Sony 1000XM3 Vs Sony XB900N - The Differences You Should Know

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Personally I think sony is killing it right now when it comes to their ANC headphones. Its been almost a year and the 1000XM3’s are still my favorite and most recommended pair of Premium ANC Headphones. And it looks like Sony is on track to dominate the mid range ANC headphones space with their New XB900N’s. So if you’re thinking about pick up a pair of sony headphones, here are the key differences between the 1000XM3’s and XB900N’s. 

Now first obviously is the price, the 1000XM3’s retail for $350 where as the XB900N’s retail for $250. So definitely for some people this $100 price difference is going to be a major differentiating factor. But if you want to pick up any of the headphones mentioned in this video they’ll be linked down below and if you want to learn more about either of these headphones please watch their full reviews. 

Now this $100 price difference means you’re going to see performance, build quality, and included accessories differences between these two headphones. Most notably, the XB900N’s come included with a carrying pouch where as the 1000XM3’s come included with a hard shell carrying case. So definitely if you plan on constantly commuting or traveling with your headphones you’re going to want a carrying case to keep your headphones safe. Now from a build quality standpoint both of these headphones have a stainless steel headband and mostly plastic body, but the plastic panels on the 1000XM3’s are smooth where as the body panels on the XB900N’s have a texture to them. Both of these headphones have decent build quality but the 1000XM3’s do feel over all more premium cause the ear cups themselves have a soft touch feel to them where as the XB900N’s are strictly plastic. But personally, I do think that the leatherette on the XB900N’s feels slightly nicer than the leatherette found on the 1000XM3’s. But the XB900N’s also have different ear cups than the ones found on the M3’s making them slightly more spacious than the 1000XM3’s. Both of these headphones fit great and they’re both big head approved but I do find the XB900N’s are a touch more comfortable than the 1000XM3’s. But I do want to quickly point out that even though both of these headphones have low profile headbands and simple designs, the headband on the 1000XM3 is slightly more low profile than the XB900N’s.

Now when it comes to tech specs both of these headphones charge via a USB C port which is great especially if you’re an android user. And both of these headphones have an advertised battery life of 30 hours with ANC turned on which usually last me 2 weeks in between charges. So even to my surprise you’re not going to have to settle on battery life on either of these headphones. 

But the fast charging on these headphones is very different. If you plug the 1000XM3’s in for 10 minutes from a dead battery they’re going to get you 5 hours of playback time where as the XB900N’s are only going to get you 1 hour of playback time from a 10 minute charge. And personally I do find that pretty weird. 

But when it comes to bluetooth connectivity, first off both of these headphones are good for watching videos on you’re phone cause they have zero latency when watching Netflix or HBO. But there is a slight latency when watching youtube on an iPhone. But also these headphones can only be connected to one device at a time so if you’re a power user you can’t hot swap. And personally I also find it pretty weird that these headphones don’t support simultaneous multi device connectivity given that sony is always trying to cram in as many features as possible into their products. 

But when it comes to audio codecs, if you’re an android user both of these headphones are going to give you LDAC and APTX support and if you’re in iPhone user they both support AAC. But its important to keep in mind that if you try to use a custom EQ on either of these headphones with an android device they’re both going to revert to SBC. Where as if you’re an iPhone user both of these headphones are still going to use AAC no matter what EQ you use.

But now lets talk about the active noise cancelation on these headphones. Plainly said the ANC on the 1000XM3’s is vastly superior than the XB900N cause they have a more advanced set up going on. The 1000XM3’s have a built in atmospheric pressure sensor that you can use to calibrate your 1000XM3’s when you’re at cruising altitude in an airplane which from my experience it actually does work and it not just marketing fluff… and the 1000XM3’s also have Sony’s QN1 chip who’s main purpose is to cancel out random higher frequency sounds like chatter which some other premium or mid range ANC headphones out there do struggle to block out. But so that you can see for yourself we’re going to jump into an ANC test. 

Like you may have just seen, the 1000XM3’s managed to block out significantly more noise than the XB900N’s its not even close. But personally I do think that is to be expected cause Sony obviously wants to have a good performance Delta when it comes to the Active Noise Cancelation between these two headphones. The ANC on the XB900N’s is still usable but if you’re looking to block out the most noise here then the 1000XM3’s are a no brainer. But just like the 1000XM3’s the ANC on the XB900N’s have little to no cabin pressure and it also doesn't change how your music sounds when its turned on. 

Now both of these headphones also have an ambient mode that you can easily adjust through their app. And like I’ve said in the past and ambient mode is great cause this way you can still be aware of your surroundings when you’re walking around the city or you can do what I do and have ambient mode turned on when you’re watching Netflix on your phone so that if someone calls your name you can still here them. And both of these ambient mode are good cause they sound natural and they don’t have any back ground hissing. But there is one major difference between them. The ambient mode on the 1000XM3’s will actively block out sudden spikes in noise where as the XB900N’s pump in everything. And so that you can see for yourself heres what I call the clap test.

Like you may have just seen when I clapped the M3’s automatically turned off their ambient mode where as the XB900N’s just kept going. This small but very important difference means that if youre wearing your XB900N’s with their ambient mode turned on and your dog starts barking or if a siren passes by youre going to hear all of that through your headphones. Which is going to result in jump scares and its all just loud. Where as the 1000XM3’s are going to prevent all of that. 

But now lets talk about how these headphones sound cause there are some major differences. Now personally both of these headphones sound great and to me they perform pretty much identical when it comes to sound stage, instrument separation, and audio fidelity. But the biggest difference between these headphones sound wise is their bass. The XB900N’s have a frequency response between 2 and 20,000 hertz where as the 1000XM3 have a frequency response between 4 and 40,000 hertz. Ultimately humans can’t hear past 20,000 hertz so the 1000XM3’s going all the way up to 40,000 hertz is just nice to have. But what does matter here is the XB900N’s can go all the way down to 2 hertz where as the M3’s can only go down to 4 hertz. This literally means that the XB900N’s have double the bass found on the 1000XM3’s. Which means these headphones are going to rattle your head twice as much as the 1000XM3’s when the bass really gets going. So if youre a bass head then the XB900N’s are a new brainer compared to the M3’s. But both of these headphones let you fully customize their EQ so if you like a lot of bass in your music you have that option or if you prefer a neutral sound signature you also have that option. But one of the reasons why I really like the XB900N’s is cause if you crank the bass up on them when youre going to watch a movie with your headphones you feel more emresed in what ever youre watching especially during action scenes. You can do the same thing with the M3’s but the effect isn’t as dramatic as the XB900N’s. 

But finally lets talk about the microphones on these headphones. For starters the microphone on the 1000XM3’s does sound pretty muffled. 

Where as to my surprise the microphones on the XB900N’s does sound a little better. It doesn’t sound as good as Bose’s microphones but it is an improvement over the 1000XM3’s. 

So heres hoping that well see a better microphone on the sony 1000XM4 if they’re announced at IFA 2019. 

So over all, even though they’re not perfect… sony is really dominating when it comes to the ANC Headphones space. The 1000XM3’s still have the best performing active noise cancelation even with newer competitors out there, and the XB900N’s offer a very complete package for Mid Range ANC Headphones. Personally I don’t think you can go wrong with XB900N’s if youre looking for mid range headphones but the XB900N’s are slightly more comfortable than the 1000XM3’s cause of their redesigned and better feeling ear pads, and having access to literally double the amount of bass than on the 1000XM3’s is pretty cool. But if your main concern is active noise cancellation then the 1000XM3’s are the obvious answer. But personally I really hope we see some elements from the XB900N’s make their way to the 1000XM4’s. For starters, more spacious and better feeling ear cups on the M4’s would be awesome but I would also like the M4’s to have the same amount of bass as the XB900N’s. I just think it would be cool to be able to use when ever you want to. And also an improved microphone on the 1000XM4’s wouldn’t hurt.