Sony has unveiled the WF-1000XM4, the latest product in the company’s long lineup of true wireless earbuds. These earbuds are the direct successor to the WF-1000XM3 released nearly two years ago. Those earbuds were widely regarded as one of the best audio accessories the average person could buy, and Sony is now following them up with a product that offers even better active noise cancellation and inherits a lot of features from the premium WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones.
The WF-1000XM4 have Sony’s latest V1 processor embedded within them. This processor, coupled with a pair of microphones on the sides of both earbuds, is responsible for the advanced noise cancelling capabilities. To improve voice calls, Sony says the microphones support beamforming technology, the earbuds have a bone conduction sensor, and the V1 chip is capable of automatic wind noise suppression. On the other hand, when you want to listen to your surroundings or talk to someone nearby, you can use ambient sound mode (“Quick Attention” mode) and/or speak to chat. The former uses the microphones to amplify ambient audio to counteract the passive noise cancellation of the earbuds, while the latter disables ANC whenever the WF-1000XM4 detects your speech.
Of course, the most common use of wireless earbuds is music listening, so Sony has also upgraded the WF-1000XM4 with better audio playback capabilities. The wireless earbuds have new 6mm driver units with a 20% increase in magnet volume and a high compliance diaphragm, are Hi-Res Audio certified, support Sony’s LDAC codec for higher-quality audio streaming (up to 990kbps), support Sony’s DSEE Extreme, and support Sony’s 360 Reality Audio technology. DSEE Extreme, as Sony explains, is “uses AI technology to reproduce with high accuracy the frequency responses of the original sound source lost during compression.” 360 Reality Audio is an audio format designed by Sony to reproduce a spatial-audio effect.
When connected to an Android or iOS device, the user can set up location-based profiles (“Adaptive Sound Control”) by downloading the Sony Headphones Connect app. Additionally, the user can talk to voice assistants like the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa when their phone is connected to the WF-1000XM4.
Despite supporting all of these high-end features, Sony still managed to make these wireless earbuds have great battery life. Sony says the WF-1000XM4 lasts for up to 8 hours on a single charge when ANC is enabled, or up to 12 hours without ANC. When combined with the case, you’ll get an additional 16 (with ANC) or 24 (without ANC) hours of battery life backup, meaning you’ll get between 24-36 hours of total use depending on how often you turn on ANC. And although the battery life hasn’t improved, the new wireless earbuds are actually 10% smaller than the previous generation, and the case has also seen a reduction of size by 40%.
Wireless earbuds these days typically support some form of fast charging or wireless charging, but often not both. Sony’s WF-1000XM4 support both. When you need to recharge these wireless earbuds, a 5-minute charge in the case yields about 60 minutes of playback time, according to Sony. You can charge the case either via its USB-C connector or by placing it on a Qi wireless charging pad.
One feature missing in many lower-end wireless earbuds is water resistance, or at least an official IP rating. The Sony WF-1000XM4 are IPX4 rated for protection against minor splashes from all directions.
Other features mentioned in the press release include low latency listening, Fast Pair and Swift Pair support, an earbud tip measurement tool in the Headphones Connect App, and instant play/pause support using a proximity sensor.
The WF-1000XM4 cost $279 in the U.S. and is available starting today in black and silver at Sony’s website, Amazon, Best Buy, and other retailers.