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Alright, we’re going to start off this video by getting the obvious stuff out of the way. The bang and Olufsen H9i have far superior build quality, materials, and just look way better than the Sony 1000XM2. No competition there. What I want to compare is their technology. Let's see which has the better noise cancelation, sound quality, battery life, and little extra features. Are the Sony 1000XM2 still king? Or are the H9i's the complete package?
Just to be clear, this isn't a full review on either of these headphones... I'm just trying to point out the most important differences between them so I can help you with your purchase decision. If you want to learn more about either of these headphones then watch their full reviews. Pricing on these headphones is very different and it can be a deciding factor for many people. The Sony 1000XM2 retails for $349 and the bang and Olufsen H9i retails for $499. If you want to pick either of these headphones up I'll have links down below and if you use the links it really helps out the channel. I suggest you check them out cause Sony headphones routinely go on sale.
First let's start off with what you get with both of these headphones. Both headphones come with a 3.5 millimeter audio cable for wired listening and they can both be used passively. The Sony 1000XM2 comes with a micro USB cable for charging while the H9i's comes with a USB C to USB A cable cause it has a USB C while the sonys don't. But more importantly, the sonys come with a hardshell carrying case while the H9i's come with a fleece carrying pouch. Like I said in the initial review, when I'm paying $500 for headphones phones I'm kind of expecting a hard shell case.
Both of these headphones are also very comfortable... But if I had to pick one only on comfort then it would have to be H9i's. They’re more plush, they have slightly less clamping force, and your ears are less cramped in the H9i’s. And over heating is less of a problem with the H9i’s as well.
Now let's talk about battery life cause these two are on complete opposite sides of the spectrum. With Anc and Blue tooth turned on I typically average 30 hours of playback time on the Sony 1000XM2. Where as the H9i average 20 hours of playback time with ANC and Bluetooth turned on. The battery life on the Sony are above average, while the bang and olufsen are below average.
Both of these headphones also use touch pads on their right ear cups to control your music playback. They both work well, but I find the touch pad on the Sony is a little more accurate and there's a little more flexibility. With the H9i you have to place your finger just right and you have to be more deliberate with your swipes. And as a result I usually have more failed attempts at skipping a track or trying to adjust the volume on the H9i. Don't get me wrong. They're both good. I'm just being hyper critical. But I have an easier time using the touch pad on the Sony than the H9i.
Regarding noise cancelation, the Sony 1000XM2 are the gold standard right now. They manage to block out the most sound and they have very little to no cabin pressure. But the noise cancelation on the H9i are a very close second. They do a very good job at blocking out constant sounds like road noise but they do struggle a little bit when blocking out voices of random high pitch sounds compared to the Sony 1000XM2. But the H9i do have a little bit of cabin pressure. You won't notice it if you're playing music, but it is there. Sony is still the king when it comes to active noise cancellation, but competitors are starting to catch up.
But the Sony 1000XM2 lets you choose how much noise cancelation you want and you can even allow ambient sound in even while you’re playing music. So if you’re walking around in the city or in an office and if you have these headphones on and playing music you can still be somewhat aware of your surroundings.
Regarding sound quality, these headphones will appeal to two different types of listeners. The H9i’s have the superior sound stage, instrument separation, and the lows resonate quite a bit… Which is nice. But I find that they struggle to put an emphasis on the vocals no matter how much you play around with their sound settings in their app. But listening to instruments like a piano or guitar on the H9i’s is much more dramatic than on the Sony’s. But on the Sony’s the sound stage is a little more narrow, and the treble and the vocalists are more defined. Even though both of these headphones don’t have a lot of head thumping bass cause they’re meant for easy listening, when cranked to 10 the Sony’s do have more thump in their bass than the H9i’s. I also noticed that the H9i’s suffer considerably more distortion at higher volumes than the 1000XM2. The bass tends to bottom out more frequently. Where as the Sony’s suffer less distortion and still manage to get louder than the H9i’s. But a very important thing I need to point out here is that the H9i’s sound much better when their noise cancelation is turned off. When ANC is turned on the H9i’s soundstage tightens up and the lows wont resonate as much. Where as the Sony’s manage to perform almost the same with or without ANC turned on. For the best listening experience I use the H9i’s with ANC turned off as much as I can.
Now lets do a quick run down of these headphones apps. The H9i’s app is very simple and all you can do is control your music playback and play around with the sound settings. B&O’s sound settings approach is very simple but I find you cant customize it as much as Sony’s EQ settings. Sony’s app on the other hand allows you to fine tune your noise cancellation and ambient sound settings, you can play around with affects and sound positioning and their EQ gives you full control over their sound signature. B&O’s app is pretty while Sony’s app is more useful.
Both of these headphones also have special features to take into consideration, most noticeably the H9i have proximity sensors built it. So when you take your headphones off they'll automatically pause your music and when you put them back on they'll start your music again. And it work very well, for me they don't randomly play and pause my music if I move my head too much. And I stand corrected, you can turn this feature off if you want to.
The H9i also features a removable battery, and this is nice cause it effectively extends the life of your $500 headphones. We should all know that as batteries age they don't perform as well. So if you get to a point where your battery can't hold a charge you can just swap out the battery instead of replacing your headphones. Now I've had my 1000XM2 for over 7 months now and the battery still performs very well. But it's a good touch from B&O none the less.
Another small but very important thing to take note of is that the H9i can be paired to two devices at a time where as the sonys can't. They can only be paired to one device at a time. So if you're going to switch from your phone to your computer on a regular basis like I do then life is a little easier with the H9i. But also very soon, Sony will be releasing a firmware update to a few of their products so that they will get Google Assistant integration. So soon Google assistant will be a tap away on the 1000XM2 just like the Bose QC35 Series 2. And Google Assistant integration is different from just pressing and holding on the touch pad on either of these headphones to activate your voice assistant.
Both of these headphones also have a very useful feature that allows you to talk to people without having to take your headphones off. You do a gesture on the touch pad and the headphones will pause or lower your music, and pump in all of the ambient sound so you can hear what people are saying to you. Sony calls it Quick Attention and Bang And Olufsen calls it transparency mode and you activate them very differently on each headphone. With the Sony’s you have to fully cover the touch pad and keep it covered so you essentially only have one hand free, but as soon as you uncover the touch pad everything goes back to normal. With the H9i when you swipe up, the headphones will pause your music and pump in all of the ambient sound, so both of your hands are free. And when you swipe up again the headphones will go back to normal.
Picking a winner here is pretty tough right now cause I really like both of these headphones. The Sony 1000XM2 is still the better choice for traveling cause of their superior ANC performance with almost no cabin pressure and long battery life. And when I want a more dynamic listening experience I go for the 1000XM2. But when ever I just want to zone out I go for the H9i’s cause they’re so comfortable and their resonating lows and wide sound stage just make for perfect background noise to block out everything else. And the H9i’s premium materials and superior design is a huge plus over the Sony 1000XM2. The Sony’s are not the best looking headphones out there and I’v been very vocal about this. Their build quality is no where as near as good as the H9i’s but I have had the Sony’s for over 7 months now and cracking hasn’t been an issue for me. The Sony 1000XM2 is still the safest bet right now cause of their performance and price, but the Bang And Olufsen H9i’s are a very close second cause of their comfort and design. The H9i’s are great for hours and hours of continuous use. The Sony 1000XM2 has the better software while the Bang and Olufsen H9i have the better software.