Sony WH-1000XM3 review

9.2/10 AVG.
RATING
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  • Sony WH-1000XM3
  • Sony WH-1000XM3
  • Sony WH-1000XM3
  • Sony WH-1000XM3
  • Sony WH-1000XM3
  • Sony WH-1000XM3
  • Sony WH-1000XM3
  • Sony WH-1000XM3
  • Sony WH-1000XM3
  • Sony WH-1000XM3
  • Sony WH-1000XM3
  • Sony WH-1000XM3
  • Sony WH-1000XM3
  • Sony WH-1000XM3
  • Sony WH-1000XM3

Specs / Features


Overview
Type Over-Ear
Volume Control Yes
Playback Control Yes
Noise Canceling Yes
Specification
Warranty (Months) 12 months
Release date September 9, 2018
Size
Weight N/A
Reviews summary section

The "1-Minute" Review

Verdict

If you don’t mind the price, Sony’s WH-1000XM3 are some of the best active noise canceling wireless headphones on the market. They offer great performance, punchy sound, and all-day comfort while keeping the sounds of the world at bay.

What's good

  • Great battery life
  • Excellent noise canceling
  • Rich, bass-filled sound profile
  • Customization via app
  • Comfortable fit
  • Premium feel

What's bad

  • Touch-based controls can be finicky in cold
  • No customization options when using with 3.5mm cable
  • Price is higher than many consumers might want to spend

Sony’s WH-1000x series of headphones have built a solid reputation among audio enthusiasts looking to block out the world around them. Their latest model -- the WH-1000XM3 -- attempts to build upon the success of previous versions while updating the design for a more modern age.

Was Sony successful in their attempt to update these beloved headphones? Let’s see what reviewers are saying...

Design & Materials

While the headphones are primarily plastic with a touch of “soft feel material” on the ear cups, reviewers loved the low profile of the headband and the flat back on the ear cups. They felt that for a pair of plastic headphones, the WH-1000XM3 looks and feels high-end.

There were no durability concerns amongst reviewers with most subjecting their headphones to a few weeks of use before weighing in. The biggest complaint was minor scuffs or scratches on the black version of the headphones. But we found no mentions of critical concerns -- such as headband cracking, broken joints, or loose ports.

Compared to the previous model, reviewers also noted that the ear cups were deeper and the padding thicker. Otherwise, the headphones are nearly identical.

Comfort & Fit

Active noise canceling headphones are often used on commutes, flights, or long days in the office so comfort is key. And according to reviewers, Sony delivers. A few reviews mentioned ear warmth after hours of use but there were few complaints otherwise.

The plastic design makes for a lightweight pair of cans that won’t leave your head hurting.

The headband itself is tight enough to keep the headphones in place without causing discomfort due to squeezing. And the added depth to the ear cups meant less stiffness and ear fatigue.

Overall, unless you have a very large or very small head, you should find the WH-1000XM3s to fit great and stay comfortable -- even after hours of listening.

Sound

Sound quality is subjective and will depend on what you plan to listen to. However, most reviewers considered these headphones one of the best active noise canceling options in terms of sound quality. Many even place them above the highly recommended Bose QuietComfort 35 II.

Reviews note that the default sound profile boosts bass while providing clear mids and highs. However, by linking your headphones to the Sony app, you can adjust a wide range of settings -- including the equalizer -- to better suit your own preferences.

While these aren’t quite audiophile-grade cans, their wide sound stage, excellent isolation, and responsive 40mm drivers left most reviewers impressed.

Wireless Performance

The headphones use a slightly dated version of Bluetooth -- 4.2. However, support for the latest codecs ensures great sound quality assuming the device you’re streaming from supports them.

Options include SBC, AAC, AptX, AptX HD, and LDAC. Reviewers noted the best quality on LDAC.

There were no mentions of dropped connections, stuttering, or audio degradation when used over Bluetooth. In fact, the ability to use the app to customize the sound over wireless made most reviewers prefer Bluetooth instead of the wired 3.5mm connection.

Battery Life

Sound quality and comfort mean nothing if you’re constantly running out of battery. These offer more than enough juice to get through long flights, crowded commutes, or hectic workdays.

Sony rates the headphones for 30 hours of use on a single charge with noise canceling enabled.

Turn off noise canceling and Sony claims you can hit 38 hours before searching for a charger. Reviews indicate these ratings are accurate enough -- with many hitting 24 to 28 hours with no problem.

The earphones charge using USB Type-C -- so you can likely use the same cable you use for your phone. Better still, charging for 30 minutes will net you 5 hours of use. A full charge takes almost three hours, but you can always do that overnight.

Noise Cancellation

The QN1 HD Noise Cancelling Processor used by Sony wowed reviewers. At default settings, the headphones canceled ambient street noise, the drone of airplane engines, and the sounds of a morning commute with ease.

If you’d like to tweak settings further, the app allows you to position audio, adjust for your environment, set the noise canceling strength and more.

Can’t reach your phone? A button on the ear cup lets you cycle through preset noise cancelation options -- or disable the feature -- with a few taps.

The effectiveness and flexibility of Sony’s noise canceling features led many reviews to call the WH-1000XM3 the best noise canceling headphones of 2018.

Other Features

The headphones are a fairly no-frills affair apart from the features listed above.

However, they use a unique control method. By tapping or swiping on the right ear cup, you can adjust volume, skip or seek through tracks, or activate the voice assistant on your phone. Support for Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa are included.

You can also cover the right ear cup with your hand to disable ANC for those moments when someone has a question or flight attendants walk by offering peanuts.

Reviewers found the controls to be responsive and accurate in most conditions. However, some had issues when moving between cold and warm environments.

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The Takeaway

While the price tag on the Sony WH-1000XM3 might intimidate buyers, reviewers agree the price is well worth it.

Unless you’re looking for an audiophile-grade pair of cans for studio use or PC gaming, you’ll enjoy what Sony offers.

SoundGuys praised the headphones, noting, “a really good set of active noise canceling headphones is worth its weight in gold, and the Sony WH-1000XM3 is among the best out there.”

Good Gear Guide declares, “... if you’re in the market for a solid set of over-ear headphones for your commute and are willing to part with the cold-hard cash, the Sony WH-1000X M3s are likely our pick for the best noise-canceling headphones you can buy right now.”

Absolute Geeks says, “Sony wins the audio performance war this time as well, it’s simply impressive. If you are in the market for wireless headphones, look no further! The Sony WH-1000XM3 are some of the best headphones you can buy.”


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