• GEEKSPIN’s review of the Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless Earbuds

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• GEEKSPIN’s review of the Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless Earbuds
• GEEKSPIN’s review of the Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless Earbuds

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The • GEEKSPIN’s review of the Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless Earbuds

Sony has won with active noise canceling headphones… at least in the over-ear market. Their last pair of in-ear headphones WF-1000XM3 left users wanting more. Their latest pair of true wireless in-ear headphones has finally won Sony in the premium category of ANC in-ear headphones. The Sony WF-1000XM4 headphones are slimmer and sleeker, sound phenomenal and have upgrades across the board.

Let’s start with the charging case – you can’t have true wireless headphones without lugging the case. Despite being a bit tacky, the new charging case is fantastic. It’s smaller than most, easy to use, charges with USB-C and has a wireless charger. It’s small enough to forget in your pocket. It looks sleek and premium with an LED strip, matte finish and no buttons. It’s ultra-light, but we’re a little concerned about its longevity.

The actual buttons have also been completely redesigned. Sony’s M3s were so big they would almost fill the inside of your ear. The new M4s are much less noticeable. Although they are only 10% smaller, they look 40% smaller. They are no longer oval, but rounder and designed to sit naturally and comfortably in the ear canal or your ear. As someone with troublesome ears, I absolutely love this fit. No ear hook or stabilizer is needed and it can stay in my ear even while jogging. The fit requires the push-and-turn technique to “lock” into your ears. Of course, you may occasionally need to reinsert them into your ears. It comes with 3 sizes of memory foam “soundproofing” ear tips. These really help with the fit, but some of you may want silicone tips at. I like their memory foam tips to be very comfortable and really help the fit, but they are a bit more involved to stick in your ears.

There is always a bit of sacrifice of usability with true wireless buttons when it comes to controls. Like most, Sony relies on touch buttons. The scale of each button is a touch button, and most features accessible by tap and hold. We don’t like touch buttons, but luckily these are adaptable and not overly sensitive. Each knob can be customized to control ambient sound, playback or volume control. Then each button has a tap, double tap, triple tap and hold function. You can only choose a set of controls per button, you can’t customize what each type of tap does. So, for example, if the right button is set to control playback, a single tap is pause, double is the next song, triple is for the previous song, and hold is voice activation. I imagine this will be more customizable in the future with firmware and app updates.

While touching buttons are not everyone’s favorites, there are some really nice cars features you may love. They are all adjustable and you can turn them off. When you take an earbud out of your ear, the music pauses and even the noise cancellation is turned off. Put the button back in and the music immediately starts again up. This is a must have feature for all headphones.

The headphones can also turn off automatically after not being used for a while. The next feature is love-it or hate-it: speak-to-chat pauses your music and turns on the ambient sound when you speak, so you don’t have to take the earbuds off to talk to someone. This one feature is configurable and can pause your music when you sneeze, cough, growl or talk to yourself. We’re giving it to Sony because it’s innovative, but we’d rather just take an ear out of our ear.

The last handy car feature is adaptive sound control that uses your movements and location to adjust your headphone settings, such as noise cancellation and ambient noise. This one feature can automatically turn on noise canceling while you’re on the go, turn on ambient noise while you’re walking outside, and turn both off while you’re on the go home, for instance. Neat, but we prefer to arrange this ourselves with a tap on the earplugs.

When it comes to battery, only the earbuds can play music for an unprecedented 8 hours with active noise cancellation and 12 hours without ANC. The charging case adds an extra 16 hours to give you a whopping 24 hours of total listening time. Your phone will even notify you when the charging case drops below 30%. With fast charging, you get an hour of playback after 5 minutes of charging. The battery is great and the USB-C and wireless charging options are fantastic too.

As with Sony’s over-ear headphones, we love how these sound. They’re a bit flat out of the box, but you can choose an audio profile or set your own audio profile with the custom equalizer to make them sound great and perfect. They sound very lively with ultra-clear mids and thumping bass. Again, it’s all adjustable. With a little tweak, our preferred tuning has so much life and radiance with voices that are front and center and bass that is warm and natural.

The ear tips really help with passive noise isolation and a complete seal. Often you don’t need active noise cancellation, but it’s so clean that it might be better to hear your music at a comfortable volume. We think Sony sets the bar high when it comes to noise cancellation as it’s pretty much the best out there, especially without creating a hiss against noise. The M3s also had a great ANC and while the difference is negligible, the better fit of the M4s probably helps. These can muffle the sound of a treadmill, most train noise, and my white noise machine. Voices will still come through, although much weaker.

It’s worth noting that Sony also offers a “360 reality” immersive sound profile, but it only works on a few apps like Tidal, Deezer, and Nugs.net.

Wrap up • GEEKSPIN’s review of the Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless Earbuds

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