==== Summmary ====
Sony has hit it out of the park again with the new 1000XM3 ANC headphones. The new design is sturdier, more comfortable, better looking, and most importantly, the sound quality is fantastic~! With new hardware and software, the already great Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) technology has gotten even better compared to last year's model as well as the competition. Home run from Sony~!
-Superb sound quality.
-Fantastic ANC performance.
-Comfortable & durable design.
-Lighter than the previous model (0.56 lbs/254 grams).
-Touch-gesture volume and track controls work very well.
-30-hour battery life.
-USB Type C charging port is more future-proof & easier to plug in.
-Useful Sony hardware & software optimizations (Atmospheric Pressure Optimizing, Personal NC Optimizer).
==== Design & Comfort ====
Being an owner of the great Sony 1000XM2, I appreciate and approve the design changes made to the new 1000XM3. The plastic parts of the headphones feel softer and more premium to the touch. The leather padding with urethane foam inside the earbuds and the headrest are better cushioned, softer, and more comfortable.
The fantastic touch-gesture controls are back and they're just as easy to use and work very well (e.g., volume & track control, Quick Attention mode).
The new color scheme is nice too with bronze accents mixed in with the black. The headphones look sleek and modern.
A very welcome addition is the inclusion of the newer and more future-proof USB Type C charging port (Yes~!!). No more fumbling around with which direction to plug in the charging cable and the headphone works with other USB Type C chargers from other modern hardware such as smartphones.
10 out of 10~!!
==== Controls ====
The buttons are located at easy to reach places and work well. On the left earbud is the Power Button and the NC/Google Assistant Button. Also on the left earmuff is the NFC module which allows for quick pairing to your smartphone.
If you don't want to use NFC to make the pairing connection, you can initiate Bluetooth pairing by pressing and holding down on the Power Button then selecting the 1000XM3 on your PC's or smartphone's Bluetooth setting page.
Pressing the NC Button toggles between three modes - Ambient Sound (default level 20 with Focus on Voice set to Off), Ambient Sound Off, and Noise Cancellation. The Ambient Sound mode can be adjusted between Level 1 to Level 20 inside the Sony Headphone app. The higher you go on the scale between 1 to 20, the more ambient sound around you gets in such as traffic and people sounds. You can also check off on the "Focus on Voice" option to let in voices more easily.
For absolute isolation from the outside world, you would choose the "Noise Cancellation" option.
If one assigns the NC Button to use Google Assistant instead within the Sony app, then pressing the NC Button triggers Google Assistant who will then speak aloud notifications and tell you the time. In addition, you can hold down the Google Assistant button, speak a command, let go of the button, and the Google Assistant will respond to your query or command.
My FAVORITE control feature of the 1000XM3, however, is the touch-gesture controls located on the right earmuff. Swipe Up or Down for volume control, swipe Back or Forward for track control, Double-Tap to pause & resume music, and cup the earmuff with the palm of your hand to allow ambient noise to come through so you can hear and talk to people.
Sony continues its excellent ergonomic design with the 1000XM3. Another 10 out of 10.
==== Sound Quality ====
The Sony 1000XM3 sounds good - really good. It plays all types of audio excellently - hip-hop, pop, alternative, rock, vocals, instrumentals, bass-heavy songs. It is truly a jack of all trades and master of all.
Bass is GREAT and it delivers it in a deep, punchy, and visceral manner. Even the low rumbly bass is handled superbly.
The headphones also deliver a dynamic and wide soundstage with clear vocal separations, range, spatial distribution and balance.
In addition to listening to music, I also used the 1000XM3 when playing games on my PC. Sound quality during gaming was also fantastic.
Unlike last year's 1000XM2 which didn't sound that great out-of-the-box until I played around with some settings, the 1000XM3 comes out sounding great from first power-on.
I connected the 1000XM3 to my Samsung Galaxy S9+ and adjusted only one setting inside the Sony Headphones app - Noise Cancelling Optimizer. The Noise Cancelling Optimizer configures the 1000XM3 to your head physiology to make audio and noise cancelling more efficient and effective.
To be honest, I didn't notice much sound quality difference between the older 1000XM2 and this 1000XM3. But that's not a bad thing as the 1000XM2 was already great and the 1000XM3 just maintains the quality and fidelity.
10 out of 10~!
==== Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) ====
With Sony's new HD Noise Canceling QN1 Processor and multiple microphones, the ANC works very well and consistently.
All kinds of sounds were deftly cancelled out by the 1000XM3 - traffic noise, barking dogs, chirping birds, lawn mowers, all conversations inside a coffee shop, and background TV and radio noise.
With a 3-year-old around the house who might need my attention at any time, my preferred ANC mode was "Ambient Sound On" at Level 1 with "Focus on Voice" checked off. That way, if my daughter seeked my attention, I could hear and respond to her in a timely fashion.
When I'm by myself or in a place where I don't expect to interact with anyone else, I then set the ANC mode to "Noise Cancellation" for maximum isolation from the world.
I don't know if the performance of the ANC technology is really 4 times improved compared to the 1000XM2 (per Sony), but I do know that it is better and works very well.
As you guessed it, it's another 10 out of 10.
==== Conclusion ====
For the absolute best in sound quality and noise cancellation, I honestly don't think there is any other product on the market that is better than the Sony 1000XM3. Everything is just so well-balanced - sound quality, ANC performance, battery life, ergonomics, comfort, and app customization. Sony has created a tremendously well-executed and high-performing product.