Sony's new wireless earbuds upgrade the noise cancellation and shrink the size

Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored
Fri July 5, 2019

Story highlights

  • Sony's new earbuds feature better battery life and enhanced noise cancellation
  • The Sony WF-1000XM3 true wireless earbuds are available for preorder now

Sony has just announced a new model of true wireless earbuds, the WF-1000XM3, that enhance the noise cancellation technology and shrink the size. Beyond that, these keep the traditional look and feel of true wireless buds. They cost $229.99 and are available for preorder on Amazon.com now.

Let's dive into the new features.

Upgraded noise cancellation

The enhancements to noise cancellation on the WF-1000XM3 are thanks to a new HD noise-canceling processor that Sony calls QN1e. This processor is inside the earbuds and handles identifying noise and blocking it altogether or lowering it. The final choice here is, of course, dependent on the level of noise cancellation you have the earbuds set to.

Alongside this processor, you need microphones to actually pick up the noise, and there are four microphones dedicated to this on the WF-1000XM3: Two focus on your voice and the others catch the ambient noise. In practice, it should block out the world around you (potentially a noisy airplane or a busy office), and let you enjoy the music.

And that new Sony-made processor is doing double duty by also helping out with sound and audio quality. You can expect 24-bit audio output, and there is a layer of digital sound enhancement happening that upgrades the quality of regular MP3 formats. I did a brief test with the WF-1000XM3s, and the sound quality impressed me with a pretty balanced mix. With noise cancellation turned on, the sound stage was impressive as well.

When it came to connectivity during the test, I didn't experience any dropouts. Plus Sony has updated these to feature Bluetooth 5.0, and it now streams simultaneously to both the left and right earbuds.

Smaller size, choice of ear tips

Sony has also provided a nice update to the design, as the WF-1000XM3s are much smaller and still fit comfortably in the ear.

In the box you'll get small, medium and large ear tips, and you should pick the ones that provide the snuggest fit. A physical earbud will stick into your ear, and the larger portion, containing the microphones and other hardware, will sit in the outer part of your ear. All in all, it's a pretty comfortable design, with two great color options (silver and black) that scream high end when paired with the case.

Longer battery life

Last but not least, battery life has been boosted. As with most true wireless earbuds, the case charges the WF-1000XM3s and provides extra battery life. In total, you can expect up to 24 hours of battery life (case plus earbuds) with noise cancellation on. With noise canceling off, you can expect upward of 32 hours from both. It's impressive and I'm eager to test this.

The battery case itself will wirelessly charge the earbuds when they are inside, and the case will charge via USB type C port. There is also a quick charging feature when the buds are inside -- 10 minutes of charging should you give you 60 minutes of listening.

For now, on paper and with my brief hands-on experience with them, the WF-1000XM3 buds seem really great and competitive. It's always nice to see true wireless earbuds with noise cancellation built in, and the improvements are pretty stellar. At $229.99, these cost a bit more than Apple's second-generation AirPods (starting at $159) and a bit less than the $249.95 Powerbeats Pro.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed prices at the time of publication.