweet and clear, the headphones seemed to produce great quality from the lows to the highs, so we’re certainly looking forward to putting these through our formal testing.
The 1000X headphones come in a choice of black or grey beige, and have a price tag of US$399 (~RM1,632). It will be available in selected Asia Pacific countries from October 2016.