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Sony WF-1000XM4 true wireless earbuds review: Top tier bits


Sony is one of the world’s leading brands in personal audio and regularly produces high-quality headphones, earphones and true wireless earphones. The company has also developed the Bluetooth LDAC codec, which enables a high rate of data transfer over Bluetooth for better audio quality with high-resolution audio streams and files. The latest from Sony brings together all its know-how in this area; the WF-1000XM4 true wireless headphones promise flagship-grade sound quality, along with other key features.

Priced at Rs. 19,990, the Sony WF-1000XM4 is the successor to the WF-1000XM3 and promises an even more capable and feature-rich listening experience. Along with active noise cancellation, mobile app support, and wireless charging, the WF-1000XM4 supports Bluetooth LDAC codec that promises better sound quality with compatible source devices. Are these the best pair of true wireless earbuds you can buy right now? Find out in this review.

The Sony WF-1000XM4 supports SBC and AAC codecs, in addition to LDAC

All the specs and features you expect from the Sony WF-1000XM4

Some flagship true wireless headphones such as the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 and Sony WF-1000XM3 are considerably larger than most affordable and mid-range options, and the Sony WF-1000XM4 are an equally great pair. One of the reasons for this is the Sony V1 integrated processor, which powers active noise cancellation and Bluetooth LDAC codec support.

Although a bit smaller than the XM3, the XM4’s earcups are quite large. They stay anchored in place in your ears using silicone tips only. The earbuds came out of my ears somewhat precariously and tended to move around slightly with daily use, especially when I was walking. However, the sound isolation remained good enough to provide effective active noise cancellation, and I had no issues with comfort or the ability to use these headphones for long periods of time.

The Sony WF-1000XM4’s earcups are made from plastic, but have a nice finish and there’s a small metallic accent on each that houses one of the exterior microphones. The second exterior microphone sits on top of each earbud, and a third microphone sits inside to help with ANC. The rounded portion on the outer side of the ear cups is touch sensitive for customizable controls, and the interior has proximity sensors that detect when they’re worn or taken off so they automatically play and pause music or turn them off when they are not used. .

The Sony WF-1000XM4 headphones are IPX4 rated for water resistance. My review unit arrived in “eco-friendly” recyclable packaging. I found three pairs of foam tips in the packaging, but Sony has confirmed that units sold in India will instead have three pairs of silicone tips in the box, which is a little disappointing given that the tips foam generally provide better sound insulation. . Only one pair of silicone eartips was provided to me separately by Sony for this review, to match the experience buyers will have.

The Sony WF-1000XM4’s touch controls are customizable via the Sony Headphones Connect app, although this is limited to feature sets rather than allowing users to choose individual gestures and functions. Sets are assigned to each earbud separately and can be interchanged based on your preferences. There’s a set for ambient sound control that alternates between active noise-canceling and listening modes with single taps, and quick attention mode with a continuous press. A second set allows playback and voice assistant controls, and finally, the third set gives you volume controls.

I had Ambient Sound Control active on the left earbud and playback controls on the right, but the need to choose two of the three sets was a little disappointing. I would have liked to be able to control the volume directly from the headphones as well.

The Sony WF-1000XM4’s charging case matches the color and texture of the earbuds. It is not too big, which makes it compact and easy to carry. There’s a USB Type-C port on the back for charging and a status light on the front, just under the lid. The charging case also supports Qi wireless charging.

The headphones of the Sony WF-1000XM4 have 6mm dynamic drivers that support a frequency response range of 20-40,000 Hz and a streaming bit rate of up to 990 kbps with the LDAC codec (frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hz with other codecs). For connectivity, the headphones use Bluetooth 5.2, with support for SBC, AAC and LDAC Bluetooth codecs. There’s also support for Google Fast Pair, enabling quick pairing with Android smartphones by linking the headset to a Google account.

Sony’s Headphones Connect serves as a companion app for the WF-1000XM4 headphones, allowing you to customize controls, change equalizer settings, and check battery levels of the headphones and charging case. You can also change other things like 360 ​​Reality Audio settings, speak to chat, DSEE audio mode, voice assistant preferences, auto power off, and more.

You can configure the headphones to prioritize sound quality over connection stability or vice versa, depending on your usage preferences. Overall, this is a great app that provides extensive control over the headphones and their features, as well as pushing firmware updates to the headphones as they become available.

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The Sony WF-1000XM4 has touch controls, which can be customized via the Sony Headphones Connect app

The Sony WF-1000XM4’s battery life isn’t outstanding, but it’s pretty decent considering its features and specs. I was able to use the headphones for about six hours on a single charge (Sony claims eight hours) with mixed usage, which involved listening to music and audiobooks as well as taking calls, with active muting of the noise usually enabled. The charging case added two full charges for the earbuds, for a total battery life of around 18 hours per charge cycle. The case can be safely fully charged with a 10W charger in around 90 minutes, and wireless charging naturally takes longer.

Good sound quality and ANC on the Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony’s on-ear headphones such as the WH-1000XM4 have been at the top of their class for some time, but the company’s true wireless range hasn’t been as impressive in the high-end segment as rivals in the market. ‘Apple and Samsung. The WF-1000XM4 represents a big shift in this trend and puts Sony firmly in competition among the best in the true wireless audio segment.

The key point that makes the Sony WF-1000XM4 special is its support for the Bluetooth LDAC codec, which is a rare specification for true wireless headphones. Additionally, Sony has addressed many connection stability issues experienced by older products, making the use of LDAC as seamless and natural as the AAC codec much more stable, even over long distances. This meant there was a slight but noticeable improvement in sound quality when using the headphones with an Android smartphone compared to an iPhone.

Listening to Hold On (Sub Focus Remix) by Rusko on Apple Music with the LDAC codec at 990kbps, I was immediately impressed by the sound quality offered. The sound signature of the headphones is tailored to the typical listening profile of an everyday consumer, so it’s well-tuned for that aggressive dubstep track. This created a distinct bias towards low frequencies, resulting in a tight, aggressive bass response that brought out the best in the track.

There was plenty of detail to hear, too, taking advantage of Apple Music’s hi-res audio stream. With Skrillex’s Butterflies, vocals sounded clean and punchy, playing well with the deep bass attack. Lower instrumental elements and subtle background vocals sounded distinct and engaging, especially at moderate to high volumes.

The Sony WF-1000XM4 was capable enough to keep up with the fastest and most varied tracks across all genres, adapting to different styles almost intuitively. The excellent Frankie Sinatra based on samples from The Avalanches sounded considerably better on the WF-1000XM4 than on any of the other true wireless headphones I’ve used recently. This pair of headphones was unfazed by the track’s busy and changing styles. It all flowed cohesively, with a detailed and energetic sound signature defining the enjoyable listening experience I had.

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There are three microphones for ANC and voice pickup on each Sony WF-1000XM4 earbud

Active noise cancellation on the Sony WF-1000XM4 was as expected very good, aided by the effective noise isolation seal of the ear tips. Enabling ANC made an immediate difference in the noise levels I could hear indoors and outdoors. These headphones were particularly good at reducing wind noise and the buzz of the urban outdoors.

The effective noise cancellation also meant that I was able to keep the audio volume at safe levels, even in noisy environments. That said, I’ve experienced slightly better active noise cancellation with competing products like the Apple AirPods Pro.

The listening mode felt natural enough, but it’s not as clean as it is on the Apple AirPods Pro. Speak-to-chat worked well, but it is very sensitive to even soft speech, which can be annoying if you tend to sing along to music, and this sensitivity cannot be adjusted in any way. Voice assistant functionality worked well with Google Assistant and Siri, and Quick Attention mode is an intuitive way to quickly listen to your surroundings even if ANC is on and audio is playing.

The Sony WF-1000XM4 performed well with phone calls and audiobooks – both of which emphasize voices and speech – and I had no trouble understanding or being understood even in somewhat difficult environments. little noisy. As mentioned earlier, connectivity was stable even with the LDAC codec running, at distances up to around 3-4m.

Verdict

The Sony WF-1000XM4 is a flagship true wireless headset in every way, and has one key factor that sets it apart from other products in this segment: Bluetooth LDAC codec support. This makes it particularly well suited for use with Android smartphones, and the sound quality on offer is indeed some of the best you can get from this form factor. Good active noise cancellation, a working app, and useful features like talk, quick attention mode, and voice assistant support make this a capable true wireless headset.

However, if you’re an iPhone user, you’d be better served by the AirPods Pro for a number of reasons, including better connectivity and active noise cancellation, and sound nearly as good with the AAC codec, except for slight differences. in the sound signature.


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