- Sound quality and detail
- Excellent noise cancellation
- Multipoint pairing
- IP certification missing
- Not suitable for sports
- aptX HD not supported
The design changes between the XM3 and XM4 are very minimal, almost imperceptible at first glance . We note that the outer shell upholstery materials are slightly rougher. They are available in black and silver, same color options as the previous version.
The build quality is very good, the headphones give the impression of being able to last over time , even if they do not have an elegant and refined design as that of the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 and Bowers & Wilkins PX7. However, they are functional, and pleasant to the touch.
Sony has changed the design of the attachment of the headband to the pavilions, now more linear. The pavilions are slightly thinner on the outside, while on the inside we find one10% larger memory foam section . The memory foam section of the headband, the one that rests on the head, has also been increased to promote greater softness.
On the external body of the wireless headphones we find the power button, the USB-C port for charging and the input for the 3.5mm mini-jack (which recently it is not obvious to find) which is useful for those situations in which we run out of battery.
We also find the same button of the XM3 for the regulation-activation of the ANC ( active noise canceling ), which is now called CUSTOM. With this button we activate the noise cancellation or the Ambient Sound, or the NC Optimiser function.
The NC Optimiser is a feature that you use at the beginning, just long press the button to enter setup mode, and the headphones will do some calculations based on the shape of the head. They will also calculate whether we wear glasses or not, to generate optimized noise cancellation according to the parameters of each individual person.
As in the XM3, on the external pad of the ear cups we find touch control , to be able to perform fast operations. The interaction is easy and instant, much more comfortable than other models of headphones where you need to find the button and press to execute the command. We will explain in more detail what you can do with this feature in the following sections.
Once worn, the WH-1000XM4 have a perfectly balanced grip for regular daily activity and walking. They will hardly come off the head, and at the same time the pressure around the ear is not too much. We keep them on for even two full hours, and we don’t feel any tiredness.
On the other hand, for sports, the grip is not strong enough to withstand sudden movements, and since the headphones are not resistant to water and sweat, you will definitely want to avoid using them for the gym .
Features and Connectivity
These wireless headphones offer stable and safe bluetooth 5.0 connectivity , we did not encounter any pairing problems and signal interruptions.
In the area of additional features of the smart type, the Sony WH-1000XM4 promises very well, and actually proves to be extremely comfortable to use in everyday life.
One of the most important innovations is the addition of the multipoint pairin g function , to connect more than one device and switch from one to the other without interruptions, and without having to enter the bluetooth settings of the different devices.
For example, while we are watching a movie on the iPad using the headphones, if the mobile phone rings we can take the call and the headphones will automatically switch to the smartphone audio. At the end of the call, you switch back to iPad to continue watching the film. There is no need to enter the bluetooth settings of the phone or tablet during these operations. Convenient, thanks Sony.
The Speak to Chat feature is great news, which some will find useful, others will hate. You can activate it or not using the headphones app, you will have to try it for a few days to see if it is for you.
In short, if this function is activated, the headphones stop playing audio (and deactivate noise cancellation) the moment we start talking, without needing to touch them. We can then start talking to someone to mute the sound immediately, but even if you hum while listening, listening will be interrupted.
The Wearing Detection function is very useful, there is a sensor inside the pavilion that detects whether the headphones are worn or not. Simply remove the headphones from your head to stop audio playback. And if we don’t put them back on within a certain period, the headphones will automatically go into standby to save battery.
The headphones are compatible with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, to be able to control the voice assistant through the microphone you ear cups.
The drivers installed inside the headphones are 40mm , and the processor has been updated to the standard DSEE Extreme version.
We must admit that the sound quality is really appreciable, this new processor has the ability to upscale compressed audio tracks, so even if we listen to a low quality mp3, somehow the headphones manage to improve its sound.
The artificial intelligence technology that makes this possible is called Edge-AI , and was developed by engineers at Sony Music Studios in Tokyo. The processor analyzes the reproduced sound in real time and applies changes to reproduce it more accurately.
Support for aptX HD is missing, which we honestly don’t miss. There is support for the Sony 360 Reality Audio, which you will find available in some streaming services such as Deezer and Tidal, interesting to try for a more immersive listening experience.
The output audio quality, that of the built- in microphone for voice calls, is significantly improved. This was one of the weaknesses of the Sony WH1000XM3, with the sound of our voice being unclear when making a phone call. The XM4s solve the problem, our interlocutor can hear clearly.
The noise isolation offered by the noise cancellation technology of the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones is, at the moment, the best ever .
These headphones are able to block external noise in an extremely effective way, thanks to a sophisticated noise cancellation technology that analyzes the sounds of the environment and cancels them from reproduction. At the heart of the ANC system is the advanced QN1 processor, which analyzes in real time.
Indeed, if we compare them to the previous model, we can perceive a better performance in this sense especially in those noises in the medium frequencies such as a fan, the noise of a crowd, or the noise of an airplane engine, which with the XM4 almost disappear.
We candecide the intensity of the acoustic insulation , through the smartphone app, or using the dedicated button on the external pavilion.
Convenient touch function that allows you to temporarily disable noise cancellation by simply bringing your hand to the pavilion. The response of the software is immediate, in a moment we can hear external sounds to talk to someone. When we raise our hand, noise canceling is immediately reactivated.
The Adaptive Sound Control function is interesting, which allows you to set different ANC profiles depending on the location in which we are. It works in conjunction with the smartphone’s GPS engine, which detects our location and which in turn tells the headphones to change the noise cancellation setting.
For example, we can set the “office”, “home”, and “travel” scenarios with different noise cancellation settings depending on the situation. While traveling we would like to activate the total cancellation, so as not to be disturbed while we are on the train, while at home and in the office, we would like to let some external noise pass to hear what is happening around us. The headphones switch between scenarios automatically, depending on the position.
Sony’s wireless headphones are among the best in battery life, delivering up to 30 hours of listening with active noise cancellation . If we deactivate this function, it reaches up to 38 hours.
The fast charging function is also impressive, and allows you to get 5 hours of playback with only 10 minutes of charging (on the adapter and power outlet, not on the USB of the PC).
Sony WH 1000XM4: Opinions and Final Verdict
If you have decided to buy the best pair of circumaural (over-ear) noise canceling headphones currently out there, these are the ones to get. They are sold at a premium price, of course, but we assure you it’s worth it.
Clear that, as long as they are available, the Sony WH-1000XM3 will be a great cheaper alternative, with almost equal sound insulation, and still excellent sound quality. Some additional features will be missing, but in essence the previous version remains an enviable quality-price solution, especially with the arrival of the new model.
We remind you that the Sony WH 1000XM4 headphones are not recommended for sports use, because they will fall more easily than other more dedicated headphones of in-ear headphones and true wireless for sports), and they are not resistant to sweat.
Among the best noise canceling headphones, the XM4 are at the top of the rankings this year. They are exceptional not only for the sound quality and the exceptional performance of the ANC functionality, but they stand out above all for their smart options, selectable from the app and configurable at will.
For those who use them all day, it is worth investing in this pair of headphones for their actual ease of use. For those traveling by plane, train and bus, there is no better alternative for the level of comfort and cancellation of external noise.
For high definition music lovers, the absence of aptX HD is honestly not a problem, the sound is truly detailed, and our favorite high resolution tracks will sound divine.