If you’re in the market for a pair of new truly wireless over-ear headphones, and don’t want to wait for Apple’s oft-rumored option, then Sony’s here to give you an option.
Sony impressed a lot of people with the 1000XM3 wireless headphones, and still to this day they remain some of the best truly wireless over-ear headphones you can buy. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that Sony is coming out with something newer, and something better, with the brand new 1000XM4. They come in white and black, still offer the same truly wireless design with the over-ear design, class-leadings noise cancellation, and plenty of features.
Pre-orders are live starting today, which are available on Amazon. Price is set at $349.99. The landing page for the new headphones say they will begin shipping on August 21, 2020. You can see Sony’s official product video for the 1000XM4 headphones below.
The nitty gritty
The WH-1000XM4 don’t look any different from the 1000XM3, so don’t expect any design changes in that regard. However, Sony is improving other key areas. You’ll still get wireless connectivity with your devices via Bluetooth, but now you can actually connect to two different devices at the same time.
Interestingly, the Q1N processor meant to handle noise cancellation is the same in the newer headphones, but Sony says its already class-leading noise cancellation has been improved in the 1000XM4 headphones. They achieved this by including a new Bluetooth audio system that analyzes surrounding ambient noise and the music coming through the speakers 700 times per second. Sony tweaked the algorithm, too, and the end result is a more improved noise cancellation experience that can better quiet mid-frequency sounds from beyond the headphones, as well as voices.
The one area that Sony isn’t going out of its way to say has been improved is the sound quality. The new 1000XM4 headphones use the same 40mm drivers as the XM3’s, so it sounds like (no pun intended) that the audio quality is the same as the previous generation headphones. The good news here is that the 1000XM3’s sounded great, so this shouldn’t be a weak spot for the new headphones.
As far as battery life is concerned, you should get around 30 hours on a single charge.
With the “Speak-to-Chat” feature, Sony says the new 1000XM4 headphones can intelligently determine when you’re speaking to someone, and the music or other media you’re listening to will automatically stop playing. This means you can have the conversation quickly and easily without having to take off the headphones. Here’s how Sony describes it:
As soon as you speak to someone, Speak-to-Chat automatically stops the music and lets in ambient sound so you can conduct a conversation—handy if you want to keep your headphones on, or your hands are full. Based on Precise Voice Pickup Technology, this smart feature uses five microphones built into your headphones and advanced audio signal processing to recognize and react to your voice. And once your chat is over, your music starts playing again automatically.
With Adaptive Sound Control, the headphones can “sense where you are and what you’re doing”. The headphones will automatically adjust the ambient sound settings accordingly. Sony’s examples here include standing on a train platform and being able to hear announcements while still managing to limit other ambient noises. Walking? The headphones will adjust accordingly so you can still listen to your music, but still be aware of the noises all around you.
The headphones can even learn your favorite, most-visited locations and adjust the sound profile to match:
Over time, Adaptive Sound Control learns to recognize locations that you frequently visit, such as your workplace, the gym, or a favorite café, and tailors sound to suit the situation.
And, of course, the headphones are designed to be comfortable to wear all day thanks to the over-ear design and the pressure-relieving ear pads, which are constructed from foamed urethane.
These new headphones sound incredible, especially for fans of the over-ear design. The $349.99 price tag may be enough to get some potential customers to balk at, but this is a pretty standard price point for this type of headphone, especially with all the features packed into it.
And, looking ahead, if Apple is indeed planning on launching over-ear headphones, the 1000XM3 and XM4 are the cans the company should try to improve upon, especially if they’re going to be priced similarly.
Do you plan on picking up a pair of Sony’s new 1000XM4’s? Let us know in the comments.