Guys, I have some big news for you: Sony has finally changed the packaging! I have been familiar with the brand’s devices for a very long time and went through all the stages: aversion to the packaging of Sony gadgets, rejection, hatred, and then I somehow resigned myself. Every time I unpacked the player, I realized that I would not put the box back. And there were also such BLISTERS made of plastic for headphones and some other things – you cut them, they can cut you with a sharp edge. Remember the Sony camera boxes? When there is a pile of pieces of paper on one side and accessories wrapped in bags on the other, you take out the camera, all this scatters in different directions, and you want to cry.

And now, the year is 2021. What do we see? A neat box made from recycled cardboard. Perfectly done! The cardboard cover clearly demonstrates the color of the model. Inside there is high-quality instruction; nozzles and a cable are hidden. That’s just great!

Design

Let me remind you that the first attempt by Sony to make compact noise-canceling headphones happened in 2018. The model was called the Sony WF-1000X and looked like this:

A huge case, healthy headphones, noise reduction, did not work very well. Our review is here.

In 2019, a sequel was released, the Sony WF-1000XM3. The case became smaller, the headphones too, the noise reduction came to life. Our review is here.

I remembered my predecessors for a reason. You can see how Sony tried to fix all their mistakes – look at the case!

It has become two times smaller than the first model and much smaller than the second version. He became okay, small. The lid can be folded back and fixed. I really like the rough plastic – it is not velvety, and a special thank you for that. And the earbuds themselves are different from all TWS on the market. Sony has its own handwriting, and here it is very noticeable.

But I’ll start with something else. Each person in the studio asked me: what is this round bronze thing? Let’s answer everyone at once: this is not a button but just a design element. A microphone is hidden under the nozzle. The second slot is located on the other side of the cup. The whole circle is a touchpad. The main thing is that the chip of large “thousandth” headphones has been preserved. Let’s say you are listening to music and someone in the office comes up to talk. Place your finger on the left cup, hold it, and the microphones will amplify the sounds around – you can talk peacefully without pulling out the headphones.

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There is a proximity sensor on the inside of the cup – if you pull out the earpiece, the music pauses. The declared operating time is about eight hours. Together with the case, you can count on 36 hours. The charging connector, of course, USB Type-C, there is wireless charging and fast charging, in five minutes we get an hour of music in the case.

Once again, these headphones look cool. Neither Bowers & Wilkins nor Bang & Olufsen managed to make really cool, cool TWS headphones, they are saved by sonorous names, but there is no feeling of a cool thing. Sony succeeded in everything: the head on the microphone adds weight (as if it were some alien device) and a well-chosen color. I’m talking about a beige model and a cool case – everything is here one to one.

Sony went further. In addition to the excellent design, everything is ok here and inside: it uses its own V1 chip, the signal is transmitted not from one earphone to another but both cups at once. Bluetooth version 5.2, SBC, AAC, LDAC codecs are supported. And here’s what is even more surprising: instead of silicone tips, polyurethane tips, or, more simply, foam. And also a bone conduction sensor!

In general, everything is modern and cool. There are no questions here. The headphones are nice to look at, touch, everything is fine with connecting and reconnecting, and there is a question for only one aspect. Let’s talk about this.

Let’s try them on!

I especially walked around the studio and asked people to try on headphones – as a result, out of six respondents, only I could normally wear small “thousandths.”

Never buy without trying it on!

And, to be honest, I don’t understand how Sony shows advertising pictures and videos with girls running around with headphones. Here is a very healthy cup and placement in the ear in two steps: you need to tuck the nozzle deeper and then somehow press the base into the auricle. People in our office gave up at the second stage – the cup did not fit, or it could fit with effort, and then there was only pain. Again, I was lucky. I can walk with the Sony WF-1000XM4 for at least an hour, at least two, but buying these headphones blindly is crazy.

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And on the official Sony website, there is the following text:

Since the introduction of the world’s first in-ear headphones in 1982 (MDR-E252), we have collected a huge amount of data regarding the shape of the ears of people around the world. And the WF-1000XM4 headphones are the result of this research. Their shape is perfect for the auricle, and with a new ergonomic design, they fit more firmly.

Sony website

I read and smile! Because of how Uncle Zhenya’s headphones sit, you can look at the photo just above. The cup did not fit into the ear. The nozzle barely reaches the ear canal.

Application

Be sure to install the Sony Headphones Connect program. There is a software update and many different settings, including changing the “layout” of the sensors on the cups and determining the optimal attachments. Most of all, the chips can be activated only from the program, so sooner or later, you will install it anyway.

Honestly, I do not use adaptive sound settings since it is easier for me to turn the noise reduction on or off myself. I recommend disabling DSEE Extreme, especially when paired with an iPhone. Also, select the priority of sound quality in “Bluetooth connection quality.” I can’t say anything about 360 Reality Audio either – I tried it with a special Deezer application, it’s cool, but for me, it’s entertainment for ten minutes.

Noise suppression

To turn on the noise reduction, you need to tap on the left cup – ANC turns on alternately, or the transparency mode or everything turns off. No matter how I set up noise cancellation, it’s still not AirPods Pro – you don’t find yourself in a vacuum after turning on the function, a lot of noise is blurred, but in general, nothing happened at all. And the screams of colleagues in the next room remain just as intense, and the music is not quieter. The transparency mode adds white noise to the surrounding space – annoying but not helpful.

I said at the beginning that the coolest feature is Quick Attention when you hold down the sensor with your finger and the transparency mode is activated.

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Sound

The fancy V1 chip is paired with new custom Sony drivers. I listened to headphones along with the iPhone 12 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 – let me remind you that there are AAC and LDAC codecs. Naturally, you will not get a full-fledged Hi-Fi station, but you managed to enjoy it. The sound is great here—no questions at all, whether it’s streaming music, movies, or games. I think most listeners will agree with me: Sony WF-1000XM4 is difficult to insert, and they will not fit many, but if you stuck them in place and turned on your favorite track, then only thrill and happiness continue.

And yes, in terms of sound quality, they are much better than their predecessors – there is more of everything: volume, scene, emotions, pressure, where necessary. Sony has made an outstanding TWS model.

Verdict

Sony WF-1000XM4 cost $278 on Amazon. Let’s talk about the pros and cons. Pros: Nice little case, great design and attachments, AAC and LDAC support, long battery life, and awesome sound quality for TWS. Respect for the new packaging.

Cons: an extraordinary design of the cups. The headphones fit a little in size. You can’t buy without trying. One more question I would like to ask Sony engineers – those who developed the noise reduction system: guys, have you tried noise reduction in AirPods Pro? Or Bose QuietComfort Earbuds? I doubt that the owner of the Sony WF-1000XM4 will sleep peacefully on the plane next to a noisy company or next to small children – but the models mentioned above allow such tricks.

I think all the shortcomings will finally be fixed in the Sony WF-1000XM5.

Should you buy the Sony WF-1000XM4 now? If they sit down, yes. Noise cancellation is a good thing, but here the nozzles tightly close the ear canal and, if music is playing, it is quite possible to hide behind it. The volume is even excessive. If noise cancellation is more important than music, look at AirPods or Bose.

Will I use these headphones myself? Yes, I plan to listen to them tightly until the fall. At the end of July, try Nothing Ear (1), mix with the new Samsung and Bose products, and then the company with the letter A will show us something new.

Anyway, Sony fans are happy. The headphones are selling well – I think the first batches of XM4 will be sold out in the coming weeks.

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