Almost perfect earbuds in a small package.
The Sony WF-1000XM4 are the company’s latest high-end flagship earbuds. They’ve been on the market for a while, which means there are already several reviews to help make your buying decision easier. Ara Wagoner praised them for being close to perfection in her review. So why read another entry for the same earbuds months after launch? Well, the initial impression may change after the novelty wears off.
I’ve been using the XM4 earbuds for a while now, and I’ve noticed a nuanced difference during daily use. Sony headphones are feature-rich on paper, but do those features translate to real-life advantages? Will these fancy features even be used in everyday life? In a few months, let’s reassess what you know about the Sony WF-1000XM4.
What I love about the Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds
Make no mistake; these are still some great earbuds. They’re packed with the latest and greatest features, and they fit like a dream. (More on that later.) There’s a lot to love about the Sony WF-1000XM4 headphones, but does the review hold? After having them for a while, this is what I still love.
Sound and Noise Cancellation
I’ll tell you right away: The Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds have top-notch sound quality and top-notch ANC performance. With instrument separation, clear vocals, and an overall warm sound, you get great detail without being overwhelming. If that’s not your type, you can adjust the sound to a different profile through the Headphones Connect app.
As you might expect, noise-cancelling has improved over the previous XM3 earbuds. Bose QuietComfort earbuds are there now. The performance of the new V1 chip combined with the passive isolation of the earbud tips provides magical ANC performance. Even at low volume (below 50%), it helps you isolate external noise, such as muttering in the park when you’re out for a walk.
I really like this feature. As someone who lives with his parents, I have to concentrate when my mom talks to me while I’m wearing earplugs – if you don’t answer, you don’t know what’s going to happen.
With voice chat, you can start talking, the earbuds go into ambient sound mode and pause the music. That way, you can have a conversation with the earbuds in your ears without actually pausing the music or taking it out. When you stop talking, the music resumes within seconds and the noise canceling function is activated.
However, if you like to sing loudly to your own tune, this feature might not be very helpful and can be annoying. Fortunately, Sony gives you the option to toggle voice chat in the Headphones Connect app.
Long press for quick attention
If you don’t want chat functionality, but still want to talk to people without taking off your earbuds, there’s a solution for you, too. Borrowing from flagship headphones, the Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds feature Long Tap for Quick Attention.
It allows you to long press the left earbud to lower the music volume and activate the ambient sound mode. Unlike the voice chat feature, Quick Attention doesn’t pause your music.
Battery notifications, battery life and a small case
I usually forget to charge my audio gear and get disappointed when they run out of battery when I need them. If you’re like me, this feature on the Sony WF-1000XM4 is a blessing. Every time I put them in, they tell me how much battery life is left on each bud. This way, I immediately know how many hours of music juice I have left.
Another benefit is that you won’t need to charge these earbuds as often, even if you have them all day. The Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds have amazing battery life. The earbuds can last up to eight hours on a single charge, and combined with the charging case, you get two full charge cycles.
These flagship earbuds are more portable this time around.
My typical use cases include having them meet and listen to music for two hours before I go to bed. I’m charging the device every week. Even if your earbuds are low on battery, you can put them in the charging case for 5 minutes and get 90 minutes of playtime.
Speaking of the case, unlike the Sony WF-1000XM3 wireless earbuds, this case is 40% smaller and weighs just 7.4 grams compared to the 8.2 grams of its predecessor. These flagship earbuds are more portable this time around.
clinging to my body as I try to fall asleep
I’ve been desperately looking for earplugs that fit my ears and don’t fall off when I sleep on my side. I’m mostly a headphone guy, but those can’t be worn in bed, and the stem design of the AirPods is terrible for a side sleeper like me.
The XM4s are the first earbuds I’ve had in a while that fit my ears and don’t fall off every now and then, making me hunt for small earbuds in the middle of the night.
things i don’t like
No device is perfect, and while the Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds come close to it, there are a few things that aren’t great. If those details are your jam, you’re better off looking elsewhere for a pair of earbuds.
No multi-device bluetooth pairing
When working from home, it’s important to have audio equipment that can connect to both your PC and your smartphone. No one wants to mess with Bluetooth settings when jumping between two devices. This is a big miss for the Sony WF-1000XM4.
For $280, no multi-device Bluetooth pairing is a crime. As a reviewer, I play between phones, no less than two at a time. I want to be able to connect to the one in my hand, not the phone sitting in the next room. Even older non-flagship Sony XB-900N headphones can connect to two devices at the same time. All in all, this is a major omission.
My ears hurt if I plug them in for a long time
While the earbuds have up to 8 hours of battery life, you probably don’t want to wear them for long periods of time. I haven’t worn them for more than 3 hours at a time, but when I take them off, I get a weird feeling in my ears all day.
It still happens after a few weeks of use. Yes, each ear is constructed differently, but if you have smaller ears, you may have issues wearing them.
Choose between ambient sound or volume control
I don’t really like the fact that I have to choose between ambient sound/noise reduction or volume control on the left earbud. My right side is set up as playback controls and provides single-click, double-click, triple-click, and long-press controls. Meanwhile, the left earbud only offers a single or long press for ambient sound and volume control.
It offers all options if you choose to install playback controls on the left earbud, including double-tap and triple-tap. Therefore, you cannot have volume control and noise reduction control at the same time.
Should you buy the Sony WF-1000XM4?
For all the advantages the Sony-WF1000XM4 earbuds offer, none of these three are really deal breakers. Still, it’s nice to look back at those rose-tinted glasses after time has passed. Regardless, they’re still a great option. They sound great, have great noise cancellation, and have great battery life in a smaller package, making them one of the best wireless earbuds on the market.
Incredible wireless earbuds
$278 at Amazon $280 at Best Buy
Best-in-class sound, active noise cancellation and battery life
The Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds are great value for money. They feature industry-leading ANC for a product of this size, while delivering stunning sound and long battery life.