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Sony WF-1000XM3: Masterclass in noise cancellation

Unheard of quality for truly wireless earbuds

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I could probably copy-paste a lot of what I wrote on the WH-1000XM3 hands-on and still be mostly accurate. When Sony said that most of what those cans offer can also be found on the WF-1000XM3, I was excited. But I also had my doubts. Those doubts though, were completely shattered.

Before we go on to how good it sounds, let me show you how pleasant it is on the eyes. Looks are always subjective and the Sony WF-1000XM3 in particular I like very much.

Sexy AF

The black variant has some gold highlights and that’s as sexy and elegant as it can get.

Looks boil down to preference and my eyes gravitate towards the Sony WF-1000XM3 more than the Apple Airpods

What I really l love is its size. It sits right in between the Apple Airpods and the Galaxy Buds. I think the Airpods protrude too much while the Galaxy Buds are a bit too tiny for my stubby fingers. The WF-1000XM3 is neither too long nor too small. It’s just right. 👌🏽

The magnetic case is also fantastic. It sucks the buds right in. Even if you turn it upside down, there’s no risk of it falling so easily unlike yours truly. Oddly enough, the case itself won’t stand right side up since the flat surface is the lid. Weird design choice, but nothing too bothersome.

I need to take “not-falling” lessons from these earbuds

The fit boils down to preference. You do get a number of eartips included in the box but for some people, earbuds just aren’t for them. And that’s fine. But if you’re into earbuds, I’m confident you’ll find something here that will work for you.

Tap to control

Similar to most wireless earbuds, both the left and right buds have a small touch panel. Tap the right bud once to pause and/or play, twice to go to the next track, and thrice to go to previous track.

The left bud controls the ambient sound. Tapping once turns ambient sound on/off. Holding the left bud pauses your music and turns on the ambient sound. It’s perfect for when you’re about to get your coffee.

I looked like a douche ordering coffee like this, but I swear I’m nice

The left bud also triggers the voice assistant. Press and hold to gain access to the assistant of your choice. Currently the WF-1000XM3 works with Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa.

Pairing, by the way, looks a little funky. You need to hold both touch panels on the right and left earbuds for about seven seconds for these to go into pairing mode. Once done though, the pairing is fast and smooth.

 

You can customize all these controls by whipping out your phone and going on the Sony Headphones Connect app. However, I don’t see anyone needing to tinker with this as much.

One thing you’ll need your phone for (or laptop if that’s where these wireless buds are connected) is volume control. There’s no way to adjust the volume on the buds so you’re left with having to reach for your device to do so.

I didn’t have a problem with this since that’s how I usually control the volume anyway. However, some people might find this to be an issue.

Masterclass in noise cancellation 

This is where these wireless earbuds truly shine. When the WF-1000XM3 was announced, Sony said it’ll bring a noise cancellation level that’s close to the WH-1000XM3. They weren’t lying.

One day I had a bunch of scripts to finish but it was pretty noisy in the GadgetMatch HQ since my colleagues were shooting something. I sat myself in our writing corner, put the earbuds on, and fired up my Animé Soundtracks playlist.

I was super zoned in that I didn’t realize one of my colleagues was calling my attention. It wasn’t until he tapped my shoulder that I noticed him.

Mood

But unlike the WH-1000XM3 ( I swear to goodness, Sony needs to come up with better names), the noise is just significantly reduced instead of cancelled when you’re not playing anything. However, when you turn on the music, that is all you will hear.

It was so much easier to get lost in all the emotion of RADWIMPS’ Nandemonaiya from the movie Your Name or get pumped to BURNOUT SYNDROMES’ Fly High from the series Haikyuu!!  Because the WF-1000XM3 just isolates you from your surroundings letting you take the music all in.

In fact, the music and noise cancellation is so good that I don’t recommend you turn it on when you’re out on the streets. I drew the ire of a motorist one time I was walking home because I wouldn’t get out of his way. But that’s more a commentary on the lack of actual sidewalks where I usually walk more than anything else.

Be mindful when you’re out on the streets

My advice is to always be aware of your surroundings when you have these earbuds on.

Superb sound quality 

That said, when you have the luxury of actually tuning everyone out without worrying too much about what’s around you, these babies work like absolute magic.

It’s fantastic for long commutes. When I know I’m gonna be on the road for over an hour, I usually turn to podcasts. Give She Said, He Said, a listen if you want more tech fix.

For more pop culture stuff try this. I usually listen to sports podcasts so for NBA stuff I’ve been listening to The Ringer NBA Show a lot lately. If you’re into women empowerment and female athletes there’s this relatively new one called Go Hard Girls.

Been listening to Gravity a lot lately

Whatever you decide to listen to, it’s guaranteed to sound great on the WF-1000XM3. I find the audio to be perfectly balanced. I was never really the type to be all about that bass, but if you are, the settings can be tweaked on the app.

If you’re all about the music, I find that the nice evened out sound that these earbuds produce lend nicely to any genre. On any given day I switch from Fall Out Boy to TWICE and when I’m in the mood to dwell in my recurring existential dread, I just put John Mayer’s Gravity on repeat.

Probably not a gym partner 

It’s important to note that these earbuds are not IP-rated. While Sony says there hasn’t been any reports so far of it breaking from exposure to sweat and/or moisture, it’s probably wise to go with something else when you’re on your fitness journey.

That’s about the only major concern. If you tend to move around a lot, you don’t have to worry about these falling off. Once you find the tip that’s right for you, they’re pretty snug without being uncomfortable and you don’t have to worry about these falling from your ears.

Great battery life, okay for calls 

I’ve had these earbuds for a week and charge it was the first thing I did. I haven’t plugged it even once during the entire testing phase and I’ve used it a lot for listening and video editing.

6-8 hours on a single charge with two full charges provided by the case

I have also taken a few calls with these on. I got zero complaints from the person on the other line about how I sound. However, I still won’t record anything using these mics. For things like that, it’s best to still go for something wired.

Is the Sony WF-1000XM3 your GadgetMatch? 

As of writing, I’ve yet to test the earbuds that people say are in direct competition with the Sony WF-1000XM3. But if you’re looking at this against the likes of the Apple Airpods, Samsung Galaxy Buds, or even the Jabra Elite 65t, I can confidently say these blow those out of the water.

You probably won’t use the app a lot but it’s nice to have

The extra cash you’re paying for is worth the level of noise cancellation and sound quality that you’ll get from these beautiful earbuds. Speaking of which the WF-1000XM3 is available in the Philippines for PhP 12,999. In Singapore it retails for SG$ 349 (US$ 257). You can check your local Sony websites for pricing elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

The noise cancellation, sound quality, battery life, and even design that the Sony WF-1000XM3 offer adequately matches its price point. Sony’s ahead of the pack in the noise-cancellation department and the WF-1000XM3 — while it badly needs a new name — is a testament to that.

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Huawei Sound X with hi-end audio launches

Will work seamlessly with the P40 series

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Huawei is slowly but surely venturing out into more and more devices. After wearables, the company is now showing off a hi-end speaker — the Huawei Sound X.

It’s never easy to describe sound on text but Huawei claims the Sound X “will revolutionize high-end acoustic technology with sonorous audio that leaves an enduring, life-altering impression on the listener.”

It was made in collaboration with Devialet — a global audio brand known for its High-Fidelity products.

It’s not a smart speaker in the way that there’s a voice assistant integrated like the Google Home or the Amazon Echo, but it does have some ‘smart’ qualities.

For instance, it will work seamlessly with your Huawei P40 series phone. Gently tapping your phone against the Sound X transmits audio to the speaker.

The audio, Huawei says, is lossless and low-latency and can be tweaked thanks to a proprietary EMUI 10.1 multi-device control panel. Think of like Huawei’s own version of Apple’s AirPlay.

Another thing that Huawei is proud of about the Sound X is how compact it is compared to other speakers that promise to deliver the same level of hi-end audio. It’s able to deliver 60W of bass despite being relatively smaller than other speakers with the same capability.

The company says the “exterior design was inspired by the golden dome of the black, glazed surface hints at the robust sound that seems to emanate from a bottomless well.” But it really just reminds of Darth Vader from Star Wars.

The press photos even have the Sound X in this red room of sorts. Screams Sith to me.

Imagine playing the “Imperial Death March” on this thing! Whether you see the resemblance or not, it does kind of look cool.

SEE ALSO: Huawei P40 Series with ‘visionary photography’ now official

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Qualcomm’s new chipset could bring noise-cancellation to budget earbuds

Expect affordable earbuds soon

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Qualcomm unveiled two new Bluetooth audio chipsets intended for use in truly wireless headphones. For the end consumer, this could provide active noise cancellation (ANC), voice assistant support, and more.

It has unveiled two new chipsets — QCC514X (premium tier) and QCC304X (entry-level line). Both shall support Qualcomm’s TrueWireless Mirroring technology that requires connecting via Bluetooth to just one of the earbud. It’s useful as it will allow either earbud to be used alone without interruptions.

The new chipsets will also produce better battery life – offering up to 13 hours of playback based on a 65mAh battery, according to Qualcomm. Usually, active noise cancellation consumes more battery power.

The dedicated noise cancellation hardware integrated into the chipset enables super-low latency leak-through of the outside environment. It enables genuinely natural awareness of the surroundings. It’ll also come handy when you’re onboard a flight or trying to concentrate in an office environment where ambient noise is higher than usual.

The chips also bring voice assistant support with them, but the premium QCC514X features always-on voice support. Meaning you won’t have to manually long-press a button to summon the virtual assistant. With direct support in the entry-level chipset as well, it’ll make this feature more widely available in affordable earbuds as well.

Qualcomm has also promised “premium wireless sound and voice quality.” The smartphone industry started omitting the 3.5mm headphone jack in favor of USB-C or wireless earphones. The wireless options have often been quite expensive, and with wired ones, you either have the opportunity to charge your phone, or listen to music or watch a movie. More affordable options should automatically start solving this dilemma.

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5 reasons why you should stick to wired earphones

You don’t have to give up comfort and familiarity!

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Photo by Daniel Fontenele

The advent of wireless earbuds has become gospel among my friends — techie and geeks alike. It’s like everyone’s preaching about switching to wireless like it’s some mandatory rite of passage for adults who’ve been in the workforce for god knows how long.

Though I have my own pair of wireless earbuds, I still have my trusty wired earphones — one that has a 3.5mm jack for my laptop, and one that comes in USB-C for my phone that has no headphone jack. Even before, wired earphones were my savior — from strangers and familiar people approaching me, to keep me entertained in between idle moments, and for being a companion in trying times.

Just like most people, I’m still having a hard time letting go of wired earphones. People had been asking me to stop using one, but I still stand to a few reasons why it’s perfectly okay to stick to the familiar.

You’re a plug-and-play person

A lot of times, I find myself having trouble with pairing my smartphones to my wireless earbuds. To ensure seamless pairing, you must be using top-of-the-line and/or premium earbuds. Imagine the time you spent trying to connect so you can listen to music when you can just plug your wired earphones to a headphone jack, play your music, and enjoy.

You love the feeling of being connected

I thrive in connections — whether it’s people, conversations, or earphones. I feel most reassured when I know I’m connected, and the tangibility of my earphones’ connection to my smartphone is comforting — especially when I’m commuting. I’ll know right away where my phone is, and having a wired connection makes my loving smartphone safe.

On certain occasions, my smartphone was saved from falling because of my wired earphones. It’s these prevented tragedies that reassure me a tangible connection is still a good choice.

You’re practical about your choices

Let’s admit it: wireless earbuds are expensive. As someone who follows a strict budget, wired earphones are a tad cheaper and is more accessible to most of us. There are plenty of us can’t live without music, and wired earphones sometimes become a necessity to keep us from falling apart in between trying times.

On the other hand, wireless earbuds are considered a luxury — a want, not a need. Imagine losing a pair, or even misplacing it when a pair of wireless earbuds is priced around US$ 100. I don’t have the money to replace it easily even with access to a credit card.

You find comfort in familiarity

Some people aren’t comfortable with change. Most are hesitant, and even resistant to it — even with the advent of functional and bang-for-the-buck wireless earbuds. If you find comfort in familiarity a.k.a. choosing wired earphones because you’ve been using it for a long time, that’s absolutely fine.

You don’t have to change your preferences in life just because someone asked you to do so. Stay unique and love your individuality!

You haven’t felt the urge to switch

Lastly, there comes a time in every modern individual where they need to switch to a wireless lifestyle. It could be for convenience, for more flexibility, or for safety during a commute. Whatever it is, you’ll always feel the urge to switch and when you do, heed the call.

When you feel like you’re being called to the other side, that’s when you take a leap of faith. If you’re still content with using wired earphones, just enjoy it and stop caring what the world thinks. You have your music with you, just keep playing!

SEE ALSO: 6 reasons why you should switch to wireless earbuds

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