- Google Pixel with Android Pie
- LDAC – Sounds better than AptX HD to my ears and has fewer dropouts over longer distances.
- DSEE HX – With this option disabled, the overall sound is duller and less refined. Although I prefer this option off on the M2, it seems to sound better enabled with the M3. Music goes deeper and is more fleshed out. Bass is also tighter, more dynamic, and punchier. Overall more musical textures, shape, and smoothness. There is a slight edge in the mids, however.
- Sony Headphones Connect app – I highly recommend installing this app for additional features, customizations, and upgrades. You’ll also need the app to adjust the “Ambient” switch between Google Assistant and Ambient mode. It also makes it easy to tailor the sound to your taste while being able to control the music directly from the app (really useful for A/B testing).
- Headphones Connect App
- Adaptive Sound Control
- Ambient Sound Control
- Personal ANC Optimizer
- Atmospheric Pressure Optimizer
- Surround Position Control
- Sound Quality Mode – Sound Quality vs. Stable Connection Priority
- DSEE HX
- Ambient button function
- Auto Power Off (NEW)
- Headphones Connect App
- NFC – I LOVE this feature. Just tap the Pixel to my headphones and I’m connected. Also made it easy to switch between the M2 and M3 for comparisons.
I’ll be directly comparing the M3 with the WH-1000XM2.
Kina Grannis – Can’t Help Falling in Love (Crazy Rich Asians)
I’ve been a huge fan of Kina Grannis since her early YouTube days and was happy to see her make it onto the big screen. This track has compelled so many sniffles and teary-eyes in the theater. Me? I’m too jaded to be emotional.
The WH-1000XM3 is able to finely delineate the finger and fretwork on the guitar. There’s also more contrast and gradations in vocals and violins. The M3 layers out the soundscape and rhythm in a more dynamic and musical way. It’s also much quieter.
The M2 sounds a bit more smeared and thick in comparison. The strings and voices merge tonally and dimensionally. The M3, on the other hand, images instruments with pinpoint precision and a focused central voice. It has a better grip over the acoustic elements and maintains integrity in the details. Overall, the M3 presents a nicer balance of clarity and warmth.
Nicki Minaj – Chun-Li (Queen)
Off the bat, the M3 is more intelligible and has truer timbre. Gongs and horns have more refined decay and flair. The bass loops are more pronounced and layered out separately. Focus and individualization of acoustic elements are far better reproduced on the M3 over the M2.
The M2 does have a more warmblooded sound, which does make her voice more convincing as far as tone. But the overall sound is more diffused, stretched, and grainy. Bass is also much looser on the M2.
The M2 is, in a way, more forward and in some ways – confused. The M3 has more of that “Hi-Fi” sound with better technicals and refinement. Something even a die-hard audiophile could appreciate.
Rage Against the Machine – Take the Power Back (XX 20th SE)
The M3 has much better bass definition and dimensionality over the M2. The intro electric guitar has more “tickle-factor,” twang, and palpable creaks over the M2. The M2 sounds warmer but more bloated and hazy. Transients aren’t as clean or crisp. Timbre is also more realistic on the M3.
The M3 is also more resolving of lower level nuances and details – in both vocal exertions and instrumental articulation. You just hear more of the intent of the music without its message being lost. The M2 has more grunt and weight but isn’t as transparent, controlled, or deep. Although I do enjoy the warmer tone of the M2, the spacious and dynamic sound of the M3 is more captivating.
Trust be told, Bluetooth audio technology is more about convenience than sound quality. Most hardcore audiophiles will still plug in their Bluetooth headphones to squeeze out that extra performance. Fortunately, the Sony WH-1000XM3 provides both qualities – in wireless form.
In comparison to the WH-1000XM2, the WH-1000XM3 possesses better clarity, dynamics, acoustic layering, and a larger soundstage. It’s not as lush or forward as the M2 but has a tighter and smoother articulation. The M2 sounds more “robotic”, flatter, and unnaturally stretched in comparison. With the M3, voices and instrumentals are precisely layered out and sound more consolidated and contoured. Bass definition is also tighter, more dynamic, and more refined.
The biggest difference between the two is probably imaging. The M3 gets me closer to what I hear from a good 2-channel setup. The M2 is fuzzier around the edges and has a more splashy and loose sound. The M3 exhibits a clearer and more delineated sound across all types of recordings. For those looking for these qualities, the M3 is a no-brainer. However, some may still prefer the warmer tonality of the M2.
In addition to a more “audiophile sound,” we have a lighter headphone that’s more comfortable, fast-charging USB-C, intuitive and convenient controls, LDAC, Google Assistant + Spotify, and superior noise-canceling. I also dig the copper accents. The Sony WH-1000XM3 is simply the ultimate portable Bluetooth, noise-canceling headphone.
Purchasing: Sony WH-1000XM3 Headphones