Audio

Noise-cancellation seals the deal

Sony's WF-1000X is among the best true wireless earphones in terms of sound quality.
Sony's WF-1000X is among the best true wireless earphones in terms of sound quality.PHOTO: SONY

Sony's WF-1000X is the company's first true wireless earphone model - no cables, just two buds you stick into your ears.

What got my attention, though, was that Sony managed to fit the same active noise-cancellation found in its WH-1000XM2 headphones into such a tiny package.

That is quite an engineering feat and that alone sets them apart from other true wireless earphones in the market, like Apple's AirPods or the Bragi Dash.

The WF-1000X is among the best true wireless earphones in terms of sound quality, being fairly balanced, bass-rich and detailed.

It has a warmer sound signature than most, lending it well to most mainstream pop music. The earphones will satisfy most listeners who rely on, say, Spotify or MP3 files for their everyday listening.

The noise-cancellation feature is the best part of the WF-1000X. I was pleasantly surprised at how much outside noise these two small earbuds could block out with noise-cancellation switched on.

There is an ambient sound mode - also found in Sony's other earphone models - that lets ambient noise trickle in, which is useful for crossing the road or while waiting for an announcement.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $349

    DRIVER DIAMETER: 6mm

    FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 20Hz - 20kHz

    WEIGHT: 6.8g per earbud

    RATING

    FEATURES: 5/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

The buds are very comfortable. Once in the ears, you don't really feel them, although I was told they stick out from my ears and look like robot antennae.

Unfortunately, the WF-1000X suffers from rampant connectivity problems.

The Bluetooth link gets cut off when the device is blocked from the music player. For instance, when I put my phone into my left pocket, the right earbud is cuts off as the Bluetooth radio signal gets blocked by my body.

This is a serious issue for true wireless earphones. But it is something Sony should be able to fix with a software update.

There is also a slight lag when adjusting volume. When I hit the volume button on my phone, the screen shows the level changing, but I hear it in the earphones only a second later.

Added features like noise cancellation are a drain on battery life, clocking in just shy of three hours of use on a single charge with noise-cancellation turned on.

The charging case holds two additional charges, giving you up to nine hours of use - sufficient for day-to-day use, but not enough for a long-haul flight.

•Verdict: Sony's first crack at true wireless headphones succeeds in placing noise-cancellation in such a compact package. Unfortunately, the experience is marred by connectivity problems which, hopefully, Sony will fix soon.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2017, with the headline 'Noise-cancellation seals the deal '. Print Edition | Subscribe