Sony WF-1000XM3 Earbuds review

Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds review 1

Sony’s WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling headphones are some of the best wireless earbuds on the market. They have everything you would want in a pair of earbuds, they sound great, they’re comfortable, they have responsive touch controls and they have some of the best noise cancellation capabilities out there.

These are fantastic earbuds that are cheaper than the competition (Apple AirPods Pro & Bose QuietComfort Earbuds), but they’re held back by not being sweat-resistant and therefore not suitable for exercising. 

Pros:

Great sound

Comfortable fit

Responsive touch controls

Brilliant noise cancellation

Affordable price

Cons:

Not great for sports

Struggles to recognise when they have been taken off

Price

The Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Earbuds cost NZD$300 (USD$178; £140). This is an impressive price point as these are top of the range earbuds that are significantly cheaper than other premium earbuds on the market.

The WF-1000XM3’s are more affordable than their main competitors, the Apple AirPods Pro NZ$450 (US$249; £249) and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds NZ$400 (US$279; £249). 

Usually, when an item is cheaper than its competition, we think of it as being an inferior product. That is not the case with the WF-1000XM3’s. These earbuds rival their competitors as the best earbuds on the market and are NZD$100 cheaper, which is impressive.

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Less Frankenstein-y than other bulky earbuds

Sony has opted for a bulky pill shape with the WF-1000XM3 earbuds and I think it works well. Personally, I like bulkier earbuds – I feel they allow for easier touch controls.  And for me, slightly bulkier buds is a fair tradeoff for better touch input.

There is a circular area at the top of the WF-1000XM3s that is dedicated to touch controls. It’s responsive, easy to use and allows for readjustment of the earbuds without accidentally pressing touch controls, which is great.

The WF-1000XM3s are designed to be twisted into the ear. They don’t stick out as much as other bulky earbuds like the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. This helped to prevent the “Frankenstein” look that some bulkier earbuds can have. They are subtle and look good.

The WF-1000XM3s are comfortable earbuds too. They look daunting at first as they are designed to go very deep in the ear, however, once I twisted them into position, I found they were some of the more comfortable earbuds I have used. The deep in-ear design allows for a secure fit ensuring I didn’t have any issues with these headphones falling out. Annoyingly, these earbuds are not waterproof or sweat-resistant so it is not recommended to use them when working out or performing outdoor activities. This feels like a missed opportunity as most earbuds have some sort of protection allowing users to work out with them.

Included in the box are four ‘hybrid silicone’ buds and three slightly thicker ‘triple comfort’ buds – as you’d expect.These accommodate a large range of ear sizes. It’s more than Sony’s rivals provide and it allows for a perfect, snug fit.

The WF-1000XM3s come in two colours. Black and Premium Silver. Both of these look classy.

The case also has these colour schemes. It looks great. It is slightly bigger than other cases on the market, but it does what it needs to do and is fine.

Excellent noise cancellation

The sound that the WF-1000XM3s produce is up there with the best earbuds on the market. It’s incredible, and is more comparable to the sound produced by over-ear headphones than earbuds. 

The vocals are clear, strong bass comes through without distorting the sound and it’s easy to hear the highs and lows of the mix.

The Sony Connect app comes with a handy equalizer. It has a selection of presets like bass boost or treble boost, or you can manually adjust the frequencies. You can easily hear the differences in the sound when adjusting the equaliser and it allows for significant customisation. I was able to get my music sounding just how I wanted with ease, and it was great.

The noise-cancelling capabilities of the WF-1000XM3 are some of the best on the market. I like to stress test the noise-cancelling technology of earbuds by using them when playing the drums. The WF-1000XM3 earbuds achieved the best results I have come across. With a song at half volume and noise cancellation on, I could barely hear the drums I was playing. It was a “wow” moment, and I was impressed that Sony was able to create such effective noise cancellation in such small earbuds.

You also have the option to turn on DSEE HX which upscales your existing sound source to near high resolution sound quality. The difference it provided was minimal and it used up more battery. I didn’t think it was worth using this option as the sound was already great without it. It felt more like a gimmick than a major improvement on the sound.

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All the features you need

The WF-1000XM3s don’t have any special features that separate them from other premium earbuds, but they have everything you would want and they do everything well.

The ambient sound mode, which allows you to hear outside noises, is very effective and has 20 different levels that allow for more noise to be let through. It works well.

The touch controls also work well. The touch surface is easy to locate on the ear and I never had any issues with the earbuds mistaking how many times I had pressed the touch controls. Just like all premium earbuds the touch controls allow you to take calls, skip songs, pause music and change from noise cancellation mode to ambient sound mode. It’s intuitive and easy and as an added bonus you can change the volume using touch controls, which isn’t always an option with earbuds.

The WF-1000XM3s allow for handsfree phone calling. The mic quality is good and my partner could hear me clearly when talking to her using the earbuds both inside and outside.

You are able to use smart assistants with the WF-1000XM3s, they are compatible with Google Assistant, and Siri – however Siri only works when the earbuds are paired with certain iOS devices. They aren’t compatible with macOS at all.

One area I felt the WF-1000XM3s didn’t work so well was when recognising I had taken the earbuds off. They are supposed to stop playing music when I take them out but I found often they would keep playing. Draining the battery significantly. It was only a minor issue, as the case allows for 18 hours worth of charging and also has a quick charge mode that provides 90 minutes worth of battery after a ten-minute charge. But, if my case was low on battery, it was a nuisance.

8-hour battery ?

The WF-1000XM3s allow for 6 hours of battery life with noise cancellation on and 8 hours with it off. This is slightly better than the AirPods Pro that have 5 hours of battery life with noise cancellation on and about the same as the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds.

As mentioned earlier, the case allows for 18 hours worth of charge. It doesn’t have very good LED indicators on it. It stays a solid red when the case is charging and flickers when it needs charging, that’s about it. It isn’t a major issue but it doesn’t inform you how much charge it has left, which could be an issue when you are away from a powerpoint.

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Verdict

Sony’s WF-1000XM3s are premium earbuds at an affordable price. They’re cheaper than their main competitors while still being a top quality product.

They’re comfortable earbuds that can easily be fitted to any ear. With some of the best noise cancellation capabilities on the market, the WF-1000XM3s produce a fantastic sound that can be customised to your personal preference. The bass is effective and strong, the vocals are clear and you can easily hear all the sounds in the mix.

While they don’t have any features that set them apart from the competition they come with all the features you would want from a premium set of earbuds like being able to take calls, smart assistant compatibility and ambient sounds mode. 

They do not provide any protection from water or sweat, and this is a big missed opportunity. These earbuds aren’t ideal for those who are looking to wear them while exercising. However if you’re looking for premium earbuds for listening to music or podcasts, then the WF-1000XM3s are a great option. They’re some of the best earbuds on the market. You won’t regret purchasing them. 

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