Ever since Apple had released its AirPods, the demand for wireless earbuds has increased over the years, and major audio brands in the industry have stepped up their portfolio to compete with the competition. And Sony is one of them that has delivered impressive wireless audio products with stellar audio. We take a look at the Sony WF-1000XM4 noise-cancelling wireless earbuds, and we thank Sony Middle East for lending us the product for review.
While Sony is one of the best when it comes to noise-cancelling headphones, the company chose to focus more on the earbuds category. As compared to previous versions, Sony mentions that the new WF-1000XM4 earbuds now come with an all-new design from the ground up. There is no denying that wearing comfort is key when it comes to earbud designs. Sony claims that the new ergonomic surface design matches the ear cavity of almost everyone. The main body of the earbuds easily snugs with our ear cavity and offers a stable fit so it doesn’t wobble or fall off while walking.
We tried walking around the neighborhood, and the earbuds did not fall off, even when there were a lot of shakes and bumps. Sony also used its newly developed noise isolation earbud tips that feature unique polyurethane foam material. The new soft and elastic foam material is able to maximize the contact area between the tip and your ear canal. This helps to insulate the sound from the outside and reduce audio leaks. It should be noted that after we use the earbuds, the elastic foam material appears to be squashed but will expand itself back to its original form in a few minutes. The earbuds come in small, medium, and large sizes.
Each earbud weighs approximately 7.3g only and comes in black and silver colors. The main circular outer surface serves as the touch sensor for users to control and change modes of the earbuds. The Bluetooth antennas are also built-in on that portion of the device. There are two microphones visible, one of which is located with the small gold accents on the top of the device, and the other on the bigger gold ring on the bottom side. On the back of the earbud are the three charging pins, along with an onboard IR sensor. The earbuds feature the capability to detect whether it is worn or not and can automatically pause the music when it’s taken off.
The new WF-1000XM4 earbuds also bear the IPX4 water-resistant certification, indicating that the earbuds can handle water splashes and sweats when on the move. Sony also mentions that the charging case is 40% smaller in size than its previous versions, which makes it a more pocket-friendly device. While the earbuds do not have any sort of illumination, the charging case has a light bar on the front side that shows green when the earbuds are connected and ready to use, and orange in color when the earbuds are charging with the case.
The charging case features a USB-C port that is located on the rear side of the device. While the earbuds do feature IPX4 water resistance, the charging case does not come with any sort of protection against splashes or dirt. That said, the charging case by itself comes with Qi wireless charging and also is able to share power from any Qi capable smartphone.
After covering the design aspects of the earbuds, let’s take a look at what drives the WF-1000XM4. Sony usually reserves all its best audio technologies for their high-end headphones, but this time, ensured the new WF-1000 series earbuds do pack a punch. The WF-1000XM4 sports a newly designed 6mm driver unit that features 20% larger high-power neodymium magnets, along with a new high compliance diaphragm for improved low-frequency audio performance.
The frequency response of the earbuds ranges between 20Hz – 20,000Hz at 44.1kHz sampling, and 20Hz – 40,000 Hz for LDAC 96kHz sampling. The driver units are also capable of producing high-precision cancellation signals for low frequencies. The earbuds also come with two noise sensing microphones, one which is “feed-forward”, and the other is “feed-back”. The microphones help to capture more ambient sounds, regardless of whether you are in a flight, in between noisy traffic, or among friends or colleagues.
Sony also has implemented the Integrated Processor V1, a solution that helps to enhance the noise-cancelling performance of the company’s QN1e chip to the next level. The “System on Chip” delivers industry-leading performance at higher power efficiency. Sony also has included its DSEE Extreme (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine), a solution that helps to upscale compressed audio files, restoring the high-range sounds that were lost for richer tones. And adding to that is the inclusion of High-Resolution Audio Wireless and LDAC capability for the best audio quality. For the best sound quality during conversations, the beamforming microphones are tuned to pick up the voice from your mouth. For an immersive audio experience, the earbuds also support the 360 Reality Audio for the best audio quality.
There is also the Automatic Wind Noise Reduction that suppresses windy sounds when detected. The Adaptive Sound Control is another smart feature that senses where you go and automatically adjusts the ambient sound settings, whether you are walking, traveling, or waiting at a place. The Adaptive Sound Control also learns the places where you go and auto-tunes the ambient levels. The Ambient levels can also be manually adjusted from the Sony Connect app.
The WF-1000XM4 comes with the latest Bluetooth 5.2 for a fast and power-efficient connection with lower latency. Connecting to a smartphone is easy, thanks to the Sony Connect app. You can adjust a lot of audio settings, along with predefined EQ presets or also custom EQs.
The earbuds also have support for Google’s Fast Pair feature that helps for a quick and easy Bluetooth pairing with Android smartphones. The feature also helps to locate the earbuds if they are misplaced. Upon my usage with the earbuds, the WF-1000XM4 is one of the best sounding earbuds I’ve tried. The noise-cancelling feature also is better than the past versions we have tried.
Sound quality isn’t the only selling point of the earbuds as the device features a decent battery life. Sony claims that the earbuds are capable of playing up to 8 hours of music with noise-cancelling turned on, and up to 12 hours when NC is turned off. Charing the earbuds only take 1.5 hours of time. Added to that is the charging case that holds up to 16 hours of power. Sony mentions that by only charging the earbuds for 5 minutes, the earbuds can offer an hour of music playback. You will also be notified via the Sony Connect app if the charging case falls below 30% of battery life.
Lastly, the earbuds also have support for both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice assistants. Easily call out for Google to check for information, listen to your favorite music, set reminders, and more.
The popularity of wireless earbuds has increased with more and more brands stepping in with new affordable and premium models. And with most smartphones now lacking a dedicated 3.5mm audio jack, the demand for wireless earbuds is just going to grow. Sony has already released several wireless earbuds and the WF-1000XM4 is by far the best that we have tried. The new design of the earbuds is lightweight and easily fits our ears with great comfort. The sturdy build of the device also is water-resistant that can easily handle sweats and splashes. The earbud tip’s unique material helps for great noise isolation and offers a comfortable fit.
The touch panel of the earbuds provides an easy way to control the device. The earbuds are easy to pair with smartphones, thanks to the Sony Connect application, which also offers tons of audio customizations. The earbuds feature a slew of Ambient Sound adjustments, and the 6mm drivers offer stellar audio quality. The noise-cancelling performance of the earbuds is top-notch and cuts out most of the noise from outside. The earbuds offer almost a day of use, thanks to the battery performance and the extended power from the charging case also comes handly. The charging case is also capable of wireless charging from other Qi-capable smartphones. The native support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa is an added bonus.