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Sony WH-1000XM3 - what's the verdict?

Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
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Reading lots of reviews and there seem to be two camps over two issues with these cans: (1) some say they sound great, some say they are not 'audiophile' and are much worse than similarly priced wired cans ? (2) some say the latest firmware 4.2.2 makes noise cancelling much worse, some say it doesn't ?
Any owners comment ?
 
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anort3

Moderator
Dec 8, 2019
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I haven't owned any of the noise cancelling headphones but I've heard the Sony's and the Bose QC35s. The Sony's sounded good and were something I could happily listen to but I didn't find them particularly 'audiophile'. They were a little too boomy in the bass and the mids were too recessed. They can be EQ'd though. The drivers are capable and the problems are mostly tuning I think. But you can get a wired HD599 ( among others ) for less money and have better sound quality.
 

EricLeRouge

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2020
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I own the Sony WH-1000XM3 since last July, and I own some older wired cans (Sennheiser HD-600). I can honestly say that I was very pleasantly surprised by how good the Sony XM3s sound. I purchased them essentially for convenience, being able to walk around the house or in the woods without a cord around the neck — and they do just that, remove a chain on your neck. However, as I started to use them more and more, I realized that I really enjoyed the sound. I listen to my music (digital) mostly from SACDs or hi-rez Qobuz (studio), and the quality of sound on the XM3 is different from my Senn 600, but definitely not worse : to my ears, those headphones are as good as a lot of other wired headphones, and perhaps better than some. The noise cancellation thing (I hated this feature on previous headphones that I had) works surprisingly well, I think Sony really pulled a great trick with this unit.

I also use the XM3 for late night movies, and it works great with my Macbook Air. Unfortunately il I use a dedicated player (Cambridge CXU), it won’t connect so I have to use my Musical Fidelity X-Can v2 and HD-600.. and quite frankly for a movie or a concert, opera, etc, I don’t hear a great improvement over the XM3. So my advice with the Sony XM3 is to forget all previous (audiophile) points of reference and try them with an open mind. They are surprisingly good.

Note - I think I will soon test some in-ear alternatives such as the Cambridge Melomania for more freedom when hiking in nature or gardening

I have not upgraded the firmware, so I can’t comment on that point
 

Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
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Thanks EricLeRouge - interestingly there is new firmware for these cans released just TODAY !! 4.5.2 I am awaiting with interest what users report. Can I ask EricLeRouge - what do you use as a source? Laptop, phone ? One issue that concerns me is I use IOS devices and they do not support LDAC bluetooth, which is apparently the best type for high res material
 

Friesiansam

Well-known member
Feb 3, 2015
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Adding to the above. If you buy the Sonys soon, you might want to buy from Amazon as they are offering a longer than usual window for free returns, so you can give them a really good tryout, with the safety net of free returns and a full, quibble free refund.
 

Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
94
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70
Adding to the above. If you buy the Sonys soon, you might want to buy from Amazon as they are offering a longer than usual window for free returns, so you can give them a really good tryout, with the safety net of free returns and a full, quibble free refund.
Yup mine coming from Amazon UK - they have always been great with returns although not tried to return anything during the Covid period so I guess might be delays
 

EricLeRouge

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2020
28
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Thanks EricLeRouge - interestingly there is new firmware for these cans released just TODAY !! 4.5.2 I am awaiting with interest what users report. Can I ask EricLeRouge - what do you use as a source? Laptop, phone ? One issue that concerns me is I use IOS devices and they do not support LDAC bluetooth, which is apparently the best type for high res material
Hi Hawkmoon - I use mostly my Macbook Air2015, iPad Pro 2nd gen, and iPhone 6s plus, so all Apple stuff, way past their prime.

Iplay mostly Qobuz (studio) and/or Tidaland my fairly large collection of hi-rez recordings on a hard-disk.

When on the Macbook, I use a bit-perfect player, Audirvana. When on iOS, I use Qobuz or Tidal’s programs, and if I am in the house, sometimes I use iOS device to remotely control Audirvana on the Macbook (sounds complicated, but it’s really not). Audirvana is the key link in my audio chain, really worth a trial IMO.

All I can say is that I’ve never used the Sony app (not even installed on my smartphone), and if I need to tweak the sound (happened a few times), I use the ‘audio units’ DSPs in Audirvana.

Re: LDAC, I don’t think I get the ‘full’ hi-rez resolution that I have when using a USB connection with my Kef LS-50 wireless, but Audirvana is playing at full resolution and <90% or more of the time it sounds fine to my ears. And if something doesn’t sound good, I just play something else… :)
 

Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
94
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Well these cans arrived - with 4.2.2 fw so I upgraded to 4.5.2. Original impressions - I really like these cans ! I was worried about a boomy bass but maybe they have tuned the amp a bit more in fw 4.5.2 because it doesn't seem boomy at all. Using with Tidal via IOS devices and these cans sound great - easily as good as my £200 Beyer and £250 Sennheisers. Noise cancelling is great though not miraculous - but overall really pleased with these
 

zimcruza

Active member
Jun 1, 2020
2
1
25
Just got a set of these on the weekend, from Amazon. Whilst sound quality (to my compromised hearing), comfort etc. is great, I also need to use them for phone calls in a work from home environment due to Covid-19. The noise cancelling is good but not great, sound bleeds from the cans so others can almost hear what's going on, and more importantly, there is no mute function on the headphones during a call which strikes me as a pretty big fail from Sony....
 
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SirBlacklist

Member
Jun 5, 2020
3
0
20
I just recently bought and returned these headphones I thought they were very close to my Focal Listen Wireless Headphones. If you are using them for pairing with a phone and doing phone calls and all that I cannot say on that.

What I can say is the bass was way too much for me, a lot of people said just turn it down in the EQ settings of your phone or whatever you are using but if you cannot it's way too much Bass for me.

I thought overall my Focal's trumped them in sound quality overall on a no EQ level, I think tuned I would still choose my Focals.

~Black
 

Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
94
36
70
I just recently bought and returned these headphones I thought they were very close to my Focal Listen Wireless Headphones. If you are using them for pairing with a phone and doing phone calls and all that I cannot say on that.

What I can say is the bass was way too much for me, a lot of people said just turn it down in the EQ settings of your phone or whatever you are using but if you cannot it's way too much Bass for me.

I thought overall my Focal's trumped them in sound quality overall on a no EQ level, I think tuned I would still choose my Focals.

~Black
Did you install the latest 4.5.2 firmware because they seem to have adjusted the default tuning of these and made the bass less boomy in that fw. Also, if you turn off DSEE processing that is on by default it tends to make these cans more neutral. I have to say I was surprised that I absolutely did not find the bass too much, but I did do these two things before using them.
 

anort3

Moderator
Dec 8, 2019
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770
Bass is one of those things audiophiles like to argue about especially with headphones. Many of the older audiophile standard headphones are bass lite or worse. I'm not in the no bass camp at all. I listen to EDM quite a bit and am even something of a bass head. But I'm spoiled and mostly by the Fostex TH-X00s. Tight, fast, correct bass is different than bloaty, loose bass that bleeds into and overwhelms the mids. With Fostex being perfect and Beats being terrible I found the Sony's to be somewhere in the middle. ( Just referring to the bass quality ).
 

Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
94
36
70
Bass is one of those things audiophiles like to argue about especially with headphones. Many of the older audiophile standard headphones are bass lite or worse. I'm not in the no bass camp at all. I listen to EDM quite a bit and am even something of a bass head. But I'm spoiled and mostly by the Fostex TH-X00s. Tight, fast, correct bass is different than bloaty, loose bass that bleeds into and overwhelms the mids. With Fostex being perfect and Beats being terrible I found the Sony's to be somewhere in the middle. ( Just referring to the bass quality ).
As I said earlier in the thread, in the latest fw 4.5.2 issues late May this year they seem to have tuned the frequency response a bit and made the bass less boomy. This is not just my observation but a number of owners feel the same on forums.
 
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