Music

Sony's MDR-1000X headphones make noise-cancellation personal

Sony has launched the MDR-1000X noise-canceling headphones at IFA 2016
Sony has launched the MDR-1000X noise-canceling headphones at IFA 2016
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The MDR-1000X headphones feature a Personalized NC Optimzer system, which reportedly takes into account the shape of the wearer's head to provide better sound and noise-cancellation
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The MDR-1000X headphones feature a Personalized NC Optimzer system, which reportedly takes into account the shape of the wearer's head to provide better sound and noise-cancellation
The headphones can operate either wirelessly or cabled to the music source, and Sony promises its Bluetooth streaming quality is almost as good as being wired in
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The headphones can operate either wirelessly or cabled to the music source, and Sony promises its Bluetooth streaming quality is almost as good as being wired in
Sony unveiled the MDR-1000X at IFA this week
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Sony unveiled the MDR-1000X at IFA this week
Sony has launched the MDR-1000X noise-canceling headphones at IFA 2016
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Sony has launched the MDR-1000X noise-canceling headphones at IFA 2016
The MDR-1000X comes in either black or beige grey, and will retail for US$399
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The MDR-1000X comes in either black or beige grey, and will retail for US$399

There are a good many noise-canceling headphones on the market already, so to make noises about being a leader in a space currently dominated by Bose, you really need to make good on those claims. Sony threw it's hat in a ring recently given a bit of a shake by Sennheiser with the launch of the MDR-1000X at IFA this week. The wired/wireless headphones can personalize the experience for each user, quickly pause the noise cancellation effects, and feature a system that upscales the quality of compressed music files.

Bose is hard to beat in the noise-cancelling arena, but the MDR-1000X is, at least, the best of Sony's own offerings. According to the company, upgrades to the sound filtering and signal processing, dual noise sensors and ear pad designs give the new set an edge over its previous products. Meanwhile, the inclusion of DSEE HX, seen in devices like the Walkman NW-ZX2, reportedly boosts the sound quality of compressed music files like MP3 and WMA, even when streamed via Bluetooth.

Acronyms and floaty claims are fine on paper, but in our quick hands-on at IFA this week, testing them in cabled mode with no music playing, we found the MDR-1000X did a really great job of blocking out the noise of a busy booth on the show floor – both the low rumble of bass-heavy background music playing through Sony's PA system and the higher frequency chatter from members of the press. Although we'd have to spend more time alone with them before giving them our thumbs up, early impressions were positive.

Sony unveiled the MDR-1000X at IFA this week
Sony unveiled the MDR-1000X at IFA this week

The Personal NC Optimizer is one of the features we'd like to try properly. This system is said to analyze the shape of your head, taking into account your hairstyle, whether you wear glasses, and exactly how you wear the headphones, to tailor the experience to you personally.

Ambient Sound Mode lets you allow outside sounds like voices through and, in a similar fashion to double-tapping the touch control surface of Sennheiser's PXC 550 headphones to feed in sounds through the microphones, Quick attention lets you listen to those around you without removing the headphones. On-housing control on the MDR-1000X over-ears isn't touch enabled though, users will need to activate physical switches.

Battery-wise, the MDR-1000X is claimed to offer up to 20 hours of listening time with noise-cancellation on, or 22 hours otherwise – plenty of time for a long-haul flight or two. Further serving the frequent flyers is the inclusion of an adapter plug for the plane entertainment systems.

Sony will release the MDR-1000X in October, in both black and grey beige, for US$399.

Source: Sony

2 comments
Nicolas Zart
I can't wait! Not sure why you say Bose is the king of the hill, when there are other, and as far as quality, superior options out there. I had a pair of Bose that got repaired under warranty for three years. Always something breaking on that assembling job Bose chose. I look forward to Sony's and in the meantime, I'll stick to my AKG and turn to AT for NC.
Calson
Noise cancellation is a nice to have and not really needed in most environments if the headphones have a closed back. It is the closed back that keeps outside noise from bothering the headphone user and keeps the noise from the headphones from bothers people nearby as well.