After 2 years since WF-1000X, the first active noise cancelling true wireless earphones launched, Sony has finally delivered the next generation model. With WF-1000XM3, Sony has upped the ante for true wireless audio market. With all the tech infused in the compact earbuds, the WF-1000XM3 retails at an affordable price of S$349. Stocks are very limited, with a lot of pre-orders in many authorised distributors. Media review units are only available from August, so I decided to head to the Sony Store for a quick hands-on.
In case you are wondering, there is no “Mark 2”. Sony skipped WF-1000XM2 to avoid confusion, very much like how Samsung skipped “Galaxy Note 6”. It is a good idea to sync up the model number since the WF-1000XM3 is an improved noise-cancelling technology over the WH-1000XM3 headphones, so the “Mark” number should be same or higher.
When I arrived at the Sony Store, another person was also testing the unit, so I politely asked to be the next in line. The atmosphere is relaxing, there wasn’t a crowd, so I had room to explore the unit and take some close-up photos. Not unlike the previous model, the WF-1000XM3 is not compact at all, a small sacrifice for technology.
While the earbuds are not small, they pop into the ears and I do not feel any strain. Unlike the first generation, this one does not have any ear stabilizers.
Pairing the device, according to the staff, is to hold both sensors at both earbuds for 8 seconds to go into pairing mode. I find it easier to just use the NFC to initiate pairing.
With the WF-1000XM3, Sony has finally delivered the noise cancelling capability that consumer needs. The digital noise cancelling processor is effective in eliminating the general noise except the higher frequencies, which is no worse than WH-1000XM3. I am unable to compare whether it is better, but I feel that it is more important to determine if the ANC works. For the WF-1000XM3, yes it works in removing ambient noise and immerse me in the music even in noisy public areas. Just like the WH-1000XM3 headphones, I can enjoy musical details in public areas. I have no problems picking up the echoes of the sound stage setting for each audio track.
And speaking of audio, the sound quality is Sony signature: the treble offers sufficient transparency to enjoy the details, while the bass is close and roomy without excessive boom to muddy up the mix. The balance should confidently appeal to the mass.
Even if you are skeptical about the ANC capability, there are other features that makes the WF-1000XM3 a worthy buy. Like other 1000X series, the earphones offer more personalised features through the Sony Headphones Connect app, which you can EQ the sound, or adjust the ambient sound level. I tried bumping up the bass and it delivers without distortion. With that, there is no excuse to say the earphones could not meet the musical preference. And despite transmitting via SBC audio codec, the sound quality is clean without audible compression deficiencies.
Other premium features include: auto pause when earbuds are removed, touch controls instead of click buttons so you don’t hurt your ear canals operating, and Quick Attention by holding the sensor to engage in conversations.
As I was testing, another customer walked in and signaled his interest to test the same, so I cut short my audition and surrendered after just 10 minutes into my testing.
Highly Recommended For Audio and Features
At S$349, the WF-1000XM3 offers a lot of technology that many other true wireless earbuds lack. The price is very attractive and I would highly recommend anyone to own one pair if you find the features useful to you.
Are there reasons not to buy the WF-1000XM3? Yes, if you find the case and earbuds too bulky (the Klipsch T5 True Wireless goes in my pocket wherever I go). Yes, if you find battery life is not as stellar (6 hours per charge, casing offers up to 24 hours). Yes, if you do not really need ANC, which could be a bane when you commute as you will not be able to hear the surroundings. Yes, if you needed stronger water resistance.
Until then, the Sony WF-1000XM3 is the best and most affordable true wireless earbuds with digital noise cancelling that kills noise – and competition.
- Excellent Active Noise Cancelling Engine
- Supports Ambient Sound
- Companion app that personalises EQ and audio engine
- Auto pause when earbuds are removed
- Quick Attention when holding the left sensor
- Competitive price given the number of available features
- Bulky case and earbuds
- Relatively shorter battery life compared to competition (but above average compared to true-wireless market in general)
- Does not support hi-res codecs like LDAC (which WH-1000XM3 headphones do)