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Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Headphones review

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The XM4 is now available at a discount, making them a budget-friendly choice for people who want a great pair of headphones, but don’t have the money.

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  • Read our Sony WH-1000XM4 Review
  • Sony WH-1000XM3 at Adorama WW for US$159

Sony WH-1000XM3 release date and price

  • $349/PS300 / AU$499 at launched
  • There are often discounts
  • Published August 2018

The Sony WH1000XM3 was announced at , and went on sale August 2018.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 was the flagship headphones of the company before the XM4. These headphones are feature-rich as we have already mentioned and they will sound just like premium headphones.

They are a bit more costly than regular non-noise cancelling headphones because they offer so many features: $349 / PS300 / AU$499. They are often sold at a fraction of their original price, and often for a much lower price.

Design

  • Lighter than its predecessors
  • Bridge New padding
  • USB Type C port to charge
  • Touch controls

The Sony WH-1000XM3 has seen the most changes compared to the XM2. The headphones’ design is lighter and more comfortable than the previous model.

They are about one ounce lighter than their predecessors (22 grams). This may not seem like much, but it is important when you consider that these headphones will be worn for extended periods of time, such as a transcontinental flight.

Another design change is the flush fit, which replaces the padding at the bridge with something more cushiony. These over-ear headphones are more comfortable and less bulky when worn on the head. Sony has also changed the accents at the sides of the headphones to a copper tone and enlarged the earcup.

The Sony also replaced the microUSB port in the right earcup with a modern USB Type C charging port.

These headphones are still very minimalist, with only minor adjustments. This appeals to the business-class customers Sony is trying to reach.

The Sony WH1000XM3 comes in two colors – all black or gray-silver. Beyond the engraved Sony logo on each earcup they are completely nondescript. These headphones are comfortable and sound great, but not as flashy as Beats headphones.

The headset has only two buttons. They are located around the left earcup. One for Power/Bluetooth, and one to control the noise cancellation between its three settings: Ambient Mode, On and Off. Below the buttons is an auxiliary Jack, which can be mirrored on one earcup by the USB Type-C port used to charge headphones. The box contains a USB-to USB Type-C cable and a two-pronged adapter. It also includes a 3.5mm audio cable, a carrying case, and a hard case.

By pressing or swiping on the touch-capacitive cups, you can control music playback. To move forward, swipe right on the left earcup and swipe left to go back. Double-tapping is used to pause, and the same method can be used to resume your music. To turn the volume down, swipe down on your right earcup and to turn it up, swipe up.

Although it takes some time to get used to it, it becomes second nature after a week.

Performance

  • Strong Noise Cancellation
  • Quick Attention Mode
  • aptX, aptX HD support
  • Little difference in audio performance
  • Google Assistant integration
  • Higher call quality, but not great

You’re not buying noise-cancelling headphones to block out the ambient sounds. There was no better option in this arena than the 1000XM3 up until the XM4.

Sony has shown that the 1000XM3 is four times more effective in cancelling out noise than the 1000XM2, according to tests. This is a remarkable feat, considering the performance of the M2.

This claim proved to be true in practice when faced with low-frequency noises, such as those you might hear while riding a train, or flying in an airplane, and workplace environments that have higher frequencies like music or people talking. The WH-1000XM3 performed admirably in almost all situations. It reduced noise from a disturbingly loud hum or buzz to a more manageable level, sometimes even eliminating external noise altogether.

The 1000XM3 can also allow certain noises to be heard through the headphones, just like their predecessors. The Ambient Noise mode allows announcements to be made from train stations via the PA system. Quick Attention Mode allows for external audio to be piped in quickly without having to take off the headphones. This feature has been replicated in many headphones since the launch of XM3.

Although noise cancellation has seen some improvements, audio quality is still similar to the 1000XM2’s… which would have been even more disappointing if the M2 weren’t such an amazing pair of wireless headphones.

While the Sony WH-1000XM4 may sound a little better if you have an Android phone that supports the aptX HD standard they still sound great even on an iPhone. The mids sound clear, the highs are crisp and the bass can be heavy and slammed. These sounds shine best on devices that support the LDAC codec, such as a Sony Walkman. But they are not limited to these devices.

With a single tap, you can summon Alexa or Google Assistant. You can activate Voice Assistant for Siri on your iPhone by touching the touch sensitive earcups.

The 1000XM3’s call quality is the last aspect worth considering. The headphones were clear and heard clearly over several calls. However, our callers reported that the headset was a bit louder than if they had used the built-in microphone. The headphones have extra microphones that Sony has embedded in them.

These headphones can be used for occasional calls, but they are not recommended for office use. The 1000XM3 headset’s call quality is not as good as other headsets that are suitable for business.

Battery life

  • 30 hour battery life
  • Quick Charge mode
  • Auto-off mode via the app

How long can these headphones last without a charge? There are many factors that can affect the longevity of these headphones, but we did some testing and found that the average time was around 30 hours. The headphones lasted for four days, five hours per day, for four days. They didn’t require any recharges and ended up with around 30% of their original battery.

This is a comparison to the Bose QuickComfort 35 which can be used wirelessly for 10 hours and the Bose which can be used wired for 10 hours. It’s more than enough juice to get across the Atlantic to the UK if you travel from the West Coast of America.

If you run out of battery, the 1000XM3’s “Quick Charge” feature allows you to get up to 5 hours of playback in just 10 minutes. We tested that claim and found that the battery life went up from 30% to 50% in just 10 minutes. Claim verified.

If you wish to extend the life of your headphones, the Sony Headphones Connect App can be used to reduce the time for them to go to sleep. If you want to get every minute of their life, you can lower the default time to 15 minutes.

Final verdict

Sony’s XM3 headphones are another great pair of noise-cancelling headphones. The Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones are the latest in noise-cancelling headphones.

They’re still the best headphones available, even if they are a little too comfortable for the XM2s. However, they’re still the best headphones that you can buy almost three years after their release. Only the Sony WH-1100XM4 is better.

You could still save money by buying the Sony WH1000XM2 – they are almost as good, and even cheaper than before because of recent price drops.

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