Listening Impressions (Wired Active Noise Control)
After about 4 hours in passive mode, I decided enough is enough and flick on the power switch. ANC at work - there’s instant silence! The wind noise is completely gone, all the office chatter and other ambient noises pushed to the background.
It is so quiet my brain simply froze - I even felt a sense of dizziness as it’s pretty disorientating. This is so quiet, I can hear myself breath.
Then I hit play. My first observation is that “below the ears” sensation is gone. The music is now lifted up and is at my ear level once ANC kicks in. This really improves the sound perception, and less annoying.
Foobar was playing this album at the time - Fever, a Cantonese album by a Hong Kong Artist called Vincy (泳兒). In Hong Kong, people say you have a fever when you’re passionate about something. This album is dedicated to audiophiles (i.e. people with audio fever).
This recording is done well very little compression - and it really shines when listening with the WH-1000XM3 (in more ways than one).
Here are some some stand outs.
Track #4, “新不了情” is just Vincy, an acoustic guitar and what sounds like an accordion. I find myself drawn into Vincy’s voice. The guitar and the accordion is really hypnotic. And there’s the constant soft “pops” that sound like a digital artefact, and yet, it could be ambient noises picked up by the recording mic. The WH-1000XM3 just lacks that extra resolution to tell me what those noises are.
Track #6, “完全因你” is another track that focuses on her vocals. Some headphones will give you the impression the singer is “larger than life” (aka “big mouth"). Not so via this Sony, the scale of her voice is just right. And this really draws me into performance.
While dynamic compression is handled well in this album. The constant pops are just annoying. I am almost certain these are processing artefacts, perhaps introduced when they resample the masters down to 16 bits at 44.1 kHz.
Unplugging the analogue cable turns the headphones off automatically. Not entirely sure if this is configurable, but it’s a nice UX touch.
A very nice touch with these phones is you can disable noise cancelling simply by cupping the right earpiece with your hand. While it may seem rude to talk to somebody with the headphones on, this is really useful.