In recent years, Sony has been warm on rival Bose, and is working hard to create the ultimate noise-reducing headphone. It could have finally done that with the WH-1000XM3, priced at $ 350, £ 330 or $ AU499.
The development of this third generation model seems like Sony's engineers went through CNET's review of last year's
The biggest design change is in the form of headbands and upholstery on the ear cups. The headband is now more contoured to the head and the headphone has shaved 20 grams of weight. The padding on the earlobes is also a bit softer.
The result is a headset that is clearly more comfortable than its predecessor – apologies to people who recently purchased the WH-1000MX2.
Bose QuietComfort 35 II is still easier at 235 grams versus 254 grams for this. But Sony is now neck and neck with Bose in terms of comfort, which had been one of Bos's advantages.
The other major change is that Sony has moved from Micro USB to USB-C charging. As part of the switch, there is a new quick charging feature that gives you 5 hours of use from a 10-minute charge. It's quite impressive – and 30 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels is also great.
I was somewhat critical of headset performance in my review of the previous 1000X models. For WH-1000XM3, engineers moved to a new tricot array system that filters out background noise while recording your voice during conversations. In my first test, headset performance works better.
There are some other cosmetic changes. The outer finish of the ear cups, where you find the touching rules, is more even. And the carrying case is a little different. It reserves a place for the short USB-C cable and the included headset cable. Yes, you can use this as a wired headset and it sounds great in wired mode.
Sony reps said that this model has the same drivers as the excellent MDR-1AM2 headphone, and I think this sounds better than Bose QuietComfort 35 II. It sounds more natural with a slightly better definition, clarity and strong solid bass. It's a little bass push – I found myself wanting to lower the volume on one of our bass tracks, Alt-Js 3WW, to tone things down. But the bass is not boomy, just muscular, which will satisfy some people more than others.
Sony has also updated the chips inside the headset, upgrades noise interruptions and sound processing. It says that the new HD Noise Canceling Processor QN1 offers four times the performance of its predecessor, and not only works for noise interruptions, "but also captures amazing high-quality audio with 32-bit audio signal processing and the DAC combination with amplifier functionality."
I did not experience such a dramatic improvement in performance as Sony suggests, but after my first tests it is clear that the WH-1000XM3 measures Bos's noise interruptions and seems to exceed it.
I will not get into all of these headphone features – I'll save it for my complete review, which is coming – but I should mention that Sony may have retained the best extra feature: the ability to cushion your music and let the outside world enter by just holding your hand over the right ear cup where the touch controls are located. When you finish listening to someone, remove your hand and the music continues to play in the previous volume and the noise level returns.
Also worth noting: Sony lets you now automatically customize the feature. Previously, the headset turned off automatically after a short while to conserve battery life if you did not listen to music. But now you can set it to continue. This allows you to use the headset's noise-reducing feature, even when you do not want to listen to music.
I've only spent a few days with the headphone so I will not post a review at the moment. But to Bose updates its QuietComfort 35 ($ 329 on Amazon.com) – it's because of a real upgrade and Bose has chopped its price by $ 50 to $ 300 – Sony's WH- 1000XM3 has taken over the title as The Top Noise Canceling Headphone on our list.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Specifications
- Weight: 254 grams
- 40mm Liquid Crystal Polymer Drivers
- Redesigned headband and a bit softer earband cushion
- Up to 30 hours battery life with Bluetooth Noise Canceling on
- 10 minute quick charge gives you 5 hours battery life
- USB C charging
- New HD Noise Canceling Processor QN1
- Smart Sense Engine Listening
- Quick Call Mode lets you make calls without removing the headphones .
- Trim Microphones for Enhanced Voice Dialing
- Customizable Auto Shutdown Function
- You can enable your voice support with a simple touch
- Price: $ 350, £ 330, $ AU499
- Available in September in black or platinum silver with gold highlights