Wireless noise canceling headphones review – Sony WH-1000XM4

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Content

  1. Contents of delivery
  2. TECH SPECS
  3. Positioning
  4. Design, dimensions, controls
  5. Battery, running time
  6. Noise reduction, sound quality, codecs
  7. Smartphone program – set up headphones
  8. Impressions

Contents of delivery

  • Headphones
  • 3.5 mm cable (1.2 meters)
  • Airplane adapter
  • USB Type C cable
  • cover
  • Instructions

Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4

TECH SPECS

  • Dynamic, closed type
  • 40mm dome type CCAW voice coil neodymium
  • Frequency Response Range 4 – 40 Hz (wire)
  • Frequency response 20 – 20 Hz (Bluetooth)
  • 47 Ohm impedance (with cable connected and headphones turned on)
  • Headphone cable (1.2 meters, Oxygen-free copper strands, gold-plated stereo plug)
  • Passive mode
  • NFC
  • DSEE Extreme
  • QN1 processor
  • Reality 360
  • Passive operation
  • Motion Sensor
  • Adaptive mode
  • Active noise canceling, adaptive squelch setting, adjustable squelch levels
  • External pressure measurement
  • Adjustment for ear anatomy (hair, glasses)
  • Equalizers
  • Sony Headset app
  • Bluetooth 5.0, support multipoint (two devices at the same time)
  • Supported codecs – SBC, AAC, LDAC
  • Voice Pickup Unit – muting the sound when you start to speak
  • Auto pause when removing headphones
  • Sound transparency
  • Operating time from one charge – up to 30 hours, charging time – up to 3 hours
  • Weight – 253 grams, dimensions – 25.2×7.7×18.4 cm

Positioning

Today, whoever does not make noise canceling headphones – Bose, Beats, Microsoft and many others – have created this category, and at the same time made Sony popular. Being a pioneer does not mean that you automatically become the market leader and offer the best solution, rather it is the exception that works for Sony. The company has set such a bar for quality in its WH-1000 series that competitors just nervously smoke on the sidelines and cannot offer anything adequate and proportionate. While reviewing the previous three generations of these headphones, when the tone gradually changed from low-key praise to unbridled praise, I saw many comments in the style of “complete nonsense, what can these headphones do for me?”. Some of my friends and acquaintances tried my headphones on the plane, as a rule, on the way back we were already members of the same club, so quickly and irrevocably Sony began to like it. Someone felt sorry for the money, but then they bought these headphones anyway. Cause? It is the most essential accessory for those who travel frequently. No other headphones offer this level of comfort. During the epidemic, such headphones made it easier for me to walk with a lawn mower, travel in a car, when I need to isolate myself from children (not driving, of course). And at home, if there is a desire to be alone, it is enough to isolate yourself from everyday life with these headphones, you will not hear anything, as if you are in your sound cocoon.

My main travel headphones were the XM2, then the XM3, and I wondered what else Sony could come up with. It seemed that the headphones had reached their logical conclusion and nothing better could be invented and implemented. Sony engineers were pleasantly surprised, as they added a cart and a small cart of changes, these are really new headphones, and very different from the XM3, I responsibly declare this to you as the owner of both. In the review I will compare these headphones, since without such a comparison it will be difficult to understand what each change means and how to interpret it – for the better or for the worse. Here everyone will choose for himself, something is important for you, I cannot live without something.

Design, dimensions, controls

It has become a tradition that headphones come in two colors – beige and black, my headphones are black.

Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4

Outwardly, it is almost impossible to recognize that you have a new version of XM4, the same colors, the same materials, at first glance there are no differences or they are minimal. There is a small XM4 inscription on the bow, but that’s all. Sony says it has improved the rim of the headphones, fitting it to the anatomy even better than previous headphones. I took this as a marketing statement, since the XM3 sat very well, did not press on the head, extremely comfortable headphones. Just like in most of these headphones, when listening on an airplane for more than an hour, the ears sweated, sweat remained on the skin of the ear pads. In the XM4, the fit of the headphones is still different, and they have become more comfortable, while, even leaning against the seat on the plane, you find it difficult to knock them down, you can sleep peacefully on long flights. Ears sweat less, discomfort and pressure are not felt at maximum volume.

Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4

The headphones have NFC, you can use them to pair with a device (Android), just lean the left earphone, touch it to the smartphone (as an option, you can also to the TV if it has NFC).

On the right earpiece there is a touch control, the surface is matte, quite easily soiled (not excessively, but it is better not to touch it with greasy fingers or wipe it afterwards). In the XM3, the sensor was quite sensitive, many users complained about this, although it’s a matter of habit – I didn’t have any accidental clicks, the controls were cool. In XM4, it was changed at the request of users, made it less sensitive, I had to retrain. Now the movement should be clearly defined, a simple touch will not work. And at first it, of course, was annoying, but in a couple of weeks I managed to retrain. If you did not have such headphones, then you will not feel the problems at all, the touch control is at the level of other headphones.

Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4

The touch panel can change the volume, stop playback, touch with the palm of your hand – this is the mute mode, you can hear what you are told (as an option, you start talking, and the headphones themselves turn on the transparency mode – this feature turned out to be super useful). Skipping forward and backward also works.

On the right earpiece there is a USB Type C connector, next to it is a charging indicator light, which is convenient (it does not glow very brightly at night). The left earphone has a 3.5 mm jack, a power button (next to an operating mode indicator), and a key that can be customized for yourself and your functions. In the XM3, this key was responsible for switching between noise reduction modes, in the XM4, by default, exactly the same functions, but you can change them.

Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4

The earbuds support voice prompts in several dozen languages, but when you first turn on they work in English, you need to download Russian from the app.

Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4

And then a pleasant female voice will report this or that information about the headphones. For example, when the headphones are working, pressing the power button will give you a voice prompt about the battery charge, which is very convenient, you do not need to climb into the phone.

The carrying case has not changed at all, all the accessories can be placed in it, which is very convenient.

Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4

The fact that this is the flagship among headphones of this type is evidenced by both the quality of the headphones and the scope of delivery. In XM2, the plastic in the new headphones was cracked for many, it was a factory defect. Already in XM3 it was eliminated, so you can say after almost two years. The XM4 has the same plastic, so there definitely won’t be any problems.

Of the other changes that will surely catch your eye, the motion sensor built into the left earpiece, you can see it inside.

Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4

It helps the headphones to understand that you have taken them off, and stop playback, and then turn off the headphones (if this is indicated in the settings, by default everything is so).

Excellent ergonomics, materials and appearance of the headphones make them a flagship in every sense and without any discounts or compromises.

Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4

Battery, running time

Formally, nothing has changed here, the declared operating time is up to 30 hours from one charge, the charging itself is up to three hours. There is fast charging, when in ten minutes you get five hours of wireless use. I have no complaints about the working time, usually the headphones are more than enough to get to LA and back, that is, about 20-22 hours of work is guaranteed. In XM4, the operating time has subjectively decreased somewhat, but this is affected by new modes (the ability to connect to two devices at the same time, this eats up the battery). Otherwise, everything is about the same, the headphones do not work less than 22-23 hours, this is enough for everyone’s eyes.

Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4

Noise reduction, sound quality, codecs

I never imagined that it was possible to change the algorithms so that the headphones cut out noise even better than the XM3 did. Glad to be wrong, the sound on the plane is different, and noticeably, in the XM4, the cutoff from the outside world is even better, you just do not pay attention to the sound of turbines, voices of people and so on. At the same time, the sound has changed, it has become more natural (about this separately).

Headphones are able to “determine” how you put them on, whether your hair is clogged under the ear cushions or not. In fact, the headphones analyze the size of your head, whether you are wearing glasses, how your hair lies, in order to adjust the sound specifically for you. With these headphones, such a parameter as warming up the speakers is useless, since they adapt to you and change the sound on the fly. Not in a wide range, but still change and make it the same.

Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4

I’ll start with a description of the usual things, namely the speaker, it is 40 mm in diameter (dome type, CCAW voice coil) and has an LCD polymer cone.

Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4

Proprietary digital sound enhancement technology DSEE Extreme (previously it was DSEE HX, the new version is much better) allows you to restore songs when transferring via Bluetooth. This technology corrects both mp3 flaws (works when connecting a wire) and compression flaws during wireless transmission.

Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4

The LDAC codec is a proprietary Sony development, about which the company usually says that this is the most advanced audio encoding option for wireless transmission. Believe it or not the manufacturer is up to you, but compared to Qualcomm’s AptX HD, which is just getting into the definition of Hi-Res, here the transmitted data stream is almost twice as high (990 Kbps versus 576 Kbps). And if in AptX HD the sampling rate is 48 kHz with a bit depth of 24 bits, then in LDAC it is the same 24 bits with a sampling rate of 96 kHz.

LDAC operation is regulated by the application settings on the smartphone, strongly depends on the source file and its parameters (when driving into Apple Music headphones, you shouldn’t expect any revelations, initially the music is in “low” resolution). But for those who listen to music in good quality, the difference will be noticeable, playing around with the settings, you will see it.

Sony decided to drop support for AptX in all variants, since this codec requires licensing from Qualcomm, while it does not give any advantages over LDAC, which is on all modern Android smartphones.

The declared range of reproducible frequencies is from 4 to 40000 Hz when connected by wire and from 20 to 20000 Hz when connected wirelessly (sampling 44.1 kHz) or 20 – 40000 Hz (LDAC, sampling 96 kHz).

The XM4 uses the QN1 processor, which is responsible for noise cancellation, it is a separate DSP that works with the microphone array and picks up external noise.

Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4

Compared to the XM3, it seems that the same processor cannot add something to the headphones, but this is a bug. More scenarios, headphones have learned to detect typical city and transport noises and effectively deal with them. These scenarios were not added to the XM3, which is unlikely to happen with these headphones.

When connected to two devices at the same time, you will not be able to use the LDAC codec, only AAC is available. When using Apple’s technology, you will not have a choice anyway, the sound is simpler than on Android, and flatter. Although most of the company’s users are used to this and consider it the norm.

Now about the sound quality. Sony engineers were clearly trying to work out the negative associated with the fact that the XM2 / XM3 change the sound, add bass, color the songs beautifully and make them pleasant, but different from the original. I always said that I don’t care, because on the plane I get the opportunity to listen to music with such quality as never before. And demanding that headphones transmit sound as naturally as possible, without enhancements, is somehow strange.

With the XM4, Sony engineers decided they could tweak the sound so that you get the most natural sound possible (for many, that’s not what people think or expect). And by default, without equalizers, the sound is just that. Turn on the equalizer “Vivid” to get the same sound as on the XM3. Headphones have become more comfortable for everyone, everyone can get the sound they are used to. And this can only be welcomed, I am ready to applaud the engineers of the company. Delight.

Working as a headset does not raise any questions, the interlocutor hears you perfectly, there are no problems.

Smartphone program – set up headphones

You can and should use headphones with a proprietary program from Sony, otherwise you will not reveal even a tenth of their capabilities. The first time you connect on Android, you just need to touch the NFC icon on the headphones and pairing will take place.

In the program, you select the priority of sound or the quality of the connection, you can adjust the headphones under pressure (important on the plane), there are equalizers and other improvements.

The program can also recognize what exactly you are doing – standing, walking or running. Depending on this, the settings and operating mode also change.

Many were annoyed that in adaptive mode, when the noise canceling settings were changed, the headphones made a sound and an abrupt mode switch was felt well. Now you can turn off the sound altogether, and the switching is smooth.

A good feature is the determination of your location, the headphones will automatically change settings depending on where you are. In my house, the neighbors were renovating, constantly drilling and doing something, you could go crazy. Therefore, I set up the headphones so that noise cancellation at home was maximum, but in the office it was average, with an emphasis on the voice (when someone speaks to you, but you don’t hear, it’s not too polite). Works with a bang, and you do not need to turn on something with your hands.


Impressions

Sony has created a bestseller like the XM3, which has revolutionized the idea of ​​what noise canceling headphones should be able to do (remind you that with a wired connection you get a different sound quality, headphones are very good in this case). I have only one emotion from these headphones – delight, pure and uncomplicated. Great sound, the amount of technology put into a small body by Sony engineers is off the charts, and there is not a single product that is close in terms of filling or capabilities. And noise cancellation? It gets even better and the XM4 has no serious competition. When someone claimed that company X had done something, at first they were led to it, tried the headphones on the plane and compared them with the same XM3, but the applicants turned out to be much worse. And so far no one has caught up with the XM3, and the new headphones have become even better in this aspect.

Wireless noise canceling headphones review - Sony WH-1000XM4

The price for such headphones is always the same – 349 dollars (in Russia 29 rubles in a company store, two thousand cheaper in retail). This is a standard price, comparable to most competitors, there is no revelation here. Previous XM990s can be found at a cost of $ 3-220 in the United States, we have just over 250 rubles. If you’re on a budget, then the previous model won’t disappoint you, it’s great, albeit not as screwed up as the XM20. The XM4, on the other hand, is for those accustomed to the very best, not used to compromise. These are simply the best headphones for travel in noisy environments, they don’t have any alternatives to seriously consider buying. I sincerely recommend and think that many will enter the club of fans of this series, it is definitely worth it.

PS I foresee angry rebukes that you cannot praise headphones like that, because something must be wrong in them. But you know, it’s easy and simple to tell the truth, so these headphones deserve not just praise, but praise. And engineers from Bose, Sennheiser and other companies should go on internships at Sony, they still have nothing like this.

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