Today we are back here with an exciting headphone, or should we say headphones, from Sony and we will try to find out which one is better. We are talking about the Sony WH-1000XM2 and its upgraded version Sony WH-1000XM3, which Sony claims to have better sound clarity and improved ANC.
We ran numerous tests, keeping both the Sony headphones in parallel use, and below are our finding with respect to the different aspects and design functionalities of these two headphones.
- DIGITAL NOISE CANCELATION: Industry leading noise canceling eliminates distracting background noises
- SMART LISTENING: Quickly detects your activity to automatically adjust the ambient sounds you hear
- QUICK ATTENTION MODE: Cover the right ear cup to turn down your music for instant, easy conversation; Battery Charge Time: Approx. 4 hours
- TOUCH CONTROL: Skip a track, change the volume and take or make calls just by touching a headphone
- FAST CHARGING: Enjoy up to 30 hrs of cordless NC and a 10 min quick charge for 70 more mins of play.Frequency Response (Active Operation):4 Hz-40,000 Hz
- DIGITAL NOISE CANCELING: Industry leading ANC lends a personalized, virtually soundproof experience
- VOICE ASSISTANT: Alexa enabled for voice access to music, information and more. Activate with a simple touch
- QUICK ATTENTION MODE: Cover the right ear cup to turn down your music for instant, easy conversation
- SMART LISTENING: Adjusts the ambient sound to your activity to give you the best noise cancellation
- TOUCH CONTROLS: Control music tracks and volume, activate your voice assistant and take phone calls
In the Box
Sony provides the same content for both the headphones. You will find in the box are a TRS audio cable, microUSB charger cable for XM2, type C charger for XM3, airline adapter, manual and a carrying case apart from the headphone. The case of XM3 has a fabric finish as compared to its predecessor that had a pleather finish.
The XM3 is a bit better than the XM2. The XM3 has a different look and feel, in comparison to the XM2, with a thinner two-tone headband, signature oval earcups, has lower profile that will fit most ears, are a little lighter and has cool accents around the vents. They are lighter than the XM2 by about 20g so not much but the better, low-profile headband makes them feel less bulky and cumbersome once on your head. The hinges are similar in design for both the headsets, which seems durable enough. The XM3 headband has a pleather cover finish as compared to the metallic finish of XM2.
As for comfort here the XM3 have the upper hand. The XM3 have thicker and better pads than the XM2, which makes them one of the more comfortable wireless over-ears we have tested. This gives them a better fit around most ears and you should be able to wear them for longer than the XM2 without feeling any fatigue or soreness.
The XM3 feel a tad more responsive to the swipe gestures and the auditory beeps for feedback are a little quieter so they do not interrupt your listening experience as much as the XM2 when turning up the volume or changing tracks.
The controls remains the same – On the right ear cup, the swiping up and down controls volume to the left and right swipes rewinds and skips tracks respectively and double tapping pause and resume tracks and also manages phone calls. On the left ear cup, you have the rest of the button layout. The XM3’s button have been slightly redesigned to be a bit more tactile and easy to differentiate by feel alone with raised buttons and the ambient key is a bit longer than the power/pairing unlike on the XM2. The ambient mode button works the same way on both headphones, but you can switch it to trigger Google assistant via the Sony headphone connect app on the XM3.
In addition, the unique cover to mute gesture on the XM3 is slightly different. Instead of covering the whole ear cup like the XM2, you just have to cover the touch control with an open palm. It’s fairly easy to get used to but coming from the XM2 you may have to readjust since covering the with your hand will not work unless your palm is completely in contact with the touch controls. So overall design wise the XM3 are an improvement over the XM2.
The XM2’s sound quality is a bit more balanced and neutral in the bass range, but if you like heavy bass, you may prefer the XM3. In the mid-range, the XM3 performs noticeably better and has a virtually perfect response. The XM2 on the other hand has a dip, which will have a small negative effect on the balance of vocals and lead instruments. The treble performance of these two headphones is quite similar but the XM2 is little bit more neutral, but the difference is quite subtle.Both of these headphones come with an app that has an EQ and you should be able to adjust their sound profile as per your preference.
These are basically the best over-ear Active noise cancelling headphones we have measured so far and we are impressed by it in whatsoever way. They perform excellently in the bass, mid, and treble ranges, so they are great for reducing the low background noise of airplane and bus engines, cancelling the chatter of an office, and blocking the sound of air conditioning systems.
In our experience, it seemed that the ANC system of the XM3 is nearly identical to the XM2’s, but they tend to perform better and more consistently probably because of their improved headband and earpads.
In terms of leakage, the XM3 is a noticeable improvement over the XM2, again, probably because of their improved headband and earpads. With the XM3, you won’t need to worry about disturbing the people around you as long as you don’t blast your music and are not in a very quiet environment like a library.
Active Feature and Connection options
The two Sony headphones have little latency. As for their wireless range, the XM3 do a little better than the Xm2 and has a 53 ft. distance when obstructed by walls and about 185 ft. in direct line sight. In comparison, the XM2 reached 45 ft. and about 172 in direct line of sight.
For their battery performance, the XM3 lasted about 27 hours on a single charge with background noise cancelling enabled and at average volumes and the XM2 lasted 28 so a bit longer but both headphones are advertise to have 30 hour of battery life which is within the ball park of the results we got. On the upside, when it comes to charge time the XM3 reached a full charge in about 2.1 hours compared to 3.6 of the XM2. The quick charge feature gives above 5 hours of playtime from a 10-15 min. charge.
We have prepared a chart with difference for easy comparisons below:
|Brand||Sony WH-1000XM3||Sony WH-1000XM2|
|L||4.9 “||4.9 “|
|W||6 “||5.2 “|
|H||3.3 “||3 “|
|Volume||96 Cu. Inches||76 Cu. Inches|
|Sound and Leakage|
|Overall Attenuation||-28.14 dB||-29.9 dB|
|Bass||-18.8 dB||-23.03 dB|
|Mid||-26.11 dB||-27.24 dB|
|Treble||-40.11 dB||-39.7 dB|
|Self-Noise||22.76 dB||21.34 dB|
|Overall Leakage @ 1ft||39.63 dB||37.09 dB|
|Battery Life||28 hrs||27 hrs|
|Charge Time||3.6 hrs||2.2 hrs|
|Obstructed Range||45 ft||53 ft|
|Line of Sight Range||172 ft||185 ft|
|Additional Buttons||N/A||Voice enabled controls|
The Sony WH-1000XM3 is our pick of the day, in fact our pick – any day.
Checkout my article on Sony vs Bose wireless headphones here.