When talking about great audio and video products, Sony will always be on the top of people’s minds, as far as mainstream brands go. As one of the tech industry’s greatest innovators, Sony has introduced a number of products that exceed expectations. Their newest audio product, the WF-1000XM3, is no exception.
Headphone-quality audio in True Wireless Earbuds form
While its name is quite a mouthful, the WF-1000XM3 is definitely a pair of earphones that your ears (and pockets) won’t get mad at you for. Weighing in at around 8.5 grams per bud, it’s quite easy to forget that you’re wearing it, especially when you fit it with the correct size of tips for your ear. It comes with two different sets of tips at three sizes each–a normal silicon-type tip, and a sort of rubber-foam hybrid that’s comparable in comfort and noise isolation to those memory foam tips you can buy out in the market.
As expected, the WF-1000XM3 (hereforth known as WF) packs a great soundstage in such a small package. Being that type of listener who loves hearing his drum tracks, its bass response feels punchy enough without being too overpowering.
With any modern bluetooth set of earphones, the WF can be used with Sony’s own mobile app called Headphones connect. This is basically the same app you’d use with the WH-1000XM3, which is the WF’s bigger over-ear brother. Through the app, you can customize several features of the buds, including tweaking your EQ settings, as well as several presets depending on your listening preferences.
The WF comes equipped with 6mm audio drivers, which, for the most part, have a decent range that perform well no matter what genre you prefer. I’ve tested out soft ballads and the buds represent subtle sound signatures really well; a feat that I couldn’t hear much coming from lower-priced true wireless buds such as the Galaxy Buds. It’s when playing rock tracks that the WF shines brighter—you’d be able to clearly hear ghost notes. However, if you’re not a fan of punchy bass, it’s easy enough to tweak equalizer settings otherwise.
The Headphones Connect app also lets you enable a feature labeled as “DSEE HX,” or Sony’s Digital Sound Enhancement Engine. Based on Sony’s documentation, DSEE basically restores audio quality that was lost in audio formats with compression. It’s something that may be too minor for a not-so-audiophile user like me, but it’s a claim that I have yet to discern. Besides, you can only activate HSEE if you set the WF to sound quality mode, slightly sacrificing connection stability for what I think is minimal quality improvement.
Gimme the gimmicks
It’s on the app where you can also tweak one of the WF’s many features, which is the Adaptive Sound Control. In a nutshell, sensors in the WF read your current activities and control its two main sound features—ambient sound and noise cancelling—accordingly. Sitting still as you listen to music while reading a book in a park? You’d likely want to get a bit of the surrounding sounds for a more relaxed mood. Walking on a busy street towards your office? Safety first—you have to hear as much of your environment as possible. On a long-haul flight and want to shut off that annoying kid on the flight? Then maybe you want to go full-on noise cancellation mode. The Adaptive Sound control basically automates how much ambient sound comes in, from a scale of 1 to 20, as well as some degree of wind noise reduction, and of course, the WF’s noise reduction function care of its QN1e noise cancelling processor taken straight from its over-ear brother. All the ambient sound functions can also be controlled manually, and can be toggled by default by pressing the left earbud’s touchpad to cycle between Adaptive Sound on, off, and full-on noise cancelling.
While the WF does a decent enough job of cancelling out ambient noise on a busy café, it doesn’t have the same feeling of stepping inside a soundproof room when you don the WH-1000XM3. Given its size, of course, it’s better than other true wireless earbuds in terms of isolation.
The WF also comes with Google Assistant built-in. Using the same Headphones Connect App, you can change the function of either the left or right touchpad to enable Google Assistant directly from the earpiece without whipping out or unlocking your phone; pretty much semi hands-free operation of your phone.
Wear it till your ears hurt
In all honesty, the WF are quite light and easy on your ears. At 8.5g per bud, and given the right tip, you can likely wear it for the whole day or for the duration of your entire flight. However, note that compared to other buds in the market, it does protrude out a bit more; at the same time, the part that rests on the grooves of your earlobe aren’t as soft and comfortable as, say, those of the Samsung Galaxy Buds. You’ll want to keep twisting and repositioning it for it to rest comfortably on your ears.
It does have that potential to last you the whole day and then some—the buds themselves can go for up to 6 hours on one charge with noise cancellation on (my default setup), with up to three more full charges on the case. While I didn’t have the chance to exhaustively review this aspect, it does seem to hold its promise with around 60% left after around three hours of use.
So what do I think about it?
If you’re on the market for a pair of true wireless earbuds, then the WF-1000XM3 is definitely a worthy one to consider. It’s also still a worthy upgrade to, say, your free Samsung Galaxy Buds, and you’d easily see the clear difference between night and day in terms of audio clarity.
While it does have several useful features going for it that I really appreciate (I’m looking at you, foam-rubber-thing hybrid buds, I love you), there are still some things that are lacking that would have made this a much better product. There is no IP rating for the WF-1000XM3, which means you won’t be able to use it too much at the gym. Even the Galaxy Buds are slightly splash resistant at IPX2, with the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless at IPX4. The WF-1000XM3 also only has USB-C charging; wireless charging could have also been a plus.
I also found extended use to be just a little uncomfortable, although this one I blame more on my weird earlobe—the rubber part of the bud just sits too harshly on my left ear. Again, this isn’t an issue for other buds that have softer material covering the body.
That being said, the WF-1000XM3 is still a great choice. At PHP 12,999, it’s definitely a good, more affordable alternate to the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds. Just be ready to set your expectations if you’re a hardcore audiophile, but otherwise, it’ll be worth your money.
The WF-1000XM3 is available at the following Sony stores:
- Glorietta 2
- North Edsa
- SM Calamba
- SM MOA
- Solenad 3
- Ayala Tacloban
- SM Ecoland
- Gaisano Mall
- Egghead: Shang-la Plaza
- Robinson’s Galleria