Sony WH-1000XM4 is the fourth generation of extremely popular headphones with ANC from Sony. How do they work in practice and is it worth buying? About this in today’s review.
The first two generations of Sony’s WH series headphones were among the most recommended wireless headphones with ANC on the market. The reason was simple – they were just very good. That’s why I approached the tests of the two latest generations – XM4 and XM5 with great curiosity. In this article, I focus on the WH-1000XM4 model. I will publish its newer version in a separate entry.
The headphones are placed in a solid, material case matching the color of the device (available in white, gray, black and navy blue). On the outside, the manufacturer used a delicate transport mesh so that you can hide small things, e.g. wires or documents. Inside the case there is a place for folded headphones separated from each other by an additional compartment for power cords. In this way, we have everything we need to use these headphones. The case is quite stiff, so you can put it in, for example, a travel bag without any worries.
The headphones are light and soft. A thick layer of polyurethane foam evenly distributes pressure, and a larger contact surface with the ear cup improves stability. We can connect a cable to them or use them completely wirelessly. A full charge takes about three hours and ensures continuous operation for 30-38 hours (depending on whether we have turned on the ANC function or not).
Headphones are detected almost instantly, thanks to the support of Google’s quick pairing function. Using the application, we can additionally configure the device. In addition to the classic equalizer for correcting individual sound frequencies, we also have the option of optimizing for our ears or calibrating the ANC system taking into account the pressure to further improve noise and noise reduction, e.g. in an airplane.
After putting on the headphones, we can immediately choose between the two most important functions – ANC will reduce the ambient sound to a minimum, while ambient sound will do the opposite. Thanks to the Speak-to-Chat function, as soon as we start talking, the headphones will automatically pause the music and turn off the reduction of ambient noise. After the call ends, the music will be turned back on automatically. This smart Speak-to-Chat feature was developed by Sony using Precise Voice Pickup technology. This system responds to the user’s voice thanks to five built-in microphones and advanced audio signal processing.
It is worth mentioning that the headphones can be connected to two devices at once. What does this mean in practice? If you work on a laptop, you can listen to music on your computer, and when the phone rings – switch to it and answer the call muting the music automatically. It’s a very convenient solution.
Advanced ANC Processor
The QN1 HD is a noise reduction processor that has been specially designed for the Sony headphone series. This technology uses a new real-time processing algorithm that analyzes ambient sounds and eliminates noise so the user can focus on the music or the conversation.
The QN1 HD processor works in conjunction with the Dual Noise Sensor technology, which consists of two microphones mounted in each of the ear cups. These microphones capture sounds from the environment and send them to the processor, which then processes and reduces them. Thanks to this, Sony headphones offer one of the best noise reduction on the market.
What’s more, the QN1 HD processor is able to adjust the level of noise reduction to different environments. Thanks to this, it works just as well whether we are on the street, in a noisy office or on a plane.
Another important element of the QN1 HD technology is the fact that it works with the Bluetooth Audio SoC (System on Chip). This means the QN1 HD processor can detect and correct music and noise signals up to 700 times per second. Thanks to this, the processor improves noise and distortion in tracks with poorer sound quality.
Headphones in practice
I tested the headphones in a classic way – both during office work, watching a movie at night, walking in different surroundings, or traveling. I checked several factors – comfort of use, noise reduction, sound quality, ease of use and battery life. Let me tell you, it’s really good!
The headband of the headphones is flexible enough to wear the device securely. You don’t feel any pressure on your head and it doesn’t bother you when you move it. The headphones perfectly surround the auricle, but I also did not notice that my ears warmed up during several hours of listening to music. They are so comfortable that you don’t feel them on the head. And that’s a big plus.
How the ANC works
ANC works very well, although in quite a lot of noise, e.g. when walking on a busy road with the music turned off, you can hear a slight hum from the wheels of passing vehicles. After calibrating in the app, a slight hum remained. It turned out that the XM5 model copes much better with noise at higher frequencies, completely cutting it out in an analogous test. In a different type of noise, e.g. office, shop, public transport, the headphones cope perfectly well. They allow you to completely switch off and separate yourself from the environment. And I like it very much.
The operation of the headphones is intuitive. Without reading the user manual or application hints, I was able to feel the touch control of various parts of the handset after a few moments. I would replace the Power/BT/battery level button with the function of switching between ANC and Ambient Sound. The first one is lower, so directing my hand towards the handset, I confused these buttons almost every time. It is worth adding that it is very comfortable to talk on the phone in them. Interlocutors praised the sound quality, even during a walk in stronger winds.
The battery in the headphones
And how is the battery working? After receiving the headphones, I fully charged them. After 2 weeks of intensive use for several hours a day, I managed to discharge them only half. It is worth adding that a lot of this time took walks at temperatures around zero degrees.
In this part, I could focus on the different technologies used in these headphones, but I will sum it all up in one word – a revelation. The headphones sound just great. Walking the streets of the city in the evenings, you can close your eyes and listen to the individual instruments of your favorite piece. You can hear them perfectly, they are nicely balanced with the addition of soft bass. It quickly turned out that I liked the sound very much.