Sony got me used to my personal headphones (the WH-1000XM3) badly. That’s why testing your successors – the WH-1000XM4 – was like being at home, but with more options.
I spent a few days in the company of the new Sony WH-1000XM4, and I can tell you that they are the best noise-canceling headphones you can buy. They arrive with improvements compared to the previous model that make them almost perfect in my eyes, and the sound quality remains excellent.
Sony WH-1000XM4 first impressions
As soon as you look at the box, the differences between it and the previous generation do not go much beyond the number ‘3’ being replaced by ‘4’. And when we come face to face with the carrying case, the accessories, and the headphones themselves, the aesthetic differences are almost nil.
You are entitled to a very rigid and quality transport bag. Accompanying the headphones is a USB-C to USB-A charging cable, a cable with 3.5mm jack outputs if you want to use them with wire, and an accessory for you to use on the plane.
If you place them side by side with the previous model, you will not see any aesthetic differences. It is often said that the winning team does not move. And just looking inside, where you will rest your ears, you will find a noticeable difference – the proximity sensor that pauses the music when you remove it (and plays it again when you replace it).
Advantages of the Sony WH-1000XM4
- Noise canceling is the best you’ll find
- Sound quality is excellent for Bluetooth headsets
- Battery still fantastic
- Multipoint Bluetooth connection is a luxury
- Portability is significant
- Proximity sensor comes in handy
Disadvantages of the Sony WH-1000XM4
- ‘Talk-to-talk’ mode needs to improve
- ‘Custom’ button could have more options
- Microphone quality is still “not there”
Noise cancellation and sound quality of Sony WH-1000XM4
These are the great reference points for these headphones. If you are looking for the best balance in the market between sound quality and noise cancellation, this is the model you will find.
Its sound is full-bodied, and you will hear both the voices and the instruments with great quality. In addition to having high and medium care, these are headphones suitable for those who like powerful bass. If you still don’t like it, you can use the official Headphones Connect app (Android / iOS) to adapt the sound on the equalizer to your needs.
Noise cancellation is the best you’ll find on headphones. The truth is that the previous model was already so good, that I can tell you that I didn’t feel any big differences. As soon as you put them on, you enter your world, and there are few outside noises to be noticed.
In addition, you can also activate the surround sound control. This means that the same microphones that cancel out the noise, amplify the external sound, and you will always be alert to your surroundings, even with your favorite content playing.
The big news of the Sony WH-1000XM4
Where you feel the difference is in the small details. For starters, they finally have a multipoint Bluetooth connection, which is a real luxury. In practice, it means that they can be connected to two devices simultaneously.
Imagine that you are listening to music, or watching a series on the computer, or tablet with the headphones on, and the phone rings. Just pause the content you are listening to, answer the call and set the XM4 as the device you want to listen to. Thus, without problems or complications.
Another novelty of this model is the proximity sensor. It is placed on the left headphone, and basically pauses the content you are listening to automatically as soon as you remove the headphones. When you put them back on, the music returns where you left it.
One of the most talked about news is, change the redundancy to “Speak-to-Chat”. This essentially allows that as soon as someone calls and barely starts talking, the music automatically pauses and the headphones go into ambient mode.
This means that you can clearly hear any response without having to remove the headphones. But unfortunately this is a mode that still needs improvement.
To get a clearer picture, with a simple cough this mode is still activated by itself. And since the minimum time that the music plays again is 15 seconds (can be changed in the app, but only for more than that), it ends up being a little uncomfortable. Sensitivity needs improvement, and the minimum time before playing music should be 5 seconds.
You should keep in mind that these headphones have the LDAC codec (owned by Sony), capable of providing top audio. But unfortunately it cannot be used simultaneously with multipoint Bluetooth.
My experience with the Sony WH-1000XM4
As I mentioned, using these headphones daily is a real pleasure. The distinctive sound in collaboration with the noise cancellation, makes you do not want to remove them from your ears either to listen to music, record our podcasts or watch a good series on Netflix. And when it comes to comfort, they are the best I’ve tested. On these points, I do not notice any major differences from the predecessors (which were already superb).
Sony claims that these have a powerful autonomy for 30 hours even with active noise cancellation, and I did not leave defrauded. I used them on trips of several hours, and I can tell you that Sony’s numbers are not far out of step with reality. In addition, 10 minutes of charging provides an extra 5 hours of listening.
Touch controls (where you can control volume, pause or switch between tracks) require a learning curve. But I noticed that they are a little more precise, as is the functionality of covering the handset to activate the ambient mode when you want to talk and listen to someone.
My favorite novelty in this model is the depth sensor. This is the feature I miss most when I go back to my old model. It is very comfortable to use, and is well optimized.
There is no doubt that multipoint Bluetooth is another feature that can make the choice of these headphones the right one. Switching between the smartphone and the computer was not always as easy as I expected but as a general rule it is much better than walking around pairing and unpairing equipment.
Something to note is that the quality of calls has improved. But for headphones in this price range, a little more is required. Although the background noise is very muffled, it ends up camouflaging your voice a little too.
The “Custom” button is, as its name implies, customizable. It allows you to place it to activate virtual assistants (Alexa and Google assistant) or to switch between noise cancellation and ambient mode through it. It would not be a bad idea to give this button more options, such as being able to activate the “quick attention” mode there.
Conclusion on the Sony WH-1000XM4
In general, we have to focus on small details to find defects in these headphones. What was already great was really perfect, and Sony delivers here a product that I highly recommend if you are looking for top noise cancellation. However, its price will not appeal to all portfolios.
To find out all the details and complete specifications consult the Sony website. You can buy these Sony WH-1000XM4 at Amazon Spain. If you want something cheaper, I advise you to take a look at the previous model, the Sony WH-1000XM3, whose analysis you can read here.