Sony WF-1000XM4 wireless earbuds are official, Sony's most advanced ever4
The wait is finally over and now we know everything about Sony’s next heavy-hitters. The WF-1000XM4 model sports a brand new design and comes packed with lots of new features.
There’s a new Integrated V1 noise-canceling processor, newly designed 6mm drivers, LDAC support, earbud tips made from a special foam, a bone-conducting sensor, and more. Read on!
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Sony WF-1000XM4: Design
Sony has completely redesigned the WF-1000XM4 earbuds and now they’re 10% smaller than their predecessors. It’s a welcome change, the WF-1000XM3 model was very popular but often criticized for its bulky design.
The new shape of the earbuds is a product of thorough and meticulous data analysis. Sony has looked at data relating to ear shapes and sizes from all over the world to improve the fit and comfort of the new earbuds.
Sony WF-1000XM4: Noise cancelation
Sony brands its top-tier noise-canceling headphones and earbuds with the “industry-leading” badge. It’s not just PR talk - in order to classify for this standard, audio equipment has to undergo rigorous testing by an independent Japanese organization, called JEITA (Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association).
The WF-1000XM4 earbuds are compliant with the JEITA guidelines and proudly bear the “industry-leading” moniker. Sony has developed a new Integrated V1 processor, and it builds upon the acclaimed QN1e silicon found in the old model.
The new system integrates all components into one SoC design, offering lower noise and better energy efficiency. The integrated design also improves the reaction time of the noise-canceling algorithms, resulting in more accurate and fast noise cancelation.
There are three microphones on each earbud, two of which are on noise-canceling duties - one feed-forward and one feed-back microphone. The earbud tips are completely new as well. They’re made out of a special type of foam - soft and elastic on the outside, but with an inner structure containing lots of tiny air pockets. This should result in a better and more comfortable fit, coupled with improved sound insulation.
Sony WF-1000XM4: Sound Quality
The WF-1000XM4 earphones use newly designed 6mm drivers with 20% bigger neodymium-based magnets and a redesigned diaphragm. Sony claims that the increase in magnet volume should boost the low-frequency response and result in richer bass and better overall sound quality.
The new earphones bring the long-awaited LDAC support to the table - a High-Resolution Audio Wireless codec that can transmit three times more data than conventional Bluetooth technology (with transfer rates up to 990kps).
The DSEE Extreme upscaling engine is back - it uses Sony’s Edge-AI to cleverly restore audio data lost in low-resolution audio compression. All the computing happens on the device - the AI recognizes individual song elements (musical instruments, vocals) and then interpolates and restores the lost frequencies.
Sony WF-1000XM4: Features
The clever Speak-to-Chat feature you might be familiar with from the overhead model (WH-1000XM4) also makes an appearance. It uses the three microphones and the bone-conducting sensor in each earbud to recognize your voice and pause the music playback while you’re talking.
There’s a Quick Attention mode that lets you quickly bring the volume down by placing your finger on the left earpiece. Adaptive Sound Control listens to your environment and adjusts the sound settings accordingly, and you can program it to recognize places you visit often, such as the gym, your office, your favorite cafe, etc.
The bone-conduction system we’re constantly mentioning is also brand new. It registers vibration from your voice only and works in conjunction with the microphones around the earphones to offer superior call quality even in tricky situations. Sony has a name for this one too, it’s Precise Voice Pickup Technology.
There’s a new guide in the Headphones Connect app and before you dismiss it as a waste of time (who reads guides anyway?) Sony says this one’s actually useful. It actively measures different parameters while you’re fitting the earbuds inside your ears in order to help you choose the right earbuds tips (there are three sizes included) and it also teaches you how to optimize the fit for a better listening experience.
You can use the WF-1000XM4 with Google Assistant and Alexa, but Siri won’t wake up to your voice commands and you’ll have to activate her manually. The new model also supports Google’s Fast Pair feature, allowing for a one-tap Bluetooth connection to an Android device.
Microsoft Swift Pair is also supported, so you can connect the WF-1000XM4 to a Bluetooth-equipped Windows 10 PC.
The glaring omission here is the lack of multipoint connection support. You can’t pair the WF-1000XM4 to more than one device at a time. It’s quite unfortunate but Sony reps promised to monitor the market and consider bringing multipoint support in a future update.
Last but not least, the WF-1000XM4 earphones are IPX4 rated - offering protection from water splashes from every direction.
Sony WF-1000XM4: Battery life
The WF-1000XM4 offers 8 hours of use from the earphones and an additional 16 hours from the charging case, despite the fact that the case is 40% smaller than its predecessor.
A 5-minute quick charge gives you up to 60 minutes of playtime, and wireless charging is supported on both the earphones and the charging case.
Sony WF-1000XM4: Pricing and availability
The WF-1000XM4 is available in Black and Silver and will be priced at approximately €280 and available from June 2021.