Noise-cancelling headphones are great if you want to slip away from reality and enjoy some tunes in your own little world. Their usefulness is further amplified (no pun intended) when doing so in a potentially noisy environment like on a plane or the subway but in actuality, the luxury is a bit of a double-edged sword.
The ability to tune out the real world is great but in the process of doing so, you're inevitably going to miss something important like a vital in-flight announcement, a change of schedule or some sort of commotion that needs your immediate attention.
If you're sporting Sony's latest headphones, that won't be an issue.
The new MDR-1000X wireless headphones feature multiple noise-cancellation modes that let wearers to filter out varying degrees of environmental noise.
According to The Verge, which had a brief hands-on demo of the headset, one mode allows you to hear spoken words. If you want to jump in on the conversation or pay closer attention, simply cover the right earpiece with your hand to lower the music volume.
There are three distinct noise-cancelling modes but what may be the coolest feature of them all is their ability to automatically - well, at the push of a button - help you adjust the strength of cancelling based on your head. For example, long hair or wearing glasses might create a small gap between the headphones and your cranium. Pressing the aforementioned button will play a series of tones to help you dial in the cancelling effect to get the best results for each individual ear.
It sounds (again, no pun intended) a lot like Doppler Labs' Here One augmented reality earbuds albeit probably not nearly as cutting-edge.
Sony says the headphones are good for up to 20 hours of listening (with noise cancellation enabled) on a full charge. They feature a swivel and folding design meaning they'll take up less space in your bag or luggage.
In terms of audio quality, the publication only spent a short amount of time with them. While not long enough to conjure a fair assessment, what they did hear reportedly sounded great. Using Sony's DSEE HX technology, they're able to take compressed digital music (ACC, MP3, ATRAC and WMA) and upscale it to near Hi-Res Audio, even in wireless mode. In wired mode, listeners can experience true Hi-Res Audio, we're told.
Dunja LaRosa, director and head of Mobile Audio at Sony Electronics, said the MDR-1000X isn't just Sony's best-ever noise-cancelling headphones, they also look great and offer fantastic sound worthy of the Sony name and tradition.
Sony is now accepting pre-orders for the cans. Look for them to arrive in October priced at $399.99.