Sony WF-1000XM4 assessment: the best-sounding noise-cancelling earbuds

Sony’s newest top-of-the-range noise-cancelling earbuds are a reduce above the former technology and the contest.

Costing £250 ($279.99/A$449.99), the WF-1000XM4 are top class true wi-fi earbuds that pass toe to toe with the likes of the Apple AirPods Professional, Jabra Elite 85t and Samsung Galaxy Buds Professional.

They’re the successors to the WF-1000XM3, that have been nice however massive. Sony has considerably shriveled the case and earbuds for the mark four fashion with out sacrificing efficiency.

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The redesigned earbuds are 10% smaller and are compatible a lot more securely, with three sizes of very good foam-based earbud pointers. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Dad or mum

The earbuds are reasonably heavy, weighing 7.3g every, in comparison with the 5.4g AirPods Professional, however they don’t really feel so within the ear, and they’re comfy for hours of listening with no damage.

They don’t have stalks however protrude additional than some slimmer opponents. The earbuds are sweat-resistant however don’t have any further attachments to stay them in position except the earbud tip, so I might no longer counsel them for operating.

Case and battery

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The case is 40% smaller and a lot more pocketable than its predecessor, making it very similar to the perfect to be had, however the gray fashion alternatives up blue staining from denims actually simply. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Dad or mum

The earbuds last more than maximum competition: simply shy of eight hours of tune with noise cancelling, as much as 12 hours with out it, or about 5.5 hours of communicate time. The case totally fees the earbuds two times for a complete of no less than 24 hours of listening.

The case is charged by means of USB-C or Qi wi-fi charging in about 90 mins, whilst a five-minute price of the earbuds when empty is sufficient for 60 mins of tune.

Specs

  • Water resistance: IPX4 (sweat)

  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2, SBC, AAC, LDAC

  • Battery existence: 8 hours with ANC/5.5 hours communicate, as much as 24 hours with case

  • Earbud weight: 7.3g

  • Motive force dimension: 6mm

  • Charging case weight: 40g

  • Case charging: USB-C, Qi wi-fi charging

Connectivity and controls

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The contact panel at the out of doors of every bud helps unmarried, double, triple and tap-and-hold gesture controls. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Dad or mum

The earbuds have Rapid Pair with Android, Swift Pair with Home windows PCs or same old pairing with Apple and different gadgets. They make stronger the common SBC and AAC Bluetooth audio codecs utilized by maximum gadgets. However like Sony’s high-end over-ear headphones, the XM4 make stronger the high-resolution LDAC audio layout this is appropriate with many Android gadgets for one of the highest-quality Bluetooth audio to be had, making them one of the first earbuds to take action.

They just connect with one tool at a time, however can seamlessly transfer between them with no need to manually disconnect from every one first. The relationship to a Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely, iPhone 12 Professional and Floor Professional 7 used to be rock-solid in the house and in the street. Trying out in congested spaces used to be no longer conceivable, on the other hand, as a result of the Covid-19 state of affairs in the United Kingdom.

The very good Headphones Attach app on Android and iOS handles sound modes, the equaliser, settings and updates, and displays the battery stage of the earbuds and case.

The tune pauses/performs when eliminating one earbud. Every aspect can keep an eye on both noise cancelling, quantity or playback by means of the contact panel. The faucet gestures paintings nice, however you’re restricted to just two units of controls at a time. Via opting for to regulate the quantity at the left earbud and playback at the proper, I couldn’t flip noise cancelling off and on with out the use of the app.

The earbuds have integrated make stronger for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, together with get entry to by means of their wake phrases (“Good day Google” or “Alexa”) or a long-press of the earbud, or elementary get entry to to Siri on an iPhone.

Good sound

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The sound high quality and stability of the earbuds is peak notch. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Dad or mum

The XM4 are one of the very best-sounding true wi-fi earbuds you’ll be able to get. Very similar to their predecessors, they produce this kind of glowing, detailed and wealthy audio that permits you to pay attention new issues in longtime favorite tracks.

They’re smartly balanced, generating complete however no longer overly bass-heavy sound that fits maximum tune genres, even supposing should you crank up the “clean bass” atmosphere, you’ll be able to definitely really feel it. Highs are detailed and exact, mids are robust and heat, and vocals are super-clear. They’ve very good separation of tools and maintain advanced overlapping tones rather well.

You’ll be able to tweak the sound on your private personal tastes with a complete equaliser to be had within the Headphones Attach app. Sony’s DSEE Excessive machine, which improves the sound of compressed audio the use of AI, works actually smartly, too, for tune streamed by means of SBC or AAC Bluetooth audio layout, however reduces battery existence by means of about an hour.

Efficient lively noise cancelling

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An automated wind-noise reducer labored rather well, one thing the XM4’s predecessors struggled to maintain. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Dad or mum

The XM4 have top-of-the-line noise cancelling of any earbuds I’ve examined, coming very as regards to the efficiency of the perfect massive, over-ear noise-cancelling headphones from Bose and Sony. The brand new V1 chip beats their predecessors, successfully eliminating or decreasing noise around the board, whether or not the sound of fanatics, engine rumble or speech, making it simple to hear tune at decrease volumes.

They had been specifically efficient at blocking off automotive noise in the street, so I might counsel the use of their very good ambient sound mode. You’ll be able to set how a lot noise is let in on a sliding scale, or transfer them to concentrate on voice so you’ll be able to pay attention other folks however block different noise. An adaptive sound mode could make those adjustments robotically in keeping with noise and your location the use of the Headphones Attach app.

Sustainability

Sony does no longer supply an anticipated lifespan for the batteries within the earbuds or case. Batteries in equivalent merchandise normally remaining for no less than 500 full-charge cycles whilst keeping up no less than 80% in their unique capability. Like the vast majority of true wi-fi earbuds, the WF-1000XM4 don’t seem to be repairable and the battery can’t be changed, in the end making them disposable.

Sony didn’t touch upon using recycled fabrics and does no longer put up environmental affect experiences for headphones. It publishes annual sustainability experiences and its roadmap to have 0 environmental affect by means of 2050.

Observations

  • They make stronger Sony’s 360 Fact Audio machine for surround-sound-like tune, however best with sure apps equivalent to Amazon Tune HD and Tidal, and no longer Spotify.

  • Name high quality used to be just right, with minimum background noise, however my voice changed into reasonably muffled in louder environments.

  • A speak-to-chat serve as can discover if you find yourself talking to robotically flip at the ambient sound mode or faucet and keep the touchpad to temporarily flip it directly to concentrate for bulletins.

Worth

The Sony WF-1000XM4 price £250/$279.99/A$449.95 and are available black or gray.

For comparability, the Apple AirPods Professional have an RRP of £249, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Professional price £219, the Jabra Elite 85t price £219.99 and the (*19*)Bose QC Earbuds price £249.95.

Verdict

The Sony WF-1000XM4 are one of the ideally suited sounding, best noise-cancelling Bluetooth earbuds cash should buy.

They nonetheless have a horrible identify, however are smaller, more uncomplicated to suit and extra comfy, last more and are a lot more pocketable than their best-in-class predecessors. They make stronger the hi-res LDAC Bluetooth layout with Android, which is uncommon for earbuds, and sound simply as just right with iPhones and different gadgets.

The controls paintings nice, however it will be great so that you can modify noise cancelling similtaneously quantity and playback. At £250 they aren’t affordable, however fit many peak competition. The worst factor is that they’re unrepairable and the battery can’t be changed when it wears out, in the end making them disposable and shedding them a celeb.

Professionals: Good sound, very efficient noise cancelling, just right ambient sound modes, lengthy battery existence, long-term convenience, stable connectivity, complete EQ, Google Assistant, Alexa, pocketable case, cross-platform app make stronger.

Cons: Large for earbuds, pricey, can’t keep an eye on the whole thing on the identical time from the gesture panel, mic can sound muffled in loud puts, no further wings to carry them in for operating.

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The Headphones Attach app can notify you when the case battery drops beneath 30% so that you don’t omit to price it. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Dad or mum

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