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I have found while doing my Sony WH-1000XM4 review over the past few years that when it comes to noise-cancelling headphones, the XM4 are at the top of the list. Like the Sony WH-1000XM3 before them, the XM4 headphones are among the best sounding, most comfortable, and have the best noise-cancelling you can buy.
Sony WH-1000XM4 vs Sony WH-1000XM3
I have always loved the XM3 (it was our pick as best noise canceling headphone under $500) in the past and the XM4 picks up right where the XM3 left off.
The main improvement that Sony has made with the WH-1000XM4 is in the headphones’ ability to cancel out ambient noise. With an updated processor, new ear cup design, and new software features, the XM4 headphones are able to better cancel out low frequency sounds like the rumble of an airplane engines.
Both the XM3 and XM4 offer touch controls on the right headphone but they are executed different. The XM3 sensor was overly sensitive and apt to inadvertent bumps and nudges. Sony aimed to fix this on the XM4 by making it less responsive (although they went a bit too far as you will see later in my XM4 review).
One of the other big improvements with the XM4 is the new ” Speak-to-Chat” feature. This feature will automatically lower the music volume and pause it when it detects that you are speaking. This is helpful if you want to quickly have a conversation with someone without taking off your headphones.
See our latest Headphone Amp reviews, Topping DX3 Pro +
When it comes to connectivity, the Sony WH-1000XM4 has a lot to offer. High-quality codecs such as AAC and Sony’s proprietary LDAC are supported by the Sony WH-1000XM4’s Bluetooth 5.0 and Bluetooth multipoint connectivity. AAC’s Multipoint feature lets headphones to be connected to two devices at once, going back and forth between them a breeze. This is an upgrade over the WM3’s Bluetooth 4.2 although both headphones offer aptX support, so Android listeners will have a more consistent high-quality option.
Another new feature is the “Quick Attention” mode. This mode allows you to quickly lower the music volume so that you can hear announcements or speak to someone without removing your headphones.
The last new feature is the “Adaptive Sound Control.” This feature uses the built-in sensors to detect your activity level and adjust the noise cancellation and EQ settings accordingly.
Sony WH-1000XM4 Review
Below is my Sony WH-1000XM4 review after using these as my daily drivers for the better part of a year.
The Sony WH-2000XM4 has an impressive range of innovative controls and smart applications for the WH-1000XM4. The WH1000XM4 is a very powerful product with excellent noise-cancelling capabilities. Everything great in the WH1000 XM3 headphone is now incorporated into the successor WH1000XM4 with new features.
Included in the box:
The headphones come with a USB-C charging cable and a 3.5mm audio cable. The headphones also come with a carrying case and an airplane adapter.
Below are the feature highlights for these wireless headphones.
* Active Noise Cancelling (ANC)
* 30-hour battery life
* USB-C charging
* Quick Attention mode
* Touch controls
* Wear detection
* Sony LDAC support
* Speak to Chat
The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones are available in two colors: black and silver. I tested and own the black model and found them to be very sleek and understated.
The headband and ear cups have a soft-touch coating that feels nice and premium. The headband is adjustable and the ear cups swivel to allow for a more comfortable fit. The ear cups are large and made of soft, memory foam padding. The headband is also padded and adjusts to fit a variety of head sizes.
I found the XM4’s to be very comfortable, even after wearing them for hours at a time.
The WH-1000XM4’s have a sleek and premium design. The headphones are made of plastic and metal with soft, leather earpads. The headphones are available in black or silver.
The headphones fold flat for easy storage and come with a carrying case. The case is made of hard plastic and has a magnetic closure.
Audio Sound Quality
Sony used 40mm drivers on the WH1000XM4 like they did on the WH1000XM3. Therefore tonally and compared with mix there is not much difference for the WH1000XM4 and WH1000XM3. I will mention that the XM4 does have Edge-AI, a new processing co-developed with Sony Music Studios Tokyo. I no longer have the XM3 but as far as I can remember, not a huge difference in audio quality.
Try the Sony’s out with Roku streaming, Connect Bluetooth Headphones to Roku
A warm balanced sound that offers good soundstages when needed and details are possible through a powerful bass performance. The company also has dual noise sensors which allow the earcups to suck into sound by using the QN1 noise-cancelling CPU. The headphones can therefore increase noise cancellation response imperceptibly quickly, over 700 times a minute.
The sound quality of the Sony WH-1000XM4’s is excellent. I was really impressed with how well these headphones reproduce music across all genres. The bass is tight and punchy without being overwhelming. The mid frequency sounds and highs are well balanced and detailed. The soundstage is wide and spacious.
The Sony WH-1000XM4’s have three selectable sound modes: Standard, Ambient Sound, and Quick Attention. Standard is the default mode and offers the best sound quality. Ambient Sound mode allows you to hear your surroundings while still enjoying your music. Quick Attention mode allows you to quickly lower the music volume so that you can hear announcements or speak to someone without removing your headphones.
I found that the Ambient Sound mode worked well for walking around in busy city streets. I could still enjoy my music while being aware of my surroundings. The Quick Attention mode was also handy for quick conversations without having to remove my headphones.
You will not need an amp to drive the headphones but a nice potable dac would be a nice addition to improve sound quality.
The Sony WH-1000XM4’s also have a built-in EQ that can be adjusted using the Sony Headphones Connect app. The app also allows you to customize the touch controls and set different profiles for different activities.
Advanced Audio Signal Processing
The Sony WH-1000XM4’s have advanced audio signal processing that upscales compressed digital music files to near high-resolution quality. The headphones also support LDAC, aptX HD, and AAC codecs for high-quality wireless streaming.
The Sony WH-1000XM4’s have best-in-class noise cancellation. The headphones use two mics on the outside of the earcups and one mic on the inside to cancel out ambient noise. The headphones also have an atmospheric pressure equalizing valve to reduce cabin pressure build-up when flying.
The WH-1000XM4’s do an excellent job at cancelling out low frequency noise like the rumble of an airplane engine. The headphones also do a good job at cancelling out moderate frequency noise like city traffic. However, the noise cancellation is not perfect and you will still be able to hear some high-frequency noise like people talking.
Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE)
The Sony WH-1000XM4’s have a digital sound enhancement engine (DSEE) that upscales compressed digital music files to near high resolution quality. The headphones also support LDAC, aptX HD, and AAC codecs for high quality wireless streaming.
The Sony WH-1000XM4’s have a built-in microphone for making phone calls and using voice assistants. The mic quality is good and the people I spoke to said that they could hear me clearly. Obviously you are not getting a broadcast quality mic, but the mic quality is good enough for making phone calls, using voice assistants and even streaming or podcasting.
The Sony WH-1000XM4’s have touch controls on the earcups that allow you to control your music and phone calls without reaching for your device. The touch controls are sensitive and easy to use. You can customize the touch controls using the Sony Headphones Connect app.
One note, the touch controls are one of the items I like least on the XM4. They work as expected most of the time but they under tuned the responsiveness and they it can seem laggy and not respond from time to time. If you owned the XM3, you will remember they were too sensitive and apt to kick in with unexpected bumps or nudges. Sony tried to rectify this on the XM4 but they may have gone too far in the other direction.
The left earcup has a multi-function button that can be used to play/pause music, answer/end phone calls, and activate your voice assistant. The right earcup has a volume rocker and a noise cancellation button. Pressing the noise cancellation button once will turn the noise cancellation on or off. Pressing and holding the noise cancellation button will activate Quick Attention mode.
The Sony WH-1000XM4’s have excellent battery life. The headphones can last for up to 30 hours on a single charge with noise cancellation and Bluetooth turned on. If you turn off noise cancellation and use the headphones in wired mode, you can get up to 60 hours of battery life.
This powerful battery can be used on long journeys and even longer. And for urgent charging, you can have five hours of rechargeable battery after only ten minutes with optional AC adapter. With WH-1500XM4 everything is simple and easy to use. Get us hands-on support. Use “OK Google / Amazon Echo / Siri / Google Assistant” for activation.
Price and release date
The WH-1000M 4 was announced in September 2020 with the Sony Wireless W-500XM 4 – the most powerful Wireless WF. Price upon release was $349.99 USD. This is exactly what Sony WH-1000 XM3 was at launch time in 2018 in the USA.
The earbud version, Sony WF-1000XM4, is a similar price range.
Sony WF-1000XM4 INoise Canceling Truly Wireless Earbud
Personal Noise Cancelling Optimiser
Noise cancellation software analyzes specific sonic characteristics caused by head height, head shape, if needed, and adapts your sound accordingly. This process is called Personal Noise Cancelling Optimizer (NCO).
What is Sony NC Optimiser? How does it work for Ambient Noise?
The NC Optimizer by Sony optimizes the headphones’ sound protection in response to your environment. Factors considered include face shape and glare. The app takes into account your height in planes. Hold on the Optimizer software button on the left ear to launch the software. The app will now open and show you how to position the headphones on your head for best results.
The video below details how to use the NC Optimizer
The Sony headphones offer an excellent noise reduction feature. If you are looking for a great work and play headset that offers reliability, durability along with great sound quality, then the Sony WH-1000XM4 should be your top pick.
Buy them if..
You are looking for a top quality pair of wireless noise cancelling headphones that you can use both for business and pleasure. They offer high enough sound quality for most casual music listeners and gaming enthusiasts while retaining great features.
Although not the cheapest headphones recognize they do offer a great bang for the buck when comparing to other wireless noise cancelling headphones.
Don’t buy them if…
You are looking for a cheap headset. The Sony WH-1000XM4 is not the cheapest option on the market. Also, do not expect the Sony headphones to match the sound quality and audio nuances of high end audiophile headphones.
Sony WH-1000XM4 tips: how to pair, connect to multiple devices, and more
In the section below, I will walk you through some of the most important tips to help get you up and enjoying your XM4’s in no time. This guide will show you the best ways to get to Sonic Nirvana.
How to pair the Sony WH-1000XM4 Headphones
Pairing your XM4’s is a simple process. Start by turning on your headphones and then open the Bluetooth settings on your device. Once there, select “WH-1000XM4” from the list of available devices and wait for the pairing process to complete.
Connecting the XM4 to multiple devices
The XM4’s can be connected to multiple Bluetooth devices at the same time. Sony calls this functionality Multipoint connection and it is a great feature. As a result of the Multipoint Connection, the headphones may effortlessly switch between two audio sources without having to re-establish a Bluetooth connection.
To connect the XM4 to multiple Bluetooth devices, simply put your headphones into pairing mode and then connect each of the two devices you want to use one at a time. Once both of the two devices are connected and setup, two fast taps of the touch sensor control panel on the right side of your headphones is all that is needed to switch from listening to your music to accepting a call.
Note: Only two devices can be connected to a multipoint connection at a time.
It is possible to connect a third device through Bluetooth, but it must be detached from the second device in order to create a Bluetooth connection with the headphones, which means that the second device must be disconnected.
How to set up the Sony WH-1000XM4 app?
The WH1000 xM4 requires a new Sony app to use — the Sony Headphones Connect app. This app can be downloaded on iOS and Google Android. The Sony Headphones Connect app allows you to choose various options. The app’s main page is your current battery level and a power-saving mode.
There are three quick options below the battery display:
Atmosphere: This toggles the built-in microphone on or off for use with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
Note: After the most recent update, the XM4 is no longer compatible with Google assistant on IOS.
Equalizer: Use this to select one of the 10 available presets, or create a custom one to adjust the sound levels and frequency curve to best suit your music.
Noise Cancelling: Adjust this setting to find the perfect amount of noise cancellation for your environment. The app allows you to fine-tune the noise signals capabilities of the headset to suit the noise signals of your present environment. The HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1 then applies noise cancelling processing in real time to a range of acoustic environments.
Additionally, you may modify the mix of ambient sound that is transmitted through the headphones to your ear, allowing you to hear what’s going on in the surrounding environment. Finally, you can set for the five built in microphones of the noise cancelling turned off in the headset.
360-degree sound: When using 360 Reality Audio, the listener is surrounded by a 360-degree sphere of sound, which contains all of the sound sources (voice, instruments, effects, etc.). There are tons of new releases available for this feature. You can find specifics here and it is compatible with Amazon Music, Spotify, Deezer and Tidal
The app also allows you to manage the XM4’s multipoint connections, view firmware updates, and register your product.
Customize your sound with the Sony Headphones Connect app
For even more control over your listening experience, be sure to download the Sony Headphones Connect app. This free app allows you to EQ your sound and setup advanced audio signal processing. You can also activate adaptive sound control (which automatically adjusts noise cancellation settings and ambient sound settings based on your activity), and even map the touch sensor control panel to your desired functions.
With the app, you can also manage the XM4’s multipoint connections, view firmware updates, and register your product.
For more detailed instructions on how to use the app, check out our post How to Use the Sony Headphones Connect App.
How to charge the Sony WH-1000XM4?
The Sony WH-1000 XM4 ships with a USB-C charging cable and a 3.5mm headphone jack adapter. The headphones can be charged using the included USB-C cable, or any standard USB-A to USB-C cable.
To charge the headphones, simply connect the included USB-C charging cable to the port on the bottom of the right ear cup. The headphones will begin charging immediately, and a red LED will light up on the bottom of the ear cup to indicate that charging is in progress. The headphones will take approximately 4 hours to fully charge from empty.
Once the headphones are fully charged, the red LED will turn off. If the batteries are running low, the LED will flash red.
It is also possible to charge the headphones using a power bank with a USB-A to USB-C cable. The headphones will draw 2.5W of power while charging.
How to maximise battery life for the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones?
The estimated 30-hour battery life is impressive but not actually the maximum available with the XM4. If you check the manual the headphones can be on at 38 hours. However, there are a few things you can do to help maximise battery life.
Lower the volume: This will help to increase the battery life.
Use the app to change settings: In the app you can change a few things like turning off LED lights and also setting how long it takes for the headphones to go into standby mode.
Turn off features you’re not using: If you’re not using noise cancellation then turn it off as it will help to improve the battery life.
Codecs: If you’re not using a high quality audio codec then you can switch to a lower quality one which will help improve battery life.
All these things will help increase your battery life and mean you don’t have to charge as often.
How to use the touch controls on the Sony WH-1000XM4?
The Sony WH-1000XM4 features touch-sensitive controls on the right ear cup. These can be used to control playback, volume, and phone calls.
To play or pause music, simply tap the center of the touch panel. To skip to the next track, double-tap the right side of the panel. To go back to the previous track, double-tap the left side.
To control volume of the wireless headphones, swipe up or down on the right side of the panel. To turn off the headphones, touch and hold the center of the panel for 3 seconds.
To answer a phone call, double-tap the center of the panel. To end a call, double-tap the center of the panel again. To decline a call, touch and hold the center of the panel for 1 second.
To access your phone’s voice assistant on the wireless headphones, tap and hold the center of the panel for 2 seconds.
To put the headphones in standby mode, touch and hold the power button for 2 seconds. The headphones will enter standby mode if no music is playing and no phone call is active for 10 minutes.
How to use the noise-cancelling microphones on the Sony WH-1000XM4?
The Sony WH-1000XM4 features 4 noise-cancelling microphones: 2 on the outside of the ear cups, and 2 on the inside.
These microphones work together to form the ambient sound control and to cancel out background noise, so you can focus on your music or phone call.
To use the noise canceling microphones, simply make sure the headphones are turned on and the noise canceling feature is enabled. The microphones will automatically start working to cancel out background noise.
You can also manually adjust the level of the noise canceling microphones for noise cancellation level sing the app.
Common Issues With the Sony WH-1000XM4 Headset and How to Fix Them
Overall, the Sony headphones are a reliable, good headset but over the past few years of using them I have ran into some common issues that are seen across a variety of wireless headphones. In the section below, I will be going over some of the most common Sony WH-1000XM4 issues and how to fix them.
If you are having trouble with your WH-1000XM4 then hopefully one of the solutions below will help you out.
Sony WH-1000XM4 Pairing Issues
One of the more common issues people have with the WH-1000XM4 is that they are unable to get them to stay paired with their device. If you are having this issue with your Sony headphones then there are a few things you can try in order to fix it.
The first thing you should do is make sure that the firmware on your headphones is up to date. To do this, you will need to connect your headphones to the Sony Headphones Connect app and check to see if there is an update available. If there is, go ahead and install it.
If using a PC, you can check the latest firmware and drivers here.
If your firmware is already up to date or updating it does not fix the issue then the next thing you should do is reset the headset. Read the section below on how to initialize and do a hard reset for the Sonys.
How to hard reset Sony WH-1000XM4?
One of the most common issues I have encountered with the Sony WH-1000XM4 is that from time to time they will need a hard reset and need to be synced back to my phone and other devices. The process is simple and below are instructions on how to hard reset Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones.
Pressing the Power and Custom buttons while your headphones are charging will clear all data and reset the WH-1000XMH. The pairing process can then be restarted from scratch. Remember that if you have more than one device linked to the headset, you’ll lose both connections.
During charging, push both the (power) button and the CUSTOM button simultaneously if the headset won’t turn on or can’t be used. In order to use it again, the headset must be reset.
Initialize the headset to return it to factory settings if it still does not work properly after a reset.
How Do I initialize the Sony WH-1000XM4 to Restore Factory Settings?
With the headset off, detach the USB Type-C cord from the headset and then press and hold the (power) button and the CUSTOM button simultaneously for at least seven seconds.
The headset is initialized when the indicator (blue) flashes four times. Resetting the volume, and other settings to factory defaults. This will delete all pairing information for the WH-1000XM4. Delete the headset’s pairing information from your phone, then try pairing it again.
Consult a Sony dealer if the headset doesn’t work after initialization.
The Sony WH-1000XM4 is an excellent wireless, noise canceling headset and one of the best on the market. It has great features, a good design, and overall is a great headset. If you are in the market for a new headset then I would highly recommend the Sony WH-1000XM4.
However, as with any piece of technology, there are bound to be some issues. In this article, I went over some of the most common Sony WH-1000XM4 issues and how to fix them. Hopefully, one of the solutions above will help you fix your issue and enjoy your new headset.
Below are some additional questions and answers regarding the XM4.
What Bluetooth Codecs Are Supported for the XM4?
Though not the most stable of connections, Sony’s proprietary LDAC technology provides the best possible streaming quality for the Sony WH-1000XM4 over Bluetooth 5.0. What if you don’t have any of these codecs installed on your device? Then it will use SBC, the most basic codec used by all Bluetooth audio devices. For devices without Bluetooth you can always use the 3.5mm audio wire included in the package to connect.
Note: If you’re utilizing AAC, rather than LDAC or SBC, the multipoint functionality is available.
I reside in a medium sized home and haven’t had any problems with range.
How to update the Sony WH-1000XM4?
You may update WH 1000xM4 firmware automatically or manually. If you decide to make an automatic update to your headset, the headset connect app sends you an email. Download it then it can be transferred to headphones. Setup updates automatically, and they are automatically updated. It transfers on to the headphone when power is restored. Like any new software update, there are bugs which should be checked first. It takes about 30 seconds for an updated battery to appear.
Is Sony’s WH1000XM4 waterproof?
No, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is not waterproof. They are not IP-rated and thus cannot guarantee water- and dust-resistant. While some rain drops will probably not cause real damage, we are careful not to take these outdoors when it rains.
How to turn off the noise cancelling on the XM4?
To turn off the noise cancelling feature on the XM4, hold down the Ambient Sound button for two seconds. You will hear a voice prompt letting you know that the feature has been turned
Can Sony WH-1000XM4 be wired?
Yes, the Sony WH-1000XM4 can be wired using the 3.5mm audio cable included in the package. Simply connect the cable to the headset and your device and you’re good to go.
Do I need batteries for my XM4?
No, the Sony WH-1000XM4 does not require batteries. They are powered by a internal battery which can be recharged using the included USB cable.
What is in the box?
The Sony WH-1000XM4 comes with the headset, 3.5mm audio cable, USB charging cable, and carrying case.
What is the Best Case for Sony WH-1000XM4 Headphones?
I upgraded my case from the soft case that was included. I like the ProCase Hard Case for the XM4.
Is Sony’s WH1000XM4 good for gaming? Is it compatible with PC, Xbox PS4 or PS5?
The Sony WH-1000XM4 is not specifically designed for gaming but can be used for gaming purposes. We did not have it in our top gaming headsets list this year but it will work for sure. It does not have any built-in features that are specific to gaming but it can be used with all the major gaming consoles.
How to connect Sony WH-1000XM4 to PC?
The Sony WH-1000XM4 can be connected to a PC using the included 3.5mm audio cable or over Bluetooth. To connect over Bluetooth, simply turn on the headset and put it in pairing mode. Then go to your PC’s Bluetooth settings and add the XM4 as a new device.
How to connect Sony WH-1000XM4 to Mac?
The Sony WH-1000XM4 can be connected to a Mac using the included 3.5mm audio cable or over Bluetooth. To connect over Bluetooth, simply turn on the headset and put it in pairing mode. Then go to your Mac’s Bluetooth settings and add the XM4 as a new device.
Can the Sony WH-1000XM4 connect to multiple devices?
Yes, the Sony WH-1000XM4 can connect to multiple devices at the same time. However, only one device can be used at a time. To switch between devices, simply turn off the Bluetooth on the current device and turn on the Bluetooth on the new device.
The WH-1000XM4 introduces the ultra-utility multipoint functionality that allows for connection between different Bluetooth sources.