Review: Sony WF-1000XM3 The Truly Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds
Review: Sony WF-1000XM3 The Truly Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds

Review Sony WF-1000XM3: The focus on wireless headphones is always greater and the reason is simple: the classic audio jack is increasingly rare in smartphones. Everything is slowly miniaturized, the wires removed, the dimensions removed and space is made for small chips like the one for the cancellation of the background noise that Sony has inserted in its new WF-1000XM3. They are not perfect but show how much space there is to further improve this in-ear category, loved by some and others less appreciated.

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I have been traveling with these headphones for several weeks, to tell the truth, they have at the moment replaced the big sisters WH-1000XM3 which I rarely take from my backpack that always accompanies me on the road or in my daily life. Outside it’s hot and using circumaural headphones, which completely enclose the ears with their cushions, can be annoying in many situations. In short, the period was right for the test, albeit with some limitations for those who, like me, love to play sports while listening to music. I’ll explain why. 

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Wireless headphones are part of the experience, a half to which are now added increasingly advanced cases and, unfortunately, never very comfortable to carry in your pocket. Sony, for example, has opted for a case with an integrated battery capable of recharging the two headphones a good three times, complete with powerful magnets that make it much easier to make safe.

I’ve never been able to detect the actual autonomy of these headphones, because trying them for more than a few hours is unnatural and, as soon as you want to take a break, you instinctively search for the case. In this trial period, I remember recharging the case only twice, also because, once worn, a little voice immediately reminds us of the percentage of remaining battery.

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The problem is the rather important dimensions (77g) compared to those of direct competition from Apple AirPods and Samsung Buds. Then there is a non-negligible detail that I would immediately like to underline: the lid is made of plastic, it is a flat part obviously designed to facilitate positioning on flat surfaces but too easy to scratch. With common use, and in a short time, I detect many signs, it is not a drama but keep it in mind and having the “immaculate” houses will be a business.

As soon as the lid is lifted you can immediately see the “N” of the NFC chip that allows fast pairing with the smartphone or other supported sources, there is also a LED strip visible even when the case is closed indicating whether the headphones are charging or not. Then there is nothing but the USB Type-C port at the bottom for charging the entire system, the design is very minimal and follows the black and gold color of the headphones.

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Everything is contained in just 8.5 grams: the 6mm drivers, the Bluetooth chip, the antennas, two microphones, the battery and the chip, unpublished, for the cancellation of background noise (HD QN1e). This is something that we usually find on much larger headphones, but the Japanese company has made it a flag in recent years and decided to bring this experience also to in-ear headphones. 

The advantage is soon told: attenuated external noises, our ears can easily concentrate on the music or sounds produced without too many distractions, with so much control over the level of noise cancellation through the usual Sony App. Of course, you can’t reach the level of the WH-1000XM3 that physically also covers the ear pads, but we are very close to that kind of experience and only, for this reason, the new headphones gain a point compared to the others. 

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The sound is clear, crystalline and full-bodied, never distorted and capable of pushing up on decibels that our eardrum perhaps does not approve very much. Very good also the calls, a rock difficult to get around for the whole category given the remoteness of the microphones compared to the mouth, but Sony has managed to do a great job equaling – in my opinion going beyond the Apple AirPods.

But pay attention to the reduction of the background noise, because, if active, it will greatly compromise the audio quality in output, if your interlocutors will complain the reason will be for this. The goal is to cancel the surrounding noises and focus attention on the output voice, but the compression is evident and the reduction also cuts what it shouldn’t, leading to an unclear conversation. My advice is to set the activation/deactivation with a tap on one of the two earphones and manage everything from there, you just have to remember it. 

Sony WF-1000XM3 wireless earbuds

The connection to the source device takes place via Bluetooth 5.0, however, there are no supports for the aptX and LDAC standards, which Sony itself offers on many of its terminals, including headphones and smartphones. In this round, however, the connection takes place simultaneously with both earphones, in fact, there is no “master”, we must consider them as standalone capable of functioning and surviving even individually. It amazes me, however, that it is impossible to manage two sources, two devices at the same time: forget, for example, to listen to music from the notebook and then answer a call on the mobile.

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One of the reasons that prompted me to use the WH-1000XM3 is the direct control of the main functions via the touch only, which is also possible on the WF-1000XM3 but on an extremely smaller surface. I was amazed by the accuracy and rapidity of the response, they recognize all the touches and it took me a short time to familiarize myself with these gestures. Through the usual proprietary application, it is possible to set the different combinations to the right or to the left, both for the management of the playback (Play / Pause / forward) and for the activation of Google Assistant. 

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However, there is no volume control, there is still no direct way to change it except through the same voice assistant just mentioned, with a classic command as with any Google Home. A real shame, who knows if it can be solved with a simple software update and the enabling of some combination, Swype or touches, would be very useful. 

The volume control would also facilitate the use in physical activity, although these headphones were not made specifically for these purposes. They are not officially resistant to water and sweat, but I did some jogging in their company and absolutely nothing happened. I brought them with me to test their limits, I must say that I found them a bit uncomfortable in this area as they protrude a little from the ear pads and are not always perfectly solid to us if we run or jump.

Clear that you have to choose the right rubbers; Sony provides no less than 6 alternative pairs, my advice is to take advantage of those 5 minutes needed to try the most similar and thus have maximum comfort once you wear the wireless headphones.

 Final Words:

We can say with knowledge of the facts that the Sony WF-1000XM3 are among the best wireless in-ear headphones for listening to music and multimedia content, the reduction in background noise is excellent and offers additional help which makes them much more appealing to regular travelers. I think they are among the best also in conversation: the microphones work very well, albeit with physical limits that no one has yet surpassed, as long as noise reduction is excluded. 

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Congratulations therefore to Sony for this work of miniaturization, with the Sony WF-1000XM3 we have skipped a generation but it has come straight to the point with a concrete product, reliable and well structured if seen in association with its inseparable houses. Comfort is at home but it is not such as to consider them as full-fledged sports caps, and this is a limitation, as is BT – which limits the simultaneous association of a single device – and the control of the volume delegated to source. 

They are not the perfect headphones that solve all the unknowns at once but have a character to sell and move the bar of the wireless segment higher. To have all this, however, we need to put our wallets and spend more than what was required for the competitors I mentioned in this review, the price list speaks of 249 euros and online availability starting today 9 August. 

PROS AND CONS
QUALITY AUDIO HOUSING LID SCRATCHES EASILY
CANCELLATION OF EXCELLENT BASE NOISE PRICE OVER COMPETITION
AUTONOMY + AUTONOMY WITH CASES NO VOLUME CHECK
RECOGNITION IMMEDIATE TOUCHES OVERALL CASE IN POCKET

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