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Sony WH-1000XM2 hands-on: A new experience

Old tracks feel new when you listen on these headphones

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Using the Sony WH-1000XM2 is an experience I didn’t know I needed until I put them on. I felt a sort of transformation in myself and in the kind of headphones I look for.

Disclaimer checklist before we proceed:

  1. I’m not an audio expert.
  2. This isn’t a full review.
  3. I’m just sharing the experience — which is really something else.

It was love both at first sight and sound. The Sony WH-1000XM2 is a sleek stunner, especially this particular unit we’re testing. It’s black all over with only the Sony logo and left and right ear indicators as the parts that are colored.

The power button and noise cancellation/ambient button, as well as the 3.5mm port, all have labels, too. Although I did wish there was some sort of highlight, a little colored part around these buttons and the port so they’re easier to find would’ve been great.

That aside, it looks great, but of course you want to know more about how it performs, right?

Noise Cancellation

I’m actually wearing the headphones as I write this. Not because I want to listen to music, but because it helps a lot in drowning out the background noise. It’s great for when you want to focus and don’t have immediate access to a quiet room.

Trying to look serious while writing

You don’t have to remove the headphones to turn off noise cancellation. You can either put your right hand over the right ear to allow ambient noise or press the noise cancellation/ambient button on the left side.

However, to truly appreciate what this baby can do, I strongly suggest listening to some pretty darn good tracks.

Familiar songs transform

I’m the type who enjoys an hour or two just sitting or lying down somewhere, quietly listening and really absorbing songs. If you’re like me, you will absolutely love the Sony WH-1000XM2.

That’s exactly what I did one night after I got these headphones. (And a few more nights, if I’m being completely honest.) It felt like experiencing the songs again for the first time. These headphones had me feeling so fly, I actually turned into a white guy. See photo below:

I put the headphones on and suddenly turn into this white dude

Suddenly, older tracks like “Summer Romance (Anti-Gravity Love Song)” by Incubus — which I have listened to countless times before —  felt new again.

I turned up Craig David’s “7 Days” and my sexy meter suddenly went off the charts. So much so that I felt like I could ask anyone out and they would say yes! I did that. Didn’t go well, but that’s a story for another time.

Old tracks feel new

I wanted to know what more it could do to certain songs. I remembered listening to some that had the feel of the sound traveling from left to right, vice versa, and then just all around your head.

I crowdsourced on Facebook and Twitter for songs of this nature and my friends did not disappoint. I didn’t expect to get classic, old-school rock suggestions but those dominated the suggestions.

Tracks like “Black Dog” and “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, “Come Together” by The Beatles, and “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen straight up took me home. These are songs I often listened to as a child who had absolutely no clue what these people were singing about.

“Stairway to Heaven,” with the acoustic guitar intro starting off from your left ear and then just an echo of it from your right just before the mellotron flute comes in will touch you in ways you didn’t realize you could be touched.

Just me enjoying all these classic tracks

“Bohemian Rhapsody” was a strong recommendation by several friends. Apparently, it’s one of the best songs to listen to when you’re testing whatever audio device, so always have this on your phone. It didn’t disappoint. The song, listened to with the Sony WH-1000XM2, feels as powerful as ever.

When it gets to the “Galileo” part, that’s when it gets really interesting. Close your eyes and you’ll feel as if you’re surrounded by the band as they play the entire thing in all its glory.

If you decide to give these headphones a spin, I put the recommended songs in a playlist. It’s mostly rock and roll tracks but I put a few handpicked anime songs there if you’re into that.

You should also try this “Love is in the air” playlist, specially since it’s the love month and all.

Other bells and whistles

I forgot to mention that I felt all of that while listening via Bluetooth. The sound quality is insanely crispy — imagine if I had used the cable that came with it. My mind might have been blown in an instant.

The Sony WH-1000XM2 also comes with a carrying case. It neatly fits the headphones inside, as well as the cable.

A carrying case as neat as the headphones

The headphones also have non-visible controls on the right ear panel. Great idea, but it didn’t work as well as I had hoped. Often times when I was trying to skip to the next track, I would wonder why the music stopped playing. Turns out, it paused instead of skipping.

The controls and gestures might take a while to get used to but during my test, I never really gravitated towards using them. I would mostly adjust the volume or skip a track on my phone or laptop.

Video editing, podcasts, video games

I switched back to my normal self once I started using the headphones for work.

No longer a white dude, but still kinda cute. Violent reactions go straight to the comments section

The ear-opening, near-mind-boggling experience listening to music translates well to other tasks. I could clearly hear any unnatural sound from what I was editing which made applying changes easier for me.

I also played NBA 2K18 and Shadow of the Colossus with these headphones on. It was funny hearing the players’ voices better while on the court. Shadow of the Colossus is a pretty quiet game but has great scoring as it changes moods from when you’re just wandering to when you’re trying to take down a colossus. With the headphones on, you really feel the intensity of the battle and it helps get you on your toes and immerse you in what you’re playing.

Final thoughts

If I had my way, I would keep the Sony WH-1000XM2 all to myself. As someone who works with video and audio a lot, and someone who enjoys sitting back and just absorbing good music, this is the exact pair of headphones I would want.

No, I didn’t actually turn into a white guy, in case that’s something that got you confused

They sound great, look amazing, and battery power lasted long! I only had to charge once in about a week. That’s considering I used the headphones a lot for both work and play.

As far as wireless, noise-canceling headphones are concerned, the Sony WH-1000XM2 set the bar high for me.

SEE ALSO: No strings attached: Sony H.ear On

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Huawei Sound X with hi-end audio launches

Will work seamlessly with the P40 series

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Huawei is slowly but surely venturing out into more and more devices. After wearables, the company is now showing off a hi-end speaker — the Huawei Sound X.

It’s never easy to describe sound on text but Huawei claims the Sound X “will revolutionize high-end acoustic technology with sonorous audio that leaves an enduring, life-altering impression on the listener.”

It was made in collaboration with Devialet — a global audio brand known for its High-Fidelity products.

It’s not a smart speaker in the way that there’s a voice assistant integrated like the Google Home or the Amazon Echo, but it does have some ‘smart’ qualities.

For instance, it will work seamlessly with your Huawei P40 series phone. Gently tapping your phone against the Sound X transmits audio to the speaker.

The audio, Huawei says, is lossless and low-latency and can be tweaked thanks to a proprietary EMUI 10.1 multi-device control panel. Think of like Huawei’s own version of Apple’s AirPlay.

Another thing that Huawei is proud of about the Sound X is how compact it is compared to other speakers that promise to deliver the same level of hi-end audio. It’s able to deliver 60W of bass despite being relatively smaller than other speakers with the same capability.

The company says the “exterior design was inspired by the golden dome of the black, glazed surface hints at the robust sound that seems to emanate from a bottomless well.” But it really just reminds of Darth Vader from Star Wars.

The press photos even have the Sound X in this red room of sorts. Screams Sith to me.

Imagine playing the “Imperial Death March” on this thing! Whether you see the resemblance or not, it does kind of look cool.

SEE ALSO: Huawei P40 Series with ‘visionary photography’ now official

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Qualcomm’s new chipset could bring noise-cancellation to budget earbuds

Expect affordable earbuds soon

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Qualcomm unveiled two new Bluetooth audio chipsets intended for use in truly wireless headphones. For the end consumer, this could provide active noise cancellation (ANC), voice assistant support, and more.

It has unveiled two new chipsets — QCC514X (premium tier) and QCC304X (entry-level line). Both shall support Qualcomm’s TrueWireless Mirroring technology that requires connecting via Bluetooth to just one of the earbud. It’s useful as it will allow either earbud to be used alone without interruptions.

The new chipsets will also produce better battery life – offering up to 13 hours of playback based on a 65mAh battery, according to Qualcomm. Usually, active noise cancellation consumes more battery power.

The dedicated noise cancellation hardware integrated into the chipset enables super-low latency leak-through of the outside environment. It enables genuinely natural awareness of the surroundings. It’ll also come handy when you’re onboard a flight or trying to concentrate in an office environment where ambient noise is higher than usual.

The chips also bring voice assistant support with them, but the premium QCC514X features always-on voice support. Meaning you won’t have to manually long-press a button to summon the virtual assistant. With direct support in the entry-level chipset as well, it’ll make this feature more widely available in affordable earbuds as well.

Qualcomm has also promised “premium wireless sound and voice quality.” The smartphone industry started omitting the 3.5mm headphone jack in favor of USB-C or wireless earphones. The wireless options have often been quite expensive, and with wired ones, you either have the opportunity to charge your phone, or listen to music or watch a movie. More affordable options should automatically start solving this dilemma.

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5 reasons why you should stick to wired earphones

You don’t have to give up comfort and familiarity!

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Photo by Daniel Fontenele

The advent of wireless earbuds has become gospel among my friends — techie and geeks alike. It’s like everyone’s preaching about switching to wireless like it’s some mandatory rite of passage for adults who’ve been in the workforce for god knows how long.

Though I have my own pair of wireless earbuds, I still have my trusty wired earphones — one that has a 3.5mm jack for my laptop, and one that comes in USB-C for my phone that has no headphone jack. Even before, wired earphones were my savior — from strangers and familiar people approaching me, to keep me entertained in between idle moments, and for being a companion in trying times.

Just like most people, I’m still having a hard time letting go of wired earphones. People had been asking me to stop using one, but I still stand to a few reasons why it’s perfectly okay to stick to the familiar.

You’re a plug-and-play person

A lot of times, I find myself having trouble with pairing my smartphones to my wireless earbuds. To ensure seamless pairing, you must be using top-of-the-line and/or premium earbuds. Imagine the time you spent trying to connect so you can listen to music when you can just plug your wired earphones to a headphone jack, play your music, and enjoy.

You love the feeling of being connected

I thrive in connections — whether it’s people, conversations, or earphones. I feel most reassured when I know I’m connected, and the tangibility of my earphones’ connection to my smartphone is comforting — especially when I’m commuting. I’ll know right away where my phone is, and having a wired connection makes my loving smartphone safe.

On certain occasions, my smartphone was saved from falling because of my wired earphones. It’s these prevented tragedies that reassure me a tangible connection is still a good choice.

You’re practical about your choices

Let’s admit it: wireless earbuds are expensive. As someone who follows a strict budget, wired earphones are a tad cheaper and is more accessible to most of us. There are plenty of us can’t live without music, and wired earphones sometimes become a necessity to keep us from falling apart in between trying times.

On the other hand, wireless earbuds are considered a luxury — a want, not a need. Imagine losing a pair, or even misplacing it when a pair of wireless earbuds is priced around US$ 100. I don’t have the money to replace it easily even with access to a credit card.

You find comfort in familiarity

Some people aren’t comfortable with change. Most are hesitant, and even resistant to it — even with the advent of functional and bang-for-the-buck wireless earbuds. If you find comfort in familiarity a.k.a. choosing wired earphones because you’ve been using it for a long time, that’s absolutely fine.

You don’t have to change your preferences in life just because someone asked you to do so. Stay unique and love your individuality!

You haven’t felt the urge to switch

Lastly, there comes a time in every modern individual where they need to switch to a wireless lifestyle. It could be for convenience, for more flexibility, or for safety during a commute. Whatever it is, you’ll always feel the urge to switch and when you do, heed the call.

When you feel like you’re being called to the other side, that’s when you take a leap of faith. If you’re still content with using wired earphones, just enjoy it and stop caring what the world thinks. You have your music with you, just keep playing!

SEE ALSO: 6 reasons why you should switch to wireless earbuds

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