Once you enter the world of noise-canceling headphones, you quickly find yourself at a point of no return. My escape into the world of artificial silence happened about 6 months ago, when I bought the silver Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones. This past month I upgraded to Sony’s new matt black WH-1000XM3.
When I first put them on I got the feeling I was about to take off in a helicopter. I have a small head, and the big black bulks looked more uncomfortable than they felt. And honestly, they felt like a dream- the cushioning enveloped my ears perfectly, just big enough to avoid squeezing my earrings into my head, something girls often deal with.
Sony obviously shares my love of locking the world out, because they do it better than anyone else. For example, I’m awkwardly lazy when I enter a shop to order a coffee and occasionally deny removing my headphones. My first encounter in a coffee shop wearing Sony’s headphones I found myself having to furiously focus on the cashier’s lips in order to understand what he said.
Underneath those soft black cushions, it’s just you and your thoughts.
I’m a runner and compared to my current Bose headphones, these don’t thump when you run. They sit tightly but quickly feel a bit sweaty because they are more isolating.
The sound, however, is worth a bit of steam. Firstly, the inbuilt voice feels like someone came to visit from a galaxy far, far away. I find myself pressing buttons just to hear her voice, its truly magnificent. I cannot understate the feeling of playing your favourite song wearing these earphones. Its like attending a solo concert; you identify every vocal, every instrument bouncing perfectly off of your new ear walls. Its beautiful really. If you’re a podcast listener like me, you’ll get to know your favourite podcast hosts better. I’ll find myself in the middle of a crowded train station, yet it will feel like its just me and Manoush Zamarodi in a private conversation.
I fell instantly in love, but unfortunately, the love was short felt. I’m always in a rush and for some reason, I prefer an intuitive switch when it comes to turning on and off headphones. I like hard buttons that provide some sort of confirmation when I’ve issued a command to pause, go to the next song or switch it off entirely. Sony has taken the technology a step further and operates with a time-sensitive button to power it on/off, and taps/swipes to the ear in order to make the songs pause and/or skip. Anyone who’s ever operated with touch technology where you can’t see what you finger is doing knows the ambiguity.
Seriously, who remembers this?
- Play/Pause: Gently touch it with your finger and immediately release it two times in rapid succession (interval of about 0.4 seconds) (Double tap)
- Next track: Swipe forward.
- Previous track: Swipe backward.
- Fast-forward: Swipe forward and hold.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 also provides you with more powers if you opt to download the app. They’ll allow you to adapt the noise canceling to whatever background noise or environment you’re in. My first impression was how awesome this was, but the sensation soon turned to frustration.
I would be in the middle of a great podcast, walk off a plane and suddenly it would switch and it felt like I was walking into outer space with every annoying voice convoluted around me. I’m sure this feature is well-intentioned, but personally, I found it far from friction-free having to use an app in order to find my way back to silence.
It’s no doubt these headphones are great. And perhaps better before you start fooling around with the app supposedly making them greater. They block the world better than any other headphones I’ve tried, but I still find myself relieved to be back to my Bose headphones with the switch, the buttons and well, fewer options.
Sometimes, simple wins.