Review: Sony’s WH-1000XM3 Headphones are the Best Noise-Canceling Cans You Can Get

Sony threatened to topple the apple cart in 2020 when it unleashed its flagship MDR-1000X cans on a headphones marketplace which up till then were ruled by way of Bose in the top class travel-grade noise-canceling division.

Combining very good wi-fi sound with energetic NC that made even QuietComfort enthusiasts sit down up and take understand, Sony’s awkwardly named headset proved that the Japanese corporate’s in depth acoustic R&D had in the end hit on a winner, giving rival NC headphone makers due reason for concern in the procedure.

Unsurprisingly, Sony has sought to support upon this profitable components in the intervening years, beginning with some other tongue-twisting rebrand of its flagship vary (the inexplicably named WH-1000X sequence) and two follow-up fashions boasting incremental enhancements, either one of which were effectively gained.

What’s most likely extra sudden about those trends is Bose’s loss of reaction to them, having launched in that point just a tweaked model of its flagship QC35 cans with improve for Google Assistant. Whether that is down to finish self belief in the high quality of its present noise-canceling smarts or simply loss of innovation is a moot level, for the reason that Sony’s adaptive NC generation and sonic prowess has necessarily overtaken the corporate, as those newest cans exemplify.

The WHX-1000XM3’s are necessarily an improve to ultimate yr’s 1000XM2’s, that includes a sequence of teen enhancements that Sony believes jointly justify a brand new fashion quantity. Let’s check out them and notice simply how some distance the corporate’s noise-canceling vary has come.


On the face of it, Sony’s WH-1000XM3 headphones boast the identical design signature of earlier 1000X fashions. They’re to be had in two understated colours – beige and black – and the ear cups swivel inwards so that they close up well in the equipped raise case. The most effective unique marks on the outdoor of every cup stay the minimum Sony emblems and tiny microphone grilles, even though they have got picked up some neat brass-colored accents.

Sony WH-1000XM3 (left) beside unique MDR-1000X headphones

A more in-depth glance unearths extra notable variations although. Gone is the uncovered metal headscarf, which is now hid between the adjustable slats below thicker, extra relaxed padding than on earlier fashions. The foam urethane ear pads are additionally relatively better and cushier, and make allowance for a deeper ear house inside of.

The most blatant ergonomic shift to happen alternatively is relating to weight. The XM3’s are 22 grams lighter than the XM2’s (and 10 grams lighter than Bose’s QC35 II’s) which would possibly now not sound like a lot, however after dressed in them for a number of hours directly it does make an actual distinction.

Sony WH-1000XM3 (left) beside unique MDR-1000X headphones

Like earlier cans in the WH-1000X vary, the two buttons on the left ear cup regulate persistent and noise-canceling/ambient sound options, making blind variety so much more straightforward than the indistinctive three-buttoned affair on the unique MDR-1000X cans. As sooner than, the persistent button will also be temporarily pressed for a battery point replace, and an extended press turns on the pairing collection, whilst software-based choices help you trade the serve as of the ambient sound/NC button (extra on the ones later). Unfortunately, the blue LED subsequent to the persistent button nonetheless frequently flashes throughout operation, which will also be vaguely traumatic if you are dressed in them in the darkish.

Sony has additionally switched up the connectivity on this fashion: The microUSB port on the proper ear cup is long past, changed with a extra up-to-date USB-C connection (the charging cable terminates in USB-A). One factor that hasn’t modified is Sony’s love for gesture controls: The proper ear cup has a touch-sensitive again that responds to faucets and swipes to regulate tune playback, skip tracks, trade quantity, and invoke your most popular digital assistant. Like most current headphone gesture pads, it can be used to take calls. The just right information is that the subject matter Sony is now the use of to coat the pads is somewhat smoother, which makes the gestures typically much more responsive than fashions previous, so kudos for that.

Performance and Features

As we discussed at the get started of this assessment, Sony pulled one thing particular out of the bag when it launched its MDR-1000X headphones, which boasted next-level noise cancelation in the past most effective accomplished by way of the likes of Bose. With the 1000XM3’s, Sony has someway completed it once more and made those cans four occasions simpler at damping down sounds from the outdoor global than the 1000XM2’s. After a lot of trying out, we will state that they persistently outperform Bose’s flagship headphones on the subject of killing exterior noise in a variety of environments and use circumstances.

This stepwise growth is in part to do with the ambient sound controls being extra versatile and somewhat smarter than earlier fashions. Fire up the Sony Headphones Connect app and you’ll be able to manually drag a slider that adjustments the level of noise-cancelation, permitting you to make a choice most isolation, wind noise aid, or make a choice from amongst 20 ranges of various ambient attenuation. It’s nice for locating your best NC vary if you are desk bound, however you’ll be able to additionally transfer to adaptive sound regulate if you end up on the transfer and the integrated QN1 processor will just do as just right a role, routinely adjusting its corresponding inverted frequencies to dam out no matter environmental sounds come your approach.

As sooner than, the headphones make low-frequency seems like jet engines and visitors unexpectedly soften away, however Sony has additionally advanced its proprietary chip on this fashion to minimize high-frequency seems like voices. That doesn’t suggest you will not listen when any person shouts at you from the different facet of the room, nevertheless it does make quick paintings of background chatter in a hectic espresso store. On the turn facet, the Focus on Voice function is far better than its previous incarnation. It objectives to help you listen in on vital bulletins – if you end up ready to be known as to a boarding gate, say – whilst nonetheless permitting you to revel in your tune in relative quiet. The outdated Voice mode had patchy efficiency and regularly did not filter different ambient sounds, however the WH-1000MX3’s are a lot more discriminating on this regard.

The QN1 chip does not simply excel at managed NC both. Sony has additionally thrown in an onboard DAC and an analog amplifier, along side 32-bit audio sign processing and improve for reproducing the complete vary of frequencies as much as 40 kHz. Those smarts permit the cans to persistently ship the next signal-to-noise ratio and decrease distortion, and allowed me to revel in transparent, crisp audio in all of the supported AAC (iPhone), aptX/aptX HD (Mac/Android), SBC (the whole thing) and LDAC wi-fi formats. The mid-range stays splendidly balanced and the highs sparkle on instrumental tracks, whilst an impressive but managed bass supplies a forged basis.

You’d be forgiven for considering all the tech in those cans would inevitably be an influence drain, however Sony impresses by way of eking out 30 hours of stressed/wi-fi battery existence on a unmarried rate, and you’ll be able to get five hours’ price of rate after simply 10 mins hooked up to an influence outlet with the non-compulsory AC adapter (versus 70 mins on the WH-1000XM2’s). That gave me oodles of time to play with the further app options, together with the sound place controls that help you trade the perceived directional supply of your audio, to not point out the welcome encompass sound modes and EQ sliders.

Digging deeper into the utility controls, it is now imaginable to regulate the automated power-off function, which is activated when no audio sign is detected. You may even flip it off, which is super-convenient in the event you simply need to have NC energetic with out paying attention to audio. You too can optionally trade the serve as of the NC/ambient button on the left ear cup to turn on Google Assistant, Siri, and (maximum just lately added) Alexa. It’s a neat solution to temporarily ask normal queries, nevertheless it additionally way you’ll be able to use your digital assistant of option to play tune and skip tracks on the fly.

Happily, Sony has additionally carried over all its well-liked options from earlier fashions. The left ear cup nonetheless comprises an NFC chip for quick pairing with appropriate units, whilst Sony’s distinctive innovation in the NC house lives on: Hidden inside of each ear cups are the identical microphones that Sony’s “non-public NC Optimizer” makes use of to pattern ambient noise and cancel out a much wider vary of sounds with corresponding inverted frequencies. Hold down the NC button, and the headphone audio system emit a sequence of tones that jump from side to side between the mics to research the form of your head, figure out whether or not you may have large hair, put on glasses, and so forth.

Sony has in reality tweaked the optimizer on this fashion to incorporate atmospheric force, and I discovered it to paintings higher throughout flights. This used to be simple to check because of some other function distinctive to the corporate’s Sense Engine, known as “Quick Attention.” Cup your arms over the proper ear cup and the quantity straight away lowers to let in the outdoor global – carry your hand back off and the tune returns to its prior quantity. It’s in fact helpful for scenarios in which you would most often need to take off the headphones – like when a flight attendant provides you with refreshments.

As with earlier fashions, the WH-1000XM3’s pack one of the most powerful Bluetooth connections I have come throughout in headphones, and persistently retain a connection in spaces the place rival Bluetooth headsets continuously falter. By default, the headphones routinely make a choice the absolute best high quality Bluetooth protocol to be had, however you’ll be able to nonetheless manually transfer the precedence between maximum solid connection and absolute best audio high quality, which is now completed in the iOS app.

Before we wrap up, it is price noting that, inexplicably, Sony’s 1000X vary nonetheless does not improve dynamic switching between audio resources. Bose’s QC35’s don’t have any bother pairing with two units and routinely switching between them in line with which one is transmitting an audio sign, so it is baffling that the 1000XM3’s lack this talent, and in our Bluetooth saturated age, it is onerous to overstate simply how handy the function is. Having to manually disconnect the 1000XM3’s out of your iPhone so as to attach in your Mac and vice versa simply feels clunky, but Sony’s cans had no bother auto-pairing with the ultimate identified instrument every time I grew to become them on.

Bottom Line

Sony’s talent to proceed making improvements to its WH-1000X sequence of wi-fi headphones is in large part because of its devoted acoustics analysis, which these days leaves rival makers of top class noise-canceling cans with a lot paintings to do to get any place close to the identical high quality.

The customizable and adaptive NC smarts end up Sony’s tech has come on in leaps and boundaries since the unique MDR-1000X fashion, whilst enhancements in battery existence and sound high quality make for a well-rounded listening revel in. If the corporate can simply take a leaf out of Bose’s e-book and upload dynamic instrument switching in the subsequent model, they will be just about untouchable for an extended whilst to come back.


  • Best noise canceling in the trade
  • Exceptional sound in each stressed and wi-fi modes
  • Superb battery existence
  • Improved design and contact controls


  • Lacks dynamic audio instrument switching
  • Flashing running LED will also be traumatic

How to Buy

The Sony WH-1000MX3 headphones are available beige or black, price $349.99, and will also be ordered by way of the Sony website online or on Amazon.

Note: Sony equipped the WH-1000MX3’s to appmarsh for the functions of this assessment. No different reimbursement used to be gained.

Tag: Sony

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Published by Marshmallow

Marshmallow Android is BT Ireland’s Head of Sales for Republic of Ireland domestic multi-site companies, indigenous MNCs and public sector accounts. He is responsible for the direction and control of all sales activity in the region. He has over 10 years management experience from high growth start-ups to more established businesses. He’s led teams in Ireland, India and China across various industries (ICT, On-Line Recruitment, Corporate Training and International Education).