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Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones Get Smarter

Sony’s best wireless noise cancelling headphones get better. Plus there’s new convenience features including auto-pause, speak-to-chat and dual device pairing.

New Convenience Features & Improved Noise Cancellation

Sony just released the new WH-1000XM4 wireless noise cancelling headphones for $349. Now in their the fourth-generation, the WH-1000XM4 succeed the highly regarded WH-1000XM3, considered by many the best noise cancelling headphones of 2019. The new WH-1000XM4 arrive with a near identical look, but with additional smart features that personalize and control music, improve industry-leading noise cancellation and adjust ambient sound automatically based on user preferences.

Better Noise Cancellation

With two microphones on each earcup and a new algorithm, Sony has improved noise cancellation over its predecessor, which was already leading the industry. Dual Noise Sensor technology captures ambient noise and passes the data to the trusted HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1. Then a new Bluetooth® Audio System on Chip (SoC) senses music and noise at over 700 times per second. Using a new algorithm, the HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1 applies noise cancelling processing in real time.

Smart Listening & Voice Technology

Speak-to-Chat is an innovative new feature that enables users to have short conversations without taking off their headphones. By simply saying something, the headphones will recognize the user’s voice and automatically stop the music to let in ambient sound so they can conduct a conversation. The music automatically starts playing again 30 seconds after they’ve stopped speaking. Additionally, Quick Attention mode is also available on the WH-1000XM4, making it easy to tune in for an announcement or say something briefly by simply placing the right hand over the earcup to decrease the volume and let in ambient sound. 

Adaptive Sound Control has been improved to sense where a customer is and what they’re doing and adjusts ambient sound settings for the ideal listening experience. Over time, Adaptive Sound Control learns to recognize frequently visited locations such as the workplace, gym or favorite café, and tailors sound to suit the situation. For example, if walking near a busy street, sound can be adjusted so the listener can still be aware of the surroundings without needing to turn off the music. Users can set up their frequently visited locations and preferred settings via the “Sony | Headphones Connect App” and ambient sound settings will automatically update as they move between different environments. Regarding user privacy, Sony claims location is not sent to the server since location learning functions offline.

Auto-pause detects whether the headphones are being worn and adapt playback accordingly to help save battery power. Using the headphone’s proximity sensor and two acceleration sensors, the headphones automatically stop the music when removed and resume playing when put back on, providing an effortless listening experience. 

Five microphones in the WH-1000XM4 improves how you sound to others on voice calls thanks in part to new Precise Voice Pickup. There’s and extra microphone over the WH-1000XM3, which aids overall voice clarity.

Voice Assistant improvements arrive via Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa with an update. Install the Google Assistant app and change the assignment of the noise cancelling button with the Sony | Headphones Connect app, then press and hold the noise cancelling button. For Amazon Alexa, install the Amazon Alexa app and change the assignment of noise cancelling button with the Sony | Headphones Connect app, then just press the noise cancelling button to get going.

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Ease of Use & Stylish Design 

  • Two Bluetooth devices can be paired for total convenience on the WH-1000XM4. So, when a call comes in, the headphones know which device is ringing and connect to the right one automatically. Quickly and smoothly switch the headphones to either of the two devices at the touch of a button. Enabling this feature may require a firmware update via the Sony | Headphones Connect App.
  • Fast Pair is now supported on Android 6.0+ mobile devices. It also lets users easily locate their headphones by ringing them using the tone sound.
  • 30-hour Battery Life remains the same as its predecessor with noise cancellation on, or 38 hours with noise cancellation off. Additionally, the quick charging function provides up to 5 hours of wireless playback from just 10 minutes of charging with optional AC adapter. A full recharge takes 3 hours.
  • For comfort the WH-1000XM4 is basically identical to the WH-1000XM3. Designed for those who travel frequently, the super-soft, pressure relieving earpads evenly distribute pressure and increase ear/pad contact for a stable fit. 

Touch Control Gestures

Improved Sound Quality

Using Edge-AI, DSEE Extreme more accurately rebuilds audio lost during digital compression for a full fidelity experience. Edge-AI analyzes music in real time and recognizes instruments, music genres and individual elements of each song to restore the high range sounds for a richer, more complete listening experience. To build this AI system, Sony worked with Sony Music Studios Tokyo to gather data and insights on how specific music signals are composed. 

360 Reality Audio, a new immersive audio experience, can be enjoyed on the WH-1000XM4 headphones when combined with an Android™ smartphone/iPhone that has a participating streaming services app installed. The 360 Reality Audio listening experience immerses users in music as if they were right in front of their favorite artist. Listeners can enjoy a custom immersive musical field that is perfectly optimized for them when using the WH-1000XM4 headphones and the “Sony | Headphones Connect” app.

Feature Comparison

WH-1000XM4WH-1000XM3
Bluetooth5.04.2
Microphones54
Audio CodecsSBC, AAC, LDACSBC, AAC, LDAC, aptX, aptX HD
Sensitivity105 dB / mW (1 kHz)104.5 dB / mW (1 kHz)
Auto-pauseYesNo
DSEE Extreme™YesNo
Speak-to-Chat YesNo
Dual Pairing YesNo

Price & Availability

The Sony WH-1000XM4 will be available August 18, 2020 for $349.99 in black or silver.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Reviews

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