When it comes to noise-canceling technology, we think nothing comes close to Sony’s expertise. The Japanese company has perennially topped our list of the best noise-canceling headphones, including this year with the sublime WH-1000XM3 (as well as its two predecessors). And in true wireless earbuds design, Sony’s WF-1000XM3 emerged the clear winner as the best device to offer substantial noise reduction, which is very hard to achieve in this category. But which pair should you get? Without question, over-ear headphones such as the Sony WH-1000XM3 offer the best audio performance, but it’s still hard to discredit how wonderful the WF-1000XM3 sound for such a tiny device. It really boils down on your personal taste. You can save as much as $52 when you get Sony’s WH-1000XM3 and WF-1000XM3 on Amazon today.
– $198, was $230
Sony created some of the best (well, actually the best) headphones out there, and its expertise extends to the true wireless domain via the WF-1000XM3. These shiny and relatively new earbuds possess industry-leading noise-cancellation, awesome acoustics, fantastic battery life, and the same compelling app-based features we have loved for years. Anything bad about them? Well, they’re practically perfect if you ask us, save for a couple of things: They’re a bit bulky, and they offer no water-resistance.
As mentioned, the Sony WF-1000XM3 are a tad more substantial than your average true wireless earbuds. They are pill-shaped and look like they mean business, which is understandable since these are marketed for commuters and professionals. They come in an even more substantially sized USB Type-C charging case that can still fit most pockets, although your bag would be a better receptacle. The package includes two different tip thicknesses in three sizes each (small, medium, and large), all but guaranteeing you’ll find a pair that’s right for you.
In terms of features, there are very few companies that can really compete against Sony. With noise-canceling off, these earbuds can last up to eight hours, and the charging case can carry an additional 24 hours of backup juice. A quick-charge feature delivers 90 minutes of playback after just 10 minutes of charging. The glossy touchpad along each buds’ exterior allows you to play and pause music, access your voice assistant, and change songs. A longer touch on the left earbud will temporarily shut off noise-canceling to make you fully aware of your surroundings, so you can hear traffic sounds and flight announcements, or order a martini. And you don’t even have to power these earbuds down as they will do it themselves once you remove them from your ears.
Naturally, you won’t get the same amount of noise reduction with the WF-1000XM3 compared to over-ear headphones, but they work great nonetheless. And in terms of sound quality, we have no complaints whatsoever. Powered by Sony’s proprietary DSEE HX engine — designed to upscale lo-fidelity sound for better overall clarity — the WF-1000XM3 provide some of the best sound quality you’ll hear in wireless earbuds. Every music genre sounded majestic: The highs shimmer with clarity, the mids soar and are richly textured, and the basses provide just the right amount of punch. What’s more, the audio is fully customizable using the app, although the default sound preset was already pitch-perfect for us.
For premium sound quality paired with surprisingly effective noise-canceling (too bad you can’t take these to the gym), get the Sony WF-1000XM3 today for $198 instead of $230 — a cool $32 off. And if you apply and are approved for an Amazon Rewards Visa card, you can get an additional $60 off instantly, bringing the price down even further to $148.
– $278, was $350
The new and improved WH-1000XM3 are Sony’s premium noise-canceling headphones and the recipient of a nearly perfect score from us. These headphones have a lot going for them. First is how cool they look. Sony got rid of the rugged, leathery finish around the earcups and replaced it with a new plastic chassis, making for a far sleeker silhouette. The change in material made the WH-1000XM3 more lightweight and slender, enhancing wearability. Plus, the swivel design of the earcups guarantees supreme comfort. The cups are ergonomically padded and made even larger for bigger ears, and the material is nicely breathable, so you won’t feel uncomfortably hot even after long wear.
Aside from their pleasing aesthetics, the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones are very solid when it comes to noise cancellation. Thanks to Sony’s new QN1 processor, this technology has dramatically improved both audio processing and noise cancellation. Turning on the ANC practically obliterated every loud sound in the environment, from people to vehicles. The WH-1000XM3 also adapt their noise cancellation based on where you are. Through Sense Engine, these headphones selectively let in certain traffic noises like horns and sirens, so you won’t get run over by a car while listening to music.
Music sounds immaculate with these headphones, with 32-bit signal processing, a high signal-to-noise ratio, and low distortion. Studio recordings sound impeccable, while live recordings are completely immersive. Basses sound punchy and strong, but without overpowering the beauty and subtleness of the mids and highs.
You can operate these headphones through gestures as well as by pushing buttons. When you cup your hand over the right earcup, music will automatically pause so you can have a conversation. Swiping and tapping also lets you play/pause, skip/return tracks, and adjust the volume. Lastly, the Sony WH-1000XM3’s battery life can last an epic 30 hours between charges. Even charging these for just 10 minutes allows you to use them for five hours with active noise cancellation.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 blend killer sound, extraordinary design, and mind-blowing noise cancellation. They normally retail for $350, but with Amazon’s $72 discount, you can get them for $278. And if you apply and are approved for the Amazon Rewards Visa card, you’ll can receive an additional $60 off instantly, reducing the price to $248.
Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.
- The best noise-canceling earbuds for 2021
- The best headphones for 2021
- AirPods Max vs. Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
- Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch review: Thumping bass, delicate looks
- Best Buy discounts Sony noise-canceling earbuds by $62 for the holidays