WH-1000XM4 is Sony’s new top-rated over-ear headset. The model is already available in pre-sale on the brand’s official website for $349.99 and has important improvements over the XM2 and XM3 predecessors. Noise cancellation is the flagship car, and the accessory is designed to learn the user’s day-to-day preferences to deliver an adapted experience, whether recognizing different locations through geolocation or the adaptive capture system.
Sony also comes with an improved design in finer detail that makes the headset more comfortable for long hours of use, plus features to facilitate day-to-day communication without taking the headphone out of your head.
Sony WH-1000XM4 Features
|Diaphragm||40mm Aluminum Clad LCP, Dome Type (CCAW Coil)|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, multi-connection (up to 2 devices)|
|Noise Cancellation||Sony Noise Canceling Processor QN1|
|Frequency Response||4 Hz to 40 kHz|
20 Hz to 40 kHz (BT)
|Indicted||Hi-Res Audio, DSEE Extreme, Edge AI|
|Sound Profile||A2DP, AVRCP, HFP and HSP|
SBC, AAC and LDAC
|Battery||Up to 30 theoretical hours|
Charging via USB Type-C
The design of WH-1000XM4 does not change much from previous models in the line. As a result, there is little novelty in terms of the look and materials used, keeping the XM2 and XM3 patterns clean and elegant. An important difference, according to Sony, is the design, more specifically the headphone gaskets. This is because the parts are much closer in the model, which, according to the manufacturer, contributes a lot to good durability.
Another highlight of the launch is the fact that it is quite comfortable to use in everyday life. When using an over-ear headset, that is, one that covers the whole ear, it is common to feel some pain caused by the pressure of the accessory. For the new headphone, the brand offers more comfort, since its design considers this point. The accessory did not hurt, even after long hours of use.
The padding also contributes to this, as do barely noticeable changes such as the now more ergonomically shaped stem and the shells themselves, which are thinner – when compared to the XM3, the previous model. The model also has two ports available: a 3.5 mm auxiliary input, which allows music to be heard via the P2 cable, and the USB-C, which is used to recharge the battery. As for the colors, two options are available: black and cream.
Good Reproduction in any Musical Style
Sony’s headphone sound quality continues at a high level, following the premium design of the other models in the range. The different musical styles such as Jazz, Pop, Rock, and Samba, and the bass drew attention for the performance, but without leaving midrange and treble behind. The interference during playback is also worth mentioning, as much because of the noise cancellation, it is possible to focus completely on the moment and the activities that are being done.
The WH-1000XM4’s technical data sheet brings the DSEE Extreme, a technology that, according to Sony, allows music upscaling, regardless of the original quality. The idea here is to reproduce the sound that would be heard in the studio, and the model can deliver a good result with standard files played via streaming through Spotify. The product also supports AAC, SBC, and LDAC codecs, 50 mm drivers and allows the user to equalize the audio in the way they prefer via the app.
Powerful and Intelligent Cancellation
Noise cancellation is the main highlight of Sony’s premium line of headphones. While the shell design allows for natural isolation, the WH-1000XM4’s intelligent system ensures total sound blocking but makes occasional adjustments that take into account the user’s everyday life. In all, there are seven microphones scattered around the shell that regulate the input levels of external noises during headphone use.
With Adaptive Cancellation, a feature that was already present in XM2 and XM3, the headphone recognizes the user’s position about the environment, i.e., whether he/she is standing, sitting, lying down or running. It is worth mentioning that, in this case, the same QN1 chip that equips the predecessor is present, but with changes in the algorithm.
The novelty for XM4 is Geolocation, where the headset learns the patterns used according to its position on the map. In this way, the accessory will know when at home, at work, or the gym, among other examples, optimizing the noise blocking specifically for that situation.
Through Sony’s application, available for Android and iPhone (iOS), it is also possible to set more frequent locations manually, choosing the ideal fit. The user can also edit the input levels of external sounds by the app, giving preference to voices, car noises, among others.
No need to take it out of your head
Sony’s idea with the product is to increase the range of cancellation possibilities for different situations, creating what the brand calls “smart listening”. This idea is also present in the Quick Attention and Speak-to-Chat features, which allow the user to “come back” to reality by opening the external microphones and decreasing or pausing playback.
The first was already on the line since XM2, and Techident highlighted the possibility during product testing. To activate it, just rest your hand on the right shell of the headset and the volume of the music decreases, facilitating a quick conversation with another person.
The new function, in turn, works without any specific command: the headphone learns and recognizes the user’s voice too, whenever it speaks, pause playback and allow noise input – with focus on voices. This “mode” lasts, at first, between 15 and 60 seconds, but the sound only comes back shortly after the conversation is over. To shorten the process, just lean against the right shell to return to the music and isolation from before.
Battery and other features
In addition to the features surrounding noise cancellation itself, Sony promises other interesting aspects. With a design for everyday use, the model will be able to stop the phone and computer with Windows 10 at the same time. As this possibility will still arrive via a software update, it has not been possible to test yet. Anyway, the idea is interesting to study and work in the day to day listening to audios, videos, and music from different sources.
The XM4 also has a sensor that understands when the user takes the headset off to pause the music and, in case it is stopped too long, turn off by itself. The feature is interesting to ensure good energy savings, contributing to autonomy that exceeds the promise of 30 hours made by Sony.
About that, it is worth mentioning that, in casual use and average volume, the product can work for about a week of work before needing to recharge the battery. The process happens via USB-C cable, faster than the conventional MicroUSB. In numbers, Sony guarantees that 10 minutes on the plug is enough for up to 5 hours of music.
The controls, in turn, also follow the line pattern and work through the touch-sensitive surface of the right shell. To answer or refuse calls, in addition to pausing or continuing playback, simply touch the device. To turn up or down the volume as well as navigate through the music in a playlist, you need to slide your finger up/down or forward/back.
Also, there are two buttons located on the left side of the product. One of them turns off the headset or starts the pairing mode, while the other is used to adjust the noise cancellation. This way, it is possible to switch between ambient sound, turn the function on or off, as well as to optimize the system according to the atmospheric pressure, something interesting mainly for air travel. The user can also choose to activate a voice assistant with the button, choosing between Alexa and Google Assistant.
The Sony headset arrives in the market to be one of the best options of premium headphones with active noise cancellation, surpassing even the predecessor XM3, from 2018. Currently, the model is found starting at $348.99, which is slightly below the $349.99 labeled by the manufacturer for the XM4.