Sony's ANC Headphone Line Up Explained

Get Them Here

Latest Videos!

I really like the Sony 1000XM2 cause they have the best active noise cancelation on the market right now. And in general I like Sony’s ANC headphone line up period. But choosing between the 1000XM2, H.ear On 2, XB950N1, and CH700N’s can be a little confusing cause they each have their own pros and cons. So today we’re going to break down Sony’s ANC headphone line up so you can choose the right ANC headphones for you. 

Just so we’re 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. The Sony WH-CH700N’s are the newest and most affordable ANC headphones here retailing for $199.99. The Sony MDR-XB950N1’s are the oldest headphones here and retail for $249.99. The Sony H.ear On 2’s retail for $299.99 and are a few months younger than 1000XM2’s which were released in the fall of 2017 and retail for $349.99. if you want to pick either of these headphones up I’ll have links in the description below, and if you use the links it really helps out the channel. Check them out cause Sony headphones routinely go on sale, so you’ll might get lucky. 

First lets get some simple but important things out of the way. All 4 of these headphones charge via a micro USB port… and I’m shocked that not even the 700N’s which are the newest headphones here use a USB type C port. But all 4 of these headphones have an easy to reach 3.5 millimeter audio jack which is good news for my audiophiles out there who’ll might want to get a better quality audio cable for their headphones. And they all can be used passively. But only the Sony 1000XM2 comes included with a hardshell carrying case which is a must if you’re going to be traveling or commuting a lot with these headphones. Where as the H.ear on 2 and XB950N1’s come included with carrying pouches. The H.ear on 2’s come included with a body color matching polyester carrying pouch which is pretty durable and good at repelling water, where as the carrying pouch included with the XB’s is made out of cotton and its not as durable. And the 700N’s don’t come with a carrying case or pouch at all. But still I suggest you invest in a hardshell carrying case. 

Regarding build quality… In general, Sony does a really good job of packing in technology and features into their headphones but their build quality isn’t spectacular. All four of these headphones have a stainless steel headband, plastic body panels, and synthetic leather on their ear cups and headband. But the plastic used on the 700N’s and XB950N1’s is textured where as the plastic used on the h.ear on 2 and 1000XM2 is completely smooth. The synthetic leather used on the 1000XM2’s, H.ear on 2’s and XB’s all feel the same where as the synthetic leather on the 700N’s doesn’t feel as good. Now I’ve had the 1000XM2’s since they first came out and they are my daily drivers and I haven’t had any cracking issues under the headband which was a big problem with the previous 1000X’s. So either of these headphones should be just fine if you’re mindful of them. 

When it comes to comfort all 4 of these headphones fit very differently. But without a doubt the most comfortable headphones here are the H.ear On 2’s and the 1000XM2’s are a very close second. But they’re both Big head approved as in if you have a bigger head like me they should fit you just fine and they aren’t going too crush your head like the Bowers and Wilkins PX or the Skull Candy Crushers. But the H.ear On 2 are the most comfortable headphones here cause of their ear cup design. They’re the roomiest ear cups here and they encase your ears, and since so little padding actually makes contact with your skin over heating isn’t an issue. But the H.ear On 2’s aren’t as low profile as the 1000XM2’s, they do stick out a bit. But the ear cups on the 1000XM2’s are a little more cramped, and since they have a little more padding in contact with your skin they’ll might over heat or if you have larger ears then they’ll might rest on your earlobes. In third place are the 700N’s cause they do fit a little snug but their ear cups are very similar to the H.ear On 2’s. They’re roomie and there isn’t too much padding in contact with your skin. And in last place is the XB90N1, they also fit a little snug like the 700N’s but they’re not unbearable. The reason the XB950N1’s are in last place is because of the sheer amount of padding. Since theres so much padding in contact with your skin they will over heat very quickly if you’re walking around with them on or if you’re in a warm room. And these ear cups will rest on your lobes. And not to mention, the XB’s stick out a lot… like you can actually see them in your peripheral vision.

Regarding battery life, the 700N’s out lasts all of the other headphones here. With ANC and bluetooth turned on and with the volume set at 50% the 700N’s averages 37 hours of play back time. Under the same conditions the 1000XM2  average 32 hours of playback time while the H.ear on 2 average 27 hours of playback time. But the Xb950N1’s have the worst battery life averaging just 18 hours of playback time with ANC, bluetooth and the Extra bass feature turned on. 

All 4 of these headphones also have a wireless range of about 30 feet and they don’t really suffer from any kind of connection issues. Which is good… and since the latency on either of these headphones isn’t that bad… either one of these are just fine for watching videos. But all 4 of these headphones can only be connected to one device at a time which does suck if you’re a power user. I just feel that these headphones should be able to be connected to at least 2 devices at a time. 

All 4 of these headphones have active noise cancellation. And for the most part, as you go up in price I found the ANC performance does improve. But the main reason I like Sony’s ANC technology so much is because they don’t cause me any head aches or have any cabin pressure like the Bose QC35. The 700N’s have the worst ANC performance here and its really only worth using when used on a bus ride commute cause it does a better job at blocking out constant low frequency sounds than it does blocking out chatter. The ANC on the XB950N1’s is a little better, but they also have a lot of passive noise isolation cause of all of that padding. The ANC on the H.ear On 2 should be good enough for most people but if ANC is your top priority then the 1000XM2 is the way to go. 

With the 1000XM2’s you can also go in and calibrate the ANC so that it can adapt to your surroundings. And this just isn’t marketing fluff… there have been multiple times where I’ve gone through the calibration process while traveling and noticed a real performance difference. Also, since the ANC microphones on the 1000XM2’s is a little recessed under the synthetic leather on the ear cups, they manage to pick up the least amount of wind noise when walking around the city on a windy day. Where as since the ANC microphones on all of the other headphones are so exposed, you’ll might hear a WOOOOSSH sound here and there. The 1000XM2’s also let you choose how much ambient sound you would like to let in. And this feature is good cause you’ll still be able to hear your surroundings if you’re walking around in the city or if you work in an office you can still hear if someone calls your name. The H.ear On 2 also has an ambient sound mode, but its set amount.

Regarding sound quality, lets focus on the 700N, H.ear On 2 and 1000XM2 for a minute. They all sound good, but the 700N’s don’t have the same sound stage or instrument separation as the H.ear On 2 or 1000XM2. But they do have the a surprising amount of bass for their size. When it comes to the sound quality between the 1000XM2 and H.ear On 2 No matter how hard I try, I cant find any noticeable differences between the 2. But definitely there is a sound quality improvement when choosing between the 700N and the 2 more premium headphones.  And through Sony’s headphones app you can adjust the EQ on either of these three headphones. So you can dial them in and make them sound how ever you’d like depending on the type of music you listen to. 

But listening to the same music with the XB950N1’s is a completely different experience  neither of the other 3 headphones come close too achieving. As the name implies, the XB950N1 are all about bass thats what the XB stand for… and they’re specially targeted to people who listen to rap, hip hip, EDM and so on. And the bass on the XB950N1’s doesn’t sound artificial or forced. The bass is also its own entity so its not going to muddle or over power the rest of the song. What it does is that it adds an extra dimension to your music, they’re going to rattle your head and they’re going to make you feel like you’re actually at a concert. And you can also go in adjust how much extra bass you want through Sony’s app. And obviously you can also use them with the extra bass feature off for a more traditional headphone listening experience. But what I do find ODD is that you can’t fully adjust the EQ on the XB950N1’s like you can on the other 3 headphones. For the most part I like how they sound, but there are times I want to bing the mids out a little bit. 

But now lets talk about how you go about controlling your music playback on either of these headphones. Both the 700N’s and Xb950N1’s have a volume rocker and music play back switch combo, which I really like cause they're both very easy to find and use. The H.ear On 2 and 1000XM2 are both using touch pads, now they aren’t the only headphones on the market to use touch pads, but they are arguably the best and most accurate. But what I really like about both of these headphones is that they both have quick attention. So if you fully cover the touch pad… the headphones will lower your music, and pump in all of the ambient sound so you can talk to some one without taking your headphones off. And when you uncover the touch pad the headphones will go back to blocking out the sound and playing your music

And finally, a small but important thing to take note of is that the 1000XM2, H.ear On 2, and 700N will be getting google assistant integration in the near future like the Bose QC35 Series II through a software update. Since the XB950N1’s are the oldest headphones here they wont be getting this feature. And I also feel the XB950N1’s are the next pair of headphones here that will be getting a hardware refresh since they are a part of Sony’s MDR line up instead of their newer WH line up. I just don’t know when… 

So, which of these headphones should you choose? Obviously if you’re on a tighter budget get the 700N’s, but still their low profile design, stupid long battery life and ANC performance make them a great pair of budget headphones for commuting. I really enjoy the XB950N1’s but they are made for a very specific type of person who absolutely loves bass. But I wouldn’t get the XB950N1’s if I needed a pair of headphones for commuting. They’re big so they’re harder to store in a bag and since over heating is an issue you’re going to get sweaty ear cups if you walk around with them on. Even though I love the Sony 1000XM2, I think most people will be better off with the H.ear on 2 cause of their slightly lower price point and much more comfortable ear cup design. You’re getting the majority of the features found on the 1000XM2. But the 1000XM2 is still the better option if you want a sleeker design and if you want the best ANC performance on the market right now. But if sony is listening, we really want to see USB type C on these headphones, improved quick charging, and we want to be able to connect these headphones to more than one device at a time.