The Sony WH-1000XM3 are great headphones for commute and travel and a decent option for most use cases. They have an excellent battery life, great wireless range, and one of the best noise canceling that we've measured so far. They also have a sleek new design that's a bit more comfortable than the previous models. They isolate a bit more and leak less than the often compared Bose QuietComfort 35 II, and they have more customizable features. However, they're not quite as comfortable as the Bose, and their default sound can be a bit too bass-heavy for some, but on the upside, you can EQ them via the app.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 are well-made over-ears with a sleek and premium look. They have a different headband design than the previous models in the series and look a bit more like a cross between the WH-1000XM2 and the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. This new headband gives them a slightly lower profile that better fits the contour of your head, although the dense ear cups are still fairly bulky and protrude, making them a bit unstable for running and working out. On the upside, they have a good touch-sensitive control scheme with a lot of functionality. They also have a sturdy build quality that looks premium and should be decently durable. As long as the yokes do not have any major defects like the original MDR-1000X, then the WH-1000XM3 are one of the better designed wireless over-ears we've tested.
Update: 21/11/2018: There are a few complaints online of the XM3's touch controls not working properly in colder climates. We do plan to implement a cold and heat test in our testing procedure in a future update but can confirm that the XM3's controls do not work as expected in below 0 conditions. This may be a deal breaker for some users living in colder countries.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 have a slightly different headband design to the WH-1000XM2 and MDR-1000X, which makes them stand out and look somewhat similar to the Bose QC35 II. The headband has two-tone finish with a pleather coating over the pads that doesn't look quite as premium as the metal frame of the XM2 but has a much lower profile and makes the 1000XM3 look a less bulky on your head, which most will prefer. The ear cups, on the other hand, are fairly similar to the previous models but have cool accents around the vents and the Sony logo which looks great. They come in two color scheme. An understated black, like the one we've reviewed, or a more flashy white color scheme that some may prefer since it stands out a bit more. Overall, these headphones look premium, classy and more high-end than the QC35 II although not quite as well built as the Bowers and Wilkins PX.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 are a bit more comfortable than the WH-1000XM2. They have better, softer pads, a new headband design that better fits the contours of your head, and they're slightly lighter by about 0.05lbs (20g). This results in a more comfortable design that you can wear for a bit longer and is closer in comfort to the Bose QC 35II although the Bose are still a bit more comfortable overall. On the upside, they are the most comfortable of the Sony wireless over-ears we've tested far so you can wear them for hours without feeling any fatigue or soreness as long as the breathability isn't an issue.
The Sony 1000XM3 have the same touch-sensitive control scheme as the WH-1000XM2 but are a bit more responsive to swipe gestures. The controls are fairly easy to use; swiping up and down controls the volume level, left and right rewind and skips tracks respectively, and double tapping is the multi-function button for pausing, resuming as well as call management. Feedback is decent a bit less intrusive than on the previous model since the auditory beeps/cues are not as loud especially at high volumes. Also, like on the XM2, you can cover the touch-sensitive pad to temporarily mute your music, so you can pay attention to your surrounding. You can use the ambient button to activate the aware mode or switch it to trigger Google Assitant via the app, which is a plus.
Update: 21/11/2018: There are a few complaints online of the XM3's touch controls not working properly in colder climates. We do plan to implement a cold and heat test in our testing procedure in a future update but can confirm that the XM3's controls do not work as expected in below 0 conditions.
The Sony WH-1000XM3, like most closed back over-ear headphones, are not very breathable. They do not make your ears much warmer than the WH-1000XM2, despite the thicker pads, and they are not out of the ordinary for closed-back over-ear headphones. They create a good seal around your ears, which prevents a lot of airflow and therefore make you sweat a bit more if you use them while running or working out. But on the upside, they should be fine for most casual use cases.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 are about the same size as the WH-1000XM2. They have a slightly lower profile headband that does not take up as much space in your bag, but it's not a very significant difference since the headphones are fairly bulky overall. On the upside, they fold into a more compact format which makes them somewhat portable and they come with a pretty good and sturdy case.
The Sony 1000XM3 come with a sturdy hard case that will protect the headphones from scratches, minor falls, and water damage. It has a fabric finish instead of the pleather-like coating of the XM2 and 1000X which some may prefer. It's not the most portable case, but it will easily fit in larger bags.
The Sony WH1000XM3 have a great build quality and a premium look and feel. The new headband design is sturdy and flexible, and the ear cups are dense and should easily withstand a couple of accidental drops. Unfortunately, the new headband is coated with pleather-like padding that won't fare as well over time as the metal frame of the WH-1000XM2. The 1000XM3 also has a similar yoke/hinge design to the XM2, which may be prone to cracking like the original MDR-1000X, so we will continue to monitor the discussion threads for any major defects with the headband that may warrant a score change. However, for now, they are one of the better designed wireless over-ear headphones we've tested and feel more premium and durable than the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, but they're not quite as well built as the Bowers and Wilkins PX.
The Sony WH1000XM3/B are stable enough for a light jog but will not be the ideal headphones for working out and exercising. Their wireless design and slightly better fit than the XM2 make them a bit more stable. But since the ear cups are moderately heavy and stick out a bit like the WH-1000XM2, they will sway a lot depending on the intensity of your work out routine.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 is a decent sounding pair of closed-back over-ear headphones. They have a consistent, deep, powerful, and punchy bass, an even and excellently-balanced mid-range, and an above-average treble. However, their bass is a little bit overpowering and on the heavy side, and their treble lacks a bit of detail and is on the warm side. Overall, the sound of these headphones is bass-heavy and veiled, which fans of heavy bass may like (it is one of the best headphones for bass that we've tested), but they may not be the ideal choice for those who prefer clear and present vocals and a neutral sound profile like that of the Bose QuietComfort 35 II or the AKG N700NC. Compared to the older MDR-1000X and WH-1000XM2 models, the XM3 have a similar sound signature, but with a little bit more bass.
The bass is good. The LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 10Hz, which is excellent. Also, the response throughout the range is even and flat, but consistently overemphasized by about 4dB. This makes the bass of these headphones deep, and heavy, and punchy, but at the expense of overpowering the mid and treble ranges a bit and sounding a little muddy.
The mid-range performance is excellent. The entire range shows a well-balanced and even response, which is important for the accurate reproduction of vocals and lead instruments. The slight broad dip around 1KHz won't be noticeable to most.
The treble is above-average. The response throughout the range is even and well-balanced, but there is a broad 5dB dip surrounding 5KHz. This means the treble of these headphones is on the warm side and lacks a little bit of detail, which will be mostly noticeable on vocals and lead instruments.
The frequency response consistency is great. Similar to the MDR-1000X, WH-1000XM2 and QuietComfort 35 II, the Sony 1000XM3 seem to be using its noise cancelling system to check for bass consistency. Therefore, in the bass range, they perform extremely consistently across our five human subjects. In the treble range, they are also quite consistent, but not as much as the bass range, showing about 3dB of deviation below 10KHz. This results in a consistent delivery of bass and treble across multiple users and re-seats.
The Sony WH1000XM3 have great imaging. Their weighted group delay is 0.23, which is very good. The graph also shows that the entire group delay is below our audibility threshold. This ensures a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were well-matched in amplitude, frequency, and phase response, which is important for the accurate placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, video games effects) in the stereo image.
The soundstage of the WH-1000XM3, like most other noise cancelling headphones, is sub-par. The PRTF response shows a good amount of pinna activation, which suggests a relatively large size for the soundstage. However, the low accuracy of the response suggests a soundstage that feels a bit unnatural. Also, there's not a notch in the 10KHz region, which could result in the soundstage to be perceived as located inside the head.
The harmonic distortion performance is decent. The overall amount of THD produced is rather elevated throughout the range, which could make the sound a little impure. However, there are not sharp spike in the THD response and there is not a big jump in harmonic distortion under heavier loads either.
The Sony WH1000XM3 are one of the best noise isolating headphones that we've tested so far. Once you optimize the ANC feature for your environment, either by holding the NC/Ambient button or via the app, they cancel an astonishing amount of low-frequency noise, like the rumblings of an engine or the chatter on public transit, making them suitable for traveling and most commutes. Their noise cancellation has lower self-noise and is a bit better overall than the previous models and even the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. However, the QC35 II and the XM2 isolate so well that it's hard to tell the difference when compared to XM3 unless you test them side by side in the same environment. On the upside, the XM3 leak a little less thanks to the thicker pads that create a better seal around your ears so you can play your music a little louder, to further mask any ambient noise that might seep into your ear cups, without bothering those around you like the Bose or the XM2.
The isolation performance is outstanding. These headphones have one of the best ANC (active noise cancelling) systems we have measured so far. Not only their provide excellent noise cancelling throughout the range, it is also possible to adjust their amount of ANC using their smartphone app. In the bass range, where the rumble of airplane and bus engines sit, they achieved 23dB of isolation, which is very good. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, they isolate by more than 27dB, which is great. In the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds like S and Ts, the reduce noise by almost 40dB, which is also very good. Compared to the older MDR-1000X and WH-1000XM2 models, the XM3 seems to have a nearly identical ANC system, but they perform noticeably better and more consistently due to their improved headband and earpads. Compared to the other great ANC headphone, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, the Sony perform slightly better, but their difference is ANC performance is smaller than their difference in other categories like sound quality and comfort.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 have a good leakage performance. The significant portion of their leakage is spread over the mid-range, resulting in a leakage that is fuller-sounding compared to that of in-ears and earbuds. The overall level of the leakage is relatively low though. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 37dB SPL and peaks at 49dB SPL, which is about the same as the noise floor of an average office.
The Sony 1000XM3 have an average microphone. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with this mic sounds relatively thin and noticeably muffled and lacking in detail. In noisy situations, this microphone is able to separate speech from background noise in moderately loud places, like a busy street, but they may struggle in louder places. Compared to the MDR-1000X and WH-1000XM2 models, the XM3's microphone is noticeably improved.
The integrated microphone has a mediocre recording quality. The LFE (low-frequency extension) of 226Hz results in a recorded/transmitted speech that sounds a little thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 3KHz means speech will sound noticeably muffled and lacking in detail. However, the response between the LFE and HFE and points in noticeably better and more even compared the MDR-1000X and WH-1000XM2 models.
The microphone is decent at noise handling. This mic shows a noticeable improvement over the older MDR-1000X and WH-1000XM2 models in terms of noise handling. In our SpNR test, it achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 20dB, which suggests this microphone is well suited for quiet and moderately loud environments. However, they may still struggle to fully separate speech from ambient noise in louder places.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 have a great battery life and a bit more features than the WH-1000XM2. They last about 27 hours on a single charge which is great for most use cases and will easily last you a weekend of heavy use. They also have a better auto-off feature which you can customize via the pp which makes their battery performance a lot better than the XM2. The app also gives you access to a wealth of customizable settings. You have a 5band EQ with presets, room effects, noise canceling profiles, adaptive sound, an in-app player as well as high-quality audio codec options. Overall, the app feels complete and the addition of the auto-off timer makes it one of the better companion apps for any wireless headphone.
The Sony WH1000XM3 have an improved battery performance over the WH-1000XM2. They had about 27 hours of continuous playtime with ANC enabled and have a good auto-off feature that you can now customize via the app. This makes them suitable for most use cases, commutes and travel since they will last more than a weekend of heavy use without running out of battery. On the upside thanks to the new USB-C connector they have excellent fast charge. They only take about 2.2 hours for a full charge and can deliver up to 5 hours of playtime from a quick 10-15 minutes charge which is very convenient if you forget to charge them overnight.
The Sony 1000XM3, like the WH-1000XM2 support the Sony| Headphones Connect app which gives you a lot of customization options and great control over the features headphones features. The app is well designed, easy-to-use and offers quite a few features that aren't common even for other wireless noise-canceling headphones. It gives you live data on the adaptive noise canceling. You can also calibrate the ANC directly in the app instead of holding the NC/ambient button. There's a great parametric equalizer with presets, an in-app media player, as well as room effects and sound position options. They also provide a customizable auto-off timer that was lacking on the WH-1000Xm2 which makes this app one of the more complete companion apps for any wireless headphone.
The Sony WH-1000XM3, like the WH-1000XM2, are Bluetooth headphones that can pair via NFC and come with a standard audio cable. Unfortunately, the audio cable has no in-line remote which means they will not have a microphone that's compatible with consoles but you can always use them wired for audio with your Xbox or PS4 controllers. Also, like most Bluetooth headphones they have a bit too much latency to be the best option for watching movies and gaming even with aptX enabled.
They do not have simultaneous multi-device pairing like the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. But on the upside, they do support NFC which makes pairing with smartphones a bit easier. They're one of the best Bluetooth earphones we've reviewed.
Update: 17/09/2018: The XM3 have partial multi-device pairing if you split the Bluetooth profiles for media and call management across the two devices you are connected to. However, since this is not full multi-device pairing, like the Bose QC 35 II, the XM3's Bluetooth score will not be changed, for now, until we have a category for partial multi-device support.
These headphones come with an audio cable with no in-line remote or USB adapter. This means they do not have a mic that is compatible with consoles.
The Sony WH1000XM3 do not have a base/dock. If you want a versatile headset with a base that you can also use wired check out the Arctis 7 by SteelSeries.
They have a slightly better range than the WH-1000XM2. They reached up to 53ft when obstructed by walls and up to 185ft in direct line of sight. They should have more than enough range for most use cases especially if you keep your device on you but they're also suitable to pair with fixed sources like your TV or PC.
These headphones have about 224ms of latency. They're about average for most Bluetooth headphones though and have slightly less latency when using aptX, but at 200ms they still won't be the ideal choice for watching movies and gaming.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 are one of the best noise canceling headphones that we've tested so far. They have great customizable features, an excellent noise cancellation performance and a decently well-balanced audio reproduction that sound good with most tracks but might be a bit bass heavy for some. On the upside, they have a sleek new design that's a bit more comfortable than the previous models, they're easy-to-use and deliver a long-lasting battery life with a lot of customizable features via the app. They're one of the best headphones for music that we've reviewed so far.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 are a better headset than the Sony WH-1000XM2 although not by much. The XM3 have a more comfortable over-ear fit thanks to the headband redesign and softer ear cup pads. They also have better noise cancellation, mostly due to their lower self-noise and a better battery life performance, with a customizable auto-off timer, and a quick charging USB type C connector. This makes them a bit more convenient in case you forget to charge them overnight. On the other hand, the XM2 now offer a better value for your money since they are now at a lower price point than the XM3. They also have a great noise isolation performance and a decently well-balanced sound quality that's not very different from the XM3. Their metal headband also feels slightly more unique than that of the Xm3 and gives them a slightly more classy look and feel.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II have similar performance to the Sony Wh-1000XM3. The Bose are a bit more comfortable than the Sonys. They also have a slightly better default sound that does not have as much high bass as the WH-1000Xm3, which makes them sound a tad bit more balanced overall. They also have an easier to use control scheme and can pair with multiple devices at once which makes them a bit easier to use with your PC and your phone. On the other hand, the Sony are a lot more customizable than the Bose. They come with an excellent app that gives you access to a good EQ, noise canceling options and optimization, and in-app player and room effects and codec options. The sony also have a longer battery life with a better quick charge feature. Get the Bose if comfort is most important and you typically use headphone companion apps. However, if you like to tweak your audio and want more features, the Sony are the better option.
The WH-1000XM3 are much better noise canceling headsets than the Sony WH-H900N. The H900N have a better-balanced default sound. They also have a cool look that some may prefer since they come in a lot more color schemes than the more premium XM3s. On the other hand, the WH-1000XM3 have a much better noise canceling performance that makes them a much better choice for your commutes. They're also a lot more customizable and have a better battery life and drastically faster charge time that makes them a lot more convenient for day-to-day use especially if you forget to charge your headphones overnight. They're more comfortable and look and feel a lot more premium than the H900N.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 are slightly better wireless noise-canceling headphones than the Bowers and Wilkins PX. The Sony are a lot more comfortable than the B&Ws out of the box. They're lighter and have better-padded ear cups that do not clamp your head like the PX. The Sony also have a longer battery life, a better noise canceling performance and a more customizable app that makes them a bit more versatile for different listeners than the PX. The PX, on the other hand, are much better built, look a bit more premium and feel more durable. They also leak a less at high volumes, so they're a bit more suitable for noise sensitive environments like using them at the office.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 are better noise canceling headphones than the AKG N700NC. They have a more sturdy and more comfortable build, on top of having amazing noise canceling capabilities. On the other hand, the AKGs are more neutral sounding and might be a better choice for critical listeners who wouldn’t like the overemphasized bass of the XM3s. The Sonys also have better battery life and more customization options. If you prefer physical buttons and think a touch-sensitive control scheme is too finicky and frustrating to use, then the AKG N700NC are a better option.