The Sony recently launches the premium 1000X series with 3 different headphones. WI-1000X is the neckband in-ear headphones retailing at S$449 and comes with plushy leatherette neckband on the inside and metal frame on the outside, like headphones. Pretty extravagant, if you ask me.
Anyway, I have always been an advocate for neckband earphones because they stay around your neck the entire day without slipping off. I have reviewed them for the past weeks, wearing them daily at work and also during my recent vacation where it kept the plane and bus coach engine noises out.
Sony WI-1000X is one of the most feature-packed neckband earphones and I would recommend. Here’s why.
Active Noise Cancellation
If you commute on public transport or frequently fly on airplanes, you need a pair of ANC to eliminate the ambient noises.
The WI-1000X was a great companion while I spent my vacation in Hainan. Thanks to ANC, I can listen to quiet instrumental tracks instead of blasting loud songs to drown the noise.
Following the success of the MDR-1000X headphones, the WI-1000X now incorporates the Ambient Sound mode where I can let in surrounding noises. This is helpful when I need to be aware of the environment, like when I am walking in the urban streets. The ambient sound mixes naturally with the music and does not dilute the quality. It is a good alternative mode for users who do not like the excessive sound pressure eliminated with the ANC mode. From the Sony Headphone app, I can adjust the level of ambient sound mixes.
Adaptive Sound Control
The new 1000X series headphones now support adaptive sound control, which automatically sets the ambient sound mode depending on the activity it detects. If you are walking, the app will enable ambient sound. If you are sitting, the app will enable full noise cancellation. It works, but I prefer to select the mode manually via the button on the right of the neckband, which only toggles between ambient sound and noise cancelling, not the additional sub-modes.
Incoming Call Vibration
The WI-1000X vibrates when the connected smartphone has incoming call. Another great feature and a reason to wear around the neck the entire day, and plug the earphones when needed.
The earbud cables are quite short and do not have much excess length that get in the way. I like that I can tuck an excess cable into the neckband.
The WI-1000X offers about 14 hours of continuous use, which is longer than most wireless earphones. When keeping it on standby all-day, I can get about 5 days of use (depending on how much calls you make). The power-saving option will turn off the ambient mode after a few minutes of inactivity, so it allows the earphones to keep on standby for so long.
Another unique feature is that the WI-1000X can be used with wires. It is very rare to find wireless earphones that come with passive audio option. So when the battery runs out, I can plug in the provided USB-audio cable. If you are on the flight, you can also use the cable to listen to in-flight audio with ANC activated.
The WI-1000X uses dual hybrid drivers: a 9mm dynamic and a separate balance armature driver. The result is the Sony Signature clear sparkling treble but not too transparent like the Sennheiser Momentum. The bass has presence but not the massive bass like other Sony models. Thanks to the premium wireless audio codecs, LDAC and aptx HD, these earphones are a joy to listen to, delivering clear detailed music that do not exhibit any audio deterioration or compression issues when listening with good quality devices. A drawback is its thick earbud shape, but is a compromise as it also houses the microphones behind the metal mesh.
From the Sony Headphone app, you can also change the audio sound with Sony’s audio filters, like DSEE HX, Sound Position Control, VPT Surround, Equalizer.
Verdict: Best Neckband Earphones in 2017
The Sony WI-1000X is the most featured neckband earphones in the market, it is not the most expensive. At S$449, the price is reasonable for its capability and the elaborate design, though might not appeal to some consumers. I value function over form, and would go for the black version for a more discreet outlook.
If you prefer a less chunky neckband, do not need ANC but like the incoming call vibration feature, I recommend V-MODA Forza Metallo (read my review here).
Frequency response: 3 – 40,000 Hz
Headphone Sensitivity: 101 dB
Wireless Connectivity: SBC, AAC, LDAC, aptX, aptX HD
Battery: 13 hours playback without noise cancelling
Official product website: http://www.sony.com.sg/electronics/in-ear-headphones/wi-1000x