Sony WH-1000XM4 – Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Sony already claimed to have one of the best headphones for undisturbed music enjoyment with the Sony 1000X Series solutions, but now they want to come up with an even more refined model, the new Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Over-ear Headphone.

Headphones with integrated active noise suppression have been considered for years and days to be one of the most important product categories for manufacturers of headphones. It is primarily people who travel a lot who opt for such solutions and who are usually quite prepared to dig deeper into their pockets for impeccable products. One can certainly say that this is the premium segment in the field of mobile personal audio solutions, which is correspondingly highly competitive.

The Japanese consumer electronics company Sony Corporation, for example, has been boasting for years that its Sony 1000X Series solutions offer industry-leading noise cancelling wireless headphones that are superior to all other systems in this area. This range is indeed one of the most successful of its kind and it is important for Sony to continue this success. So it’s hardly surprising that Sony is now introducing the fourth generation of Sony 1000X Series wireless over-ear headphones, the new Sony WH-1000XM4.

The new Sony WH-1000XM4, the fourth generation of Sony 1000X Series wireless over-ear headphones, once again delivers the industry-leading noise cancelling performance for music on the move. It is a logical development of the special technologies used by Sony combined with new functions, above all those which serve to optimally adjust both noise reduction and sound characteristics to individual needs.

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Sony states that the new Sony WH-1000XM4 is the ideal companion for a wide range of scenarios, be it a long-haul flight, relaxing in a café, or any other location where ambient noise is perceived as disturbing.

For example, the new Sony WH-1000XM4 is equipped with a so-called adaptive noise reduction, which is designed to eliminate or reduce noise in the high and medium frequency range. Two microphones in each earcup are used to detect ambient noise, which is why Sony calls it Dual Noise Sensor Canceling Technology. The data is then evaluated by the Sony HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1, using a new Bluetooth Audio SoC (System on Chip) as the basis, which enables the corresponding performance for real-time calculation 700 times per second. The algorithm on which the calculations are based has also been re-optimized, according to the manufacturer’s promise.

Interestingly, the new Sony WH-1000XM4 is supposed to detect the user’s activities, the manufacturer says. This means first and foremost that the headphones “recognize” where they are at the moment, based on the sound backdrop determined. For different scenarios such as workplace, gym, café or tram or bus and similar places where people often spend time, it should be possible to create a separate profile for the optimal setting of the adaptive noise reduction, which is automatically activated by the headphones. Even when walking, the adaptive noise reduction should adjust itself accordingly so that the user receives sufficient acoustic information from his environment to move safely.

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Another new feature is the so-called Speak-to-Chat function, which enables a short conversation without having to take off the headphones. Here too, the headphones automatically detect the user’s voice and stop the music playback. 30 seconds after the last spoken word, playback resumes.

This uses Precise-Voice-Pickup technology, which performs advanced audio signal processing to identify the wearer’s voice even more accurately. This function is of course also used when the Sony WH-1000XM4 is used as a hands-free device for telephone calls.

In order to directly reduce the volume of the music playback and also immediately deactivate the noise suppression, one can also simply hold the right hand on the sensor surface of the Sony WH-1000XM4 in order to hear an announcement at the station, at the airport or in the plane.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 has a proximity sensor that determines if the headphones are in use or not. It detects whether the headphones are being worn or whether they are on your shoulder, and adjusts playback accordingly to save power.

For optimal sound quality even with compressed content, the Sony WH-1000XM4 features Sony Edge AI and Sony DSEE Extreme, which stands for Digital Sound Enhancement Engine. This is designed to analyse the music in real time and compensate for losses in the treble caused by compression. The basis for these algorithms were analyses by Sony Music Studios Tokyo.

The new Sony WH-1000XM4 is equipped for Sony 360 Reality Audio, the DSP algorithms that, according to the manufacturer, are supposed to guarantee a particularly intense musician’s life. This of course requires corresponding apps on the smartphone with Apple iOS and Google Android. Speaking of apps, Sony of course offers with the Sony Headphone Connect App a software solution for Apple iOS and Google Android to control all functions of the new Sony WH-1000XM4.

The headphone is equipped with 40 mm drivers, whereby the developers rely on an aluminium-coated FKP membrane, a copper voice coil and powerful neodymium magnets. This allows a frequency response of impressive 4 Hz up to 40 kHz in passive mode, but with Bluetooth this is limited to 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Only when using the LDAC available here as a codec, 20 Hz to 40 kHz are available.

It should be emphasized that the Sony WH-1000XM4 can connect two devices simultaneously via Bluetooth, for example a smartphone and a notebook or a smartphone and a portable Hi-res audio player. When an incoming call is received, the headphones should recognize which device is ringing and automatically connect to it. The user can also switch from one device to the other by pressing a button.

Of course, Bluetooth with NFC is available here, so that pairing is almost automatic. The new Sony WH-1000XM4 also has the new Fast Pair function from Google.

The control of the new Sony WH-1000XM4 is, as already mentioned before, done via a sensor keypad. Of course also language assistants are supported, be it Google Assistant, Apple Siri, or Amazon Alexa.

The manufacturer specifies a playing time of up to 30 hours for the new Sony WH-1000XM4, with activated noise reduction. If you do without this, you can even get up to 38 hours of playing time. A quick-charging function should already be enough for a playing time of up to five hours after ten minutes in the power outlet.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 is supposed to come up with especially soft ear pads so that the highest wearing comfort is guaranteed even during hours of use. These should distribute the pressure evenly and thus guarantee a stable fit without pressing.

The new Sony WH-1000XM4 is supposed to be available in specialist shops these days. The manufacturer offers a recommended retail price of € 379 for these wireless over-ear headphones and offers them in black and silver.

Getting to the point

The new Sony WH-1000XM4, the fourth generation of Sony 1000X Series wireless over-ear headphones, once again provides the industry-leading noise cancelling solution for enjoying music on the move. It is a logical development of the special technologies used by Sony, combined with new functions, especially those that allow the noise reduction and sound characteristics to be optimally adapted to individual needs.

Manufacturer:Sony Corporation
Distribution:Sony Corporation
Price:€ 379,-
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Michael Holzinger

Michael Holzinger, founder and editor-in-chief of HiFi BLOG and sempre-audio.at, has been working for years as a journalist in the fields of IT, photography, telecommunications and consumer electronics.

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