Sony WF-1000X Wireless Earbuds: Hands-On Review

A couple weeks back, my mouth watered and my ears sweated over the announcement of the Sony WF-1000X wireless earbuds. Yesterday, I got my hands (and ears) on them, and you’ll be able to do the same next week. I’m impressed with the WF-1000X buds, but I’m not completely blown away.

I was impressed with the rather small packaging they came in, although I should have expected it. I wasn’t so impressed when I saw the charging box, which is a little bulky for the pockets (but still manageable). The first thing I noticed is that the right ear piece didn’t connect. After pressing the button on the right bud long enough to get an updated voice battery indicator, it worked. Hopefully, a software update will take care of this.

The buds themselves look like mini-nuggets, and once you pair them with the correct rubber canals to fit in your ears, they feel okay. Unlike the AirPods, you definitely notice them weighing down on your ears. But it’s not a deal killer. And it’s still quite impressive that Sony could put features found on most higher-end Bluetooth headphones in these little nuggets. Sony has been almost as innovative as Apple, but doesn’t get the credit they deserve.

Speaking of innovative, these earbuds are the first mainstream ones that have active noise cancellation. Surprisingly, the noise cancellation is fantastic despite the fact that these buds are so small. There are several different modes, including an “Adaptive” mode that is supposed to adjust the noise cancellation to whatever activity you are engaged in at the time. I found this worked most of the time, but I still preferred to keep the buds on the regular noise cancellation mode. There is an “Ambient” mode if you want to better hear voices and traffic while you are listening to your music, and it comes in very handy.

By now you are wondering how the WF-1000X actually sound. It’s safe to say that these are the best-sounding wireless buds in existence, and they actually offer high-quality sound that you only get on higher-end headphones. The bass is strong, but not overbearing. Best of all, the bass doesn’t distort when you turn the volume up. The highs are crisp and clear while perfectly complimenting the lows. As usual with Sony headphones, the middle levels are present, but not very strong. The WF-1000X are best for listing to hip-hop, dance, or soft rock.

If you are going to be wearing these buds a lot, you’ll certainly want to be able to make and accept phone calls, correct? Unfortunately, Sony overlooked this part. When I made a call in a quiet room, the other person said they could understand me, but I sounded a little muffled. In a room with a crowd of people, they had a hard time understanding me. Then, when I was walking with the wind blowing, my voice didn’t come through at all.

One might say that I shouldn’t expect high call quality on such small buds, but Apple has proven that notion wrong with the AirPods, which have great voice quality. Then again, Apple’s buds don’t have any noise isolation, so while the other person may say you sound fine, you won’t be able to hear them at times.

Then, there’s battery life. Sony is completely accurate when they give the three hour estimate, but it isn’t as bad as it sounds. With the battery case, you get up to nine hours of use with the buds. If you run out of juice, the case charges the wireless buds really fast. If you put your buds in the case (which you are supposed to do) when you are not using them, you will certainly be able to use the WF-1000X buds whenever you need to.

Despite some minor shortcomings, I would certainly recommend Sony’s WF-1000X wireless earbuds. At the $199 price point, they offer just as good sound and noise isolation as wireless headphones that cost twice as much. The minor connection problems and poor voice call quality may be able to be fixed with a firmware update.

Sony may have not created earbuds that are convenient and as easy to use as Apple’s $159 AirPods, but they are first to create an extremely portable solution for those who want high quality sound, noise cancellation, and a great sleep aid all in one package.

About Daryl

Daryl Deino has been a technology enthusiast since 1995 and has written for several newspapers and technology sites. Please reach him at [email protected]
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