Sony WF-1000XM3 - Wireless, ANC, In-Ear Monitor - Official Thread

Sony’s latest entry in the true-wireless, active noise-cancelling, in-ear monitor realm is the WF-1000XM3.

It features a revised (lower power consumption) version of Sony’s proprietary QN1e "HD Noise Cancelling Processor, dual noise sensors, 6 hour play time (with ANC enabled) and a charging-case good for another 18 hours/3 charges of power (with a 10 minute fast-charge capability that yields 90 minutes of listening time), and independent Bluetooth connections for each ear-bud (vs. one connecting to the source, and then the other connecting to the first unit).

This is available in the US market now, and I happened upon a pair today, so of course I snagged them.

Lots more details on the official site, and if you want to discuss them - this thread is the place …

First impressions …

Sounds is very good, though has a definite “consumer centric” bass tilt - most of “us” will dial that down a bit with the app-controlled EQ capability. Clarity and definition are, otherwise, much better than most Bluetooth IEMs. They do sound better than my go-to travel ANCs, the Bose QC20i (which are wired), and MUCH better than the non-ANC AirPods.

They’re VERY comfortable, and sit still in the ear without needing hooks or loops. Though it remains to be seen if they’re AS comfortable as the Bose QC20i, which don’t actually insert into the ear canal, unlike the Sony’s.

The ANC functionality and performance is very similar to that of the WH-1000XM3 … which is the best I’ve heard to date. This in-ear model actually works better as the physical/mechanical isolation it provides is actually better than the over-ear equivalent.

The “charging case” is relatively enormous compared to the AirPod version, being fully 4.5x the size:

Interestingly they only support the SBC and AAC Bluetooth CODECs, which means these are going to generally fair better, quality-wise, for iPhone users.

More to come as I get time …

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Yea the case looks quite large. Most android phones support AAC now so shouldn’t be an issue with codec. I was surprised they left out LDAC off of this device!

I have been considering getting one, but I’m very happy with my Galaxy buds right now and their surprisingly good sound quality.

Definitely going to follow this one out though.

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I was a bit surprised by them not having LDAC too.

I don’t know if that’s down to the need for them to be lower-power than over-ear stuff (due to much smaller batteries), a lack of horsepower in the CPU or its just something that will come along later (they are firmware updatable from the companion app).

And the form-factor makes the diminutive size of the AirPods and their charging case, seem even more impressive. Though sound-wise it’s not even close … the Sony’s are much better, even without considering the ANC. For travel purposes, which is really what I was thinking about these for, the case isn’t really any larger (volume-wise), overall, than the pouch for the QC20i I usually carry.

The ANC does, as I’ve come to expect, yield a low level hiss when no music is playing (not audible when it is). And it can be turned off, of course, if you don’t need it. Though it was not accompanied by the sense of “pressure” that I get with the WH-1000XM3 when just using them to shut out noise (and not playing music).

The real test is going to be my next plane flight. The Bose QC20i are literally all-day comfortable, since they sit in the outer each and cover the entrance to the ear-canal without actually protruding into it (no pressure there at all). I have literally worn them for the full duration of their 16-hour battery life and not removed them, and had not pressure or comfort issues at all.

The WF-1000XM3 use conventional IEM tips/fitment and sit in the ear the same way, so may not be as comfortable for long periods. The temptation to do away with the wires on the QC20i is very high, however!

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The shape looks perfect for CyberMen, but maybe not for humans.

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this made me spit out my coffee in laughter. Thanks for that.

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Clearly you gentlemen have never worn the Abyss AB-1266 while looking in a mirror …

Abyss%20Cyber

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I have a pair of these and love them. I feel like I couldn’t ask for more from a Bluetooth iem. I have noticed one issue though. When I’m at the gym, where there are lots of people with Bluetooth headsets, I’m getting some kind of interference that makes my music cut out in a very annoying fashion.

I haven’t had a Bluetooth headset in ages, so is this something that’s normal maybe, or should I look into getting mine swapped out? Outside of the gym, I have zero complaints.

You can try using the companion app to switch the “Sound Quality Mode” setting to “Priority on Stable Connection” (it defaults to “Priority on Sound Quality”).

That should help with the drop-outs, though may not eliminate them entirely - having dozens of Bluetooth devices all active, and in very close proximity, often causes such issues. And in modern gyms an increasing number of the workout machines have Bluetooth and often use several channels (e.g. treadmills that offer Bluetooth sound for their built-in screens and Bluetooth heart-rate monitoring etc.).

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SONY WF-1000XM3 REVIEW

In my last review, I wrote that I don’t typically write a lot of reviews on Bluetooth products, but maybe that’s just the start of many. Today, I will be writing about Sony’s newest Bluetooth active noise-cancelling in-ear, the WF-1000XM3.

This new model is an updated model of the original WF-1000X, and it seems Sony skipped over a 2nd generation set and went straight to the third generation. The in-ear comes in both black and beige colors and has a shape that sits in the ear as well as the main shell sitting outside your ear, in a horizontal shape. I must say, that this is a weird design for me, especially after primarily wearing the Samsung Galaxy Buds, which is almost completely within your ear, and feels more like a traditional in-ear monitor.

The WF-1000XM3 isn’t nearly as comfortable. The odd shape does take some time to get used to and the angled nozzles can make it comfortable, or uncomfortable to each individual. For me, as is normal with most IEMs, my left ear doesn’t even feel them at all on me, while my right ear is rather finicky. I had demo’d these at a Head-Fi meet recently and sort of knew what I was getting myself into when I bought these recently. At the time, they fit well for my 15 minutes or so of usage, but I wasn’t so sure about it’s long-term wear on my ears. Since I’ve been traveling for work lately, I decided to pick them up and try them out as I’d get some good mileage and usage on them on airplanes.

The included tips are actually rather nice. They include 4 sizes of silicone tips which kind of remind me of Audeze’s iSine Groovy tips, but without the grooves, and 4 sizes of these silicone-foam hybrid tips that feel like squishy gel. While both were pretty comfortable, I wish there was a size in-between the two smaller sizes of either tips for my ears. I ended up tip rolling for a while, and ended up landing on SpinFit CP140 Small tips, which have become a standard for me when using IEMs. These have provided good comfort for plane rides, mostly short 2-3 hour hops between cities, and walking around airport terminals.

I still find the Galaxy Buds to be more comfortable in general, with a more ergonomic fit, but the Sony WF-1000XM3 hasn’t been as awful to use as I imagined. They still have a little bit of pain after an hour and I sometimes readjust for comfort.

Active Noise Cancellation & Battery Life

The WF-1000XM3’s main selling point is that it’s a true wireless In-Ear with Sony’s full active noise cancellation technology from their over-ear flagship. Using them is as simple as tapping the left ear phone’s sensor to change between ambient sound mode, noise cancellation, and normal “off” mode, where the DSP is still active but it just uses passive isolation. The ambient mode was pretty handy for hearing my surroundings, and the passive mode works for most normal situations and conserves battery.

Speaking of battery-life, these aren’t the best. They are rated at about 6 hours with ANC on, which I found to be pretty accurate. In about 2 hours and 45 minutes of usage, the Sony app said they were down to 50%. That’s really short, but it works for my commuter flight needs. They carrying case also acts as a charging dock and gives you more power quickly.

Now back to the topic of ANC. The noise cancelling feature works pretty well. Most of my trips have been on Embraer small commuter jets, and they aren’t as quiet as some of the larger Boeing and Airbus planes which fly at higher altitude and have better noise suppression. The XM3 performed as well or better than my Sony over-ears, which are the H.Ear On 2 WH-H900N. They aren’t the flagship Sonys, but I actually prefer them supremely over the WH-1000XM series, since they actually sound more neutral and balanced.

There was still some low engine hum, but it was massively reduced from using the Galaxy Buds, which did almost nothing, and my normal passive IEMs, the qdc Anole VX in terms of isolation.

Sound

In my sound trials, I was primarily using the iBasso DX160 and Samsung Galaxy S10e as source, using AAC streaming. I didn’t have any DSP on the source activated, so it was primarily what the WF-1000XM3’s on-board DAC/Amp and DSP provided for sound quality.

The WF-1000XM3 has a very balanced sound, that does lean warm and laid back. It’s a rich sound that is enticing and lush, while having enough upper-midrange and lower treble boost (pinna compensation) to bring voices and instruments to life. And unlike a lot of Sony IEMs, there’s no sense of possibility of treble harshness.

There’s no denying the fact that the WF-1000XM3 has a lifted bass that is not unlike a lot of consumer-level headphones. That said, there’s no emphasis in the mid-bass, and lucky for me, the sub-bass is the area that is gained without a bloated mid-bass region that I really dislike. The added bass that downslopes towards 1KHz adds a lot of warmth, especially when compared to the Samsung Galaxy Buds, which is much more lean sounding in comparison, even with the “Soft” EQ activated.

In actual listening, a song that is very heavy bass guitar focused like The Beatles’ I Want You (She’s So Heavy), the bass’s presence is rather distinguishable and very heavy. It’s not heavy enough to distract and muddy too much, but it’s omni-present. There’s also a decent level of texturing though not as clean, layered and detailed as some of my more resolving, and wired, IEMs.

The mid-range has a warmer tonality as I mentioned before. The vocals are forward, thick, and lush. Male voices have a lot of power to them, more so than females, surprisingly. That said, the upper mid-range is still forward and should be attractive to those who like higher pitched female music.

The treble region is a little on the laid-back side. I never felt any sense of harshness, straining, or any sibilance, which is a good thing. All that, while I found that the WF-1000XM3 still retained decent clarity for being a consumer-level true wireless and that’s pretty impressive. Due to the it being slightly laid back though, some may miss airy soundscapes and wider soundstages, and I must say, the WF-1000XM3 is a more intimate sounding in-ear. There was a smaller sense of openness and depth when listening to these, and so in that respect, imaging was just average. I found the Galaxy Buds excelling over the WF-1000XM3 in the treble and soundstage department.

Overall

I was excited to hear how this true-wireless in-ear from Sony would be like when it was first announced, but I held back because of the design. It didn’t look nearly as comfortable as the Samsung Galaxy Buds. And for the most part, that’s still true, however, I was able to find a suitable tip combination that has worked well for me.

With that, I have been rewarded with a nice noise-cancellation that works great for airplanes and travel, and a very lush, warm and rich sounding in-ear that sounds much better than expected. In some ways, I prefer how they sound to the Galaxy Buds, but I am missing some of the treble clarity and airiness that those bring. That said, the WF-1000XM3 is a nice IEM that sounds great for this price range, and one I can recommend, as long as you can deal with the fit.

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As someone who spends way too much time on Embraers I appreciate the very specific shout-out. :slight_smile: I might pick up a pair if the AirPods Pro aren’t good enough to handle my next trip.

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Haha. Yea I’ve gone on 4 roundtrip trips to the other side of the country and been on 8 embraer planes in the past 4 weeks. Maybe a fifth week straight next week… we’ll see.

We have airpod pros as well, but they’re my wife’s. I’ll see if she’ll let me play around with them for an hour or so. :slight_smile:

Hey @antdroid, did your wife ever let you try the Airpod Pros? I’m going on a loooooong trip soon (over 20 hours in the air in each direction), and wanted to get a pair of 'phones for the trip, and also to use for indoor cycling, commuting and other non-critical scenarios. The Airpod Pros are the obvious choice, but these could work too.

no not yet. She takes them with her everywhere, and I havent really tried them out. In fact, she’s wearing them right now listening to audio books.

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So, I bought a pair of the AirPod Pros. They seemed the most convenient option for my purpose (travel, working around the house, cooking etc). They’re pretty nice. Very convenient and the ANC works, at least for the things I’ve tried it with so far (ice cream machine, large hood over the range, chocolate tempering machine - yes, I have other hobbies). The sound is … fine. Not a ton of detail, and the highs and midrange seem a bit muted. I’m definitely not going to be doing any kind of critical listening with these, but for 20+ hours on the plane, they should do fine.

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All this is moot since you didn’t.compare to Sennheiser. Their Momentum True Wireless has sound staging and a sound signature that will blow these out of the water.Then came the MTW2s, an impressive package of additional features.
Comparing these to the rest is okay but comparing these to the best makes for a better read! C’mon! Sennheiser!

I can only review and compared with what I have. :wink:

Hey,

i lost one of the Earphones of late and sony have said its around 100 pounds to replace, however they say you need to send the battery base to be able to pair the old and new ear bud.
Is this correct?
i have seen a replacement earbud and wondered if anyone on here knows how to do this without sending off.

Many thanks

Karl