Sony Electronics is putting a stake in the ground. At the IFA trade show in Berlin, the company is announcing the MDR-1000X, a wireless headphone that Sony says offers the best noise cancellation ever.
That’s consistent with Sony’s usual message about the importance of quality. In this case, Sony Electronics wants to convince listeners to focus on sound and music in their purest form via Hi-Res Audio and other technologies that allow these headphones to command the high-end price of $400.
“This is the headphone to beat now,” said Sony spokesman J.P. Torres, in a press briefing.
The MDR-1000X offers the most responsive cancellation of ambient sound frequency range on the market. The tech includes signal processing for top noise cancellation with an upgraded filtering process. It has optimize dual-noise sensor technology, and has ear pads that reflect the newest designs. It also has a personal noise-canceling optimizer that tailors the performance to your ears.
“The MDR-1000X are not just Sony’s best-ever noise-canceling headphones,” said Dunja LaRosa, director and head of mobile audio at Sony Electronics, in a statement. “They are also great-looking, and, most importantly, fantastic-sounding headphones worthy of the Sony name and tradition.”
The Sony headphones cost $50 more than the Bose QC35 at $350 and the Beats Studio Wireless at $380. But Sony claims its features are significantly better. Sony’s headphones analyze the shape of the user’s head, along with such things as hair style and whether the individual wears glasses, to provide a customized noise-canceling experience. This personalized listening experience is realized by Sony’s Sense Engine, and it allows you to decide how much external ambient sound to allow into your ears.
The left speaker shell has touch controls. You can swipe up or down to control the volume and left or right to go to the next or previous song.
The “ambient sound mode” is quite useful if you’re walking down a city street and need to be aware of sounds in your environment, such as cars or sirens. Sony’s S-Master HX audio amplifier also supports Hi-Res to maintain the purity of the original signals for highly faithful sound reproduction. And for the best possible wireless performance, Sony uses its LDAC technology to deliver audio at 3x higher quality than conventional Bluetooth streaming.
The headphones also have a “quick attention” mode — place your hand on the right headphone shell to hear someone speaking to you, without removing the device.
The headphones offer up to 20 hours of battery life in wireless mode with noise cancellation on. Presales start today, and the headphones will be available in October. They will be sold on Amazon, and at most Best Buy, B&H, and InMotion stores. They are available in black or gray-beige.
Sony is also showing a few other products at IFA. The company’s Signature Series audio products include the MDR-Z1R headphones, NW-WM1Z and NW-WM1A Walkman players, and the TA-ZH1ES headphone amplifier.
The MDR-Z1R headphones are optimized for Hi-Res personal listening. The headphones utilize a 70mm, magnesium dome HD driver for the widest possible frequency response (up to 120kHZ), along with a lightweight aluminum-coated LCP edge diaphragm and a powerful neodymium magnet, ensuring greater velocity, less signal loss, and more natural sound.
The headband is constructed from lightweight, flexible beta titanium for more elasticity. Both the headband and ergonomically correct ear pads are covered in genuine leather for added comfort. The balance connector is made of high purity lead-free solder and utilizes a gold-plated Corson alloy jack for superior strength and greater resistance.
Most significantly, the MDR-Z1R was developed in collaboration with one of Sony Music Battery Studios’ top mastering engineers, who benchmarked its overall performance in comparison with his super high-end reference speakers. The MDR-Z1R costs a whopping $2,300.
Sony also has a couple of new Walkman models. The new flagship NW-WM1Z Walkman is gold-plated, with an oxygen-free copper chassis to help reduce contact resistance and oxidation while minimizing magnetic interference. It incorporates a dual clock circuit with a low-phase noise quartz oscillator, which achieves superior sound reproduction at virtually any volume setting. To further reduce noise, both the WM1Z and WM1A utilize separate analog and digital circuitry.
Both models also support virtually every popular Hi-Res music format, including 384kHz/32bit recording and Quad (11.2MHz) DSD native playback, if used with a balanced connection and a compatible listening device, such as the Z1R headphones. Additionally, they feature selectable multimode DSEE-HXTM signal processing with multiple settings. The NW-WM1Z Signature Series Walkman costs $3,200. The NW-WM1A Signature Series Walkman is $1,200.
Lastly, the Signature Series includes the TA-ZH1ES headphone amplifiers. These feature a new D.A. Hybrid Amplifier Circuit, which utilizes the combination of Sony’s full digital amplifier S-Master HX together with an analog amplifier circuit, preserving the fine detail sound of S-Master HX and low distortion sound with the support of an analog amplifier circuit. The headphone amplifier costs $2,200.