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Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Headphones Review: The Sound of Silence

As an avid traveller who needs to get work done on the go, having a quality pair of noise-cancelling headphones is an everyday bag essential. My daily driver was the Sony WH-1000XM2 wireless headphones (2017), and it was my go-to when I simply wanted to unwind and drown everything else out.

First Impressions

Sony WH-1000XM3: First Impressions

The Sony WH-1000XM3 wireless noise-cancelling headphones immediately caught my eyes (and ears) at SITEX 2018’s Sony booth. I remember being amazed at the comfortable fit and the active noise cancellation when I first laid my hands on the headphones. It got me wondering: how much could Sony have improved with the new Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones – launched just one year (2018) after its previous model?

Aesthetics & Product Design

With the WH-1000XM3 headphones, Sony has once again proven that it has listened to the woes of the users of its flagship headphones. For one, the WH-1000XM3 has much stronger active noise cancellation and is significantly more comfortable in terms of the fit and weight when compared to its predecessor, the WH-1000XM2.

Sony WH-1000XM3: Comfort

With a deeper earcup and thicker headband cushion, the WH-1000XM3 headphones are more form-fitting, which feels a lot more secure when you are walking briskly between meetings with the WH-1000XM3.

Weighing at approximately 255g (20g lighter than its predecessor), the lighter weight makes for a more enjoyable experience for prolonged wear.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 is up to date with its connectors as it now comes with a USB C charging port, and the maximum battery life goes up to 38 hours with a short 2-hour charge. It also comes with an auxiliary audio jack with a sturdy 2.5mm audio cable for connecting to your mobile devices, as well as Bluetooth 4.2 with a range of over 20 metres indoors, providing the convenience of moving around the office with the headphones on – even with my phone left on the office desk. To keep all of these together, there is a sturdy travel case with a premium fabric finish, which is included in the product packaging.

Sony WH-1000XM3: Packaging

Located just above the tactile button for power, there is a function button that allows you to toggle between the different noise cancellation options: Ambient Sound, Ambient Sound Control, and Noise Cancelling. The function button can also be configured to a quick access button to trigger Google Assistant hands-free.

Audio Quality

With subtle improvements in the audio fidelity, the highs and mids sound are much more vibrant than its predecessor. The sound quality of the Sony WH-1000XM3 wireless headphones is impressive and makes it comparable to its close competitor, the Bose QC35 II wireless headphones.  Equipped with its Dual Noise Sensors technology, the noise cancellation achieved by the Sony WH-1000XM3 is remarkably superior to the Bose QC35 II.

Setup

Setup is a breeze with the Sony Headphones Connect app. Pairing the headphones is as easy as tapping my mobile device once on the left ear-cup, which contains an ‘NFC QuickConnect‘ tag. For devices without an NFC reader, such as laptops, a simple press-and-hold of the power button will allow the headphones to be discoverable via Bluetooth.

Exceptional Noise Cancellation Feature

Sony WH-1000XM3: Audio

The stronger active noise cancelling on the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones is attributed to Sony’s newly developed HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1. It makes use of Dual Noise Sensor technology, where it captures the ambient sound with the dual outward-facing microphones to achieve a high level of noise cancellation.

It is marketed as being approximately four times greater than the WH-1000XM2 headphones, and having tried both, I can attest that the improvement in noise cancellation is significant. The WH-1000XM3 headphones were a lifesaver during my overseas trip, when it effectively drowned out the sounds of crying babies and oncoming trains.

Quick Attention Mode

My favourite feature that is carried over from the WH-1000XM2 is the Quick Attention Mode: by simply placing your right hand on the right side of the WH-1000XM3 headphones, the headphones will lower the volume of what you are listening to and turn on the ambient sound. This allows you to listen to your immediate surroundings with just a simple gesture – a useful feature for quick conversations and for checking your surroundings for safety.

Adaptive Sound Control is also a neat feature on the mobile app that allows you to customise the mode and level of noise cancellation on the WH-1000XM3 headphones. This depends on your current physical activity, such as being stationary, or walking. My personal preference is turning on Active Noise Cancelling to the maximum during my daily commutes, and turning on the Ambient Sound Control when I am walking – just to be more self-aware and attentive of my surroundings.

Final Verdict

Sony WH-1000XM3: Final Verdict

The Sony WH-1000XM3 wireless noise-cancelling headphones is an audiophile’s dream. Not only is the audio fidelity phenomenal, but the high levels of noise cancellation and the convenience of enjoying music wirelessly without sacrificing the audio quality is a win for me.

If you own its predecessor like I do, the increased noise cancellation and improved audio quality is definitely worth the upgrade.

For more information on Sony’s products and services in Singapore, please visit http://www.sony.com.sg/.

Photos by Soloman Soh of the DANAMIC team.

Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones

$549
8.4

Price

6.0/10

Functionality

8.0/10

Comfort

8.0/10

Build Quality

10.0/10

Battery Life

10.0/10

Pros

  • Very comfortable to wear
  • Lighter than its predecessor
  • Strong battery life
  • Improved noise-cancelling

Cons

  • Comes with a premium price to match
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Benjamin Lau

Ben is the Technology Director for DANAMIC. He contributes stories related to the newest technology and home automation, as his key interests. If not, he can be found ice skating or on a mission to give scritches to corgis everywhere.

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