Review: Sony’s WH-1000XM3 noise-cancelling headphones

Blog / Technology

Sony’s WHX-1000XM3 wireless NC headphones are essentially an upgrade to the 1000XM2’s released last year. The new cans feature a series of minor improvements that collectively Sony believes justify a new model number, so I was happy to give them a test drive over on MacRumors.

Sony threatened to topple the apple cart in 2016 when it unleashed its flagship MDR-1000X cans on a headphones market which up until then had been dominated by Bose in the premium travel-grade noise-canceling department.

Combining excellent wireless sound with active NC that made even QuietComfort fans sit up and take notice, Sony’s awkwardly named headset proved that the Japanese company’s extensive acoustic R&D had finally hit on a winner, giving rival NC headphone makers due cause for worry in the process.

Unsurprisingly, Sony has sought to improve upon this winning formula in the intervening years, starting with another tongue-twisting rebrand of its flagship range (the inexplicably named WH-1000X series) and two follow-up models boasting incremental improvements, both of which have been well received.

What’s perhaps more surprising about these developments is Bose’s lack of response to them, having released in that time only a tweaked version of its flagship QC35 cans with support for Google Assistant. Whether that’s down to complete confidence in the quality of its existing noise-canceling smarts or just lack of innovation is a moot point, given that Sony’s adaptive NC technology and sonic prowess has essentially overtaken the company, as these latest cans exemplify.