The final headphone in our shootout, this is again an improved version of a contender from last year. With the WH-1000XM2, Sony has kept the same drivers and tuning, but added some intelligent features to give you more control over your audio via an app on your smartphone. You can now adjust the level of ambient sound, add a virtual surround sound effect, and even choose which direction you hear sounds from.
ANC performance is excellent again, as it really feels like the headphone creates its own bubble of sound once ANC is activated. The headphone also gets even better battery life than before too, giving you 30 hours on a single charge so you’ll be able to enjoy your music without distractions for longer. Another welcome improvement is the addition of a quick charging feature, and that gives you 70 minutes of play from just 10 minutes of charge.
Sony has also included an Atmospheric Pressure Optimizing feature to take into account how pressure differences affect sound, so that should give even better performance in the air. We didn’t quite get to take a flight to test that on, but we did run the headphone through our usual testing, and found the audio performance to be as excellent as before.
For example, on a live recording of ‘Old Love’ by Eric Clapton on his Unplugged album, the headphone did an excellent job of imaging the entire set. Close your eyes and you can clearly picture the master slight off-center to your left, with the accompanying pianist to the right, and the bass guitar next off to the far right. The stereo imaging and detail of the headphone makes you feel like you’re really right in the crowd with front row seats to an excellent performance.
No surprise then that it does best on The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ in our formal testing, as the acoustic instruments really play well to its strengths. Bass is nice and warm, with good depth. Overall, it seems like the headphone will perform well on all genres of music, making it quite the versatile performer.