In my 5 things to know before headphones shopping article, I was of the opinion that unless you're an a frequent traveler, active noise cancelling headphones are probably not worth it and you're better off sticking to a pair of standard closed-back headphones. I wasn't the only one of that opinion.
My logic and experience was that if noise cancelling headphones can only cancel out low rumbling noises but mostly everything else still comes through muffled, the only sounds you're effectively blocking are things like plane/train engines.
Well I'm admittedly late to the party. The Sony WH-1000Xm3 made me realize that the latest generation of noise cancelling technology is much more powerful than that. Even when my obnoxiously loud dishwasher is running, the noise gets completely removed from my awareness if I'm listening to music on the XM3's at even low-to-medium volume.
For the past 7 years, the Bose QC 15's have served me well for travel. But Sony's latest (and it's best competitors) take it to the next level. Not only do they block a wide range of frequencies very well. they are super convenient:
- Wireless with 30+ hours of battery life
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Audio cable optional for when battery is dead or for use with non-Bluetooth devices
- Excellent noise cancellation
- Sound quality that rivals headphones 2x the price. Sufficiently detailed, powerful bass, and supremely balanced sound.
Really my only complaint about the XM3 is something that might be resolved in this year when the XM4 finally comes out: the bluetooth connection can only be paired to one device at a time. It's not much of an inconvenience especially if you use your phone for the majority of your listening. But I have an iPad and it's nice to pair my headphones with that too (sometimes I just wire up).
At a market price of $200-300 the XM3 is simply a no-brainer and I can't think of another headphone that I would rather own under $300 if I could only choose one.
I'm planning on writing a full review at some point, but I haven't had the chance to compare it to the competition. That being said, coming from someone who owns 20+ headphones, I can safely recommend the XM3 as a great all-around headphone in this price range. The excellent noise cancelling is just the cherry on top.