Sony WF-1000XM4, review: TWS headphones ‘final boss’ is going to be tough to topple

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Sony has an impeccable track record when it comes to completely wireless sound. The Japanese company always manages to make its headphones, whether headband or TWS, surprise us and set the bar for sound quality and noise cancellation a little higher. With the Sony WF-1000XM4, how could it be otherwise, they have done it again.

And it is that in Engadget we have already had the opportunity to test long and hard the new Sony WF-1000XM4, headphones that, leaving aside how complicated it is to write their name, have surprised us in each and every one of the aspects . They are expensive, yes, but they are heard of scandal and they cancel the noise like never before. But let’s get to the point: here is the Sony WF-1000XM4 review.

Sony WF-1000XM4 datasheet

 

SONY WF-1000XM4

DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT

N / A

DIAPHRAGM UNIT

6 mm

SOUND

Support LDAC
Hi-Res Audio
DSEE Extreme
DAC + ASP 24 bit

CONNECTION

Bluetooth 5.2

COMPATIBILITY

iOS, Android

DRUMS

N / A

AUTONOMY

Headphones: up to 8 hours with ANC
Case: up to 24 hours

CHARGING THE CASE

USB type C
Qi wireless charging

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

Active noise cancellation
Speak to chat
Position detection
Fast charging
IPX4 resistance
3 x microphones
Gesture control
Google Fast Pair
Adaptive sound

PRICE

279 euros

Design: large, but very comfortable

We start with the design. The headphones have nothing to do with the 1000XM3, but Sony has managed to be somewhat more sneaky and somewhat less bulky (although that does not mean that they are not big, because they are). According to Sony, the headphones occupy 10% less volume and the case 40% less, although we will talk about the case later.

The headphones are made of plastic, but superlative plastic . They are very pleasant to the touch and feel robust. The ones that we have had the opportunity to try are silver (with copper nuances), although those who prefer the Sony aesthetic (black with copper touches) can also get them in that color.

Spread throughout the headphones we have the touch surface to make gestures, the position sensor, the charging pins and three microphones, two of them with a noise sensor (one for advance feeding and another for feedback). What are they for? To give life to noise cancellation, for calls and to detect our voice.

The headphones are really comfortable, more than I expected when I took them out of the box and saw their peculiar covers. As we already know, when we wear TWS headphones it is important that we test all the ear pads that come in the box to find the one that best suits our ear. It’s not just a matter of comfort, that too, but passive noise cancellation.

Note that whenever we talk about these pads we talk about “silicone pads / covers”, but not this time. And is that the covers of the Sony WF-1000XM4 are not silicone, but polyurethane . They are very voluminous covers, with a certain resistance to pressure and whose objective is to adapt perfectly to our ear, and they more than achieve it.

The new covers are more resistant and fit better on the ear, since when they are inserted into our ear canal, they adapt to its shape and seal it by means of a wider contact surface . Inside they are full of small bubbles that make the external sound bounce many times, so that it is canceled. They are very comfortable, they seal of scandal and I would not be surprised if, little by little, we began to see more of them in high-end headphones.

In short, they are headphones that without being the most concealed on the market, are very comfortable and do not bother the least when we wear them for a long time. Sony has managed to reduce its volume, innovate in something as seemingly insignificant as the pads and the whole has been round. We have no complaints other than that if you don’t like big headphones, here are two mugs.

Moving on to the case, the first thing we will notice from the previous generation is that it is significantly smaller. The Sony WF-1000XM3 had a huge case that showed a lot in the pocket. The WF-1000XM4, however, have a 40% less bulky case that is appreciated when we carry it in our pocket.

It’s relatively light, although heavier than other high-end headphones like Huawei’s AirPods Pro or FreeBuds Pro. It’s nice to the touch, just like headphones. Yes, it is made of plastic, but it feels well polished and is smooth. The lid has a magnetic closure that prevents it from opening with a sudden movement or by accident and, in short, we liked it.

In the back we have the USB type C port, in the front an LED that indicates the battery charge status and in the lower part the wireless charging base. We don’t have any buttons or anything like that. The case is simple, functional and does the job: transport and load.

Experience: loaded with features

We thus go on to talk about the experience, the section in which we focus on compatibility, the app and additional functions. Here it is convenient to make a small paragraph, and it is that for this analysis we have had to use the beta of Sony Headphones on iOS , although that does not mean that the headphones are not compatible with Android, computers and other Bluetooth devices, because they are.

The Sony WF-1000XM4 are compatible with Google Fast Pair and with the three main voice assistants on the market (Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa; the latter two can be activated with the keyword “Alexa” and / or “Ok Google”) . Not only that, but they are loaded with additional features that seek to automate the way the headphones behave.

But first of all, let’s go with the gestures. The headphones allow us to interact with the mobile, manage the sound mode and control playback through gestures . From the app we can configure what type of control we want in each headset (ambient sound, playback and volume), but not modify the action that each gesture does. The ones we have available are the following:

ONE TOUCHTWO TOUCHESTHREE TOUCHESPULSATION
AMBIENT SOUND CONTROLToggle modesAccept callFast attention
PLAYBACK CONTROLPlay / pauseNext song
Accept call
End call
Previous songVoice assistant
Reject call
Transfer call
VOLUME CONTROLIncrease volumeReduce volume
Transfer call

Gestures are detected without any problem . It’s a shame we can’t modify the system in a more granular way, but what we have works. We have not noticed lag of any kind or have suffered from ghost touches (thanks, in part, to the fact that the polyurethane covers secure the headphones well enough that we didn’t have to reposition ourselves).

We have also not experienced latency when using the headphones to watch videos, movies or play games. Come on, they are high-end headphones and they behave as such. In any case, these are the basic functions, so let’s dive into the more advanced functions.

On the one hand, the headphones have automatic wind detection , so when they detect that the wind is stronger than expected, they cancel it without us having to do anything. That’s possible thanks to the advance feed mic found on the outside.

On the other hand, the headphones have adaptive sound control . This function is used to detect what we are doing (we are still, walking, running or in public transport) and adapts the sound settings automatically. For example, if we are standing still the ANC is activated, while if we walk the ambient sound is activated at a certain level or if we run it is activated to the maximum.

The four modes are configurable and modifiable , so that we can configure the walk mode so that it has more or less noise suppression, for example. The system works in fear, it is almost magic. It is enough that we get up from the chair and go for water so that the headphones detect that we have started to walk and activate the corresponding mode. In any case, if this function does not matter to you, it can be disabled .

This same function can also be done with geolocation. And that’s pretty cool. The app uses our GPS location (although we can add the location manually using a map) to determine where we are (office, home …) and adapt the sound mode according to the place . In this way, we can configure that there is a certain ambient sound in the office and complete noise cancellation at home.

Another interesting function is ” Speak to chat “. Basically, the headphones detect when we start talking and automatically pause so that we can carry on a conversation without removing the headphones. Again, it is something that works of scandal (perhaps too much).

The sensitivity is very high by default and detects that we are speaking when we start singing softly or humming. We can modify it to be less sensitive and we can even customize the time that passes until they are activated again (five, 15 or 30 seconds).

For the rest, from the app we can access an equalizer (minipoint), the battery of the headphones and the case, the 360 Reality Audio configuration (which requires compatible apps) and everything related to the software, the sensor position and voice guidance (which can be put in Spanish). In short, a very complete app and go-go functions that result in a very positive experience.

Sound quality: a delight

But let’s move on to the (first) mother of the lamb in these headphones: the sound quality. The Sony WF-1000XM4 features a six-millimeter driver with a 20% larger magnet, an integrated V1 processor for noise cancellation, and two things audiophiles will appreciate: LDAC and Hi-res Wireless support, as well as DSEE. Extreme, a system that resizes any high-resolution audio source.

That is, the headphones are compatible with high-definition sound, as long as the device to which we have it connected also has the necessary codecs. It should be noted that this does not happen in all cases, so we can access better or worse sound quality depending on the mobile / device we use.

In any case, the sound quality of the Sony WF-1000XM4 is exceptional , delicious and the best we have experienced to date in TWS headphones. They are the TWS headphones to beat in sound quality. They are heard in fear. The representation of the mid and high frequencies, which are usually the most complicated, is fantastic, and the bass is very defined. They have that punch that they like so much, but without being exaggerated.

Sony Wf 1000xm4 14

It is a very balanced sound, very enjoyable . You can distinguish the nuances of the singers’ voices with a high level of detail, the sound scene is well represented and it is a pleasure to listen to music, podcasts or anything, really. If anyone wants to modify the playback, he has the equalizer at his complete disposal to do so without knowing what he is playing.The Sony WF-1000XM4 are outstanding completely wireless headphones

It is one of those things that is difficult to explain in words. For example, in rock songs we can easily distinguish guitars and basses, while in songs of more urban genres we can enjoy the nuances deeper and the punch of the bass. They are, in a nutshell, outstanding headphones .

When we make a call the sound is equally clear . When we use the two headphones, the microphones are used for calls and feed-forward of the right earphone, by the way. In other words, the microphones of the two headphones are not activated. If we carry only one headset, the microphones of that headset will be used.

Noise cancellation: the rival to beat

Sony Wf 1000xm4 4

If we have loved the sound quality, the noise cancellation has done it to the same level . When we are listening to music, the headphones use the feed-forward microphones (outside) and the feedback microphones (inside) to cancel the noise.

In addition, Sony has implemented a new chip that significantly improves noise cancellation at both the highest and lowest frequencies. The result? Simply fabulous . I have already tried headphones capable of canceling the sound of my mechanical keyboard a lot (like the Jabra Elite 85T or the OPPO Enco X), but the Sony ones have managed to make me not hear it at all.Noise cancellation is so powerful that it cancels even the sound of a mechanical keyboard

It’s amazing. We can, for example, snap our fingers a meter from us and we will not hear the sound . It completely cancels all the sounds of home (a greeting to the work that is at the bottom of my block) and those of the street, such as cars and conversations at a short-medium distance. I said, impressive.

On a personal note, I have had the opportunity to test most of the high-end TWS headphones that have been launched recently, such as the Galaxy Buds Pro, the FreeBuds Pro, the AirPods Pro, the Jabra Elite 85t or the OPPO Enco X and I can to say without fear of being wrong that the Sony WF-1000XM4 has managed to surpass them all. I take my hat off.

Drums: raising the bar

Sony Wf 1000xm4 9

Normally, when TWS headphones offer features like these we tend to have to suffer a lower autonomy than the account. Well that’s not the case, not at all. The battery of the Sony WF-1000XM4 is sensational. It’s pretty easy to beat seven and a half hours of continuous music playback with ANC on , a figure we’ve only seen on some more basic headphones without active noise cancellation so far. Sony promises eight hours, so we can say that the Japanese firm is true to its word.

If we deactivate the noise cancellation we aspire to achieve up to 12 hours of autonomy, but I am honest: having this autonomy it seems absurd to deactivate a function that shines so brilliantly. My recommendation: leave it on and enjoy the headphones . If we take into account the battery in the case, we aim for a maximum autonomy of 24 hours and between two or three full charges of the headphones.

Speaking of the case, it has a fast charging function that in five minutes allows you to achieve up to an hour of autonomy. It is charged by USB type C port and, finally, it supports Qi wireless charging . Of course, let’s not forget that this load is somewhat slower. Be that as it may, let’s stick with the idea that the drums are outstanding.

Sony WF-1000XM4, the opinion of Engadget

At this point, the truth is that we can only have good words for the Sony WF-1000XM4. They are exceptional headphones. They are ergonomic, offer outstanding sound quality, noise cancellation is wonderful and the battery allows us to use them for long sessions without having to worry. They are everything we could ask for from high-end completely wireless headphones.To this day, the Sony WF-1000XM4 are the best TWS headphones on the market

Moreover, if we take a look at the analysis of the Sony WF-1000XM3 we will see that the two drawbacks that we get are that the app did not have an indicator for the battery of the case and that the base of the case was not flat. Those two things have been fixed and, along the way, something that was already excellent has been improved. The Sony WF-1000XM4 are the best TWS headphones that we can buy right now, as long as we are willing to pay their price of 279 euros.

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