I’m not going to hide it, I’m a big fan of Sony’s headphones. I own the WH-1000XM2 (which I still use every chance I get) and LOVE it. It’s great in pretty much every aspect you can think of…except price. So, when the WH-1000XM3 was released, how could I turn down a chance to review the successor to my favourite pair of headphones?

Hint: I couldn’t. So here’s the review instead.

What is the Sony WH-1000XM3?

Simple, neat and elegant.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 is a wireless noise cancelling over-ear headset with an MSRP of SGD$549.

Being an over ear headset, you have to wear it normally, with the support band resting on top of your head, and the cups surrounding your ears.

It comes with its own carrying case, as well as a 3.5mm aux cable as well as an adapter for using the headset on flights. You can pair them via Bluetooth or NFC but if you prefer them wired, just plug in the 3.5mm cable and you’re set to go.

The headphones themselves are made with plastic, with a soft, cushioned band for the portion that rests on top of your head. Comparing it to the one on the WH-1000XM2, the new version feels a bit plusher and softer.

Both the right and left cups can be swiveled.

The cups are rotatable on a hinge, which affords them a decent amount of swivel while also allowing them to be stored neatly into their case without much hassle. The hinges aren’t loose, with just the right about of give, so that you can twist them when you want.

Made from a smooth, matte plastic, they feel nice and sturdy to the touch, though light enough that they don’t weigh down your ears. I’ve used these for a whole day multiple times and never had an issue with weight.

While plain looking, the right cup actually allows you to control the volume, skip or repeat songs by just swiping on its top surface. Tapping (and holding) the surface turns off ANC, allowing you to hear your surroundings until your remove your fingers.

Comfort is definitely not a problem with these, as while they cup the ears, I’ve never sweated or felt hot due to them. This is from extended use, with me walking around in the hot sun, to riding public transport, to air conditioned shopping malls.

Plush and comfortable.

Of course, this isn’t me saying that you should be wearing them for exercise (you’ll need the sweat resistant WF-SP700N for that) or other strenuous activity, merely that they don’t make you sweat by themselves.

If you have the WH-1000XM2, you’ll notice that Sony’s made some minor changes to the look and feel of the headset.

While it looks similar from a glance, looking more closely unveils subtle changes, like the addition of a USB Type-C port (replacing the older micro USB connection) and raised buttons for the controls.

Raised buttons are a minor, but welcome, change.

Sony’s also changed the texture for the top of the cups, which I honestly could do without. I actually preferred the textured feel to the cups from the WH-1000XM2 models, plus they don’t seem to get smudged from finger oils as easily.

I barely touched it, yet there’s still a trace of my finger.

The new smooth look doesn’t affect the swiping or tapping functions, so while the WH-1000XM3 may look (and feel) different, it’s still functionally as great as its predecessor was.

Yup, that means I’ve had no issue with my taps, swipes or holds not registering. In fact, I’ve not even experienced a single connection drop, even in busy areas like Changi Airport.

For a premium headset, the WH-1000XM3 certainly delivers.

Sweet, sweet music.

The padded headband is pretty nice.

Once you have these babies on your ear, chances are you’ll never go back to other headphones ever again.

Sony’s tagline of ‘Only music. Nothing else.’ for the headphone isn’t exactly truthful but it certainly tries its best. I’ve tried more than my fair share of noise cancelling headphones, but the WH-1000XM2 was hands down one of the best. Hell, that’s why I bought one for myself.

The active noise cancellation (ANC) in these? Just as good, if not better.

Using these on public transport, you’ll barely hear the background sounds from the MRT or buses. Voices too are mostly eliminated, save for loud ones but even then, they’re relegated to faint buzzes.

You’ll be in a world of your own wearing these, especially since it supports high definition audio wirelessly via LDAC and upscaling via DSEE HX.

When testing the sound and noise cancellation, I usually use a variety of music, all of them in FLAC.

Here’s my list.

Native HD audio sounds incredible, with great highs, mids and bass. The thumping bass from Gangster’s Paradise was particularly awesome, though I also have to give the headset props for handling the highs from Prayer very well, with no audible distortion.

I used both the WH-1000XM3 and the WH-1000XM2 on the same train ride and found that both offer comparable ANC, though it does seem like the WH-1000XM3’s a tad better.

They look like twins; the WH-1000XM3 (above) with its older brother, the WH-1000XM2 (below).

There was a baby in the opposite row who was crying and screaming and I felt that the WH-1000XM3’s ANC nullified it better than its predecessors. I could still hear the baby, just that his crying was somewhat more muted on the newer headset.

Like the WF-SP700N, these bad boys also make use of Sony’s Headphones Connect app to customize your listening experience and ANC settings. Plus, if there are any updates, Headphones Connect can update the headset with no issues.

Call quality is comparable to the older model as well. They’re a bit tinny but otherwise decent quality. As long as you speak at a decent level (like you’re normally talking to somebody), the external microphones have no problems capturing your voice.

If there’s a nitpick, it’s here.

Calls turn off ANC. I have no idea why. It was an issue I had with the WH-1000XM2 and it’s a damn shame to see it’s repeated here. At the very least, giving users an option to keep ANC enabled during calls would be much appreciated.

If I’m wearing noise cancelling headphones, it stands to reason I want to cancel out the noise surrounding me, no? Why would calls make me want to hear that then? It makes hearing the caller’s voice harder, especially when the ambient background noise is loud.

The bottom line.

Not a major improvement on the WH-1000XM2, but then again, that was basically perfect in the first place.

If you’re spending SGD$549 on a pair of headphones, you’re going to want the very best experience. That’s exactly what the WH-1000XM3 provides.

Great sound, superb noise cancelling and very comfortable to wear for extended periods; it pretty much ticks off all the boxes that you’re looking for in a premium headset.

True, it doesn’t offer a lot of changes from the previous generation’s WH-1000XM2 but that’s just a testament to how good the headphones are. After all, how do you make an already awesome headset better? You tweak it.

That’s exactly the case here.

TLDR:

Great headset with powerful noise cancelling. Comfortable and sleek, sounds good with HD audio capability. Might be too expensive for some.

The Good.
– Great sound quality.
– Great ANC.
– Looks good.

The Bad.
– No ANC during calls.
– Pricey.

Sal's been in the industry since the early 2000s. He's written for a ton of gaming and tech publications including Playworks, Hardwarezone, HWM and GameAxis. A geek and hardcore gamer, Sal will play everything, on any platform.

Sal's been in the industry since the early 2000s. He's written for a ton of gaming and tech publications including Playworks, Hardwarezone, HWM and GameAxis. A geek and hardcore gamer, Sal will play everything, on any platform.