For noise cancelling fans, Sony’s introduction of the MDR-1000X in 2016 created excitement in a marketplace previously dominated by Bose. The successes of the game-changing MDR-1000X which disrupted the reign of the incumbent Bose QuietComfort was backed not only by the introduction of the WH-1000XM2 as its successor but also the evolution of the 1000X from a single model to a series to include noise cancelling wireless In-Ear headphones WI-1000X, and noise cancelling cordless Bluetooth earphones WF-1000X.
Designed as a pair of neckband In-Ears where the monitors are joined by a neckband, the WI-1000X is more compact than the on-ears, the WH-1000XM2. On the other hand, it is a more robust offering than the In-Ears equivalent, the WF-1000X, with a better battery life as well as playback control.
Design and Build
Love them or hate them, Neckband In-Ears is a divisive design that is here to stay. The WI-1000X adopts a horseshoe shaped-design similar to that of its competition with thicker portions on both ends housing the internal components with the NC (Noise-Cancelling)/Ambient control on the right and the playback controls on the left. The design narrows towards the collar where Sony placed a curved, thin strip of aluminium which not only acts as an aesthetic touch but also a supporting structure offering strength and flexibility. Finished with a soft padding along the collar with a good balance of weight on both sides, the neckband does not shift around much and is comfortable for long periods of wearing.
As with the rest of the 1000X series, the WI-1000X is available in black and gold. The ergonomically designed In-Ear headphones feature a hybrid configuration comprising of a 9mm dynamic driver which provides for deep bass and clear mid as well as a Balanced Armature driver which provides for the natural treble.
Integral to the highly successful MDR-1000X, the Sense Engine is implemented on the WI-1000X coupled with the Atmospheric Pressure Optimiser which was also implemented on the WH-1000XM2.
Using readings from an integrated pressure sensor that is built into the neckband, the sensor detects any shift in atmospheric pressure that could not only upset the frequency balance of the headphones and compensate with the necessary adjustments.
The WI-1000X features LDAC, the company’s proprietary Bluetooth codec supporting high-resolution audio of up to 24-bit/96kHz, the In-Ears are also compatible with aptX HD supporting audio resolutions of up to 24-bit/48kHz. If your source device doesn’t support either of the two codecs, the WH-1000XM2 features DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) HX processing, which Sony claims to upscale compressed audio transmitted via the normal Bluetooth codec. To complete the Bluetooth experience, the neckband also has an NFC chip built-in for easier pairing with NFC-enabled devices.
The WI-1000X has a battery life of 10 hours with about 10 hours with NC activated and about 13 hours without. Similar to the WH-1000XM2, the WI-1000X can be hooked up to a 3.5mm headphone jack for the wired mode with active noise-cancellation via the USB-Port using the supplied dedicated headphone cable which provides you about 14 hours of playtime. An adaptor is included if you would like to enjoy the WI-1000X with your in-flight entertainment. There is also a quick-charge feature where 15 mins of charging will provide you with 70 minutes of playtime, useful for the odd days where you needed just enough juice for that short journey.
Available for both Android and iOS, the Sony Headphones Connect app is not required for the WI-1000X to perform its intended function; it, however, does provide the additional level of customisation that differentiates it from the competition.
The app detects your movements through your phone’s gyroscope, determines whether you’re in a vehicle, running, walking or staying still and automatically switches between modes. Known as Adaptive Sound Control, it allows you to enjoy the benefits of noise-cancellation while allowing one to be able to hear some of the worlds around you when needed to and if the default setting doesn’t suit you, you can adjust the amount of noise cancelling and ambient sound you want to experience via the app.
Sony’s DSEE HX audio processing can be disabled from the app too though I preferred listening with DSEE HX enabled.
For those of you who would like to tweak around with your music, the app also features an equalizer, sound position control as well as surround sound control based Sony’s Virtualphones Technology (VPT), the company’s proprietary virtual surround technology that enables listeners to enjoy a movie-theatre-like “live” surround sound.
The level of customisation provided by the Headphones Connect app adds another dimension of experience to the WI-1000X, this, however, is only restricted to users whose source device runs on Android or iOS.
Pairing the WI-1000X with an LG V30+ via aptX HD, I made sure the settings in the headphones connect app is set to prioritise audio quality. I then load up the Onkyo HF Player and started playing
Happy Pills by Norah Jones [FLAC 24-bit/192 kHz].
Thick, clean percussion fills the track, punch and revealing over a range of textured low frequencies allowed Norah Jones’s breezy vocal to be delivered as intended. The WI-1000X’s ability to keep up with the upbeat and jazzy piece showcases the impressive dynamics of the In-Ear Headphones without losing the musicality of a gritty, bluesy piece of fun.
I then paired the WI-1000X with a Sony NW-WM1Z via LDAC and again made sure the settings on the WM1Z to be at 24bit/96kHz and started playing
Destiny’s Calling by Gregor Hamilton [DSD 2.8MHz].
I was treated to a beautiful display of strings and piano running through in the low-mid range, punchy with revealing frequencies of texture. Astrid Axe’s melodious vocals coupled with the riff of the guitar in the higher-mid range provide the presence, clearly exhibiting the delivery that Gregor Hamilton intended when he composed the song.
The WI-1000X has a warm sound signature which is expected from Sony, it features a good low-end one that is full-bodied and weighty with the right amount of decay, a mid-range of presence with an impressive level of detail and a slightly recessed treble.
- Good sound quality
- Headphone Connect app
- aptX HD and LDAC supported
- Not usable while charging
The WI-1000X is one of the best sounding if not the best sounding wireless In-Ear headphones available.
For those looking for in-ear portability with the battery life and power of a WH-1000XM2, the WI-1000X bridges that while offering better audio fidelity than any other wireless In-Ear offerings including the WF-1000X.
- LG V30+
- Sony NW-WM1Z
Price: USD 249.99 (SGD 449)