Sony WH-1000XM4 review: true Hi-Res audio with voice assistant

With exit from the offer Amazon HD Music allowing you to play titles in Ultra HD, you need real good material and not something that only plays basic codecs such as SBC and AAC. You can therefore turn to products such as Echo Studio speakers, Sonos and others, but for headphones, what to choose? Here again you have some well-known names in the world of high-end headphones like Bose and its QuietComfort 35II, JABRA and its Elite 85h, but we are going to move to Asia for this test. It is indeed the Sony WH-1000XM4 Bluetooth headphones, the latest release from the Japanese firm in Minato (Tokyo), which we had the pleasure of testing for you (yes we know, it's hard).

Worthy successor to Sony WH-1000MX3, this new version is an improved version making this helmet, on paper, the best bluetooth headphones on the market with active noise cancellation. It announces 30 hours of autonomy, Bluetooth 5.0, an evolutionary adaptation to ambient noise, wireless Hi-Res Audio (one of the only), as well as operation with voice assistants including Amazon Alexa integrated!

Sony WH-1000XM4: Japanese Bluetooth headset unboxing

We are on a high-end product and it shows in the packaging. the Sony WH-1000MX4 headphones comes in a very nice white packaging with glossy prints. It is sober, but goes to the essential with the visual of the helmet (black version in our case) and the highlighting of some characteristics such as the sound 360 Reality Audio, Hi-Res Audio Wireless, autonomy, Noise canceling, but also the operation with Google Assistant et Alexa Built-in. On the back side, these are the other remarkable features that you find, like thetouch operation, loading times, accessories ...

“We are on a top-of-the-range product and it shows in the packaging. " The Alexians

As is the fashion now, this box is actually a sleeve leaving room for a second black box, flanked by the SONY logo in which you will find a case with the headphones. The Matryoshkas are out. Frankly, the first impression is excellent. The box makes you want, the case is superbly finished and the helmet calls us to take it in hand!

Regarding the cover, Sony does not seek to play on high-end fake with imitation leather, but rather on 100% textile. The elastic mesh part is a good idea in order to put additional cables there, for example. It closes with a golden zipper and also has a fabric braid as a handle. Practical, it will allow you to safely transport your Sony WH-1000MX4 headset, in a hand suitcase, a backpack, or quite simply by hand. It's a real plus.

We find the sony bluetooth headphones laid flat and well wedged thanks to an interior separation which also allows storage (like the JABRA, this is the first idea that comes to mind when opening)). Let's take a look at the accessories first, the time for headphones will come:

  • Un usb-c cable, for quick recharging.
  • Un 1m20 double mini-jack cable, with gold anodized plugs,
  • Un mini-jack / double mini-jack adapter for aircraft. Very pleasant surprise for long-haul travelers. So yes, "Long journeys" is used primarily for boat trips, but hey… We are here on a High-Tech test and not a doctorate in French. No more wooden headphones and wire adapters you get on the plane. There, you will be able to have a better sound (we will not say good because it remains a film in 360 p and an 8 bits sound…). And be careful, this is not a plug for an outlet, as the diagram shows you, ignorant that we are.

Now let's look at the Sony WH-1000XM4. It is really beautiful in its black / copper version. It also exists in beige / silver, just as successful. We are on a real gem showing perfect finishes.

"[…] A real jewel showing perfect finishes" The Alexians

Where some brands start with fabric coverings, Sony is playing the matt black plastic. The latter is really soft and pleasant to the touch. Only the top of the handle and the memory foam pads of the headphones are made of good quality faux leather. This plastic does not mark and it is very good. The hoop is very comfortable to wear, just like the pads which do not keep particularly warm.

It only has 2 buttons:

  • The button "Power" or on / off,
  • The button " custom ", configurable.

The "Custom" button is, as its name suggests, modifiable between different functions:

  • Ambient sound control: you can vary the type of noise control by pressing the button as you wish. Useful if you don't want to set this sound control to automatic.
  • Activation of Google Assistant : This is done quite simply because as soon as you activate the headset in Bluetooth, Google Home detects it and asks you to set it up.
  • Use ofAmazon Alexa : for this, you will have to go to the application settings, search for new equipment by choosing headphones and let it go. Very simple too.

Sony has chosen touch for the rest of the functions. It was one of our fears during this test, because what could be more painful than changing a track when you just want to put the helmet back on, or put it in self-destruct mode when you get your hair styled. And there, none of that. It's responsive but not early. You can put it back in place without being afraid of taking 50 dB more in the ears. In short, the touch works as it should: only if you want to use it.

In short, the touch works as it should: only if you want to use it. The Alexians

The touchscreen works very intuitively, always on the right earpiece:

  • Tap or swipe up to turn up the volume,
  • Do the reverse for put the sound down,
  • Tap or swipe forward to move forward beach,
  • Do the reverse for go back to previous titles,
  • Press twice to pause and resume where answer a call (same for hanging up),
  • Let press in the center launch the phone's voice assistant (and not that of the helmet).

“[…] A very good quality helmet, pleasant to the touch, with perfect finishes. " The Alexians

Finally, the handling of the Sony WH-1000XM4 is really very good: a very good quality helmet, pleasant to the touch, with perfect finishes. No complaints. "The Waouh touch is here". Well extended, if you have the melon, you can lengthen the waist by 2,5 cm on each side.

Sony WH-1000XM4: technical characteristics of the on-ear headphones

Let's take a look at what the Sony WH-1000MX4 has to offer in terms of audio:

  • Active noise reduction (ANC) via 4 microphones (2 on each earphone) and the QN1 HD processor, allowing “negative” sound to be adapted 700 times per second.
  • Passive reduction : Yes.
  • Optimization in connection with the atmospheric pressure.
  • Ambient sound mode : the application chooses the best noise reduction according to the sound environment where you are. There are 4:
    • Stopped
    • Marche
    • Jogging or running
    • Transport

Each of the atmospheres can be personalized by choosing its level of ambient noise reduction, which ranges from 1 (almost zero) to 20 (the maximum).

  • Supported audio codecs: SBC, AAC and LDAC (SONY Hi-Res format: 96 kHz, 990 Kbit / s).
  • Loudspeakers : 40 mm, dome, with neodymium magnet and liquid crystal polymer diaphragm.
  • Frequency response: 4 to 40 kHz (20 to 20 kHz in Bluetooth).
  • Musical treatment: DSEE Extreme

In terms of connectivity:

  • Bluetooth 5.0 with integrated chip, frequency of 2,4 GHz and range of 10 m. The 5.0 allows connection stability above all, the audio gain is not insane.
  • Bluetooth profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP
  • Wired: 3,5mm mini-jack. This cable connection mode works even with the headphones turned off. Very good initiative. On the other hand, in this case, no management of ambient noise, nor active reduction, but a passive reduction with the shape of the helmet.
  • Multipoint connection: possibility of connecting it to two points at the same time and juggling between these two devices.
  • Other: NFC, for easier recognition.

Autonomy:

  • Read : 30 hours max with ANC activated and 38 hours without. It is a little less than its competitor Jabra Elite 85h offering between 38 and 41 hours.
  • On break : 200 hours.
  • Full charge: 3 hours
  • 10 min charge: 5 hours of autonomy.
  • Type of connection: USB-C.

Another specificity, Amazon Alexa is integrated there!

Daily use of the Sony WH-1000MX4

First, the Sony WH-1000MX4 is very comfortable to wear with its 250 grams. Its arch and shape memory pads are very successful, even if Alzheimer's does not seem far away. Indeed, they are softer than shape memory. It is thus possible to keep it on your head and ears for hours.

Moreover, if you remove it from your cabbage leaves, the Sony WH-1000XM4 will automatically pose and resume playing as soon as you put it back in place. And this thanks to a sensor clearly visible in the left ear cup. On the other hand, even if it opens to land on your head, it is necessary to use the on / off button to turn it on and off, unlike what some competitors do. If, on the other hand, you forget to turn it off once removed, it will be done automatically after a few minutes.

In use, it is truly exceptional! First of all, the sound is far beyond standard headphones. If you use it with titles in Ultra HD, with the LDAC codec, you will literally get into the music. We tested it with various titles ranging from pop rock, heavy, classical, variety, with twirling or catchy music, lyrical or dreamlike ... Listen to your music like you've never heard before before will be a reality.

The bass is excellent, the treble balanced (not metallic for a penny) and the mids well in their place. We will spare you graphics in all the senses that you would not understand, and neither will we, because music is felt, visceral.

The headset also supports 360 Reality Audio (available from Deezer for example). There is also a free trial period possible with a code provided. This type of encoding gives enveloping sound, in 3D and reminiscent of Dolby Atmos. But this only concerns a few titles at the moment.

As we will see in the application part, the Sony WH-1000XM4 has configurable active noise reduction depending on the sound environment where you are or where you are located. So, if you take the first option, the external microphones will constantly analyze the ambient sound, determine where you are and what you are doing (quiet, walking, running, transporting) and adapt the noise reduction accordingly. You will of course have previously determined a reduction level for each type. You also have the possibility of coming to determine places in connection with noise reduction profiles, and the headset will automatically change the mode based on your mobile GPS. Not bad huh ? What is really remarkable is that the setting change is very easy and very fluidly.

Moreover, at maximum setting, it almost feels like a suction when it engages. It's bluffing and so powerful. You can do the test in front of a TV, you will hardly hear anything. In any case, you will no longer understand the sound is so muffled and distant.

Two functions are really very interesting to use: the "Speak to Chat" et "Quick Attention".

The first will consist initially in coming to recognize your voice by the headset. Then, as soon as you speak, the sound will cut off and the ambient noises will be audible again. This will allow you to take part in a conversation. The WH1000-XM4 will then go back to audio mode if you do not speak for 30 seconds. And really, it works great!

Quick Attention is a little different and this is the one we used the most because it is more versatile. If in a given situation you need to be attentive to a conversation or your surroundings, put your hand on the right earpiece and automatically, the noise reduction will be canceled and ambient noise will pass through the headphones while you leave your hand in place. It’s just awesome.

What about phone calls? Nothing to say except that The sound is very good and that your interlocutors can hear you without any problem. That's the main thing, isn't it?

It is really very easy to use, not to say extremely simple. Everything is intuitive and works with amazing ease. Even the app is easy to access.

Use with Sony Headphones Connect

Before setting up the headset, we recommend that you charge it for full use afterwards. Even if the desire is great to put it on the head and spin around with it. Of course, it is possible to use it without an application and directly wired, but in this case, no noise reduction or other features. But it's a good point to know that if you run out of juice, the headset can still be used with empty tank.

So download the Headphones Connect app on iOS or Android and start pairing. You can turn on your phone's NFC to make it easier to connect, but with simple Bluetooth that's no problem either. Approach the headset and the phone and let it be.

From the start, you are offered to configure two modes:

  • Le adaptive sound control which we told you about a little earlier,
  • Le 360 Reality Audio

As announced a little earlier, 360 Reality Audio is a type of HD audio with an enveloping and quite bluffing sound, but far from generalized. However, if you are a fan of Deezer and Amazon HD Music, you can enjoy it. For this, Sony will offer to provide you with individualized sound. How? 'Or' What ? By photographing your esgourdes and then analyzing them. It's beautiful, it's technological, it's… amazing.

Then, you will have access to the configuration of the Sony WH-1000XM4 in 3 parts:

  • Condition :
  • Shipping is
  • System

Amazon Music HD: release in France of the HD streaming serviceLa "state" part gives you the status of your headphones: type of adaptive sound control and what you're listening to.

La "sound" part allows you to determine the noise reduction level of the headphones depending on the mode, activate the "Speak to Chat", but also to manage the equalizer. You have the choice between 12 settings including 3 configurable. You can also choose your sound quality mode (priority to quality or connection) and activate the DSEE Extreme.

La "system" part is provided enough and allows you multi connection, the setting of the "Custom" button, activate the touch sensors, switch off the headset by removing it, choose the language of guide and notification (French to download) or to make updates. In short, quite simple and effective.

Operation with Alexa

The Sony WH-1000XM4 Bluetooth headset offers Alexa Built-in. This means that the voice assistant ofAmazon is integrated into the helmet. In order to activate it, you have to configure the button Custom in this sense.

In the application Alexa, go to "Devices" and "Add a device"choose "Helmets" and let it be. Activate the GPS.

By choosing Amazon Alexa, when you press the button custom, you will hear the well-known sound of the start of the query Alexa. Ask her what you want, wait for the ending sound and she will do it. It is quite possible to perform routines, requests such as turning on lights ... In short, everything that is possible to do with a device Amazon Echo. There is no latency. You can also ask him to launch Amazon Music, for example, or podcasts. It is a real device in its own right. Very responsive, you will not be disappointed. But beware, it is necessary to launch the application Alexa, turn on the headset and launch headPhones to get it to work. Otherwise, connection problem in sight.

Works with Google Assistant

As the female voice of the headset says, the Sony WH-1000XM4 will work the same as with Alexa. Choose Google Assistant at the button configuration level "Custom", then go to finalize the configuration in the window that opens in your notifications, finally follow the configuration instructions. Nothing bad, then. From there, you can use it as you do on your smartphone.

Be careful if you want to juggle from one to the other, it is necessary to delete it from the previous application to be able to do so ...

The choice of one or the other of the assistants is really a function of personal taste and we will not judge you for that… but make the right choice!

To get an idea of ​​the helmet and its installation, take a close look at our Sony WH-1000XM4 video test.

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In conclusion, we can assure you that the Sony WH-1000XM4 Bluetooth headset is an exceptional product : comfortable, intuitive, surprisingly easy to use, it has a sound quality above the rest. Its active noise reduction is simply stunning and a level that will take your breath away. To this is added the Speak to Chat and Quick Attention, its continuous management of the sound environment and operation with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Moreover, on this last point, even if it is really very efficient, it is necessary to follow the order of ignition to preventAlexa does not connect. Indeed, it costs 379 € but, for this price, you will have the top of active noise reduction, Hi-Res Audio Wireless headphones, ready for Ultra-HD and 360 Reality Audio. You will keep it for several years, because it is not yet close to being grounded.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Bluetooth Noise Canceling Headphones

€379
9.6

Installation

9.0/10

Design

9.0/10

Functionalities

10.0/10

Application

10.0/10

Price quality

10.0/10

Most

  • Easy installation
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Exceptional sound and equally exceptional Active Noise Reduction
  • Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa integrated
  • Speak to Chat and Quick Attention functions

The lessers

  • Follow the procedure carefully each time you switch on to use the assistants.
  • Good autonomy but not exceptional
Did i choose Alexa or did she choose me? Let's say that as a beta tester, it's a bit of both! And I do not regret having met our favorite assistant nor this adventure undertaken with Alexien Modo. Technophile, self-taught and loving popularization, I try to make our common passion easy to access!