Sony WF-100XM4 Earphone Review
What should reviewers do when a 10/10 rated product gets better in the next iteration? PATPILCHER tests Sony’s new shoots.
We were so impressed with Sony’s last wireless earphones (the pretty good WF-1000XM3) that we awarded Witch doctor the coveted 10/10 award. Now Sony is back with the latest wireless earphones, the creatively named Sony WF-1000XM4. Dull name, dull earphones? it’s not!
In fact, they’ve managed last year’s 10/10 products, which are nearly impossible. Unfortunately, Witch doctor doesn’t praise 11/10! Unless you lived under a rock last week, you may know that the world’s tech media are collectively wetting their pants on these sprouts. I packed the pair into my noggin so it’s not hard to understand why. In almost every respect, the updated buds offer significant improvements over their already superior predecessors.
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From a design standpoint, Sony has managed an unprecedented tricky task of making the next bud as unique and quirky as last year’s model. The big news is that it’s a more compact design when it comes to designing the XM4. The first thing I noticed when I saw the XM4 was obviously spending a serious time at Jenny Craig. The biggest complaints about the WF-1000XM3 door were its bulkiness. There really isn’t any other way to put it, they were chubby, and their charging case was huge.
Sony has clearly incorporated this feedback, so the XM4’s charging case is 40% smaller. So you don’t have to worry about putting it in your pocket and walking down the street, “Is there a Sony earphone charging case in my front pocket, or are you happy to see me?”
It’s not just the charging case. Earphones are 10% compact. Now you can thrust them into your ears, and you don’t look like Prince Charles aspirants who overdose ear Viagra. Most important of all, they are a comfortable fit. Another bonus is that the new memory foam chip offers excellent sound insulation in addition to active noise canceling (more on this later).
As an aside, Sony has earned a lot of brownie points from this writer because it doesn’t use plastic packaging. Massive plastic packaging for landfills has long been a staple of consumer electronics. The WF-1000XM4 is sold in a paper-based, recyclable, environmentally friendly package. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found a quantity of nonsensical plastic packages used for TVs, phones, and other doodad annoyances. Other tech companies should follow Sony’s example.
Sony has moved many features from over-ear cans to the XM4. These include Speak-To-Chat, DSEE Extreme Audio Upscaling, and Adaptive Noise Cancellation. Combining these new features means that the XM4 is not only acoustically superior in the ANC department, but also fun to use.
Much of what makes the WF-1000Xm4 shine is in Sony’s pretty good Headphone Connect app (Android / iOS). It gives you fine-grained control over the functionality of all buds. I especially like being able to select the controls I need with this app. These ranges include volume up / down, play / pause / skip forward / skip backward / voice assistant, and active noise canceling on / off / adaptation.
The app has its own sound tab. Here’s the EQ (it comes with a lot of presets and, importantly, the ability to manually adjust the EQ settings along with the bass booster). With EQ, you also have the option to save your custom presets. Then there’s a pretty good DSEE Extreme audio upscaling option. This will also shine low Fi 128kbps MP3 tracks and audio from Spotify. Sony’s 360 audio also exists-although setting it up is a bit tedious. You can also select a voice assistant. Available options are Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri (for fruity phone owners). When you say their “awakening” words, these make your bids easy.
Like all ear gear tested by Shaman, XM4 wandered through the noisy and crowded RF environment of Wellington’s CBD. This shows how stable the Bluetooth connection is and tested audio, calling and noise cancellation.
There were 3 microphones in each bud and the call quality was excellent. This is due to the combination of the microphone and bone conduction sensor, and the cancellation of wind noise. This combination meant that the XM4 would offer a clear audio even on the chaotic, noisy (and windy) Willis Street at lunch. With ambient mode, I could hear myself speaking, so I didn’t have to speak up during the call. The bone conduction function of the XM4 meant that my voice was picked up, but the surrounding street sound wasn’t picked up. The caller did not know that I was using earphones from a busy street corner. not bad.
On the connection side, I used the Headphone Connect app to switch the Bluetooth setting from audio quality to connection stability. This was very helpful. XM4 Huawei Freebuds 4i On the connection side, Bluetooth dropped out only twice. Much of Wellington’s CBD performance comes down to the fact that it uses Bluetooth 5.2. Bluetooth 5.2 allows for more reliable connections as well as transmission to both left and right earphones. High resolution audio can also be used wirelessly with the LDAC codec enabled.
Another benefit of Bluetooth 5.2 is battery life. This corresponds to 12 to 24 hours of use (this depends on many factors such as the use of active noise canceling, listening volume, etc.). Conveniently, the XM4’s charging case also supports Qi wireless charging and wired fast charging. This means that thrusting the charging pads at night means that the sprouts are fully replenished in the morning when you are most likely to need them. Just connect it to the charger and it will take just 5 minutes and can be used for 1 hour.
On the audio side, the Wf-1000XM4 chewed gum, kicked the butt, and named it. Their work across different genres was amazing. Testing them on several lo-fi 128kbps Mp3 New Order tracks revealed a rhythmic bang on the “Blue Monday” kick drum. Switching to some Lou Reed FLAC files gave me a lot of sonic detail that I’ve never heard on other earphones.
DSEEE Extreme’s upscaling really adds something that makes the audio crisp yet very easy to hear. However, there are limits to upscaling tricks. There is a theory that DSEE upscaling can extract high resolution audio from SD digital audio files, but I’m not completely sure yet. However, it adds a layer of brilliance to the audio that is not found in other ear gears that do not have upscaling capabilities.
In any case, with everything I threw at them, the XM4 audio impressed me. The bass has a texture and nuance that other earphones didn’t notice. It feels engraved, controlled, yet accurate. Thankfully, the overall audio output is balanced. The result of this is that nothing is high-pitched or muddy and everything feels very attractive to hear.
The mids and lows provide a ton of sonic detail. This is nothing more than a revelation as you walk down the street. Witch doctor My Nathan Haynes ” Poet accepts Packed with a lot of warmth, it was very attractive and showed off the musicality of these buds. If you’re thinking of XM4’s inspiring audio, you’ll be honest with your money. Sony’s Xm4 is arguably the best bud when it comes to audio output.
It wasn’t just their acoustic ability that impressed me. Active noise canceling is also successful, even if it’s not as robust as Bose’s QuietComfort buds. The WF-1000XM4 cut the environmental noise into a barely audible whisper, but what I was hearing contained a small amount of noise. Much of this results in adaptive noise canceling. Buds learn from your environment and fine-tune active noise canceling in real time. Spots you visit on a regular basis are recorded using your mobile phone’s GPS. The ANC settings learned from that location will be reapplied and adjusted based on what the earphones get when they revisit the location in the future. Over the next few days, the XM4’s ANC performance seemed to improve steadily.
The buds of the WF-1000XM4 are curious beasts. Most manufacturers have one or two improvements over their previous ear gears. Sony has accomplished the amazing feat of making a total profit. Excellent audio, a comfortable fit, stable battery life, and excellent active noise canceling make the XM4 a solid choice for anyone on the market looking for a great pair of wireless earphones. If you’re the owner of last year’s model and wondering if the XM4 is a worthwhile upgrade, the answer is certainly yes.
Sony WF-100XM4 Earphone Review-witchdoctor.co.nz
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