Sony won’t win any awards for names (WH1000XM3 Wireless isn’t exactly catchy...), BUT it may very well win some awards for its latest noise-cancelling headphone.
TrustedReviews.com has already declared the WH1000XM3’s as ‘the best noise cancelling headphones we’ve seen’, and there’s a raft of 5-star reviews from other big-name tech blogs and websites with WhatHiFi? Heralding the WH1000XM3 ‘as close to the perfect pair of noise-cancelling headphones as its currently possible to find’.
High praise indeed.Certainly, the previous incarnation - the WH1000XM2 - was already an impressive piece of kit and earlier in the year, we included them as part of our top gym headphones for 2018. And whilst it’s Bose that’s synonymous with active noise-cancelling technology (ATC), it appears Sony has managed to creep up and outclass them.
But are these headphones any good in the gym?
Of course, the Sony WH1000XM3 headphones were not designed to be used in the gym. At least not in the same way that Dwayne Johnson’s ProjectRock gym headphones were. That collaboration between the action movie star and sports brand Under Armor was made entirely with the gym in mind and aren’t the headphones you’d buy for sound quality, noise-cancellation, comfort or aesthetic.
The XM3’s cushions aren’t sweat-proof. It’s not marketed as a workout headphone. It makes sense that people might be nervous about sweating it out in a pair because moisture and electronics don’t mix. Sweat comes off your body, into the cushions and makes them smell super nasty; it then gets inside the electronics and kills your sound. Game over. These cans cost around £329.99 and aren’t something you’re going to want to replace.
Good news! You can make the Sony WH1000XM3 gym-ready by adding a pair of sweat-proof covers to the headphone’s cushions before you start exercising to protect them from moisture damage.
What's good about the WH1000XM3 Headphones?
Sony has improved on previous models by allowing the headphone to curve for a better fit around the head. There’s extra padding, too, which makes them more comfortable and less likely to slip around. If you wear glasses, then you can also use the personal noise cancellation optimizer to analyse the shape of your head for a more comfortable fit and better noise-cancellation.
On this model, the cups sit around the ear and not just on them. This is a big help not just for an improvement in comfort but also in helping to block out the ambient sound that can bleed through when a fit isn’t flush to the ear. Maintaining focus is so important during a workout and you shouldn’t have to have to keep adjusting the cushions. With all the emphasis on ANC and sound quality, it’s good to see manufacturers realising that a comfortable and secure fit is important for long-term use.
Sony’s SENSE ENGINE technology can detect and block 90% of ambient noise. What’s great, too, is that you can now use the noise-cancellation function even when you’re not listening to anything. It doesn’t matter now, then, how noisy your gym is, how chaotic the park or the running track is, you can carve out a little island of calm to focus on your form. This is such a valuable feature and one that’s useful beyond your workout, too. It’s ideal on plane journeys, on public transport or in busy environments when you need 5-minutes of peace.
There’s quick-attention mode, too, which will reduce music to a whisper without you having to lift up or remove the headphone. It’s accessed by pressing a sensor in the right cup. Again, this is ideal in a gym environment where conversations might not be common but a few words, a question or request such as ‘are you still using this?’ could be.
The right cup has all the touch controls allowing you to tap to control volume, skip forward or back, answer or end calls as well as enabling Google Assistant. The XM3 also benefits from real-time Google translate thanks to the Google Assistant app which may not be a big help in the gym but is a useful tool to have when travelling abroad.
The left ear cup has three additional microphones for your voice when you’re making calls. As an in-gym feature, how useful this is will depend on how often you’re chatting away when you workout. Certainly, it’s useful to have for those times when you use your headphones outside that environment.
These are 20g lighter than the XM2 which might not seem much but it all helps, right?
We’ve all been there: opened our gym bags only to find that the battery in our headphones is low or depleted. The horror of it. We’re always really happy and relieved to see brands adopting fast-charge options. With the Sony WH1000XM3, you’ll get 5 hours of playback from a 10-minute charge via a USB-C port. Overall, the battery life is around 30 hours.
These headphones benefit from Sony’s new HD Noise-Cancelling Processor QN1 which has 4 times the processing power of its predecessor allowing for greater sound quality as well as aiding in an improved ANC function.
The headphones fold down easily, and they come in a carry case that also accommodates additional wires. It’s important when choosing headphones for the gym that they’re easy to pack away, to carry, to store and to fit into gym bags and lockers. These certainly do.
According to website LiveMint.com, the sound quality is still excellent but without much of an upgrade from the previous model.
The colours are slightly altered from the previous incarnations with the option now being between a muted black with bronze accents or platinum silver. Appearance may not matter to you, but Sony has opted for a smooth, understated aesthetic that will complement most gym kits and sports attire.
We’d definitely recommend green camo sweat-proof covers.
According to some of the biggest tech review websites both in the US and the UK, these headphones are the best noise-cancelling headphones you can buy, and we’d have to agree. That Sony has taken an already very decent wireless ANC headphone and upgraded it into the XM3 is not just impressive it’s exciting, and we can’t wait to see what they’re going to do next.
As long as you’ve paired these headphones with sweat-proof covers, then these make fantastic gym headphones.
For £329.99, they’re headphones not just for working out in but for travelling, commuting, relaxing and enjoying music in, too. If you want a headphone that provides exceptional ANC technology, superb sound quality and all in a sleek design, then you won’t do much better than the Sony WH1000XM3 Wireless headphone.