AT A GLANCE Plus
Excellent noise cancellation
Clever environmental awareness modes
Sony’s LDAC streams hi-res audio over Bluetooth with compatible source
Sound lacks sparkle in the highs and presence in low mids
Muddy sound in passive mode
Heavy build can get
fatiguing over long periods
With some fancy new technology, the Sony MDR-100X are pretty fantastic at noise-cancelling, but the overall sound quality is disappointing.
For several years, Bose has reigned supreme in the world of active noise cancellation. Sony is hoping to change that with the MDR1000X, their most advanced active noise cancelling (ANC) headphones to date. If the quality of noise cancelling is all that matters to you, I’ll save you time skimming: The ANC on these is rather impressive. Looking to cancel frequencies above the low rumble of an airplane, say, office voices and traffic noise? The 1000X are one of your best bets. However, if you’re also concerned with audio performance and features that extend beyond the ability to block out the world around you, read on.
Q I recently bought a Marantz 7702mkII preamp-processor and am wondering about the best options for streaming high-res FLAC and other lossless files from my computer. The Marantz wants me to use my Windows Media Player library when setting up a media server connection. However, it’s my understanding that WMP can’t play FLAC files without additional transcoding, and even then it can’t handle files with 24bit/192kHz resolution. Do you have any recommendations for getting the best-quality playback from my high-res audio downloads? —Trey M. Turner
Register to win a pair of AudioQuest NightOwl Carbon Headphones ($699.00 Retail Value) we are giving away.
According to the company:
"A direct descendant of AudioQuest's award-winning NightHawk headphone, the closed-back NightOwl Carbon replaces its predecessor's biomimetic sound-diffusing grille with an intelligently designed aperiodic damping system for excellent isolation of external noise, ensuring privacy for the listener and those nearby."
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post. Click on the picture above for details on how to enter.
AT A GLANCE Plus
High-quality upconversion of Blu-rays and DVDs
Effective detail enhancement and noise reduction
Doesn’t support YouTube 4K video streaming
No Vudu app
No Dolby Vision disc
Pricey next to competition
Panasonic’s first Ultra HD Blu-ray player’s excellent performance and solid build quality make it an easy choice for enthusiasts.
Looking back at format launches over the past two decades, it becomes clear that most first-gen players were clunkers, and pricey ones at that. Dig deep through the Sound & Vision archives (on the web, or in your personal print library—you have one of those, right?), and you’ll unearth reviews of the first Blu-ray player, Samsung’s BDP-1000. Priced at $1,000, this ungainly machine took about one minute to load a disc, did quirky stuff (like first converting progressive-scan signals to an interlaced format before outputting them as 1080p), and delivered pictures that looked soft in comparison with those delivered by the HD-DVD format Blu-ray was aggressively warring with at the time.
AT A GLANCE Plus
Excellent 4K HDR picture and sound quality
Optical audio output for full Dolby Digital Plus surround sound
Agnostic voice search finds movies/TV shows on most streaming channels
Playback control for music and slideshows is awkward
Doesn’t play Dolby Atmos from Vudu
Roku has once again upped the streaming game by including HDR and more in its highly recommendable Ultra 4K media player.
Continuing to up their game, Roku has introduced new products that add HDR (high dynamic range) to 4K streaming while maintaining their anyone-can-use-it simple menu structure. A slew of new models range from the Express player to a new top-of-the-line player, the Ultra. While both the Premiere+ and the Ultra support 4K and HDR (the standard 4K Premiere lacks HDR), the Ultra has a few more features for those who insist on the best picture and sound, and more. It’s proof of how far the streaming player has come from the low-quality picture of its first generation.