Sony has just announced the WH-1000XM4, the latest update to its flagship line of noise-cancelling headphones that began with the MDR-1000X in 2016. The WH-1000XM4 replaces the WH-1000XM3, which has been around since 2018.
With the XM4, Sony brings improvements to its noise-cancelling capabilities. A new Bluetooth System-on-Chip (SoC) and improved QN-1 noise cancelling processor help bring about better noise reduction at the mid to high frequencies, meaning that the XM4 would be better at drowning out ambient noise and conversations.
New to the XM4 is a ‘Speak-to-Chat’ feature, which can be trained to recognise your voice. When it detects your voice, such as in a conversation, the XM4 automatically stops the music and lets in ambient noise, so that you will be able to carry out your conversation without removing your headphones.
Sony has also added more features to its Adaptive Sound Control. Over time, Adaptive Sound Control can learn to recognise places you frequent, such as your home, office, or the gym, and optimise the XM4’s settings for the best noise cancelling performance. If you do not want your headphones to track your location continuously, you may choose to turn this feature off.
Most importantly, Sony is introducing two highly requested features: wearing detection and multipoint pairing. The XM4 will be able to recognise if it is currently being worn or not, and will stop the music if it detects the user removing the headphones. Multipoint pairing will allow pairing of two devices simultaneously, and allow you to pick up calls from any one device automatically.
Unfortunately, these new features and updates come with a cost. Sony is removing support for AptX and AptX HD, two high-resolution Bluetooth codecs commonly used with Android phones. The XM4 now only supports SBC, AAC, and Sony’s own LDAC codec. While LDAC technically supports higher resolutions than AptX and AptX HD, it requires more bandwidth and can be less reliable if you are on the move.
In terms of looks, the XM4 is almost identical to its predecessor, the XM3. According to multiple sources, the padding on the headband has been slightly reduced, and the surface area of the earpads slightly increased by 10 percent. The XM4 will come in Black or Platinum Silver, both with copper accents.