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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Sony WF-1000XM4 review: Smart and versatile earphone

Sony WF-1000XM4 review: The wireless earphones offer noise cancellation, adaptive sound among a host of features. Here's how they performed for us during the testing.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Rs. 19,990
Written by Nandagopal Rajan | New Delhi |
Updated: January 13, 2022 12:54:21 pm
Sony WF-1000XM4, Sony WF-1000XM4 review, Sony WF-1000XM4 specifications, Sony WF-1000XM4 price in India, Sony WF-1000XM4 featuresSony WF-1000XM4 review: The wireless earbuds from Sony deliver excellent audio and come packed with features. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)

There are truly wireless earphones of all shapes and sizes. But very few are versatile enough to offer top-notch audio quality and still be good enough to offer great noise cancellation and call quality. Sony is trying to tick all the boxes with its new WF-1000XM4.

The Sony WF-1000XM4 is a premium wireless set aimed at those who don’t want to compromise on any aspect. It has a design that carries forward the legacy of the Sony WF-1000XM3 but is unique in many aspects. The earpods here are large and have metallic studs on the sides which are not really buttons. The sides are touch-sensitive for you to tap to pause or play. A long press brings up whatever smart assistant you want to use.

The Sony WF-1000XM4 is quite an earful. But the design ensures it will stay in place whatever you do. However, my 10-year-old son could not fit them in for longer than a minute and it would pop off.

Sony WF-1000XM4, Sony WF-1000XM4 review, Sony WF-1000XM4 specifications, Sony WF-1000XM4 price in India, Sony WF-1000XM4 features These come packed with all smart features, including adaptive sound. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)

Sony has packed the WF-1000XM4 with all its smart features. The best of the lot for me is the adaptive sound. The earphones know exactly what you are doing and if you check on the app you see walking or staying. And this audio shifts accordingly. So if you start walking from being still for a long time the noise cancelling will switch from active to the ambient sound mode so that you can be aware of what is happening around you.

Like some of the other Sony models, the WF-1000XM4 too has the ability to understand locations in your daily routine and tune the audio accordingly — like switching on noise cancellation whenever you are using the earpods in your office. Sadly, I was safely in one location during the entire duration of the review and could not really test this out on this model.

One more feature helps check if you have the best silicone tips for your ears. This is something I have not seen on other headphones and works really well. Thankfully, I had the best fit and did not need to change.

Sony WF-1000XM4, Sony WF-1000XM4 review, Sony WF-1000XM4 specifications, Sony WF-1000XM4 price in India, Sony WF-1000XM4 features The size of the WF-1000XM4 tells you this means business. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)

These earphones offer some good noise cancellation without being overwhelming. By that I mean you don’t feel like going into a vacuum every time to wear these and this is not at the cost of cutting out noise. In the ambient mode, you are more aware of what is happening around you and you can also choose to switch off noise cancellation altogether, especially if you want to save battery.

The size of the WF-1000XM4 tells you this means business. The new 6mm drivers along with the high compliance diaphragm offer a sound range that will impress even the audiophiles. You can also amp up the quality by selecting the DSEE Extreme upscaling in the app. The earphones are also compatible with Sony’s LDAC high-resolution audio and 360 reality audio standards.

Listening to a lossless version of Ravi Shankar and Alla Rakha outdo each other trying to scale new heights of Raga Hameer, you get a sense of how capable the WF-1000XM4 is. It hits a fine balance with the tabla on the left and sitar on the right, both blending seamlessly to offer a perfect listening experience.

With a vocal-heavy number like ‘We Belong’ from ‘Mare of Easttown’, I was admiring the clarity of these earphones, making you forget how minimalist the entire composition was. And switching to a melody like ‘Kaana Dooram’, the earphone brings in a sense of calm so that you can relax. There are no excesses, not even in bass and everything sounds so balanced.

Sony’s app lets users access and control a number of the smart features with the earbuds. (Image: Screenshots from Sony’s Headphones app)

One aspect that stands out is also the call quality. Understanding that people are investing in truly wireless earphones to be connected all the time wherever they are, Sony has added the ability to detect wind and reduce this noise when needed. Also, your voice quality on calls is much better because Sony is using beamforming microphones to get exactly what is needed.

The battery life is good enough to last a whole day of calls without going back into the case for a recharge. The case gives over 30 hours of playback.

At Rs 19,990, the Sony WF-1000XM4 is one of the best truly wireless units you can buy, especially if you need something that is good enough for your important work calls as well as your high-resolution audio collection. This will keep both the workaholics and audiophiles happy.

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