Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones Review

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are versatile, feature-packed Bluetooth-enabled over-ear headphones. They have an excellent battery life, a great wireless range, and a remarkably effective ANC feature, along with a comfortable, sturdy design. However, their default sound can be a bit too bass-heavy for some, though that can be adjusted via an EQ in their companion app.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 is great for commuting. Their ANC feature does a superb job of blocking out ambient noise, especially if you have a bit of music playing in the background.

Overview of Sony WH-1000XM3

The Sony WH-1000XM3 wireless headphones are a superb pair of noise-canceling headphones. The good news is, even though they’re a few years old, they’re still worth buying despite now being usurped by the updated version: the Sony WH-1000XM4s.

Sony WH

Whenever we’re asked about the best headphones to buy, the conversation often turns to a question of Sony vs. Bose. When it comes to the Sony WH-1000XM3 wireless headphones, there’s no competition.

Bose has certainly done a tremendous job working out its noise cancellation algorithm over the years, while Sony has spent that time perfecting audio playback and simultaneously creating an adaptability algorithm that doesn’t just create a single sterile sound barrier, but multiple kinds that can adapt to whatever situation you’re in.

What Features do the Sony WH-1000XM3 Have?

Despite being largely identical in many ways to the older Sony WH-1000XM2, a few upgrades have made the brand-new WH-1000XM3 a better buy for the long haul. For example, the ear pads are deeper, and the addition of USB-C charging means that you won’t have to scour and scrape for an obsolete cable to top off your cans.

While these are fairly minor upgrades, it does mean that you won’t have to worry about your headphones falling apart in a year or two. Instead, you’ll have your needs met by a modern design, with very little headaches.

I’m not sure that these tweaks are completely worth upgrading for if you already own last year’s model, but if you’re buying a new set of headphones: these go a long way to setting Sony’s offerings apart from Bose, Sennheiser, and AKG.

Is Sony WH-1000XM3 Well Built?

If you’ve never used the Sony WH-1000XM2 from last year, noting that the WH-1000XM3 is virtually identical isn’t going to tell you what you need to know about these cans.

For example, that the WH-1000XM2 were our pick for best headphones for most people for a long time, and this year’s refresh look to take that crown from their older brother.

They’re extremely light, have great padding, and oh yeah: deliver on the promise of high-end active noise canceling headphones. Really, the biggest differences are the USB-C charging port, soft touch material, and new buttons.

Sony WH

Instead, it’s now a soft-touch material that your fingers can easily glide over. At the top of each ear cup are two wide microphones that collect data for the noise canceling unit to destroy the outside sound.

Design of Sony WH-1000XM3

Weight-wise, the headphones shed about 1 ounce (22 grams) off their predecessors’ design. That might not seem like a big deal, but considering you’ll be wearing these for an extended period of time like, say, a transcontinental flight, every ounce helps.

This makes the headphones more comfortable but also significantly less dorky when they’re on your head. Sony’s also deepened the earcup and changed out the silver accents on the side of the headphones for a copper tone instead.

Sony WH

Finally, the last change Sony made is swapping out the micro USB port on the right earcup for a USB Type-C that could either reduce or increase the number of cables you need to carry around with you depending on which other gadgets you carry around in your bag.

Outside of the minor tweaks, these are still relatively minimalist headphones – which really appeals to the business-class customer Sony is targeting.

Sony WH-1000XM3 Performance

Of course, what you’re buying a pair of noise-canceling headphones for is their ability to effectively block out noise. In that arena, there were none better than the 1000XM3 until the XM4 came along.

According to tests done by Sony, the 1000XM3 are four times more effective at canceling noise than the 1000XM2 – an impressive feat considering how well the M2 performed this time last year.

In practice, that claim definitely held true when confronted with both low-frequencies, like the kind you’d find while riding a train or flying in a plane, and in workplace environments where there are higher frequency noises like people talking or music playing.

Sony WH

In nearly every scenario the WH-1000XM3 performed admirably, often reducing noise from a disturbingly loud hum to a more manageable buzz – and sometimes eliminating exterior noise entirely.

Like their predecessors, the 1000XM3 are able to selectively allow some noises into the headphones as well.

Battery Life of Sony WH-1000XM3

So how long will these headphones last on a charge? There are a lot of factors but, after a few days of testing, we found a good benchmark to be around 30 hours or so.

Sony WH

Over a period of four days while the headphones were being tested (five hours a day x four days) they didn’t need to be recharged at all, ending the final night at around 30% battery life remaining.

Should you find yourself running low, there’s no need to worry – the 1000XM3 has a “Quick Charge” feature that allows you to get around 5 hours of playback after only 10 minutes of charging.

Inputting that claim to the test, we went from around 30% battery life to 50% after exactly 10 minutes connected to the wall. Claim verified.


Final Verdict

The XM3 are yet another impressive pair of noise-cancelling headphones from Sony. To wit, the Sony WH-1000XM3 are exactly the headphones we’ve come to expect from the new leader in noise-cancelling headphones.

Even if they’re a bit too close to the XM2s for comfort, they’re still among the best headphones you can buy nearly three years after they were released, only being pipped by the Sony WH-1000XM4.

If you want the best-looking and most comfortable headphones, and you’re all about audio quality, these are the best headphones you can buy right now.

Frequently Asked Question

Is it worth buying Sony WH-1000XM3?

Is the Sony WH-1000XM3 worth buying? Probably! While the Sony WH-1000XM3 is easily one of the best headsets out there, its little brother the Sony WH-XB900N is a credible budget pick and gets you about 70% of the performance of these headphones for $100 less

Is Sony WH-1000XM3 audiophile?

As I said, they aren’t an audiophile headphone. They are a very, very good sounding headphone, especially considering the previous obstacles companies have had in match sound quality and ANC technology. As a complete package, this is a headphone that is extremely hard to criticize.

What is better than Sony WH-1000XM3?

There are plenty of great noise-canceling headphones to choose from, and these days you can find something good within virtually any budget. The Bose 700s are an incredibly high-end, luxurious alternative to the 1000XM3s, but other headphones like the Sennheiser Momentum 3 are equally great options

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