October 19, 2021

Sony WF-1000X: Separate Bluetooth headphones with active noise reduction


After the appearance of Apple AirPods, the market began to massively go separate Bluetooth-headphones with a box for recharging “on the fly.” In the autumn of last year, Sony presented an updated line of headphones with noise reduction, which included the model Sony WF-1000X – the most compact in the line.

Sony WF-1000X Specifications

Diameter of membranes 6 mm
Frequency range 20 – 20 000 Hz
Type of radiators dynamic dynamic
Connection Bluetooth 4.1
Bluetooth profiles A2DP, AVRCP, Handsfree, Headset
Supported Codecs AAC, SBC
Time of work of headphones from one charge up to 3 h
Total running time up to 9 h
Noise Reduction Active (ANC)
Advanced NFC, Smart Listening

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Packing and equipment

The device comes in a small, but dense package, which protects the contents well when delivered.
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Inside – a pair of headphones, a box for charging, 6 pairs of replaceable ear cups (3 pairs of rubber, 3 pairs of foam), a spare pair of ear hinges, a starting booklet and a small guide.
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Headphones are supplied in the charging box. The dimensions of the box (H Γ— H Γ— W) are 24 Γ— 42 Γ— 102 mm. Weight with headphones inside – 84 grams. The box is made of black matte plastic, which has a moderate resistance to the appearance of fingerprints. Dimensions allow you to safely carry the box in your pocket.

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The lower edge has a Micro-USB connector for charging, to the right of which is an indicator. The connector is not recessed into the case, which allows you to use almost any cables with a Micro-USB connector.
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On the lower edge is the technical information and NFC labeling, reminiscent of the possibility of rapid pairing.
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To open the cover, a well-metered effort is required: the box is easy to open, but random openings in the pocket are excluded. Inside there are two molded holes with pads and a marking indicating which earphone is intended for a particular hole. On the cover are inserts for more tight retention of the headphones inside the box.
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Headphones inserted into the box reflect the charging status using indicators. Own indication of charging is not in box. In the event of a full discharge of the box, the indicators blink sequentially and go out. If properly positioned, installing the headphones in the box does not cause problems, a successful click is shown on the successful installation.
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The outer side of the headphones is covered with glossy plastic with the marking of the manufacturer. In the center there are holes, inside of which, under the protective grille, there are microphones necessary for the operation of the noise canceling system and the removal of the voice during the conversation.
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There are no functional elements on the top edge of the headphones.
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On the lower edge of the left earpiece is a multifunction button that is responsible for turning on the headphones and changing the noise reduction modes. The key on the bottom edge of the right earpiece is responsible for controlling the playback and responding to the call. Also on it there is a small ledge, designed to facilitate the use of blind.

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On the inner surface of the headphones are spherical contact areas for charging. At the base of the case – ear cushions on the long leg and flexible rubber loops for more reliable fixation in the ears. At the edges of each earpiece are transparent inserts, inside which are status indicators.
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On the back edge of each earpiece is a marking for quick orientation.
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After removing the ear cups and loops, a sufficiently long leg of the channel with an insert protecting the channel from the penetration of foreign bodies is found. On the inside of the hinges there is a polarity marking.
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Sony WF-1000X look stylish and strict. The combination of materials does not cause questions, the assembly is of high quality and accurate. The boxing has a strict design and timeless black color. The only complaint to the appearance is the length of the leg and the thickness of the case: the headphones protrude from the auricle more than one would like.

Operation and software

To start using headphones, you need to pull out the left earpiece from the box and hold the power button for 7 seconds. After the status indicator flashes red and blue alternately, you can start pairing. The device is defined as WF-1000X, the connection does not require a password. After successful pairing, you need to remove the right earphone from the box – pairing with the left earphone will happen automatically. If the right earpiece does not automatically connect, hold down the right earphone button for 7 seconds. After that, the headphones are ready for use.

A successive pressing of the key on the left earpiece switches the modes of operation with ambient sounds. The default mode is Active Noise Reduction. The next mode is “Ambient Sound”. In this mode, the music gets a little quieter, and the microphones begin to broadcast the sound of the environment. The mode will be useful in case you need to monitor the situation around. The next press turns the noise canceling off.

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A single press of a key on the right earpiece starts or stops a track, and also initiates a response to an incoming call. The hold starts the voice assistant (if available). Press twice to start the next track. Threefold – the previous one.

All actions are remembered quickly enough and work without complaints, but this type of control loses significantly in the comfort of touch panels or touch actions. You can not change the volume using headphones.

The headphones can be adjusted using the Sony Headphones Connect proprietary application. The application allows:

  • see battery power
  • enable adaptive sound control (the application must analyze the environment and adjust the noise reduction system, but in practice it works slowly, the benefit of such an implementation is not obvious)
  • enable or disable noise reduction, and also enable “Ambient Sound”
  • set the virtual location of the sound source (the setting creates the effect of columns standing at a point in front of you)
  • Set your own equalizer settings or choose one of the presets
  • set the priority of the sound quality (with the setting enabled, the highest quality codec available for the device is used, when the setting is turned off, the SBC codec is used, so if the signal quality is good it is not recommended to turn off the setting)
  • control playback
  • update headset firmware

In comparison with the older model WH-1000XM2, the functions in the application are much smaller, due to a much smaller fee in each earpiece and other limitations due to the size of the earpiece and the battery. In particular, we had to sacrifice support for Hi-Res codecs (only AAC is available), support for noise reduction for specific ears and sound restoration technology. Also, there are no different modes of creating surround sound, but this, in view of the small practical benefits of such modes, can not be considered a great loss.

The phone-headphone connection is stable, but there are occasional problems with the connection directly to the headphones. If the left earpiece is working without failures, then the sound in the right periodically, haphazardly, disappears. This, of course, spoils the overall impression of using the Sony WF-1000X.

Correctly selected ear cushions and the presence of loops provide a very reliable fixation of the headphones in the ear canal, however, to ensure proper sound and noise reduction they have to be inserted deep enough. This is worth considering if you are not used to this type of headset. It is also necessary to closely monitor the hygiene of the ears, of course.

At one charge of their own batteries headphones work about an hour and a half for 60% -70% of the volume with activated noise reduction. Passport 3 hours are achievable at a loudness of not more than 50% and with the system of noise reduction turned off.

The total running time, given the periodic recharging from the box, is 7-9 hours, depending on the volume and operation of noise cancellation, which can not be called a phenomenal indicator. In practice, the headphones last for 2 days of periodic use. On a long trip, you will need to take an external battery with you.

Sound and noise cancellation

The graph below illustrates the response obtained as a result of testing.
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Amplitude – frequency response has a good uniformity with the absence of critically sharp hump. There is a small dip near 200-300 kHz, an easy rise in the region of 3 kHz and a fall in the high frequency range.

The top is not accented, but open and measured. Compositions sound with a normal level of detail, sibilants are absent even at high volumes.

The area of medium frequencies does not cause any particular complaints – the vocal and solo parts sound clearly, without falling in the general mix. The compositions sound dense and confident, the audible “barrel-shaped” is missing.

The study of the lower classes also causes respect – bass accented, but not soapy. In the bass drum there is punch and elasticity, bass guitar parts are not lost and sound juicy.

In general, the headphones show a very decent and quality for its form-factor sound, which, in many respects, due to the 6-millimeter membrane. It is worth mentioning once again that the quality of the perceived sound depends directly on the correct selection of the ear cups. They should, on the one hand, provide a firm and confident landing, and on the other – allow the headphones to penetrate deep enough into the ear canal. With the correct location, the base of the loop will lie on the lower part of the counter-grip, and the loop will rest against the lower part of the curl.

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Also, correctly selected ear pads are expected to provide a good level of passive noise reduction, cutting off a significant range of low frequencies of ambient sound. But active noise cancellation in practice yields very modest results: it can only slightly “clean up” the low-frequency rumble behind the ear pads, practically ignoring the high-frequency spectrum. Unlike the flagship model, the use of noise cancellation is not obvious. It will certainly help to concentrate a little more on the sound, however its disconnection will give you an extra supply of battery life.

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Sony WF-1000X is an attempt by Sony to keep up with the times and modern trends. The model is the most affordable in the line and, which is nice, it sounds very good. However, the “chips”, which justify the high price of the flagship model, are implemented quite damp and do not impress. Also frustrating incidental problems with Bluetooth-connection, which, perhaps, will fix in the future updates of the firmware. A short battery life is, in fact, typical for this class of devices.

The model is recommended for acquaintance first of all to the fans of the brand, fans of the separate form-factor and enthusiasts, trying to try something new. If you are interested in an impressive system of noise reduction and good battery life, you should pay attention to the flagship model WH-1000XM2.

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