Get insider access
Preferred headphones store

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Reviewed Sep 16, 2020 at 08:44 am
Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Picture
7.4
Mixed Usage
6.9
Neutral Sound
8.1
Commute/Travel
7.2
Sports/Fitness
7.8
Office
5.8
Wireless Gaming
7.4
Wired Gaming
7.0
Phone Calls
Type Over-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Yes
Noise Cancelling Yes
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are the upgraded version of the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless that come with longer continuous battery life, additional touch-sensitive control features, and allow for multi-device pairing. Like their predecessor, they have an outstanding noise isolation performance thanks to their ANC feature and a comfortable, premium-looking design. Their bass-heavy sound profile may not be preferred by all listeners, but you can customize the sound using the graphic EQ and presets on the Sony | Headphones Connect app. Overall, these decently versatile headphones are a solid choice for many different listeners.

Our Verdict

7.4 Mixed Usage

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are decent for mixed usage. Their bass-heavy sound profile may not be ideal for listeners looking for a neutral sound, but they have lots of sound customization features via the Sony | Headphones Connect app. These comfortable over-ears have an exceptional noise isolation performance that makes them ideal to use in noisy settings, like an office or a crowded bus. They aren't stable enough to use at the gym, but their long continuous battery life is suitable for long days on the go.

Pros
  • Graphic EQ and presets.
  • Comfortable fit.
  • Incredible ANC performance.
Cons
  • Not stable enough for exercise.
  • Middling microphone recording quality.
  • Bulky design.
6.9 Neutral Sound

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are fair for neutral sound. They have a bass-heavy sound profile that adds an extra thump and punch to the mix. You can customize their sound using the graphic EQ and presets available in the Sony | Headphones Connect app. However, they have an inconsistent treble delivery, so their treble may sound a bit different depending on their positioning on your head.

Pros
  • Graphic EQ and presets.
Cons
  • Bass-heavy default sound profile.
8.1 Commute/Travel

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are impressive for commute and travel. While they aren't the most portable headphones, their hard carrying case can help protect them while you're on the go. They have an over 37-hour continuous battery life, and they can be comfortably worn for long listening sessions without a lot of fatigue, too. Also, their ANC feature can block out bass-heavy sounds like engines, as well as sharper sounds like voices, so you can enjoy your music without distraction.

Pros
  • Comfortable fit.
  • Incredible ANC performance.
  • Over 37-hour continuous battery life.
Cons
  • Bulky design.
7.2 Sports/Fitness

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are decent for sports and fitness. While these headphones have a comfortable fit, they aren't designed to be used while working out. Their bulky design means that they aren't very portable. While they can stay on your head during casual listening sessions, they move around on your ears during intense movements, so they aren't the most stable.

Pros
  • Comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Not stable enough for exercise.
7.8 Office

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are very good for office use. These comfortable headphones have an incredible noise isolation performance thanks to their ANC feature, so they block out background noise like voices and AC units well. With an over 37-hour continuous battery life, you don't have to recharge these headphones daily, either. Unfortunately, they leak a bit of noise when you play your audio at loud volumes, so they aren't ideal for quiet settings.

Pros
  • Comfortable fit.
  • Incredible ANC performance.
  • Over 37-hour continuous battery life.
Cons
5.8 Wireless Gaming

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are compatible with Bluetooth-enabled PCs; however, their latency is too high to be suitable for wireless gaming. They also can't be used wirelessly with PS4 or Xbox One consoles.

7.4 Wired Gaming

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are decent for wired gaming. Thanks to their audio cable, you can connect them to your Xbox One, PC, or PS4. Unfortunately, you won't be able to use the microphone using this connection. That said, they have a comfortable fit for long gaming sessions, and their bass-heavy sound profile adds an extra punch to explosions and action-packed scenes.

Pros
  • Comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Audio-only wired connection.
7.0 Phone Calls

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are decent for phone calls. Unfortunately, their integrated microphone doesn't have the best recording quality, so your voice may sound thin and muffled. Your voice may also be drowned out by background noise if you're calling from a noisy environment. That said, they have an incredible noise isolation performance, so you aren't interrupted by background noise during your calls.

Pros
  • Incredible ANC performance.
Cons
  • Middling microphone recording quality.
  • 7.4 Mixed Usage
  • 6.9 Neutral Sound
  • 8.1 Commute/Travel
  • 7.2 Sports/Fitness
  • 7.8 Office
  • 5.8 Wireless Gaming
  • 7.4 Wired Gaming
  • 7.0 Phone Calls

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The Sony WH-1000XM4 have a very similar design to their predecessor, the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless. These over-ears have a slightly matte finish, and they're well-padded along the ear cups and the headband. They come in two different colors: black and silver.

8.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.6 lbs
Clamping Force
1.0 lbs

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are very comfortable headphones. They're very well-padded. They don't put a lot of pressure on your head and they have a light fit, so you can wear them for a long time without a lot of fatigue.

7.6
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Decent
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control On/Off
Talk-Through
On/Off
Additional Controls Voice Assistant

The Sony WH-1000XM4 have similar touch-sensitive controls to the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless. However, they come with several new features, including a Speak-to-Chat function that pauses your audio and lets in ambient sound as soon as you start talking. You can turn this off in the companion app, and you can use the app to remap the Custom button, which controls the noise cancelling feature by default. There's also a Quick Attention feature that lets in ambient noise while you cover the right ear cup, so you can be aware of your surroundings without pausing your music or talking.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless's touch-sensitive controls reportedly had issues working properly in cold weather. Let us know in the discussions if you experience a similar issue with these headphones.

6.0
Design
Portability
L 5.6 "
W 6.0 "
H 3.2 "
Volume 108 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required No

The Sony WH-1000XM4 have mediocre portability. They're the same size as the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless, and like most over-ears, they have a slightly bulky design. Fortunately, you can fold them, so they take up a bit less space in your bag.

8.0
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 8.3 "
W 6.6 "
H 2.3 "
Volume 126 Cu. Inches

The Sony WH-1000XM4 come with a hard, sturdy carrying case. It can help protect them from scratches, falls, and water damage. Like the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless, their case has a fabric finish.

8.0
Design
Build Quality

The Sony WH-1000XM4 have an impressive build quality. They're very similar to the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless, with a premium look and a durable feel. The headband seems sturdy and flexible. However, their yoke/hinge design could be prone to cracking.

7.0
Design
Stability

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are decently stable. They stay on your head during low-intensity movements, like a light jog. However, higher-intensity movements cause the headphones to move around a lot on your head, so they aren't ideal to use while working out or exercising.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones
  • Analog cable
  • USB-C charging cable
  • Airplane adapter
  • Manuals
  • Carrying case

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
3.24 db
Treble Amount
-1.53 db

The Sony WH-1000XM4 have a bass-heavy default sound profile. The extra thump and rumble in the bass range can please fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. If you prefer a different sound, you can customize the sound using the graphic EQ and presets available in the Sony | Headphones Connect app.

7.6
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.47 dB

These headphones have a good frequency response consistency. The bass range is very consistent across different users, possibly because their noise cancelling feature seems to check for bass consistency. However, they're a bit inconsistent in the high-mid and treble ranges, so they may perform a bit differently depending on how they're positioned on your head.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
6.0
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
5.66 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
10 Hz
Low-Bass
5.72 dB
Mid-Bass
6.34 dB
High-Bass
6.61 dB

These headphones have an acceptable bass accuracy. The entire range is fairly flat, but overemphasized, resulting in a deep, punchy, and thumpy bass that's well-suited to genres like EDM and hip-hop.

8.7
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.68 dB
Low-Mid
1.75 dB
Mid-Mid
0.82 dB
High-Mid
0.31 dB

The mid accuracy is excellent. The response is pretty neutral and well-balanced across the range, so vocals and lead instruments are clear, accurate, and present.

7.7
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.13 dB
Low-Treble
1.53 dB
Mid-Treble
2.73 dB
High-Treble
-6.21 dB

These headphones have good treble accuracy. The response is pretty neutral, and the slight overemphasis in the low and mid-treble can make some vocals and lead instruments a bit piercing and harsh.

7.5
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.72 db
Dips
0.88 db

These headphones have a good peaks and dips performance. The small peak in the high-bass gives a bit of boominess to your audio. The dips in the mid-range nudges vocals and lead instruments slightly towards the back of the mix, and the peak in the low-treble can make those same instruments a bit harsh.

8.3
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.14
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
1.36
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.98
Weighted Phase Mismatch
5.65

The Sony WH-1000XM4 have a great imaging performance. Weighted group delay falls below the audibility threshold, resulting in a tight bass and transparent treble. The L/R drivers on our test unit are well-matched in phase, frequency, and amplitude, so objects like voices and instruments are accurately placed and localized within the stereo image. However, these results are only valid for our unit, and yours may perform differently.

3.4
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
3.37 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
9.91 dB
PRTF Distance
3.59 dB
Openness
0.3
Acoustic Space Excitation
3.4

The Sony WH-1000XM4 have a poor stereo soundstage performance. These headphones interact with the pinna, or the outer ear, which is one of the key features in creating a large soundstage. However, the soundstage isn't very open or spacious, and sound seems like it's coming from inside your head instead of all around you, which is expected for most closed-back headphones.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No

Unlike the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless, the Sony WH-1000XM4 don't have a virtual soundstage feature. They support Sony's surround sound music format, 360 Reality Audio, which lets you stream music from a few streaming platforms like Tidal and Deezer. You need a subscription to access it. However, it isn't considered a virtual surround feature, and we don't test for it.

7.7
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.269
WHD @ 100
0.133

These headphones have a good weighted harmonic distribution performance. While there's a peak in the high-treble range at normal volume, it shouldn't be too noticeable. Most frequencies fall within good limits, resulting in a clear and pure audio reproduction.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
2.0.6
Power
On
Connection
Bluetooth 5.0
Codec
SBC, 16-bit, 48kHz
EQ
Off
ANC
On
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
Integrated

These are the test settings we used. Our results are only valid with these settings.

Isolation
9.7
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-28.73 dB
Bass
-24.33 dB
Mid
-22.39 dB
Treble
-38.96 dB

The Sony WH-1000XM4 have an outstanding noise isolation performance. They can block out bass-heavy sounds like bus or plane engines and sharper sounds like voices or AC units, so they can be used during your commute or in a noisy office setting.

7.1
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
39.28 dB

These headphones have a decent leakage performance. There's a bit of leakage in the mid-range, but most of it falls below the noise floor of an average office.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No

The Sony WH-1000XM4 have an integrated microphone. If you're looking for wireless over-ear headphones with a boom microphone, consider the Jabra Evolve2 85 Wireless.

5.7
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
269.09 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
2.71 dB
HFE
6001.45 Hz
Weighted THD
153.221
Gain
2.38 dB

These headphones have a middling recording quality. Your voice may sound thin, muffled, and lacking in detail. The microphone seems to clip and cut the beginnings and ends of words.

6.9
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
19.71 dB

The microphone has an adequate noise handling performance. Your voice may get drowned out by background noise if you call from a loud environment, like a bus or train station.

Active Features
8.8
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
37.7 hrs
Additional Charges
0.0
Total Battery Life
37.7 hrs
Charge Time
2.3 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
Auto-Off Timer
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
Yes
Charging Port USB-C

The Sony WH-1000XM4 have an excellent battery performance. While they advertise 30 hours of continuous playtime, we tested over 37 hours of continuous battery life, which is much longer than the battery life for the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless. You don't have to worry about recharging these headphones daily, which is convenient. You can also set up an auto-off timer in the companion app, which helps prevent the battery from draining.

8.0
Active Features
App Support
App Name Sony| Headphones Connect
iOS Yes
Android Yes
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
Graphic + Presets
ANC Control
On/Off
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
Yes
Button Mapping Yes
Surround Support
No

The Sony | Headphones Connect app offers a lot of customization features. There's a graphic EQ and presets to help you customize the sound to your liking. You can also control the auto-off timer, the Smart-Pause feature, and monitor which devices are connected to your headphones. Also, you can access the 360 Reality Audio feature, but you need a subscription to use it. You can even map the custom button as ANC control or voice assistant control depending on your needs. Unfortunately, unlike the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless, there isn't surround support available.

Connectivity
9.0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices
NFC Pairing
Yes
Line Of Sight Range
299 ft
PC Latency (SBC)
206 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
183 ms
Android Latency
139 ms

These headphones are 5.0 Bluetooth and NFC-compatible, making them easy to pair with smartphones. Unlike the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless, they can pair with multiple devices at the same time, which is convenient. They have a bit of latency, especially when using SBC. As a result, they may not be the best choice for watching videos or movies, though some apps compensate for latency so your experience may vary. Unfortunately, unlike their predecessor, these headphones don't support aptX or aptX HD codes.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A

These headphones can only connect wirelessly via Bluetooth.

9.5
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
No
Detachable Yes
Length 4.0 ft
Connection 1/8" TRS
Analog/USB Audio Latency
0 ms

These headphones come with an audio cable; however, it won't allow you to use the microphone with gaming consoles.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC/PS4 Analog
Audio Only
PC/PS4 Wired USB
No
PC/PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are compatible wirelessly with Bluetooth-enabled PCs. You can also plug these headphones into your PS4 controller or PC using the audio cable, but you won't be able to use the microphone.

Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio Only
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No

The Sony WH-1000XM4 can be plugged in to your Xbox One using an audio cable, but you won't be able to use the microphone.

0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
No Base/Dock
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
No Base/Dock

These headphones don't come with a base or a dock.

Differences Between Sizes and Variants

The Sony WH-1000XM4 come in two different color variants: Black and Silver. We tested the Silver model, but we expect the other models to perform similarly.

Compared to other headphones

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are comfortable over-ears with a premium look and feel. Like their predecessor, the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless, they're decently versatile headphones with an exceptional noise isolation performance thanks to their ANC feature, a bass-heavy default sound profile, and lots of customization options. However, these headphones have longer continuous battery life, more control features, and can be used for multi-device pairing. If you're looking for other headphones, see our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones, the best closed-back headphones, and the best travel headphones.

Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless have more features than the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless. The WH-1000XM4 support multi-device pairing, have a longer continuous battery life, and they offer some additional talk-through control options. However, the WH-1000XM3 are a somewhat better choice for neutral listening, as they have a more neutral, less bass-heavy default sound profile and a more consistent audio delivery. They also come with a Virtual Surround feature, which the WH-1000XM4 lacks.

Bose 700 Headphones Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless are better headphones than the Bose 700 Headphones Wireless for some listeners. The Sony have a better noise isolation performance and a longer continuous battery life. They offer more talk-through controls, ideal for users who want to stay aware of their environment while listening. The Sony have a graphic EQ and presets to help you customize their sound to your liking, too. The Bose have a more neutral, less bass-heavy default sound profile, and their integrated microphone performs better than the Sony's.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 are more comfortable headphones than the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. Out-of-the-box, the Bose also have a more neutral, less bass-heavy sound profile than the Sony. The Sony have a graphic EQ and presets available in their companion app to help you customize the sound to your liking. The Sony are better-built, have longer battery life, a better noise isolation performance, and they leak less noise. Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other.

Razer Opus Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Razer Opus Wireless are better headphones for neutral sound than the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. The Razer's default sound profile is more neutral than the Sony, though some listeners may prefer the Sony's more bass-heavy sound. The Razer have a more stable fit, and they leak less noise. On the other hand, the Sony have a somewhat better noise isolation performance, and their integrated mic performs better in noisier environments.

Jabra Evolve2 85 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless and Jabra Evolve2 85 Wireless have different strengths and weaknesses. The Sony are slightly better-built, provide a more consistent listening experience, are more effective in blocking out ambient noise, and last longer off of a single charge. They also have lower wireless latency. The Jabra's boom microphone provides superior recording quality and noise handling capability. The Jabra's physical control scheme is also easier to use and offers more functionality.

+ Show more

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Price

Recommended Articles

LOG IN

JOIN RTINGS.com

Be part of the most informed community and take advantage of our advanced tools to find the best product for your needs.
Join our mailing list:
Become an insider
EARLY ACCESS

Gain early access to all tests results for new products

Early Access UI
PRICES LISTED

Prices will now be listed directly in reviews and tables

product prices UI
MORE VOTES

Have 5 votes per product category to choose which product we’ll review next

Additional votes UI
UNLIMITED ACCESS

Gain unlimited access to detailed test results in tools and results (no blurred results)

test table UI

Create Post