Sony WH-1000XM3 Vs Bose QC35 II

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Last year when we pitted the Sony 1000XM2 up against the Bose QC 35 Series two, the Sony’s won cause they had the better performing technology. But bose still walked away with a close second cause they had far better build quality, far better fit, and they looked much better than the Sony’s. And it looks like Sony took that to heart cause now we have the all new Sony WH-1000XM3. So… are the Sony 1000XM3 finally the complete package… or do the Bose QC 35 Series 2 still have some fight left in them? 

The Sony 1000XM3’s are the newer headphones here cause they were released in September of 2018. Where as the Bose QC35 Series 2 are exactly one year older than the Sony’s. And both of these headphones currently retail for $350. If you want to pick either of these headphones up I’ll have links in the description below, and if you use the links it really helps out the channel. I highly suggest you check them out cause Sony’s headphones routinely go on sale so you’ll might get lucky. And if you want to learn more about either of these headphones then watch their full reviews. And also check out the new merch shelf down below. 

First lets talk about the accessories that come included with both of these headphones. Both of these headphones come included with hard shell carrying cases, but personally I do prefer Sony’s case. Even though Bose’s case is slightly smaller, I like Sony’s case cause of the scratch resistant fabric body and I really like the built in storage compartment. Before we talk about the included cables we first need to talk about the ports on these headphones cause they’re completely opposite. Thankfully, the 1000XM3’s now have a USB C port strictly for charging and theres a 3.5 millimeter audio jack, where as the Bose still have a micro USB port for charging and it has a 2.5 millimeter audio jack. The M3’s included charging cable is much nicer than Bose’s charging cable, but I hate that its much shorter. But both of these headphones do get a strike when it comes to their included audio cables. Both of these cables are cheap, short, and thin. And even though the M3’s audio cable is slightly better than Bose’s audio cable, its still a down grade from the M2’s audio cable. I know that for most people the included audio cables aren’t a factor these days, but for content creators it could matter. 

But now with all of that out of that of the way lets get to the main attractions… even though technologically inferior, the Bose QC35’s have remained a favorite of most consumers cause of their fit, design, and tried and tested build quality. Cause in comparison with last year’s Sony 1000XM2… their ear cups where much more cramped, they looked much bulkier, build quality wasn’t on the same level as Bose, and they had to shake off the Headband cracking issue that was prominent on the first generation Sony MDR-1000X. And from the looks of it, it looks like Sony took steps to improve both the build quality and design of the 1000XM3. Theres much less creeking whenever you flex the M3’s headband, the ear cups swivel much smoother, and tolerances are much tighter. The M3’s also have a much more minimalist design to them cause of their muted color, soft touch ear cups and all of the screws and wires have been nicely hidden. Where as the Bose QC35’s have a much more industrial look to them. They look like they’re completely made out of metal but they’re not and their screws and hinges are completely exposed. Even though Sony obviously took steps to improve the build quality on their new headphones, only time will tell if they’re going to be able to hold up as well as Bose’s headphones do. Personally I am confident in the new build quality of the M3’s cause after a year of heavy usage, my M2’s held up just fine. 

But perhaps more importantly, the fit of the 1000XM3’s has been greatly improved from the M2’s to better compete against the Bose QC35’s. The ear cups on the M3’s are much more spacious than the ear cups on the M2’s and theres much less padding pressing against your head which means over heating is much less of an issue. Since the ear cups on the M3’s are much more spacious and since the headphones themselves weigh in at 255 grams (20 grams less than the M2’s) extended wear is not a problem what so ever. But… some people will still find the Bose QC35’s a little more comfortable to wear then the 1000XM3. Even though the padding on the M3’s is very similar to the Bose QC35’s, Bose’s ear cups are much deeper than Sony’s ear cups. Wearing the Bose QC35’s is like wearing your favorite oversized hoodie, you have more than enough room to move around and since the faux leather on the ear cups feels much more luxurious than the faux leather on the M3’s, the Bose feel a little cozier. Where as wearing the Sony’s is like wearing a form fitting track suit. You have room to move around, but the cut is much slimmer. Obviously both of these headphones are big head approved, but I feel that if you have larger ears, or ears that stick out a lot then you’ll still be better off going with the Bose QC35’s. But another thing I like about the 1000XM3 is the new headband design its much more low profile compared to the M2’s and Bose’s headband and its also much thinner. 

Now with design and fit out of the way lets talk about tech specs. The Bose QC35 series two has an advertised battery life of 20 hours and they also feature fast charging. If you plug the Bose QC35’s in for 15 minutes from a dead battery they’re going to get you 2 and half hours playback time. The M3’s also have fast charging, but instead of 2 and a half hours of playback time they’re going to get you 5 hours of playback time. The M3’s also have an advertised battery life of 30 hours and thats with ANC turned on. You can always squeeze out a little more battery life if you use these headphones with ANC turned off. And for me the M3’s last me about 2 weeks in-between charges. 

But when it comes to bluetooth connectivity things are a little different. Both of these headphones have stable connections that don’t cut out which is good but they do have a bit of latency so they aren’t the best for watching youtube videos. But with the Bose QC35’s you can connect to two devices at a time which makes it much easier to hot swap if you’re a power user. With the M3’s you can only be connected to one device at a time which is a bummer. But you do get the benefit of Sony’s DSEE and LDAC technologies which lets you enjoy high res audio without having to use a wired connection. 

But now lets talk about the active noise cancellation on both of these headphones. Like I’ve said in the past, the reason I liked the Sony 1000XM2 so much was because they were able to block out the most amount of noise with little to no cabin pressure… even more than the Bose QC35’s. And I don’t know how sony did it, but the new 1000XM3’s are able to block out a little more noise across the board than the previous M2’s.

Even though the Bose QC35’s do a good job of blocking out a good amount of road noise… AKA constant low frequency sounds, they do struggle to block out random higher frequency sounds like the chatter you would hear at your local coffee shop. But my biggest issue with Bose’s Active noise cancelation is that there is a considerable amount of discomfort when you use it. I know that some people have said that they get used to Bose’s ANC technology after awhile, but that has never been the case for me. Personally I either feel discomfort on my ear drums or a slight pain on the back of my eye balls, so after a while of wearing the Bose QC35’s with ANC turned on I just get a headache. Where as I never have any of these symptoms with Sony’s headphones. But another reason I like Sony’s active noise cancelation so much is because its does a much better job of preventing wind noise in your music when you’re wearing these headphones outdoors. Since the ANC microphones on the Sony 1000XM3’s are slightly recessed its much harder for wind to directly hit them and a result you rarely get any WHoosing in the background of your music. Where as since the ANC microphones on the Bose are so exposed wind noise is a little more common.  

But another reason I like Sony’s ANC so much is because you can pump in some of the ambient sound around you… So its kind of like having open back headphones and this feature is great for safety if you’re walking around in the city. But the trick thing about ambient mode is that its just not blindly pumping in all of the ambient sound around you, its still selective of what it lets in. So if you’re walking around in the city and if theres a random bang, or a siren the headphones will automatically block everything out again. So you don’t have to worry about jump scares or going deaf. Where as with Bose, you can only set your active noise cancellation to High, Low, or off.

When it comes to sound quality, both of these headphones are meant for easy listening. The Bose QC35’s sound signature puts and emphasis on the mids and vocals, but I feel the bass leaves something to be desired. I feel that the Bose can sometimes sound a little bright and if the vocals really get going then they can over power the rest of the song. But my biggest problem with the Bose QC35’s is that the bass bottoms out half of the time. Where as the bass on the Sony 1000XM3 can get significantly deeper and is cleaner than the bass on the both the 1000XM2 and Bose QC35. You’re not going to get bass head levels of bass on the 1000XM3 where your head is just rattling all of the time, but the cleaner bass on the M3’s does make listening to music with the M3’s more enjoyable. And through Sony’s headphones app you can also adjust the EQ of the M3’s so you can make them sound how ever you want depending on the type of music you listen too. Which is something you cant do with the Bose unless you use a third part app. 

And when it comes to controlling your music playback on either of these headphones things are also very different. The Bose QC35’s have a set of physical buttons on the back of the right ear cup. They’re easy to use, easy to find, and easy to tell apart. Besides me wanting them to have a little more tactile feedback, they’re perfectly fine. The Sony’s on the other hand have a touch pad on their right cup. You double tap to play of pause your music, swipe up or down to adjust your volume, and swipe front or back to skip or go back a track. And after you get used to them, the touch controls on the Sony 1000XM3’s are very easy to use. Since Sony’s touchpad is so accurate, im in different when it comes to choosing between either of the control methods  found on these headphones. They both work just fine. But the thing Sony’s touch pad has over Bose is quick attention… if you fully cover the touch pad the headphones will pause your music and pump in all of the ambient sound so you can talk to someone without having to take of your headphones off. 

But one thing that I hate about both of these headphones is their lack of a dedicated google assistant button. Both of these headphones have google assistant integration and the Bose even has Alexa integration. But in order to use this feature you do have to sacrifice either of these headphone’s extra physical button that would other wise be used to manually cycle through your ANC settings like this

And not having this functionality can get pretty annoying cause I switch from ANC to Ambient sound mode with the M3’s on a regular basis. Now I'm fully aware that if you press and hold on either of these headphones you can summon your voice assistant. But pressing, and holding, and then talking isn’t as efficient as having a dedicated button where you just press and talk like this… 

So what im getting at is, I do like that both of these headphones have google assistant integration but I wish these headphones had an extra physical button so that we don’t have to sacrifice the manual Noise cancelation setting button. Cause having to open the app on your phone every time you want to cycle between your noise cancelation settings can get pretty annoying. 

And finally, I don’t usually do this in a versus video but heres the microphone test. And the microphone on the Sony 1000XM3 does sound better than the microphone found on the Bose QC35 series 2…

Cause the microphone on the Bose QC35 series 2 does have a considerable amount of static so I wouldn’t recommend taking phone calls with these headphones. 

So for the time being, I think its safe to say that the New Sony WH-1000XM3 are currently the best Active Noise Cancelling headphones on the market right now. Just like the 1000XM2’s from last year… the 1000XM3 out right out perform the Bose QC35 Series 2 when it comes to battery life, features, sound quality, and active noise cancelation performance. But more importantly the 1000XM3’s improved where the 1000XM2’s fell short. And as a result the Fit and build quality of the 1000XM3’s is finally on par of that of the Bose QC35’s. The only reason I would pick up the Bose QC35 now is cause you need the more spacious ear cups, multi device connectivity is a must for you, you really want that Alexa integration, or just plain looks. But for me, the Sony WH-1000XM3’s are going to be my daily drivers from now on.  Now remember, if you want to learn more about either of these headphones then please watch their full reviews.