Let’s be honest — when most of us think about purchasing new personal audio tech, we tend to lean towards getting a pair of wireless earbuds instead of a pair of headphones due to its compact size. Despite that, tech companies, including Sony, have been constantly reinventing their headphones to include new audio features that can match up to the quality of earbuds, or even surpass their standards.
Enter Sony’s WH-1000XM4 — the Japanese tech brand’s latest fourth-generation flagship wireless headphones with active noise-cancellation. Said to be equipped with the most advanced noise-cancelling feature, I decided to put them to the test and boy, did they not disappoint. Read on for the review of the Sony WH-1000XM4.
While the Sony WH-1000XM4 does have a rather simplistic design similar to its predecessor, it does have great padding on the headband and the earpads which makes it a lot more comfortable to wear for a long duration. Given the thicker ear pads, it got a little uncomfortable when I was walking in the hot sun but that was a small price to pay for the instant passive noise cancellation when I put them on.
Much like most wireless headphones, the buttons and ports are all on the headphones itself, with the power button located on the bottom of the left ear cup. A configurable ‘Custom’ button is located in the same area as well, for you to easily switch between noise-cancelling and ambient sound modes, and to activate voice assistants. Touch controls are located on the right ear cup though I never really used them as I prefer to manually adjust my music through my smartphone.
Despite the somewhat bulky nature of the WH-1000XM4, I liked that the design was made to be foldable for easy storage when not in use. I also liked that it came with a carrying case that had a hard shell which protected the headphones from potential knocks and scrapes that could occur inside the bag.
NOISE-CANCELLING AND AUDIO QUALITY
I am not someone who likes using noise-cancelling but the Sony WH-1000XM4 definitely taught me how to appreciate this feature. The noise-cancelling mode truly impressed me with its ability to completely block out the noise around me, where it almost felt as if I was locked in a soundproof room.
I could really tell the difference when I was on public transport like the MRT or bus where the feature not only muted conversations happening around me but also silenced loud noises such as the engine of the bus or the sound of the train.
Aside from the basic noise-cancelling feature, the WH-1000XM4 has pretty smart noise-cancelling modes too which allows them to use your geo-location to apply your preferred level of noise-cancellation or ambient sound mode based on where you are.
In addition to the impressive noise-cancelling modes, I found their ambient sound mode particularly useful as well, especially when I don’t like to remove my headphones when waiting for my coffee order to be called. Even though it does let ambient sound pass through, it does not affect the overall music experience. I was still able to listen to my music with little outside interference.
With that said, much like the Sony WF-SP800N, I was able to select my music mode through the app which allowed me to enjoy the songs based on my own preference. However, unlike the wireless sports earbuds, the headphones offered a pretty secure seal which meant that I was able to listen to my playlist at half its maximum volume level and still hear the powerful, clear and distinct difference between the vocals and instruments.
CONVENIENT FEATURES INCLUDING SPEAK-TO-CHAT
If there was one feature that I hope all audio wearables possess from now on, it would be the super convenient Speak-to-Chat. Not knowing what it was initially, I left the feature on in the app and was surprised to find that I didn’t need to manually pause my music and take off my headphones whenever I needed to converse with people around me.
With the feature switched on, the headphones’ microphone was able to recognise when I started talking, pausing my music and changing to an ambient sound mode for me to better converse even with the headphones on. I found myself being able to chat naturally and answer my barista clearly even though it seemed like I should not be able to. The best part about it is that I don’t have to do anything after conversing as the music playback resumes on its own after a short pause.
To put it simply, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is built with features that provide convenience whenever it is in use. On top of the Speak-to-Chat feature, it has other additions such as a sensor in the ear cups which instantly pauses your music when you have taken your headphones off and resuming playback when you put them on again. It even has the ability to switch off on its own when you’ve paused your music for a few minutes, which helps to save battery life.
While the Sony WH-1000XM4 is said to be an improvement from its predecessor, the battery life for the headphones remains the same, giving you 30 hours of playback with noise cancelling turned on, and up to 38 hours with noise cancelling turned off. Although most would prefer the addition of a few hours, it is still sufficient to accompany you through several workdays as well as on long-haul flights when it is safe to travel again.
However, if you ever do run low on juice and had forgotten to charge the headphones, the WH-1000XM4 is equipped with fast-charging which provides you with about five hours of battery life from just 10 minutes of charging.
THE SONY WH-1000XM4 IS POSSIBLY THE BEST NOISE-CANCELLING HEADPHONES OF 2020
Being someone who alternates between the use of her trusty wireless earbuds and wired headphones, I have to say that the Sony WH-1000XM4 is quite possibly the best pair of noise-cancelling headphones I’ve ever used.
Though they may be slightly pricey (retailing at $549) as compared to other similar headphones, its long battery life, smart features and the exceptional noise-cancelling feature should more than makeup for a good investment — especially if you are working from home and need a way to get some alone time to relax with your tunes.
You can also enjoy $80 off the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones by trading in selected noise-cancelling headphones. Find out more here.
For more information on the Sony WH-1000XM4, click here.