Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Headphones

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Headphones Review

In the world of wireless headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM4 has had the biggest launch and not without good reason. This pair of headphones are Sony’s best wireless noise-canceling headphones.

Instead of repackaging old models, the Sony WH-1000XM4 boasts a newer comfortable design, along with boosted noise-canceling abilities. Furthermore, the audio and call quality has also been improved so that their customers can have the best headphones possible. New features have also been added to boost the experience to the next level. Changes have also been made in the battery department, and more control features have also been introduced that offer you more control over the headphones.

Overall, this pair of Sony wireless headphones are a step above the previous model, and reading further; you will see how they are superior to their predecessors and their competitors.



Although there are many new features that fit into the Sony WH-1000XM4, its looks are not much different from its predecessors. The aesthetics remain almost identical. You would probably have a hard time differentiating the Sony WH-1000XM4 from the Sony WH-1000XM3 if they were placed beside each other. There are a few minor differences, which are noticeable if you look close. 

The design itself is quite subtle and sleek, which allows it to blend in wherever you wear it. It ditches bold colors and a clunky design and opts for a more clean look. 

The body of the headphones is made using high-quality plastic that is padded with supple leather. Therefore, the headphones are both durable and comfortable at the same time. The added padding also ensures that the headphones can be worn for extended periods of time without hurting your ears. Moreover, more textured plastic is used around the earcups and sliders. This is a change from the more smooth surface that the Sony WH-1000XM3 featured. The change adds to the durability of the headphones and makes them look and feel sturdier. 

The earcups of these headphones feature two physical buttons that are for controls. These buttons allow you control over the power, pairing, and noise-canceling modes. Besides these buttons is a 3.5mm aux jack and a USB-C port for charging purposes. The outer side of these earcups works as a touch-capacitative control panel. Therefore, you can use it to play, pause, skip music and even change the volume. 

The internals of the headphones house new parts and chips, which makes this sony dream machine better than its competitors. With a new system-on-a-chip (SoC), Sony promises improved noise cancelation and delivers on it too. The Sony QNe1 processor also has a hand in this. It samples ambient audio to help adjust the level of noise cancellation. This set-up of different noise cancellation modes is starkly different from the single-mode noise-cancellation algorithm that other wireless headphones use. 

Even though the design of these new sony Bluetooth headphones is sleek, it is unfortunately not waterproof, nor is it splash-proof or water-resistant. You should keep these far away from water. 

Audio Quality

Audio Quality

Audio quality is the basis of good headphones, and in this regard, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is not much different from its predecessor, the Sony WH-1000XM3. The lack of change is down to the drivers used in both. Sony has used the same 40mm drivers. So, in terms of audio quality, they sound very similar. The sound is quite balanced and warm, which is pleasant to listen to. When required, these headphones deliver a wide sound field, and this helps you listen in even more detail.

The detail is noticeable when you listen to super powerful tracks. Overall, the sounds are more composed and confident. Lower frequencies are particularly delightful to experience using these headphones. Additionally, these headphones work perfectly in terms of timing and dynamic. It can communicate dynamic shifts in sound and the jump from quieter sounds to louder ones are pretty smooth. These small yet noticeable features allow the Sony XM4 class headphones to make any music sound smooth and melodic.

In terms of noise-cancellation, Sony uses its Dual Noise Sensor technology. It uses two mics from each earcup to catch the sound. This sound is analyzed using the QN1 noise-canceling processor. Using this technology, the Sony headphones can adjust the noise cancellation response both quickly and effectively. 

These headphones also feature 360 Reality Audio. This feature is Sony’s own immersive audio format that places you in the center of a surround sound mix. The experience is impressive and would be more so if it was not limited. There are only a few streaming services that have a limited catalog of songs when it comes to this kind of audio. 

Microphone Quality

The Sony WH-1000XM4s include a built-in mic to make phone calls and use voice assistants. The mic quality is good, and everyone I spoke with claimed they could hear me. You are not receiving a broadcast-grade microphone, but it is adequate for phone calls, voice recording, voice assistants, and even streaming or podcasting.

Touch Controls

Touch controls on the earcups of the Sony WH-1000XM4 allow you to manage your phone calls and music without reaching for your device. The touch controls are responsive and simple to use. The Sony Headphones Connect smart app allows you to modify the touch controls.

One thing to notice is that the touch controls on the XM4 are one of my least favorite features. They function as anticipated most of the time; however, they underlined the responsiveness, making it appear laggy and unresponsive at times. If you owned an XM3, you’d recall that they were too sensitive; thus, it was prone to reacting to sudden bumps or nudges. Sony attempted to address this with the XM4, but they might have gone overboard in the opposite direction.

A multi-function button on the left-earcup can be used to answer/end phone calls, play/pause music, and activate the voice assistant. Volume control and a noise-canceling button are located on the right earcup. When you press the noise cancellation button once, it will switch on or off. Quick Attention mode is activated by pressing and holding the noise cancellation button.

Battery Life

Battery Life

One would expect the battery life improvement with newer models of the Sony wireless headphones, but that is not the case. The Sony WH-1000XM4 does not come with a boosted battery life. It can manage 30 hours of continuous use with the noise-canceling feature turned on. However, that particular feature is battery draining. If you were to turn it off, you could probably squeeze out a substantial 38 hours. 

Although the battery life has not improved, it is important to remember the fact that, within the same battery life, newer functions have been added. The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones also feature speech detection, a new SoC, and a new algorithm. There are new sensors as well. These added features require battery too, so the fact that the battery life has remained the same shows that the battery has improved. 

The new auto-on/off and play/pause sensors featured on the earcups are a lifesaver for the battery life of these headphones. These sensors can detect when you have taken off your headphones and adjusts naturally to account for that. Hence, the playback time is no longer as short as before. 

Regardless of all the features that the battery life handles, 30 hours is still enough to last you throughout the entire day or even through multiple flights if you don’t have them on consistently. 

Other Feature

Other than the basic features such as the design, audio quality, and battery life, the Sony WH-1000XM4 also has bonus features that make the experience all the more enjoyable. 

One of the prominent new features is wireless noise cancellation. This feature was already present in the older models, but in the Sony WH-1000XM4, it is much more refined. The noise cancelation has a subtleness to it. The noise cancellation is not noticeable at first, but it is canceling all sounds, even the mid-range ones. There is never complete silence, but these headphones are remarkably quieter than most of their competitors. Apart from strong wind, this pair of headphones is probably the best noise-canceling headphones on the market.

Furthermore, noise cancellation is intelligent as well. There are noise-canceling modes that you can choose from. The headphones use geo-location access to gauge where you are and apply your chosen level of noise cancellation. 

Another one of their new features is the sensors that are featured on each of the sony head units. These sensors are easy to use and effective, as they can recognize when the headphones are off. When they detect it, they automatically pause the music, helping save the battery. 

The Sony WH-1000XM4 is also capable of connecting to two devices at once. This feature is thanks to the new multipoint connection. You can easily switch between the two devices, which can help create a more seamless workflow. 

The speak-to-chat feature is yet another feature that has been included in the new Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones. When you have this option switched on, the headphones can recognize when you are talking, instantly pause your music and enable the ambient noise. This feature allows you to converse with someone without having to take off your headphones. When you are done, the headphones will pick up on that as well and will start playing music once again. 

Price Point

Announced on August 6th, 2020, the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones retail for $349. This price places these headphones at around the same price range as other competitive headphones. Although a bit pricey for headphones, these flagship headphones have a lot of convenient features that can make your life so much easier. 

Although the price is certainly higher than the Sony WH-1000XM3, you also have to account for all the new features added in for your comfort and ease.

Positives and Negatives

Every device has some good points and some negatives. These Sony noise-canceling headphones are no different. These headphones have some strong points, but it has some shortcomings too. One can hope that they can be solved with the Sony WH 1000XM5 whenever it is released. 

The sound is dynamic and rich in detailThere is no IP rating, and they are not water or splash proof
The ear caps have sensors that make it easy to pause, play or skip songsThe speak to chat feature is a little too good and can pause the music if you start singing along because it thinks you are singing
The headphones are overall lightweight and comfortable owing to the padding
It has the ability to recognize when you are talking and pause the music
The noise cancellation is not universal. Rather it has modes that you can switch between

Editor’s Opinion

The Sony WH-1000XM4 is an excellent pair of headphones that have quite an impressive noise-cancellation system. They are also comfortable to wear and can be worn for extended periods of time. Throughout this time, you can enjoy various different genres of music since these headphones are apt at dealing with different tones and mixes. They blend the sound seamlessly and with ease. They don’t look too different from the Sony WH-1000XM3. However, the ear caps now have convenient touch control. These headphones also feature dsee extreme scaling, which is another nice touch.

With multipoint pairing, built-in sensors, and speak-to-chat features, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is easily one of the best releases and leaves all its competitors way behind. It simply has superior features packed into well-designed headphones that are neither too flashy nor too basic. They have the right blend of features to make them tech-savvy and easy to use. 


Is the Sony WH-1000XM4 worth it?

The Sony WH-1000XM4 has many features that make these headphones stand out from the rest of its competitors. These headphones are worth it if you need really good noise-canceling headphones as this helps reduce background noise as well as has multiple modes that you can use. Additionally, if you want versatility in the music you play, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is a great option. They can manage sound quite well and switch from high to low sound pretty smoothly.

However, if you intend to use them near water, these headphones are not worth it because they are not water or splash-resistant.

Is the Sony WH-1000XM4 good for the gym?

Yes. The Sony WH-1000XM4 can be used when you work out as the ear cups are designed to fit snugly onto your ears and prevent them from falling off if you make any sudden or energetic motion.

How do you pair sony headphones?

If you want to pair Sony headphones to your phone or any other device, the instructions are usually available in the instruction manual. For information on specific models like the Sony WH-1000XM4, check the sony wh-1000xm4 manual.

Does the Sony WH-1000XM4 sound good?

Yes, the Sony WH-1000XM4 sounds good regardless of the genre of music you listen to. It has great noise cancellation abilities that help block out unnecessary sound so you can focus fully on the music you are listening to. Additionally, they have great timing and dynamics, complemented by their ability to smoothly transition from lower and smoother tones to higher ones. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that these headphones sound really good. 

What does the Sony NC Optimiser do? What can it do for Ambient Noise?

Sony’s NC Optimizer adjusts the sound protection of your headphones based on your surroundings. Face shape, as well as glare, are among the factors evaluated. In flights, the app considers your height. Press and hold the Optimizer software button on the left ear to start the software. The app will now launch and show you how to position these headphones on your head correctly.


Compared to other headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is really in a league of its own. It has all the features you would find in normal headphones but is amplified. For example, it has noise cancellation like all the other headphones. But in these headphones, you can also choose from three different noise cancellation modes. 

The Sony WH-1000XM4 also offers a lot of customization through their app so that the customers can truly have full control over how they listen to their music. The design is sleek and minimal, which allows it to blend in. However, within the body, there are many features such as touch sensitivity, speech to chat, and so on. 

There are a few things left to be desired, but hopefully, when the sony xm5 rolls around, they can be addressed too. For now, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is one of the best headphones on the market.

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Abdul Wahab is a Software Engineer by profession and a Tech geek by nature. Having been associated with the tech industry for the last five years, he has covered a wide range of Tech topics and produced well-researched and engaging content. You will mostly find him reviewing tech products and writing blog posts. Binge-watching tech reviews and endlessly reading tech blogs are his favorite hobbies.