Sony WH-1000XM3 Review: Class-Leading Headphones
By Yvonne
2022-09-14

Sony WH1000XM3 Headphones Review: A Class-Leading Headphone. These headphones by Sony have everything you need, including the best sound quality and noise cancellation. They also come in an elegant, premium design.

Sony WH1000XM3 Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones

Sony WH-1000XM3

We like this

  • High quality sound

  • High-quality noise cancellation

  • Comfortable, premium construction

The Things We Hate
  • Physical controls that are sloppy

  • Battery life misinformation

  • Prices tag:

The Sony WH1000XM3 headphones are the perfect choice if you're looking for the highest sound quality and noise cancelling, as well as super-comfortable design.

This article explains
  • Design
  • Comfort
  • The Onboard Controls
  • Sound Quality
  • Noise Canceling
  • Battery life
  • Connectivity and Accompanying Software
  • Price
  • Concurrence
  • Final Verdict
  • Specifications

The Sony WH1000XM3 was purchased by us so that our expert reviewer could fully test it and evaluate it. Continue reading to see our complete product review.

The Sony WH1000XM3 Bluetooth headphones is the best on the current market. We know that this is a bold statement to make. Normally, however, we would temper our claims with some flaws and caveats. However, in this instance, it's hard to fault the WH100XM3.

It has amazing sound quality, noise cancellation is the best, and build quality is exceptional. As with all purchases, you need to prioritize before spending $350. Let's get it out of the way.

Related Reading: Ausdom M06 Wireless Headphones Review: Solid Connectivity

Design: Modern and elegant with an aesthetic twist

Similar to the Sony 1000XM3, Sony's previous noise-canceling headphones, called M2, looks similar. The headphones have soft lines, and the earcups are angled in a gentle way. The earcups are often seated with the headband on many headphones of this type. This looks fantastic if you have the headphones placed on top of a table. The 1000XM3 headphones have an even more futuristic, pleasing sense of movement when they are worn on the head.

The M3s have some distinct features, including a soft-plastic outer shell, which is different from the leather-like, fabric-like M2 shell. Another difference is the warmer copper-colored finish that both the Sony logos and microphone grills have on the M3s. This was not the case with the M2s. Although it is not for everybody, we think they look premium.

Sony WH-1000XM3

The M3s are available in matte black, the more professional looking of the two options. Or you can choose silver which is slightly more beige-colored than true silver. It will match your Bluetooth headphones and it is refreshingly smaller than other Bluetooth headphones. Sony made interesting design decisions even inside the case. There is a teardrop-shaped section for organizing cables and converters.

Although it was a bit difficult to determine the correct folding position for headphones to fit inside the case we found the flexibility and the mesh pocket outside make these headphones very versatile.

Related Reading: Jabra Steel Review: One of The Toughest Bluetooth Headsets You Can Buy

Comfort: Light and comfortable with an occasional tendency to heat up

The WH-1000XM3 headphones are a perfect match for the elegant design. Sony opted for a very soft leather feel and used memory foam in place of the usual solid foam found in most headphones.

These headphones have the most amazing sound quality, even if you don't own high-end studio headphones.

The first time we opened the package, it was a bit disconcerting because the foam can be squeezed so that the headphones' plastic frames sink beneath them. The foam creates a mold around your head when you place them on it. While this may vary for different ears sizes, we were pleasantly surprised that the mesh inside the housing of the driver didn't rub against our ears. These headphones are lightweight at 9 ounces. (Sony clocked them at 8.99, our scale verified this). You feel like you are wearing nothing.

The form factor was a problem. It seems this is a common issue with many over-ear headphones. We noticed heat buildup in the cups after about 2 hours of continuous, constant use. This was unexpected because the foam is so thin and airy, however, due to the angle of both the ear cups and the firmness of the foam at the top, the foam appears to prefer a snug fit over temperature regulation. We found some relief by adjusting the size of our headband. Although this is not a major issue, if you want to make sure your headphones last for a long time, it's worth checking out a local store.

Sony WH-1000XM3

Related Reading: Sennheiser HD 600 Review: Rich Sound for Audiophiles

The Onboard Controls are a limited and novelty

It is one of the main differences betweenpurchasing 1000Xs. Only two buttons are available: one for power and another that can be used to adjust the volume or activate a microphone assistant. We find it frustrating that only two buttons can be used for power and one to adjust the noise-canceling adjustment or voice assistant. The touch function on the earcups is also great (swiping up for volume adjustment, tap to play/stop etc.). They look great, but they can be clunky or awkward when used in practice.

The Quick Attention function is the physical control that seems to be the most effective. Sony lets you place your hand over the entire earcups to trigger a reduction in volume and allow in ambient sound. This feature allows you to have a conversation with others without needing to remove your headphones. While this feature works great — we had a ton of fun covering and uncovering the earcup and see how fast it picked it up — it's a bit of a novelty. More buttons and clearer touch controls would be preferable, as well as dial-based systems such the Surface Headphones.

Audio Quality: Clear and concise with little to grasp

Premium headphones are difficult to test because you focus more on what is missing than the sound quality. We found that it was difficult to evaluate the headphones in this instance. The sound quality is exceptional, and the headphones are amongst the most impressive we have heard. They sound clear.

It doesn't appear that the M3's pump excessive bass. This means the mids as well as the high-end details are very clear. The frequency response of the M3's is stated in Sony specifications at 40Hz-40kHz for wired listening and 20Hz-20kHz via Bluetooth. These frequencies are theoretically able to be heard by humans at 20Hz-20kHz. The coverage is good. With 104.5dB sound pressure and 47 ohms impedance when the unit is on, you will get plenty of power.

Apps are the real star of interfacing.

Sony achieves all this with its closed and dynamic design, which includes a 1.57 inch dome-type driver, an aluminum-coated diaphragm, and a Neodymium magnetic magnet. These terms indicate that the speaker has both the power and the substantial build to deliver full-bodied sound for long periods of time. Sony's inclusion of every Bluetooth codec, including the most lossy SBD and Qualcomm's HD, is a great thing. If your device supports Bluetooth, it will allow you to use higher-fidelity Bluetooth transfer protocols while keeping as much of the source audio signal intact.

Sony also has some exclusive Sony wizardry with their DSEEHX high fidelity protocols. However, we did not notice any difference in our sound quality compared to other wired headphones. These headphones are amazing, regardless of whether you plug them in using the 3.5mm, gold-plated cable, or Bluetooth.

Noise cancellation: The next-generation of noise reduction using some innovative software options

Research into headphones at the top-end has focused on their ability to cancel out noise. As it pertains to audio quality, the noise cancellation will have an impact on the sound quality.

Active noise cancellation tech uses external microphones that detect ambient sounds around you and blasts frequencies to the headphones, cancelling out those noises. This is called noise reduction by your ear, which can also mean that there may be artifacts in the original audio file. Noise-cancellation headphones can help you focus and block out noise from an airplane.

Sony WH-1000XM3

The noise cancellation is almost disconcerting right out of the box. You'll feel like your ears are being blocked by the 1000XM3. Sony's proprietary QN1 HD noise-canceling processor chip is responsible for this. These are unique because they can be customized to suit your needs. The app is customizable. We will go into more detail later. However, you can perform a test that actually measures the atmosphere around you and determines the appropriate level of noise-canceling.

This works well in enclosed areas like airplanes, where the noise from planes might not be as loud. Your head shape, hair type, and even if you wear glasses can all be used to customize the noise. Although we only saw minor changes in canceling when reading the surrounding environment, your mileage might vary. These are great features that you should have. These headphones can be used for everyday use even when you're not listening to music.

Battery life: Excellent, but with some variations in real-world conditions

You'd be wrong to think that this is just another test in the 1000XM3's perfect column. It promises 30 hours of listening time. These headphones would be the most outstanding headphones available if that time limit was met for us. But when we pushed these to their limits—listening to lots of bassy music, forcing the noise cancellation to deal with the loud street sounds of NYC, and hopping on a bunch of phone calls—we saw the battery get closer to 24 or 25 hours of use on a single charge. It's still not terrible, to be honest. At this price, headphones can be found at around 20 dollars. It's disappointing, however, to see such high expectations and such a significant drop in reality.

Sony WH-1000XM3

You'll have more listening time if the active noise cancellation is turned off (Sony estimates this at 38 hours). You can charge the battery via an included USB-C cable. This is more convenient than micro USB and will give you about 5 hours of audio with just 10-12 minutes quick charging.

Software and Connectivity: Extremely customizable almost to the point where it's impossible not to do.

The 1000XM3 has a lot of features, in case you didn't know. Similar intricacy is evident with the way that they attach to your devices and the app accompanying them. These headphones are great for those who love to explore the capabilities of a device. However, if you prefer plug-and-play technology like Apple AirPods and Microsoft Surface Headphones then they might not be for you.

Bluetooth 4.2 will allow you to establish a strong, continuous connection with your Bluetooth devices within a 30 foot range. Sony also included NFC, so that you can pair your headphones quickly by simply tapping the earcup against the NFC device.

Sony WH1000XM3 Bluetooth headphones are the best on the market.

Apps are the real star of interfacing. There are many options for customization. However, even after two weeks of testing we were unable to fully understand the details. Headphones Connect will provide you with useful information, such as which Bluetooth codescs are currently active and which ones you have left. The Adaptive Sound Control Panel will appear below. This panel can detect whether you are moving or stationary, and adjust your noise-canceling and sound volume accordingly.

The Noise Canceling Optimizer is next. It allows you to adjust the NC levels according to atmospheric pressure and personal characteristics. You can also control the sound's position, which will allow you to choose where your sound should sound like it is coming from. There are even Virtual Phone Technology (VPT),-based surround soundstage systems. There are also the standard sound molding options like a graphic EQ and a toggle switch to use Sony's DSEEHX. You can even tell your headphones if they need to optimize sound quality or maintain a steady connection. This is the best-featured Bluetooth software that we have ever seen, and it comes with Bluetooth headphones.

Sony WH-1000XM3

The price is high-end, but the benefits are well worth it.

It costs about $350 to get top-quality noise-canceling headphones. This is the same amount you will pay for Bose or for the Microsoft Surface Headphones. Although there will be many hits and misses with every product, the 1000XM is a great value for money.

We found a multitude of bells and whistles everywhere we looked: the super-comfy headphones, high quality sound, insane control via the app, numerous Bluetooth codescs, as well as mystical noise cancellation. Although the cost may be difficult to swallow for some, most people will get what they pay for. That's quite a bit.

Competiton: A newcomer, a veteran and a little brother

Microsoft's Surface headphones were discontinued in 2018 by the company. They seemed to have emphasized seamless integration with your computer and some unique, useful onboard controls. Both of these features are missing from the 1000XM3s. However, Sony has the edge on all other counts, including noise cancellation and sound quality.

1:36
These are the Best Headphones For Music Lovers

Bose's QuietComfort 35 Series II set also features the 1000XM3s. The appeal of the 1000XM3s is based on brand trust. The QC35 II and XM3 have a similar build and feature set. However, they don't offer the same app control and software features. The QC35 II is a great choice for Bose fans, although we recommend that you leave your options open.

The older 1000XM2 headphones are still available from Sony. The XM2 is still available. There aren’t many improvements over the XM3 that warrant an upgrade. The XM2 is still a good choice, but at the same price and with less noise cancellation and a heavier design, it's probably not worth the money. If you can find them for less, they might still be worth it.

You might also be interested in these other choices. You can also check out other options.

The 1000XM3 headphones are the perfect choice if you are looking for the very best and don't mind exploring how they work.

Specifications

  • Product name WH1000XM3 Wireless Bluetooth Noise Cancelling headphones
  • Sony Product Brand
  • SKU 6280544
  • Prices starting at $349.99
  • August 2018, Release Date
  • Weight 9 oz.
  • Dimensions of the product: 3x625x8 in.
  • Color Black, Silver
  • Battery life 30 hours
  • Wired or wireless Wireless
  • Wireless range 30 feet
  • 1-year warranty
  • Audio Codecs (Atmos, 5.1, 7.1, Virtual Surround) SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC
  • Bluetooth 4.1 and 5.0 (LDAC-aptX)

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