Almost perfect-feature earbuds in a tiny package.
The Sony WF-1000XM4 are the company’s latest premium flagship earbuds. They have been in the market for a while now, which means there are already several reviews to help make your purchase decision easier. Ara Wagoner hailed them as close to perfect in her review. So why read yet another take on the same earbuds after months of launch? Well, after the newness wears off, initial impressions might change.
I’ve been using the XM4 earbuds for a while, and I noticed nuances during my day-to-day usage. The Sony earphones are feature-rich on paper, but do these features translate into real-life advantages? Do these fancy features even come into use in everyday life? After several months, let’s reevaluate what you know about the Sony WF-1000XM4.
- What’s good
- What’s bad
Things I like about the Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds
There’s no doubt about it; these are still some great earbuds. They are jam-packed with the latest and greatest features, and they fit like a dream. (More on that later.) There’s a lot to love about the Sony WF-1000XM4 buds, but do the reviews hold up? After owning them for a while, here’s what I still love.
Sound and noise cancellation
Right off the bat, I’ll tell you this: The Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds feature stellar sound quality and top-notch ANC performance. You get nice details with instrument separation, clear vocals, and an overall warm sound without being profoundly thumpy. If that’s not your type, you can adjust the sound to different profiles via the Headphones Connect app.
As you’d expect, the noise canceling is improved compared to the predecessor XM3 earbuds. It is now right up there with the Bose QuietComfort earbuds. The new V1 chip’s performance combines with the passive isolation of earbud tips to deliver magical ANC performance. Even at low (less than 50%) volume, it’ll help you isolate the external noises like the mumbling noise in the park when you go out to walk.
I absolutely love this feature. As someone who lives with his parents, I have to be attentive when mom talks to me while I have earbuds on — you don’t know what might happen if you don’t answer.
With speak-to-chat, you can start talking, and the earbuds go into ambient sound mode and pause the music. This way, you can have a conversation with the earbuds in your ears without having you pause the music physically or take them out. The music resumes within a few seconds when you stop talking, and the noise cancelation gets activated.
However, this feature might not be super helpful and might get irritating if you like to sing aloud with your tunes. Fortunately, Sony gives you the option to toggle speak-to-chat within the Headphones Connect app.
Long tap for Quick Attention
If you don’t want the speak-to-chat feature but still want to talk to people without taking off your earbuds, there is a solution for you as well. Borrowing it from the flagship headphones, the Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds feature the Long Tap for Quick Attention feature.
It allows you to long-press your left earbud to lower the music volume and activate the ambient sound mode. Unlike the speak-to-chat feature, Quick Attention doesn’t pause your music.
Battery notification, battery life, and a petite case
I usually forget to charge my audio equipment and am disappointed when they are at low battery levels when I need them. If you are anything like me, this feature on the Sony WF-1000XM4 is a blessing. Each time I put them in, they tell me how much battery life is left in each bud. This way, I instantly know how many hours of music juice is left.
Another plus is that you won’t need to charge these earbuds frequently, even if you have them in the whole day. The Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds offer amazing battery life. The earbuds can last you up to eight hours on a single charge, and combined with the case, you can get two more full charge cycles.
These flagship earbuds are more pocketable this time around.
My typical use case includes having them on for meetings and a two-hour music session before I go to sleep. I’ve been charging the device weekly. Even if you hit low battery on the earbuds, you can put them in the case for five minutes and gain 90 minutes of playback time.
Speaking of cases, unlike the Sony WF-1000XM3 wireless earbuds, this case is 40% smaller and weighs just 7.4 grams versus 8.2 grams on the predecessor. These flagship earbuds are more pocketable this time around.
Snuggly fit while I try to sleep
I’ve been desperately looking for earbuds that fit my ear and don’t fall off when I sleep on my side. I’m primarily a headphones person, but those can’t be worn to bed, and the AirPods’ stem design is too bad for side-sleepers like me.
The XM4s are the first earbuds that I’ve used in a while that fit my ears and don’t tend to fall off every now and then, making me search for the tiny buds in the middle of the night.
Things I didn’t like
No device is perfect, and while the Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds are close to it, there are a few things that aren’t that great about them. If these details are your jam, it may be best to look elsewhere for a pair of earbuds.
No multi-device Bluetooth pairing
When working from home, it is important to have audio devices that can connect to your PC and your smartphone simultaneously. No one wants to mess with Bluetooth settings when jumping between the two devices. This is a big miss on the Sony WF-1000XM4.
At $280, not having multi-device Bluetooth pairing is a crime. As a reviewer, I juggle between phones, and have no less than two on me at a time. I want to be able to connect to the one I have in my hand and not the phone sitting in the next room. Even the older non-flagship Sony XB-900N headphones can connect to two devices simultaneously. All in all, it is a major omission.
My ears hurt if I plug them in for long durations
While the battery life can last up to 8 hours on the earbuds, you might not want to wear them for longer durations. I haven’t worn them for more than 3 hours at a time, but when I take them off, I have a weird feeling in my ears for the whole day.
It still happens after weeks of use. Yes, every ear is built differently, but if you have smaller ears, you might have problems with the fitting.
Choosing between controls for ambient sound or volume
I’m not too fond of the fact that I have to choose between ambient sound/noise-canceling or volume controls on the left earbud. My right one is set for playback controls and offers single tap, double-tap, triple tap, and long press for controls. Meanwhile, the left earbud only offers a single tap or long-press for both ambient sound and volume controls.
It offers all the options, including double and triple taps if you choose to have playback controls on the left earbud. As a result, you can’t have volume controls and noise-canceling controls simultaneously.
Should you buy the Sony WF-1000XM4?
None of these three points are really a deal-breaker for all the advantages offered by the Sony-WF1000XM4 earbuds. Still, it’s good to take a look back and see past those rose-colored glasses after time has passed. They are still a great buy, regardless. They sound fantastic, have excellent noise cancellation, and have great battery life packed in a smaller package, making them one of the best wireless earbuds on the market.
Incredible wireless earbuds
$278 at Amazon
$280 at BestBuy
Top-notch sound, ANC, and battery life
The Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds are worth every penny. They feature industry-leading ANC for a product of this size alongside offering stunning sound and long battery life.