Sony adds noise cancelling headphones beyond the flagship

If you wish headphones had a little more colour and pop to their design, Sony is making it happen this year. Just don’t expect it in a flagship.

While the year is going by without an update to the award-winning WH-1000XM3, you will find some new takes on headphones from Sony in the not too distant future.

Sony has used IFA to talk about sound gear as it has in recent years, and while we won’t see the WH-1000XM4 noise cancelling headphones this year, we will see colour. Lots of colour.

It will have three wireless audio products on the way to early next year, with options for noise cancelling headphones and standard truly cordless.

In that last category, there’s the WF-H800, a pair of wireless and cordless in-earphones designed rather similarly to the recently launched and reviewed WF-1000XM3, except these come with some differences.

For one, the WF-H800 are not noise cancelling, so while they’ll provide an amplified sound to your ears, it won’t cancel out background noise. And two, while the design is similar — if not identical — these come in colours. You’ll find them in red, olive, orange, and blue for $349.95, which appear to be Sony’s new colours for its headphones just out of the flagship.

You’ll see those colours again in the WH-H910N, as Sony revives its “h.ear on” brand of headphones.

The new take delviers noise cancellation in a larger headphone, and uses some of the Adaptive Sound Control technology we’ve seen on Sony flagships through the years. That gets bundles with something it calls Dual Noise Sensor, which Sony says improves noise cancellation. While Sony hasn’t said as much, the Dual Noise Sensor sounds like it takes some of its logic from the QN1 processor technology used in the flagship WH-1000XM3.

Like Sony’s other noise cancelling headphones, there’s a “Quick Attention” mode for you to hold your hand down on the earcup and switch on the microphones to listen to the outside world, and there’s also touch controls on the outside, too.

In a way, you can think of the WH-910N “h.ear on” headphones as a colourised pop mid-range take on Sony’s premium noise cancelling headphones, because that’s what it appears to be. They’ll arrive in January for a recommended retail price of $399.95.

However there’s also a pair of wireless in-earphones made for folks looking for a premium noise cancellation experience with a neckband, ideal for walking around and even using on a flight.

The Sony WI-1000XM2 takes the same QN1 chip used on the WH-1000XM3, but throws it into the neckband of a pair of Bluetooth headphones, providing 32-bit processing and some solid noise cancellation, effectively making the WI-1000XM2 more like the WH-1000XM3 (the wireless in-ear WF-1000XM3 variety used the QN1e, which was a 24-bit version).

We’re told the whole thing weighs around 58 grams, making them quite light, and offers 10 hours of battery life, with a 10 minute charge giving you around 80 minutes of playback.

Interestingly, they’re not entirely wireless if you don’t need them to be, with the WI-1000XM2 supporting a headphone jack if you need it to, plugging it in for something like a flight.

Like the other Sony headphones announced at IFA, these will not be heading to store shelves until early in the new year, with January seeing the WI-1000XM2 for a suggested retail price of $499.95.