Sony WH-1000XM2: the best Bluetooth headphones!
With these Sony Bluetooth headphones, we are probably in the presence of the best of its class. With an advanced noise cancellation system, the ability to listen to Hi-Res files coded files with Qualcomm’s aptX HD or the manufacturer’s LDAC, and also with the option of listening with a cable or over bluetooth, they are in a league of their own.
The headphones aren’t the audio elements that are given the most attention in the Qobuz testing grounds, and this is for two reasons.
Technically first, this isn’t what’s the most fascinating side of things for your favorite writer, let’s be honest, and second, given the abundance of models, choosing those which sound good most often comes to luck, according to us, rather than anything else, and acquiring equipment by relying on luck isn’t really our thing, and purchasing in bulk to sort them and sending back what doesn’t suit us isn’t our style either.
However, we can’t deny showing a certain interest to these elements which have seen a tremendous surge in the last few years regarding passive models, and a nice growth for the wireless models, like this Sony WH-1000XM2, of which we’re going to present you the testing results right now.
This wireless Bluetooth model actually includes, like often with Sony, a nice technical sheet, especially a great number of audio codecs, among which several high quality ones, or even Hi-Res (apt X, aptX HD and LDAC from the manufacturer itself), and can also work the classic way with the provided cable equipped with 3.5 mm Jack connectors and an adapter to use it in a plane.
It also possesses an ambient noise cancellation system that can be switched off and can optimally adapt to the morphology of the user’s skull and hair, and also to the fact that he wears glasses, as well as atmospheric pressure (for aircraft cabins); in short, you can’t stop progress! To find out all there is to know about these functionalities, each one more wonderful than the last, just click on this link. Furthermore, in Bluetooth mode, the right earpiece acts as a command panel with its touch controls, which allows both for a great flexibility of use and complete freedom.
As for the esthetic of these headphones, we find it very pleasant, very soft and fluid, with a timeless black finish and a very luxurious gold finish that really highlights the headphones aesthetic.
You’ll also note that the user head adjustments barely affect the harmony and continuity of the whole and that wearing these headphones won’t tire you, even if the support is very good thanks to the oblong shape of the earpieces and the suppleness of the ear pads.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 headphones use transducers that can go up to 40 kHz and whose polymer diaphragm has a 40 mm diameter. The amplifiers are S-Master HX Hi-Res switching models created by the manufacturer itself.
As these headphones can work in classic wired mode, we have started listening tests that we quickly stopped, as the sound results didn’t really convince us. It is obviously designed to work as a whole in Bluetooth connection and this is how we decided to focus our listening efforts.
In order to do this, we have used a Sony Xperia XZ1 G8341 smartphone running on Android 8 and natively equipped with Qualcomm’s aptX and aptX HD codecs, and also with the Sony LDAC codec, and, of course, with the application Qobuz for Android.
Unfortunately, for the first time that we were in the presence of two devices compatible with the new aptX HD codec—which, to work with the WH-1000XM2, requires the Sony Headphones Connect application for Android (or iOS)—the smartphone refused to connect to the headphones, despite our efforts, displaying that the latest version of the application, the one which we just downloaded, was needed, which made us quite mad, to be honest! We have thus set up the smartphone to the best sound quality available outside of this application, i.e. the LDAC, and we weren’t disappointed after all, even if the LDAC cannot claim as many native installations as the aptX or the aptX HD (which is included in the latest version of Android).
Therefore, with Gounod’s St. Cecilia Mass performed by the Orchestre De La Société Des Concerts Du Conservatoire conducted by Jean-Claude Hartemann, in 16-Bit/44.1 kHz, it’s a beautiful restitution offered by these Sony headphones, spacious, warm, full of fervor, and we soon forget the position held by the digital in this reproduction to let ourselves get overwhelmed by the deep emotion produced by this work. This LDAC codec does a good job, as do the Sony’s S-Master HD digital amplifiers.
And now let’s start the streaming, still via the Qobuz application, of the title in 24-Bit/48 kHz Hi res quality, i.e. the famous Rondo alla Turca, better known under the name of Turkish March, from Mozart’s Sonata No. 11 K331.
As we often listen to this Turkish March—which belongs to our test files—on USB DACs as well as on Hi-Res network players (and so in Wi-Fi connection), we must say that the feelings offered by the sound of these Sony WH-1000XM2 in Bluetooth with LDAC codec didn’t seem to differ from what we experienced in the conditions quoted at the beginning of the paragraph. It’s a reproduction full of staccatos and fluidity where we almost imagine the pianist’s fingers come and go on the keyboard, sometimes delicately, sometimes with strength, and we can only applaud the performances of this LDAC codec with a HD file that makes us feel all of that so well.
To put a little sunshine in your mind and forget the grayness, the playback of an 80s hit, Paradise Mi Amor, from the album Club Années 80 also shows how much this codec allows you to get, via a Bluetooth connection, a sound restitution pretty close of the CD by not removing the colors, bandwidth and richness of female voices from this title.
Let’s continue with the very famous My Sweet Lord from George Harrison’s album All Things Must Pass, in Hi-Res, we are once again at a high level of sound quality, with very nice staccatos on the guitar chords and a reproduction of the voices of the singer and choristers that perfectly flow without ever pushing it.
To finish, a few words on the noise cancellation that we’ve found to be very efficient, and above all, that doesn’t alter the musical performances.
To conclude, let’s forget the use of these headphones in passive mode and let’s applaud its very good sound performances in LDAC Bluetooth connection, which are probably on the same level as the aptX and aptX HD ones, and we know the performances of the former.
Price: around 380 euros
The Berlin Recital (Live at Philharmonie, Berlin, 2018) Yuja Wang Gramophone Editor's Choice