Sony WF-1000XM3 review

Wireless earbuds are plentiful, and the Sony WF-1000XM3 makes it simple to explain the high price tag of the device. The design and comfort are excellent, and the connection strength is consistent throughout the device.

While the lack of aptX or LDAC support is a significant limitation, the inclusion of DSEE HX processing enhances the sound of low-quality music. If you’re looking for a pair of active noise cancelling (ANC) earbuds that are both fashionable and functional, the WF-1000XM3 should be at the top of your list.

Despite the fact that Sony has a long history in the headset industry, the Sony WF-1000XM3 was excellent enough to make the Apple AirPods Pro sweat when it was first released.

While the WF-1000XM3 is beginning to show signs of wear, particularly when compared to its younger sibling, the Sony WF-1000XM4, the XM3 is still a fantastic headset. It has many of the same features as the company’s most recent flagship earphones, but costs less than half the price of those earphones.

We first spent two weeks with the WF-1000XM3 in order to be able to tell you everything about what’s excellent, great, and simply decent about the device. It’s time to explore how the WF-1000XM3 keeps up in the modern world.

Editorial note: This Sony WF-1000XM3 review was updated on April 18, 2022, to include information on our testing, comparisons, and formatting changes, as well as to include a section on alternatives like as the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless and Jabra Elite 4 Active from Jabra.

What’s it like to use the Sony WF-1000XM3?

Under the hood, the earbuds are equipped with a dual-microphone array that helps them block out background sounds. It’s true that this new technology is far more effective than the company’s WF-SP800N noise cancelling earbuds, but it isn’t really saying much. In addition, the WF-1000XM3 is equipped with a QN1e processor.

This allows for 24-bit audio signal processing while also serving as a DAC. Sony believes that this also increases energy efficiency, allowing you to listen for longer periods of time between charges.

Just like its over-ear sister, you may jump into a conversation at any time without having to take the earbuds out of your ears. Placing a finger over the left earbud reduces the loudness and allows for some ambient sounds to get through. It does the job, however I feel a little rude doing it rather than simply removing an earpiece.

After all, the earbuds are equipped with automated ear identification, something we’ve already seen in the Apple AirPods (3rd generation), Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, and Beats Powerbeats Pro, among others. This enables the proximity sensor in each earbud to identify when an earbud is inserted or removed, resulting in the music being played or paused accordingly.

When compared to the Galaxy Buds, this approach is preferable since it requires just one of the earphones to be removed in order to automatically halt playing, whereas the Samsung earbuds require you to remove both at the same time.

Is the Sony Headphones Connect app necessary?

The earphones will work just fine even if you don’t have the Headphones Connect app (available for iOS and Android). If you wish to tweak the sound, customise the settings, or make any other changes, you’ll need to download the software. One of the useful things it provides is adaptive sound control, which is a nice touch.

This automatically adjusts the ambient sound settings to match the current surrounding conditions. It is possible that your ANC will be boosted when you are in an airport, but it may be lowered when you are at home in peace and quiet.

Starting with the obvious: whether you choose the silver or black version, these earphones exude refined style no matter which colour you choose. Sony’s confidence in its latest product is reflected in the design’s subtle elegance.

The pill-shaped earbuds contain three points of contact, which are intended to transmit pressure evenly around the outer ear canal for a comfortable fit. The default ear tips make them the most comfortable earbuds I’ve ever worn, and they are by far the most durable as well.

How do you connect the Sony WF-1000XM3 to your smartphone?

The Sony true wireless earbuds may be paired using either the NFC or the classic Bluetooth pairing methods. Either option is absolutely acceptable. The earphones are equipped with Bluetooth 5.0 technology and have a wireless range of up to 10 metres.

In general, the connection strength is remarkable, presumably as a result of the revised antenna arrangement within each housing, although there are some exceptions. However, you will be unable to connect to more than one device at the same time.

In the strange instance of Bluetooth codec support, the situation is perplexing: AAC and SBC are supported, but neither Sony’s own LDAC nor any of the aptX codecs are supported. However, the DSEE HX capability upscales compressed audio files, which may account for the loss to some extent.

Note from the editor: Previously, the DSEE HX capability would not operate while the EQ settings were engaged. However, the most recent version (Version 3.0.0.) now allows you to utilise DSEE HX and EQ at the same time without any issues.

Sound

The WF-1000XM3 has a fantastic sound. Bass and midrange frequencies both receive a little boost as a result of this change. Vocal masking from low-frequency noises is minimised in this manner because the frequency ranges are about equal in volume.

There is no difference in the quality of the instruments regardless of the genre I listen to. When compared to our house curve, the highs are somewhat exaggerated, while the bass and mids are little underemphasized.

Lows, midpoints, and peaks Throughout the song Colorado, performed by Chastity Brown, her voice are clean and undistorted. Even when a slew of instruments accompany her voice near the 0:53 mark, the mids remain distinct.

You will only detect this if you are already familiar with the song. When she raises her tone at the end of the word “follow” (1:14), it is difficult to hear, but it is there. She raises her voice in stair-steps, and the final phrase is lost in the shuffle of the drumming. The recurrent tambourine beats during the choruses are easily discernible thanks to the proper treble increase.

When it comes to percussion, the Sony WF-1000XM3 provides just enough restraint to avoid excessive percussion and highs that are ear-splitting in their intensity. I really appreciated the differences in sound quality from the neutral tone that one could anticipate from studio cans. With the exaggerated bass and noise cancelling and isolation capabilities of these headphones, it was simple to hear the important aspects of a song while travelling on an eight-hour journey.

Conclusion

The Sony WF-1000XM3 is still an excellent choice, and the reduced price just serves to sweeten the bargain.

If you’re looking for a reliable pair of true wireless earbuds that come with a sleek, if rather big, charging case, decent sound quality, and a comfortable fit, the WF-1000XM3 may be the ideal choice for you.

However, if you have a lot of money to spend, the Sony WF-1000XM4 is a better choice since it has Bluetooth 5.2 firmware, which makes it futureproof for a little while longer, and it supports LDAC, which is something that the WF-1000XM3 does not. Other notable new features include an IPX4 rating, significantly enhanced active noise cancellation, and increased battery life.

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