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Reviewed on Sep 17, 2018

Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless
HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
7.2
Mixed Usage
7.2
Critical Listening
7.7
Commute/Travel
7.1
Sports/Fitness
7.7
Office
5.8
TV
5.4
Gaming
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.

Pros
  • Comfortable and premium looking design.
  • Great active features and app support.
  • Excellent noise cancellation.
Cons
  • Poor latency for watching videos.
  • Slightly bulky design.

Test Results
Design 7.5
Sound 7.1
Isolation 8.4
Microphone 6.5
Active Features 7.3
Connectivity 5.6
Update 8/2/2019: We've updated the Power saving feature score as it turns out the auto-off timer of these headphones is only triggered when they are disconnected from their source rather than when being inactive for a while.
Update 3/11/2019: We've updated the Noise Isolation text with a re-test of the XM3's ANC, after the 4.1.1 update.

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7.5

Design

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: 11/21/2018: 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

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
Weight : 0.6 lbs
Clamping Force
:
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, the XM3 and the WH-XB900N 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
Ease of use : Good
Feedback : Decent
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
:
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 Assistant via the app, which is a plus. Overall, the touch-sensitive control scheme of the XM3 is good but not as great as that of the Microsoft Surface Headphones which blends touch and physical controls a lot better than the Sonys.

Update: 11/21/2018: 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
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
L : 4.9 "
W : 5.2 "
H : 3 "
Volume : 76 Cu. Inches
Transmitter 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
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

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 or the Audio-Technica ATH-DSR9BT.

7.0 Stability

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
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.

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Headshots 1
Headshots 2
7.1

Sound

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
Std. Err.
:
3.53 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
10 Hz
Low-Bass
:
4.12 dB
Mid-Bass
:
4.25 dB
High-Bass
:
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
Std. Err.
:
1.29 dB
Low-Mid
:
-0.38 dB
Mid-Mid
:
-0.72 dB
High-Mid
:
-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
Std. Err.
:
4.17 dB
Low-Treble
:
-2.2 dB
Mid-Treble
:
-0.83 dB
High-Treble
:
-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.

8.3 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
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
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.23
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
1.86
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
1.77
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
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
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
2.68 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
9.23 dB
PRTF Distance
:
5.13 dB
Openness
:
1.2
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
2.9
Correlated Crosstalk
:
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
Weighted THD @ 90
:
2.662
Weighted THD @ 100
:
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

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
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-29.9 dB
Bass
:
-23.03 dB
Mid
:
-27.24 dB
Treble
:
-39.7 dB
Self-Noise
:
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 700 Headphones, the Sony perform slightly better, but their difference is ANC performance is smaller than their difference in other categories like sound quality and comfort.

Update: 03/11/2019: Some users have been experiencing a reduction in noise canceling performance after the 4.1.1 update. We have re-tested our WH-1000XM3, but from our measurements, it doesn't seem like there is a noticeable difference in the noise canceling efficiency. You can check out the results for yourself here . However, we may have gotten lucky with our unit, since the consensus online seems pretty mixed on this issue. You can participate in the discussion thread below if you''re also experiencing this issue.

7.5 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
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

Integrated
:
Yes
In-line
:
No
Boom
:
No
Detachable Boom
:
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
Recorded Speech
:
LFE
:
226.27 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
:
3.72 dB
HFE
:
3044.37 Hz
Weighted THD
:
27.163
Gain
:
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. For Bluetooth headphones with a better performing microphone, take a look at the Jabra Elite 85h.

6.9 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
:
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.

7.3

Active Features

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.

7.2 Battery
Battery Type
:
Rechargable
Battery Life
:
27 hrs
Charge Time
:
2.2 hrs
Power Saving Feature
:
No
Audio while charging
:
No
Passive Playback
:
Yes

Update: 08/02/2019: The auto-off timer of these headphones only triggers when being disconnected from their source rather than when no content is playing. We don't consider this to be a feature that prolongs the battery life as you could put the headphones down on your desk and they could still be connected to your PC or phone that is near, and drain out. The review and text have been updated. The Sony WH1000XM3 have an improved battery performance over the WH-1000XM2. They had about 27 hours of continuous playtime with ANC enabled. Unfortunately, they don't have a true smart auto-off timer. They would need to be disconnected from a source to automatically turn off, but you can at least set that timer in their app. The new improved battery 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
App Name : Sony| Headphones Connect
iOS : Yes
Android : Yes
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
:
Graphic + Presets
ANC control
:
Adjustable
Mic Control : No
Room effects
:
Yes
Playback control
:
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 graphic 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.

Update: 01/23/2019: Firmware update to version 4.1.0 adds Alexa support for the WH-1000XM3 and also support for voice prompts and notifications in different languages. You can also disable the voice prompts/notifications, but you will still get audio cues for more important messages like, power on and off, low battery and pairing.

5.6

Connectivity

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
Bluetooth Version
:
4.2
Multi-Device Pairing
:
No
NFC Pairing
:
Yes

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: 09/17/2018: 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
OS Compatibility
:
Not OS specific
Analog Audio
:
Yes
USB Audio
:
No
PS4 Compatible
:
Audio Only
Xbox One Compatible
:
Audio Only
PC Compatible
:
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
Type
:
N/A
Optical Input
:
N/A
Line In
:
N/A
Line Out
:
N/A
USB Input
:
N/A
RCA Input
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
:
N/A
PC Compatible
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
N/A
Dock Charging
:
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 2019 Edition by SteelSeries.

9.1 Wireless Range
Obstructed Range
:
53 ft
Line of Sight Range
:
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
Default Latency
:
224 ms
aptX Latency
:
200 ms
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

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 Headphones
  • Audio cable
  • USB-C cable
  • Airline adapter
  • Manuals
  • Carrying case

Compared to other Headphones

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are one of the best noise canceling headphones and best headphones for music 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. See our recommendations for the best closed-back headphones and the best travel headphones.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018

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 cancelling options and optimization, an in-app player, 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-CH700N Wireless

The Sony WH-1000XM3s are more versatile headphones than the Sony WH-CH700N, thanks to their great noise cancelling feature. Even if the WH-CH700N are also noise cancelling, their isolation performance is sub-par and the feature barely does anything. The XM3s will be a better option for commuting and at the office, but their default sound profile might be a bit bass-heavy for more neutral critical listeners. If you care about sound fidelity, then the CH-700N might be a better option. They also have a longer battery life, but take a long 6 hours to charge fully. On the other hand, the XM3s are slightly more comfortable and have a nice touch-sensitive control scheme. They also feel more premium, but are significantly more expensive.

Sony WH-H900N/h.ear on 2 Wireless

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are a much better noise cancelling headset 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 better noise cancelling performance that makes them a much better choice for your commutes. They're also a lot more customizable. They 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.

Sony WH-1000XM2 Wireless

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 700 Headphones

The Bose 700 Headphones and the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless are both good wireless noise cancelling headsets that share a few similarities. Both are comfortable, feel well-built, and have touch-sensitive controls wrapped up in a sleek monochromatic design. The XM3 are easier to use, though, since the touch-sensitive surface is larger and can fold up into a more portable format. Both headphones have a more bass-heavy sound profile, but fans of customization are more likely to prefer the Sonys due to their compatibility with the highly customizable Sony | Headphones Connect app. That said, the Bose NC 700 have a vastly superior integrated microphone and even feature a mic mute button, which makes them slightly better for business users.

Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are a slightly better noise cancelling headset than the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless. The Sonys have a more premium, high-end build quality and offer better noise isolation for traveling and commuting in noisy conditions. The Sonys are also a bit more comfortable than the Sennheisers. On the other hand, the PXC 550 Wireless have more connection options, making them a great choice if you have a lot of devices that you typically use your headphones with. The PXC 550 Wireless also give you a bit more control over their active features, and they sound a bit better with their default sound profile although both headphones can be EQed fairly easily thanks to their respective apps.

Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are slightly better wireless noise cancelling headphones than the Bowers & 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 cancelling 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.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT

The Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless are better headphones than the Audio Technica ATH-M50xBT. They have a great noise cancelling feature that is suitable for loud environments like your daily commute, and they are also more comfortable to wear for long periods of time. They also feel better-built than the M50xBT and their sound profile can easily be EQ’ed inside their app, which the M50xBT don’t have. You’ll also get more battery life out of the Sonys. On the other hand, the M50xBT have a better default sound profile right out-of-the-box and some may prefer their physical button control scheme to the touch-sensitive one of the XM3.

Sony WH-XB900N Wireless

The Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless are better headphones than the Sony WH-XB900N. They feel like more premium headphones and most importantly, their ANC feature is way better, which makes them more versatile and a better option for commuting. Their sound is also less bass-heavy, but you can EQ both headphones in their app to make them sound more like you prefer. On the other hand, the XB900N have better obstructed range and they also have remarkable battery life. They are overall very similar headphones, but the XM3 will offer better value.

Jabra Elite 85h Wireless

Both the Jabra Elite 85h and Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless are very versatile ANC headphones. The Jabras have a better control scheme with physical controls, and their default sound profile is more accurate and better sounding. However, they don’t have the great noise isolation performance of the Sonys. Since you can easily EQ the XM3 in their app, they could be the best option for most. On the other hand, the mic of the Jabra is superior and sounds clearer and fuller, which is better for calls.

AKG N700NC Wireless

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are better noise cancelling headphones than the AKG N700NC. They have a more sturdy and more comfortable build, on top of having amazing noise cancelling 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.

Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Wireless 2016

The Sony WH-1000XM3 and Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 are both good mixed usage headphones, but each have their own positive points. The Sony have better noise isolation performance, while the BackBeat Pro 2 have a better out-of-the-box sound quality. However, Sony have a great companion app that has an EQ. The WH-1000XM3 are slightly better-built and feel more comfortable for most. On the other hand, the BackBeat Pro 2 support lower latency codecs and can be used with minimal wireless latency with the appropriate dongle. Also, the Sonys have a touch-sensitive control scheme, while the BackBeat Pro 2 have physical buttons.

B&O PLAY Beoplay H9i Wireless

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are more versatile headphones than the B&O PLAY H9i. Their noise isolation performance is better and they will be better-suited for commuting. Also, the Sony companion app is great and offers tons of controls and customization options. Additionally, the cups of the XM3 are wider and should suit more ear sizes and shapes. On the other hand, the H9i has lower latency and feel like more high-end headphones.

Astro A40 TR Headset + MixAmp Pro 2017

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are better headphones for mixed use than the Astro A40 TR Headset + MixAmp Pro 2017, but the Astros will be a noticeably better pick for gaming due to their great dock and great sounding microphone. The XM3 will be better for every day use as their ANC will block out ambient noise, and they are a great option for commuting or to use at the office. They can be used for single player games if used wired, which makes them a decent option for some games, but won’t be the best for multiplayer games. On the other hand, the Astro are open-back, which means they won’t be a good option for outside use.

Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are better headphones than the Microsoft Surface Headphones. They are better-built headphones that have a better sound quality and ANC features. Overall, the XM3s are more versatile and more customizable thanks to the great companion app. On the other hand, the Surface Headphones have a better and more complete control scheme, and they have amazing wireless range performance that maxed out our testing facility. Being about the same price, we suggest getting the XM3 over the Surface Headphones.

Dolby Dimension Wireless

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are more versatile headphones than the Dolby Dimension. Their isolation performance is noticeably better, and they have a better audio reproduction, on top of having customization options inside their great app. They are slightly less comfortable and well-built than the Dimension, but most people should be satisfied with the Sonys. They can also be used wired, even if the battery is dead, which you can’t do with the Dimension. On the other hand, the Dolby have virtualization and head tracking features that the XM3s don’t have, and they support aptX-LL for watching video content.

Beats Studio 3 Wireless

The Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless are better headphones than the Beats Studio 3 Wireless. They feel slightly more premium and sound a bit more neutral, but with a small excess in thump and rumble. Additionally, you can customize their sound to your liking easily inside the Sony app, which Beats is lacking. The ANC of the XM3 is also noticeably better and will block out more ambient noise. On the other hand, the only place where the Beats is a better choice over the Sony is that their audio cable has an in-line mic and the Sonys don’t. They also have physical buttons, which can be easier to use for some, especially since the touch-sensitive surface of the XM3s is practically unresponsive in freezing conditions.

Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC

The Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless are better headphones than the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC. Most notably, the XM3s' ANC is great and blocks more ambient noise than the HD 4.50 BTNC. Their overall audio reproduction is better, but with a slightly overemphasized bass, which can be EQ’ed inside their great app. The XM3 are also more comfortable and better-built than the Sennheiser HD 4.50. On the other hand, the HD 4.50 have a full parametric EQ, can connect to two devices simultaneously, and have slightly lower latency. Some may also prefer their control scheme with physical buttons over the touch-sensitive surface of the WH-1000XM3, which has trouble working appropriately in colder temperatures.

Skullcandy Crusher 360 Wireless

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are better and more versatile headphones than the Skullcandy Crusher 360 Wireless thanks to their great ANC feature. They also have a companion app that offers multiple controls and customization options that Skullcandy headphones don’t have. Additionally, the XM3s are more comfortable and better-built than the Crusher 360. On the other hand, the Crusher 360 have an in-line microphone that the Sonys lack, and their default sound profile is more accurate than the XM3’s.

Audio-Technica ATH-DSR9BT Wireless

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are better and more versatile headphones than the Audio-Technica ATH-DSR9BT. They have a great noise cancelling feature, are more comfortable, and have a great companion app that offers plenty of controls and customization options. While the ATH-DSR9BT have a better out-of-the-box sound profile, you can EQ the XM3 with their app to suit your preferences. The XM3 also have amazing battery life and can also be used wired with phones, which you can’t do with a normal 1/8” cable with the DSR9.

Jaybird X4 Wireless

The Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless will be more versatile headphones than the Jaybird X4 Wireless. These over-ears are very comfortable and their great ANC feature is great for commuting. They are well-built and also have a great app that lets you EQ their sound profile, just like the X4. However, the Sonys won’t be as portable or breathable as the Jaybird X4. If you’re looking for everyday headphones, the WH-1000XM3 are the better option, but for sports, go with the Jaybird X4.

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Conclusion

7.2 Mixed Usage
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.
7.2 Critical Listening
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.
7.7 Commute/Travel
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.
7.1 Sports/Fitness
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.
7.7 Office
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.
5.8 TV
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.
5.4 Gaming
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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