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Sony WH-1000XM4 review

9.3/10 AVG.
RATING
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Specs / Features


Overview
Type Over-Ear
Volume Control Yes
Playback Control Yes
Noise Canceling Yes
Specification
Warranty (Months) 12 months
Release date August 21, 2020
Size 18.5 x 7.7 x 25.2 cm (7.3 x 3 x 9.9 in)
Weight 254 grams
(8.97 ounces)
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Reviews summary section

The "1-Minute" Review

Verdict

Combining stellar audio, effective noise cancelling, sleek design, and comfortable ear cups, Sony's WH-1000XM4 headphones offer everything you can ask for in a pair of noise-cancelling wireless headphones -- except water-resistance. So if you take the plunge, be sure to keep them well away from water.

What's good

  • Auto-pause when the headset is removed
  • Great noise cancellation
  • Outstanding audio quality

What's bad

  • Expensive
  • Call quality still needs improvement
  • No waterproofing

With competition in the noise-cancelling headphone market heating up, Sony hopes to retain its place near the top of the charts with the WH-1000XM4 -- the successor to the wildly popular WH-1000XM3. Does the new model improve on old weaknesses and is it worth buying? Reviewers are weighing in!

Design & Materials

Reviewers advised that when attempting to purchase these headphones be sure to examine the box closely because the packaging and appearance are identical to the previous model. Virtually nothing has changed, only a few tweaks on the inside of things. And that isn’t bad exactly, the WH-1000XM3 is still a stellar set of headphones.

That said, reviewers felt the rubberized texture of the WH-1000MX4 offered a premium feel when compared to the previous materials.

Comfort & Fit

Reviewers found the fit great. Offering a snugger fit than previous models, there we no issues with headphones slipping around while moving. Reviews note the average person will find these headphones stay in place great. But they probably won’t handle intense exercise well. Given they aren’t water-resistant, that’s probably not a horrible thing.

Sound

Sony went above and beyond with this headset for audio with reviewers calling them one of the best sounding active-noise cancelling headsets you can buy. Many stated they noticed parts of music they normally didn’t when using their WH-1000XM4s.

Whether you’re looking for punchy bass, a more balanced sound, or ultra-crisp voices, the earphones can deliver -- and you can even customize things further using the app available for iOS and Android devices.

Wireless Performance

Reviewers had no issues with sound quality, pairing, or hopping between devices with their WH-1000XM4s. You can also pair two devices for easy switching between your phone, tablet, computer, or other audio sources without having to do the whole unpair and re-pair dance.

Battery Life

Sony hasn’t changed anything here, reviewers stated that they could get around 50 hours with noise cancellation on and around 58 with it inactive. However, the use of USB Type-C now means you likely can charge your cans with the same cable you use for your phone, tablet, or laptop. Charging is quick, taking just a few hours.

Noise Cancellation

Sony has two microphones set up to analyze and cancel noise using the Dual Noise Sensor technology and a special chip. Their approach appears to work, with reviewers repeatedly praising how good the noise cancellation on these headphones works.

The app you use to customize noise cancellation settings for the headphones works great too. Reviewers were pleasantly surprised having so many options to choose from. You can set various profiles based on your activity to provide quiet while sitting still and working or reading but then automatically switch to a less aggressive noise cancelling profile when you’re moving to help you stay aware of your surroundings.

Other Features

Sony’s gesture controls have always made reviewers happy, and Sony didn’t change anything about them for the new model. Abilities such as tap to pause, swipe to change songs, swipe up or down to raise and lower volume are kept the same. Allowing you to adjust your listening experience without interrupting your focus.

There is a sensor in the left earcup that detects when you’ve removed the headphones and you can also cup your hand over the right earcup to temporarily disable noise cancelling to have quick conversations or reply to questions.

There’s also a feature that pauses music and audio when the headphones detect that you’re talking, but reviewers found it was too sensitive. It would often pause noise-cancelling after a laugh or even the odd ambient noise.

The Takeaway

Sony keeps its top rankings in the headphone market. Their latest release doesn't offer a ton of differences from their previous model, so if you own a pair of WH-1000XM3s upgrading might be questionable. But if you're upgrading from an older pair or looking for your first pair of noise-cancelling headphones, these are without question great. 

Tech Radar says, “The Sony WH-1000XM4 delivers excellent noise-cancellation and surprising sound quality all in a lightweight, comfortable design. While they don't look significantly different from their predecessors, a number of new features including multipoint pairing, DSEE Extreme upscaling, conversational awareness, and auto-play/pause using a built-in sensor all help the WH-1000XM4 claim the title of best headphones in 2021.”

Sound Guys stated, “If you have the money and want a top-tier pair of headphones for modern life, the Sony WH-1000XM4 are the way to go. The combination of high quality Bluetooth codecs, great sound, improved noise cancelling, good battery life, and smart features like autopause and Bluetooth multipoint makes these the best all-around option for most people.”


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