Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Headphones review

The Sony WH-1000XM3 is still one of the best headphones you can buy

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are a great pair of wireless headphones noise-canceling headphones. Even if they are a few years old and have been grabbed by the Sony WH-1000XM4, they are still worth buying.

Whenever we’re asked about the best headphones to buy, the conversation often turns to the 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 on their noise cancellation algorithms over the years, while Sony has spent that time perfecting audio playback as well as creating an adaptability algorithm that not only delivers a sterile sound. constraints, but also a variety of types that can be adapted to whatever situation you are in.

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That excellent combination seen in the Sony XM2s, mixed with subtle tweaks, including a more comfortable pad with the bridge of these wireless headphones, a lighter design, and a comparable price, make these Sony headphones the king of noise cancellation we’re reviewing here. Best headphones to last for two years. That was until the Sony WH-1000XM4 swooped in to take the crown.

As such, the Sony WH-1000XM4s are the best headphones you can buy right now—and they’re a noticeable upgrade over the WH-1000XM3s. They come with several improvements, including multipoint pairing, DSEE Extreme upscaling, conversational awareness, and auto-play/pause using a built-in sensor.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t consider the Sony WH-1000XM3—they’re still a great pair of headphones. What’s more, now that the XM4s are here, they’re often discounted, making them a more budget-friendly option for those who want an excellent pair of headphones but can’t afford a high-end price tag. .

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  • Read our Sony WH-1000XM4 review

Sony WH-1000XM3 price and release date

  • $349 / £300 / AU$499 at launch99
  • Discounts are often available
  • Released in August 2018

The Sony WH-1000XM3 was announced at IFA 2018 and went on sale in August 2018.

Following in the footsteps of the previous two 1000X models, the Sony WH-1000XM3 were the company’s flagship headphones before the XM4 appeared on the scene. They’re feature-rich, as mentioned in the section above, and look like a premium pair of headphones should.

That said, because they have so many features, they’re going to be a little more expensive than your average non-noise-canceling headphones: $349 / £300 / AU$499. That being said, these days they are often discounted, often available for around $240 / £240 / AU$320.

This is especially so when the days of the big sale roll around. amazon prime day 2021 takes place between June 21-22 this year and, although we can’t say for sure whether the Sony WH-1000XM3 will be underpowered, it makes sense to wait to see if they will be on Amazon’s discount day. are included in.

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  • lighter than predecessors
  • new padding with bridge
  • USB Type-C port for charging
  • Uses divisive touch controls

Arguably the biggest changes to the Sony WH-1000XM3 are found in the design of the headphones: they’re lighter than the previous model and also more form-fitting.

Weight-wise, the headphones weighed about 1 ounce (22 grams) less than their predecessors’ designs. It may not seem like a big deal, but given that you’ll be wearing these for a long time on, like, an intercontinental flight, every ounce helps.

The other design change is the new flush fit, which replaces the old padding on the bridge for some more padding. This makes the headphones more comfortable, but also noticeably less dorky when they’re on your head. Sony has also darkened the earcups and instead changed the silver accents on the sides of the headphones for a copper tone.

Finally, the last change Sony made is swapping out the microUSB port on the right earcup for USB Type-C which can either reduce or increase the amount of cables you’ll need to carry with you, depending on the type. What other gadgets do you carry around with you. Bag.

Outside of minor changes, these are still relatively minimalist headphones—which is exactly what business-class customer Sony is targeting.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 comes in only two colors — all-black or gray-silver — and are completely non-descriptive, beyond an engraved Sony logo on top of each earcup. These are designed to sound good and feel comfortable to wear – they aren’t as flashy as the Beats headphones.

Around the left earcup, you’ll find only two buttons on the headset. One is for Power/Bluetooth and another is for noise cancellation to cycle between its three settings: On, Ambient Mode, and Off. Below the buttons you’ll find an auxiliary jack, represented by a USB Type-C port on the other earcup that’s used for charging the headphones. (You’ll find a USB-to-USB Type-C cable inside the box, along with a 3.5mm aux cable, two-way aux adapter, and a hard carrying case.)

What’s missing here, obviously, is the playback controls. Sony hides them on the right earcup as a touch-capacitive covering. To go forward, you have to swipe right on the right earcup or swipe left to go back. Pausing is done by double-tapping, and then resumed in the same way. Similarly, you need to swipe down on the right earcup to turn down the volume, and this is done by swiping up.

It’s a system that takes some time to get used to, but once you get used to it for a week it becomes second nature.


  • strong noise cancellation
  • quick focus mode
  • aptX and aptX HD support
  • Slight difference in audio performance
  • Google Assistant Integration
  • Better call quality – but not great

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

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

In practice, this claim certainly holds true when confronted with both low-frequencies, such as you would find while riding a train or flying in a plane, and in workplace environments where there is high-frequency noise. Like people talking or playing music. The WH-1000XM3 performed admirably in nearly every scenario, reducing noise from often disturbing noise to a more manageable buzz—and sometimes eliminating extraneous noise altogether.

Like its predecessors, the 1000XM3 are also able to selectively allow some noise in the headphones. With Ambient Noise mode selected, announcements can be heard on the train station PA system, while Quick Attention mode lets you quickly engage in outdoor audio without turning off the headphones by turning down the music volume and using the microphone located outside. Allows pipe to each ear. It’s a feature you won’t find on a pair of Bose-branded headphones and one that sets the Sony apart from the crowd.

While there have been some tangible improvements in noise cancellation, audio quality is similar to what we heard on the 1000XM2… which could be more than a disappointment if the M2 weren’t such an impressive pair of headphones on their own.

As we said last year, these headphones will sound a little better when using an Android device that supports the aptX HD standard, but they’re surprisingly great on the iPhone, too. Mids are straight, highs come through crystal clear and bass is heavy and can have some real slams. They really shine on a device that supports the LDAC codec—like, for example, a Sony Walkman—but they aren’t limited to those devices.

While their audio quality and noise-canceling capability make Sony’s latest flagship cans some of the best noise-canceling headphones on the market, they’ll be even better once you get the Google Assistant.

[Editor’s note: This feature wasn’t available for testing when we wrote this review, but you can now summon Google Assistant with just a tap of the noise cancellation button.]

The last aspect of performance worth analyzing is the 1000XM3’s call quality. In several phone calls made with headphones on, the people we spoke to reported that we sounded clearer – if a bit quieter – than if we had used the phone’s built-in microphone. This is likely due to the extra microphone Sony has embedded in the headphones themselves.

That said, while these headphones are fine for the occasional call or two, they probably aren’t what you want to use if you frequently make phone calls in an office setting – call quality isn’t as pristine as it is on the 1000XM3 on other business-ready headsets.

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battery life

  • 30 hours battery life
  • quick charge mode
  • Auto-off mode via app

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 decent benchmark to last around 30 hours or so. Over a period of four days when the headphones were being tested (five hours a day x four days) they didn’t need to be recharged at all, the last night lasting at about 30% battery life remaining.

For comparison, that’s about 10 hours more than the Bose QuietComfort 35 when used wirelessly and 10 hours less than the Bose if used in wired mode. However you cut it, it’s still more than enough juice to get you across the Atlantic and back if you’re arriving from the west coast of the United States.

If 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…

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