Being a lot more convenient and portable than bulky headphones, earphones have been an essential part of a user’s on-the-go listening experience. They do not take up as much space, can be simply rolled up and tossed into a pocket or even be left hanging around your neck.
Ever since Apple removed the 3.5mm jack from its phones and brought the AirPods to the market a whole new segment for these audio devices was created — popularly known as the ‘truly wireless earbuds’. Manufacturers like Bose, Bragi, Samsung, Jabra and many more have all introduced devices in an attempt to offer alternatives to the earphones (AirPods and Powerbeats Pro) made by Apple.
Sony is one such popular manufacturer that may finally have a device which might distract people away from the AirPods with its third attempt at wireless earbuds that sport Active Noise Cancelling. Let us take a look at it in comparison with its previous two iterations.
Issues with the previous generations
There is hardly ever a device which makes its way to the market without any issues. Sony’s first two attempts had its fair share of problems.
The WF-1000X, Sony’s first pair of earbuds, checked the boxes for having a comfortable fit and good sound quality but its headlining feature was nowhere at par with the market standard. The battery life and the way they connected to a phone were disappointing and inconsistent, respectively.
The batteries lasted for three hours on a single charge and the large case stored close two full charges at once. Users consistently complained about the earbuds losing connection and audio lag when watching videos.
The noise-cancelling technology that Sony used was borrowed from the WH-1000XM2 (noise-cancelling headphones) but the same experience did not follow through to the small earbuds.
With its next attempt, the WF-SP700N, Sony made a more fitness-centric approach to earbuds market. The different approach made them add water resistance which was missing in the first generation. But not many alterations were made as the case was made annoying to carry and only provided two full charges — similar to the case from the first generation.
The digital noise cancelling that Sony used this time around was also not much of an improvement. Other than the water resistance, the only upgrade was the reduction in drop-offs, which had been reported to have become infrequent.
Also read: 10 best wireless headphones under INR 10,000
With the third iteration, it seems like Sony is finally making an attempt to do right by its noise-cancelling technology. In an attempt to improve the entire experience the company has made several changes to the overall design of the earbuds and the way they are carried around.
The design has been simplified and made into something that is more in line with its popular WH-1000XM3 noise-cancelling headphones. The glossy finish from the first generation and the plasticky build from the second generation have been changed for matte black or gold colour options which have a more refined look and feel.
Buttons, which were the primary way of controlling the previous generations, have been replaced by touchpads that use gestures to perform actions. The presence of advanced sensors on these also makes Sony’s ‘Quick Attention Mode’ available on these earbuds. This feature provides one with the ability to control the noise cancellation for just a fraction of time, allowing them to hear ambient sounds — adding to the functionality of the earbuds.
Coming to the noise cancellation feature on this earbuds, Sony has improved the effect greatly. The hardware and software tie in to provide an experience that drowns out ambient noises. This has been made possible with the addition of an extra microphone on each of the earbuds and the custom QN1e processor. The Bluetooth chip used in these earphones provides a highly stable connection and audio lag when watching videos is non-existent.
The battery life of Sony’s earbuds, which have been heavily criticised since the beginning, received a major boost with this new generation. The earbuds are now rated to last for six hours on a single charge with noise cancelling turned on, and eight hours when it is turned off. The company claims up to 90 minutes worth of audio playback with just a 10-minute charge through the case. The case that Sony has designed this time around is what we can call pocketable. It is as tall like an AirPod case but is much wider. It can now hold up to 24 hours of charge, which makes for a total of 30 to 32 hours of listening. A USB C port is present for charging the case.
Should you buy the Sony WF-1000XM3?
If the AirPods weren’t for you and the others didn’t match up to your expectations, Sony’s WF-1000XM3’s have finally done most things right and the noise cancellation capability that they bring to this small form factor is a major differentiating factor.
At $229 these earphones offer features that are synonymous with the best wireless earbuds and the noise cancelling feature, which we can count as a bonus, isn’t offered by its competitors yet. But keep in mind, not all is perfect with these earbuds as they lack water resistance and can only pair with one device at a time.
Also read: Top 7 Bluetooth speakers under INR 5000