Sony is largely responsible for the rude health of the active dissonance-cancelling true wireless in-ear headphones market, and with the WF-1000XM4, the company has combined performance, ergonomics, and build quality more than effectively than ever before. They’re not perfect, but every bit an overall bundle they’re hard to beat.
Rapid, full-bodied and eloquent sound
Impeccable ergonomics and some truly useful features
Impressive phone call quality
Unremarkable battery life
Tin take a few moments to position comfortably
Voted Best In-Ear Headphones at the
TechRadar Pick Awards 2021
The latest model in Sony’south wildly successful WF-thou line of true wireless earbuds are smaller, lighter and greener than ever – oh, and the Sony WF-1000XM4 also sound even more clear and immediate than the model they supplant at the top of the range.
It’south true to say there’south no i surface area (with the possible exception of control-app excellence) in which they truly lead the field; but if you want to crush them for their combination of sound quality, racket-cancelling and bombardment life you’ll have to buy three pairs of dissonance-cancelling earbuds.
In every respect, the Sony WF-1000XM4 are either ‘very skillful’ or ‘very skillful indeed’ –and taken as a complete package they’re very difficult to lay a glove on.
Compared to their predecessors, the Sony WF-1000XM3, the new wireless earbuds offering enough quality-of-life features to make them worth upgrading to, even if they are slightly more expensive.
A more compact pattern ways the Sony WF-1000XM4 are more comfortable and easier to carry around, while the accompanying app makes information technology unproblematic to adjust the controls and your EQ settings, rivalling the best headphones.
Meanwhile, features taken from the over-ear Sony WH-1000XM4, including Speak-To-Chat, DSEE Extreme audio upscaling, and adaptive noise counterfoil, hateful you’ll be difficult-pressed to find a more than comprehensively-specced pair of wireless earbuds, even when seeking out the best wireless headphones.
While other truthful wireless earbuds surpass the Sony WF-1000XM4 in particular areas – noise counterfoil, for instance – no other model comes close to offer such excellent quality across the lath. That’due south why the Sony WF-1000XM4 are hands-down the best true wireless earbuds you can buy today.
Read on for our full Sony WF-1000XM4 review.
Sony WF-1000XM4: toll and release date
- Available now, released June 8, 2021
- $279.99 / £250 / AU$449.95
The Sony WF-1000XM4 are on sale at present, priced at $279.99 / £250 / AU$449.95, and when y’all consider that the outgoing WF-1000XM3 started life at a nominal $230 / £220 / AU$399 dorsum in 2019, with the terminal few pairs currently available for around $170 / £150 / AU$200, that toll seems off-white enough.
In terms of the contest, the WF-1000XM4 compares pretty favorably with alternative designs from the likes of Bose, Grado and Sennheiser, and looks a chip of a bargain next to Bowers & Wilkins’ outstanding (and dizzily priced) PI7.
Sony WF-1000XM4: design and controls
- Smaller than predecessors
- Outstanding command app
- Touch controls
The approachable WF-1000XM3 gave united states of america plenty of reasons to recommend them, but ‘discretion’ was not high on that list. The earbuds were big, and so was their charging case, and Sony has wisely chosen to try and reduce some of this bulk in this new model.
Audio-visual design: Closed
Frequency response: 20-xl,000Hz
Battery life : 8 hours (earbuds) 16 hours (charging case)
The charging case is a full forty% smaller, while the earbuds themselves are ten% smaller. The fact that they’re still amongst the heftier examples of this blazon only serves to illustrate how big the WF-1000XM3 were – just at to the lowest degree the new charging case might conceivably slip into a trouser pocket, while the earbuds don’t protrude from the wearer’s caput similar a prop in a sci-fi moving picture.
(Sony has taken a large chunk out of the packaging, besides. The box the WF-1000XM4 arrive in is 40% smaller than the WF-1000XM3 box, and it’south entirely paper-based, recyclable and eco-friendly.)
The WF-1000XM4 comprise some of the features kickoff showcased on last year’s WH-1000XM4 over-ears: agile racket-counterfoil that tin ascertain what you’re doing and where you’re doing information technology in society to adapt to your circumstances; fast pairing for Android and Windows devices; and ‘speak to chat’, which just requires y’all to make a noise in order to pause your music so that you can have a brief chat without removing the earbuds. Racket cancelling is augmented by new polyurethane eartips (pocket-size, medium and big are all provided) designed to provide improved passive dissonance reduction.
Your one-end-store for controlling the WF-1000XM4 is Sony’south fully featured, fully stable Headphones app. Here’south where you can fiddle with all the features (both bully and pocket-sized) that are partially duplicated on the capacitive touch surface of each earbud. In the app you tin can decide what you’d like the left and right earbuds to command: ‘volume up/downward’, ‘play/interruption/skip forwards/skip backwards/summon voice assistant’, ‘active racket-cancelling on/off/adaptive’, or the rather less helpful ‘cypher assigned’.
There’south besides EQ adjustment (the numerous presets include one racily titled ‘Excited’), with infinite for a custom preset or two, and the option to turn machine-suspension and DSEE Extreme on or off. Hither’southward where y’all tin can submit pictures of your ears, likewise, in an effort to help Sony optimize those music streaming apps that offer 360 Reality Audio or Dolby Atmos, and where you lot can decide whether you’d like your Bluetooth connection to prioritize audio quality or connection stability.
Control is also available via the big three vocalisation assistants – Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa – which can be summoned via their established ‘wake’ words. No thing your assistant of option, the WF-1000XM4 prove abrupt-eared and alert to instructions, even in unpromisingly noisy environments.
There are three mics in each earbud, taking intendance of active racket-cancelling, telephone call quality, and interaction with voice assistants. A combination of feed-forward and feed-dorsum mics capture the wearer’southward voice directionally (from the oral cavity), though the feed-forward mics will automatically mute when adverse atmospheric condition (wind noise, most probable) are detected. Sony has also included a bone conduction sensor, which picks up vocalism vibration, only doesn’t annals it as ambient sound.
Sony WF-1000XM4: sound performance and noise cancellation
- Counterbalanced, driving, poised and disarming sound
- Pretty practiced noise cancellation
- Dandy dynamic and rhythmic ability
Positioning the WF-1000XM4 comfortably takes a niggling longer than it really should – we found them a little fiddly to insert, and felt they should fit more than securely in the ear than is the case – just once it’southward washed you can set up the affect controls, the EQ levels and the myriad other options to your liking. All done? Good. Time to stick some music on.
Nosotros kicked off our testing with a Tidal Masters file of Burner by Ross From Friends, and the WF-1000XM4 immediately impressed. They don’t give whatsoever area of the frequency range undue prominence, they don’t let any details go unnoticed, and they don’t let rhythms or tempos hang around. At that place’south vigor and enthusiasm to their presentation, but it’southward tempered by unarguable command.
Down at the bottom stop, the earbuds freight bass sounds with substance, texture, and an absolute stack of item. In that location’s drive and momentum to spare here, merely the WF-1000XM4 never lose the run of themselves – in that location’s an equal amount of poise to proceed with it. Entry into and go out from bass notes is clean and well-divers, which helps prevent the lesser end smearing up into the midrange.
The midrange itself is equally information-rich – listening to Kate Bush’southward Lake Tahoe, the ability of the WF-1000XM4 to place and incorporate the tiniest details or the most fleeting transients into a much broader moving picture was obvious. ‘Communicative’ may seem a redundant word when discussing a person’s singing voice, but here information technology’s absolutely appropriate: if they’re anything, the WF-1000XM4 are communicative.
The handover from midrange to top end is smooth and naturalistic, and treble sounds themselves have enough of shine and bite without ever getting shouty about it. Both Kate Bush and Ross From Friends are more happy to pile on the high-frequency data, but the WF-1000XM4 control it every bit deftly as they exercise the remainder of the frequency range.
(All of the to a higher place assumes an unchanged EQ setting, we should point out. Sony is slightly unusual in allowing the stop-user to fiddle endlessly with the sound of their earbuds, only the well-nigh natural and convincing audio comes from the WF-1000XM4 when their EQ is apartment.)
Dynamically, as well, in that location’s little to criticize. The WF-1000XM4 are capable of switching from ‘ear-splitting’ to ‘near silent’ and back once more in an instant, and even the most subtle harmonic dynamics of Bush-league’s pianoforte-playing are given full clarification besides. Every bit far every bit rhythmic certainty and expression goes, their combination of control and set on ensures that, similar James Chocolate-brown, they’re always on the expert foot. All of this is helped no end by convincingly natural timing and unity of presentation.
The agile noise cancelling is a success of the slightly more qualified kind. The trouble for every other pair of ANC truthful wireless earbuds is that the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds take demonstrated that it’south possible to utterly reject external sounds, without leaving any counter-signal and without impacting on the quality of the music you’re listening to.
The WF-1000XM4 tin can’t quite pull off the aforementioned trick – merely they certainly minimize the impact of ambient racket on your listening experience. They may not be the market leader where noise-cancellation is concerned merely, for most of the people most of the time, they’re extremely capable.
Sony WF-1000XM4: battery life and connectivity
- Eight hours onboard bombardment life
- Wireless charging
- Bluetooth 5.two
Even within the new and reduced physical dimensions of the WF-1000XM4 there’s much more going on than there was before. Connectivity is now via Bluetooth 5.ii, which means simultaneous transmission to the left and correct earbuds, and (when using Sony’s bespoke LDAC codec) Hi-Res Sound Wireless certification.
Bluetooth 5.two should, in theory, mean better battery life, too – only the best-case real-world scenario of 24 hours (between 8 and 12 in the earbuds, depending on whether active noise cancellation is on or off, plus another couple of charges in the instance) is really nothing special. Still, at least the WF-1000XM4 are Qi charging pad-compatible, and five minutes plugged into an outlet will deliver some other hour of action.
Besides as LDAC, the WF-1000XM4 are compatible with SBC and AAC codecs – simply there’south no sign of aptX in whatsoever of its guises. They also incorporate DSEE Farthermost capability, in instance you’re a believer in an algorithm supposedly capable of extracting high-resolution sound from a standard-definition digital sound file (we’ve never been entirely convinced).
Should I buy the Sony WF-1000XM4 Wireless Earbuds?
Buy them if…
Don’t purchase them if…
Not convinced past our Sony WF-1000XM4 review? Hither are three more pairs of true wireless earbuds to consider.
Kickoff reviewed: June 2021
- See where the Sony WF-1000XM4 rank in our guide to the best earbuds.
- Check out our guide to the all-time wireless earbuds for the competition