Sony WH-1000XM4 Review: a new benchmark for noise-canceling headphones

Sony WH-1000XM4 review

Sony WH-1000XM3 is so outstanding that many people have even forgotten that it is a Sony product launched in 2018. In the next two years, although we have seen a lot of excellent head-mounted noise reduction headphones being introduced to the market, the word benchmark has been firmly held in the hands of 1000XM3.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Review

However, after August 6th, the title of the head-mounted noise reduction headset benchmark will officially change, and the replacement is the fourth-generation head-mounted product Sony WH-1000XM4 of the Sony 1000X series. Affected by the epidemic, the Sony WH-1000XM4, which was supposed to meet with you a few months ago, came a little later. So, is it worth the wait?

For the product lines that have formed a series, most of the manufacturers’ update strategies are to retain the advantages of the previous generation products, and then make new attempts in other areas where there may be room for improvement. With the continuous update and iteration of products, this continuation has become a more recognizable place for the brand or product series itself.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Review – features

When I first saw Sony WH-1000XM4, I subconsciously took out the outer box and reconfirmed the product model, thinking I had read it wrong. Indeed, its overall design is very similar to the previous-generation product. If you don’t compare it carefully, even if you are an old WH-1000XM3 user, it is difficult to distinguish the two at once.

Sony WH-1000XM4 review

As for why this generation of products still uses the previous design, Sony’s response is that many functions require such a design to reflect. To understand it from another angle, it can only be said that WH-1000XM3 has done well enough. In addition, under the premise that it has been recognized by a wide range of user groups, there is a certain risk of changing how much to change.

After getting started, you will find that in addition to the product model identification on the head beam, in fact, many details of the new and old products are different. The more obvious place is that this time it uses an integrated matte design, while improving the connection structure, and the intuitive visual effect is more textured, and the touch is also very delicate (feeling somewhat similar to the skin-like coating).

The weight of Sony WH-1000XM4 is about 254 grams, which is a bit lighter than WH-1000XM3, and the head beam is slightly thinner. Personally, there is not much difference between the two in actual wearing experience, and they have good comfort. But the big ear bag is really not suitable for outdoor use in summer, of course, if you are going to buy it for commuting, it is actually good.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Review – Battery life

The endurance level remains the same as before. Sony officially stated that the WH-1000XM3 has a battery life of up to 30 hours and still retains fast charging. It can support 5 hours of continuous music playback for 10 minutes of charging. Even if the active noise reduction is turned on, there is no need to worry about battery life in most cases.

Both the 3.5mm interface and the two physical buttons at the bottom of the headset are there, but some changes have been made to the functional logic. The previous noise reduction button now supports custom functions. You can choose to wake up the voice assistant or switch the ambient sound control through the Headphones Connect app, which has a higher degree of freedom.

Moving on to the topic of environmental sound, on Sony WH-1000XM4, you can still use the right earmuff to quickly activate the environmental sound. The difference is that this time Sony has added a smart hands-free function to it (requires the app Manual selection in), after turning on, if the headset detects that you are in a conversation state, it will automatically enter the ambient sound mode.

Of course, you can make targeted settings for this function according to your use environment. For example, in a scene that is too noisy, it may be necessary to adjust the voice detection sensitivity, but from our actual experience, in most cases, the automatic mode is fine, and the recognition accuracy is very high.

Sony WH-1000XM4 review

It is worth mentioning that Sony WH-1000XM4 has a true in-ear detection function. Like many true wireless earphones, it can automatically pause and resume music according to the wearing state of the earphone. In addition, while the hardware provides support, Sony has also optimized the algorithm. If it is not really worn, even if you completely cover the earmuffs with your hands, the function will not be triggered.

On the WH-1000XM3, Sony has achieved the top level of noise reduction and sound quality performance, or it is not an exaggeration to describe it as the ultimate. But such leap-forward improvements are atypical events no matter what type of product they are put on, and it is actually very difficult to do better on its basis.

First look at the noise reduction capability. On the hardware level, Sony WH-1000XM4 is still equipped with the familiar HD noise reduction processor QN1, but you will find that Sony has added a new word in front of it, but it does not correspond to the official introduction. It is a parameter change, mainly an optimization and improvement on the algorithm.

In addition, this generation of products uses a brand-new Bluetooth chip. Together with the QN1 noise reduction processor, it can eliminate noise in real time at a frequency of about 700 per second based on music, noise signals, and the acoustic characteristics between the drive unit and the ear, and reduce the overall noise. The noise performance is about 15% higher than that of WH-1000XM3.

Of course, since the increase is not large, and the noise reduction level of WH-1000XM3 itself is good enough, it is difficult to distinguish the two if the noise reduction effect alone is used as the criterion. But if the conditions are let go, a change that can be clearly felt is that Sony WH-1000XM4 is more intelligent in noise reduction.

Now, after the adaptive sound control function is turned on through the app, the headset can automatically detect the user’s current activity status and activity location, and automatically switch the pre-preset environmental sound and noise reduction schemes. Simply put, the noise reduction performance of this generation of products is smarter and more user-friendly than before.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Review – usability

It is worth mentioning that, since the detection of user activity locations needs to be done with the help of Google Maps, but the Google Maps carried by the Android system has limited access in the mainland, so Android phone users cannot experience this feature at present, as to whether it will be resolved in the future Still an unknown number, iOS users don’t need to worry about this issue.

After talking about noise reduction, let’s talk about the sound quality performance part. According to the official introduction, the drive unit of Sony WH-1000XM4 has no change compared with WH-1000XM3. Both are 40mm. They also use aluminum-plated liquid crystal polymer (LCP) diaphragm. However, due to the use of a new Bluetooth chip, this Generation products no longer support aptX encoding.

However, it doesn’t matter if you don’t support aptX. After all, LDAC is still there (Sony WH-1000XM4 supports LDAC, AAC and SBC), with integrated digital noise reduction processor, 32bit audio signal processor, digital-to-analog converter and The QN1 chip of the analog power amplifier can provide sufficiently excellent analog audio signals, so you don’t have to worry too much about this.

In addition, Sony uses Edge-AI technology on the Sony WH-1000XM4. After DSEE Extreme (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine Advanced Edition) processing, you will find that its sound quality is fuller overall, especially the mid-to-high frequency part, maintaining excellent resolution. At the same time, it sounds a little softer than the previous generation product.

Overall, the core hardware specifications of Sony WH-1000XM4 and WH-1000XM3 are basically the same, and the main difference lies in software and algorithm optimization. Reflected in the actual experience, whether it is noise reduction ability or sound quality performance, its improvement is more reflected in the details.

For old users of WH-1000XM3, when you first get started, it is difficult for you to get the surprise that the new product should bring with WH-1000MX4, but as the use time increases, you will find that Sony is smart Some of the efforts made in the direction of transformation can be really felt.

At present, Sony WH-1000XM4 is available in black and platinum and silver body colors. As for which one looks better, it is a matter of opinion (it is not ruled out that new colors will be added later). In other respects, it allows to maintain connection with two Bluetooth devices at the same time, and is upgraded to Bluetooth 5.0 connection, data transmission speed and effective connection distance are better than WH-1000XM3.