The Best Headphones for Studying: Sony WH-1000XM3 Pros and Cons -

The Best Headphones for Studying: Sony WH-1000XM3 Pros and Cons

February 26, 2021

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Thinking of buying the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones, but not totally sure yet? I’ve got you covered. I totally understand they are an investment (especially for students!) which is why I’ve compiled this list of the Sony WH-1000XM3 pros and cons to help you decide.

Affiliate disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I'll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read my full disclosure here.

TLDR: I LOVE these headphones and experts agree that they’re the best active noise cancelling headphones out there. I 100% think they’re worth the money and they’re one of my secret productivity weapons.

should you get noise cancelling headphones for college / uni?
are sony or bose noise cancelling headphones better

Just as a point of clarification, in the U.S., Sony seems to primarily be pushing the upgraded WH-1000XM4 model. These are also available in the UK, but at a MUCH higher price than the WH-1000XM3 model. I personally would not recommend paying more for the XM4's at this time, as you can still buy the XM3's in both the U.S. and UK on Amazon for a cheaper price.

This article is all about the Sony WH-1000XM3s' pros and cons.

I’ll go through:

  • Why you can trust my opinion;
  • Who should get noise cancelling headphones (including if you should get noise cancelling headphones for college / uni);
  • Sony WH-1000XM3 pros and cons;
  • What others have to say about the Sony WH-1000XM3s;
  • Whether Sony or Bose noise cancelling headphones are better; and
  • Cheaper alternatives if you're not ready to splurge.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Pros and Cons
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Why Should You Trust Me?

Well, I’ve owned the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones for about a year and a half now (note: my department bought them for me from my PhD equipment budget, but I was planning on buying them anyway after my Bose ones stopped working). I also had the Bose Quiet Comfort 30 earbuds (now discontinued) and have used the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 and Bose Quiet Comfort 20 ones as well (my close friend and mom own them, respectively).

If you know me or read my blog, you also probably know I HATE spending money on things and generally don’t buy a lot. I much prefer quality over quantity in my purchases and do TONNES of research before I make a big purchase.

Who should get noise cancelling headphones? Should you get noise cancelling headphones for college / uni?

Honestly, noise cancelling headphones are hands-down THE BEST purchase I ever made. I originally bought them when I was working as I needed to be able to focus in an open plan office and now I actually couldn’t live without them.

Noise cancelling headphones are great for studying if you’re someone like me who needs a quiet environment in which to study. The best thing is, you don’t even have to listen to music with them—you can just keep them on ambient sound control if you want total silence.

Ultimately, I’m just a less grumpy and more productive human because of them—I honestly consider them my top productivity and motivation secret weapon.

Sony WH-1000XM3 Pros and Cons

✅ They offer the best noise cancelling technology out there and they really do work better than any of the other noise cancelling headphones I've tried.
✅ They last a LONG time—each charge gives you 30 hours of listening time. If you need battery quick, you can charge them for just 10 minutes to get 5 more hours of battery life.
✅ They come with a headphone jack so you can still use them even if they don't have any battery. They also come with a double-plug adapter for use on airplanes.
✅ Speaking of airplanes, they've got special ‘atmospheric pressure optimising' to make sure the sound (and noise cancelling) quality remain great when you're flying.
✅ If you turn location tracking on, the headphones learn your movements (i.e. if you're generally sitting when you're in x location, etc.) to optimise noise cancelling.
✅ There is also further personalisation—it literally assesses how your head size, glasses, etc. impact the sound and adjusts accordingly.
✅ The sound quality is unparalleled. They can even decompress digital music files to make songs sound more like the original and you can make adjustments from the app to make it sound like you're at a concert or in another environment.
✅ The bluetooth quality is also super good—it's basically the same quality as a wired connection.
✅ The app is super easy to use and makes it even easier to adjust the level of noise cancelling, etc.
✅ You can also adjust the sound and noise cancelling, and pause by tapping the side of the headphones.
✅ They're really comfortable to wear for long periods of time—I've never had any problem wearing them all day.
✅ Google assistant, Siri, and Alexa are all built in.
✅ They come with a really sturdy case.
✅ You can also charge them with your MacBook charger (lightning cable) which is really convenient.
✅ They're really simple to set up.
❌ They are pretty pricey. They may not be worth it if you're not going to use them much.
❌ They are bulky (as any over-ear headphones are). This means you can't use them to sleep, for example.
❌ You can't connect to two devices at once (the Bose ones can).
❌ If you accidentally hit the side it does adjust the sound which can be annoying.
❌ If you have automatic ambient sound control on, it adjusts the level of noise cancelling with your movements (i.e. if you're sitting, walking, in a car, etc.). It makes a noise and pauses your music every time it does this, so if you're changing state a lot it can be annoying.
❌ I did have issues with my microphone sounding like I was far away once and never figured out why. It was temporary but inconvenient (Note: I think the microphone is one of the main features they upgraded with the release of the WH-1000XM4s)
❌ It is kind of creepy that they can track your location. You can turn this off, but still.
❌ The bit that goes over your head is a little big even when adjusted to the smallest size. I find that if I'm moving my head while laying down, they sometimes fall back on my head too much.

What Others Have to Say

Now, even if you're willing to take my word for it, it's important to know what the experts say as well.

These headphones have:

  • Won the What the Hi-Fi Awards 2020: Best Wireless Headphones £150-250;
  • Were ‘Highly Recommended' by Trusted Reviews (who also said they were the best);
  • Won the EISA Award for Best Product 2019-2020.

Also, even in their review of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones, the NYT Wirecutter said that these ones had better noise cancelling results (literally, while they were trying to sell Bose ones).

Our computer science department also deemed these to be the best ones on the market (and, they aren't price sensitive—this came out of our pretty sizeable student equipment budget). They asked for our input as well and our whole computer science PhD cohort agreed these were the top choice.

Want to know what real people say? Check out customer reviews here.

Is Sony Noise cancelling Better than Bose?

Again, I've had both and the Sony ones seem better to my non-expert ears. But, the NYT also says they are better for noise cancelling (again, they said this when trying to sell readers Bose ones) and other experts agree (see above).

Bottom line: Are Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones Worth It?


So, now that we've gone through the Sony WH-1000XM3 pros and cons, are they worth the money?

I personally think they are. At the end of the day, they really are the best noise cancelling headphones on the market and, to me, they're worth saving up for.

Ready to buy?

best active noise cancelling headphones under 200 pounds
Headphones great for studying

Best Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Under 200 Pounds

Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

🛒 Buy on Amazon U.S.
Buy on Amazon UK

Note: These are the only ones in this article I haven't used personally, but they have very good reviews so I have included them here.

Cheaper alternatives to Sony WH-1000XM3 Headphones

Medium priced option: Samsung Galaxy Buds

🛒 Buy on Amazon U.S.
Buy on Amazon UK

My partner and another friend have these. They do block out noise pretty well, though they don't fit in my ears super great. They're pretty good value for money though and are a solid option if you're looking for something cheaper.

Budget option: NYZ True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

🛒 Buy on Amazon U.S.
Buy on Amazon UK

These were super cheap and, while they're not the best at noise cancelling (and they’ve incidentally stopped claiming to be since I bought them lol) they offer decent outside sound control and audio quality for the price. The charge lasts forever (and it comes with a charging case) as well. They fit a little strangely in my ears, but I think that's a me problem as I seem to have that issue with all earbuds (except the Bose ones).

Do you have the Sony noise cancelling headphones? What do you think of them? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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