While we had high hopes for the Sony WF-1000XM3 true wireless earbuds, on most fronts we ended up being disappointed. Yes, they provide decent noise cancellation in a portable wireless earbud form-factor, but beyond that they failed to impress. In particular we found the fit to be less than comfortable and not very secure, and throughout our testing the sound quality was hampered by a persistent fuzziness. While we wouldn't call these earbuds bad by any means, we think there are plenty of models available, both at similar and lower price points, that provide a better overall experience.
Sony WF-1000XM3 Review
Pros: Relatively comfortable, decent noise cacnellation
Cons: Sound quality doesn't live up to expectations
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Active noise cancellation is still a fairly unique feature to find in a pair of true wireless earbuds, but in our testing the Sony WF-1000XM3 failed to back that technology up with enough other positive attributes to get our recommendation.
Our favorite thing about the Sony WF-1000XM3 is the fact that the noise cancellation does not create much of a pressure in your ear. Any noise cancelling headphones, whether they be over-ear or in-ear, tend to create some feeling of ear pressure when their active noise cancelling is deployed. This problem can be particularly noticeable with earbuds that can already create some pressure simply by being in your ears. The Sony WF-1000XM3 largely avoids this issue, resulting in better overall comfort when using the active noise cancellation.
Our biggest complaint with the Sony WF-1000XM3 is the sound quality. Though fairly well balanced, we noticed a fuzziness whenever listening to music with these earbuds. While not overpowering, that lack of clarity certinaly made these earbuds sound less than premium.
These earbuds come with 7 different earpieces. Despite that fact, many of our testers failed to find a comfortable fit with these buds. Additionally, they protrude quite far from the ear, providing a lot of leverage to pull against your ear. This both made the fit, even for those that could find a comfortable one, feel less than secure. It also makes the earbuds a poor choice for athletic endeavors as that protrusion causes them to tug at your ears with every stride or jump.
This isn't to say that you won't be able to find a good fit — in general, the fit of earbuds is very personal. Some may just have ears that are better tailored to the Sony WF-1000XM3's earpieces and thus will love how well they fit. We're only saying that within our cadre of eight comfort testers fewer were able to find a comfortable fit with these buds than with most competing products on the market.
Finally, the charging case that these earbuds are stored in is relatively large compared to those of most of the comparable models on the market. It can still fit in the front pocket of a pair of jeans, but it is very noticeable while it is there. In comparison many other cases virtually disappear when you put them into a front pocket.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 asks a premium price that, in our opinion, it doesn't live up to. For that same price you can get true wireless earbuds that performed better in our sound quality tests, fit securely enough to be used while working out, and that offer similar levels of noise reduction.
After having multiple testers use the Sony WF-1000XM3 for multiple days each, we have trouble recommending them. While these buds manage to provide decent noise cancellation technology without creating an undue feeling of pressure in your ears, we were unimpressed with their sound quality and comfort. Bottom line is that there are other models on the market that can achieve similar things for much less, or ones at a similar price point that provide decent and comfortable noise cancellation and better sound and a generally better fit.
— Max Mutter and Michelle Powell