Sony ULT Wear Review | A gratifying audio experience

Priced at ₹16,990, the Sony ULT Wear promises a strong bass, comfort and a long battery life for an extended usage

Updated - June 12, 2024 12:51 pm IST

Published - June 12, 2024 11:55 am IST

Sony ULT Wear Review | A gratifying audio experience

Sony ULT Wear Review | A gratifying audio experience | Photo Credit: Haider Ali Khan

Sony has rebranded its ULT (Ultimate) series and launched a new mid-ranger headset- the new Sony ULT Wear targeting on-the-go youngsters. Priced at ₹16,990, the new headset promises a strong bass, comfort and a long battery life for an extended usage. Let’s take a deep dive into all the aspects that the new Sony ULT has to offer.

Design

The ULT Wear looks pretty simple and practical at first glance, but they’ve got a little something extra going on with that Sony logo and ULT button. When the light hits them just right, they give off a cool rainbow-like effect, which is a nice touch.

It is super lightweight, which is always a plus. Now, when you first pick them up, they might feel a bit plasticky, like they’re not the most premium pair of headphones out there. But once you really take a closer look, you’ll see that they’re actually pretty similar to Sony’s higher-end WH-1000XM5 headphones, especially when it comes to the earcups.

Sony ULT Wear design

Sony ULT Wear design | Photo Credit: Haider Ali Khan

Speaking of the earcups, they’re nice and cushy, and the headband is adjustable, too, so you can get a really comfortable fit. Even if you’re wearing them for hours on end, they won’t feel like they’re squeezing your head. And get this – the earcups are hinged, so you can fold the whole thing up and toss it in the carrying case they come with. Super convenient for traveling or just throwing them in your bag.

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Sony ULT Wear

Sony ULT Wear | Photo Credit: Haider Ali Khan

Now, for the controls, there’s this touch panel on the right earcup that lets you play, pause, skip tracks, adjust the volume, and even answer calls. It’s pretty neat, but it can be a bit finicky sometimes and you might have to swipe down a bunch of times just to turn the volume down a decent amount. And it’s easy to accidentally press the controls when you’re trying to adjust the headphones.

On the left earcup, you’ve got a USB-C port for charging and a good ol’ 3.5mm headphone jack, in case you want to go wired.

Connectivity

The Sony ULT Wear headphones offer a robust connectivity experience thanks to their support for Bluetooth 5.2 and Sony’s proprietary LDAC codec. The LDAC codec enables high-resolution audio streaming up to 990kbps at 32-bit/96kHz, providing a significant improvement over the standard Bluetooth audio quality.

In terms of audio enhancement, the ULT Wear features Sony’s Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE), which aims to upscale compressed audio files to their original, uncompressed quality. The headphones house 40mm dome-type drivers in the earcups, which should provide a balanced and immersive listening experience. Additionally, there are dedicated buttons for controlling the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)/Ambient Sound modes and the ULT bass function, which can be set to three levels: Off, ULT 1, and ULT 2, catering to different bass preferences.

Sony ULT Wear

Sony ULT Wear | Photo Credit: Haider Ali Khan

For better control, it is always advisable to install the recommended app is - Sony Headphones Connect, in this case. The app is divided into three main sections: Headphones, Activity, and Menu.

The Headphones section provides essential information such as battery life and the active codec. It also offers various tutorials and firmware version details. Within this section, users can access sub-sections like Status, Sound, System, and Services.

The Sound sub-section is particularly noteworthy, offering a comprehensive range of audio customization options. Users can switch between noise cancelling, ambient sound, and off modes, with ambient sound featuring a fader and a voice passthrough option to emphasize conversations. The Equalizer tile provides a wide selection of adjustable presets or the ability to create a custom preset with five frequency bands ranging from 40Hz to 16kHz. Additionally, users can fine-tune the bass response with the Clear Bass fader and opt for the Find Your Equalizer feature, which creates a personalized sonic profile based on a series of tests.

The System sub-section allows for multipoint connection management, adjustment of Sidetone (for call audio monitoring), toggling of auto-pause features, and enabling automatic updates. Users can also disable touch controls, integrate with Amazon Alexa for voice commands, and customize the Noise Cancelling/Ambient button cycle.

Sound Quality

If you’re a bass lover, you want to pay attention to those ULT buttons. They take the bass response to insane levels, and when you switch between the different modes, the headphones make these crazy sounds like a subwoofer drum hit mixed with shattering glass. It’s a fun little touch.

Now, the ULT 1 mode really cranks up the low end, so drums and stuff that don’t usually have a lot of bass suddenly sound way more thumping. The ULT 2 setting, though? That takes it too far. It adds so much bass that it just overpowers everything else, making most music sound muddy and out of balance. Unless you’re listening to certain electronic, hip-hop, or pop tracks that can handle that extreme bass, you’re probably better off sticking with ULT 1.

Even without the ULT modes, these headphones pack a serious punch in the low-end. ULT 1 gives you that extra rumble and thump without drowning out the highs. ULT 2, on the other hand, is like being right outside a thumping club – you mostly just hear the bass, and the mids and highs are kinda lost in the mix. For the most balanced sound, none of the ULT modes is the way to go. The vocals sound nice and clear, the bass is still there but not overpowering, and you get a good amount of detail in the higher frequencies, too.

ANC & Ambient Sound

The noise cancellation capabilities of these headphones are quite impressive, thanks to the advanced technology and microphone array employed. They effectively reduce low-frequency rumbles, such as those experienced on planes or trains, with only a hint of residual noise making its way through. Mid-range sounds from bustling environments are also noticeably subdued. While high-pitched noises present more of a challenge, the secure seal provided by the thick earpads helps minimize them.

The ambient sound mode, designed to allow external sounds to pass through, performs exceptionally well. At its maximum level, it provides a remarkably natural approximation of your surroundings, with a subtle enhancement to improve voice clarity. Additionally, a dedicated voice passthrough mode specifically amplifies human voices while minimizing other ambient noises.

Battery

The Sony ULT Wear headphones deliver exceptional battery life. In standardised testing, they lasted around 32-33 hours of continuous music playback. Limiting charging cycles is beneficial for extending battery longevity, and the impressive stamina of these headphones means that you won’t have to top them up frequently. While a full charge takes approximately 3.5 hours, there’s a handy quick charge feature that provides 90 minutes of playback from just 3 minutes of charging - perfect for a quick power boost when needed.

Verdict

The Sony ULT Wear headphones make a strong case as an excellent mid-range option. Their comfortable and lightweight design, coupled with the convenient folding mechanism, makes them an ideal companion for commuting.

The impressive noise cancellation capabilities and exceptional ambient sound modes allow you to curate your listening experience seamlessly. While the sound quality shines with its punchy bass and customization options through the companion app, the balanced sound profile still delivers a gratifying audio experience without any enhancements. Top it off with the battery life that can last for weeks on a single charge, and the ULT Wear emerges as a solid choice for those seeking a well-rounded pair of headphones.

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