Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Sony 1000XM2 - the good, the bad, the ugly

I've been on a headphone shopping spree lately - after most excellent Sony WI-1000X (which I am loving after installing custom earbud tips) I decided to splash a bit more cash and went for the ultimate headphones of all - a remake of already great Sony 1000X, namely Sony 1000XM2.

Wouldn't bother you with a full review: after all, you can just go to What HiFi review and find out for yourself why did they award them full five stars. The sound is excellent, amazing, rich and full, with noise cancelling not affecting the richness of the sound in the slightest. Music and noise cancellation quality is just nothing to complain about, nor anything to add. The fact that they support LDAC codec (available in Sony devices for a while, and for other OEMs since Android Oreo) only contributes to rock-solid bluetooth connection with quality frankly way beyond what most accomplished listeners can distinguish from wired connection.

But what I want to talk about is how these headphones fare in real life.

I commute on a train. It's noisy, like seriously very noisy. Also it's bumpy. Do you remember noise cancelling headphones of old, which skipped a bit every time train jerked? Well, rest assured this isn't a problem for new Sony's. What is problem, however, as soon as you start moving your head around - bobbing or swaying sideways, or just quickly turning it left or right, you feel like the balance of sound is jerking. It almost feels like noise cancellation algorithm is trying to compensate the movement somehow, but is late just a fraction of second, and this is incredibly distracting.

So the sound quality is amazing, and noise cancellation is top notch - but only if and until you are staying relatively still or at least move very carefully and gently. I guess it would work really well on long flights (didn't have a chance to do my usual LHR-to-SFO in this headphones yet) but if you are walking, or standing in the train, you will feel the pain.

Lo and behold, the headphones will probably go back to Sony, despite all their greatness. Which is a shame really - I feel like a little bit of testing in more realistic scenarios could've resolved many of these problems.