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Sony WH-XB900N vs WH-1000XM3 (2020): Which Noise-Canceling Headphones Are Better?

2019 saw the release of two top-rated wireless noise-canceling headphones from Sony: the Sony WH-XB900N and the WH-1000XM3. While the Sony WH-1000XM3s continue to dominate the wireless noise-canceling headphones market, their hefty price tag can make one pause. Meanwhile, Sony’s entry-level WH-XB900Ns come at a much lower cost, but which features will you be missing out on? We compare the Sony WH-XB900N against the flagship Sony WH-1000XM3 to determine whether you should save or splurge. 

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Sony WH-1000XM3 ANC Headphones
Sony's flagship noise-canceling headphones

Whether you're working from home or flying on a plane, the Sony WH-1000XM3's topnotch ANC won't disappoint.

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Sony WH-XB900N vs WH-1000XM3 Noise-Canceling Headphones Comparison Chart

ModelSony WH-XB900NSony WH-1000XM3
 Sony WH-XB900NSony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones
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Dimensions4.9 “″ x 5.2 ″ x 3 “5.5 ” x  6.6 ” x 3.5 “
FoldableYesYes
Active Noise CancellationYesYes
ANC Levels33
Customizable EQYesYes
RuntimeUp to 30 hoursUp to 30 hours
Quick Charging10 minutes for 1 hour10 minutes for up to 5 hours more
Charging TimeUp to 7 hoursUp to 3 hours
BluetoothVersion 4.2Version 4.2
Personal Noise Cancelling OptimizerNoYes
Atmospheric Pressure OptimizationNoYes
Audio CodecsSBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDACSBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC
Touch ControlsYesYes
Voice ControlsYesYes
App ControlSony Headphones ConnectSony Headphones Connect
NFC PairingYesYes

Color Options

Black, Blue, GrayBlack, Silver

Release

February 2019October 2019

Design and Build

Both the Sony WH-XB900N and the WH-1000XM3 are sturdy and well-built, but the XM3s feel more premium

design sony wh-xb900n vs wh-1000xm3 (1)
Sony’s cost-cutting on the WH-XB900N (left) is evident in its earcup quality

As the Sony WH-XB900Ns are more affordable than the WH-1000XM3s, it is only understandable that the XM3s feel more premium and plush. The earcups and headband of the XM3 are made of light material and they are well-padded, making the XM3s comfortable to wear even for extended periods. Perhaps where the 1000XM3s can improve is the size of their ear cups to fit more ear sizes. Meanwhile, the WH-XB900Ns’ exterior feels significantly inferior to the flagship Sony headphones. Its low-cost plastic material is similar to noise-canceling headphones around the same price point. 

Despite the difference in the materials, both Sony headphones are sturdy and can be bent to fit different head sizes. They are portable and their inward and flat-folding earcups make them easy to store. The Sony WH-XB900Ns only come with a pouch for storage while a slim hard case comes with the WH-1000XM3s that offers better protection.

Deal Finder
Sony WH-1000XM3 ANC Headphones
Sony's flagship noise-canceling headphones

Whether you're working from home or flying on a plane, the Sony WH-1000XM3's topnotch ANC won't disappoint.

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Noise Cancellation

The Active Noise Cancellation of the Sony WH-1000XM3s is far superior to the WH-XB900Ns’

Son wh active noise cancellation
With three ANC levels, both the Sony XB900Ns and the 1000XM3s let you completely block out the sound or hear the ambient noise

Both the Sony WH-XB900N and the WH-1000XM3 deliver excellent active noise cancellation that can block out most sound effectively. With that said, the top-notch active noise cancellation of the flagship WH-1000XM3s remains unparalleled. The dedicated HD Noise-Canceling Processor QN1 in the XM3s guarantees consistent audio quality even with ANC on. While the WH-XB900Ns are not on par with the 1000XM3s, they don’t lack in the noise-canceling department either. They can block out voices and ambient sound well and they still prove to be decent and reliable noise-canceling headphones for their price. 

Both the XB900N and the 1000XM3 have three ANC levels and offer a hear-through feature so you can let in ambient sound when needed. Where the XB900Ns are lacking is in the added ANC optimizations offered by the 1000XM3. The WH-1000XM3s feature a personal noise-canceling optimizer where the XM3s adjust the ANC depending on the sonic characteristics. They also optimize the ANC to the atmospheric pressure, making them one of the best headphones for frequent flyers. 

Audio Quality

The Sony WH-XB900Ns are bass-heavy, but both Sony noise-canceling headphones deliver high-quality audio and offer EQ customization

audio quality sony wh-xb900n vs wh-1000xm3
Sony offers EQ presets and manual EQ adjustments in both noise-canceling headphones 

The WH-XB900Ns boast extra bass, thus the XB, and they deliver the heavy bass that works best with EDM, hip-hop, and pop music. The treble is clear and complements the punchy bass well. When it comes to sound separation, the XB900Ns offer decent separation, but the high-end WH-1000XM3s deliver excellent sound stage. While the 1000XM3s offer punchy bass that’s not as deep as the XB900Ns, both headphones let you play with the EQ settings on the Sony app to fit the sound profile you prefer. 

Turning the active noise-canceling on in the WH-1000XM3s will result in slightly heavier bass even at default settings. Some like it while others prefer a more neutral sound signature. Again, the customizable EQ can help you achieve the sound settings that will suit your taste. Where the Sony WH-1000XM3 is wanting is in its microphone system, as the sound gets muffled when the mic is used. Surprisingly, the WH-XB900Ns deliver better, slightly clearer microphone sound despite having a lower price tag. 

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Sony WH-XB900N

Whether you want to drown out background noise or listen to the beat of your favorite songs, the Sony WH-XB900N EXTRA BASS noise-cancelling headphones won't disappoint. The Sony XB900Ns are available in black and blue.

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Set up and Controls

Both the Sony WH-XB900N and WH-1000XM3 offer physical, app, touch, and voice controls

set up and controls sony wh-xb900n vs wh-1000xm3
Customize the touch and physical controls on the earcups using the Sony app

Thanks to their NFC connectivity, pairing the WH-XB900N and the WH-1000XM3 to your device is a breeze. Once the Sony Headphones Connect app is downloaded, you can follow the on-screen prompts to set up the headphones. Both noise-canceling headphones are equipped with Bluetooth 4.2 and deliver low audiovisual latency, whether you’re using an Android or iOS device. 

Both the XB900N and the 1000XM3s house physical and touch controls in their earcups. Touching the earcups lets you hear through your surroundings, a handy feature in cases where you need to talk to someone with the headphones on. You can further manage tracks and adjust volume through the touch controls in their responsive ear cups. Both noise-canceling headphones work smoothly with smart voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, but they can’t be activated by simply saying “Hey Alexa” or “Hey Google” just yet. 

Battery Life and Additional Features

Both the Sony WH-XB900N and the WH-1000XM3 boast up to 30 hours of battery life even with ANC on, but the XB900Ns require longer charging time

battery life and additional features
Sony’s Quick Attention mode is activated when you lightly touch the right earcup

Both wireless noise-canceling headphones offer an impressive runtime of up to 30 hours, although it varies depending on your usage and settings. For longer usage, turn the Extra Bass setting of the Sony WH-XB900N to passive or their ANC off when not needed. Where they significantly differ is in their charging time. A 10-minute quick charge of Sony WH-1000XM3s can give you a whopping 5 hours more. It also requires only three hours of charging time, much less than the seven-hour charging time that the XB900Ns require. You’ll get an hour of extra battery on the XB900Ns when they’re charged for 10 minutes. 

Verdict

The Sony WH-XB900Ns offer great value for its quality while the WH-1000XM3‘s superb ANC makes it worth the investment

Deal Finder
Sony WH-1000XM3 ANC Headphones
Sony's flagship noise-canceling headphones

Whether you're working from home or flying on a plane, the Sony WH-1000XM3's topnotch ANC won't disappoint.

Check Price on Walmart Check Price on Amazon
We are reader supported. When you buy through our links we may earn an affiliate commission.
Deal Finder
Sony WH-XB900N

Whether you want to drown out background noise or listen to the beat of your favorite songs, the Sony WH-XB900N EXTRA BASS noise-cancelling headphones won't disappoint. The Sony XB900Ns are available in black and blue.

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The top-notch noise-cancellation, stunning audio, and premium build quality of the Sony WH-1000XM3 noise-canceling headphones justify their price. If the cost is no object, get the Sony WH-1000XM3. For those on a budget, the Sony WH-XB900N headphones are an excellent, more budget-friendly alternative. With their reliable noise-cancellation, punchy bass, and customizable EQ, the entry-level Sony WH-XB900Ns offer amazing bang for your buck. 

FAQs

📌 Are the Sony WH-1000XM3s worth it?

Yes, the Sony WH-1000XM3s boast top-notch noise-canceling, audio, and build quality that justify their price.

📌 Are the Sony WH-XB900N good?

While they’re not on par with their top-of-the-line sibling, the Sony WH-XB900N are still a good noise-canceling headphones option, especially for their price.

📌 Which noise-canceling headphones are better, the Sony WH-XB900N or the WH-1000XM3?

The Sony WH-1000XM3s have better active noise-cancellation than the WH-XB900Ns. With that said, they’re more expensive, too.

📌 Are the Sony WH-1000XM3 good for the gym?

They’re not water-resistant and they’re not designed for gym use. However, some people still use the Sony WH-1000XM3s at the gym and just buy sweat-proof covers.

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Rhodaline Escala-Phelps
Rhodaline Escala-Phelps

Managing Editor and Team Leader at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about people, product comparisons, culture, and current events.