Not every noise cancelling headphones are cut from the same cloth and the Sony MDR 1000x falls into one of the few ones that actually works, looks stylish and offer a good level of durability.
If you’re looking for the best noise cancelling headphone to buy right now, you will quickly find either the Bose QC35 or the Sony MDR 1000x and that’s because they both deliver great audio performance, but they differ in other areas. This is not a Bose Q35 review, though, you can read that here to see what we think of that too.
Sony MDR 1000x Design and Features – Premium meets functionality
The MDR 1000x is very solid, and you can tell it’s a Sony product, you can easily pack it away and put it in its case for your travels. It’s got a mix of metal and leather finishing, which adds a little weight to it in comparison to the QC35 – it’s 39 grammes heavier.
In comparison to the QC35, Sony has taken a great pair of headphones and added some tech to make it better for the user, for example you can cover the right side in order to have external sounds amplified (Quick Attention mode), saving you the hassle of taking it off every time someone taps you on the shoulder to talk to you. You also get a Personal NC Optimizer function which analyses the shape of the head and ears in order to adjust its sound quality to match.
It’s also worth mentioning the Ambient Sound mode which includes ‘Normal’ to allow you to hear some outside sound and “Voice” for when you still want to have a conversation with them on.
The tech doesn’t stop there either, instead of adding a bunch of buttons for controlling your music, Sony added a touch sensitive ear cup so you can tap or swipe to interact with your sound. The only thing that sets the QC35 aside here, is that you can pair it with up to three devices, whereas you can’t with the MDR 1000x.
Elsewhere, there’s something minimalist about the design, yet it feels premium in hand when you take it out of the box. The headband is made of polished metal, and the ear cups and ear pads are finished synthetic leather.
The use of synthetic leather is implemented very well too, it looks and feels real, allowing the touch sensitive feature to also work well. Each ear cup is stuffed with polyurethane foam for comfort and the headband doesn’t feel too tight on the head, even when wearing it on a long flight to NYC.
The right earcup’s a touch-sensitive pad allows you to plays/pause your tracks by tapping the middle of the touchpad, and you can change volume by tapping then sliding your finger up or down, swiping left or right skips track. Although I like this feature, it can sometimes misfire command where tapping doesn’t do what’s expected.
The left ear cup is where you’d find an NFC logo for quickly pairing up, power button, NC and Ambient sound and the audio port for using it with devices with no Bluetooth connectivity or when the battery runs out. You can recharge it using a microUSB cable.
Sony MDR 1000x Sound Quality
Packed with so much tech to enhance your listening experience, the MDR 100ox is definitely one to reckon with. With Bluetooth and NC turned on, you get about 20 hours of battery life, so you don’t have to charge it every night. When it comes to sound, I tried it with various genres and it delivers on its promise to be a really good pair of headphones.
Depending on which mode you have selected, you will find that it differs in sound quality and that’s not because the headphone is bad, it’s because you would have turned off NC or you would have ambient sound on which takes away from what it’s about.
With NC on, though, you can expect the best all around sound experience. Base sounds as intended when listening to genres like hip hop and RnB when you switch to Jazz, you also get just what you’d expect from a pair of headphones that costs more than £300 to buy.
Sound balance is perfect too, it sounds clean across the frequency range and you don’t get overpowered by bass or treble, no matter what you’re listening to – it’s truly versatile.
Is the Sony MDR 1000x worth it?
Being a flagship pair of headphones, they do not come cheap. It’s about £40 more than Bose’s QC35 with not a lot to differentiate them. This is not to say one is better than the other, but if you had the extra money, get the Sony MDR 1000x as you get quick attention and other sound modes, and a touch sensitive control.
Overall, the MDR 100x’s sound quality is great and you can’t knock it. Noise cancelling is always on with the Bose QC35 and having the option to turn it on/off is good to have.