Sony's excellent high-end headphones get a custom noise-canceling chip

With a new firmware update people with Alexa-enabled devices can play music and control playlists stream music and control audio on Sony’s ZF9 Dolby Atmos soundbar

With a new firmware update people with Alexa-enabled devices can play music and control playlists stream music and control audio on Sony’s ZF9 Dolby Atmos soundbar

Sony says it's four four times more powerful than its predecesssor, which allows it to better cancel out hard sounds like street noise and human voices (as opposed to, say, the static hum of an airplane engine). Because of this new touch control, Sony's made the material on the outside smoother to touch. Most significant is the headband, which now more closely follows the curvature of your head and leaves less of a gap between the two.

Additionally, the updated HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1 works in tandem with Dual Noise Sensor technology to register and attenuate ambient noise. Placing your hand over the headphones will reduce the volume, crank up the built-in microphones and let you hear the outside world without having to take them off, or readjust your eyeglasses, or mess up your hair. In fact, the company has claimed that the new chip offers four times the performance of the previous generation.

When I tried the 1000XM3 side-by-side with their predecessors, the difference was small but noticeable. In our demo, when we pressed and held on the right earphone, we were able to momentarily turn off noise cancellation and hold a conversation with the person standing next to us. They are more comfortable thanks to the redesigned earpads and they are lighter than the 2nd generation so you can wear them all day (however, this was done by dropping the metal elements in favor of plastic).

The only disappointment here is that unlike some other headphones, you can't use USB-C to access the headphone's DAC directly - my PC doesn't recognize the 1000X as an audio device. In addition to streaming over Bluetooth - with Qualcomm aptX support - Sony supports wired connections with a cable in the box, together with a twin-plug adapter for planes.

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One of the key points of feedback from the second-gen headphones was that people were sometimes using them for noise-cancellation only, rather than playing music. However, the 1000XM2 would automatically power off after five minutes without music playback.

That iOS and Android app is also where you configure Adaptive Sound Control. The Adaptive Sound Control will allow you to adjust just how much ambient noise you want to hear, especially if you're in a case like walking down the street where you might want to hear the vehicles barreling down on you. That way, you stand less chance of inadvertently getting run over in the street because you couldn't hear a vehicle coming. My boss liked the WH-1000MX2 so much he may or may not have stole them from Sony.

You can expect a whopping 30 hours of battery life, with a quick-charging USB-C port replacing the 1000xM2's microUSB. This will prevent your headphones from running out their battery if you accidentally leave them on, and is also helpful if you're using the noise-cancelling function to take a nap.

Sony's latest 1000X series headphones will go on sale next month for a suggested retail price of US$349.99.

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