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As an innovative and renowned player in the audio industry, Sony officially launched the fourth generation of the WH-1000X headphones with wireless noise cancellation, the WH-1000XM4. Compared to its previous version, Sony WH-1000XM3, the headset still retains its unrivaled advantages in terms of comfort over long listening sessions, noise cancellation, sound quality, and wireless range.
Sony WH-1000XM4 is a high-quality, high-end headphone with a luxurious finish, superb sound quality and the most effective active noise cancellation in the industry, ranking first on our list of the best high-end noise-canceling headphones, where it competes with models such as Bose 700, Apple AirPods Max, Sennheiser Momentum 3, Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H95, etc.
Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise Canceling Headphones Review
Type: Closed-back Over-ear Noise Canceling Headphones | Frequency-range: 4 Hz – 40.000 Hz | Sensitivity: 105 dB | Driver Size: 40 mm | Bluetooth: 5.0 | Codecs supported: SBC, AAC, LDAC | Latency: 210 ms (average) |Battery: 30 Hours | Charging Time: 3 hours | Quick-Charge: 5 Hours in 10 mins | Drivers: Dynamic | Weight: 255g
Sony’s new WH-1000XM4 active noise cancellation headphones have continued the perfect design of the previous generation of products, sound quality, and active noise cancellation performance to maintain a high-performance level. It features various visible improvements regarding user experience, such as the new “Smart Listening” wear detection sensors, and “Adaptive Sound Control,” which automatically adapts to your surroundings and actions, and Sony’s proprietary audio technology DSEE Extreme. Everything to provide a smooth and intuitive user experience.
The packaging of the Sony WH-1000XM4 headset is quite typical for a premium model.
- Hard case
- USB Type-C cable for charging
- Adapter to connect the headphones on the plane.
A mini-jack cable for listening to music even when the headphones are out of power. Even without it, you could probably use the Type-C port for a wired connection, but having it is a plus.
No radical cosmetic improvements have been made to the Sony WH-1000XM4, which is a very conservative approach to design, considering that its competitor has received a plethora of favorable and unfavorable reviews since it was upgraded from the QC35 II to the new Bose 700 Noise Canceling.
The texture of the materials is worth mentioning. This time Sony opted for a matte finish with a soft-touch coating. The earpads and ear cups have also been resized. Of course, some people may not appreciate these subtle changes. But on the other hand, if you don’t need to fundamentally change the design, there’s no reason to improve on something that already works well.
The downside of the XM4 is that it’s not waterproof. Sony recommends not putting the device in water. In most life situations, this won’t be a problem. However, it will still limit the functionality. For example, it is not recommended to use it in the rain.
Based on the WH-1000XM3’s overall architecture, the WH-1000XM4 features improved design details such as the portion where the metal parts are attached on the headband, while also offering a generous range of adjustment to adapt to users with different head shapes.
The other side houses a touch sensor, which provides a control for music management: switch songs, volume adjustment, play/pause control, and phone answering control.
The power control and noise reduction mode adjustment functions can be activated by two physical buttons and are located underneath the left ear cup. They’re easy to operate and find with your fingers.
The headphones were designed with a Type-C charging port and a 3.5mm wired port. The Type-C interface supports fast-charging function, charging 10 minutes to achieve 4-5 hours of music listening. Sony WH-1000XM4’s full battery can sustain 30 hours of music playback with ANC and 38 hours without ANC.
In a similar manner as its predecessor Sony WH-1000XM3, the headphones can be connected to two devices simultaneously via Bluetooth (5.0). It is also compatible with NFC. Sadly, not even the 4th generation of Sony MDR1000X allows multiple Bluetooth pairing connections.
Also added to the WH-1000XM4 is a new wear sensor that can detect if the headphones are being worn, the sensor is built-in inside the left earcups, and unlike other headphones. It has a very low probability of miscalculation, even if you take off the headphones and hang them around your neck.
Previously, if you needed to speak while wearing headphones, you would have to hover the right earcup with your hand to activate the “Ambient Sound” feature that was further improved and rebranded into “Speak-to-Chat.” Once you speak, the function activates and allows you to listen to ambient sounds. Now the new generation of headphones delivers a completely intelligent experience, allowing you to switch directly from listening mode to ambient mode. The Speak-to-Chat function mutes the sound, allowing dialogue without removing the headphones. If you say something out loud, the headphones will recognize the user’s voice and automatically pause playback.
Sony has also equipped its latest with 360 Reality Audio technology, which is capable of measuring the shape of your ears via the headphone connection application, which serves as the basis for sound optimization.
The 360 Reality Audio software has undergone a series of improvements that improve the sense of direction of the sound, making you experience the music as in a concert, with sounds coming from every direction.
The XM4 has the same battery life as its predecessor: 30 hours with noise cancellation and 38 hours without. Normally, manufacturers are supposed to improve the performance of each model, so these numbers may be disappointing at first. However, considering the new sensors and noise cancellation features, we think 30 hours is a good number for a high-end noise cancelling headset like Sony WH-1000XM4.
The Japanese manufacturer has made great improvements inside the M4 to make the headset even more practical and versatile. The performance of the QNe1 processor, which constantly analyzes the ambient sound and reacts quickly to the level of noise cancellation, has been improved. In the new generation, this part of the system has been refined to perfection. Sony is proud of this achievement because you are unlikely to hear any extraneous noise while listening to music.
Compared to the improved experience provided by the intelligent “Ambient Aware” feature, Sony’s “Active Noise Reduction” technology upgrade on the WH-1000XM4 is not as apparent, but is still an improvement over the WH-1000XM3. Even when the noise reduction feature is running at full blast, there is no unpleasant vacuum sensation. I’m sure this varies greatly from person to person.
The Adaptive Sound Control technology automatically adjusts noise reduction settings based on where you are and what you do. With a pair of microphones in each earcup, the Dual Noise Sensor technology assesses ambient noise and transmits the data to the HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1. Moreover, Sony’s new Bluetooth Audio SoC (System on Chip) processes and adjusts playback settings to match music and noise levels faster than 700 times per second.
The best part is that users are provided with numerous settings for specific situations that make using the headphones as easy as possible. For example, you don’t have to take them off to have a conversation. When you’re out on the town, you can activate the appropriate mode to hear what’s going on around you.
When dealing with Sony audio products, the last thing we need to worry about is the performance of sound quality. The previous generation of noise-canceling headphones from Sony has benefited from exemplary sound reproduction. Now, the WH-1000XM4 also continues the tradition by employing 40 mm diameter drivers with Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) diaphragms and features a sound reproduction that favors the modern music genres just like the XM3. As a result, they are quite similar in terms of sound. The sound is warm and balanced, and the harmonics are perfectly captured. The resolution of the sound and soundstage are also similarly enjoyable in both standard listening mode and wireless.
The novelty features Sony Edge-AI’s proprietary technology to improve sound quality. A technology jointly developed with Sony Music Studios Tokyo, designed to “restore the sound lost during digital compression, ensure maximum reproduction accuracy.” Simply put, DSEE Extreme audio technology (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) is a special algorithm that analyzes tracks in real-time and recognizes instruments, musical genres, and individual elements of each song to restore high range sounds lost during compression.
Even though it has the same drivers as Sony WH-1000XM3 that play very well, it surprises us that the WH-1000XM4 has a somewhat better, more unique sound than Sony WH-1000XM3. The frequency response has changed a bit, and you can feel the highs more, while the bass is weaker (a good thing considering the complaints regarding XM3’s muddy mid-bass). If you’re a fan of powerful bass, the WH-1000XM4 may disappoint you a bit, but many users will appreciate the more versatile sound of these headphones.
No matter what kind of music you’re listening to, the sound is reproduced accurately and with great clarity. Songs with guitars and drums sound great because Sony paid more attention than ever to the mids and vocals, and if you’re still concerned about the low end, there is a handy equalizer in the mobile application.
The new Sony WH-1000XM4 active noise cancellation headphones have continued the perfect design of the previous generation of products, sound quality, and active noise cancellation performance to maintain a high-performance level. It features various visible improvements regarding user experience, such as the new “Smart Listening” wear detection sensors, and “Adaptive Sound Control,” which automatically adapts to your surroundings and actions, and Sony’s proprietary audio technology DSEE Extreme. Everything to provide a smooth and intuitive user experience.
The headset also implemented 360 Reality Audio surround sound technology, a Speech Detection algorithm, and new sensors. It benefits from a hefty battery life of up to 30 hours, and with fast charging via USB Type-C, you receive up to 5 hours of music playback in just 10 minutes.
If you have the money and need a high-end headset with ANC, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is the best choice. The combination of high-quality technology, excellent sound, the best-in-class noise cancellation, good battery life, and smart features like auto-pause and multi-point Bluetooth make it a solid pick for almost anyone.