500+ Head-Fier
Best-in-class noise canceller that can also play music
Pros: Absolutely top-tier ANC
Great wearing comfort
Cons: Forget it if you want to listen to music
Unlike most of my reviews I'll just cut to the chase for this one.

The Sony WH1000XM3s have long been regarded as the king of ANC headphones. If only ANC is concerned then I have no doubt that it's truly the best ANC headphone money can buy along with the XM4. Ironically, I do not think the XM4 offers any improvements in the ANC department. Our local SONY flagship store is literally 20 minutes walk away from where I live, so I take my XM3s there to compare to the XM4s pretty often. From what I can hear the XM4s cancel certain frequencies better than the XM3s, but the XM3 outdoes it in other frequencies. It's a toss-up. Comfort wise both headphones are excellent. They are nowhere near as comfortable as, say the QC35, but apart from the shallow earpads they are pretty comfortable. I can wear them for several hours at a time before my ears get too hot.

It's in the sound quality department where the XM3 really, really falls short. I don't usually criticize a headphone to this extent but my god, the XM3 sounds truly AWFUL. The latest 4.5.2 firmware makes it a slightly better headphone, but for my set it produces a very noticeable amount of hiss that's absent on earlier firmware. I've tried all three early firmware, 2.0.0, 4.1.1, 4.2.2 and let me tell you, you do not want to listen to music on any of these firmware. At default settings the bass sounds very one-note. It's a confused mess with no depth or impact. Mid range is all right. Treble is at the same time muted and a little peaky. I don't know how that's even possible. Every time I try to listen to music I would just end up using the computer speakers instead. Those are infinitely more tolerable than the XM3s. What's actually funny is that BOSE's QC35, despite not supporting APTX, sounds so much more agreeable than the XM3s ever will be. For one the QC35 actually sounds pleasant. It doesn't resolve like a wired headphone, but the low end extension is there. The bass has dynamic and depth. Mid-range is good, and treble is very clean. The whole package sounds so much more transparent and enjoyable than the XM3. It's for this reason that I never listen to music on the XM3s. I use them to listen to podcasts on a subway or on a train. For that purpose they are fantastic.

That sums up my review. These headphones are truly special, they are one of the 3 headphones with a sound that I absolutely cannot stand, but they also have the best ANC of any ANC headphones on the market. So yeah, grab them if you commute often, listen to a podcast or watch YouTube videos, you will truly find yourself making good use of your time on the subway. Do not grab them if you don't commute or don't spend much time in noisy environments.
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Headphoneus Supremus
Sony house sound, not good for calls
Pros: Sony house sound with nicely tuned mids and treble. Excellent bluetooth connection. Very premium feel to it. Battery lasts forever.
Cons: A bit large and heavy, microphone does not work well for calls, too much midbass bleed even for Sony. Battery case is quite large.
I'm a big fan of Sony products, I have the Z7m2 and previously had the 1am2 headphones. They all share the Sony house sound which is V shaped, big bass and sparkly treble. This one is a little different, theres way too much mid bass bleed and while the mids are not really recessed theres too much warmth and body. However, everything else is really well done. Not sharp in the treble and decent extension. Bass is a bit boomy and rolls off in the lower frequencies but not difficult to get used to.

The bluetooth connection is quick and very stable and has excellent range. Battery life is excellent, with the large battery case, I can go over a week without charging usually. Negative is that the battery case is large and not very practical for keeping in your pocket.

I have large ears and ear canals so the fit or weight for me is not a problem but I can see it being a problem for others.

Ambient mode and noise cancelling are fairly weak and don't work great, I just never use these modes because its useless to me.

The worst aspect of these iems is the microphone. Whenever I try to use them for calls, the person on the other end can never hear me properly and always ask if they are on speakerphone.

Otherwise, its quite good sound quality wise especially considering they can be found at largely discounted prices now.


New Head-Fier
Best all-in-one headphones for the price
Pros: Nice sound quality
+ Great sound quality and non-fatiguing signature with EQ
+ Wide and high soundstage
+ Good instruments separation
+ Impressive (though not perfect) noise cancelling
+ Very comfortable
+ Built-in microphones
+ 25~30h of battery life with Bluetooth and noice cancelling on
Cons: Too much bass without EQ
- Not as good as a performer as other "Hi-Fi" headphones in the same price range (but better in terms of features)
The Sony WH-1000XM3 is the third iteration of the original Sony MDR-1000X. At the time the 1000X was released, I hesitated between this one and the Sennheiser Momentum M2, and finally went for the latter.

Finally, three years later, I got the 1000XM3 as I wanted a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones for work and travelling.

The first thing you'll notice when getting these on your head is how light and comfortable they are, even when wearing glasses. Not many headphones are as comfortable and forgettable on the head as these ones, and I've been able to keep them for hours without any problem. The only headphones I've tested so far with a better comfort are the Sennheiser HD 58X, which are huge in comparison, and without any electronics inside.

The noice cancelling feature works very well, although it doesn't block every sound, but it works fine. Definitely enough to not have to push the volume up when travelling, which is a huge plus for me.

On the sound quality, now. I've tested these headphones with many, MANY genres. From blues to rap, from rock'n'roll to pop, from heavy metal to classical music, to get a good idea of how they sound. I've owned these for several months now.

So. There is too much bass. This is a very big problem that can't be overlooked no matter what. The problem is that the huge bump in the low frequencies has an impact on other frequencies as well such as the mids, and it gives a slightly dark and muffled sound overall, which is not something I particurarly like, even on electronic musics or rap.

After listening for dozens of hours, I've finally found a good EQ settings to make the headphones sound better (to my ears at least) : +0 dB / +4 dB / +7 dB / + 7 dB / + 5 dB, and -2 on Clear Bass. You can apply these settings through the Sony Headphones app on mobile.

With these settings, you get less bass, the overall presention is more airy, the instruments separation becomes better, the balance between instruments as well, and you get a more neutral yet very engaging sound.

To conclude, after EQing, the headphones sound very good, and with all the features packed in it, I think it's easy to say they are the best-in-class headphones for this price range. If you don't care about noise cancelling for instance, there may some interesting alternatives like Drop + THX's Panda.
These EQ Settings are only available when the Headphone do not use LDAC (which lowers the Audio Quality by quite a bit). So they sound a bit more balanced but at the same time worse (especially when listening to something like Alcest, there is quite a difference when using LDAC compared to everything else).

In my experience, they sound pretty good when the ANC is disabled. There is only too much bass when ANC is enabled (but i only use ANC in noisy areas where the increase in bass actually helps to rescue the music). So i personally don't have that issues with the bass i'd rather EQ it using the Smartphone and not using the Headphones because, as said, you can't use LDAC then and that decreases the Audio Quality much more than the bass.
I personnally don't find that LDAC really improves the sound with the XM3. There is a difference, but it's really small. I honestly think it's more important with better sounding headphones like the Drop + THX Panda or higher-end headphones :wink:


500+ Head-Fier
Pros: good enough sound for most people
stylish looks
comfortable to wear
easy to use
folds flat
great carrying case
Cons: sound quality not up to the price tag
could get sweaty in summer
wobbly, unstable fit
equaliser reduces sound quality
Build and design


When you unpack the XM3 for the first time, you will first be surprised by its low weight. In your hands as well on your head, these headphones have a tendency to disappear, which is quite a respectable feat, regarding all the technology Sony has stuffed In there. Such a lightweight construction is, of course, a double-edged sword. Although the Sonys don't feel rickety or fragile, they don't give the impression of being built for eternity. The XM3 are all plastic and faux leather, which is a questionable choice of material in this price range. At least the headphones do not look cheap: Their stylishly sleek design and some well-placed copper accents give the XM3 (and its case) a pretty classy overall look.

Operation, comfort, isolation


As one would expect from a Sony product, the XM3 are smooth and easy to use. Vital functions are explained in the enclosed quick-guide or otherwise quite self-explanatory. The XM3 have a total of two buttons: An on/off/pairing switch and a button for turning the noise-cancelling on/off. The right earcup features a touch surface that adjusts the volume and skips tracks. This works even well while walking, which deserves a big compliment. Special gimmick: Holding your hand over the earcup reduces the volume and activates the ambient sound control, in order to have a short conversation or to respond to the environment in any other way.

In order to access most of the headphone's functions, installing Sony's app is an absolute must. Here, not only a fine-tuning of the ANC can be made, but there is also an auto-adjustment to air pressure and head-shape as well as many other useful settings. Sony even provides an equalizer, but it doesn't work with the LDAC codec. Instead, you have to be satisfied with AAC or SBC and therefore sacrifice some sound quality. Overall, the app is very clearly and simply structured and connects quickly and reliably with your headphones. Sony has done most things right with the app, only its constant presence in the notification bar is a slight disturbance.


In the category "comfort", Sony also earns a high score. The ear pads and headband cushion are soft and comfortable to wear. And due to their lightweight construction, the XM3 almost disappear on your head and can easily be worn for extended periods of time. At higher temperatures, however, Sony's decision to use faux leather fires back and you'll start sweating very quickly where the pads make skin contact. The isolation from outside noise without ANC is, due to the aforementioned weight and material density, pretty weak. As a result, you have to turn on the noise-cancelling already at very low external noise levels to enjoy your music without interference. Sony's countermeasure against this weakness is a bass-boost in non-ANC-mode, but that doesn't necessarily help.



With its V-shaped tuning the sound signature of the XM3 is targeted towards mainstream tastes: Bass and treble are raised, the mids are slightly recessed. This makes the headphones particularly suitable for hip-hop and electronic music, but fans of orchestras and acoustic guitars will not be happy with this kind of signature. The low spectrum as a whole has been enriched and sounds rather "fat," which gives bass-heavy tracks like Run The Jewels' "Legend Has It" an appropriate fun factor. For fast metal tracks like Trivium's reissue of "Pillars of Serpents," Sony's driver can't quite keep up with the pace and the entire bass foundation sounds rather uncontoured, inflated and sluggish. If we listen further to the same track, we notice the rather underrepresented mid-frequencies, rendering both Matt Heafy's baritone and the guitars with a lack of volume and plasticity. Luckily, a slight peak in the presence area prevents vocals and instruments from disappearing completely, but all in all, the XM3 are more focused on easy listening than on Hi-Fi-grade performance. The high frequencies are raised and show a peak around 9-10kHz and thus appear clear and detailed, but unfortunately also somewhat artificial. The treble is indeed the driver's big weakness because not only do hi-hats and cymbals lack plasticity, but also the spatial positioning of the instruments is rather vague and imprecise. Of course, I don't want to badmouth everything. Overall, the XM3 offer a very harmonic and coherent sound, which can be enjoyed on long trips without fatigue. However, in this price range, higher sound quality and more sophisticated tuning would be more than adequate.



The Bluetooth connection supports AAC and SBC as standard, as well as Sony's LDAC codec for high-definition sound. A 3.5mm jack is also available and I have to praise Sony here because, as opposed to Bowers & Wilkins' PX, the XM3 can also be driven passively! The point for utilising the USB-C port goes to the competition though: The XM3's port can only be used for charging.



Sony has rightfully received a lot of praise for the noise-cancelling of the XM3. It works effectively and without significant deterioration of sound quality. However, even today, the technology is not quite mature. Although, with the latest firmware update, Sony got rid of the wind sensitivity issues, but vibration and sudden changes in air pressure (train driving into a tunnel) severely confuse the ANC system. While it works reliably and pleasantly effective on a plane or a long-distance train, it causes annoying distortions or even cracking during bumpy bus rides, short runs and anything that involves tunnels. That's sometimes so irritating and annoying that I simply turned off the NC for certain parts of my commute. The reason for these issues is ultimately not Sony's noise-cancelling system, but rather the XM3's radical lightweight construction, which makes it too shaky and unstable on the head. A bit of metal and real leather wouldn't have hurt. Despite this physical flaw, Sony's ANC is the best and most effective on the market. If noise-cancelling is your number one priority, here's your buying recommendation.



The Sony WH1000-XM3 is dubbed the best noise-cancelling headphones on the market in most reviews and that is correct for the average consumer. In terms of comfort, operation and noise-cancelling, Sony does everything right and most of the features seem pretty mature and reliable. Audiophiles looking for the absolutely best sound quality in a wireless headset won't find that in Sony's corner, but should instead consider trying out the Bowers & Wilkins PX (which is less comfortable though).
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Active noise cancellation in the WH-1000xm3 has been ruined by firmware 4.1.1. Already 272 people have decided to sign a petition for Sony to fix this issue: