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What to do about my new Sony WH-1000XM3?

aussie43

Active member
Nov 21, 2020
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Hi,

My new XM3 produce annoying distorted spots when I play some vocals. Pavarotti's Una Furtiva Lagrima is a good example.
This is happening when I use them wired from my PC. Noise cancellation OFF. Other modes are similar.
I can remove the distortion by reducing 4 kHz slider down by about 10 dB on an equalizer on my PC.

Would this be normal with headphones in this price category? Or is it something that should not be there, and I should return them as faulty?
 
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Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
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Hi,

My new XM3 produce annoying distorted spots when I play some vocals. Pavarotti's Una Furtiva Lagrima is a good example.
This is happening when I use them wired from my PC. Noise cancellation OFF. Other modes are similar.
I can remove the distortion by reducing 4 kHz slider down by about 10 dB on an equalizer on my PC.

Would this be normal with headphones in this price category? Or is it something that should not be there, and I should return them as faulty?
Regardless of price, it's not normal - otherwise there would be many more unhappy people.
No doubt you've tried some old headphones to rule out possible source related issues.
In which case, return for exchange / refund.
 
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aussie43

Active member
Nov 21, 2020
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It is difficult to make sure the distortion is not source related.
I am 77 and most of my music would be recorded decades ago . The recording technology probably wasn't as good as it is now.

I have two other headphones, but both are about half the price of the XM3. Avantree Aria Me does not distort at all, Audio Technica SR6BT distorts a bit. That's why I bought the XM3, hoping that it will be better. As it happens, it is worse.

One other thing. After I noticed the problem, I started to search the web for clues, and fount this on RTINGS.com -
"The weighted harmonic distortion performance is satisfactory. While there's some distortion in the low and mid-treble at both moderate and high volumes, the overall level of distortion remains fairly low, resulting in mostly clean and pure audio reproduction. "
It looks like that is what I am experiencing. On a 20 band EQ I have to reduce 2, 2.8 and 4 kHz to get rid of it.
 

Friesiansam

Well-known member
Feb 3, 2015
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How are you connecting to the PC, are you using onboard sound from the motherboard, or a seperate soundcard? Either way, it might be worth trying an external DAC/headphone amp, something like a Fiio E10K perhaps, to see if the problem persists. Buy from Amazon and it will be easy to send it back if you don't want to keep it.
 

aussie43

Active member
Nov 21, 2020
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How are you connecting to the PC, are you using onboard sound from the motherboard, or a seperate soundcard? Either way, it might be worth trying an external DAC/headphone amp, something like a Fiio E10K perhaps, to see if the problem persists. Buy from Amazon and it will be easy to send it back if you don't want to keep it.
Hi,

Yes, it is Asus H170 Pro Game motherboard with HD audio.
I am now testing the headphones on bluetooth, and the distortion is stronger with bluetooth. I have a USB BT adapter that supports aptX codec, and the Sony Connect app shows that I am using aptX. But it may not be aptX HD.

My daughter has exactly the same model - XM3 - just one year older, and on her headphones the distortion is even stronger. She doesn't care, because she never listens to the music I do.

Most of the tracks I listen to are old(er) recordings when they perhaps did not mix and edit for headphones. So maybe no headphones would handle it.
 

Friesiansam

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Feb 3, 2015
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If it's happening when you connect with Bluetooth, that rules out the MB audio as the cause, as it is not being used.
Most of the tracks I listen to are old(er) recordings when they perhaps did not mix and edit for headphones. So maybe no headphones would handle it.
Much of my music is around 50 years old, e.g. early Pink Floyd and Genesis, and I get no such problems but, I don't use wireless headphones. I'm sorry but, your problem has me stumped.
 

aussie43

Active member
Nov 21, 2020
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I tried some Pink Floyd and Genesis tracks on Spotify. My "faulty" headphones don't have any problems with that type of music.

If you're interested I can post links to some Spotify and/or Youtube pieces where I hear the distortion spots.

Interestingly, I also bought Avantree Aria Me headphones for TV watching (low latency), and these - when connected by cable - can handle all the problematic spots without any distortion. I haven't tried them yet over bluetooth.
Makes me wonder. The Aria Me is half price of the XM3, and also heavily oriented towards bass.
 

Gray

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Nov 27, 2015
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....'there's some distortion in the low and mid-treble at both moderate and high volumes'
You might be on to something with that quote you found.

But you mentioned having to reduce 4kHz by 10dB, that's a lot.
You're not alone in finding certain recordings to be unlistenable, often, but not exclusively, older recordings can be the worst.

Some headphones (and speakers) are just too resolving. Reviews of these types of products often say things like 'won't flatter poor recordings'......'tells it like it is, warts and all'.....'partner with care'....the list goes on.

On top of that, some people are highly sensitive to HF. What they find unbearable, others find to be perfectly acceptable. (I've noticed this a lot with user reviews of headphones).

You say about the Aria Me being able to handle problem spots without distortion and that it's heavily oriented toward bass - sort of makes the point - maybe you and 'normal' (flat) HF, don't get on.
 
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aussie43

Active member
Nov 21, 2020
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Thanks for the offer.
The Sonys are wireless, but I use them most of the time wired directly to my Windows 10 desktop which has HD Realtek chip.

I am now thinking the other way than I was initially. I thought that the new XM3s were worse than my cheaper Audio Technica that distorts less, and my new Avantree Aria Me that does not distort at all.
Now I think the distortion is in the recordings, and the cheapest Aria Me simply is not good enough to resolve it. The AT is better, and the XM3 is the best.

Anyway, here are a couple of bad examples -
In the Spotify track, it is there as soon as the girls start singing, and very bad at 18 sec.
In the Youtube video, it is bad at 45 sec.

<iframe src="https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/12V3Vpd1k18hKy1IB3EGVz" width="300" height="380" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe>

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFoet3qe6L0
 

DougK

Well-known member
Not got the same headphones as you but I can't hear any distortion at 45 seconds in... I used wired HD598 connected to my PC. I've got a few other pairs so I'll give them all a go.

Quite a pleasing piece of music and that lady sure has a voice :)
 

aussie43

Active member
Nov 21, 2020
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Thanks, DougK,
Have you tried the Spotify song?

I was thinking of buying the Sennheiser HD 599 or the Amazon version HD 599SE. Could I be sure they would handle both tracks without problems?
 

DougK

Well-known member
Sorry mate don't do Spotify. Oops, appears that I can get the first minute or so... no distortion whatsoever.

Shure SRH840, same result, no distortion. Even wound it up to max volume to see if I could detect any distortion.

That Patricia Janeckova sure has a lovely voice. Can't find the jack plug adaptor for HD650 and SR225... as soon as I can I'll give it another listen.

As for the Senn HD599 they're only a cosmetic upgrade from the 598 so should be fine. If you order off Amazon then you can always send them back if not completely satisfied.
 
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aussie43

Active member
Nov 21, 2020
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I live in Oz and Amazon return policy is the items must be unopened. Apart from that I would have to claim they are faulty.
Its a pity you don't like Spotify. You can use it via a web browser (Chrome), or download their Windows app. On smart TV - all synchronised.
It is free if you don't mind registering - name and email address. You get advertisements from time to time, but not too many. They've got just about everything. The quality of their recordings - I don't know. But handy for casual listening and discussions like this one.

If you find no distortion or anything strange at 18 secs into the Spotify song, I will probably take the risk and buy the HD 599.

Thanks
 

anort3

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Dec 8, 2019
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No distortion for me either. Listened with both my AKG K712 Pro and Foxtex TH-X00 Ebony through different amp/DAC chains. So safe to say it's the headphones.

The HD599 shares a driver with the 598 but it has been retuned a bit. For the better. It's not a neutral headphone though. It has the typical Sennheiser mid forward house sound.
 

DougK

Well-known member
I live in Oz and Amazon return policy is the items must be unopened. Apart from that I would have to claim they are faulty.
Its a pity you don't like Spotify. You can use it via a web browser (Chrome), or download their Windows app. On smart TV - all synchronised.
It is free if you don't mind registering - name and email address. You get advertisements from time to time, but not too many. They've got just about everything. The quality of their recordings - I don't know. But handy for casual listening and discussions like this one.

If you find no distortion or anything strange at 18 secs into the Spotify song, I will probably take the risk and buy the HD 599.

Thanks
Re Amazon, that's a bummer. Got no problem with Spotify per se but have a huge collection of CDs to work my way through and I never get bored with the same music; might dip my toe into Spotify sometime though.

No distortion at all on the track you linked to. Anort has confirmed this with his phones, and he's got a lot so I'd definitely go with his opinion. The culprit does seem to be your Sony's, can you send them back for a refund?
 
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DougK

Well-known member
No distortion for me either. Listened with both my AKG K712 Pro and Foxtex TH-X00 Ebony through different amp/DAC chains. So safe to say it's the headphones.

The HD599 shares a driver with the 598 but it has been retuned a bit. For the better. It's not a neutral headphone though. It has the typical Sennheiser mid forward house sound.
Cheers Anort. Not much of a headphone person so my knowledge is somewhat lacking (y)
 

aussie43

Active member
Nov 21, 2020
24
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Re Amazon, that's a bummer. Got no problem with Spotify per se but have a huge collection of CDs to work my way through and I never get bored with the same music; might dip my toe into Spotify sometime though.

No distortion at all on the track you linked to. Anort has confirmed this with his phones, and he's got a lot so I'd definitely go with his opinion. The culprit does seem to be your Sony's, can you send them back for a refund?
Thanks
I understand that you used your HD 598 for the second Youtube track.
 

Friesiansam

Well-known member
Feb 3, 2015
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I listened to both the YouTube tracks and, like the others, heard no distortion. I closed my Spotify account recently. I used Shure SRH1540s with a Fiio e10K and Focal Elegias with a Pathos Converto Mk2, both via my PC.
 
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DougK

Well-known member
Thanks
I understand that you used your HD 598 for the second Youtube track.
Yep, used both the SRH840 and HD598. Senn do have a new set of phones being released HD560S and they appear to be getting rave reviews, maybe something else to consider :) I've got too many headphones at the moment so won't be jumping in just yet as I adore my HD650's.
 

aussie43

Active member
Nov 21, 2020
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Yep, used both the SRH840 and HD598. Senn do have a new set of phones being released HD560S and they appear to be getting rave reviews, maybe something else to consider :) I've got too many headphones at the moment so won't be jumping in just yet as I adore my HD650's.
Thanks.
I read a few reviews about the new HD 560S. They are 120 Ohm, but according to one review no problem driving them from an iPhone. I would use them only with my PC. At this stage I would not want to buy an amplifier.
One review mentioned that they could be a bit harsher with trebles than the HD 599. That worries me a bit considering the problem I have with the Sonys. Can things like this be fixed with an EQ? Do people do that?
I will sleep on it. It is bedtime here in Melbourne.
 

Gray

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Nov 27, 2015
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Thanks.
I read a few reviews about the new HD 560S. They are 120 Ohm, but according to one review no problem driving them from an iPhone. I would use them only with my PC. At this stage I would not want to buy an amplifier.
One review mentioned that they could be a bit harsher with trebles than the HD 599. That worries me a bit considering the problem I have with the Sonys. Can things like this be fixed with an EQ? Do people do that?
I will sleep on it. It is bedtime here in Melbourne.
No distortion for me either Aussie, using the HD560S.
It's not hard to see why (specifically) the 45 sec. point on the YT video is revealing your problem though.

By the way, beware of subjective sound reviews of the 560S, context is important.
I've only done brief comparisons but, more than ever I think, the sound someone has previously been used to will shape their opinions of this model.....so you need to be familiar with what they're comparing it to.
 

aussie43

Active member
Nov 21, 2020
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No distortion for me either Aussie, using the HD560S.
It's not hard to see why (specifically) the 45 sec. point on the YT video is revealing your problem though.

By the way, beware of subjective sound reviews of the 560S, context is important.
I've only done brief comparisons but, more than ever I think, the sound someone has previously been used to will shape their opinions of this model.....so you need to be familiar with what they're comparing it to.
Thanks very much for trying the links with your 560S.
Could you let me in - explain - what you mean in your second sentence?

In the reviews and posts discussing the new HD 560S there were many comparisons, but as you say, it is not possible to make any firm opinion from that. For example some comments were that the 560S is not as good as the 599, others said they hated the 599 and the 560S sounds heavenly.

I am pretty sure I will buy the 560S. I was tending towards the HD 599 previously, because I did not know the 560S was a new headphone. Being cheaper than the 599 and lower number in the line-up, I thought it must be inferior.
I haven't had an open headphone yet, so it will be a new experience. (Wrapped up in a 3 meter lead.)
 

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