Sony WH-1000x M3, Sony infamous Active Noise Canceling (ANC) Wireless Bluetooth headphone has gained a wide reputation among the head-fiers, be it audiophile or not audiophile, everyone knows it. Personally think that Sony is really doing well in Head-fi world, they have gained solid fans based throughout the year, and lately, the hiking believer of their products proved that head-fi crowd loves their products. It is a good sign, Sony MDR-1R, EX1000, EX800, PFRV1, Qualia 010, MDR-V6, MDR7506, R10, Z1000, just to name a few of their really well known and some are quite rare Hi-Fi headphones, while their headphones are getting quite expensive lately (their Walkman series too), I can’t really say the WH-1000x M3 is expensive, for those who doubt Sony Hi-Fi capability, they really need to open their ears and mind a bit and test those legendary headphone by themselves.
Honestly speaking, WH-1000x M3 really needs no additional introduction, everyone is quite familiar with this headphone, it is a Bluetooth over-ear headphone with Active Noise Canceling capability, let’s go to the review now.
*A big thanks to Stars Audio Picker Library for loaning me their demo unit for this review purpose, like always review will be constructed with the unbiased and fair manner
I have paired Sony WH-1000x M3 with my Huawei Mate 20 in LDAC mode, streaming Tidal Hi-fi and Spotify Premium. The headphone is a demo unit and has been burning in thoroughly.
What can I say about this headphone? I can surely tell you a lot of people, especially those who are not from Hi-Fi background, will find love with WH-1000x M3. The sound is warm and has a heavy tone, I would say that it is quite a veil sounding and definitely tuned for typical music listeners instead of the audiophiles. No, it is not a bad product, in fact, I think this is a successful product that suit audiophiles’ fun listening and mainstream music listeners.
The bass has a lot of power and attention, it is a satisfactory level and impact level that I will not reluctant to class them as a basshead headphone. if you enjoy music with a lot of basses you will surely love this headphone. I played Hydrogen by Moon, the bass is super satisfying with more than enough of body, with great impact and depth, the bass is punchy and satisfying to keep you toe-tapping. The rumble while not exceptional, is impressive enough, the purist might not interested in the fact that WH1000x-m3 has boosted/bloated bass, but the bass really not affecting the midrange to my ears. The boosted bass and deviated top treble more than 10k of frequency, make WH-1000x M3 sounded veiled and muddy overall. Played ‘Invisible Sun’ by The Prodigy, if you dare to turn up the volume, you will get satisfying and warm bass that mainstream listeners will love, however the bass start to lose some posture when you turn the volume really high (way more than my normal listening volume). In short, it is one of the bassiest headphones with enough of rumble, power, and weight in it, that I have tested.
The midrange while seemed a little overpowering by the bass, is actually not that bad, it is still quite balanced despite behind the overpowering bass, has a good position and you won’t lose too much on the midrange, it is still enjoyable albeit coloured and a little congested at time. If you listen to the pop and hip hop, it is not that bad, the coloration will make you enjoyed them and there is no sibilant, the vocal is smooth, coloured and quite balanced.
The treble though is not extended enough to my ears, you can take my words with a grain of salt because I love extended and clean treble. The recessed treble makes the headphone sounded veiled and muddy. The treble is not totally muted and I can understand why Sony makes the headphone sounded like this, it is pretty clear that which crowd Sony made this headphone for. The crispness of cymbal are quite muted though you still will hear the cymbal just well if I am going for Violin oriented album such as those Violin sonatas, WH1000x M3 will not be my choice, to be honest, the piano though sounded good. Every record sounded reasonably good with the WH-1000x M3, be it a poor or audiophile recorded album, which is essential for mainstream music listeners.
Soundstage is small, unsurprisingly for a closed-back headphone, but to be fair there is enough of space and air for the instrument to play, detail, imaging and positioning is only fair though but is not an important factor for WH1000x M3, I found that WH-1000x M3 is quite an interesting headphone and really successful for its targeted customers. I have listened to Bose QC35 II before, if you don’t need so much bass or want a more balanced tuning kind of sound, the QC35 II might suit you better, but for 90% of users, most still will enjoy Sony more. The Sony sounded more attractive and fun than the Bose, while the Bose is a more even and traditionally tuned headphone.
Sony WH-1000x M3, Build Quality and Usability (240USD)
WH-1000x M3 is an impressive pair of Active Noise Canceling wireless closed-back headphones. It is well built, if you play it around by hand there is some very minor squeaking noise but none I can observe when putting them on the head. The headphone has a nice touch and the headband has a superb touch, it felt thick padded and very comfortable on my head. The ear pad does get warm and make my ears sweat but it is forgivable, in term of comfort it is excellent and well built. The looks are very premium, I prefer the black colour but silver colour that I am having looked super nice too, looked premium and trendy enough on head/neck. It is reasonably lightweight too, I didn’t feel tired even after a long period of the listening session.
The headphone supported a wide variety of Bluetooth Codec, SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD and LDAC. Connectivity is excellent and I have not experienced any connection drop out during my listening. It has well-packed with a lot of features and handy operation, such as cover the right ear cup to turn down your music completely, voice assistant is able to activate with a simple touch, slide up and down at the right ear cup to adjust the volume, tap to play/pause, a NC/Ambient button for headphone to get best noise-canceling ability according to your ambient, skip and previous track with sliding on the ear cup, etc. It is maybe too much but for a thing like adjusting the volume, a simple swipe up and down will do the job, Kudos and it is simple to operate in real life.
Battery life is great and rated can last 30 hours of music listening. During my usage I have never depleted the battery, a quick 10 minutes charge will give you 5 hours of music listening, 3 hours should able to fully charged the headphone, well done and good for those who always on the go. Microphone quality is good and no problem for a clear chat albeit people will still able to know you are not talking with the phone built-in microphone. What is most important is Sony using QN1 chip that they said combined noise-canceling, DAC and an analog amplifier small enough to put inside the headphone, Sony is always impressive when talking about technology implementation.
So what is the Sony WH-1000x M3? For me it is definitely not a neutral, high resolution and audiophile sounding headphone, nor did Sony intended to make the Sony WH-1000x M3 an audiophile headphone, Sony definitely know their business and know audio well, they make the WH-1000x M3 for the mainstream listeners, those who love Top Chart 100 kinds of music, those who want more bass in the music, those who are anything but purist, those who really don’t care what a real high audio quality audiophile headphone is, instead, it is for those who want their music sounded musical, those who appreciate a personal little space in this noisy world (the Active Noise Canceling is up there with the best), those who always travel and appreciate wireless audio, the WH-1000x M3 if evaluated with these consumers in my mind, is a 100% successful product. It is not sinful to not become an audiophile, not every headphone need to be sounded audiophile.
I honestly think Sony has been kind enough on the pricing too, it is quite cheap price, we can get the brand new Sony WH-1000x M3 under RM1000 (which is about 240USD) here in Malaysia, for a headphone that packed with features and good sounding, it is really competitive. If you appreciate bass then you will surely appreciate the Sony WH-1000x M3. If you really appreciate and always wanting more bass in the music and wish to have your music on the go (wirelessly), the WH-1000x M3 is a choice that, in my opinion, second to none.