Image Credit: Sony
The latest true wireless earbuds from Sony, improve upon the sound quality and noise cancelling of the WF-1000XM3s.
Sony’s flagship true wireless earbuds, WF-1000XM3 were released almost two years ago. At the time, these were some of the best sounding earbuds on the market, with industry leading noise cancelling. Since their release, they have been overtaken by much of the competition. The WF-1000XM4’s design and some features leaked back in March. The leak showed a radical new design and unique approach to true wireless earbuds. Yesterday, Sony officially announced the WF-1000XM4.
Improvements in audio quality and noise cancelling come thanks to the new Integrated Processor V1. ANC cancels more noise than ever with dual noise sensor microphones in each ear, one a feed-forward and the other feed-back. One of the microphones sits behind that gold accent on the exterior. Automatic Wind Noise Reduction mode will help the earbuds perform well in high wind. Ambient Sound mode passes outside noise to your ears, great for staying aware while exercising. New beamforming microphones and bone-conduction sensors will help the buds focus on your voice for clear calls in noisy environments.
Sound comes from 6mm drivers, with a 20% increase in magnet volume and improved performance in low frequencies over the previous generation. WF-1000XM4 support High-Resolution Audio Wireless and LDAC codec on Android devices. LDAC transmits around three times more data than standard Bluetooth audio, with a maximum transfer rate of 990kbps. This will make the XM4s a great choice for the new support for Lossless Audio in Apple Music and the upcoming HiFi service from Spotify, which both support upwards of 1411kbps audio. Along with LDAC support borrowed from the larger over-ear headphones, the WH-1000XM4s, DSEE Extreme also features in the new earbuds. DSEE Extreme (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) uses Edge-AI to upscale compressed digital music files in real time. This attempts to restore the high-range sound lost in the compression of MP3 audio files.
Sound quality, noise cancellation and comfort are all improved as a result of the new Noise Isolation Earbuds Tips. With a unique polyurethane foam material, the soft and elastic tips maximise the surface contact area between the earbud tip and ear canal, eliminating any gaps to reduce noise. With three tip sizes to choose from, most users should be able to find a stable and comfortable fit.
The redesign to the earbuds results in a 10% smaller size and a weight of 7.3 grams, without sacrificing audio quality or battery life. The charging case is also 40% smaller, bringing it closer to the size of the compact case found on AirPods and AirPods Pro. This year’s earbuds also feature an IPX4 rating, protecting them from splashes and sweat.
Sony have improved upon the battery life on the WF-1000XM4 for a very impressive 8 hours with ANC on from a single charge. This is up from 6 hours on the previous generation and beats most of the competition which sit around the 5 hours mark. You’ll achieve a total of 24 hours with ANC on, with the case, up from 18 hours. Switch ANC off for a huge 12 hours on a single charge and 36 hours total. Pop the earbuds in the case for just 5 minutes of quick charging, resulting in 60 minutes of listening. The compact charging case also supports Qi wireless charging.
Bluetooth on the XM4s transmits audio to each earbud independently at the same time for a stable and low latency connection. The earbuds can pair to an Android phone with a single tap using Google Fast Pair. Android will also help you locate the headphones by ringing them or see their last known location on a map. Swift Pair will help for a seemless pairing experience on Windows 10. Unfortunately, the earbuds only pair to one device at a time.
Head to the Sony | Headphones Connect app on Android and iOS for a number of additional features and controls. Receive a notification when the battery drops below 30%. Use the app to find the perfect size tip for your ears. Enable Speak-to-Chat, which uses the four microphones and sensors to automatically pause the music and let in ambient sound while you’re chatting. Once you’ve finishing talking, the music will resume automatically. Wear detection also automatically pauses the music when an earbud is removed and resumes when placed back in using proximity sensors. Adaptive Sound Control recognises places you frequently visit such as the office, gym of cafe, tailoring your sound preferences for each location. Ambient Sound Control lets you dial in the amount of background sound to pass through when in Noise Cancelling mode or you can choose to target voice specifically. The Equaliser gives you full customisation over the sound levels, to tune the buds to your preference. 360 Reality Audio support on some apps will give you an immersive surround sound experience.
Google Assistant or Alexa are available hands-free by just saying “Hey Google” or “Alexa” to access a wealth of entertainment, information, music or connect with friends, read your notifications, set reminders and much more. Further controls are available via the touch panel on each bud. A tap on the left switches between Noise Cancelling and Ambient Sound modes, a long tap enables Quick Attention, while a double tap on the right bud skips track. You can assign your own functions in the app for full customisation.
Sony WF-1000XM4 are available to order today in Black and Silver for $279.99. This is a $50 jump over the previous generation’s launch price, but in-line with the rest of the high-end competition such as AirPods Pro (launch price $249), Bose QuietComfort EarBuds (launch price $279) and Bowers & Wilkins PI5 (launch price $249.99).
If you don’t fancy the latest features, check out the last generation Sony WF-1000XM3s, on sale now for $178.