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Sony WF-1000MX3 Review - Best wireless noise-canceling stereo headset yet?

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Electronics giant Sony is bringing its class-leading noise-canceling technology to its wireless Bluetooth earphones. This is our review of the Sony WF-1000MX3!
Sony WF-1000MX3 Review - Best wireless noise-canceling stereo headset yet?
Do they sound good though?

To avoid confusion, the original WF-1000 did not get a Mark 2. Sony skipped to the Mark 3.

Unboxing/Accessories

Unboxed
Unboxed

Like most audio products from Sony, the MX3s come in a white box with prominent Sony branding, regulatory and features information with a huge render of the product.

Inside is the quick start guide, 1-year warranty card, manual, total of 12 ear cups (6 foamies, 8 silicon), USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable, the charging case and the left and right earphones.

Build Quality/Design

Premium Polycarbonare build
Premium polycarbonate build

The charging case and the earphones themselves are made up of premium polycarbonate, glass, and metal. Upon closer inspection, the outer side of the earphones has the Sony branding, rose gold trim and the glass capacitive touch buttons. On the other side are the CPU contacts, ear cups, and the proximity sensor. On the side are the left or right indicators, made in Malaysia and power information. 

The case, on the other hand, is designed like a "U" shaped pod. On top is the rose gold-colored metal top and below that is the premium polycarbonate bottom. At the bottom, you will find a single USB Type-C port for charging. The case does not support wireless charging. Upon opening the top hatch, the earphones, NFC pairing contact point, regulatory information, CPU contacts and left or right indicators. 

The MX3s are one of the most beautiful and premium looking wireless earphones in the market right now. The look of the earphones when worn is either you like it or you don’t kind of experience. Personally, I don’t mind how they look but this is a matter of preference. There is no IP rating for these earphones so only time will tell how it will endure sweaty humid environments like the Philippines.

Comfort/Isolation

CPU contacts and capacitive touch on either side
CPU contacts and capacitive touch on either side

The stock silicon and foam cups are comfortable and although the body of the earphones looks big and bulky, it is actually pretty lightweight. We didn't experience any discomfort after long hours of use. 

When using the right sized earcups, Isolation is excellent. In fact, if you switch from a proper fitting cup to a non-proper fitting cup, the difference of isolation and sound quality is night and day.

The cups are able to stay in your ears as long as you do not do strong or rapid head movements. During extraneous activities such as exercise, we found that the M3s would fall off our ears.

Battery

USB Type-C port at the bottom
USB Type-C port at the bottom

The internal battery capacity of M3s was not mentioned but is rated for 6 hours plus 18 hours or a total of 24 hours of continuous use.

We were in a 16-hour flight from Manila to New York and the earphones performed as stated. It lasted 6 to 7 hours of continuous playback and was recharged twice to make the full 16 hours. After the flight, the charging case still had enough juice to charge it one more time.

The charging case charges via USB-C and the case takes around 90 minutes to charge from drained to 100 percent on the earphones and the case.

Features

There is no wireless charging capability
There is no wireless charging capability

To turn on the MX3s, you have to open the top, pull out the left earphone and you have to wear it. The left earphone will then have an audio prompt of the current battery level of the left earphone. If the MX3s were already paired previously, it will connect automatically and prompt you when the Bluetooth connection has been established.

A voice prompt from each earphone will tell you if it is connected and will tell you the battery level of that earphone. This means you can tell the battery level of each earphone from the other. This separate battery prompt from each earphone is a small but brilliant feature that removes the guesswork and removes the repetitive checking of the battery status on your phone.
Sony Headphones app
Sony headphones app

To unlock full control of the MX3s, you need to install Sony’s Headphones app on your iOS or Android phone and pair them via NFC or via Bluetooth. 

The effective range to maintain a decent connection between the MX3s to your paired device is around 10 feet. It will depend on the obstruction between the user and the paired device. Once connected it maintains a stable and constant connection. We’ve only had one instance where the connection was unstable. More on that later. 

If you want to connect directly to the earphones, you have to tap and hold on the capacitive buttons of both left and right earphones until your device is able to detect it. Pairing is as easy as one more top after.

Inside the Headphones app, you are able to see the current battery status of both earphones, set your equalizer, customize and activate Adaptive Sound control. 

In Adaptive Sound control, the earphones is able to detect if you are staying still, commuting, walking or running and adjusts the levels of noise cancellation according to the level you’ve set. We followed the default settings and found it to detect our current activity accurately 8 out of 10. There were times where it would suddenly turn-off noise cancellation and turned on ambient sound when I didn’t need it to. 

There is also an option where you can prioritize either Sound quality or stable connections. The latter served us well when we were in proximity of another person with another set of Bluetooth earphones that uses similar frequencies.

The interference from this other pair of Bluetooth earphones only happened once and giving us the option which to prioritize is a small but impactful touch from Sony. You have the option to set the function of the left and right side capacitive buttons. (either Playback control, Ambient Sound Control, Google Assistant or None Assigned.) 
Noise cancellation options
Noise cancellation options

If you press and hold on on the left capacitive button, it allows you to listen to the ambient sound while if you press and hold on the right capacitive button accesses your voice assistant. Noise cancellation on the new MX3s is excellent. At the maximum level, the noise cancellation was able to drown out most of the ambient noise of the vibrations and engine noise when we're in a 16-hour flight from Manila to New York City. During our commute, it was also able to drown out most of the noise pollution from motor vehicles, crowds of people and loud animal noises.

There are sensors near the ear cups that detect when you are wearing the earphones and even if you take one-off, the remaining earphone you are wearing will continue to play your desired audio.

The noise cancellation does not totally turn the environmental sound into total silence but it turns the noise level down enough that you tend to forget about the ambient sound and focus on the task at hand. 

This is where noise cancellation truly shines. In my case, I was able to focus for extended periods when the feature was turned on while playing Spotify in the background. 

We can safely say that Sony was able to provide a near enough noise-canceling experience from the bigger WX-1000MX3 headphones to the WF-1000MX3 earphones.

Sound Quality

Sony WF-1000XM3
Sony WF-1000XM3

Because of the nature of noise cancellation, the MX3’s sound quality is able to produce good sound quality with decent separation, and decent clarity but users may find that the sound stage is small, and the sound lacks power (meatiness), and the depth of the sound is steeper (range is not that wide) when compared to the competition. 

The volume gets loud enough at maximum volume with minimum distortion but we wished that the sound could be meatier and more powerful to compliment the noise cancellation and truly drown out the outside sound.


Sound quality is good enough for almost everyone except for the discerning audiophiles!

In addition to this is the lack of DAC and AptX support which could be a concern especially for the audiophiles. The sound quality reflected this wherein the sound is good for most people but will be lacking for people who want top-grade sound.

In short, the MX3’s can compete with the lower-priced competition in sound quality but will struggle with competitors like the Sennheiser Momentum because of the focus on Noise cancellation.

Pros - Premium build, best-in-class noise reduction, 24-hour battery life, best-in-class microphone audio quality, decent audio quality
Cons - No IP rating, not for exercise, no wireless charging, not for audiophiles

Sony WF-1000XM3 Specs

Driver: 6mm dynamic dome type
Frequency 20Hz-20,000Hz
Frequency response: 20Hz to 20KHz
Microphone: Dual-Mic
Battery: Rated for 6 (earphones) + 18 hours (case) of use
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, 
Others: USB-C,  Google Assistant key, double-tap control
Weight: 8.5 g per earphone, 77 g for charging case
Price: PHP 12,990

Verdict

Sony's WF-1000XM3 is the best true wireless earphones with noise cancellation in the market. 

It may not be able to please discerning audiophiles in sound quality, but it produces sounds that are more than great enough for anyone looking for a good sound trip that drowns out the ambient noise.

It even has the best in class microphone quality in audio recording and in calls.

Our only gripe with the XM3s is that it isn't built for exercise because it falls off your ears when there are strong head movements and because there is no IP rating. We also don't recommend using this in the rain. Lastly, it doesn't support wireless charging which is becoming standard now.

Overall, there is no other choice if you want noise-cancelling earphones and we highly recommend the Sony WF-1000XM3.

Build/Design - 4.5
Comfort/Isolation - 4
Battery Life - 4.5
Features - 4.5
Sound - 4.25
Average - 4.25/5
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