After the past couple years Sony has reigned supreme with its impressive XM3 headphones even facing challengers such as the Bose 700s. XM3s still managed to be atop the noise cancelling elite so its curious can the XM4 push Sony any further out then they already are? One thing for sure w/ the WH-1000X line is that Sony always finds a way to surprise us someway somehow.

Style

On the XM3 I used their Black colorway, but this time opted for Silver. Silver I feel reminisces to the slight pale Champagne Gold style on the XM2. Sony has for the most part kept the same design language with their XM series. Rounded earcups with faux leather earpads are still soft and pillowy as well as the headband cushioning underneath. Comparing these to the XM3, it looks like Sony somehow managed to make the XM4s sizing marginally smaller but also giving you slightly larger earcups. Earcups swivel in and out and fold up giving you various ways to store or carry your headphones. Even throw them in the included case.

Type-C port is still on the right side while headphone jack is on the left with power button and what Sony has called a “Custom” Button. On the XM3 this button was their NC/Ambient button. NFC also resides on the left side as well.

With Type-C charging the battery is slated to last 30hrs on a full charge but there is also 5hrs of juice you can get off a 10min plug if a quick fix is needed. Battery life tends to hold up with the XM series and its generally the same on the XM4 as well.

Right earcup holds Sony XM’s trademark touch controls with swiping options to change songs and volume. Various tapping will utilize the play controls.

Sony XM4 includes Type-C cable, 3.5mm audio cable, and carrying case.

Features

I thought the XM3 had a ton of features, but Sony manages to go a step further with the XM4. For starters that “Custom” button can be set for either Ambient controls or voice assistants such as Google, Alexa, or Siri. One of my favorite additions is “Speak-to-Chat”. Before when entering a conversation, you must either pause, remove the headphones or toggle on ambient mode. With this option on, soon as you start talking it kicks into ambient mode. I have used it in various scenarios and worked better than expected. Only way I would probably suggest you turn it off or be mindful is if you like to talk or sing out loud. I had it kick in several times.

These options of course can be done with Sony’s accompanying app. There you can change ambient controls, setup the noise cancelling optimizer or mess around with the equalizer. You also get to see your battery life and what codec you are using. Speaking of codecs, the XM4 supports SBC, AAC, and LDAC. Gone is support for aptX/AptXHD which was available on the XM2 / XM3. If you want hi-fi sound you have to hope your phone supports LDAC. Luckily, I been using these headphones with a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 and a OnePlus 8T and both support the codec.

Taking calls has vastly improved on the XM4, I remember on the XM3 I would get various complaints about the sound but with the XM4 the other parties would state how quiet it is and couldn’t hear anything around me.

Sound

Audio remains to be king on the XM4. Its sound profile still gives you that thumping bass that is punchy i noticed while playing “Just Out the Face” by Meek Mill / Future. It does a good job with vocals pushing them to the forefront while listening to “Wake Up Love” by Teyana Taylor. XM4s do feel louder than the XM3 and the overall soundscape is spread out a bit more. Best thing with the XM4(also on XM3) if you have different taste you can go in the app and mess with the equalizer at your leisure.

Audio syncs up perfectly whether watching content on YouTube or other apps such as Netflix.

Experience

I been using the XM4 for the past month and change and found my experience about the same as I did with the XM3. Great noise cancelling for my daily train commutes and finger gestures working well to handle controls. This is thanks in part to the QN1 processor onboard. Can’t think of any disconnects or distortion either. The addition of the speaking chat option has been good for the most part and no discomfort wearing them for long periods.

Verdict

If you are looking for a pair of premium pair of on-ear headphones the Sony XM4 should right up your alley. Its hard to find many faults with these headphones. Long last battery life, terrific audio quality and are feature rich with various controls and options. Only issue some may have is possibly price where they are retailing currently for $299.99 (usually $349.99). If you want to save a little bit of cash the XM3 can do just as good without a couple of the new additions on the XM4.

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