Active noise-cancelling In-Ear headphones are a popular choice for many people, especially when it comes to blocking out external sounds and distractions. Many brands have entered the market with their own products, but creating effective active noise-cancellation technology is not easy. It requires a high level of technical expertise and a deep understanding of how sound waves and noise cancellation work.
One company that has made a name for itself in the active noise-cancelling In-Ear headphone market is Sony. Sony was one of the first brands to introduce active noise-cancelling headphones, with the release of their first-generation model.
This was a bold move, as many people were skeptical about the feasibility of truly wireless active noise-cancelling headphones at the time. However, Sony was determined to push the boundaries and explore new technologies.
While the response to Sony’s first generation active noise-cancelling In-Ear headphones was mixed, with some people loving them and others finding them less effective, it’s undeniable that Sony’s willingness to embrace new technology and push the boundaries is admirable.
Fast forward to today, and Sony’s active noise-cancelling headphones have evolved significantly, with the latest iteration being the WF-1000XM4. These headphones offer advanced noise-cancelling technology, high-quality audio, and a comfortable fit, making them a popular choice for many people.
The Sony WF-1000XM4 is a pair of truly wireless active noise-cancelling earbuds that was released after the popular AirPods Pro and Bose QC Earbuds. While it may be considered late to the game in comparison, the WF-1000XM4 has its own unique features that make it stand out.
One notable aspect of the WF-1000XM4 is its compact charging case, which is significantly smaller than the cases of the WF-1000XM3 or WF-1000XM. In fact, the charging case has been reduced in size by 40% overall, making it easy to hold in one hand.
The compact size of the WF-1000XM4’s charging case is a major advantage, especially for people who are always on the go and need a convenient way to charge their earbuds. It’s also a more aesthetically pleasing design, as it takes up less space in a bag or pocket. Overall, the WF-1000XM4’s compact charging case is a small but important improvement that adds to the appeal of these headphones.
Interestingly, despite the reduced size, there’s no need to worry about running out of charge thanks to the SONY WF-1000XM4’s fast charging and wireless charging capabilities. It comes with a TYPE-C interface and can be charged for just five minutes to provide an hour of battery life. The charging case has a nice matte finish that doesn’t collect fingerprints as a glossy finish would.
The In-Ear headphones themselves are made of the same material and are easy to grab from the case, much like other truly wireless headphones. However, the WF-1000XM4’s design makes it easier to place the headphones in the case properly without having to look, unlike some other models like the AirPods which can be inserted backward if not handled carefully.
The touch-sensitive area on top of the earbud is very useful and the Sony WF-1000XM4 continues this feature. The touch gestures are also very easy to use. Holding both sides for five seconds turns on Bluetooth mode and pairs with a phone, a light tap on the left ear activates noise-cancellation, turns off noise-cancellation, or opens transparent mode to pick up ambient sounds, all with voice prompts.
However, the first time using the WF-1000XM4 does not support automatic connection when opening the case, and it still needs to be connected and paired via Bluetooth using a phone or app. However, once this is done, the WF-1000XM4 can be quickly connected by simply opening the case.
While studying the app, I discovered that Sony has added an interesting feature to the WF-1000XM4 which supposedly uses bone conduction sensors. In short, it allows you to open transparent mode by simply speaking, meaning that the In-Ear headphones will automatically recognize when you are talking and stop playing audio.
This kind of innovative technology makes the SONY WF-1000XM4 more practical in real-world situations. For example, you can easily have a conversation with a colleague or friend while wearing headphones, or speak to a store clerk while shopping without having to remove the In-Ear headphones.
While some reviews have stated that the WF-1000XM4’s noise-cancelling listening experience is average, I still think the noise-cancelling level of the WF-1000XM4 is satisfactory.
Additionally, the WF-1000XM4 has addressed a common complaint about active noise-cancelling headphones – wind noise. When exposed to strong winds, many earbuds produce a low-level background noise that can be annoying. However, the WF-1000XM4’s pickup microphone has been optimized to reduce wind noise amplification, which is similar to adaptive wind noise reduction.
I happened to use the Sony WF-1000XM4 on a windy day and was pleasantly surprised to find that the wind noise was significantly reduced, allowing me to listen to a whole song without any distractions.
However, when faced with heavy to moderate low frequency noise, such as on the subway, bus announcements, and conversation, the WF-1000XM4 with the V1 chip performs well in signal processing and noise reduction. In my daily commute, the Sony WF-1000XM4 effectively reduces noise in a variety of noisy environments, such as the subway, outdoor streets, rooms with loud air conditioning, and busy roads.
Once noise-cancellation is turned on, the volume can be lowered from 70% to around 30-40%. In short, all noise is instantly pushed away from the ears.
I also want to mention that I personally hate the negative pressure or ear pressure that comes with turning on ANC. Therefore, I switch noise-cancellation mode up and down a few times to test the WF-1000XM4’s performance. Honestly, after barely feeling any unpleasant ear pressure, I must add to my satisfaction with the WF-1000XM4.
In fact, the Sony WF-1000XM4’s active noise-cancellation is already excellent, but what I didn’t expect was that the WF-1000XM4’s passive noise-cancellation is still effective. Although active noise-cancellation promptly performs reverse noise suppression, some high-frequency noise is still likely to be missed.
Therefore, the presence of “physical noise-cancellation” (passive noise-cancellation) is still very important. The Sony WF-1000XM4 comes with a randomly included foam earbud, which is more comfortable to wear than a typical silicone earbud after closely fitting the ear canal. It’s this kind of delicate attention to detail from Sony that many manufacturers may not be able to catch up to. And most importantly, after repeated testing, the use of this earbud also prevents any leakage of sound from the WF-1000XM4.
In terms of the design of true wireless earbuds currently available on the market, there are generally three types:
- BOSE-like designs that use Proprietary StayHear structure to secure the earbud in the ear.
- AirPods Pro-like designs make the earbud small and secure in the ear.
- Sony-like designs that utilize ergonomic research to create a human engineering design.
The WF-1000XM4 adopts the third approach, which involves researching the ear and providing an ergonomic design. The earbuds themselves have been improved from the previous model, ensuring that they can fit a variety of ear shapes and sizes, including those with small ear canals like mine.
The fit has also been significantly improved, but I think that with more intense activities like running or walking, there is still a risk of the earbuds falling out if the sponge earplugs are not used. Therefore, it is best to squeeze the earplugs before wearing them, then twist them into the ear and rotate them up and down to allow them to expand in the ear canal. This will improve the fit of the earbuds in the ear canal.
The LADC Bluetooth transmission of the WF-1000XM4 has improved the sound quality of the earphones and allows for the listening of higher-quality music. With the 6mm dynamic driver unit and the integrated DAC V1 chip, the Sony WF-1000XM4 presents a significant amount of information that is sure to excite users.
The WF-1000XM4 performs well in listening to pop music, with the vocals sounding more solid and the bass feeling deeper. The overall listening experience is more three-dimensional, with a sense of being in a concert hall, and you can even feel the singer’s sobs and screams emanating from the depths of their heart.
In reality, the WF-1000XM4 still follows the old formula of tuning for popular music, but the bass is stronger and the overall sound is more biased towards the middle and lower frequencies. In my opinion, the contribution of the chip and earplugs is not small.
Overall, this is a very Sony-flavored earphone. Unfortunately, the iPhone does not currently support LADC Bluetooth transmission, but if you are just dealing with daily and commuting noise reduction when listening, the WF-1000XM4, which supports AAC decoding, performs exceptionally well.
When listening to classical music on the WF-1000XM4, the sound quality is excellent. The instrumentation is clear and distinct, with each instrument having its own space in the audio spectrum. The dynamic range is wide, allowing for a wide range of volume levels to be accurately reproduced. The bass is present but not overpowering, adding depth and richness to the overall sound. Overall, the WF-1000XM4 does a great job of faithfully reproducing classical music, making it a pleasure to listen to.
Listening to movies on the Sony WF-1000XM4 is a truly immersive experience. The active noise cancelling technology effectively blocks out background noise, allowing you to fully focus on the movie. The sound quality is excellent, with clear and precise dialogue and immersive sound effects.
The bass is strong and adds depth to the audio, while the treble is well-balanced and adds clarity to the high frequencies. The overall soundstage is wide and spacious, making it feel like you are right in the middle of the action. Whether you are watching a blockbuster movie or an intense thriller, the WF-1000XM4 delivers top-notch audio quality that enhances your viewing experience.
After Sony released the SONY WF-1000XM4 ANC earbud, I once again saw Sony’s determination in dealing with tricky problems.
The Sony WF-1000XM4 is a top-performing true wireless earbud with excellent active noise cancelling and sound quality. Its comfortable fit and versatile features make it a great choice for daily use, whether you’re commuting or just want to listen to music or watch movies in peace. Its advanced chip and driver technology provide powerful and clear audio, while the ANC function effectively blocks out unwanted noise.
Overall, the Sony WF-1000XM4 in-ear hadphone is a highly recommended product for those looking for a high-quality true wireless listening experience.