Sony WH-1000XM4: Good music and dead silence

Mala Bhargava New Delhi | Updated on September 23, 2020 Published on September 18, 2020

A leap in noise cancellation, more smart features and the same good sound quality

Previous generations of this series of headphones have been a big hit with reviewers and consumers, invariably winning editors choice and best headphones awards. Now, the WH-1000XM4 has just been brought into India and we couldn’t be more delighted to check it out.

The WH-1000M4 stays with the understated design for the series. This is a closed back set that covers the ears totally with its oval big soft ear-cups. There’s plush cushioning on these cups and under the top part of the headband which, along with a good non-painful grip, means it’s easy to wear. There’s not a single flashy element on these headphones: just quiet (or boring, if you like your headphones prominent) with a copper tinted logo. You can fold up the 1000XM4 as the cans articulate quite well. There’s a good carry case to keep them protected when travelling.

Sony also sticks with the same sound signature as before which means it leans towards warm and bass rather than being flat or balanced. That’s the way people (except for out and out audiophiles) like it. One might want more emphasis on the mid frequencies and even the high-end ones, but this is something you can tinker with in the Sony Headphones app, which one should download because of its many controls.


The 1000XM4 pair quickly and can do so with two devices. The app recognises the headphones in a moment after which you can dive in and tweak its many many smart features to your liking. You can use the equaliser to select or create a sound profile. A new feature also enhances compressed audio to make it better quality, though it’s difficult to tell. There is support for LDAC but not for Aptx on these headphones.

Sony’s WF-1000XM3: Fine, intelligent wireless listening

Perfect quiet

Through the app you can also analyse ear shape for features to work optimised to your needs and also optimise noise cancellation to suit the environment around you.

Noise cancellation is, in fact, the one big difference between the previous 1000M3 and this set of headphones. It’s clearly improved. I even took to wearing the headphones just to shut out distracting noise and concentrate better though no music was playing. The 1000M4 may have just become the headphones with the absolute best noise cancellation available today. And it works without compromising the music, at least to the untrained ear. The one warning I have is that when you take these headphones off, the ordinary sounds of the world around you come as a big shock.

Tune out this troubled world with some music

Speak to Chat

Ambient Sound Control, a feature from earlier, still works fine on the 1000XM4. With this, the headphones know whether you’re out and gauge your activity and adjust noise cancellation profiles accordingly. Some people like this and some don’t, so there’s the option to turn the feature off. You can also still hold a palm over the ear-cup to let in ambient sounds. But this time there’s a new feature called Speak to Chat which detects, from proximity, the wearer speaking and turns down the music to allow for conversation, coming back to normal 30 secs after one stops talking.

Other smart stuff includes touch controls, as before, with the ear-cans sporting just two buttons in all.

The built-in microphones are better and calls are just fine, which makes the 1000XM4 as nice for work as it is for music. You get 30 hours of play with each battery charge along with quick charging for immediate extra juice with 10 minute charges. In all it takes under 3 hours to charge fully.

Price: ₹29,990 introductory

Pros: Unbeatable noise cancellation, good adjustable sound profile, filled with smart features, comfortable for long wear, good battery life

Cons: No support for Aptx, a bit expensive

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Published on September 18, 2020
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