This is a quick review of the Sony WH-1000XM3. These are Sony’s premium noise cancelling headphones that are often recommended as the best noise cancelling headphones against the Bose QC35II’s. While I haven’t tried the Bose headphones there are a few small details about the Bose that are better than the Sonys.
So to start with the negatives, the microphone that is used for voice calls through these headphones is just bad. I don’t know how a company like Sony who make good microphones were able to use such a shockingly bad microphone in these headphones. This is what it sounds like when you make a voice call using the Sony headphones. It’s very muffled and unclear. There are videos online showing the superior clarity microphones in the Bose headphones. So that’s definitely something to consider if you’re going to be using them for voice calls.
The Sony headphones don’t support multiple device connections either. So you’ll have to manually switch bluetooth between your computer and your phone if you are going to be using them both. This was quite annoying and something I hope sony will add in a firmware update or in the next version.
The other negative which I suppose comes down to personal preference is the comfort of the Sony headphones. At first I found that the headband wasn’t as soft as it could have been and started to get a bit uncomfortable after a few hours. But adjusting the height does help somewhat. In summer or on hot days the earcups can tend to feel ‘sweaty’ and for some this may be a dealbreaker. I have heard the Bose don’t suffer from either of those problems but I haven’t tried them personally yet.
So onto the positives. The Sony headphones sound excellent. The audio quality is very crisp and clear and the bass is not too heavy or too light. There are various settings in the Sony app to change the sound profile if you do want a slightly different EQ’ed sound as well. Speaking about the app, there are some extra functions you get with the app. You can allow real-time monitoring. So it will switch to ambient mode while you’re walking and back to noise cancelling while you’re sitting still and so forth. I didn’t use this much personally because it used too much battery in my phone.
Another great thing about the Sony’s is that the noise cancelling is absolutely outstanding. Here’s a quick example of how it sounds on a train ride. As you can hear it’s quite impressive and it’s easy to switch between modes. There’s also a function to quickly access the ambient mode temporarily by placing your hand over the right earcup. This also brings me to the touch controls. The right earcup is a touch sensitive surface. Swiping up turns the volume up and swiping down lowers it. Swiping forward skips the song and swiping back goes back to the beginning.
Overall an excellent set of headphones that are very premium and do an amazing job of cancelling the noise. They are pricey at a retail of over USD$350 (AUD$500) but they can be had on sale for around USD$240 (AUD$350). They are quite compact and even pack into their own carry pouch. But as a one bag traveller they are just a tad too bulky for my liking. And I’ll probably stick with my Audio-Technica ATH-ANC33IS.