The Sony XM4s are still a class apart
The Sony XM4s are still a class apartSony

Sony WH-1000XM4: Raising the bar

The newest iteration of Sony’s class defining ANC headphones go even further

Price: ₹29,990/-

The Sony WH-1000XM3 was an industry standard, only to be dethroned by the WH-1000XM4. Now how do you go about improving something that is already the industry standard? Sony’s approach was to make small, granular changes that make the WH-1000XM4 just that bit better.

The fact that Sony didn’t want to mess with a winning formula, is evident the moment you lay your eyes on it. It is difficult to point out the differences in design and construction unless you are holding the XM3s alongside. The earcups are now slightly thicker improving isolation even when noise cancelling is turned off. The headband is now a little thinner. And that’s all the changes on the outside. On the inside of the left earcup, there is a new sensor to detect if you are still wearing the headphones. This is particularly useful as it pauses music when you take it off and works flawlessly each time.

The design hasn't changed much, but it wasn't bad to begin with
The design hasn't changed much, but it wasn't bad to begin withSony

Feature wise, there is the added ability to switch between two devices (Bluetooth multipoint) all without opening up the settings. This was something sorely missed in the last iteration and with it the XM4 becomes incredibly practical. There are other minor additions like the speak to chat functionality, which pauses media playback when it senses you speaking.

The controls are nearly the same as well with the outside of the earcups acting as touch sensitive pads that react to a variety of taps and swipes. Cupping your hand over the left earcup activates ambient mode, which lowers the volume and uses the microphones built into the headphones to amplify the sounds around you – a super useful feature for anyone who travels quite a bit.

If you thought Sony just limited the improvements to the added features, you’d be so wrong. Sony’s engineers have worked on making the already incredible ANC even better and the XM4 is decidedly better at cancelling out low frequency sounds like the hum inside an airplane. The already good microphone stays largely the same and we couldn’t find any improvements in our testing.

The XM4s are the travellers choice of weapon
The XM4s are the travellers choice of weaponSony

Sound quality has improved incrementally and the XM4 has a flatter frequency response than the XM3. This ensures that the sound is not overpowered by the bass as in some other headphones and has a good, natural reproduction with a large sound stage. Considering the fact that Sony also produces an entire range of audio products geared towards people who prefer that extra bass punch, it is commendable that its flagship ANC product takes a different, more rounded approach when it comes to how they sound. If, however, you like a little more low-end emphasis, you can always play around with the EQ preset in the app.

The Sony WH-1000XM4s are easily the best all round pair of ANC headphones you can buy at the moment. You get incredible sound quality, great active noise cancellation, stellar 30-hour battery life and much more.

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