Check Out: Sony WH-1000XM3
The headphones are significantly more comfortable, thanks to the added cushioning on the earpads and the headband and the reduced weight with the switch from metal to plastic for the headband
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It is a little hard to imagine that until 2016, Sony didn’t have a premium pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones to challenge Bose at its own game… and then came along the original MDR-1000X. Now, in its third generation, Sony has chipped away at the minor issues that had lingered with the product and turned out something rather spectacular.
To begin with, the WH-1000XM3 headphones are significantly more comfortable, thanks to the added cushioning on the earpads and the headband and the reduced weight with the switch from metal to plastic for the headband. Slip them on and start your favourite tracks, and the music comes alive on the 1000XM3s. They may be somewhat bass-happy, but audio quality is rich and detailed, and the soundstage is incredibly spacious for a closed-back design headphone. Even after hours of wearing them (and they go nearly 30 hours by my estimate), there is no sense of discomfort or ear fatigue.
What truly pushes the headphones into ‘highly recommended’ category is its noise cancellation. Courtesy the dedicated QN1 noise cancelling chip this time around, the headphones turn the drone of the metro commute or the long flight into a pleasant hum.
For the first time, Sony edges past Bose’s QuietComfort on this crucial count, and then extends its lead by offering multiple profiles to dial up/down the cancellation, including one that is based on your current altitude and atmospheric pressure. Support for a range of high-resolution audio codecs, including the Android-only aptX HD standard, is a bonus, as is the much-loved Quick Attention feature which dims out your audio and lets you hear what’s around you.
As compelling a case as Sony makes with the WH-1000XM3, there are a few niggles that you might want to consider. There is only one button, for instance, so you must pick between assigning that to control noise cancellation modes or to invoke your phone’s digital assistant — dedicated buttons would have been easier. The touch controls on the right earcups are still a little finicky, and while the headphones can remember up to eight paired devices, you can only connect to one at a time.
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