Sony WH-1000XM4 Review

Sony WH-1000XM4 Review

Written by Ramsay, In Headset, Published On
July 10, 2023

We love the ANC (active noise cancellation) and audiophile-level sound quality of Sony’s WH-1000XM3 headphones, so it’s safe to say we’ve been looking forward to the new WH-1000XM4. For $349.99, the headphones offer some big changes, like an automatic conversation feature that pauses the music and turns on the ambient mic, and the ability to play music or turn it off depending on whether you’re wearing them or not. Thanks to a special processor that does ANC in real time, noise cancellation has been slightly better, and audio quality hasn’t changed at all. Read on to know more…

Sony WH-1000XM4 Specs

Type Circumaural (over-ear)
Wireless YES
True Wireless NO
Connection Type Bluetooth
Water/Sweat-Resistant NO
Frequency Range 20Hz – 20kHz
Active Noise Cancellation YES
Dimensions 18.47 X 7.7 X 25.25
Playback Time 30 Hours


  1. The most advanced ANC technology available
  2. Dynamic
  3. Specific audio
  4. Acceptance of multipoint connections
  5. Quick Focus and Clothing Status Indicators
  6. Long-lasting batteries


  1. The controls are hit or miss.
  2. No Rank for IP


Sony WH-1000XM4

The WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones come in black or off-white, and they look a lot like the last model. They are very comfy, even for long listening sessions, because they have soft earpads and padding under the headband. The headphones come with an audio cable, a charging wire, an adapter for an aeroplane jack, and a hard-shell case that zips up. The mics that pick up environmental sound are at the top of the outer panel on both earcups.

Sony WH-1000XM4

They look a lot like USB-C ports, but the USB-C port is actually on the bottom of the right earcup’s outer panel. There is also a jack on the right earcup for the audio line that comes with the headphones, so you can listen to music without using your phone. You can listen through the cable and still use ANC, so don’t think that putting in the cable will save battery life. But you can turn off the headphones and just use the cord without any power. You’ll also find a power/pairing button and a “Custom” button on the side of the left ear.

Sony WH-1000XM4

By default, the “Custom” button sets the ANC and ambient modes, but you can change this in the companion app.

The rest of the controls are hidden; swipe- and tap-based controls are on the flat outer panel of the right ear cup, and they work great. Swipe up or down to change the volume. Swipe forward or back to skip tracks. Tap the centre twice to control playing or calls. Press and hold the centre button to call up the voice assistant on your device. When you take off the headphones, the music stops playing immediately. You can change this setting in the app, as well as the auto-power-down setting.

Fit and comfort

Sony WH-1000XM4

As was already said, Sony kept most of the build and design the same from the Mark 3s, but they did make some small changes to the build that affect how well it fits and feels. The head cushion on top of the headphones has been cut down a little bit to make them look and feel more sleek. The ear padding has also been changed. It now has a 10 percent bigger surface area to better fit your head.

Have all the changes made to these cans turned out well?

Actually, no. Even though adding more surface area to the ear cups makes them more comfy and padded, cutting down on the foam on the headband really hurts the overall comfort of the device. We always felt a pressure spot on the top of our heads, which got stronger as time went on. After hearing for two to three hours, the reviewer had to take off the headphones to relieve the pressure on the top of their head. The ear cups are made of urethane memory foam and covered with a leatherette material.

They are very comfy and soft. Even when noise cancellation is turned off, the greater surface area of the padding and the right amount of clamping force make for great noise isolation. After a few hours of wearing the headphones, the reviewer’s ears did get pretty hot, but we’re going to put most of the blame on the stifling heat in Mumbai. So, while the ear cups are very comfortable, the headband padding has been cut down, which makes the headphones less comfortable overall, especially for longer listening sessions.

Sound Quality

Sony WH-1000XM4

Since the last model, the sound quality has changed in some good ways. Even though the newer model has the same 40mm drivers and QN1 processor as the WH-1000XM3, the algorithm has been changed so that the sound signature is much closer to neutral than it was in the Mark 3. Because of this change in the sound signature, the reproduction is now dynamic and full of information, and it stays pretty much the same across all frequencies.

This time, Sony’s new ANC headphones have a much tighter and more polished bass response that doesn’t leak into the mids and cover up what you hear. In Queen’s songs like “Another One Bites the Dust,” which has a lot of basses, the bass hits are strong and lively, but they don’t overpower the lead instruments or Freddie Mercury’s singing.

Mainstreet by Motherjane has a bass guitar riff that keeps coming back. It sounds crisp and tight, and you can hear how well the bass notes are being handled. Bright Eyes’ songs that focus on the vocals, like “First Day of My Life,” have a lot of warmth and clear vocals, which go well with the finger-picked guitar’s sparkle. Toning down the bass bias has brought out the mids’ richness, and even tracks with many instruments still do a good job of focusing on the voices. Now, if you want more weight in the bass sound, you can always change that to your liking with the app’s adjustable EQ.

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