Sony WH-1000XM4 Review

Sony WH-1000XM4 Review [October 2023]: Top 19 Things You Must Know

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Sony WH-1000XM4 Review, the ultimate headphone. But, does it meet users’ expectations?

The Sony WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones came into the audio market segment sometime after its predecessor WH-1000XM3.

In fact, we have classified the Sony WH-1000XM4 as one of the best premium wireless earbuds in our list of the 11 Best Premium Wireless Earbuds.

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Sony WF-1000XM4-Truly Wireless Earbuds

Delivers great bass sound at an affordable price. Very good choice for mixing, listening and audio recording. Closed-back headphones have a strong build and design. Offer reasonably comfortable ear cups.

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1. Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: What is in the Box

When you bring home a pair of Sony WH- 1000XM4 over-ear headphones, you will get the following basic articles in the box with the headset itself.

  • Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones
  • 1/8″ TRS cable
  • USB-C to USB-A charging cable
  • Airplane adapter
  • instructions manuals
  • Carry case

2. Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: When Did it Release?

Sony launched its WH-1000XM3 models in 2018. And they are widely regarded as one of the best wireless active noise-canceling headphones available in the audio segment market.

For me, it was the first premium brand headphones, or say simply from Sony, I purchased. Back then it was a big tussle with the very famous Bose’s active noise cancellation in terms of price band and overall performance.

But, Sony must have realized within two years of the launch of the Sony WH-1000XM3 that the much ambitious headphones becoming obsolete.

Therefore, in August 2020, the company came up with the much-anticipated model, Sony WH-1000XM4 with few changes in features.

3. Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: Design and Build

Sony hasn’t brought drastic changes with the WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones, but I could see a few nuances here and there.

Noticeably, the plastic material used to build ear cups and headband slider feels a little textured. This is the first change I find in comparison to its predecessor the WH-XM3, which is smooth.

For me, this is a welcome change that looks impressive and a little more robust. The WH-1000XM4 uses the same 40mm drivers as its foregoing sibling and has the same finish.

At the time of writing this article, I found the brand has two colors to pick from, black and platinum Silver. Changes have been made to the hanger portion of the headphones. That is a hinged yoke that hangs down and connects to the earcups.

The distance between the hangar and the shell has been shortened to create a more seamless look. Sony has very intelligently reduced the space connecting to the earcups. This will help the headset reduce the potential sound leakage.

Coming to the earcups, the WH-1000XM4 has a thinner design, but the padding used is softer. I find these are actually larger than those of the XM3.

At the same time, the brand has made the head slightly slimmer. Overall, the XM4 is around one gram lighter than its predecessor and weighs 254g. It’s pretty impressive to see these XM4 headphones can be folded.

This makes them even more compact and slips right into your pocket. All these features together give a very comfortable fit.

When I put on the headphones over my head, I found enough pressure to grip my ears and create a tight seal without the headphones feeling too loose.

The power button, USB-C charging port, and 3.5mm headphone jack are all borrowed from the XM3. The Ambient/NC or noise canceling button is similar but renamed to custom in the XM4.

This may sound different but delivers the same functionalities.

Overall, the major of features are more or less the same as the WH-XM3.

4. Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: Features and Specifications

Sony has come up with a new sound processor in the WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones. The brand has switched from its DSEE HX to the new DSEE Extreme engine.

The engine works very well to upscale compressed music to high-resolution quality. I also found it very impressive that the device also features artificial intelligence technology called Edge-AI.

When tuning the pair of headphones, I really missed the aptX and aptX HD support. Nevertheless, Sony is compatible with its own LDAC technology.

This allows music enthusiasts to stream high-quality audio wirelessly from a compatible source. This also includes select Android smartphones running Android v8.0 or above.

If you subscribe to a streaming service that supports tracks encoded in Sony 360 Reality Audio, the WH-1000M4 can also be used to experience the immersive audio format.

I did see the Quick Attention feature in the XM3. This would help cover the right earcup with my hand to hold a conversation, and carries across.

But, there is an excellent improvement in the conversational skills of the WH-1000XM4. You can now engage in “Speak to Chat”. This is a feature that allows you to talk to someone while the headphones are still on your head.

For that, you don’t need to move a muscle. The headphones recognize that you are talking and will stop playback. Therefore, switch to their Ambient Sound mode. It’s a neat party trick and it works pretty well.

However, I find it a little annoying that there is a slight delay between the start of speaking and when the mode is turned on. And I am sure, I would like to shorten this.

It’s very easy to adjust the Speak-to-chat sensitivity in the Sony Headphones Connect app. This prevents accidental triggers. I tried to trigger the feature with a cough and enthusiastic music.

But you can simply slide your finger up and down on the right touchpad to get back to the music.

With wear detection, the headphones use proximity sensors and accelerometers on each earcup to pause playback when you take them off.

Similarly, they automatically resume playback when you put them back on. These features are also found in other headphones and these are good to have.

5. Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: Battery Life

I didn’t find a very exciting change in this department. The battery life the Sony WH- 1000XM4 headphones offer is 30 hours with ANC on and 38 hours with ANC off.

You may find it insufficient and might also have complaints. But, to be honest with you, I found it’s more than enough playtime.

You need not worry even if you have a plan for a long journey say for example 20 hours of travel.

You gotta enough entertainment on a long flight. If you are fond of YouTube during a taxi ride, to and from the airport, you still have spare power to consume.

Based on my testing, the rated time is about an hour, and my pair lasted about 29 hours when I listened with ANC on.

The loud volume, heavy streaming, and extra features didn’t affect my game time. So I have to give Sony credit for doing an admirable job with battery management.

I got over 15 hours of use over the weekend after that, battery life remained steady at 45%. Fast charging gives me 5 hours of playtime on a 10-minute charge.

So the low-battery worries are no worries as well!

6. Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: Wearing Comfort

Sony is improving comfort and fit with each new release in the series, and this trend continues.

It feels light. Sure, Sony’s can is wider, but that doesn’t affect comfort. I put these headphones over my head for more than 3 hours every day over a 5-days a week with no issues.

The headband rested gently on my skull with very little clamping force.

When the extenders get adjusted to the correct length, the headphones remained stable. This happens with a notch or two up when my head nodded into the jam.

The wide cutouts allow for better ventilation. So, it prevents moisture from building up during long listening sessions.

7. Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: Is It Audiophile Headphone?

Are the Sony WH-XM4 audiophile over-ear headphones? No, these are not audiophile headsets.

The XM4 delivers good details and image clarity. These are not exceptional. This is what you’d get from a feature-packed headphone like this.

There are other counterparts that can match up its details and clarity in a similar price range. The comparison may not look very justifiable. But, it’s a healthy comparison.

The XM4’s active noise canceling feature works very well. When you turn on noise canceling, the XM4 will improve the clarity of the music.

But it depends on how well it removes the noise floor. The   WH-XM4 are by no means audiophile headphones when it comes to details and technology.

8. Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: Listening to Music

Comparing the WH-1000XM4 with more important listening-focused over-ear headphones is not very fair.  These headphones do not fall in the same category as the latter ones.

But, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is the best all-around headphones. They follow the major features of their predecessor. And make a mark in their all-round performance.

Not only does it deliver great sound and great noise cancellation, but it also does it all wirelessly.

There are other over-ear headphones on my list that offer superior sound quality.

The WH-1000XM4 manages to offer the best balance of features and performance. They don’t look much different than headphones.

They have a range of new features like multipoint pairing, DSEE Extreme upscaling, and speech recognition. They also have autoplay/pause with built-in sensors.

So, they offer a very listening experience without a significant price point.

These are premium over-ear headphones and compete well with other premium brands.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 wireless over-ear headphones are a great all-around choice. These are good for anyone who listens to music on the go.

9. Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: The Sound Quality

The Sony WH-1000XM4 delivers a lovely deep bass sound profile. It is very impressive to thumping drones, rumbles, and drones mix. If you are an EDM and hip-hop lover, you will love it.

But, for others, it may sound a little muddy. You can use the companion app’s graphic EQ and presets. This helps to fine-tune the sound profile as you like.

The sound quality of the Sony WH-1000XM4 is one of the subtleties that Sony has improved over its predecessor. I’m not saying the XM3 sounds bad. It sounds great. The

I tried these headsets to listen to a few delicate performances. And the bass is perfect for these delicate performances. The bass reaches just the right amount of volume.

I could clearly feel variations of the rumble throughout the intro in Pixel Empire’s opening rumble by Madeon. The same attention to detail carries over to the mids.

Overall, the WH- 1000XM4 delivers a very balanced sound. Music lovers will enjoy it thoroughly.

10. Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: The Performance of the Microphone?

The Sony WH-1000XM4 has a built-in microphone. And that is excellent, and there’s not much difference here. There is a slight roll-off at low frequencies. This is common in Bluetooth headphones.

But it’s more noticeable than in previous versions. Still, it should be enough to complete a phone call or Zoom meeting.

If you’re looking for wireless over-ear headphones with a boom mic, the Jabra Evolve2 85 is one of the best options.

The Sony WH-1000XM4’s microphone recording quality is good. This voice is thin, muffled. I feel some lag in details to the person on the other end of the phone.

11. Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: Connect App and its Use

The Sony WH- 1000XM4 Headphone Connect app performs very well. It offers plenty of customization features, including a graphic EQ and presets. This lets you tweak the sound to your best liking.

The app lets you see which devices are connected to your headphones. You can toggle between auto-off and toggle the “Smart Pause” feature to pause audio. This functionality works when you remove the headphones from your head.

You can also remap controls like ANC and voice assistant to your liking and access Sony’s 360 Reality Audio feature.

But you’ll need to subscribe to a service that supports this feature. To be able to stay connected, there are also some new features. These are only accessible if you download the Sony Headphones Connect app.

When Speak-to-chat functionality is turned on, the music will pause when the headphones detect you are speaking.

The feature works. But, there is a fine line between useful and annoying. Meaning sensitivity of the detection.

For example, when I’m listening to a podcast and I’m giggling at a joke. Here the WH-1000XM4 pauses the media.

It may be useful for some users. But, I didn’t find it very pleasing.

12. Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: Wireless Connectivity

The Sony WH- 1000XM4 over-ear headphones are fairly rated in terms of wireless connectivity. This is a pretty good result for a wireless headset.

But for me, the Sony WH-1000XM4 has excellent Bluetooth connectivity. It supports Bluetooth 5.0 and supports NFC.

So, you can easily pair it with your smartphone. Unlike its predecessor, the Sony WH-1000XM3, you can easily pair with up to two devices at once.

When you the headset to your PC, it increases latency. This is the area I find a little annoying.

There are some apps that make up for the lag, but they may not be the best choice for watching videos and movies on this device.

But, they deliver lower latency on iOS and Android devices. And on these devices, audio and visuals stay in sync.

These headphones also support Sony’s own Hi-Res codec. The LDAC offers better audio quality than Bluetooth.

13. Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: Connecting to PC

It’s well known to all users the Sony WH-1000XM4 works wirelessly with a Bluetooth-enabled PC.

It can also be used with an analog connection, but it can only receive audio, so the microphone cannot be used.

These headphones come with a 1/8″ TRS cable for receiving audio. However, this means that the microphone cannot be used.

14. Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: Good for Gaming?

I tested the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones with PS4 or PS5. Since they come with a 1/8″ TRS cable, can only receive audio when you connect with their controller’s audio jack.

You can connect the Sony WH-1000XM4 to an Xbox One or Xbox Series X controller with an audio cable. But, this doesn’t let you use the microphone and also increases latency on PCs.

So, some apps compensate for the delay. But these headsets are not the best choice for PC gaming.

15. Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: How Does It Pair with Devices?

It’s very easy to pair the Sony WH-1000XM4 with compatible devices. It’s as simple as tapping the phone behind the NFC logo on the left earcup. This follows the prompts on your smartphone.

If your phone doesn’t have NFC, you’ll have to go into your Bluetooth settings and pair it in the traditional method.

To pair the headset for the first time follow the steps:

  1. Press and hold the power button to turn on the headphones.
  2. The first time you do this, the headphones will automatically enter pairing mode.
  3. Now you need to go to the Bluetooth settings on your device. Look for WH-1000XM4 in the list.
  4. Tap it to connect.

The process is similar to pairing a second device. But, since the headphones are already paired with another device, they don’t automatically go into pairing mode when powered on

Pairing with a second device:

  1. Turn off your headphones.
  2. As before, press and hold the power button to turn on the headphones, but this time don’t release until you hear a pairing tone.
  3. Go to the Bluetooth settings on your second device.
  4. Click WH-1000XM4 to connect.

If this method doesn’t work for you, you can also enable 2nd device pairing in the Sony Headphones Connect app and add a 2nd device from the app.

Make sure the Status tab shows both devices that you want to connect.

16. Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: Noise-Cancellation?

If you already have a pair of WH-1000XM4 headphones, you must be very happy. If you want to buy better noise-canceling headsets, get the WH-1000XM4.

I congratulate the Sony team for making ANC even better than before. The Sony WH-1000XM4 does a great job at blocking out low-frequency sounds.

For example, the faint hum of an air conditioner or the constant roar of a jet engine. This quality is far better than most of their other counterparts.

This app has two other unique features. Optimized noise cancellation and 360-degree sound.

In fact, the noise cancellation is already great, but you can also use the app to tune it for any situation and air pressure.

You can hear what’s going on. If you in a flight, you can always order your favorite lunch from the friendly cabin crew in economy class. For that, place your hand on the right earcup for full passage.

17. Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: Custom Button Function

The controls on the Sony WH-1000XM4 are good. The right earcup has a touch-sensitive surface and the left earcup has two physical buttons.

A custom button on the left earcup controls the noise-canceling feature by default. But, it can also be configured using the app to enable the chat feature.

It’s very interesting. By default, the ANC is turned off during a call and the headphones switch to talk-through mode.

That’s not a big issue. You can return to ANC with a custom button function. Its touch-sensitive surface is very similar to that of the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones.

However, it’s easy to register accidental input to the touch controls when readjusting the headphones.

The controls also have impressive voice prompts. That makes them more interactive. This is an excellent option for users looking for an experience.

There is also Sony’s NC optimizer. You can run it before using the headphones for the first time. You can activate it by long pressing the custom button.

18. Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: Frequency Response

The Sony WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones are very popular in noise isolation. I love the frequency response they deliver. It’s very consistent.

One important factor for this seems to me is the headphone’s noise canceling feature. This is because it checks the consistency of the bass. And the bass is very consistent across all users.

Depending on where you place it on your head, it might perform a little differently, but it’s much less noticeable.

Sony produced noise-canceling headphones for years and made waves in the audio segment market. Indeed, the WH-1000XM4 can cancel out mid- and high-range sounds better than ever before.

The XM4 uses Sony’s HD noise canceling processor QN1 chip and dual noise sensor microphones to effectively cancel high and mid frequencies.

19. Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: How is Speak to Chat Feature

I am overwhelmed with the Speak-to-chat functionality. When this feature is turned on, the music will pause. This happens automatically when the headphones detect you are speaking.

The WH-1000XM4 is a very good competitor to its rival Bose. It offers multipoint connectivity, talk-to-chat functionality, and a host of other advanced software features.

Sony’s Headphones Connect app lets you adjust the Speak-to-chat sensitivity easily to prevent accidental triggering.

There’s a new mode called known as hands-free for quick attention. If someone comes up to you and wants to have a conversation, just start talking. The functionality delivers excellently well.

The sound will resume after a set time. Say for example, from 15 seconds up to 1 minute. Alternatively, you can manually resume by touching the earbuds.

The Quick Attention feature does the same thing when you wave your hand over the right earcup.

Meanwhile, the Speak to Chat feature uses a built-in microphone and advanced signal processing to recognize your voice and pause the music when you speak.

All three work very well with very low latency. The headphones feature Adaptive Sound Control, which automatically adjusts ambient sound settings based on your environment.

And Speak, which automatically pauses and lets you hear your surroundings when you stop for a quick chat.

Pros and Cons: The Good and Bad About Sony WH-1000XM4

Every audio device has some sort of flaws along with many excellent features. The Sony WH-1000XM4 earbuds also have their share of pros and cons.

Here are certain positives and negatives that I found in the Sony WH-1000XM4 review.

  • Excellent delivery of sound
  • Light-weight and comfortable
  • Multi-point connectivity
  • Bluetooth 5.0; SBC, AAC, LDAC, and wired playback
  • Very interactive speak-to-chat functionality
  • Doesn’t offer water-resistant features
  • Seems on a little higher side of the price
  • Battery life could be improved more
  • Custom button functionalities could be improved

Conclusion: Helping You Make Informed Decision Easy

The Sony WH-1000XM4 is one of the best wireless headphones in the audio segment market. If you’re looking for the best, you must have it in your shopping cart.

I wasn’t sure if Sony XM4 would bring improvement from its predecessor. It did with the WH-1000XM4. They are as comfortable as ever.

They introduced useful features that improve the user experience. More importantly, the sound quality is a lot better than the foregone sibling.

But, what about new models? Well, the Sony XM5 headphones are already out on the market. This does not feel as premium as the XM4.

But the XM4’s sound quality is pretty noticeable. Of course, you have to shell out a few bucks for it.

But, if you already own a Sony WH-1000XM3, I don’t see an absolute need to upgrade unless you need multipoint connectivity.

However, if you’re looking to invest in your first pair of great noise-canceling headphones, you will love them.

A: The Sony WH-1000XM4 earbuds feature industry-leading noise cancellation, high-resolution audio, touch controls, long battery life, and multipoint connectivity.

A: The earbuds use advanced Adaptive Sound Control to adjust noise cancellation based on your surroundings, ensuring optimal isolation from ambient noise for an immersive listening experience.

A: Yes, these earbuds support multipoint connectivity, allowing you to connect to two devices at once, such as a phone and a laptop, and switch between them seamlessly.

A: The earbuds offer up to 30 hours of playback time with noise cancellation activated, and even longer (up to 38 hours) in standard mode without noise cancellation.

A: Yes, these earbuds are compatible with voice assistants like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, enabling you to control music playback, answer calls, and access information hands-free.


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