The WF-1000XM4 has a small, black charging case. It’s smaller than the case that comes with the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, and positively tiny (40 percent smaller) compared with the charging case that comes with their predecessors. The case has a USB-C charging port and for the first time sony introduced wireless charging to the WF-1000X range, all you need is a compatible Qi charging pad. You can even battery share with compatible smartphones and piggyback off their power supply, too. The XM4’s battery life is much better than the XM3, you get eight hours of play from the earbuds with noise-canceling and Bluetooth turned on, and Sony states the case can supply a further 16 hours of charge and with turning off of noise-canceling you get extended 12 hours from a single charge and 24 hours with the case. A five-minute quick charge is good for one hour of playtime, too. The earbuds have a matte finish on each which gives them a premium feel, while the small accents around the microphone and sensor holes add a tiny splash of color. Now coming to colors, the XM4 comes in a choice of black or silver.
The XM4 got brand new ear tips which are made from polyurethane, which feels like a cross between silicone and foam; Sony states that they help secure a tighter, more stable fit. The thousands of tiny bubbles in the tips are also supposed to help reduce and dissipate noise. It doesn’t have any major problems while sliding the earbuds in and twisting them into place. It nicely fits in the ear opening and they are comfortable for longer listening sessions.
The circular outer surface of each earbud is a touchpad and, by using the Headphones Connect app, you can change the functionality of each one. They are featured to control the volume and playback or switch between noise-canceling and ambient sound modes through the usual combination of taps, presses, and long holds – and the headphones are quick to respond to these actions. The Sony WF-1000XM4 comes with the Speak-to-Chat function which allows you to talk to someone while the earbuds are still in place and is triggered when you start talking. It works well, although as is the case with the over-ears, it’s only triggered a second or so after you start talking but sometimes it gets frustrating, as the feature tends to get activated with surrounding noise too so, in that case, you can reduce the sensitivity of the feature, or you can turn it off completely and either use Quick Attention or remove an earbud completely. The new earbuds flaunt an improved DAC and analog amplifier and are powered by a new Integrated Processor V1. Sony states that it provides a clearer sound and even better noise-canceling than its predecessor. The new model also gets Sony’s DSEE Extreme audio processor with Edge-AI, which we have also experienced in the WH-1000XM4 and XM5 over-ear headphones.
Sony claims to deliver clearer call quality with new features, including beam-forming and the use of a bone conduction sensor that prevents the mics from picking up distracting ambient sounds while you’re talking. There’s even an automatic wind noise reduction mode that cuts out the swirls of noise passing through the headset and into your ears. This earbud is featured with Sony’s Precise Voice Pickup technology, originally introduced in the WH-1000XM4. The overall effect is an impressive call quality for a pair of wireless earbuds. The technologies all combine to do a solid job of dampening down outside noise and interference, especially for the person on the other end of the line. The quality of noise-canceling is excellent, especially for a pair of wireless earbuds and you’ll struggle to find better noise cancellation at this level. The quality of bass and the clarity of low frequencies are excellent. There’s such a fantastic level of detail on display.
The headphones deliver a satisfying user experience, long battery life, some of the best noise-canceling we’ve heard in this category, and stunning sound quality.