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Reviewed on Sep 17, 2018 , Sam Vafaei, Yannick Khong

Sony WH-1000XM3
HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

Test Benches:

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
7.3
Mixed Usage
What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
7.2
Critical Listening
What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
7.8
Commute/Travel
What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
7.2
Sports/Fitness
What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
7.7
Office
What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
5.8
TV
Score components:
5.4
Gaming
Score components:
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

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.

Test Results
Design 7.5
Sound 7.1
Isolation 8.4
Microphone 6.5
Active Features 8.2
Connectivity 5.6
Pros
  • Comfortable and premium looking design.
  • Great active features and app support.
  • Excellent noise cancellation.
Cons
  • Poor latency for watching videos.
  • Slightly bulky design.

Check Price

7.5

Design

Score components:
Sony WH-1000XM3 Design Picture

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.

Style
Sony WH-1000XM3 Design Picture 2

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.

8.0 Comfort
What it is: Adjustability and degrees of freedom, pressure, stiffness and weight.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used for long durations.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Sony WH-1000XM3 Comfort Picture
Weight : 0.6 lbs
Clamping Force
What it is: The force that the headphones exert on your head, once you have them on. This is purely a measurement of the force applied, which does not take into account the earpad's surface area and the resulting pressure you will feel, on or around your ears.
When it matters: The tighter the headphones, the more force they put on your head. This can get uncomfortable or cause pain and soreness during long listening sessions.
:
0.8 lbs

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.

7.8 Controls
What it is: The control scheme of the headphones, the number of functions provided, button layout and ergonomics as well as the quality of tactile feedback.
When it matters: If you want to control volume, pause your music or make phone calls without directly interacting with your audio device.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Controls Picture
Ease of use : Good
Feedback : Above-average
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
What it is: Being able to mix audio channels directly on the headphones.
When it matters: This is most useful when using a separate chat software so that you can mix in-game audio and chat audio depending on your needs.
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : Yes
Talk-Through : Yes
Additional Buttons : Voice enabled controls

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.

6.4 Breathability
What it is: How hot the headphones get when you wear them for an extended period of time.
When it matters: If you often have long listening sessions or use your headphones while doing physical activities like running or working out.
Score components:
Sony WH-1000XM3 Breathability After Picture
Avg.Temp.Difference : 5.8 C

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.

6.3 Portability
What it is: The volume of space occupied by the headphones when folded into their most compact format.
When it matters: If you're often on the move and need to carry your headphones in a bag, purse , or pocket.
Score components:
Sony WH-1000XM3 Portability Picture
L : 4.9 "
W : 5.2 "
H : 3 "
Volume : 76 Cu. Inches
Stand required : N/A

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.

8.0 Case
What it is: The provided carrying options to protect your headphones when transporting them.
When it matters: To prevent damaging your headphones, if you often carry them in your bag or pocket.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Sony WH-1000XM3 Case Picture
Type : Hard case
L : 7.1 "
W : 8.1 "
H : 2.4 "
Volume : 136 Cu. Inches

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.

8.0 Build Quality
What it is: Durability, material quality, cheap/expensive feel.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used by multiple users (classes/studios), by children, in tough conditions, on a daily basis, or for exercise.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Sony WH-1000XM3 Build Quality Picture

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.

7.0 Stability
What it is: How the headphones are designed to prevent them from slipping off your ears or falling off your head.
When it matters: If you plan on using the headphones while doing sports or other physical activities that requires a lot of movement.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Sony WH-1000XM3 Stability Picture

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.

Cable
Sony WH-1000XM3 Cable Picture
Detachable : Yes
Length : 5 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS

These headphones come with a 1/8" to 1/8" TRS audio cable and a USB-C charging cable.

Top
Headshots 1
Headshots 2
7.1

Sound

What it is: How accurately the audio is reproduced. The tests are performed with the headphones' most commonly used features enabled (noise-cancelling, wireless, etc.)
Sony WH-1000XM3 Frequency Response

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.

7.6 Bass
What it is: Frequency Response from 20Hz-250Hz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on bass frequencies, such as those of kick drums and bass guitar.
Score components:
Sony WH-1000XM3 Bass
Std. Err.
What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in bass frequency response (20Hz-250Hz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) bass performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
3.53 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
What it is: The lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: Shows how extended the bass is.
Good value: <40Hz
Noticeable difference: 5Hz
:
10 Hz
Low-Bass
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 20Hz-60Hz.
When it matters: Kick drums and low frequency effects get their 'thump' from this range. Mostly felt than heard.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
4.12 dB
Mid-Bass
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 60Hz-120Hz.
When it matters: Melodic bass instruments have most of their fundamental frequencies in this range. This is where the 'body' and 'punch' of the bass sits.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
4.25 dB
High-Bass
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 120Hz-250Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments get their warmth and full-ness from this range. When over-emphasized, mixes tend to get muddy and boomy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
3.18 dB

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.

9.0 Mid
What it is: Frequency Response from 250Hz-2KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on mid-range frequencies. This is the case for the majority of audio content.
Score components:
Sony WH-1000XM3 Mid
Std. Err.
What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in mid frequency response (250Hz-2.5KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) mid performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.29 dB
Low-Mid
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 250Hz-500Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments have their fundamentals or low harmonics in this range. Over-emphasis in this range sounds muddy and cluttered. Under-emphasis, thins out the vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-0.38 dB
Mid-Mid
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 500Hz-1KHz.
When it matters: This range is occupied mostly by upper harmonics. Over-emphasis sounds forward and boxy. Under-emphasis pushes instruments to the back of the mix.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-0.72 dB
High-Mid
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 1KHz-2KHz.
When it matters: Most instruments, especially vocals, get their intensity and clarity from this range. Over-emphasis sounds honky and harsh, under-emphasis sounds weak and distant.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-0.86 dB

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.

7.2 Treble
What it is: Frequency Response from 2KHz-20KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on high-range frequencies, such as voice, cymbals, and any other material where brightness, brilliance and airiness is desired.
Score components:
Sony WH-1000XM3 Treble
Std. Err.
What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in treble frequency response (2.5KHz-20KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) treble performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
4.17 dB
Low-Treble
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 2KHz-5KHz.
When it matters: Almost all instruments rely on this range for their presence, detail, and articulation. Over-emphasis can sound harsh and painful. Under-emphasis hurts the comprehensibility of vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-2.2 dB
Mid-Treble
What it is: The average amount of over/under emphasis in frequency response from 5KHz-10KHz.
When it matters: This is the sibilance range. Cymbals, vocals, and lead instruments rely on this range for brightness and presence. Over-emphasis sounds piercing and painful, under-emphasis sounds dull and lispy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-0.83 dB
High-Treble
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 10KHz-20KHz.
When it matters: This range gives brilliance and airiness to the sound. Over-emphasis sounds hissy, under-emphasis sounds closed-up and lifeless.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-8.45 dB

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.

Raw Frequency Response
What it is: The average uncompensated frequency response of the headphone. For in-ears and earbuds, this corresponds to the average of 5 measurements/re-seats on the dummy head (HMS). For over/on-ear headphones, this corresponds to the average of 5 measurements/re-seats on the HMS (Head Measurement System) for the mid and treble ranges, and 5 measurements/re-seats on 5 human subjects for the bass range.
When it matters: This is for those who want to see the raw and uncompensated frequency response of the headphone. Some of the more advanced users, are able to read and evaluate headphone frequency response in its raw form and without compensation. This will be especially useful to them if they have their own headphone compensation/target curve, which may differ from the compensation curve/target response used by RTINGS.com.
Score components:
8.3 Frequency Response Consistency
What it is: The amount of deviation of each frequency response pass, from the average frequency response.
When it matters: Shows how consistently the headphones perform after re-positioning them.
Score components:
Sony WH-1000XM3 Consistency L Sony WH-1000XM3 Consistency R
Avg. Std. Deviation
What it is: The average amount of deviation in frequency response of 5 re-seats, from the average frequency response.
When it matters: Shows how consistently the headphones perform after re-positioning them.
Good value: <0.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.34 dB

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.

7.9 Imaging
What it is: Imaging qualities are inherent to the audio content, the headphones have to 'reproduce' them rather than 'create' them. They determine how accurately the objects are positioned in the stereo image, and how transparent the imaging is.
When it matters: When accurate positioning of the objects in the stereo image, and clear and transparent imaging is desired.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Group Delay Sony WH-1000XM3 Phase Response
Weighted Group Delay
What it is: The average amount of group delay calculated based on a perceptual weighting filter. Group delay indicates how long it takes for each frequency to reach their maximum amplitude. This is a monaural quality and can be perceived even with one ear.
When it matters: Headphones with lower group delay have more transparent imaging and a tighter bass. Headphones with higher group delay in the bass range tend to have a wimpy and loose bass, and headphones with higher group delay in the treble range tend to have a less transparent imaging.
Good value: <0.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.23
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
What it is: The Left/Right balance of our test unit, that is, the amount of amplitude difference between the left and right drivers. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When a properly balanced stereo image and low manufacturing tolerance is desired. A poor score indicates a noticeable difference in level between the left and right drivers.
Good value: <1.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
1.86
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the frequency response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance, is desired. A poor score indicates there may be 'holes' in the stereo image at certain frequencies.
Good value: <2
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
1.77
Weighted Phase Mismatch
What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the phase response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance is desired. A poor score indicates there may be inaccuracies in the stereo image reproduction at certain frequencies.
Good value: <16
Noticeable difference: 3
:
8.26

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.

4.1 Soundstage
What it is: Soundstage qualities are not inherent to the audio content, the headphones have to 'create' them rather than 'reproduce' them. They determine whether the sound is perceived to be coming from inside or in front of the head, how open and spacious the soundstage is, how much the headphones acoustically interact with the environment, and how strong the phantom center is.
When it matters: When an accurately produced, large and spacious soundstage, similar to that of a stereo loudspeaker setup is desired.
Sony WH-1000XM3 PRTF
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
What it is: The standard deviation of the PRTF (Pinna-related transfer function) of the headphones compared to a reference loudspeaker's PRTF at 30°. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: An accurate pinna activation is mainly responsible for how natural and speaker-like the soundstage is perceived to be. The less error in the shape of the PRTF, the more natrual and speaker-like the perception of the soundstage will be. High amounts of error may indicate a soundstage that is unnatural or odd.
Good value: <2.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
2.68 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
What it is: The average amplitude of the PRTF (Pinna-related transfer function) of the headphones compared to that of a reference loudspeaker's PRTF at 30°. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: This value is responsible for the perceived size of the soundstage. The higher the value, the larger the perceived size of the soundstage. However, values above the reference (5.0dB) could result in a soundstage that is perceived as unnatural or odd.
Good value: >3.7
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
9.23 dB
PRTF Distance
What it is: The depth of the "10KHz notch" of the headphone's PRTF, which is caused by phase cancellations at the concha. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: This value is mainly responsible for the perceived distance and elevation of the soundstage. A small distance value may result in a soundstage that is perceived to be located inside the head. Larger values may help pull the soundstage out from inside of the head and bring it to the front.
Good value: >13
Noticeable difference: 1
:
5.13 dB
Openness
What it is: How open the headphones are, and how open and spacious they sound. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test differentiates between acoustically and electronically produced crosstalk and only takes the acoustically generated crosstalk into account. This value is the inverse of the Noise Isolation test score, and could be indirectly related the acoustic impedance of the headphones.
When it matters: When a headphone with a sense of an open, and spacious soundstage is desired. A value of 10 indicates a fully open headphone, and a value of 0 indicates a fully closed headphone.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
1.2
Acoustic Space Excitation
What it is: How loud the headphones are, and how much they excite their environment acoustically. If the headphones are loud and open enough, the sound leaking from the headphones will be affected by the environment (reflections/reverb) before reflecting back into the open headphones and to the listener's ears. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This value is the inverse of the Leakage test score.
When it matters: Headphones with higher excitation values, similar to openness, tend to have soundstages that are perceived as more open and spacious.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
2.9
Correlated Crosstalk
What it is: How strong and solid the phantom center is. This is mostly a stereo quality and its effects on mono content are minimal. This test is sensitive to the phase of the crosstalk and whether it is produced acoustically or electronically.
When it matters: When a true reproduction of the stereo image is desired. A value of 0 indicates no crosstalk, or that the existing crosstalk is not correlated enough to affect the phantom center. A negative score means the crosstalk is out of phase with the original signal, resulting in a slightly wider stereo image at the expense of creating a 'hole' at the center of the stereo field. A positive score means the crosstalk is in phase and positively affecting the phantom center.
Good value: >1dB
Noticeable difference: 0.3dB
:
0.0 dB

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.

6.9 Total Harmonic Distortion
What it is: The subtle, unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Score components:
Sony WH-1000XM3 Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 90dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at moderate listening levels.
Good value: <0.100
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
2.662
Weighted THD @ 100
What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 100dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at loud listening levels.
Good value: <0.300
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
10.806

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.

8.4

Isolation

Score components:

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.

8.8 Noise Isolation
What it is: How much outside noise is blocked out by putting the headphones on.
When it matters: If the headphones are going to be used in a noisy envinronment (airplane, subway, etc.)
Score components:
Sony WH-1000XM3 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
What it is: The simulated noise isolation of the headphones, demonstrating how much outside noise is blocked out by putting the headphones on. This recording is created using an EQ and is not an actual recording. For headphones with ANC (active noise cancellation), the playback simulates the isolation with ANC enabled.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used in a noisy envinronment (airplane, subway, etc.)
:
Overall Attenuation
What it is: The overall amount of environmental noise reduction in dB.
When it matters: In loud envinronments like planes, trains, offices, etc.
Good value: <-20dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-29.9 dB
Bass
What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the bass range (20Hz-250Hz).
When it matters: When the outside noise is bass-heavy, like in airplanes.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-23.03 dB
Mid
What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the mid-range (250Hz-2.5KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is mid-heavy, like in an office.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-27.24 dB
Treble
What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the treble range (2.5KHz-20KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is treble-heavy. Although uncommon, areas with sharp sounds fall under this category.
Good value: <-30dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-39.7 dB
Self-Noise
What it is: The amount of noise created by the active electronics of the headphones (if applicable), measured from 300Hz-20KHz. Applies mostly to wireless and noise-cancelling headphones.
When it matters: If too loud, it could become distracting when listening to quiet material like podcasts and audiobooks.
Good value: <16dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
21.34 dB

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.

7.5 Leakage
What it is: The amount of sound bleeding out of the headphones.
When it matters: When the listener doesn't want people around them (in office, recording studio, etc.) to hear what is being listened to.
Score components:
Sony WH-1000XM3 Leakage
Leakage Audio
What it is: The simulated sound leakage heard 1 foot away from the user, while the user is listening to a 100dB SPL signal. This recording is created using an EQ and is not an actual recording.
When it matters: When you don't want people hear what you are listening to.
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
What it is: The amount of sound leakage heard 1 foot away from the user, while the user is listening to a 100dB SPL signal.
When it matters: When you don't want people hear what you are listening to.
Good value: <35dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
37.09 dB

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.

6.5

Microphone

What it is: The microphone section shows the quality of speech capture and transmission by the mic, as well as how well the microphone under test handles noisy environments.
When it matters: For your speech to be transmitted to and understood properly by the listener, the microphone needs to have a good recording quality. If the environment the microphone is being used in is noisy, a microphone with a good noise handling performance would be needed as well.
Score components:
Integrated
What it is: The microphone integrated in the ear cup or ear bud of a wireless headphone.
When it matters: For calls, gaming and voice over IP software or for any other use of the microphone.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
In-line
What it is: The microphone inside the in-line remote of audio cables for wired and wireless headsets.
When it matters: In-line microphone are usually better than integrated mics. If you need better recording quality and noise handling for calls, gaming and voice over IP software then use the audio cable of your wired or wireless headphone if it has an inline microphone.
Good value: Yes
:
No
Boom
What it is: A typically better microphone, that's also adjustable and extends so that the mic is closer to your mouth.
When it matters: Much better recording quality and noise handling than in-line or integrated mics. Primarily used for gaming and voice over IP software.
Good value: Yes
:
No
Detachable Boom
What it is: A boom mic that is detachable from the headset.
When it matters: If you want to use your headphone outdoors without the bulk and hassle of the Boom mic.
:
N/A

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.

6.2 Recording Quality
What it is: Microphone recording quality shows how natural, neutral, extended and intelligible speech would be with the device under test, in a quiet environment.
When it matters: A microphone with a good recording quality ensures that the person listening to you would hear a full, clear, and easily understandable speech. Therefore, it is important whenever a good quality of speech transmission and intelligibility is needed.
Score components:
Sony WH-1000XM3 Microphone Frequency Response
Recorded Speech
What it is: Actual audio recording of the headphone's microphone, recorded while placed on the dummy head, with speech being played back through the dummy head's mouth simulator.
When it matters: When a clean, full, and intelligible speech transmission is required.
:
LFE
What it is: Low-frequency extension shows how deep the bass response of the microphone is, and therefore, how deep and full your voice would sound to the listener. It is the lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: LFE is not a big factor in speech intelligibility and even speech recorded with a mic that has an LFE of 500Hz could still be easily understood. Therefore, it is mostly important if you are concerned with how deep and full your voice would be heard.
Good value: <150Hz
Noticeable difference: 30Hz
:
226.27 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
What it is: Frequency Response Standard Deviation shows how accurately and balanced sound is captured by the microphone at each frequency. FR Std. Dev. is calculated between LFE and HFE, and the rest of the spectrum is ignored.
When it matters: A good frequency response is desired when a natural and neutral speech quality is desired. As opposed to HFE which is more a metric for speech intelligibility, frequency response could be considered as a metric for a natural and neutral sound.
Good value: >3.5dB
Noticeable difference: 0.5dB
:
3.72 dB
HFE
What it is: High-frequency extension is the highest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response. It shows how extended the treble response of the microphone is.
When it matters: HFE is one the most important factors in speech intelligibility. The higher the HFE, the brighter, more open, and more extended the speech quality will be which makes it a lot easier to understand by the listener.
Good value: >8KHz
Noticeable difference: 1KHz
:
3044.37 Hz
Weighted THD
What it is: The unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies, which cause deformation of an output signal compared to its input.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Good value: <1.5
Noticeable difference: 1.0
:
27.163
Gain
What it is: Shows how much louder the microphone can go above our reference loudness level. The gain value is reported relative to our reference level, which is 94dB at a distance of 5cm from the mouth.
When it matters: A microphone with a high gain is important when the input signal (speech) is very quiet. For example when whispering, or talking on the phone in a library.
Good value: >18dB
Noticeable difference: 3dB
:
29.59 dB

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.

6.9 Noise Handling
What it is: How well the microphone is able to separate speech from background noise, so that the transmission would include more voice and less noise.
When it matters: When a clean and intelligible speech transmission is desired in a noisy situation like talking on the phone on a busy street or on the bus.
Score components:
Sony WH-1000XM3 SpNR
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
What it is: Speech to Noise Ratio is the difference in level between speech and background noise as heard by the listener
When it matters: If the microphone is going to be used in a noisy environment, it is important for it to be able to separate the speech from background noise, so the voice would be easily audible and understandable.
Good value: >24dB
Noticeable difference: 3dB
:
19.65 dB

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.

8.2

Active Features

What it is: Headphones with active components that require a battery. This includes noise cancelling and wireless headphones that actively reduce noise or transmit audio via a wireless connection.
When it matters: How suitable the power and wireless specifications of an active headphone will be, depending on your listening habits. The range and/or discharge time of the active headphone you select will be important if you're often on the move or have long uninterrupted listening sessions.
Score components:

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.

8.2 Battery
What it is: The power source of your headphones. All headphones with active features have a battery that will deplete over time.
When it matters: To continue using the active features of your headphones. Some models lose features or switch off completely when the battery is drained, which limits what you can do with them until the next charge.
Battery Type
What it is: The type of battery that the headphones use. Usually AAA or embedded, Li-ion rechargeable batteries.
When it matters: When your headphones run out of power. Rechargeable batteries usually charge via the headphones Micro-USB port whereas AAA batteries have to be replaced or charged with an external device.
:
Rechargable
Battery Life
What it is: The amount of time it takes for a headphones' battery to be completely drained. Battery life will vary depending on the active features used and volume level.
When it matters: For active headphones that connect wirelessly, have noise cancellation or other audio-enhancing features, that cease to work once the battery is dead.
Good value: >10hrs
Noticeable difference: 0.5hrs
:
27 hrs
Charge Time
What it is: The amount of time your active headphones have to be connected to a power source to charge from 0 to a 100%. However, charging time will vary depending on your power source.
When it matters: To be able to use the active features of your headphones. Especially, wireless ones that completely switch off and need to be recharged when the battery is dead.
Good value: 2h or less
Noticeable difference: 0.25h
:
2.2 hrs
Power Saving Feature
What it is: A feature that turns off the headphones, after a set time, when they're not in use.
When it matters: To prolong battery life when the headphones are not being used, or if you forget to manually turn off your headphones.
:
Auto-Off Timer
Audio while charging
What it is: Some active headphones remain usable while charging. They continue to stream audio and do not disable other active features.
When it matters: This makes sure that your headphones's battery are not being drained when your relatively close to a power source. However, this means wireless headphones will need a wired connection to the power source during the charging process.
:
No
Passive Playback
What it is: Active headphones that still work when all their active features are turned off or out of power.
When it matters: If you run out of power and do not have spare AA/AAA batteries or access to a power source to recharge your headphones.
:
Yes

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.

8.5 App Support
What it is: The additional app provided to enhance your listening experience. They typically deliver a set of practical features that give you more control over the sound, noise cancelling and effects that the headphones produce.
When it matters: An app with a lot of features allows you to customize your listening experience to suit your taste and preferences. For example, additions like an equalizer can give you more bass or treble and room effects can simulate a bigger Soundstage in closed back headphones.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Sony WH-1000XM3 App Picture
App Name : Sony| Headphones Connect
iOS : Yes
Android : Yes
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
What it is: Parametric, graphic or preset sound profiles that slightly alter the frequency response.
When it matters: If you want to tailor, your listening experience. Depending on what you're listening to you may want more or less bass for some tracks or more mid-range for vocals-heavy audio.
:
Parametric + Presets
ANC control
What it is: Control over the Active noise canceling technology. This could be either a simple on/off button, and adjustable slider or even adaptive self-regulating noise cancellation.
When it matters: If you're in an environment where you need to monitor your surroundings or completely isolate yourself from ambient noise.
:
Adjustable
Mic Control : No
Room effects
What it is: Room effects that enhance the audio quality to make it more immersive.
When it matters: If you want to further tweak your listening experience. Adding room effects, can simulate a more spacious Soundstage or deliver a surround sound-like feel.
:
Yes
Playback control
What it is: An in-app player that gives you access to play/stop, track skipping or volume controls directly with the app.
When it matters: It's a shortcut that allows you to control your audio without leaving the application.
:
Yes
Button Mapping : Yes
Surround Sound : N/A

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.

5.6

Connectivity

What it is: The inputs and outputs of wired and wireless headphones, as well as their latency performance and range.
When it matters: To know how compatible your Bluetooth device, console or PC will be with your wired or wireless headset.
Score components:
  • 10% Bluetooth
  • 33% Wired
  • 10% Base/Dock
  • 22% Wireless Range
  • 25% Latency

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.

8.0 Bluetooth
What it is: Bluetooth support for wireless headphones.
When it matters: To connect wirelessly to Bluetooth sources like your phone, tablet, console, PC and TV.
Score components:
  • 80% Multi-Device Pairing
  • 20% NFC
  • <1% PS4 Compatible
  • <1% Xbox One Compatible
Bluetooth Version : 4.2
Multi-Device Pairing
What it is: A Bluetooth profile that allows some headphones to be simultaneously connected to multiple Bluetooth sources, and have full call and media support on both/all devices they are connected to.
When it matters: To quickly switch between your Bluetooth sources. For example, switching from your phone to your home or work PC and still have call and media support on both devices.
Good value: 2 devices.
:
No
NFC
What it is: Near Field Communication technology that allows you to quickly, pair your headphones with your Bluetooth and NFC-enabled device.
When it matters: This makes pairing with an NFC-enabled device a lot easier than the typical and often tedious hold-to-pair procedure that most wireless headphones have.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
PS4 Compatible
What it is: Bluetooth compatibility with the PlayStation 4.
When it matters: To connect your headphones wirelessly with your PS4.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
No
Xbox One Compatible
What it is: Bluetooth compatibility with the Xbox One.
When it matters: To connect your headphones wirelessly with your Xbox one.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
No

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.

7.2 Wired
What it is: The type and compatibility of audio cables for wired and wireless headphones.
When it matters: For all devices with a regular audio jack (line-out) and also compatibility of the in-line remote/boom microphone with consoles and Personal computers.
Score components:
  • 13% Analog
  • 9% USB
  • 26% PS4 Compatible
  • 26% Xbox One Compatible
  • 26% PC Compatible
Cable Tested : Not OS specific
Analog
What it is: A regular 1/8" TRS audio jack or a 1/4 or 1/16 TRS with a 1/8 TRS adapter.
When it matters: For all devices with a line out.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
USB
What it is: A USB or USB adapter to connect to your devices for audio and microphone.
When it matters: A digital USB adapter usually offers a slight advantages over a regular audio jack, like a DAC, and amplifier module or software support and compatibility with PCs. However it may not be as compatible with consoles.
Good value: Yes
:
No
PS4 Compatible
What it is: PS4 compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your PS4
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio Only
Xbox One Compatible
What it is: Xbox One compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your Xbox One
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio Only
PC Compatible
What it is: PC compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your PC.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio Only

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.

0 Base/Dock
What it is: The base station, dock or dongle transmitter of wireless headphones that receive data/audio via a proprietary frequency range.
When it matters: Knowing the inputs and outputs of the base/dock/dongle as well as its compatibility with consoles and Personal Computers. Also whether the base supports dock charging to easily recharge the headphones without any cables.
Score components:
  • 5% Optical Input
  • 22% Line In
  • 5% Line Out
  • 22% USB Input
  • 4% RCA Input
  • 9% PS4 Compatible
  • 9% Xbox One Compatible
  • 9% PC Compatible
  • 2% Power Supply
  • 13% Dock Charging
Wireless Type
What it is: The type of wireless connection used by the base station/dock to communicate with the headphones.
When it matters: For latency and range. For example Radio frequency has low latency but mediocre range when obstructed and proprietary docks have their own 2.x GHz or 5 GHz frequency which varies in performance.
:
N/A
Optical Input
What it is: Optical input for audio.
When it matters: Optical can carry a bit more data at faster speeds than typical wired connection which allows for more high quality, lossless audio.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
Line In
What it is: The regular wired input via a 1/8" TRS audio jack.
When it matters: For any device that has a line out for audio transmission.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
Line Out
What it is: A regular 1/8TRS audio jack output.
When it matters: If you need to share the audio source with other devices. A line out lets you connect other headphones or speakers to the dock/base station.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
USB Input
What it is: A digital USB input instead of a typical 1/8 TRS line-in.
When it matters: A USB connection can provide both an audio input and power to the Dock or Base station.
:
N/A
RCA Input
What it is: Audio input using via an RCA connectors.
When it matters: Provides better stereo audio to the dock/base that's then transmitted to the headphones.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with the PlayStation 4.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with the Xbox One.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
:
N/A
PC Compatible
What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with your Personal Computer.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
Power Supply
What it is: The connector type of the power source.
When it matters: The accessibility of the power source. For example a power supply with USB/USB-C connects to multiple devices, PC , PS4, Xbox One or even with your regular phone charger whereas a A/C adapter is less common.
Good value: USB/USB-C
:
N/A
Dock Charging
What it is: Charging the headphones via the dock/base station instead of a charging cable.
When it matters: It makes charging your headphones easier and gives you a sport to store your headphones when they are not in use.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A

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.

9.1 Wireless Range
What it is: Headphones that offer a cable-free listening experience over a wireless network, typically via Bluetooth or radio frequency.
When it matters: If you don't want to be limited by the length of an audio cable. This means having the freedom to move around in your home or office with a much greater range than an audio cable could provide, especially, if the Bluetooth source is heavy or difficult to carry.
Score components:
Obstructed Range
What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when the Bluetooth source was placed in another room.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in an indoor environment. Although, the obstructed wireless range will slightly depend on your home or office layout.
Good value: >35ft
Noticeable difference: 5ft
:
53 ft
Line of Sight Range
What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when in direct line of sight of the Bluetooth device.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in a large and open environment.
Good value: 170ft or more
Noticeable difference: 10ft
:
185 ft

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.

1.6 Latency
What it is: How long it takes for audio to play through your headphones once the audio signal has been sent from a source.
When it matters: When gaming or watching movies. High latency means you will hear the audio much later than the images you see on screen.
Score components:
Default Latency
What it is: The Base RF latency or the default sub-band coding (SBC) of most Bluetooth headphones.
When it matters: When watching videos a high latency can cause sync issues between the images you see and the audio you hear.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15ms
:
224 ms
aptX Latency
What it is: An audio coding algorithm (Codec) that improves bit rate efficiency. It reduces latency and improves sound quality over Bluetooth.
When it matters: For better sound quality if your often streaming music over Bluetooth. Also it slightly improves latency when watching videos with wireless headphones.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15ms
:
200 ms

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.

In the box

Sony WH-1000XM3 In the box Picture

  • Sony WH-1000XM3 Headphones
  • Audio cable
  • USB-C cable
  • Airline adapter
  • Manuals
  • Carrying case

Compared to other Headphones

Sony WH-1000XM3 Compare Picture

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.

Sony WH-1000XM2

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.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

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.

Sony WH-H900N

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.

Bowers & Wilkins PX

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.

AKG N700NC

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.

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Conclusion

7.3Mixed Usage
What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
Decent for mixed usage. The Sony WH-1000XM3 are versatile wireless over-ears with a lot of features and customization options. They're a bit more comfortable than the WH-1000XM2 and have one of the best ANC that we've measured so far. They also do not leak much at higher volumes, which makes them suitable for most environments. They have a sleek design, with easy-to-use touch-sensitive controls, an excellent battery life with power saving features, and a great wireless range that suitable for fixed and mobile Bluetooth sources like your PC, TV, and phone. They sound decently well balanced and come with a great EQ so you can customize them a bit more than the similarly designed Bose QuietComfort 35 II. Unfortunately, they have a bit too much latency for watching videos and gaming, and they're also a bit too bulky to be the best option for sports, which is to be expected since they are not made for that specific use case.
7.2Critical Listening
What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
Above-average for critical listening. The Sony WH1000XM3 are comfortable to wear for long listening sessions and have a decently well-balanced sound that delivers a lot of bass, and sound good with instruments and vocals. Unfortunately, high-bass is slightly overemphasized, which tends to make them sound a bit boomy. Their treble range is also slightly lacking which gives them a slightly dark sound overall, but on the upside, they come with a pretty good EQ so if you want to tone down the bass, you can do that via the app. They will sound good for most listeners, but since they do not have the most spacious of soundstage, they may not be the ideal choice for more critical listeners. Also, our sound tests do not yet take into account LDAC and aptX HD.
7.8Commute/Travel
What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
Great for commuting. The Sony 1000XM3 have one of the best isolation we've measured and should block the ambient noise of most commutes and noisy environments, especially if you have a bit of music playing in the background. They also have easy-to-use controls and a long 27-hour battery life that should be more than enough for long flights and most commutes.
7.2Sports/Fitness
What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
Decent for sports use. They have a comfortable wireless design and a good control scheme. Unfortunately, like most closed back over-ears, they won't be the most breathable headphones for sports and they're a bit bulky which makes them slightly unstable when running and working out.
7.7Office
What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
Good for office use. The WH-1000XM3 have excellent noise-cancellation, they're comfortable and do not leak as much as some of the other wireless over-ears we've tested making them a good choice for the office.
5.8TV
Score components:
Mediocre-at-best home theater use. They're comfortable headphones that you can wear for hours, but unfortunately, they have too much latency for watching a lot of videos and movies. On the upside, they come with a regular audio cable and have no latency when used wired. However, the cable is fairly short and will not be ideal for all home theater setups unless you have an Aux extension cord.
5.4Gaming
Score components:
Below-average for gaming. They Sony WH1000XM3 are comfortable, have a decent sound with a lot of bass, and a great wireless range. Unfortunately, they have a bit too much latency for gaming, their mic is average at best and they will not work with your consoles via Bluetooth. On the upside, they do have a simple audio cable that you can plug into your console controllers for audio.

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