Sony WH-1000XM4 Evaluation | PCMag

We’re massive followers of Sony’s WH-1000XM3 headphones, which ship first-rate ANC (lively noise cancellation) and audiophile-level sound high quality, so it is secure to say we have been trying ahead to the brand new WH-1000XM4. For $349.99, the headphones supply some notable enhancements, together with an computerized dialog function that pauses the audio and activates the ambient mic, and the power to play audio or energy down relying on whether or not you are utilizing them. carrying or not. Noise cancellation is barely improved, because of a particular processor that implements ANC in actual time, and audio efficiency stays impeccable. Merely put, if audio efficiency is your high precedence, these are the noise-canceling headphones, they usually simply earn our Editors’ Selection.


Accessible in black or off-white, the Perimeter (over-ear) WH-1000XM4 headphones look the identical because the earlier mannequin. The plush earpads and cushioning beneath the scarf make them exceptionally comfy, even throughout lengthy listening periods. The headphones ship with audio and charging cables, an airline jack adapter, and a zip-up hard-shell case for journey.

pcmag logo

The ambient sound pick-up mics are situated on the high of the outer panel, both on the earcup—they appear remarkably like a USB-C port, however the USB-C port is definitely situated on the outer panel of the correct earcup, under. , There’s additionally a jack on the correct earcup for the included audio cable for wired listening. It is potential to hear via the cable and nonetheless use ANC, so do not forget that leaving the cable plugged in would not robotically imply saving battery life. However you’ll be able to, after all, flip the headphones off and use the cable fully passively.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Headphones

On the aspect panel of the left ear, you will additionally discover a energy/pairing button and a button labeled Customized—in default mode, this controls ANC/ambient mode, however you’ll be able to change its perform within the companion app. The remainder of the controls are invisible—the flat outer panel of the correct earcup homes swipe- and tap-based controls, they usually work splendidly. Swipe up or down to manage quantity, swipe ahead or backward for observe navigation, double-tap heart for playback or name administration, and press and maintain heart to summon your system’s voice assistant. The headphones robotically energy off when turned off – this may be modified within the app, as can the auto power-down setting.

The mic is great at detecting your voice, and so when audio is enjoying and the speak-to-chat function is enabled within the app, the audio robotically pauses and the ambient mic kicks in so you’ll be able to take away the headphones. with out speaking. So long as you do not forget that the mode is on, it is nice. The function can also be fairly good at telling the distinction between a cough or throat clearing and actual phrases—I could not set off it with out really speaking. When the audio stops, should you say nothing else for about 30 seconds, the music (and ANC, if it was on) begins again up.

The Sony Headphone Join app acknowledges the headphones and begins setup instantly. You possibly can activate 360 ​​Sound, an immersive audio impact we suggest skipping, however there is definitely no hurt in attempting. The app additionally has an adaptive sound management function that adjusts your audio efficiency primarily based in your atmosphere—the sound signature and quantity will modify barely relying on how loud or quiet you’re. Once more, purists will wish to skip this, however some customers will discover the function helpful.

A slider within the app permits you to select between full-power ANC or full-power ambient monitoring, or numerous mixes of each. When ambient is lively, even at a low stage, you may as well choose Give attention to Voice and the mic will solely enable the human voice to exceed the frequency vary. Must you wish to use neither ANC nor Ambient mode, there’s a change to disable each (confusingly labeled Ambient Sound Management Swap, however it successfully turns each off) . You possibly can even customise noise cancellation on your atmosphere – ​​the app measures atmospheric stress and listens to your environment to dial in the very best settings. Urgent this button in numerous environments offers you totally different outcomes, so it is price redoing when utilizing the headphones within the new location.

There is a user-adjustable five-band EQ, in addition to a DSEE Excessive mode – flip it on, and Sony claims your compressed tracks will sound higher as a result of the lacking info is changed in actual time. We’ll go forward and say there isn’t any hurt in testing it, however as all the time, we suggest solely utilizing high-quality information if you wish to keep away from audio compression issues. When you depart this function on, your music is not going to undergo, and it’s debatable whether or not this can enhance.

Internally, 40mm drivers present a frequency response of 4Hz to 40kHz (though this spec refers to when the headphones are utilized in wired mode, and regardless, 4Hz is an ordinary for any frequency vary). is the optimistic worth, as is 40kHz). The headphones are appropriate with Bluetooth 5.0 and help the AAC and SBC codecs, however not AptX.

Sony estimates battery life to be round 30 hours or 22 hours when utilizing the headphones with ANC in cable mode, however your outcomes will range together with your quantity ranges.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Headphones


The WH-1000XM4 headphones ship glorious ANC. The amount of music enjoying on close by audio system drops considerably, with only some larger frequencies passing via. The low-frequency rumble you hear on a aircraft or practice can also be largely reduced-there stage. Workplace chatter and keyboard typing clicks are dramatically diminished, and the voices of individuals chatting close by are additionally lowered. That is a few of the greatest ANCs we have examined, and mixed with the app’s controls, there are additionally a few of the extra versatile ones. To have the ability to mix in with ambient mics, to have the ability to give attention to the human voice with even higher ambient mics.

The ANC produces a little bit of a high-frequency hiss sign, however its stage is decrease than what we frequently hear from ANC fashions, and it far exceeds the efficacy of the circuitry. We did not discover any change in audio efficiency with ANC on or off—earlier fashions had little impression on audio efficiency, however that seems to be now not the case, and it was by no means an enormous problem. The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 headphones nonetheless have a slight edge in ANC territory, however Sony is closing the hole—and while you add within the audio efficiency right here, it is simple to make the case that these are the very best ANC headphones round. in the marketplace.

You possibly can tweak the audio with in-app EQ, however our outcomes under are primarily based on testing with out EQ utilized. On tracks with intense sub-bass content material, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the headphones ship highly effective low-frequency response. At excessive volumes, the drivers really feel like they’re vibrating, however no actual distortion is going on, and at extra cheap listening ranges, bass depth remains to be fairly sturdy.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Headphones on the Desk

How can we check headphones

Invoice Callahan’s “Drover,” a observe with far much less deep bass within the combine, offers us a greater sense of the WH-1000XM4’s normal sound signature. The drums on this observe are extra thunderous than flat-response headphones, however they do not fall into unnatural territory. Some customers could wish to dial again the bass within the app, however those that like some additional thump within the combine will get pleasure from what the drivers ship—the high-register percussive hits and acoustic strumming vibrant, crisp, and balanced with the lows. There are.

On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church within the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives sufficient high-mid presence to take care of its assault, whereas we hear loads of vinyl crackle and hiss- Perhaps greater than standard. Which is normally drawn again into the background. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with perfect bass depth—they are not overdone and due to this fact do not detract from the steadiness of the combination, however they definitely pack some punch, as Some beefed-up drum loops. keep. The vocals on this observe are delivered with stable readability with out a lot sibilance.

Orchestra Tracks Like John Adams’ Opening Scene The Different Gospel Based on Mary, a bit extra bass-enhanced sound than purists may count on, however it’s simply adjustable with the app’s EQ. As in, the lower-register instrumentation takes a notable step ahead within the combine, however nonetheless performs an anchoring function for the higher-register bass, strings, and vocals, sustaining their place within the highlight with a crisp, vibrant supply .

The mic delivers stable legibility. Utilizing the Voice Memos app on iPhone 8, we will perceive each phrase that’s recorded. There was nonetheless some Bluetooth distortion across the edges of the phrases, however the mic sign was sturdy and included a bit of additional bass response.


In a one-on-one battle, the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones take the prize at 700 noise cancellations, whereas the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones win for audio efficiency. There’s room for 2 on the high right here, and so the WH-1000XM4 shares our Editors’ Selection award with Bose—and should you’re on the lookout for the very best combo of wonderful ANC with class-leading audio efficiency, that is it. The WH-1000XM4 is the pair to get. When you’re seeking to spend much less, the $270 Marshall Mid ANC headphones supply stable noise cancellation on a funds, they usually accomplish that with model. In the meantime, within the earphones division, we’re massive followers of the $250 Apple AirPods Professional, which ship stable audio efficiency and ANC for the bottom value of the bunch.


  • Glorious audio efficiency with wealthy bass and huge top

  • Prime tier noise cancellation with in-app changes

  • Customizable EQ

  • Easy, responsive on-ear controls

  • comfy match

See extra


The good Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones mix glorious noise cancellation with audiophile-friendly sound high quality.

Like what are you studying?

join lab report To get the newest evaluations and high product recommendation straight to your inbox.

This text could include commercials, offers or affiliate hyperlinks. Subscribing to the e-newsletter signifies your consent to our Phrases of Use and Privateness Coverage. You possibly can unsubscribe from newsletters at any time.

Supply hyperlink