After months of rumors and leaks, Sony has finally announced the successor to the much-loved WH-1000XM3. The all-new Sony WH-1000XM4 cost $350 — same as the WH-1000XM3 did at launch— and are available for preorder today, in black or silver models. They'll start shipping and be available for actual purchase in "mid-August."
Sony didn't reinvent the wheel with the Sony WH-1000XM4 — they basically look identical to the Sony WH-1000XM3. However, Sony says it did make some subtle design improvements to improve comfort and wearability. The earpads on the WH-1000XM4, for example, are 10-percent bigger so that they make more contact with the wearer's head and thus, relieve more pressure. And the headband is slightly reshaped — it's more rounded — with a slimmer head cushion.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 have been long been one of the best — if not the best — noise-canceling headphones in terms of their actual noise-canceling ability, and the WH-1000XM4 improve on it just a bit. Specifically, the WH-1000XM4's updated QN1 processor uses a new algorithm to better block out midrange and high-frequencies. In a nutshell, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is just as good as the Sony WH-1000XM3 at blocking out lower frequencies like from a vehicle (car, train, plane), but significantly better at blocking out the human voice. Therefore, the Sony WH-1000XM4 should be a better fit for people working from home.
Sony also improved the overall sound quality of the Sony WH-1000XM4. It's integrated with a new Bluetooth chip (Bluetooth Audio SoC) that, working together with the QN1 processor, is able to listen to your surroundings and the actual music that you're actually listening to, and it'll automatically adjust the noise-canceling settings so that the music sounds best. According to Sony, these headphones are able to sense and adjust the music and noise signals over 700 times per second.
The Sony WH-1000XM4 are integrated with a new Precise Voice Pickup technology that, according to Sony, "controls five microphones in the headphones optimally, and performs advanced audio signal processing to pick up voice clearly." This technology also enables a neat "Speak-to-Chat" feature that automatically pauses the music when you start talking. You can also cover the right earcup with your hand to pause the music, too, just like with the WH-1000XM3.
Additionally, Sony added a new proximity sensor in the left earcup of the WH-1000XM4 which will play/pause the music when you take off and put on the headphones. The advantage of the sensor only being in one earcup is that it allows you to lift your right earcup off your ear and the music won't stop. Given that a lot of people temporarily remove one earcup off their ears to be in conversations, this is pretty neat feature.
Lastly, the Sony WH-1000XM4 has pretty much all the same features as the WH-1000XM3. It works with the same companion app that allows you to turn on/off settings you like or don't like, as well as adjust the EQ or noise-canceling settings. It has an ambient sound mode. And it has the same power button on the side of the headphones, as well as the capacitive touch earcup controls.