The noise reduction itself is second to none, thanks to Sony’s excellent signal processing capabilities and the included foam earplugs, which will fit your ears when you put them on. This is the first time I have to turn on the pass-through function (input sound from the outside through the microphone of the headset) to hear people talking when the music is not even playing.
They are basically 21st century steroid earplugs. Put them in and turn on the music, and the whole world disappears. When I was wearing headphones, my hair covered the headphones, and when I was wandering around the house, my fiancee often talked to me, and as a result I brushed her and missed every word.
Low-frequency sounds like HVAC and jet engines will still ooze out, just like all noise-canceling headphones do to some degree. However, the volume of these sounds will be significantly reduced, and will become whispers when playing music or podcasts.
Thanks to the quick pairing function of Android and Windows and the normal pairing with iOS (ie: very fast, but not instant), the headset is very easy to pair and set up according to your preferences. The Sony Headphones app allows you to adjust EQ, change from noise reduction mode to ambient sound mode, and turn on the call pause function of the headset, which listens to your voice and pauses the music so that you can hear the voice of the person you are talking to. Talking is talking.
Everything in the app is very simple and easy to do, but I don’t like touch controls. Long pressing on the outside of each earbud should turn the ambient sound mode on or off, but it just paused my music for half the time I tried to do this. Longer hair (especially hair that gets wet during exercise) also has a tendency to trigger touch controls. I hope they just used a physical button.
Vocal microphones can be used for calls and Zoom meetings, but I would not call them crazy quality. They do have IPX4 water resistance, but they are too bulky for me when running. I use them when I lift weights at home and they work very well.
WF-1000XM4 actually has striking similarities with their over-ear brothers, WH-1000XM4 (Yes, the Sony product naming is This horrible). The earbuds have a strong low end, but there is actually not much bass to overwhelm the driver, the mid-to-treble peaks, and then it drops at the highs.
I actually like to add a bit of high-end to the headphones in the EQ section of the app, especially for jazz recordings like Ahmad Jamal that are already dark. Live in PershingWhen applied to popular vocals like “Toxic” by Britney Spears, the natural drop in high frequencies helps to solve the harsh sound of the early 2000s, and you sometimes hear higher volume in her voice.
No matter what you are listening to, the XM4 is a very clean and flat earphone, just like many of Sony’s audio products. These are one of the best-sounding wireless earbuds today, as good as models from more custom brands such as Bowers & Wilkins and Cambridge Audio.
Sony’s new flagship wireless earbuds sound great. They reduce outside noise better than all competitors, and their battery life is sufficient for cross-country flying. But in the final analysis, they do not work well for people with smaller ears. The number of people who asked me about earplugs was shocking enough to prevent me from justifying a higher evaluation.
For larger ears, WF-1000XM4 is the best noise reduction option on the market. But for others, AirPods Pro or Galaxy Buds may be more suitable.