Sony WH-1000XM3: Superior Comfort and Modern Features
Sony WH-1000XM3 sit on the head very comfortably. Headphones are available in beige and black
Sony WH-1000XM3 are extremely comfortable headphones. We’ve enjoyed wearing the previous WH-1000XM2 with great pleasure, but the new model feels a little better. The reason for this was primarily the following three changes: the bow has a thicker padding, the opening of the auricles has become slightly larger, and the pressure, especially in the jawbone, has been slightly reduced by Sony. You can wear the WH-1000XM3 for a long time without feeling like they get in the way. During concentrated work, the device even partially becomes invisible on the head. By the way, whoever travels can fold the ears and store the headphones in a durable travel case.
Sony did not save on technical characteristics, although their list was quite extensive even in the previous model. In particular, there are mechanical buttons to turn the device on and off, and also to change the operating mode of the Noise Canceling system. Sound volume is controlled using the touch surface on the right ear cushion. Whoever puts two fingers on it or a fully open palm will temporarily deactivate the noise reduction system. Then the headphones do not interfere with the penetration of external noise and you can talk to someone without problems. This is very nice, but we recommend, for reasons of politeness, to take off the headphones during calls.
If desired, Noise Canceling can be adjusted to completely pass high frequencies, such as voices, but filter out low-frequency hum. We find that the so-called Ambient mode is not very useful, as the noise level rises significantly. There is also support for Google Assistant on board. Thus, whoever wants, he can, for example, initiate a telephone conversation using a voice command, even if the smartphone is in the bag.
Sony WH-1000XM3 hands-on test: top-end sound, comfort and noise cancellation
Based on the results of a detailed practical test, we are ready to tell you about the latest model of the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones, what has changed compared to its very good predecessor, and what the sound, noise cancellation and comfort were like.
The WH-1000XM3 is Sony’s top new Over-Ear model with Active Noise Canceling. The earbuds surround the ear and effectively dampen ambient noise with their Noise-Canceling technology. To do this, the headphones are equipped with several microphones that pick up this ambient noise. Thanks to this, the device’s processor delivers antiphase sound waves to the drivers and thereby provides a noticeable silence. During hands-on testing, this worked very well like the predecessor Sony WH-1000XM2.
The technique reliably dampens primarily low frequencies, and the higher ones are muffled, but still penetrate. Voices and high pitched rattles can be heard, but they no longer interfere. In WH-1000XM3 this phenomenon is not so strong, relative to this the previous model is more prominent. During the first practice test, we did not feel interfering pressure on the ears, but subjectively it can be perceived differently.
Unlike the XM2, the WH-1000XM3 do not turn off soon after they are no longer paired with a smartphone. Thus, they can be used without connecting to a playback device to protect yourself from unnecessary noise in the office or airplane. For the latter case, the WH-1000XM3 even has a special measuring module on board, which allows the Noise Canceling system after takeoff to adapt to changed atmospheric pressure conditions, and therefore work even better.
Sony WH-1000XM3 have full, very bass sound
For travel, the headphones can be folded and stowed in the (included) travel case
The most noticeable changes compared to the predecessor model are observed in the sound picture. However, for our taste, the listening experience has not changed for the better everywhere. We like the more stage performance, which is most likely due to the increased opening of the auricles. In relation to its predecessors, it seems that the instruments are farther from the head, and in general, the sound wins at a higher volume in scale and power. The sound is very warm and full, as the Sony boosts the bass and reduces the saturation of the highs. This approach has both advantages and disadvantages.
If the music being played is not mixed optimally or recorded in poor quality, the WH-1000XM3 often does it better. They compensate for the missing bass, overly sharp high frequencies add a little softness. Thus, you can listen to your favorite music with pleasure even at high volumes. On the other hand, there is a lack of sonority and transparency at high frequencies, therefore, for example, pianos and guitar sound very velvety and, as a rule, a little dull.
The reaction of some users to the raised bass may be more annoying. While electro or hip-hop compositions can still be enjoyable, in natural music the soundscape is somewhat overwhelmed. Depending on the track, the earbuds boom or rumble slightly. In our opinion, Sony overdid it here. To test the sound, we use the online service Spotify Premium with the highest quality and set the headphones to Bluetooth mode with ANC via LDAC. In general, we like the sound of the Sony WH-1000XM3, but if you prefer brighter and cleaner tones, you should try to listen to the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II.
Battery life and detailed test
On the left auricle are the only mechanical buttons to turn on, turn off and switch ANC mode. At the back of the right auricle there is a touch surface with which you can control tracks and volume
The Sony WH-1000XM3 has already passed our first battery life test in our test lab. With ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) activated, they lasted approximately 23.5 hours. This is a good indicator. However, the previous model in exactly the same test worked for almost 34 hours, that is, significantly longer.
We first ship the WH-1000XM3 to an audio measurement lab to test the damping of the Noise Canceling system under standardized conditions. We will present the full test results together with repeated endurance test results to your attention a little later.
The WH-1000XM3 is charged via USB Type-C. Whoever allows the charging process to last 10 minutes will be able to enjoy music for 5 hours. This is a significant improvement over the 1000XM2, which, according to the manufacturer, stores energy for only 70 minutes of battery life in 10 minutes of charging. While the earbuds are charging, they cannot be used.
Cost and availability
Sony WH-1000XM3 already went on sale in the fall of 2018 in the colors black and platinum silver (beige) with an initial price of about 30,000 rubles. Anyone who wants to save money must wait a few months or take a very good predecessor model, WH-1000XM2, which can be found for about 28,000 rubles.
If you are looking for a more affordable model (sometimes without ANC), the Bluetooth earbuds we tested can be found in the table below.