Audio

Sony's WI-1000x offers top-notch sound tech

The WI-1000x in-ear earphones have a neckband-style design. The neckband stores not just the battery pack that powers Sony's active noise-cancelling technology, but also the Bluetooth chip and a host of buttons.
The WI-1000x in-ear earphones have a neckband-style design. The neckband stores not just the battery pack that powers Sony's active noise-cancelling technology, but also the Bluetooth chip and a host of buttons.PHOTO: SONY

Sony has, over the past two years, developed some of the best active noise-cancelling (ANC) technology in the personal audio space, and has since branched into various earphone types to accommodate different user preferences.

Sony's WI-1000x earphones use the same ANC tech as its very well-received noise-cancelling headphones, but in a radically different form. These are neckband-style in-ear earphones that connect to a smartphone or music device via Bluetooth.

The neckband is where the magic happens, storing not just the battery pack that powers its noise-cancellation, but also the Bluetooth chip and a host of buttons.

After using them for more than a fortnight, I am sold on their convenience, sound quality and noise cancellation, but the neckband-style design is just not stylish.

That is the one major sacrifice you make - these earphones do look dorkier and less cool than having headphones clasped around the neck, although they are infinitely more comfortable and lighter.

But their comfort and convenience won me over when I utterly forgot they were still on my neck after unplugging them, going about my work until I went to the bathroom and saw them in the mirror.

The noise cancellation on the WI-1000x is stellar, reducing the constant drone of the MRT to a nearly imperceptible hum, letting me commute in peace and quiet.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $449

    DRIVER DIAMETER: 9mm dynamic and balanced armature tweeter

    FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 3Hz - 40kHz

    WEIGHT: 71g

    RATING

    FEATURES: 5/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The sound quality of the earphones is also top-notch, especially if you enjoy thick, rumbly bass in your tunes.

It definitely leans on the warmer, bassier side of things but, for the most part, that makes the WI-1000x more fun to listen to.

Bassheads will take to the pronounced sub-bass the earphones can pump out, which is impressively full-bodied, given the size of the earphones.

The addictive bassline in Calvin Harris' Feels, for instance, rumbles seductively along, giving the track even greater "danceability". The mid-range and treble tones are not compromised either, even though the bass takes centre stage.

The WI-1000x's battery life is on a par with other neckband-style earphones, as I found that I had more than 10 hours of juice with noise-cancellation turned on. That is enough to get you through a day, although international travellers on long flights might have to pop them off for a quick top-up.

While the earphones are comfortable and light enough to have on your collarbones the entire day, there are times where you may want to store them. I am not entirely comfortable with tossing them into a bag as the neckband, being so light and flexible, feels like it could be in danger if heavier objects shift and crush it.

•Verdict: The WI-1000x offers great sound and Sony's top-notch noise-cancellation tech in a light and convenient package, but one that favours practicality over style.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 01, 2017, with the headline 'Sony's WI-1000x offers top-notch sound tech '. Print Edition | Subscribe