Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

Bose Noise Cancelling 700 vs. Sony WH-1000XM3: Which headphones should you buy?

If you’ve had your eye on a pair of premium noise-canceling headphones, you’ve no doubt heard of the top options from Sony and Bose. Both companies have been making amazing headphones for frequent travelers (and open-floorplan offices) for years now, and the battle at the top of the business-class headphone world is once again heating up.

That’s because, after over a decade of iterating on its QuietComfort design, which single-handedly defined the noise-canceling category, Bose has launched a brand new pair of headphones that reimagines the company’s clean-lined aesthetic with more minimalism than ever. The new Bose Noise Cancelling 700 takes direct aim at Sony’s acclaimed WH-1000xM3, offering many of the same bells and whistles, and claiming the best call quality ever heard from a pair of headphones. Is the new Bose model ready to take down Sony’s best? We pitted them against each other in multiple categories to help you decide.

Design and fit

Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you’re looking for the sleekest pair of noise-canceling headphones to show off around town, we easily choose the Bose. With clean, rounded lines, and a very understated appearance, they simply outclass the Sony model. What the WH-1000Xm3 have going for them that the Bose doesn’t is a more traditional business-style look, with plush leather, soft lines, and understated (but still attractive) earcups. It’s also worth noting for those of you who want something beyond basic black, that the Bose are now available in three color choices: Black, “Luxe Silver,” and “Soapstone,” whereas the Sony model only comes in black or silver.

Comfort, though, is another thing entirely. Digital Trends Senior Editor Caleb Denison believes the Bose model to be the most comfortable noise-canceling headphones he’s ever worn — and he’s spent a lot of time with the Sony model — but others feel the Sony, with their thick memory foam headband in place of Bose’s rubber, do better. As always, we recommend trying both if possible, as this author considers it a toss-up.

Both of these headphones are very attractive and comfortable, but we give Bose a slight edge in terms of the overall design. We’ll call it a narrow victory for Bose, but can confidently say that regardless of which pair you buy, you’re going to like the way they look, and they’ll probably feel pretty darn comfortable.

Winner: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Features, controls, and battery life

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Where the Bose QC 35 II paled in comparison to the Sony WH-1000xM3 when it came to features, the company’s newest flagship has many of the same things that made people gravitate towards the Sony model in recent years; those include extras like touch controls, USB-C charging, and a number of advanced app-based features, including the ability to adjust just how much noise-canceling you want at any given moment. They’ve even got a total of eight different microphones to provide the best call quality we’ve ever heard from a pair of wireless headphones.

Yet, in every place except call quality, Sony goes a bit further than the Bose model, offering 30 hours of battery life to the Bose 700’s 20 hours, the ability to adjust equalization inside its app, and even a pressure equalization feature for when you fly — no more ear pops! So while both pairs of headphones are feature-rich and extremely easy to use, we’ve gotta give it to Sony here. The extra features (especially that battery life) put them over the top.

Winner: Sony WH-1000XM3

Sound quality

Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

Both pairs of headphones sound fantastic, offering wide soundstages and serious detail that will help you hear your favorite tunes in a new light, but Sony’s WH-1000xM3 provides more balance when representing our favorite music.

The Sony headphones have a bit more bass, but they manage to keep the mid and upper registers very flat and accessible, with the company’s acclaimed audio processing working its magic especially well on dense mixes for a dynamic sound that’s also quite smooth. The Bose 700 is a bit more restrained down low, but seems to provide a hefty boost in the upper-midrange, making them a bit too bright for our ears for some music genres. Add to this the fact that the Sony WH-1000XM3 has the ability to adjust EQ, and we think they’re the best pair for audiophiles — even though we do like the sound of the Bose Noise Cancelling 700 as well.

Winner: Sony WH-1000XM3


At a price that’s $50 less than the $400 Bose Noise Cancelling 700, along with slightly better sound and more features, the Sony WH-1000XM3 is still the better buy when it comes to premium noise-canceling headphones, even though we might lust after the looks (and feeling) of the latest Bose model. That said, if you make a ton of phone calls on your travels, it’s worth remembering that the Bose 700 offer significantly better call quality, and a pretty great overall package as well.

Winner: Sony WH-1000XM3

Editors' Recommendations

Parker Hall
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Parker Hall is a writer and musician from Portland, OR. He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin…
You should seriously consider buying these wireless headphones
master and dynamic mh40 wireless headphones review 00015

Prime Day is the best time of the year to shop for a set of new headphones. To make your shopping experience easier, we've rounded up all the best Prime Day wireless headphone deals currently available so all you have to do is press "buy." You're bound to find your audio match with one of these eight wireless headphone deals listed below. Don't wait too long, your top choice may sell out quickly!

Sony WH-CH510
-- $40, was $60

Read more
Sony WH-1000XM4 wireless headphones are the best Prime Day deal
sony wh 1000xm4 are the best prime day 2020 deal lowest price

Prime Day has entered day two with deals on electronics of all kinds, including some terrific Prime Day headphones deals. Here at Digital Trends, we keep an eye out for deals all year round, so we already have a selection of headphone deals for you to peruse. But sometimes a deal comes around which is so good we need to highlight it for you straight away, and that's the case with this deal on the audiophile-favorite noise-canceling headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM4. These tremendous headphones are now available with a $50 discount and with every purchase you'll also receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Sony's flagship noise-canceling headphones are perfect for those who want to block out background noises while they work or travel. They sound great, with clear and detailed mids and highs, and the bass is well balanced so it doesn't overwhelm the listening experience. If you have a preference for how your headphones should sound, you can adjust the EQ and noise-canceling options using the free Headphones app for iOS or Android. And the headphones come with a built-in microphone so you can use them to take calls or attend virtual meetings as well.

Read more
Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700: Battle of the best
The Sony WH-1000XM4.

Sony and Bose have been locked in a heated battle for wireless headphone supremacy for years. As each company comes out with a new model, the other is never far behind. It's the kind of competition we love, because no matter which of them ends up on top, it's folks like us who ultimately win.

In 2018, Sony's WH-1000XM3 appeared and immediately started to win accolades (and customers) for their impressive sound quality and active noise cancellation (ANC), stealing some of Bose's thunder from its flagship QuietComfort QC-35 II. In 2019, Bose released its Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 in an attempt to unseat the XM3, and, in some respects, it succeeded, with superb call quality and better comfort.

Read more