The new headset is lighter and less bulky than before -- there's no longer a large gap between its arms and your head. Weight-wise, they feel more like Sony's cheaper hear.on 2 headphones. That's not a bad thing, though, since I find lighter headphones to be more comfortable. You'll still get a premium design with the WH-1000XM3, thanks to plush cushioning around the earcups and headband. Another notable change: Sony added a USB-C port for even better quick-charge performance. The company claims you can get five hours of playback with just a 10-minute charge.
Sony's love-'em-or-hate-'em touch controls also make a comeback -- swiping gestures on the right earcup manage the volume as well as track playback. Cupping your hand over that earcup also activates the 1000XM3's microphones, allowing you to quickly hear what's happening around you. As usual with noise-canceling headphones, you can also turn on an ambient mode to blend in external noise alongside your music. You can also pair the headphones together with Sony's mobile app for dynamic noise cancellation settings.
The 1000XM3 also feature a 32-bit DAC and amplifier on the QN1 chip, which should deliver even better audio quality than before. During my eight-hour flight to Berlin from NYC, the 1000XM3 managed to block out airplane noise almost completely. I could barely hear when we took off and landed. And since they were great at being quiet, I was able to hear my music, podcasts and movies much more clearly. I'll have to test out the headphones more before I can fully review them, but so far they've floored me. Listening to Led Zeppelin on these things is like hearing the band for the first time.
You'll still have to save up a bit for the WH-1000XM3: they'll cost $350 when they arrive in September. And if that's too much for you, take a close look at the hear.on 2 headphones ($270), which also deliver some solid noise cancellation.
Sony isn't just stopping with headphones. At IFA, it also announced the $300 SRS-XB501G, a large Bluetooth speaker that could easily be mistaken for something musicians would use. It's bigger than similarly priced speakers from Logitech and other brands, but that also allows it to deliver bigger and punchier sound. It's the sort of thing you'd haul out for a barbecue, rather than a bike ride. It's also water- and dust-resistant, so you won't need to worry about getting it dirty.
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