After the critical success of the WH-1000XM3 circum-aural headphones – renowned for their formidable ANC – Sony is back with equally effective true wireless in-ear headphones. The WF-1000XM3 replaces the nice but perfectible Sony WF-1000X. Are there new tenors in the world of wireless I.T.’s? Answer in this test.
Priced at €249, the Sony WF-1000XM3 s promise a lot, starting with the best ambient noise reduction on the market, at least for in-ear earphones But in the face of stiff competition, the Japanese manufacturer will not be able to be satisfied with its ANC alone. sound quality and Battery Life will have to be top-notch in order to compete with Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless and other top-of-the-range BeoPlay E8 2.0 products.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 are delivered in a relatively large box. This is to make room for the Bluetooth earphones and their case, but also for the six pairs of ear tips included – in addition to the pre-installed ones. memory foam or soft silicone, the choice is yours!
The box also contains the USB-C charging cable as well as the classic manuals in various languages. Sony takes care of the presentation of its newborn babies, and that’s great.
If the old WF-1000Xs could make people grind their teeth with their look, the XM3 s are also likely to put off more than one. They feature a horizontal design which is far from being compact. Nevertheless, they show a certain sobriety, with no buttons to break the lines of the whole.
Just as on its famous headband headphones, Sony opts for touch controls. As with all headphones of this type, they require some time to adjust to use. However, their use becomes intuitive after a few hours of listening.
Sony also uses its know-how to give us the free choice of the allocation oforders. By default, the right earpiece controls song playback and the left earpiece controls Active Noise Control (ANC). But nothing prevents you from assigning the management of the voice assistant to the right side and switching the playback control to the left ear if you are left-handed.
There is even the Quick Attention mode of the WH-1000XM3 headset which allows, with a long press, to mute the ANC to pick up sounds around. Of course, you can also answer a phone call or hang up if you need to.
It’s just a shame that there is no touch control dedicated to volume. This can be done through the Android/iOS application or the smartphone buttons. Hopefully a future update will improve things in this area.
What about comfort in all this? Contrary to their size, the Sony true wireless intras are really very pleasant to wear. Their all-plastic structure allows the manufacturer to reduce the weight of each earphone to only eight grams . Add to that the plethora of toe caps available and you can be sure to find the right shoe for your foot.
The absence of a support fin does not affect the wearer’s wearing comfort, even in the event of sudden movements. However, it must be taken into account that these intras are not intended forathletes. The lack of IP certification rather directs them towards “quiet” use.
The size of the refill case eliminates any need to carry it in a small pocket during sport. Displaying a weight of 72 grams – 88 grams with the earphones inside – said case is one of the largest we have ever tested…
We can also notice that the golden coloured flap quickly loses its superb, catching fingerprints and scratches at a frantic pace. Molested by a previous tester, our loaner equipment looked pitiful. You can barely imagine the damage in six months…
However, this box is not to be thrown away. In addition to providing a fast connection with the NFC, it also houses a large battery. This allows for three full earphone recharges. Each earphone has a range of approximately six hours with ANC or eight hours without ANC. The whole unit thus benefits from 24 hours to 32 hours of total use. And our tests to confirm that the intras hold between five hours 30 minutes and six hours with ANC depending on usage. This result is really impressive and clearly places the Sony WF-1000XM3 among the most enduring true wireless intras of the moment!
Unlike the WH-1000XM3 headset, Sony’s new in-ear monitors use Bluetooth 5.0. The manufacturer has also thoroughly reviewed the operation of its headphones. Each headset thus connects directly to the smartphone – not one to the smartphone and the other to the first, as was the case with the WF-1000X.
The connection is a little onion-like, remaining stable even when you move away from the smartphone. However, the Japanese manufacturer commits some errors, starting with the absence of multipoints. The WF-1000XM3 only connect to one device at a time.
Even more surprising is the absence of AptX, AptX HD or LDACcodecs. The intras make do with SBC and AAFC. It is therefore impossible to fully enjoy songs recorded in CD quality or even in HiRes. The only technology integrated by Sony to improve playback is the DSEE-HX , which theoretically provides better playback of low quality songs.
This option is activated from the Sony | Headphones Connect application designed for Android and iOS. It is also here that you will find a rather accurate equalizer with various presets. Please note that if you change smartphones, your settings will remain saved on the earphones.
The application will also give you control over the ANC settings, the operation of the button on each headset or the behavior of the battery when you remove the ITEs. By default, these turn off when they have not been used for five minutes.
A motion sensor built into each earpiece is also used to mute the music when you remove theearphones. The whole is therefore very complete even if the design of the application is a little austere.
In addition to the passive isolation provided by the earmolds housed in the ear canal, the WF-1000XM3 incorporates a HD-QN1e chip dedicated toactive noise cancellation. The latter is a lighter version of the WH-1000XM3 headset.
Once again, the Japanese manufacturer has awarded us a ANC with small onions. It may not be as advanced as its famous headband, but it undeniably surpasses most, if not all, current in-ear headsets. Once activated, you find yourself in a small bubble of tranquility, ideal for listening to your music in peace.
So yes, you can still hear some outside sounds, especially those of the higher frequencies. But the biggest nuisance is stopped with brilliance, at least for intras. In order to satisfy everyone, Sony has integrated its adaptive sound control system. It will detect your activities and change the intensity of the ANC according to your settings. You can, if you wish, improve the voice pickup or, on the contrary, block everything.
This active noise reduction allows you to really enjoy every note. The sound quality of the WF-1000XM3 is top level. Never before have in-ear headphones seemed so accurate and balanced. From bass to treble to midrange, nothing seems out of place, achieving a truly remarkable balance for such small devices. Moreover, the stage is wide enough to feel the place of each instrument: it’s pure joy for the ears.
Obviously, the level is below a good helmet. But as far as the in-ear market is concerned, Sony strikes a big blow by offering us probably the best 100% wireless earphones of the moment, at least as far as sound quality is concerned. A real crush!
After the Bluetooth headset market, Sony is kicking it up a notch again with its WF-1000XM3earphones. In spite of a questionable design and the absence of codecs dedicated to high-fidelity listening, quality is clearly at thelevel.
Sony directly attacks its competitors on the fundamentals: sound quality andbattery life. Japanese in-ear monitors not only offer superb sound, but can also be enjoyed for many hours. Add to this an impressive ANC and easily customizable touch controls…
There is no doubt that we have here a new top-of-the-range reference that will make many competitors tremble, even the toughest ones!
+ Top sound quality
+ bluffing NCA
+ Impressive autonomy
+ Comfort and quality maintenance
+ Very complete packaging
– Imposing look
– No volume orders
– No AptX or LDAC codecs
– No multipoint connection
– Bulky and fragile case