Sony WF-1000XM3 Review 2020, true wireless earphone with ANC or active noise canceling. Sony is one of the pioneers for active noise canceling in the wireless earphone. Don’t get confused with WH-1000XM3 which is a ANC headphone.
Sony had the first generation WF-1000X, even though it sounded great but it had an issue with connectivity that Sony tried to fix with a couple of firmware updates but it never really resolved.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 is a different story. In my opinion, this is one of the kings in the premium true wireless earphone segment. The other kings would be the Master Dynamic, Sennheiser Momentum true wireless and Apple iPod pro. Only Apple iPod pro has the active nice canceling like Sony.
The box-like the usual Sony has a good material quality of the box, a well-designed unboxing experience.
When you slide the box open, the first thing you see is the first step on what to do which is pretty neat. Not everyone would open a box and go through the manual, so what Sony did is great.
Taking out the case, you’ll see the step no2 on the box.
- A pair of true wireless earphone
- USB-C Charging Cable
Apart from the form factor, the design is nice with a golden lid and smooth matte black rubber plastic material on the rest of the case.
The design and experience are great with a responsive flip lid, clear marking for left and right earbuds.
Charging notification on the outside and the sound of the snap when you put the earphone back on the case thanks to the strong magnet.
Yeah it’s like when Thanos snap the finger to erase the universe, I like the snap sound because it’s giving me feedback that I put the earpiece properly
I don’t understand why the casing is so big when it doesn’t stand on its own! Why …. and there’s no wireless charging. Well, at least it supports USB-C connection.
The case supports 24-hours extra battery with noise-canceling or 32 hours extra without noise canceling.
There’s a quick charge feature, the case able to quickly charge your earbuds within 10 minutes to gives you up to 90 minutes of playtime.
With the firmware version 2.1.0 released on 14 Jan 2020, it adds the ability to check the email battery level of the charging case using the Sony Headphones Connect app.
With 7 pairs of tips that Sony provided, there‘enough room to play around and to make sure that you have a good fit.
The tips have a slight modification in the Color and material compared to the Sony legendary black tips with colorful base, nevertheless, it’s still a good quality eartips that gentle to your ear canal.
I don’t have any luck with the foam tips, no matter which size I tried, it never fit my ear.
The quality is great and the build is premium. The housing made from plastic with coated black matte Color (black version). The R and L marking is visible and coded with color.
The earbuds give you 6 hours battery life (8 hours without the noise-canceling) and 18 hours additional from the case.
There’s a part between the ear tips and the body that has a different plastic material and feels rubbery, I personally don’t like rubber material because in high humidity environment it will turn sticky, apart from this it’s difficult to find fault for Sony WF-1000XM3.
I guess the rubber material is designed to make the contact between the earbuds and ear as pleasant as possible.
The earphone design is a little bit different than others, instead of having the shell-like in-ear monitor, it’s popping out a little bit like those old Bluetooth headsets but it still looks modern. For me, I still prefer a totally in-ear monitor looks instead of this.
I think one strong reason for this is for the antenna replacement to maximize the Bluetooth reception and the other reason is for the noise canceling.
“Dual microphones – one feed-forward and one feed-back – on the surface of the headphones catch more of the ambient sounds of your surroundings, whether it’s in-flight noise, city traffic or office chatter”
Take note that you should wear the earbud at an angled position pointing down instead of straight like the picture below.
For comfort and fit, Sony designed this as a three-point fit to keep your earbuds secured. Personally, I have an issue with the comfort, it‘s putting to much force on the bottom of the ear canal, it’s finally resolved when I changed the tips to a bigger size.
The insertion is tricky because it doesn’t really fit with the contour of the inner ear. So every time I insert the earbuds I need to spend time adjusting it. After using it for a while I feel the pressure at the inner ear, this issue has been resolved by changing the tips to a bigger size.
I don’t recommend this for exercise, first because there’s no water resistance and second because of pop-out design from the ear, there’s a chance that it can fall or knock on something.
You may need another true wireless earphone dedicated to exercise which kind of wasted since we already pay a premium for it.
With Sony WF-1000XM3 you’ll get a range of smart features that you normally don’t find on other earphones.
Left and Right Transmission
Rather than relying on sound from one ear to the other, the newly developed Bluetooth® chip transmits sound to the left and right ears simultaneously for an exceptional listening experience.
Sony DSEE HX™ software upscales your existing sound source (that lossy MP3s or AACs) to near high-resolution sound quality. This means that the technology injects more life into your music by upscaling compressed files. So it restores the subtleties of the original song recording.
360 Reality Audio
360 Reality Audio is a new music experience using Sony’s object-based spatial audio technology.
Individual sounds such as vocal, chorus, piano, guitar, bass, and even sounds of the live audience can be placed in a 360 spherical sound field, giving artists and creators a new way to express their creativity. Listeners can be immersed in a field of sound exactly as intended by artists and creators.
Music content created in this new format for 360 Reality Audio can be enjoyed through compatible music streaming service smartphone app.
Please take a note that you need to have Tidal, Deezer or Nugs.net subscription to enjoy this feature.
The active noise canceling
Sony market this as Digital Noise Cancelling with HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1e and Dual Noise Sensor Technology.
The performance of the active noise canceling suppression is performing well, testing it on the bus and train, it’s immediately removed 70-80% of the engine sound from the bus/train.
Its suppression is enough for a daily commute or if you want to focus on your work at the office. I’ll try this when I’m on board of a plane to see how effective the noise canceling in a flight.
If you are living in a windy area, this is the bad news: noise-canceling will not help you and because of the pop-out design, it will put resistance and amplify the wind sound.
Ambient sound and Quick attention
With a touch of a button, you can let ambient sound through your earbuds so you don’t have to take out the earbuds to hear when someone is talking to you as an example.
When you touch your earbuds while in noise-canceling mode, it will change to the ambient mode and give you a voice cue “Ambient Sound”.
The next touch will disable the ambient sound and another touch will enable the noise canceling.
You may need to cycle through the touch if you want to go from ambient mode to noise-canceling as an example.
Don’t worry as Sony has another feature called quick attention. Placing your finger over the earbud and hold it, turns the volume right down and let in ambient sound. So you can instantly chat with someone without taking your headphones off or cycling through the mode via touch.
Adaptive sound control
The Sony Headphones Connect app offers Adaptive Sound Control, a smart function that automatically detects what you’re up to – for example, traveling, walking, or waiting – then adjusts ambient sound settings to suit the situation. You can also customize the settings to your preferences.
During my testing, Sony detection oh my movement was a hit and miss. It detected me when I’m walking and when I’m on the train, it detected that I’m staying even though the train was moving after about 5 minutes only then it switched to transport mode.
Why I’ll give this feature a miss? The first is because detection seems slow and second because it’s draining my phone battery because the app needs to run in the background and required continuous GPS detection.
Take out one earbud and the music will automatically pause on both sides. Put the earbud back in and the music will be resumed.
There’s a sensor at the earbuds to detect this, I like this feature instead of the quick attention because it’s faster to take out your earbuds when someone talking to you instead to touch and hold.
It also has a power-off function, if it’s not worn for 5 minutes the power of the earphones turns off automatically. You can turn off this function if you desire so.
Customized touch control
you can customize the touch control on each earbud. Let say you want the left earbuds to control the ambient sound and the right earbuds to have music control.
These are the available option that you can assign on each earbud:
- Ambient sound control
- Playback control
- Volume control
- Google assistant
- Amazon Alexa
It supports SBC and AAC, lack support for other codecs is a shame.
DSHE HX one of the features is somehow able to compensate lack of codec support as explained in the feature section.
Sony audio quality is great as expected, with non-aggressive tuning and cater to the general mass. The overall tonality leaning towards warm tonality.
Wish you were here – Pink Floyd the drums, guitar bass are visibly in my ear with good separation. The bass is punchy with medium Attack and relatively short decay.
The bass also has a good impact in the sub-bass region. I can feel the thump and the power while listening to the believer – imagine dragons without overpowering the other frequency.
Both male and female vocals are rendered naturally, the voices are leaning forward.
Listening to the bohemian rhapsody, The mids are smooth even though there’s a lot of things going on. The mids aren’t overpowered by the lows or highs.
The treble feels relaxed, it’s reduced at its highest peak compared to the mids.
Listening Take Five – the Dave Brubeck, cool jazz with bright tonality, the cymbal hits are accurate and fast.
There’s no sibilance as the treble is quite relaxed with rolled-off to make it gentle, not so great for analytical listening by hey it’s a true wireless earbud and it’s an acceptable trade-off.
The soundstage, the vertical is wide while the height is short, with the forwardness of the voice it has an intimate feeling, it’s like you are sitting at the front seat in a mini theatre.
The imaging is above average, it was a pleasant experience listening to Good mystery -Amber Rubath and Folias Criolass – the anonymous, Jordi Savall. The placement of the instrument is prominent.
Listening to Sony WF1000XM3 was pleasing because of the vocal and instrument are alive. It easy and relax to listen to it without any fatigue after a Long term use.
The sound signature hits the correct spot of balance and producing an immersive and musical sound. It easily covers a wide range of music genres from jazz to rock.
You pay a premium to get a premium product in terms of build and sound quality but not only that, it comes with a lot of features like the active noise canceling, proximity sensor, DSHE EX.
You may want to think twice if you are planning to wear earbuds to the gym as it doesn’t have any IPX rating.
I was having a comfort issue at the beginning since the earbuds were pushing my inner ear canal, changing to bigger tips solved the issue.
Lack of codex support such aptX HD and LDAC (which is offered by the bigger brother (WH-1000XM3) Maybe a deal-breaker for some but it has DSHE EX to compensate for the lack of codec.
I also prefer an in-ear design rather than pop-out design but that’s just me perhaps other people like it.
The bluetooth connection was a way better than its predecesor but it’s without fault. At the “best quality” instead of “best connection” mode, sometimes there’s still a connection interference when I put the phone on my pocket while walking. it’s brief and happen occasionally.
I expected a flawless connection from Sony especially when all the design is geared towards connection quality.
For iOS users, if you are comparing Sony WF-1000XM3 vs Sennheiser Momentum you may want to test the lip-sync issue (sound delay) on the video because I heard Sennheiser momentum doesn’t work very well with iOS. I don’t have any problem with Sony pairing it with my iPhone X.
Sony WF-1000XM3 Review 2020
Product Name: Sony WF-1000XM3
Product Description: Freedom perfected in a truly wireless design, with industry leading noise canceling powered by Sony’s proprietary HD Noise Canceling Processor QN1e. Form meets function with up to 24 total hours of battery life with quick charging, touchpad controls, premium sound quality, and smart features like Wearing Detection and Quick Attention Mode
Brand: Sony WF-1000XM3
Listening to Sony WF1000XM3 was pleasing because of the vocal and instrument are alive, it has a superb sound quality. it’s almost received a 5 stars award if it’s not because of the connection issue (occasionally with “best sound quality” mode) and the lack of IPX.
Both of the drawbacks are still acceptable to me and I’m still happy with what I’ve spent for these earbuds.
- Musical Sound Quality
- Tons of features such as proximity sensor, adaptive sound control, etc
- Active Noise Canceling
- Premium quality
- Lack of IPX – water resistance
- Lack of codec support
- Intermittent audio connection issue
- Huge casing and it cannot stand.