After enjoying my Sony WH-1000XM3 wireless headphones for a little over three months now (which I purchased during a great sale on Amazon here), I started getting curious as to how well they perform as a gaming headset.
That’s when I started experimenting with wired and bluetooth connections to various gaming devices to see how the audio performance of these headphones truly sound.
So are Sony WH-1000XM3 wireless headphones good for gaming?
The Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Headphones provide clear audio, low latency, and strong noise cancellation through a wired connection to the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC gaming laptops and desktops, and Macs. Wireless bluetooth gaming audio with the WH-1000XM3 is superb when paired with tablets, smartphones, Macs, PCs, and some USB bluetooth modules for consoles, but may require a separate microphone for chat support.
In some cases full game and chat audio is possible when connected to a controller’s headphone jack, where bluetooth audio devices are not supported. Otherwise, these headphones can be paired wirelessly with or without an additional bluetooth module.
Below I cover all of these methods of connections to the WH-1000XM3, how each connection performs in sound, and which is the best for each popular gaming platform.
Wired Connection Provides Clear Game and Chat Audio With The Sony WH-1000XM3
For wired and wireless connections I experimented through gaming with the WH-1000XM3 headphones on my MacBook Air, iPhone 11 Pro, and PlayStation 4 Pro.
Starting with the PlayStation 4 Pro, my original intent was to see if I could pair my Sony WH-1000XM3s wirelessly to the console so that I could not only hear in-game and chat audio, but also use the microphone that is built in to the ear cups.
Unfortunately, I was not able to register the WH-1000XM3s as a true wireless audio output, as the PS4 noted that this was not a supported bluetooth device.
This also eliminated the possibility that I could use the WH-1000XM3 as a stand-alone chat headset with the built-in mic (although that would most likely muffle the game audio coming out of the TV).
But I remember a while ago that I was able to hear chat audio, talk into the mic, and hear full game audio through the single earbud that came in the box with my PS4 Pro back when it was new.
So I used the included 3.5mm gold headphone cable that comes with the WH-1000XM3 and plugged it into the headphone jack located on the bottom of the PS4 controller, and voila, I was able to hear game audio and chat audio through my headphones right away.
What’s cool is that you can also control the headphone volume of the 1000XM3s while they are plugged into the PS4 controller by adjusting the slider under “Volume Control” under the Audio Devices menu.
However, I was not able to enable mic support for these headphones while it was connected via wire to the controller, which can be a huge setback for gamers that are always in a party chat as a single player, or as a group in a MMO frenzy.
So after some more research, I found that in order to get mic support using the WH-1000XM3 as a gaming headset, there needs to be an additional microphone that connects in-line between the headphones and the controller.
The V-Moda BoomPro Microphone (found on Amazon here) is a great example of an inline microphone that’s designed to provide mic support for headphones that can’t receive the function as a stand alone unit.
Once this microphone is added to the WH-1000XM3, you can now hear full game audio, chat audio, and talk strategy with your party through the enabled V-Moda mic.
Comfort and Sound Quality as Wired Gaming Headset
Now that I got my WH-1000XM3s connected to my PS4 controller, I’m extremely pleased with the audio performance and comfort of these headphones.
Even though you can’t customize the audio with an equalizer (treble, mids, bass) like you can through the included smartphone app, the sound is surprisingly clear and natural.
Using Call of Duty Modern Warfare as the FPS example, the rumble of vehicles and explosions were prominent thanks to the modest bass drivers inside the ear cups of the XM3s, but not muffling enough to mask the snappy trebles of footsteps or spoken audio.
I also used a few slower-paced single player titles, including Witcher III, and can confirm that the orchestral gameplay music along with the dialogue sounds very natural and transparent.
Not to mention, the awesome bass of these headphones definitely helps bring out the emotion in any story-based game, which drew me in even more.
Another neat feature with the XM3s is that you can enable and disable the Active Noise Cancellation function while they are on a wired connection, which gives the freedom to mute out the world around you while being immersed in full game audio.
The cushions around the ear cup and under the headband are soft, yet supportive. This allows the Sony’s to sit comfortably on my head and ears for a prolonged period of time without any discomfort, great for extra long gameplay sessions.
Good to Note: Since these headphones have an over-ear setup, the ear cups do get somewhat warm around the ears after wearing them for longer than an hour. Taking them off to break for a few seconds and get some air in there is all that’s needed to keep gaming with them for more hours.
Speaking of the over-ear setup, these headphones are surprisingly lightweight for their size. This make them seamless for gaming while on travel since they add little weight to a bag or suitcase, and can easily be forgotten while worn on the head (as happens to me many times).
I also did not notice any latency while gaming with the WH-1000XM3s, not only with the PS4, but also with my MacBook Air.
This gives me a strong indication that these are truly a quality pair of gaming headphones for any application, and should show no signs of struggle when connected to other gaming platforms via headphone jack, including the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PCs, and Macs.
WH-1000XM3 as a Wireless Gaming Headset
The Sony 1000XM3s are a great wireless gaming headset for devices that can support these headphones for bluetooth audio. Otherwise, they need to be plugged in via headphone jack or paired with an external USB Bluetooth module.
Let’s get the easy Bluetooth gaming devices out of the way.
Hands down, the Sony WH-1000XM3 pairs seamlessly to MacBooks, iPhones, and iPads, and produces some stellar audio performance with a wireless bluetooth connection.
The sound is natural, yet robust in bass and snappy in mids and trebles.
Thanks to the Sony bluetooth headphone app that’s included with the 1000XM3s, you can also fully customize the sound that comes out of these headphones while they’re paired to these devices through the EQ and precisely tune the exact amount of ambient sound that you want to allow through.
Also, they also use Bluetooth 4.2 technology, which seems to be plenty quick enough to keep up with even the quickest iOS games, like Asphalt 9 and Wordscapes. I did not notice any audio latency whatsoever.
Another Note: The only drawback to gaming on a Mac or PC with the WH-1000XM3 wirelessly is the potential lack of microphone support. Depending on the application and device, you may need to use an additional microphone that plugs into the headphone jack so that mic support will enable. You should still be able to hear game and chat audio through the headphones with no issues.
Sweet. Now that the easy devices are out of the way, let’s dive in to the more unclear methods of gaming with the XM3s wirelessly to other devices via bluetooth, with varying levels of audio success.
So you know how I started towards the beginning of this post that a wired connection with the WH-1000XM3 headphone works and sounds great on consoles such as the PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch?
You may also be able to get wireless game audio, but a USB bluetooth module is required. Specifically for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 Pro.
The Xbox One, on the other hand, will only work with specific wireless gaming headsets that have a compatible wireless module bases that connect to the console through the USB port. However, these are not bluetooth headphones, just wireless 2.4 GHz frequency units that communicate to a wired USB base that’s compatible with this console.
Wireless Game Audio From Nintendo Switch
Starting with the highest degree of success, if you really want to listen to audio from the Nintendo Switch to the XM3s wirelessly, there are quite a few users that have been able to connect this stealthy bluetooth adapter, called the HomeSpot USB-C Audio Adapter (found here on Amazon), and receive gaming audio through their bluetooth headphones.
There may be other adapters that can also plug in to the USB-C port of the Switch and send gaming audio to the WH-1000XM3s wirelessly, but this one seems to be the most popular and convenient accessory unit.
Users that have been able to connect bluetooth headphones to their Nintendo Switch through the HomeSpot Adapter have not noticed any audio latency or quality drop off.
Given that the Sony WH-1000XM3 is a high quality stand-alone headphone, it should have a solid connection with this bluetooth module and perform as a good wireless gaming audio companion.
Wireless Game Audio From PlayStation 4
Unlike the Nintendo Switch, where users have reported a higher degree of success of getting wireless game audio by connecting a bluetooth module, the PlayStation 4 may also be able to send wireless gaming audio to the Sony WH-1000XM3 using the same method.
However, success of the method on the PS4 has resulted in various success.
Besides purchasing another wireless gaming headset, another way to get wireless gaming audio to the Sony WH-1000XM3 is through a bluetooth module that hooks up to the PS4’s USB port.
The Avantree USB bluetooth dongle (found here on Amazon) is designed to work with the PlayStation 4, among other consoles and computers, by pairing wirelessly to the XM3s and then reading as a wired USB connection through the PS4 audio output menu.
But, unlike the Switch, people who have purchased the Avantree module have reported various degrees of success depending on exact PS4 model and firmware. This is still the most popular PS4 bluetooth module I could find to date and is worth trying to see if your specific application works.
Also, since this is a USB-A (the standard rectangular plug) bluetooth module, you can also try using this unit to wirelessly connect the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones to other devices that may not have bluetooth already built in, such as older Macs and PCs, consoles, and TVs.
Keep in mind that this might not also have microphone support, and will therefore require an additional microphone that will need to be wired to the PS4 before being able to chat with the clan.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to more mobile gaming, such as smartphones and tablets, the Sony WH-1000XM3 is a great gaming headset that seamlessly pairs wirelessly to these devices with no issues, but superb audio quality.
Popular console platforms, including the Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 Pro, have the best audio results with a wired connection, either to the controller or to the console itself. Although this can be seen as a small inconvenience, the WH-1000XM3 headphones sound very natural, immersive, and snappy with this setup. Don’t forget the additional in-line microphone if you want mic support!
If you are willing to experiment a little more, or really need wireless gaming audio from the WH-1000XM3, try pairing them to a USB bluetooth module accessory. The Switch has a high degree of success going this route, with the PS4 less so, and the Xbox completely out of luck so far.
Regardless of which connection method you choose, the Sony WH-1000XM3 deliver a great combination of cocooning noise cancellation with true-to-source audio to deliver a sweet gaming audio package that is definitely worthy of its price.
Recommended Products That Helped Me Research This Article:
- Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones (great price on Amazon) – I find myself always wearing these headphones for anything that requires listening, as I am still impressed with it’s audio versatility, lightweight comfort, and noise-cancelling that can quickly cradle anyone in their own world.
- V-Moda BoomPro Microphone for Gaming (on sale on Amazon) – This stealth microphone is great for anyone that needs mic support while gaming with their bluetooth headphone, including the WH-1000XM3. Clear audio and low latency means you won’t be hearing any complaints from your party.
- HomeSpot USB-C Audio Adapter for Nintendo Switch (learn more on Amazon) – My top pick for wirelessly connecting the WH-1000XM3s, or any bluetooth headphone for that matter, to a Nintendo Switch. This adapter will allow you to cut the cord and enjoy game audio through your headphone without the need for a 3.5mm jack.
- Avantree USB Bluetooth Dongle (learn more on Amazon) – I recommend this module mainly for PlayStation gamers that want a wireless audio experience with their bluetooth headphones, especially the WH-1000XM3s, but this can work with a host of other devices that currently don’t have the technology.