Sony M3 (4)

I don’t think I need to wax lyrical about just how good music is for the soul. A little bit of harmonic composition can go a long way, whether it be the energetic sound of hard rock that motivates you to move harder when you’re at the gym or the soothing sound a soft tempo that can set your mind at ease. There are numerous other factors that come into play as well, from the quality of the audio being pumped into your auditory sensors through to the setup of the device itself that transmits sound to you.

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Maybe one of the more overlooked factors, is just how good such devices are when it comes to actually sealing you off from the rest of the world. The ability to create a personal space, free of distractions and other ambient noises, is something that headset makers have been focusing on for several years now. Sony managed to earn rave reviews for its wireless headsets, especially the M-series that were pure auditory bliss.

The Japanese tech giant may have just reached the peak of the mountain with the WH100M3, which is quite simply, pure magic.

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You wouldn’t say so when you look at it, and handle the headset. How can something this light, this small, be capable of creating its own pocket dimension for you to listen to your tracks to? Straight out of the box, the M3 is an attractive piece of technology to gawk at. It has soft lines, subtle contours and the matte black finish contrasts perfectly with the retro bronze font that is tastefully applied to it.

You’ve got a decently-sized pair of cups to cradle your ears in, with the leather material being especially comfortable and able to wrap around even the biggest of ears. The right cup contains all of the magic, as a mere two buttons will have you switching the M3 on and switching between ambient noise cancelling modes. For volume, pausing and switching between tracks? All you have to do is treat the cup like a D-pad and flick away in the required direction to do all of that. It’s amazing to be able to do so, with the cup registering your finger gestures easily once you get the hang of the timing.

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The headset band itself feels sturdy enough, and after being quizzed on this due to the fact that the first-gen Sony headsets were apparently brittle, I gave it a flex or two. While I wouldn’t go hog-wild on stress-testing the band, it’s clear that Sony has indeed fixed those gripes and then some, building on the improvements from the M2 and then further refining them for the M3. The M3 could easily fit on my decently-sized noggin, while it managed to wrap itself comfortably around my father’s 25” head when I asked him to try it out.

More padding, a more subtle reshaping of the headband and a tighter fit overall. That makes me happy. The fact that you can still turn the cups and reduce their size when you’re travelling is just icing on the cake.

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So how does it sound then? I’m not going to mince words here: I’m convinced that Sony has tapped into the dark arts to create a headset that is this damn amazing at silencing reality itself. This was legitimately my first time that I’d ever used a device with active noise-cancelling, and after a week with the M3, I refuse to go back to the old ways.

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While Sony claims that their digital noise-cancelling uses a form of microphones and new white noise software to mask any interference around you, I’m of the mind that each headset contains a magical unicorn that murders any such audio distraction before it can reach my ears. While the cups themselves are more than capable of filtering out said distractions even before you turn the M3s on, flicking that power switch is a different story entirely.

It’s absolutely baffling as to just how competent the M3s are at doing their job. It’s as if they swore a blood vendetta against noise and are hellbent at keeping those forces at bay. I used the M3 in a wide variety of situations, and I was left gobsmacked. Want to go to gym and not hear the sound of a terrible doof-doof playlist while sweaty man-mountains grunt and flex around you? The M3 headset will make you think that you’ve got the place to yourself.

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Do you sit next to a fella at work whose typing sounds like Superman attempting to poke a keyboard into submission (Hi Cavie!)? This headset will save your sanity. While you’ll still hear some extreme noises break through the Sony chip’s walls, nine times out of ten the M3 is easily able to best any outside noise thrown at it. Whether I’ve been on a bus, in a car or at the ocean itself, the M3 has beaten them all and stood tall. I could probably slip these on during a flight, and easily drown out the sound of aeroplane engines and the screaming voices inside my head.

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So what’s the actual sound like then? Balanced, is the right word. While I can’t compare the M3 to the M2 as I don’t have one, I’d say that this headset comfortably juggles bass without making it too overpowered, favours a mid-range of sound and transmits them all with crystal-clear clarity. The lack of overt bass may be a downside for some, but I personally favour having my music and podcast delivered without it sounding like it’s trying to jackhammer my eardrums into oblivion. With the M3, I jammed to a wide selection of music: Hard rock, symphonic, synth and some Enya just to name a few.

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As for the battery, the M3 has some damn good longevity. Sony says that you can get up to 30 hours on a full charge, and I believe them. In the week that I’ve had the device, I’ve used it heavily and extensively, only needing to charge it once after I’d hit the 23% mark. You can even top up the battery for an easy five hours of listening, with just ten minutes or so of charging. Not bad for the millennial on the go who has some Linkin Park to list. Plus, USB-C charging, as the audio gods intended.

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I know it sounds like hyperbole, but the M3 headset is a game-changer. I can’t accurately say if they’re worth the investment if you already own an M2, but I’d happily pay the exorbitant price tag attached to them if I could afford them as my first noise-cancelling headset. They’re everything I could ask for in a headset: Their sound is phenomenal, their ability to shut the outside world off is a benchmark in technology and they’re comfortable enough to wear for many hours while retaining a charge.

Last Updated: April 24, 2019

Sony WH-1000XM3 Noise Cancelling Headset
Sony hasn’t just stepped up to the plate amidst an ocean of challengers in the active noise-cancelling headset market. They’ve set a new benchmark and established themselves as the king of the hill, with a device that is comfortable, years ahead of the curve and capable of obliterating any noise that you can throw at it. The Sony WH-1000XM3 is pretty much the best headset that I’ve ever used.
9.5

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