Review of SONY WF-1000XM4 earbuds + Strengths and Weaknesses
According to JBQ, Sony is largely responsible for the safe health of the true wireless active noise canceling headphone market, and with the WF-1000XM4, the company has combined performance, ergonomics and build quality more effectively than ever before. They’re not perfect, but as a whole package, they’re hard to beat.
+ A fast, full-bodied and expressive voice
+ Impeccable ergonomics and some really useful features
+ Impressive call quality
Unremarkable battery life
– “B+” noise removal
– It can take a few moments to get into position comfortably
The latest in Sony’s WF-1000 series of true wireless headphones are smaller, lighter and greener than ever oh, and the Sony WF-1000XM4 sound even sharper and more immediate than the top-of-the-range model it replaces. .
It’s fair to say that there is no area (with the exception of control program excellence) where they really lead the way. But if you want to beat them for a combination of sound quality, noise cancellation, and battery life, you’ll need to buy three pairs of noise-canceling headphones.
By all accounts, the Sony WF-1000XM4 are either “very good” or “very good indeed” and considered a complete package that’s hard to get your hands on.
Compared to their predecessors, the Sony WF-1000XM3, the new wireless headphones offer enough quality-of-life features to make it worth the upgrade, even if they’re a bit more expensive. The more compact design means the Sony WF-1000XM4 is more comfortable and easier to carry, while the accompanying app simplifies setting controls and EQ settings to rival the best headphones.
Meanwhile, features carried over from the Sony WH-1000XM4 over-ears, including Speak-To-Chat, DSEE Extreme audio scaling, and adaptive noise cancellation, mean you’d be hard-pressed to find a pair of wireless headphones with more comprehensive specs. , even when you are looking for the best wireless headphones.
While other true wireless headphones outperform the Sony WF-1000XM4 in certain areas — noise cancellation, for example — no other model comes close to delivering such excellent quality across the board. That’s why the Sony WF-1000XM4 are the best true wireless headphones you can buy today.
Sony WF-1000XM4: price and release date
Available now, published on June 8, 2021
$279.99 / £250 / AU$449.95
JBQ says, The Sony WF-1000XM4 is on sale now, priced at $279.99 / £250 / AU$449.95, and when you consider that the outgoing WF-1000XM3 will launch in 2019 at a nominal price of $230 / £220 / AU$399 did Pairs are currently available for around $170 / £150 / AU$200, which seems a fair enough price.
In terms of competition, the WF-1000XM4 compares very favorably to alternative designs from the likes of Bose, Grado and Sennheiser, and looks a bit of a bargain next to Bowers & Wilkins’ outstanding (and staggeringly priced) PI7.
Sony WF-1000XM4: design and controls
Smaller than the predecessors
Outstanding control program
The WF-1000XM3 output gave us plenty of reasons to recommend them, but “option” wasn’t high on that list. The headphones were big and so was the charging case, and Sony has wisely chosen to reduce some of that bulk in this new model.
Acoustic design: closed
Weight: 7.3 grams
Frequency response: 20-40000 Hz
Drivers: 6 mm
Battery life: 8 hours (airbuds) 16 hours (charging case)
The charging case is 40 percent smaller, while the headphones themselves are 10 percent smaller. The fact that they’re still among the heaviest of its kind just goes to show how big the WF-1000XM3 was – but at least the new charging case can easily slip into a trouser pocket, while the earbuds don’t stick out.
The wearer’s head is like a prop in a sci-fi movie.
(Sony has done away with a big part of the packaging, too. The box the WF-1000XM4 comes in is 40 percent smaller than the WF-1000XM3’s, and is entirely paper-based, recyclable, and eco-friendly.)
Some of the features
The WF-1000XM4 includes some of the features first introduced in last year’s WH-1000XM4 rear headphones: Active Noise Cancellation that can identify what you’re doing and where you’re doing it to suit your circumstances; adapt Quick pairing for Android and Windows devices; and “Speak to Chat,” which simply asks you to make a sound to pause your music so you can have a quick chat without taking off your headphones.
Noise cancellation is enhanced by new polyurethane earcups (small, medium and large are all offered) designed for improved passive noise reduction.
Your one stop shop for controlling the WF-1000XM4, Sony’s fully featured and fully stable headphone program. Here’s where you can try fiddling with all the features (both big and small) that are partially duplicated on the capacitive touch surface of any headphone.
In this app you can decide what you want the left and right headphones to control: “volume up/down”, “play/pause/skip forward/skip back/summon voice assistant”, “active noise cancellation on/off” /adaptive, or “nothing set” is less useful.
There’s also EQ adjustment (multiple presets, including one racyly titled “Excited”), with room for a custom preset or two, and the option to turn auto-stop and DSEE Extreme on or off.
Here’s where you can also submit images of your ears to help Sony optimize music streaming apps that offer 360 Reality Audio or Dolby Atmos, and where you can decide if you want your Bluetooth connection to improve audio quality. Prioritize or not.
The Sony wf-1000xm4 headphones have some features that were first introduced in the Sony WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones.
Control is also available via the big three voice assistants – Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa – which can be summoned via their established “wake” words. No matter your assistant of choice, the WF-1000XM4 shows a keen and alert ear for instructions, even in noisy environments.
There are three microphones in each headphone that take care of active noise cancellation, call quality and interaction with voice assistants.
A combination of feed-forward and feedback microphones record the user’s voice directionally (from the mouth), although the feed-forward microphones automatically turn off if they detect unfavorable conditions (most likely wind noise). Sony has also included a bone conduction sensor that picks up sound vibration, but doesn’t register it as ambient sound.
Sony WF-1000XM4: Audio performance and noise cancellation
Balanced, driving, balanced and compelling sound
Very good noise cancellation
Excellent dynamic and rhythmic ability
Inserting the WF-1000XM4 comfortably takes a bit longer than it really should – we found them a bit flimsy and felt like they should sit deeper in the ear than they actually are – but once you’re done you can use the touch controls. Adjust it. , EQ levels and thousands of other options to your liking. it’s all over? Well, it’s time to put some music on it
We started our test with Tidal Masters Burner by Ross From Friends and the WF-1000XM4 was immediately impressed. They don’t give any area of the frequency range undue prominence, they don’t let any detail go unnoticed, and they don’t let rhythms or tempos hang around. There is liveliness and passion in their delivery, but it is tempered by incontrovertible control.
At the bottom end, the bass-heavy sound of the headphones comes with materials, textures, and an array of details. Power and acceleration can be skimped here, but the WF-1000XM4 never misses out on performance – it’s just as much to go with. The entry and exit of bass notes is clean and well-defined, which helps prevent the low end from smudging the mids.
The midrange itself is equally rich in information—listening to Keith Busch’s Lake Tahoe, the WF-1000XM4’s ability to pick up and incorporate the smallest details or fleeting events into a much larger picture was evident. “Relatable” might seem like a redundant word when discussing someone’s vocal sound, but it’s entirely appropriate here: if they’re anything, the WF-1000XM4 communicate.
The transition from the midrange to the top end is smooth and natural, and the treble itself has plenty of sparkle and bite without shouting about it. Both Keith Bosch and Ross Frends are happy to collect high-frequency information, but the WF-1000XM4 handle it as deftly as they handle the rest of the frequency range.
(It should be noted that all of the above assumes an unchanged EQ setting. Sony is a little unusual in letting the end user tinker with the sound of their headphones, but the most natural and convincing sound comes from the WF-1000XM4. come when their EQ is flat.)
Dynamically, too, there’s little to criticize. The WF-1000XM4 can go from “ear-shattering” to “almost silent” and back again in an instant, and even the subtlest harmonic dynamics of Bosch’s piano playing are detailed.
As far as precision and rhythmic expression are concerned, their combination of control and attack ensures that, like James Brown, they are always on their feet. All this does not end with the convincing natural timing and unity of the auxiliary presentation.
Active noise cancellation is a somewhat qualified success. The problem with any pair of true wireless ANC headphones is that the Bose QuietComfort headphones have shown that they can completely reject external sounds without leaving any crosstalk and affecting the quality of the music you’re listening to.
The WF-1000XM4 can’t do quite the same trick – but it certainly minimizes the impact of ambient noise on your listening experience. They may not be the market leader when it comes to noise cancellation, but for most people, most of the time, they are very capable.
Sony WF-1000XM4: Battery life and connectivity
Eight hours of battery life
Even in the new, reduced physical dimensions of the WF-1000XM4, there’s a lot more going on than before. Connectivity is now via Bluetooth 5.2, which means simultaneous transmission to left and right headphones, and (when using Sony’s custom LDAC codec) Hi-Res Audio Wireless certification.
Bluetooth 5.2 should in theory also mean better battery life – but the real-world best is 24 hours (between 8 and 12 hours in headphones, depending on whether active noise cancellation is on or off, plus a few more hours). ) is really nothing special. However, at least the WF-1000XM4 is compatible with a Qi charging pad, plugging in for five minutes, running for another hour.
In addition to LDAC, the WF-1000XM4 is compatible with both SBC and AAC codecs – but there’s no sign of aptX on either side. They also feature DSEE Extreme, if you believe the algorithm that’s supposedly capable of extracting high-resolution audio from a standard-definition digital audio file (we’ve never been entirely convinced).
Should I buy the Sony WF-1000XM4 Wireless Headphones?
Buy them if…
You need the best all-around true wireless headphones
The WF-1000XM4 can be beaten (just slightly) for sound quality, noise reduction and for comfort – but only by a mix of alternative models.
You know when you’re using a great control program
The Sony headphone program is a complete program of stability, performance and overall usefulness.
You love the little things in life
“Speak to chat”. “Rapid attention” adaptive noise cancellation. IPX4. The WF-1000XM4 just wants to make your life easier.
Don’t buy them if…
Noise reduction is more important than sound quality
Taken on its own, the WF-1000XM4 cancels noise well. But other true wireless buds notably the Bose QuietComfort headphones do it better.
You are away from an outlet for a long time
24 hour battery life isn’t bad at best, but nothing special either.
You’d think aptX is the pinnacle of wireless audio quality
Sony disagrees, but its LDAC is a good alternative and is supported by most newer Android phones (sorry, iPhone users).
Not convinced by our Sony WF-1000XM4 review? Here are three more pairs of true wireless headphones to consider.