Following last year’s debut of the Sony WH-1000XM4 over-ear wireless noise cancelling headphones, the WF-1000XM4 earbud version is now on the way.
Due to land mid-July at $450, and available in either black or ‘platinum silver’, these fourth-generation noise-cancelling earbuds bring some key features of their larger over-ear siblings into the tiny in-ear package.
Leading off is ‘Speak-to-Chat’, which launched on the WH-1000XM4 and lets you have short conversations without even touching the earbuds.
As soon as you begin to talk, Speak-to-Chat automatically pauses the music and opens up to ambient sound so you can talk freely. Once the conversation is over, the music resumes automatically.
There’s also ‘Quick Attention’ mode: if you want to hear the outside world, such as when the business class flight attendant asks which cocktail you’d like before dinner, just place your finger over the left earbud and the volume instantly drops.
An array of four microphones and sensors with advanced audio signal processing is behind what Sony calls ‘Adaptive Sound Control’, which senses where you are and what you’re doing based on the background noise, and automatically adjusts the noise-cancelling profile to match.
On a plane or on public transport, noise-cancelling is wound up to greater effect; when walking through a park or waiting at the cafe for a friend, noise-cancelling is less aggressive and more ambient sound comes through. There’s also automatic wind noise reduction while you’re out and about.
(You can also use Sony’s smartphone app to create presets for regular scenarios such as your office or the gym.)
Sony says the XM4’s new custom-designed processor boosts noise cancellation, while support for high-resolution audio wireless sends approximately three times more data than conventional Bluetooth audio for higher-quality wireless sound.
The XM4s should sit even more snug in your ears: Sony claims to have “analysed huge amounts of data relating to ear shapes from around the world” and revamped these earbuds accordingly, “combining a shape that matches the ear cavity with a new ergonomic surface design for a more stable fit.”
The earbuds themselves are 10% smaller than the XM3, while the Qi-compatible wireless charging case is 40% smaller.
Sony rates battery life at eight hours on a full charge, with the case good for two full recharges.
Even if the XM4s are completely flat, you can get a solid 60 minutes of music from a quick five-minute charge.
Pairing with Android smartphones should be a doddle, as the XM4s work with Google’s new Fast Pair feature for one-tap pairing; they also work with Microsoft Swift Pair for connecting to Windows 10 laptops.