As a top-class model among Bluetooth headphones with ANC (Active Noise Cancelling) feature, two devices have repeatedly been discussed. These are the Sony WH-1000XM2 on the one hand and the Bose QC35 II headphones on the other. Sony’s variant was widely criticized for its lack of comfort, mediocre ANC and a background noise with the noise canceling function switched on. The manufacturer has been adding the latest model since September 2018 and would like to revise these points. You can find out in the test whether they succeeded and how the new headphones fare against the competition.

Outstanding ANC and ambient sound

What definitely turns out to be better is the revised noise canceling function. ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) is active noise suppression, which is implemented with the help of 5 microphones and the anti-noise generated from them. Ambient noise is reduced to a minimum with these headphones, so you can fully concentrate on the music. Of course, this again depends on the intended use. One should not expect the technology to make the loud voice of the person sitting next to you, the drilling work of the neighbor or the engine noise of the car inaudible. These are only slightly dampened, but are still perceptible. Rather, low-frequency sounds such as the ventilation in a windowless bathroom or humming noises on a train ride are perfectly suppressed. The headphones also help with the muffled voices of the neighbors echoing into the apartment when they have visitors. In short, quiet noises and low-frequency sounds are well filtered, while extreme noise or irregular sounds are only slightly attenuated.
The manufacturer has not only tinkered with the strength of the ANC, but also almost completely removed the background noise. In contrast to the competitor model of a Bose QC35, the WH-1000XM3 has almost no noise when ANC is switched on. This is only slightly audible if you are in a completely silent room and turn on the ANC function. But you have to concentrate to be able to see something here.

However, if you want to listen to music and perceive your surroundings even more, you can use the ambient sound function. This makes it possible to hear the ambient noise even more clearly. For example, you can turn up the volume and still hear the doorbell ringing.

The special functions such as Active Noise Canceling and Ambient Sound are quite impressive on the device. The headphones are among the best you can expect in the ANC segment.

Speaking of sound: The sound can’t compete with wired headphones, but it’s still very good. Bass-heavy music can be enjoyed with a nice quality via the Sony headphones without any problems. Of course, the sound is a matter of taste. Some prefer to go for the Bose and others can no longer part with the Sony. For my taste, both models don’t do much and offer a unique sound for Bluetooth headphones.

App extends functionalities

The app “Sony | Headphones Connect” offers even more possibilities to influence the sound. You can simply play with the controls via the touchscreen and thus improve your own experience. The intensity of the ANC can also be adjusted as desired via the app, which proves to be particularly helpful.
Sony also offers the option of downloading firmware updates for the device via the app, adjusting the switch-off time, changing the function of the ANC button or changing the sound mode. If you opt for the headphones, you should not do without the app. This is available free of charge for Android and Apple devices.
The following video gives you an insight into how it all works.

Deficiencies in Bluetooth quality

The Bluetooth functionality is not so successful. While competing products easily allow multiple connections at the same time and you can easily switch between them at the touch of a button, the Sony model is limited to one. So if you want to connect the Sony headphones to another device, the current connection must first be disconnected manually. In addition, you sometimes have to reconnect to the Bluetooth player yourself after the device has been switched off. Accordingly, the Sony WH-1000XM3 does not always automatically recognize the last connected device. From this it can be deduced that a little effort is required to set up the Bluetooth connections in order to be able to use them to their full extent.

The range of the device can be compared to other devices in the premium class and is quite sufficient.

On the positive side, this model is equipped with Bluetooth 4.2, while the direct predecessor only supported 4.1.

Touchpad as a design feature

Sony shows they have arrived in the future of the touchpad and are building such functionality right into their headphones. With light swiping and tapping movements on the surface of the right ear cup, you can navigate between songs on a playlist, pause music tracks or adjust the volume.

The touchpad greatly enriches the operating functionality. Annoying button presses are almost completely eliminated.

On the left are two buttons that switch between ANC, normal mode and ambient sound, query the device’s battery status or switch it on and off.
By using the touchpad, other unnecessary clattering keys are almost completely left out and are therefore limited to the most important buttons.

Unfortunately, there is a misbehavior for some people that limits the functionality of the touchpad at low temperatures. However, due to the currently mild temperatures, I was not able to determine this behavior during the course of the test. It remains to be seen whether a firmware update is planned in the future, which should fix this peculiarity.

However, the touchpad has one disadvantage: You should make sure that you don’t accidentally touch the sensor field when removing the device, otherwise certain functions will be executed accidentally. Unfortunately, the touchpad cannot be switched off.

Pleasant comfort

So far, the Bose QC35 have been able to score the point here. The Sony WH-1000XM2 weren’t very comfortable for long periods of time. This is an aspect that the new WH-1000XM3 model has tackled and properly tweaked for convenience. With softer padding, wearing comfort is significantly more comfortable. Even after several hours, you don’t hear too much pressure on the ear cups. Nevertheless, it must also be said that the inner pads are still touched by the ears. This is where the Bose has the advantage of having inner cavities that are specially adapted to the shape of the auricle. Nevertheless, the Sony headphones can now also be worn over a longer period of time without having to worry that they will press too hard.

The temples don’t squeeze too much around the head either, but depending on the setting, they are tight enough not to fall off the head. The padding around the ears and the upper head area are covered with imitation leather and are comfortable to wear.

The padding is very soft and does not press too hard on the head. The use of artificial leather contributes to the beautiful design and is comfortable to wear.

As far as battery life is concerned, Sony states a maximum runtime of up to 30 hours. This information was not fully confirmed in the course of the test. However, a runtime of 20 – 25 hours could still be maintained with the ANC switched on. It is pleasing that the battery is already fully charged within 3 hours. However, if you don’t want to listen for 25 hours at a time, you can only let the device charge for half an hour. That’s enough for a few more hours.

In addition to the USB-C charging cable, the scope of delivery also includes a 1.2m long jack cable to operate the headphones on the jack connection. Anyone who switches the device on can then continue to enjoy the ANC or ambient sound features during cable operation. There is also a double jack adapter for in-flight entertainment systems in aircraft.
All this is packed in a quality bag. Not only does it look beautiful, you can also take the Sony WH-1000XM3 with you wherever you go so that you can use it on the go without any problems.

The headphones are packed in a nice bag. This includes a USB-C charging cable, a jack cable and an adapter for in-flight entertainment systems on airplanes.

Nice looking exterior

With softer upholstery and the use of artificial leather, not only the comfort scores, but also the design. This is kept beautifully simple and is not spoiled by large, ostentatious logos or obtrusive lettering. The model is available in 2 color variants: silver and black. Both are adorned with a small golden “Sony” lettering placed on the temples. The connections for the cables are also kept in a light gold tone. The use of another shade brings more variation in the colors and makes the headphones more attractive without standing out too much.

The design is also well done. A touch of gold on the logo and the connections provides additional color variation.


Sony WH-1000XM3 Rating

9.0 Awesome

Sony has landed another hit in the Bluetooth ANC headphone segment with the Sony WH-1000XM3. Criticisms of the predecessor have been almost eliminated with a greatly improved comfort, the removal of the background noise when the ANC is switched on, a nicer carrying case and the increase in the sound quality. Nevertheless, one should work on the Bluetooth functionality, which is the biggest point of criticism for me because of only one connection that can be used in parallel. Apart from that, the headphones are recommended for anyone who is looking for pleasant-sounding, nice-looking and comfortable-fitting Bluetooth headphones with ANC functionality.

  • Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) 10
  • Sound 9
  • Bluetooth connectivity 8
  • Comfort 9
  • Design & Features 9
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0
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Hey guys, I'm Dominik, editor and I'm happy to throw myself into the latest PS5 news and reviews for you :)

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