From first listen, the new WH1000-XM3 proves Sony is here to stay as a formidable challenger in the wireless headphones market. Not only has the M3 addressed most of the issues with the previous versions, but the improved noise cancelling on these is next level. It not only offsets the low humming frequencies created by things like air condition and engine noise but also does a pretty good job at negating background clanks and chatter.
The headphones are really lightweight for the size but the quality isn’t compromised. This combined with the extra soft leather on the headphone cups make them quite comfortable to wear for an extended period of time. The frame has also been slimmed down, so when you’ve got them on they look a lot smarter and less bulky than the previous design. There are fewer buttons to get confused with along the lower left ear cup and finally, a USB-C connector for charging — which means no more fidgety micro-USB cables to worry about. We were told that just ten minutes of charging will yield approximately five hours of listening pleasure. The swipe controls for play/pause, volume adjustment and next/prev tracks are intuitive to use and removes the need to locate physical buttons for those actions.
All of these improvements make the WH1000-XM3 a pretty compelling package for keeping irritating noises at bay. Traditionally, we’ve always thought of using noise cancelling headphones on planes, but they’re also great on public transport, in the office and at the gym. Just don’t use them while driving because you won’t be able to hear oncoming traffic. We recently tested them in a busy cafe and they did a great job without music but with a tune playing, they pretty much mask all sounds. As with previous models, this version also comes with a great feature that lets you temporarily disable noise cancelling by cupping your hand over the external part of the right earpiece.
The WH1000-XM3 is available in two colourways — black and sand. Priced at $499.95 AUD, the headphones sit on par with one of their biggest competitors, the Bose QC 35 II which has Google Assistant built-in. The sound quality is top notch and at the end of the day it comes down to personal preference as to whether you prefer the results from Bose or Sony. However, one thing is for sure — Sony has its nose ahead in the noise cancelling game this time around.