🔷 Sony WH-1000XM Series Bluetooth + Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

This is the official thread for the WH-1000XM3 and WH-1000XM4 BT + ANC Headphones

This thread is for discussion and reviews.

  • Type: Over Ear
  • Amp needed: No - wireless + active noise cancelling
  • Closed Back

:red_circle: Hifiguides Amazon Link
XM4 Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0863TXGM3?ref=dacx_dp_5094693960501_3808467060901&me=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pd_rd_plhdr=t&aaxitk=3oRuf-xf5ZAAQFUJKozGvg


Z Reviews


This review will focus on the XM3 model of Sony’s flagship BT+ANC line of headphones. This headphone is reviewed to death all over YouTube and the internet at large. So, I won’t go into details about build (pretty good), comfort (also very good, maybe the earcups will get too warm for some), the quality of noise cancellation (it’s really awesome), battery life (it is pretty much what Sony claims it is), mic quality (it does kinda suck) etc. This will be a sound review. Here goes…



I’ll focus on the stock signature. The included app has an equalizer so this headphone can be tuned to just about any signature you want. The stock signature and tuning of the XM3 are “mainstream.” This is neither good nor bad. It translates to a very bassy presentation with a slightly recessed midrange and treble level that is between the mid-range and bass. If anything, they tend toward dark, but are not devoid of sparkle. The intent was clearly to find a tuning that was not going to be fatiguing for most people over long listening sessions. Sony probably succeeded here. On the occasions I’ve worn them for multiple hours I did not find their sound fatiguing. Some listeners may find the bass fatiguing. The bass is deep and extended. It has pretty good pitch and definition and speed that is best for genres like pop and hip-hop. It’s not as good for rock and metal but nor do I find it overly objectionable for those genres either. The treble is present and at times has sparkle. Sibilance is rare, even it very brightly recorded or sibilant tracks. There’s not a lot of air either; the treble extension isn’t great. The mids are not a focus. They are there and are adequate. At the same time voices sound enough like voices, pianos enough like pianos, guitars enough like guitars, etc. to not be distracting. The overall signature thus is enough to be pleasing but is not going to bring out every nuance of the music.

Detail Retrieval:

The XM3 is relaxed and is not a detail monster. For what this headphone is as a Bluetooth and ANC can, that’s fine. It’s detailed enough that if you listen closely you’ll still here that 128kbps mp3 files suck, but it’s not going to consistently differentiate between a 320kbps file and a lossless file. Is this because they’re Bluetooth? Is this because they’re active noise-cancelling? Or is this a deliberate tuning choice for long listening situations? My guess is ‘yes’. Still, the amount of detail is enough that it’s not distracting if you’re involved in some task.

Spatial Performance:

The soundstage is not wide but nor would I call it claustrophobic. There is still an “in-your-head” effect to the sound. Imaging is a bit “3-blob”-y with L, C, and R. There is sonic info in between but not a lot of instrument separation. This probably comes back to the detail retrieval just discussed.

Other Notes:

These headphones can be plugged in and run wired. If they are not powered on during this they sound laughably bad. There is clearly lots of DSP going on here to get them to their “stock” signature. I did get modest improvement in sound quality by powering them on and them feeding them signal from a higher quality dac. That provides some evidence that the Bluetooth transmission still has work to do on its quality, but this difference was not very large and I had to listen closely to pick it out.

Final Thoughts

I’ve had these XM3s since about February 2019, I believe. I’ve used them on airplanes, while mowing the lawn, and while moving about doing housework and such. They work great in such settings. They have a place in my collection for those reasons. Yes, for their price you will find better sounding headphones to give an audiophile experience. However, I rarely use these headphones when the sound is the focus. I use them when the activity I’m doing is tedious and requires movement and the music helps make it less tedious. These cans do a great job of that. They also fold up nicely in their included carrying case and take relatively little room in a backpack or suitcase, making them great travel companions. If you want wireless and ANC, and sound quality that’s at least good enough to get out of the way while you focus on some other task, these are an excellent option.


I’m listening to my gf’s wh-1000xm3 now. For me, these have very limited reason to exist tbh. The ANC is nice and all, but I’ve never been in a situation where IEMs with a good fit don’t keep out the sound enough.
The soundstage is smaller than I’ve heard on IEMs and there is something unnatural to sounds, I feel like the timbre is off. It doesn’t help that I don’t like recessed mids I guess.
I also happen to find these way more uncomfortable than my own headphones (he400i 2020, dt-880 and mh752) which is perhaps the biggest surprise for me since expected these to be very comfortable.

I’m finding the XM4’s clipping on plane takeoff, which… I don’t remember happening with my Bose QC35’s? They’re fine most all other times, but during liftoff and landing I was getting a bunch of clicks and pops. I remember the Bose having more of an airy feeling to the sound. Sorry I can’t really A/B, I got the XM4 because I’ve misplaced my QC35.

Between the two I’d keep the Bose. When I find them.

That’s super weird, my M3s don’t have any issue. Have you tried a firmware update/flash? The companion app should let you check that.

If it’s only happening at takeoff and landing, I wonder if it might have anything to do with rapid changes in cabin pressure. That’d be my guess more so than anything firmware related. If they designed the chamber without adequate venting, the pressure changes could potentially impact the range of motion of the driver.

Yes, they were fully updated at the time, app installed, I ran the cancelling optimizer before they turned on the engines, and then at cruising just for the heck of it.

The only thing I haven’t done is send them ear pictures, because, nah.

Cabin pressure changes might maybe be something, but… cabin pressures were fairly stable. When I re-optimized during one flight we were at 0.9atm according to the app, 1.0 on the other.

I dunno why that would be an issue on the XM4 but not the 3 :thinking:, I clocked ton of flights on mine and never had an issue.

Maybe it’s just DOA?