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Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
7.1
Mixed Usage
7.2
Critical Listening
7.6
Commute/Travel
8.0
Sports/Fitness
7.3
Office
5.7
TV
4.8
Gaming
Type : In-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Truly Wireless
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Sony WF-1000XM3 are decent-sounding and versatile truly wireless headphones. They have a passable ANC feature that is decent for commuting and blocks out a good amount of noise in an office setting. Their design is stylish and feels premium but it’s a bit hard to find a good airtight fit as their tip options are larger than average. This mainly negatively impacts their bass reproduction and isolation performance. On the other hand, they have about 7 hours of battery life, which is good for a truly wireless design, and they are compatible with a companion app that gives access to decent audio customization.

Pros
  • Decent isolation performance.
  • Decent audio reproduction.
  • Sturdy and high-end build quality.
  • Many silicone and foam tip options.
Cons
  • Hard to get an air-tight seal due to large tips.
  • High latency.
  • Not the most stable option for sports.

Test Results
Design 7.8
Sound 7.1
Isolation 7.2
Microphone 6.2
Active Features 7.1
Connectivity 3.2

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7.8

Design

The Sony WF1000XM3 are well-designed truly wireless headphones. They look and feel like premium headphones thanks to the high-end material used. They feel solid, are fairly comfortable, and come with plenty of tip options in both silicone and foam. However, the smallest tip options are quite large, making it a bit harder to get an air-tight fit. This results in them moving around a bit during physical activity, meaning they won’t be the most stable option. On the upside, even their case looks high-end and they support USB-C charging.

Style

The Sony WF-1000XM3 are stylish, but slightly bulky truly wireless headphones. Their design is sleek and the metal materials used give them a high-end look. However, the buds are quite large and protrude a lot outside of the ears. They come in two colors; black and silver.

7.0 Comfort
Weight : 0.04 lbs
Clamping Force
:
0 lbs

These Sony headphones aren’t the most comfortable in-ears, but thankfully, they come with a lot of tip options. They have come with 3 sizes of silicone tips and foam tips, on top of the default tips, for a total of 7 options. However, the smallest tip option is quite larger than other headphones we’ve reviewed so far, and it’s a bit hard to get a nice fit. They move a bit and we couldn’t get a tight seal. The bud is also quite large and at an angle, so this might also result in a poor fit. Additionally, they need to enter the ear canal deeply if you want them to be stable, which isn't the most comfortable. On the upside, they are lightweight, and if you find the right tip option for you, they fit well.

6.4 Controls
Ease of use : Good
Feedback : Good
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : No
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : Yes
Talk-Through
:
Yes
Additional Buttons : Voice enabled controls

The truly wireless XM3s have touch-sensitive surfaces on each bud for different controls. You can easily control music and calls and can cycle between their ANC and talk-through modes. Also, holding down the left earbud enters the talk-through mode, and goes back to ANC as soon as you release it. You can also trigger your device’s voice assistant by holding down the right earbud. These commands are also mappable inside the app for both earbuds; you can choose between the playback control, voice assistant, ANC/talk-through, or disable it all. The touch-sensitive is responsive, easy to use, and offers good audio feedback when registering commands.

9.1 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 0.9 C

Like most in-ears, the WF-1000XM3 are very breathable. They don’t trap heat inside your ears and you shouldn’t notice a difference in temperature when wearing them. This makes them a good option for sports as you won’t sweat more than usual.

9.4 Portability
L : 1.5 "
W : 2.0 "
H : 0.6 "
Volume : 2 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

Like all truly wireless in-ears, they are very compact headphones. You can easily put them inside a pocket or a bag, making them easy to carry around. They also come with a nice, hard charging case.

8.0 Case
Type : Hard case
L : 3.2 "
W : 2.3 "
H : 1.3 "
Volume : 10 Cu. Inches

The case of the WF-1000XM3 is very nice. It's stylish and feels well-made. The case is a bit bigger than some competing models but can still fit in some pockets or a bag easily. It holds the headphones well thanks to magnets and protects the buds from physical damage and scratches.

8.0 Build Quality

The Sony WF-1000XM3 are very well-built truly wireless headphones. While they don’t look as sturdy as the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless, the WF-1000XM3 are sturdy and feel well-made. Materials used feel solid and like they would survive a few accidental drops without a problem. Unfortunately, we didn’t find any information on an official IP rating for dust and water resistance. For a water resistant pair of sports truly wireless headphones, check out the Jaybird Vista instead. On the upside, even the case feels well-made and gives a high-end impression.

7.0 Stability

The Sony WF1000XM3 are not the most stable as we weren’t able to find a good seal. The smallest tip option is quite large, which made finding an air-tight fit a bit harder. They also don’t have any stability fins or ear-hooks, but on the upside, their wireless design gets rid of the risk of having a cable getting hooked on something and yanking the headphones out of your ears.

Cable
Detachable : N/A
Length : N/A
Connection : N/A

As expected, these truly wireless headphones don’t have an audio cable. They come with a short USB-C charging cable.

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7.1

Sound

The Sony WF-1000XM3 are decent-sounding closed-back truly wireless in-ears. They have a very good overall sound with accurate bass, mid, and treble ranges. However, it’s a bit hard to get a decent seal with their larger-than-usual tip options, which can result in a lack of low-bass thump and rumble common to bass-heavy genres. They are also a bit sharp on high-frequency sibilants (S and T sounds). Overall, they’ll be a good option for a wide variety of music genres.

Note: We wanted to provide measurements with the foam tips, but their fit on our dummy head is even worse than with the silicone ones, which resulted in numbers that wouldn’t reflect normal user experience.

8.2 Bass
Std. Err.
:
2.43 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
40.58 Hz
Low-Bass
:
-3.84 dB
Mid-Bass
:
-0.36 dB
High-Bass
:
2.73 dB

The bass performance of the WF-1000XM3 is very good. However, it isn’t that extended and there’s an underemphasis in the low-bass, which results in a lack of thump and rumble. These results might be due to the poor seal we are getting due to the ear tips. If you manage to get an air-tight seal, you’re probably going to get a good amount of low-bass thump, which is quite common on Sony headphones. On the other hand, we measured an overemphasis in the high-bass, which results in a bit of excess boominess in the overall bass performance.

8.8 Mid
Std. Err.
:
1.58 dB
Low-Mid
:
1.66 dB
Mid-Mid
:
-1.31 dB
High-Mid
:
0.14 dB

The mid-range performance of these headphones is excellent. There’s a small overemphasis in the low-mid, which is the continuation of the overemphasized high-bass. This results in slightly cluttered vocals and lead instruments, but it will barely be audible. They might also be slightly nudged to the back of the mix due to that very small dip in mid-mid. Overall, vocals and leads are still very accurately reproduced and most people will be more than satisfied.

8.7 Treble
Std. Err.
:
2.7 dB
Low-Treble
:
-0.14 dB
Mid-Treble
:
0.08 dB
High-Treble
:
3.29 dB

The treble performance of the WF-1000XM3 is also great. The response is very flat and even for most of the range, but gets overemphasized in higher frequencies. This can make sibilants (S and T sounds) noticeably sharp and piercing, which can get fatiguing. However, not everyone hears the treble range the same way, so your listening experience may vary.

9.6 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
0.09 dB

The frequency response consistency is excellent. If the user can achieve a proper fit and an air-tight seal using the assortment of tips that come with the headphones, then they should be able to get consistent bass and treble delivery every time they use the headphones.

9.2 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.15
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
0.46
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
0.79
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
2.4

The stereo imaging is excellent. Their weighted group delay is very low, which is good. The group delay graph also shows that the entire response is well below the audibility threshold. This ensures a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Also, the L/R drivers of our test unit were well-matched in frequency, amplitude, and phase response. This is important for the accurate placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, video game effects) in the stereo image. Note that these results are only valid for our unit and yours may perform differently.

1.3 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
N/A
PRTF Distance
:
N/A
Openness
:
3.3
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
2.0
Correlated Crosstalk
:
0.0 dB

The soundstage is poor. This is because creating an out-of-head and speaker-like soundstage is largely dependent on activating the resonances of the pinna (outer ear). The design of in-ears and earbuds is in such a way that fully bypasses the pinna and doesn't interact with it. Also, because these headphones have a closed-back enclosure, their soundstage won't be perceived to be as open as that of open-back earbuds like the Apple AirPods 2 2019, Google Pixel Buds, or the Bose SoundSport Free.

6.8 Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
:
2.286
Weighted THD @ 100
:
18.651

The harmonic distortion of the WF-1000XM3 is passable. The THD in the bass range is within fairly good limits, but there are very noticeable spikes in the mid and treble ranges. This will make those frequencies harsh and impure, which can get fatiguing over time.

7.2

Isolation

The isolation performance of the WF-1000XM3 is decent. These truly wireless in-ears have an ANC feature that helps block out ambient noise. They’ll be a decent option for public transit, but aren’t the best option there is. On the upside, they’ll do a pretty good job in work environments to isolate against noise. They also don’t leak too much, so you’ll be able to raise your listening volume without disturbing people surrounding you.

6.7 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-19.25 dB
Bass
:
-10.9 dB
Mid
:
-21.02 dB
Treble
:
-26.91 dB
Self-Noise
:
21.76 dB

The ANC feature of the WF-1000XM3 is passable and does a decent job at blocking out ambient noise. They can be used in public transit and will fare well, but won’t block out as much noise as other in-ears because it’s hard to get an air-tight seal. On the upside, they are good at isolating against work environment noises like ambient chatter or the noise coming from an A/C system.

8.3 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
32.31 dB

The leakage performance is very good. The significant portion of the leakage is in the treble range, which means that sound leaking will be thin-sounding. It won’t be as full as over-ear headphones or open-back in-ears. Also, the leakage won’t be too loud, and you more than likely won’t bother surrounding colleagues in an office setting.

6.2

Microphone

Integrated
:
Yes
In-line
:
No
Boom
:
No
Detachable Boom
:
N/A

The Bluetooth, integrated microphone of the WF-1000XM3 is okay. It performs slightly better than most Bluetooth microphones from truly wireless headphones we’ve reviewed so far, even if our score doesn’t show it. Speech is clear and full-bodied, but you’ll only get that kind of performance in quiet environments, as the microphone struggles to separate speech from ambient noise in even moderately loud situations, like on a busy street.

6.8 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
LFE
:
306.43 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
:
2.98 dB
HFE
:
7240.77 Hz
Weighted THD
:
4.982
Gain
:
2.9 dB

The recording quality of the WF-1000XM3’s integrated mic is decent. Recorded or transmitted speech sounds clear and fairly full-bodied, but might be a bit thin. Someone on the other end of the line won’t have any trouble understanding you in quiet environments.

5.6 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
:
7.62 dB

This microphone doesn’t fare well in noisy environments. It struggles to separate speech from ambient noise in moderately loud situations like a busy street, indicating that this mic should only be used in quiet environments.

7.1

Active Features

The Sony WF-1000XM3 have a decent battery life with 7 hours of continuous playback. This might not last you for a full work day, but it's still pretty good for truly wireless headphones. Their case holds about 3 additional charges and they have a true smart power-off feature, unlike the over-ear WH-1000XM3, which only power off when disconnected from their source. The true wireless XM3s are also compatible with the Sony Headphones app, which offers good customization options.

7.0 Battery
Battery Type
:
Rechargable
Battery Life
:
6.9 hrs
Charge Time
:
1.3 hrs
Power Saving Feature
:
Auto-Off Timer
Audio while charging
:
No
Passive Playback
:
No

The battery life for the XM3 is decent, and is quite good for truly wireless headphones. We measured almost 7 hours of continuous playback on a single charge, which is slightly over the advertised 6 hours. According to the specs sheet, you can get about 8 hours if you disable the ANC feature, and the case gives you 3 additional charges. There’s also a nice power-saving feature that powers off the headphones if they are not worn for a set amount of time, which you can set inside the app.

8.5 App Support
App Name : Sony| Headphones Connect
iOS : Yes
Android : Yes
Mac OS : No
Windows : No
Equalizer
:
Graphic + Presets
ANC control
:
Yes
Mic Control : No
Room effects
:
Yes
Playback control
:
Yes
Button Mapping : Yes
Surround Sound : N/A

The WF-1000XM3 are compatible with the Sony|Headphones Connect app which gives you a lot of customization options and great control over the features. The app is well-designed, easy-to-use, and offers quite a few features that aren't common even for other wireless noise cancelling headphones. It gives you live data on the adaptive noise cancelling. You have a slider for the noise cancelling and ambient sound control. There's a great graphic equalizer with presets, an in-app media player, as well as room effects. You can also map the touch-sensitive controls of each earbud for their respective hold-commands.

Note: By default, the volume level is quite low inside the app. If you find the headphones’ volume level be lower than you expected, even when your source’s level is at maximum, check the volume slider inside the in-app player.

3.2

Connectivity

The Sony WF-1000XM3 are truly wireless Bluetooth headphones. They have an amazing wireless range and their case supports NFC pairing. The case also holds 3 additional charges for you to charge the headphones wherever you are. However, their latency might be a bit high, and it seems that commands don’t register at the exact same time for both earbuds.

8.0 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
5.0
Multi-Device Pairing
:
No
NFC Pairing
:
Yes

These truly wireless headphones are Bluetooth 5.0-compatible, which means you might even get better results than what we got if your source is Bluetooth 5.0 too. The WF-1000XM3’s case also supports NFC, which makes pairing very quick and easy. However, they don’t support multi-device pairing, which is quite disappointing for high-end headphones.

0 Wired
OS Compatibility
:
N/A
Analog Audio
:
N/A
USB Audio
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
:
N/A
PC Compatible
:
N/A

As expected, the WF-1000XM3 True Wireless headphones can’t be used wired for audio.

2.1 Base/Dock
Type
:
Charging Case
Optical Input
:
No
Line In
:
No
Line Out
:
No
USB Input
:
No
RCA Input
:
No
PS4 Compatible
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
:
N/A
PC Compatible
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
USB-C
Dock Charging
:
Yes

The Sony WF1000XM3 come with a nice, hard charging case that holds about 3 charges according to the specs sheet. The case doesn’t have any inputs other than the USB-C charging port.

10 Wireless Range
Obstructed Range
:
72 ft
Line of Sight Range
:
295 ft

The wireless range of the Sony WF-1000XM3 is exceptional. It maxed out our testing facility, meaning you shouldn’t have any problem going to the next room over or working out with your phone near you. However, wireless range is dependent on many factors, including your signal strength, so your results may vary.

0 Latency
Default Latency
:
250 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

The latency of the Sony WH-1000XM3 might be a bit high for watching video content. However, some apps and devices offer some sort of compensation, so you might not notice the delay as much. On the other hand, it seems that there’s a delay between the buds too. We experienced a noticeable delay where the right earbud would play/pause music, or even when cycling through their ANC/talk-through settings, before the left bud, which is frustrating but not a deal-breaker.

In the box

  • Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds
  • 3 silicone tip sizes
  • 3 foam tip sizes
  • Charging case
  • USB-C charging cable
  • Manuals

Compared to other Headphones

The Sony WF-1000XM3 are decent-sounding truly wireless in-ears that are very versatile. They stand out by having a decent isolation performance on top of having a sleek and high-end design. Unfortunately, it's quite difficult to get an air-tight seal as their tip options are larger than other similar headphones. See our recommendations for the best truly wireless earbuds, the best wireless earbuds, and the best wireless earbuds for running.

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sony WF-1000XM3 are better and more versatile truly wireless headphones than the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless. They are a bit more comfortable and come with more tip options, including foam tips. Their audio quality is also better and doesn’t lack as much detail as the treble range of the Sennheisers. They also have a better battery life for a single charge and their app offers good customization options. On the other hand, the Sennheiser Momentum have volume control, which the XM3 are lacking, and their fit passively isolates better than the ANC feature of the Sonys. They also support the aptX-LL codec, which is nice.

Jabra Elite Active 65t Truly Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sony WF-1000XM3 and the Jabra Elite Active 65t Truly Wireless are both decent mixed usage headphones and perform quite similarly. The Sonys are slightly more comfortable and come with more tips, but it’s hard to get an air-tight fit with them. Their app offers slightly more features and they have a longer battery life for a single charge. On the other hand, the Elite Active 65t have a better passive isolation performance than the ANC feature of the XM3 and they have volume controls and can be connected to 2 devices simultaneously.

Beats Powerbeats Pro Truly Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sony WF-1000XM3 are better everyday true wireless headphones, while the Beats Powerbeats Pro Truly Wireless will be the better option for sports. The XM3s have decent isolation performance, which is good for commuting, while the Powerbeats Pro are one of the most stable sports headphones we’ve reviewed so far thanks to their ear-hook design. The Powerbeats Pro are also a bit more comfortable and have volume control, which the Sonys are lacking. They also have an impressive 11-hour battery life, which is noticeably longer than the XM3.

Jaybird Vista Truly Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Jaybird Vista are better sports headphones, while the Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless are going to be more versatile headphones. The Vista are more stable and more comfortable, which is great for sports. They are also rated IPX7 for water resistance, while the Sonys lack an official rating. On the other hand, the WF-1000XM3 have an ANC feature that does a passable job at blocking out ambient noise and have more battery life for you to use during the day. The Vista’s sound will be more customizable thanks to their great parametric EQ.

Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sony WF-1000XM3 are better true wireless in-ears than the Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019. Their closed-back design mixed with their ANC feature makes them better at isolating against ambient noise, which is useful when commuting or at the office. Their audio reproduction is also noticeably better on top of having a better touch-sensitive control scheme. On the other hand, the Apple have one of the most comfortable fits for in-ears if their one-size-fits-all design suits you. They also take less than an hour to fully charge and you might see improved performance if your mobile device can take advantage of the H1 chip.

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Conclusion

7.1 Mixed Usage

Decent for mixed usage. The WF-1000XM3 have a decent sound profile that can easily be EQ’ed inside their app. They are decently comfortable, although getting an air-tight fit is a bit hard to do since the tips are very large. On the upside, they are small and portable, making them easy to carry around. Their ANC feature is decent and can be a passable option for commuting and at the office. If you can find a good and stable fit, they’ll be a great option for sports. On the other hand, like most Bluetooth headphones, their latency might be too high for watching video content or gaming.

7.2 Critical Listening

Decent for critical listening. Although in-ears won’t be ideal for critical listening, the true wireless XM3s have a decent audio reproduction for you to listen to your favorite tracks on the go. Some may lack bass if you can’t get a nice seal, but their mid and treble ranges are even and well-balanced. Some S and T sounds might feel a bit piercing, though.

7.6 Commute/Travel

Good for commuting. These earbuds are portable and easy to carry around, and their isolation performance is pretty good. They do a decent job at isolating against low-end noises like bus or plane engines. They also have a 7-hour battery life, so they’ll last you enough for your daily commute or a decently long flight abroad.

8.0 Sports/Fitness

Great for sports. The true wireless XM3 are portable, breathable, and durable. However, if you can’t find a good fit due to the large ear tips, they might not be the most stable option for physical activity. They also don’t seem to have an official IP rating, which is disappointing.

7.3 Office

Decent for the office. The in-ear fit might not be the most comfortable for long listening sessions, but the XM3 are still fairly comfortable if you find the right fit, and they isolate very well against work environment noise like ambient chatter and an A/C system. However, their battery life might be a bit short for a full work day, but if you take a listening break during lunch, you shouldn’t have any problem if you charge them.

5.7 TV

Sub-par for watching TV. Their latency is slightly too high, and some may notice a delay. However, some apps and devices offer some sort of compensation so you might not notice it as much.

4.8 Gaming

Poor for gaming. The Sony WF1000XM3 shouldn’t be used for this use since their latency is too high and their microphone doesn’t perform as well as gaming headphones. Overall, truly wireless headphones won’t be a good option for gaming.

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