Sony WF-1000XM4 review: Comprehensive innovation, naturally becoming a “benchmark”

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Sony is the first brand to put active noise reduction technology on true wireless headphones.

In 2017, the industry’s first true wireless headphones equipped with active noise reduction technology, Sony WF-1000X was launched. This is undoubtedly a “bomb” for the fast-growing true wireless market. Follow-up true wireless headphones supporting active noise reduction will be launched quickly . Nowadays, you can even see the active noise reduction function on true wireless headphones with a price of 100 RMB. When you look at the development of the entire true wireless headset market horizontally, you will find that there are several technical points that represent the “industrial revolution” of true wireless headphones:

  1. Basic experience, including connection, battery life, etc.;
  2. Advanced functions, including wireless charging, low latency, etc.;
  3. High-end features, including active noise reduction, bluetooth transmission technology, virtual sound effects, etc.

It is precisely the technological breakthroughs time and time again that have pushed such a new category of true wireless headphones to the mass market and become a must-have item for everyone’s daily travel.

There is no doubt that Sony has played an important role in the “industrial revolution” of true wireless headphones. When all brands dared not try, they brought true wireless noise-cancelling headphones to everyone, even if the experience is still not Perfect, but only innovation can create “perfection.”

Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds

As a company driven by technological innovation, with every new generation of Sony products, you can feel their technological progress. The so-called “black technology” is also a testament to the continuous efforts of Sony’s technical team. In 2019, Sony’s second true wireless noise reduction headphone WF-1000XM3 was unveiled. Compared with the first generation, it has made significant technological breakthroughs in all directions, which also made Sony WF-1000XM3 a firm foothold in the true wireless headset market at the time. The position of the head is changed, but the subsequent debuts of excellent products such as AirPods Pro and Bose QC Earbuds have raised the standard of flagship true wireless headphones. It is time for Sony to update its flagship true wireless headphones, the new Sony WF-1000XM4 true wireless noise-cancelling headphones are officially unveiled.

▎Small, really small

Do you know what the first sentence I said when I got the WF-1000XM4?

“Oh, shift, is it so small?”

Yes, this time Sony made the WF-1000XM4 packaging box very mini, and also very delicate, this may be the first time I want to take a moment to talk about the packaging design of true wireless headphones. The box size of Sony WF-1000XM4 is only 34% of the previous generation, and the entire box is made of Chinese bamboo, Thai sugar cane and recycled paper, which means it can be easily degraded by the environment, plus more The small size facilitates the transportation of more batches, and the concept of environmental protection is fully reflected in this product.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds

Don’t think that the cost of packaging with environmentally friendly materials will decrease. On the contrary, this type of environmentally friendly materials will be more expensive than plastics. Sony has made serious thinking about how to balance packaging design and cost control. In terms of details, the packaging sleeve of Sony WF-1000XM4 adopts a one-time adhesive design, it is impossible to re-attach it after tearing it open, eliminating the possibility of secondary sales, and the packaging box is made with an embossing process. “1000X SERIES”, no ink, the texture is quite good, as for the contents of the box is very simple: data cable, silicone eartips, instructions, a conventional three-piece set.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds

It can be said that the packaging of the Sony WF-1000XM4 has brought me a Japanese elegant style, even if it has not opened the box, I have long been impressed by it. In particular, I myself have come into contact with some of the craftsmanship and processes of product packaging, and I am deeply aware of the height of the design, and I can only say: “Worthy of Sony.”

Not only the packaging, the volume of the Sony WF-1000XM4 charging case is also reduced by 40% compared with the previous generation, and the cavity size is reduced by 10% compared with the previous generation. The two generations of WF-1000XM4 and WF-1000XM3 are put together. You can feel how much they have changed, even if compared with AirPods Pro, Sony WF-1000XM4 still looks small. The size reduction does not have a major impact on the battery life of the WF-1000XM4. The single battery life of the Sony WF-1000XM4 has even risen to 8 hours, and the total battery life remains at 24 hours (noise reduction is enabled). It supports fast charging and charging 5 Minutes can provide one hour of music playing time.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds

The most important thing is that this time Sony WF-1000XM4 finally supports wireless charging, which makes up for the regret that Sony WF-1000XM3 did not support wireless charging.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds

From the appearance design, the change of Sony WF-1000XM4 is quite big. The material of the charging case is made of frosted plastic, which is very comfortable to the touch. Not only is it not easy to contaminate fingerprints, but there is no problem of paint peeling. Regarding the shell material, I said when I experienced the Sony WF-H800 before, if the Sony WF-1000XM3 also uses the same shell technology as the WF-H800, the durability and texture will be much better. As expected, the WF-1000XM4 will Fulfilled my dream.

I personally like the indicator light design of the WF-1000XM4 charging case, which is integrated with the cover gap and is very low-key, but when the green indicator light is on, the “Unruly” appears again.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds

The cavity of the Sony WF-1000XM4 still chooses a bean-style design, but unlike the previous one, the cavity is more rounded, from the oval shape of the Sony WF-1000XM3 to a regular circle. The changes in the shape and size of the cavity have greatly improved the wearing experience of the WF-1000XM4. The ergonomic curve on the inner side also increases the contact area and improves the stability. Most importantly, this time Sony equipped the WF-1000XM4 with eartips made of polyurethane foam, similar to the inert sponge eartips that everyone often calls.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds

This kind of eartips brings two benefits to Sony WF-1000XM4:

  • The expanded foam eartips in the ear canal can help the bean-style true wireless earphones to improve the wearing stability. After all, whether such true wireless earphones can be worn stably depends largely on the eartips;
  • Foam eartips have a better physical sound insulation effect than ordinary silicone eartips, which is more beneficial to improve the noise reduction effect.

There are three sizes of foam eartips in the box. Users can choose the appropriate eartips according to the size of their ear canal. It should be noted that whether the size of eartips is suitable for the experience of true wireless headphones is very important, so when choosing Please try more for eartips size. In Sony’s official App “Headphones Connect”, after connecting to the Sony WF-1000XM4, there is also an automatic detection function of “Confirm the best eartips”, which is convenient for users to test whether they are in the best wearing condition. In addition, foam eartips need to be squeezed and then inserted into the ear canal. You need to allow it to expand naturally in the ear canal to obtain the best wearing effect.

The most conspicuous thing in the entire Sony WF-1000XM4 cavity is the golden ring below. At first I looked at the renderings and thought it was the crown of volume adjustment. In fact, this is the WF-1000XM4 microphone for noise reduction. From the point of view of industrial design, highlighting a certain part of the product is an emphatic technique, which shows Sony’s confidence in its own active noise reduction technology, and also stated the core selling point of WF-1000XM4, which is sufficiently leading. Active noise reduction technology.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds

How about the experience, let’s talk about it in detail below.

▎This time, it defines the “noise reduction benchmark”

Let me start with the conclusion that the active noise reduction experience of Sony WF-1000XM4 is at this stage, and I personally think it is the best. The reason why it is so absolute is because through comparison, WF-1000XM4 performed the best, and the headset models that participated in the comparison test were AirPods Pro, Bose QC Earbuds and other true wireless noise-cancelling headset benchmark models.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds

Since it is better than the benchmark, it is naturally a benchmark by itself.

Sony WF-1000XM4 is equipped with a new integrated processor V1, this processor not only plugged into the previous QN1e noise reduction processor on WF-1000XM3, but also added a 24bit audio signal processor, digital-to-analog converter and headphone amplifier , You can think of it as an enhanced version of QN1e, not only the noise reduction algorithm is further upgraded, the sound quality level has also been improved to a certain extent, and the power consumption has also been optimized, which is why the Sony WF-1000XM4 The size is reduced, but the battery life has not compromised.

Thanks to the powerful integrated processor V1, the active noise reduction performance of the Sony WF-1000XM4 has indeed been greatly improved. In order to get a more accurate conclusion, I also simulated multiple scenes for horizontal comparison, hoping to judge which is better and worse through the noise reduction performance in different scenes, in order to see how much the Sony WF-1000XM4 has improved compared to the previous generation For this horizontal comparison, I also added WF-1000XM3.

Scene 1: Sitting in front of the desktop speakers, the volume is adjusted to 80% and the song is played, the maximum sound pressure level is 85dB

This scene simulates the performance of noise reduction at higher decibels, and the songs played are not only low-frequency noises, but also high-frequency noises that are difficult to offset by general noise-reducing headphones. The test environment is relatively harsh. Before comparison, let’s take a look at popular science. Generally, our indoor conversation sound pressure level is 40dB~60dB. When the sound pressure level reaches 85dB, it is already a high level. Long-term exposure to this environment is not good for the body.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds

The test result is that Sony WF-1000XM4> Bose QC Earbuds ≥ AirPods Pro.

Although Bose QC Earbuds, AirPods Pro, and Sony WF-1000XM3 have excellent performance in the elimination of low-frequency noise, they have no substantial effect on mid- and high-frequency noise. Among the three, Bose’s QC Earbuds are also effective for mid- and high-frequency noise. After a certain degree of cancellation, the other two can still clearly hear the singer’s voice in the noise reduction mode. On the other hand, Sony WF-1000XM4 not only has a very good effect on low-frequency noise elimination, but the singer’s voice seems to be pushed far away. The overall noise reduction hearing experience is significantly better than the other three. This level of noise reduction is placed The true wireless headset can be said to be an absolute benchmark.

However, to achieve such a level of noise reduction, I personally think that it is not only due to the noise reduction algorithm of Sony WF-1000XM4, but also due to the foam eartips it uses, which makes its physical tightness better than others. For several headphones, I tried to replace the eartips of WF-1000XM3 with WF-1000XM4, the noise reduction experience will be obviously weaker. At this time, the noise reduction level of WF-1000XM4 will be close to the level of Bose QC Earbuds. , But still has a slight advantage. From this point, it can also be seen from the side that the software algorithm improvement of Sony WF-1000XM4 is a leapfrog upgrade compared to the previous generation, but the overall noise reduction capability is achieved through the combination of software and hardware, so if you want Experience the best noise reduction effect of WF-1000XM4, don’t lose the original eartips.

Scenario 2: Sitting in front of the electric fan, driving to the maximum gear, simulating an outdoor strong wind scene

This scene is to test the control effect of headphones on wind noise. For noise reduction headphones, wind noise is an unavoidable topic. Many excellent noise reduction headphones have excellent performance in noise reduction depth. However, once there is a strong wind, the experience is completely ruined. It needs to be explained in advance that the Sony WF-1000XM4 has a targeted software algorithm for wind noise. In the “Headphones Connect” App, you can select the “Automatic Wind Noise Reduction” function in the “Ambient Sound Control”. When the earphone judges that the wind noise is large, it will automatically optimize the control of the wind noise, at the cost of shortening the battery life.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds

The test result is that Sony WF-1000XM4> AirPods Pro ≥ Bose Earbuds.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds

There is no doubt that with targeted algorithm optimization, the performance of WF-1000XM4 is naturally still at the forefront. What surprised me was that when the Sony WF-1000XM4 turned on “Automatic Wind Noise Reduction”, even in the face of the largest fan, the relatively obvious wind noise could be optimized to an insensible level. I even experienced it for the first time. I am a little surprised at such algorithm optimization. It is worth mentioning that it takes 2~3 seconds for the Sony WF-1000XM4 to detect the level of wind noise to optimize the wind noise, and the opening and closing of the wind noise optimization does not have a big impact on the noise reduction experience itself. The usability of this function is very high. If your earphone use environment often needs to face large wind noise, it is highly recommended to turn on this function.

Scene 3: Talking with others in daily environment

This scene is to test the ambient sound mode of each true wireless noise reduction headset. The performance of active noise reduction is important, but for noise reduction headphones, it is not easy to do a good job in the ambient sound mode. This is not only related to the sound pickup ability of the headphones, but also involves software algorithms. strength.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds

The test result is that AirPods Pro ≥ Sony WF-1000XM4 ≥ Bose QC Earbuds.

In terms of the sense of listening in the ambient sound mode alone, the Sony WF-1000XM4 is basically equivalent to the industry benchmark AirPods Pro, but due to its use of foam eartips, there will still be a certain head-like resonance when you speak by yourself. sense. However, just look at the pickup capability of the WF-1000XM4, which is currently the top level in the industry.

Through the above three scene horizontal tests, we can draw two conclusions:

  • Sony WF-1000XM4 has a comprehensive noise reduction experience improvement compared to the previous generation;
  • The comprehensive noise reduction experience of Sony WF-1000XM4 has stood at the top of the industry.

If you want to choose a true wireless headset that focuses on active noise reduction, then who to buy at this stage, don’t I need to say more?

▎It’s excellent, not just noise reduction

Although the active noise reduction function is the biggest selling point of Sony WF-1000XM4, it has more than one advantage.

Let’s make a brief list:

  • Supports the LDAC Bluetooth codec protocol and has Hi-Res Audio Wireless certification, which means that you can get more sound details by listening to high-bitrate tracks.
  • DSEE Extreme digital sound enhancement engine advanced version, AI enhances digital audio quality.
  • Smart pick-free function, when the headset recognizes your voice, it will automatically pause the music and turn on the ambient sound mode;
  • Bone conduction sensor, used to improve pickup performance and help achieve better call effects.
  • Support IPX4 waterproof level (only earphone cavity support)…

Among them, smart pick-free and bone conduction sensors are very interesting. The smart pick-free function was first carried on the Sony WH-1000XM4. I gave a good evaluation when I experienced it. This time Sony applies the technology to the WF-1000XM4. This also makes this feature a unique selling point of Sony’s TWS headset. Imagine that you wear a Sony WF-1000XM4 to order a meal in a coffee shop. You don’t need to take off the headset at all. When you speak directly, the headset will automatically pause the music and switch to ambient sound mode, which is convenient for you to communicate with others. Dialogue, wait a few seconds after ordering, the headset will return to its original state (or click play to restore it immediately). This natural experience is really great.

As for the bone conduction sensor, although the Sony WF-1000XM4 is not the first true wireless headset to use this type of technology, it is indeed helpful to solve the call quality problem through bone conduction. Its principle is not complicated. It collects the sound information in the user’s bone cavity through the bone conduction sensor, and combines it with the user’s voice information collected by the microphone in the air, so as to achieve clearer and more accurate voice quality and improve the call when using headphones. Experience.

Compared with the current industry benchmark AirPods Pro, Sony WF-1000XM4 has a good performance in voice clarity, but there is still room for improvement. The clarity of human voice is not as good as AirPods Pro, but it eliminates background noise. It is slightly stronger than AirPods Pro. For example, the noise against the background will be offset to a certain extent, while AirPods Pro does not deliberately deal with it. In contrast, the WF-1000XM4’s call voice will be more prominent. However, when faced with some complex background noise environments, the overall call experience of Sony WF-1000XM4 is not outstanding, and there will be occasional background noise. This point is hoped that the official will further optimize and solve it in the follow-up software OTA.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds

Finally, let’s talk about sound.

When I experienced Sony WF-1000XM3 before, I said something like this: “The great thing about the WF-1000XM3 sound is that it not only has a sufficiently full sound line, but also the performance in the details is still excellent.” Yes, even if it is. Now, the sound performance of WF-1000XM3 can still be ranked first among many true wireless earphones, while Sony WF-1000XM4 is upgraded on the basis of the previous generation, the newly designed 6mm dynamic driver, LDAC The addition of WF-1000XM4, integrated processor V1 built-in digital-to-analog converter and headphone amplifier, these software and hardware upgrades have brought WF-1000XM4 better sound quality.

Compared with the previous generation, the Sony WF-1000XM4 has a relatively large improvement in the low frequency part, the low frequency texture will be better, the flexibility is full, the flexibility is free, the overall sound dynamic performance is also better than the previous generation, and the sense of hearing will bring more The sound performance of the sense of power, this is relatively rare in the current true wireless headphones. However, in terms of my personal listening habits, the WF-1000XM4 still has a bit too much low frequency. In the “Headphones Connect” App, I even lower the “CLEAR BASS” by two levels to achieve a more balanced state.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds

It is worth mentioning that Sony WF-1000XM4 did not ignore the expression of mid- and high-frequency because of the emphasis on low frequency. On the contrary, the high-frequency sound has a good sense of line, and the expression of human voice is quite delicate. Under the LDAC Bluetooth codec protocol There are more detailed presentations, and when the iPhone is connected with AAC, the human voice will appear to be toothed, so if you want to hear the best condition of the WF-1000XM4, it is still necessary to choose an Android phone that supports LDAC.

In general, the sound of the Sony WF-1000XM4 is more mid-low, and it still has a clear and high-quality vocal expression while maintaining a sufficiently full sound performance, which is completely sufficient for daily music listening. Looking at the entire true wireless headset market, the WF-1000XM4 does achieve excellent sound presentation. Compared with competing products such as AirPods Pro and Bose QC Earbuds, it has an absolute leading level. This is very rare.

Many people have always paid no attention to the sound performance of true wireless headphones, thinking that their sound quality is inferior to wired headphones, but Sony WF-1000XM4 said “no”, excellent sound adjustment and digital audio processing technology, let Its sound quality has reached a certain height, and it is undoubtedly a benchmark position among many true wireless noise reduction headphones. Who says that noise reduction and sound quality cannot be achieved at the same time? Just listen to the Sony WF-1000XM4.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds

By the way, in terms of latency, the software test result of Sony WF-1000XM4 is about 110ms, which is about the same level as AirPods, and is sufficient for use in mass gaming scenarios.

▎At present, you are the most worth buying true wireless noise-canceling headphones

The official price of Sony WF-1000XM4 is US$279.99. This price is not cheap, but in my opinion, it has the confidence to set this price. Only the two aspects of active noise reduction and sound quality are already ahead of the competition. What’s more, with the blessing of technical functions such as comfortable wearing, smart pick-free, and LDAC, it stands firmly as the TOP position in the true wireless headset market.

Every iteration of Sony’s products will make people feel bright. The appearance of Sony WF-1000X defines true wireless noise-cancelling headphones. Sony WF-1000XM3 raises the standard of true wireless noise-cancelling headphones. Sony WF-1000XM4 It explains what a truly comprehensive true wireless noise-cancelling headset is. This step-by-step technological innovation symbolizes the “black technology spirit” that Sony is proud of. With technology as a ladder, the comprehensive experience of continuously improving products is worthy of being Sony.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds

There is no doubt that Sony WF-1000XM4 is currently your most worthwhile true wireless noise-cancelling headset product. Its excellent product performance makes it stand out among many competing products. What is the benchmark? Sony WF-1000XM4 is the benchmark.


$279.99 at Amazon

Make sure it says “ships from and sold by Amazon.com” to avoid counterfeits.

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