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There is a lot of hype behind the New Sony WH-1000XM3 ANC headphones. And its with good reason, the M3’s got all of the great technology found in the M2’s; improved on them, and packed them inside a much better body. But I know some people just can’t afford to drop $350 on a pair of ANC headphones or they might be hesitant to upgrade to the M3’s. So heres how the new Sony 1000XM3’s compare to the older Sony 1000XM2’s, how my 1000XM2’s have held up after a year of heavy usage, and do you need to upgrade to the 1000XM3.
The Sony 1000XM2 are exactly a year old now cause they came out in September of 2017. Initially they used to retail for $350 like the current 1000XM3’s do now, but now the 1000XM2’s are currently retailing for $298. Sony’s headphones routinely go on sale, so I’ll have links in the description below so you can pick them up, and I highly suggest you check them out. You’ll might get lucky. And if you use the links it really helps out the channel. Also if you want to watch the full review on the Sony WH-1000XM3 click on the I icon above… and also check out the new merch shelf down below.
Everything on the 1000XM3 has been changed from the 1000XM2, even the accessories. The hard-shell carrying case of the M3’s is slightly larger than the M2’s case, it has a color matching fabric front and theres even a compartment on the inside for storing your cables. I like both cases just fine, but I will admit having that little storage compartment is pretty convenient. With the 1000XM2’s case I have to store my audio cable in the back pocket so its not as clean as the 1000XM3. And speaking of the audio cable, one of the things that peeves me about the M3’s is its included audio cable. Its much cheaper and shorter than the audio cable that comes included with the M2’s. The M3’s audio cable is the same as the WH-CH700N’s audio cable and those headphones cost half as much. As a content creator this is a big deal cause with the M3’s cable I don’t have as much slack and I’m afraid its going to wear out much faster. But the new USB-C to USB-A charging cable of the M3’s feels much nicer than the M2’s Micro USB charging cable. I just wish it wasn’t so short.
Now we can actually start talking about the headphones. The first generation MDR-1000X got a bad reputation cause a lot of people suffered from cracking on the plastic body panels of the headband from seemingly normal wear. Even though I didn’t experience cracked body panels when I had the OG 1000X, one of my friends did. But after a year of heavy usage on my 1000XM2, I still don’t see an evidence of cracking on my headband. Plus my headphones have to stretch a good amount cause I have a big head. But thats one of the biggest upgrades on the 1000XM3 from the 1000XM2, build quality across the board has been improved. Tolerances are much tighter on the M3’s, theres a lot less creeking when you flex the headband, and the ear cups pivot and swivel much smoother than the M2’s. The headband on the M3’s is also a little thinner than the headband on the M2’s. But one of the most under rated changes on the M3’s from the M2’s is the exterior of the ear cups. The whole ear cup is now covered in soft touch material, which feels very nice when you hold these headphones and the awful looking textured faux leather covering the ear cups on the M2’s is finally gone. And finally the only two physical buttons found on these two headphones has also been improved
But perhaps the most important difference between the 1000XM2 and the new 1000XM3 is the fit. The M3’s have significantly more padding underneath its headband than the M2’s. I would say its a little more than doubled. But more importantly the ear cups on the M3’s are significantly more spacious than the ear cups on the M2’s. I know that after awhile you get used to the M2’s cramped ear cups. But the M3’s new ear cup design just spoil you. Any time I was I the airport with the M2’s and saw someone wearing the Bose QC35’s I would think, “i know I have the better tech, but I know your ears are more comfortable” but not any more with the M3’s. Since the ear cups on the M3’s are bigger, and since there’s less padding in contact with your skin, the M3’s suffer from significantly less over heating than the M2’s. And even after a year of heavy usage, wear and tear on the faux leather on the M2’s is still pretty close to new. But even though the ear cups on the M3’s are much more spacious than the ear cups on the M2’s, the M3’s are much more low profile on your head which just make them look all around better. Now, even though the 1000XM3 have better build quality, improved comfort, are 20 grams lighter and just look better, I know that for some people that still wont constitute a reason for upgrading.
When it comes to tech specs the new 1000XM3’s now charge via a USB C port instead of a micro USB port like the M2’s. And you can only use this port for charging. And both of these headphones are rocking the same 30 hour battery life. And thats with ANC turned on. And for me the M2’s last me about 2 weeks in between charges. Battery life on these headphones is still above average compared to other ANC headphones out there. The only battery difference between the M2 and the M3 is fast charging. If you plug the M3’s in for 10 minutes from a dead battery they’ll get you 5 hours of playback time, versus the M2’s which will get you one hour.
Even though the M3’s have been upgraded to bluetooth 4.2 from bluetooth 4.1 they still perform the same as the M2’s. The connection is stable but theres still a little bit of latency when watching youtube videos. You still have Sony’s DSEE and LDAC technologies and you can still only pair to one device at a time. Which is still one of the biggest bummers about both of these headphones.
Over the past year the Sony 1000XM2 has been my gold standard when it came to active noise cancelation, they managed to block out the most amount of noise with very little to no cabin pressure. And thats why I would always compare other ANC headphones to the M2’s. And believe it or not, the 1000XM3’s actually manage to block out a little more noise than the 1000XM2’s across the board. Both of these headphones have an atmospheric pressure sensor built in, but the M3’s have Sony’s new QN1 processor which analyzes the ambient sound and it also has a built in amplifier for your music.
Most headphones have no problem blocking out constant low frequency sounds like road noise, but what made the 1000XM2 stand out for me was that they were also able to block out significantly more chatter than other headphones all while having very little cabin pressure. And I don’t know how Sony did it, but the 1000XM3’s do manage to block out a little more noise than the M2’s. It’s not a game changing difference, but a difference none the less. But another thing I’ve always liked about the M2’s over other ANC headphones is that they pick up very little wind noise. And this is thanks to the recessed ANC microphones. Since they aren’t as exposed on either of these headphones you get very little WHOOOSH - ing in the background of your music when you’re using these headphones outdoors.
When it comes to sound quality, the Sony 1000XM3 still sounds very similar to the1000XM2. And thats not a bad thing. And thanks to Sony’s headphones app you can adjust the EQ on either of these headphones so you can make them sound however you’d like deepening on the type of music you listen to. But the biggest difference between the sound of the M3 and M2 is that the bass on the M3 manages to get deep and stays cleaner. You’re not going to get Bass head levels of bass where your head is rattling, but since it take much more for the bass on the M3’s to bottom out it does provide an over all better listening experience.
And to control your music playback on the 1000XM3’s, you still have the same touch controls on the right ear cup like the 1000XM2. And the touch pad on the M3’s performs exactly the same as the M2’s. And after using the touch controls on the M2’s for almost a year now, its become second nature to me. Im indifferent when it comes to choosing between physical control buttons like on the Bose QC 35 or using the touchpad on the M2’s, but since the touch pad is one of the more accurate ones out there im fine with either or. But still, my favorite feature of the touch pad on both of these headphones is quick attention, this feature is super handy when ever you’re traveling. You can talk to people without having to take you’re headphones off.
But one of the biggest upgrades the 1000XM2 received over the summer is google assistant integration. And the M3’s also have this. But in order to use this feature you have to sacrifice your NC ambient sound button which does suck. But if you’re a google assistant power user this feature comes in very handy… its much faster than having to press and hold on the touch pad, you just press and talk like this.
And finally the microphone on the 1000XM3 has been improved from the microphone on the 1000XM2. theres much less static and theres much less echoing.
Cause for comparison whenever I took a phone call with the 1000XM2 people would allows complain about the audio.
So over all, the new Sony WH-1000XM3 have a whole bunch of new small upgrades that really do add up. The Sony 1000XM3 have better build quality, they fit better, they look better, their bass sounds better, and they block out a little more noise. But like I said in the full review, you don’t really need to upgrade, but you’ll be really happy if you did. Mostly cause of the fit and bass. But still if you decide to stick with or pick up the Sony 1000XM2 then you’ll still have what I think are the number 2 best ANC headphones right now. Cause unless Bose, or sennheiser puts something the tittle of number one best ANC headphones currently belongs to the Sony WH-1000XM3. Now remember, this isn’t a full review one the Sony 1000XM3… for that please watch the full review. Cause even though I really like the 1000XM3’s, they’re still not perfect.