Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds review: An impressive treat for audiophiles!

The earbuds have a battery life of up to 32 hours without noise cancellation and 24 hours with noise cancellation
Japanese technology major Sony recently launched the WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless Stereo (TWS) earphones, with noise cancellation as one of its key highlights. It's interesting to see Sony bringing variety in the TWS space as earbuds catch people's fancy.

Priced at Rs 19,990, it's a premium offering from which might make one apprehensive whether this would be a competetive product inundated with inexpensive challengers. We used the device for a few days and tried to find the answer. Here's our review:

Design and built

 

First things first, the charging box and earbuds deviate from the usual design and size that we see in most TWS earbuds. You get a big charging case for the earbuds -- the large size is on account of a big battery. The charging case comes with a matte finish, and the lid has a copper finish with the Sony branding on top.

When you open the lid, a red LED glows along with LEDs inside the earphones. As the earphones are taken out, the red LEDs change colour to blue.

The earbuds can't be called tiny in any manner. We assumed they might be tough to carry, but, to our delight, that was not the case. Sony says it has used the tri-hold mechanism that fixes the earbuds at three points of your ears. But does it mean there is no gap for air to pass? We found the grip was good but it didn't block air.

Despite each earbud weighing about 8 gms, they may seem heavy at first. However, you won't even realise they are there when you wear them.

 

In fact, they are one of the most comfortable earbuds we've used. Also, since they are not too small, they offer a good grip and do not fall off easily. You won't have to push them in thereby avoiding irritation and pain.

The earbuds have a matte finish with a dedicated circle for touch gestures. There is Sony branding as well. You can customise the gesture commands via Sony's Headphones Connect app.

We liked the touch response. It did not lag, and was not over-sensitive as well. In all, what looked inconvenient to the eye turned out to be completely different when we experienced the device.

Features, sound and performance:

The earbuds have many features that audiophiles would love, the primary being noise cancellation. Sony has used in the WF-1000XM3 what it has already aced in its headphones. It felt as if we were using headphones, not earbuds, when we played some bass-heavy numbers.

The earbuds pack Sony’s HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1e chip and Dual Noise Sensor Technology. We liked the fact that noise cancellation could be adjusted using the app. Besides, the power usage is also less if you adjust it to the lower side.

 

The Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds also support the Digital Sound Enhancement Engine HX (DSEE HX) feature which upscales audio files to improve their resolution. This can really lift the experience since most of us listen to music on streaming apps and YouTube in which the audio quality is not high.

The sound is bass-heavy, as is usually the case with Sony products, and you can play with the equaliser on the Headphones Connect app to change it. The 6mm audio drivers work well with the overall set-up.

Another interesting feature is its support for 360-degree audio. However, people in India will have to wait for it as streaming services don't offer that yet.

What's more, there is Adaptive Sound Control, which changes the sound mode based on your location. We used that for home and park, and it was pretty convenient how it switched to different sound modes.

Besides, the proximity sensor in each earbud can detect whether you’re wearing one or both and adapt playback accordingly.

 

Talking about codec support, WF-1000XM3 doesn’t support aptX Sony’s own LDAC codec. It supports only SBC, AAC codecs but with DSEE HX support you won't miss much detail.

What's really missing is sweat and water resistance, which is crucial in a premium audio device these days. You will have to be a little careful with the WF-1000XM3.

Battery:

The earbuds have a battery life of up to 32 hours without noise cancellation and 24 hours with noise cancellation. There is a quick charge function as well that gives you up to 90 minutes of play time with a 10-minute charge. The earbuds offer 6 hours of power and the case provides a further 3x charge. We got around 4-5 hours of backup with noise cancellation on, and around 5-6 hours of backup without it.

Verdict:

 

To put it simply, Sony's WF-1000XM3 TWS earbuds managed to satisfy the finicky audiophile in us. They tick all the boxes when it comes to sound; in fact, there is good comfort, despite the large size. There is no compromise on battery, too.

The support for 360-degree audio is impressive, but we will have to wait until the streaming apps start offering that.

The only thing this entire package really misses is any protection from water and sweat. That's the only area which may pinch many, otherwise it's a sweet deal for Rs 19,990. You can also avail of the introductory offer in which you can get it for Rs 17,990, but this offer is valid for 10 days only.

(The WF-1000XM3 TWS earphones will be available across Sony retail stores and major electronic stores and exclusively on Amazon.in from August 6, 2020 onwards)


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