Given that the Sony WH-1000XM3 Over-Ear is one of the best wireless headphones we’ve ever heard, it’s hard to imagine that in pre-summer 2016, Sony had wireless, noise-canceling headphones in its arsenal Was not a premium pair of. Then out of nowhere, the WH-1000X duo appeared, challenged the noise-canceling Supremo Bose, and ran away with one of our prestigious awards.
A year later, a second-generation model, the WH-1000XM2, is brought together, solidifying Sony’s new-found noise-canceling reputation. But competition increased, particularly from Bowers & Wilkins PX, which meant that it did not pick up an award.
But when that second-gen model was released, his successor was already in development. The longer duration of Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones is the result of a move to analog amplification, resulting in significantly better audio performance over their predecessors according to Sony.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Build & comfort
At first glance, the XM3’s design is similar to the XM2’s, but the differences are almost entirely positive. Our only minor complaint is that the move from metal to plastic in the headband makes the new addition a slightly lower premium than the outgoing model.
But it also contributes to a total savings of 20 grams compared to the previous year’s pair. Combined with a new, thicker, softer pillow, it feels as if there is almost no rest at the top of your head. With the broad earpad around the ears, these are one of the most comfortable pairs of ears we’ve tested.
Meanwhile, the X3s are looking less awkward, thanks to the headband, which reduces your head lag. It is Stratner, less balloon-like.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Voice control
The finish is also slightly changed. The black pair achieves copper highlights that we are fond of, while last year’s Champagne Gold finish has been replaced by platinum silver with brass highlights.
The matte’s texture on the earcups of last year’s model has also changed to a smooth, matte surface. The right earcup has a touch-sensitive panel instead of a physical button. Double-tap the cup for play / pause or to answer a call, swipe up or down to change the volume, and forward or backward to skip tracks.
Place your hand on the cup to activate the ‘Quick Attention’ mode, which reduces your music and turns into outside noise. This is useful if someone is talking to you, but we are not sure that placing your hand over your ear and dropping your headphones is the universal signal for ‘you have all my attention’.
This gesture also allows you to communicate with your chosen voice assistant: Siri is available if you’re connected to an iPhone, and Google Assistant is on its way through a firmware update scheduled for later this year. Amazon Alexa support is still to be confirmed.
Common touch controls are very precise, but they are being used to do something. When you are trying to skip tracks, listening for the first day or two will likely change the volume.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Features
Sony has improved the quality and increased the amount of microphones used for voice calls, so whatever you are talking about you should hear more clearly. But if you’re more concerned with keeping the outside world at bay, Sony has improved its already spectacular noise-canceling. You can set the function permanently, even when nothing is playing, meaning you can use noise-canceling to calm everything down for a peaceful nap.
Frequent fliers also want to take advantage of the Returning Atmospheric Pressure Optimizer, which twists the headphones’ frequency response and microphone sensitivity for better performance at high altitudes. Just remember to run the optimizer again when you return to Terra Farma
Further control and customization options are available through the Headphone Connect app, which is available for Android and iOS. The options within are not very useful, but if you want to know how much noise-canceling is required for certain activities, or disable the auto-off feature, this is where you need to do it.
More useful is a quick charge battery. XM3s go from empty to full in three hours (rather four hours for XM2s), while a ten-minute charge gives you five hours of usage (rather 70mins) – statistics no doubt from micro USB to USB-C Step for Overall battery life remains unchanged at 30 hours.
But the really big thing for these Sony headphones is the move to analog amplification. Sony has worked tirelessly to produce a chip that adds enough to a pair of small and lightweight headphones in the form of noise-cancelers, a DAC, and an analog amplifier. With the QN1 chip contained in the Sony WH-1000XM3s, it has managed tricks.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Sound
All that effort has come to a halt, as the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphone offers a clear sound upgrade over the preceding pair, to the extent that the M2, which we loved at the time, was almost sluggish by sound shut-in and comparison .
It is an open, expansive sound that gives every instrument, effect and vocal room to breathe. There’s no harm in terms of directness, either – the vocals are still focused and direct, but the instruments around them are delivered in such a way that it feels as if you’re in a room with the band.
Combine that vastness with more detail and advanced dynamic subtlety and raw, analog recordings such as The Road by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, the fabuli are emotionally and engaging, the piano’s distinct pressures of press distinctly, mournfully Are delivered, and a real sense of sorrow. The strings are introduced as the message and slowly reach the peak of the track’s heartbeat.
Currently, there is an added extra helping of the lovely, deep bass, which helps the Sony WH-1000XM3s produce a satisfying rendition of the past of the beats of the SBTRKT. But this extra bass never threatens to unbalance the rendition – instead it reinforces the overall delivery, adding a pleasing, natural and, weight and richness, we call it, analogue way.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Noise cancelling
Essentially, there is nothing to complain about here. Offering clarity and detail means the recording’s sound flaws may be exposed, but that’s hardly Sony’s fault. The generally crisp, sparkly treble is sufficient compensation as far as we are concerned.
Sony has further improved its noise-canceling technology, which was already superior to the majority of rivals when the M2 was launched. Sony says it has been fixed in the frequency range, but the biggest advantage is in the mid-to-high region.
They are clearly better at blocking the normal hub of a busy office, one of the hardest tricks to pull off. Constant, consistent sounds, such as an aircraft engine, are the bread and butter of a pair of noise-cancelers, and the M3 is an improvement here.
In short, these Sony blocked more of the outside world than any rival, and replaced this noise with the best audio quality available at this price.
Add all the ingredients together – increased comfort, better noise-canceling, and serious audio capability – and you have as close to the right pair of noise-canceling headphones as it is currently possible to find.
There are rivals who can beat them in specific areas, but none provide the same extraordinary all-roundness. Taken as an entire Sony WH-1000XM3s, simply sensational – the perfect long haul travel companion, office upgrade or daily traffic boost.