Although they are not an all-time upgrade to the WH-1000XM2, the Sony WH-1000XM3 already has plenty of fine tweets in an amazing pair of noise-canceling headphones.
- The best noise cancellation ever
- Excellent sound quality
- Fast charge feature is great
- Comfortable fit
- Responsive controls
- Could do with a touch more detail in the treble
- Review Price: £330
- Battery life up to 30 hours
- Quick charge: 5 hours’ use in 10 minutes
- USB-C charging
- Bluetooth 4.2
- 3.5mm headphone output
What are the Sony WH-1000XM3?
I’ll go straight to it: the Sony WH-1000XM3 is – currently – one of the best word-canceling headphones to buy.
The WH-1000XM2 was already great, but this third iteration has benefited from a series of slight gains in large numbers, all of which add a significant upgrade.
And thanks to the price drop since it first came out in August 2018, the WH-1000XM3 can now be found for less than $ 300. And despite the many new entrances to the noise cancellation market – such as the Bose Noise Canceling 700 headphones and the Sinhaiser Momentum Wireless – no one has been able to successfully capture the combination of great sound, clever features, and the ultimate powerful muted capabilities that Dorp has.
Sony WH-1000XM3 design — A better fit and more comfortable to wear
- Lighter than last year
- New padding along bridge
- USB Type-C port to charge
- Uses divisive touch controls
The overall size and appearance of the Sony WH-1000XM3 clearly mirrors the 1000XM2 and 1000X before them. Why not The original was an elegant yet ergonomic design that looked good. However, there are many tweets that you will miss at a glance.
The black version is a bit darker, while 1000XM2’s ‘Champagne Gold’ is now referred to as ‘Platinum Silver’. Gold branding and noise cancellation (NC) microphones have been trimmed around, the black version has a flavored bronze accent, while the silver version is more bling-bling with the highlights of the brass.
They have a more subtle profile. The headband is more sharply curved and fits closer to the head. This is what Sony calls the ‘Mickey Mouse Effect’ to reduce it, where the gap between the head and the headband makes you look like a giant, outstretched ear.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 is more comfortable to wear than its predecessors. I took them on a two hour flight and didn’t feel the need to move them at once. At one point I fell asleep wearing them; For the last time, I was wearing the 35 second in Bose Quiet Quotes.
This comes from improved comfort padding and weight adjustment. The padding is more dense and the overall markup footprint is increased by 20%. Your ear space is large and deep, regardless of the circular or ‘over-ear’ status of these headphones.
The weight has been shaved from 275g to 255g. It doesn’t sound like much but if you hold both the old and new versions, the difference is obvious. Give it a few hours and your neck will thank you. This takes Sony further away from the B&W PX (335G) toward the Bose QuietSculpture 35 II (234G).
The chassis is essentially plastic. It’s not neatly finished and solid, but some would love the leather of the B&W PX’s anodized aluminum and ballistic nylon or Sennheiser Momentum Wireless’s sheepskin. There is also a smoother and calmer hinge, and the buttons (Power / Pair and NC) are even stronger.
It’s just a design tweet that I’m not so sure about. A textured finish is less likely to show light scratches and fingerprints, especially when you consider these pages interactive (more on that below). Still, get good use with your headphones and they’ll be nice – I’ve been working with them in my head or on my neck for about a week and they are beautiful to look at.
If you are shaking headphones in a bag for travel, I would suggest using the case provided. It has also been improved: the exterior has a solid nylon finish and ultimately a buggy for the cables.
Sony WH-1000XM3 features — Among the most feature-packed headphones available
The Sony WH-1000XM3 is one of the most feature packed headphones I’ve tested. Well, there was 1000XM2 – and already 1000XM3 builds on top of a wide offer.
I’ll start with the new stuff and the most significant change: improved sound-cancellation and audio performance. There is a new chip named after the HD noise cancellation processor QN1 and it boasts four times the signal processing than the old chip.
Most noise-canceling headphones are built to handle stable, low-frequency sounds such as planes or vehicle engines. The QN1 chip wants to be better than its predecessor in handling the mid to high, which means that the Sony WA-1000XM3 will theoretically do a better job of combating voice and non-vehicle sounds.
The QN1 chip also benefits audio performance. It can handle 32-bit audio signal processing, and includes a DAC and analog amplifier on the chip. Sony is telling me this leads to higher signal-to-noise ratios and lower distortion. It’s better to make the most of high quality audio code like LDAC and Aptax HD.
The WH-1000XM3 also has a new charging system. The old micro-USB charging port is gone, replaced with the new USB-C standard. This is a good decision, primarily Android smartphone users can now double duty with just a charging cable. Although USB-C is a welcome addition, it is seen for charging only – you can find no way to use it for music as much as you can on B&W PX.
The fast charge feature also improved drastically. Five minutes of battery life, versus 70 minutes of charging 10 minutes. It takes four hours to three hours to take full charge from the flat. Up to 30 hours of battery life, wireless and NC are on.
The automatic power-off feature can now be adjusted to save battery if no audio signal is detected. Sony’s headphone connection application lets you lengthen the amount of time it takes before the power goes off. Those who simply want NC without listening to music can turn off the auto-off timer completely. I can confirm that this is great for napping on planes.
Lastly for the new features, there are three additional microphones inside the left ear ear. These are dedicated to your voice capture (for calls) and different from the microphone used for NC.
Above are the key changes and additions enjoyed by the Sony WH-1000XM3; There are some features to follow from the 1000XM2 and the original 1000X. They continue to be used because they are just great ideas – and implemented well.
The left ear cup has an NFC chip for quick pairing of Bluetooth; Still original wireless profile with Bluetooth 4.2. The right ear cup has a touch-sensitive control pad so you can swipe left and right to change tracks: up and down to change the volume, and double tap to play or pause. The touchpad is more responsive than the previous generation.
Hold your palm over the pad and you’ll activate ‘Quick Attention’ mode where your music will be rotated to the right and the outside world should hear sounds দ্রুত It’s ideal for chatting with a flight attendant or listening to a train without having to close them.
By default NC is maximized, but you can tweet it in the app. Even better, headphones work with motion sensors on your phone and NC can offer different levels depending on whether you are sitting, walking, moving or moving.
I set the “walking” option to 50% NC so that I can gain some situational awareness (and not risk reduction) while walking on foot in the city. I, of course, want full NC treatment on noisy trains. Automation works: As soon as I get on a train, I hear that the headphones ‘ping’ and the silence ramps.
There is also a convenient ‘Personal NC Optimizer’ function that analyzes the shape of your head and detects whether you are wearing glasses or have big hair. Headphones fill a void of hearing for you by playing a few test tones and working around what’s happening around your ear.
I wear glasses half the time which means that the cushions on the headphones do not create a perfect seal around my ears. In my words, the optimizer makes a point of improvement in word cancellation.
The optimizer is also known to cause atmospheric pressure, but I’m not so sure. Apparently changes in pressure can affect the noise cancellation function.
I tried the optimizer on the ground and the headphone connection app gave me a chance to read 1.0 atm (standard atmosphere). When I tried it again at 35,000 feet in the air, Lesson 0.8 dropped it. Obviously the headphones thought there was a difference, but I’ve never heard of NC behaving any differently.
Sony WH-1000XM3 noise-cancelling — A supernatural performer when it comes to zapping sounds
The WH-1000XM3’s sound cancellation sounds so good it feels a bit supernatural. The magic that Sony has done on the QN1 chip is just as effective. There is no exaggeration in demanding advanced Sony for medium to high frequency handling.
I first tried 1000XM3 on a busy trade show convention floor with journalists and engineers, and I compared it to 1000XM2. The old ones didn’t have a tendency, but the WH-1000XM3 is an obvious improvement. The volume’s decline in volume was noticeable.
It was mostly background noise, as no one on my side was doing yes. The real test was when I took them on a flight. Turning on the headphones, I can tell that several excited teenagers behind me were talking about speed, but NC reduced their presence and made it more difficult to pick out individual words.
The roaring airplane engines probably helped, but I can’t be sure, since I didn’t even hear them. Very well, I thought, until we landed and I got up and there was not only two girls behind me – they had a whole class on the school trip. Basically, the Sony WH-1000XM3 was managed to reduce about 20 noisy teenagers into two.
I experimented in the office to face various audio challenges: Combined keyboard clattering and HR-worthy comments made my colleagues lean towards each other. Even though 1000XM3 is on, I haven’t heard a word of it.
Eventually, I arrived at the Sony WA-1000XM3 and stood on the side of a busy cycle, pulling in a noisy London bus and taxi. A vehicle couldn’t handle my music barriers, which I didn’t even have to set aloud. Oh, and the sound of the wind – every pair of NC headphones I’ve ever tested is inactive – much less than a problem.
Sony WH-1000XM3 audio performance — the inclusion of an analogue amplifier works wonders
- Strong noise cancelation
- Quick Attention Mode
- aptX and aptX HD support
- Little difference in audio performance
- Google Assistant integration
- Better call quality – but not great
As for music playback, the addition of an analog amplifier did a wonderful job. I was already a big fan of 1000XM2, but the Sony WH-1000XM3 is clearly more visual, producing better sound.
The materials and vocals are all fulfilling and well defined. Everything comes out more clearly and deliberately. The base section, in particular, is more rigid and gives a greater sense of attack. Buena Vista Social Club’s ‘Pueblo Nuevo’ rye coder has the feel of the reality of hammering ivory.
It goes without saying that everything is hyperactive and powerful – there is a need where there is tastefulness and grace. Devendra Banhart’s sweet and low-key ‘Keynan Milton’s Ballad’ of these headphones has no problem shifting gears from System of a Down’s loud and unassuming ‘Cigarro’.
There is also a greater sense of place. It’s a bigger, more liberating sound. Instruments have more room to breathe than shake for attention. Dissociation is better than ever but it does not go so far as clinical or disguised – the various components complement each other beautifully.
None of this influenced Sony’s signature power and rhythmic accuracy. Factor in hard-hitting dynamics and it’s one hell of an entertaining audience. If I had to nitpick I would say that the B&W PX has more details on the top end, but for the overall effect of achieving the Sony 1000XM3 I’d happily lose some texture.
I definitely recommend using the capabilities of the Sony WH-1000XM3 for LDAC and Aptech HD codecs. If your device is compatible, these codecs give higher data transfer rates and the difference is very noticeable.
On any LG smartphone, Bluetooth menu and headphone connection app allows me to prioritize sound quality or connection stability. Formerly transmitted music by LDAC on headphones, after ATAC – it seems less detailed, less dynamic and more off-putting.
I highly recommend sticking to the higher sound quality option unless you are particularly accustomed to the high radio interference field. The soldering on these headphones is great anyway – it’s been a week and I still haven’t felt like a drop out.
Should I buy the Sony WH-1000XM3?
The Sony WH-1000XM3 is the best wireless headphone currently available. Sony has already done a great job of differentiating itself from competing with the 1000XM2 but with the WH-1000XM3 the company has pulled itself before the pack.
Sony doesn’t beat everyone at all, but no one comes close to the WH-1000XM3’s ubiquitous appeal. Both the Bose QC 35 II and Noise Canceling 700 headphones can cancel off very good hearing, but not as powerful as Sony and Sound’s offer either, BNDW PX provides more detail as well as higher build quality at the top end, but their NC ability is pale in comparison.
- 30-hour battery life
- Quick Charge mode
- Auto-off mode through the app
So how long will these headphones be in charge? There are many reasons but after a few days of testing, we found a good criterion for being around 30 hours or more. For four days when headphones are tested (five hours x four days a day) they do not need to be recharged, lasting about 30% of battery life last night.
For comparison, when used wirelessly, the Bose is about 10 hours longer than the QuoteFlashP35 and 10 hours less than the Bose when used in wired mode.
However you slice it, it’s still more than enough juice to get you across the Atlantic and back if you’re coming from the West Coast of the United States.
If you find yourself running low, no need to worry – 1000XM3 has a “Quick Charge” feature that lets you get 5 hours of playback after just 10 minutes of charging. To test that claim, we went from about 30% of battery life to 50% after 10 minutes attached to the wall. The claim has been verified.
If you want your headphones to last a bit longer, you can use the Sony Headphone Connection app to minimize time for sleeping headphones. The default is 15 minutes but if you really want to skip every second of life, you can reduce this number to five minutes.
Another year, another great pair of Sony-listening headphones from Sony. Intuitively, the Sony WH-1000XM3 is the headphones that we have come to expect from the new leader in noise-canceling headphones … and even if they are a little closer to last year for ease, they are the best headphones overall of 2019.
If you want the most sought after and most comfortable headphones and you are aware of all the audio quality, this is the best headphone you can buy at the moment.
That being said, you can save some money by picking up the Sony WH-1000XM2 – these are almost as good and now lower than what they were for recent price reductions.
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