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True romance: new Sony earbuds deliver better sound and class-leading noise cancelling

Sony WF-1000XM4 Sony headphones being worn while jogging in the rain

Improvements to noise cancelling, a high-res audio performance boost, and the addition of smart functionality first seen on its award-winning over-ears, are three compelling reasons to upgrade to Sony’s stylish new WF-1000XM4 True wireless earbuds. 

The all-new WF-1000XM4 hopes to wow enthusiasts with an integrated Processor V1 which combines the noise cancelling processor with Bluetooth ‘System on Chip’ tech. The rest of us will be won over by their compact good looks.

The WF-1000XM4 are some 10 per cent smaller than their predecessor, the XM3, and the charging case has shrunk by 40 per cent.

The true wireless earbuds feature a freshly designed 6mm driver and have two noise sensing microphones per bud, one feed-forward, and one feed-back, for better noise cancellation. An Automatic Wind Noise Reduction mode detects when it’s windy and counters it.

The WF-1000XM4 should be more comfortable too, thanks to newly-developed noise isolating earbud tips. Made from a novel polyurethane foam material, these soft plugs maximise the contact area between the earbud tip and the ear canal. This not only makes them more stable but enhances isolation.

There’s even fitting guidance on the partnering app, to ensure you have the best fit.

These new earbuds should be more comfortable too, thanks to newly-developed noise isolating earbud tips…

Another significant difference over their predecessor, the WF-1000XM3, this new iteration supports High-Resolution Audio via LDAC, Sony’s industry-adopted audio coding technology. LDAC transmits around three times the data (for a max transfer rate of 990 kbps) than regular Bluetooth. But they do require an LDAC source for you to hear the benefit.

If you don’t have any hi-res to listen to, no worries. DSEE Extreme, now powered by onboard ‘Edge’ AI, upscales compressed digital music files in real time.

“Listen to a good set of hi-hats on a nice jazz track and you should hear the difference it makes,” suggests Sony’s tech guru Eric Kingdon.

The new WF model also benefits from some of the smart tech first heard on the brand’s WH-1000XM4 over-ears, including Speak-to-Chat. As soon as you speak to someone, Speak-to-Chat automatically pauses the music and lets in ambient sound, so you can have a conversation. Speak-to-Chat is based on Precise Voice Pickup Technology, which combines four microphones and sensors with advanced audio signal processing (“We don’t advise you enable it while singing,” we were told, “but we strongly advise you sing along and enjoy the music you’re playing!”).

Other trickle down niceties include a ‘Quick Attention’ mode (just place your finger over the left earbud to decrease the volume instantly and let ambient sound in), and Adaptive Sound Control, which learns places you frequently visit (admittedly this hasn’t had a lot of use on our WH-1000XM4 cans).

Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds used with an Xperia smartphone by a stylish lady on a sofa

Battery life looks good. Sony quotes a full 8 hour, and a further 16 hours from the case. A 5-minute quick charge gives you up to 60 minutes of play time. The WF-1000XM4 are also compatible with wireless Qi charging.

An IPX4 water resistance rating will keep you going even during a downpour, and there’s both Google and Alexa support. You can now use the requisite Wake Word to activate your voice assistant of choice.

Available in Black and Silver, the WF-1000XM4 is priced at £250 and are available now.

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About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, and editor of The Luxe Review, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, Yahoo UK, Home Cinema Choice, Games Radar, Ideal Home, Louder Sounds, Channel News and Boat International. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

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