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Sony's WH-1000XM4 headphones might just redefine smart audio

By Sara Barker
Thu 13 Aug 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Sony’s next entry in the popular line of wireless on-ear headphones will hit stores in September, with the launch of the WH-1000XM4.

The WH-1000XM3 headphones, which were launched back in 2018, were well received from audiophiles and casual listeners alike. It’s no surprise that Sony has continued to follow up with a brand new addition to the line.

According to Sony A/NZ spokesperson Abel Makhraz, the WH-1000XM4s feature better noise cancelling, hands-free calls with ‘multi-point connectivity’, and they are lighter and better designed.

One of the coolest features of the WH-1000XM4s is the ‘Speak-to-Chat’ feature, which completely removes the need to take off your headphones or pause your music when you need to talk to somebody.

 “Speak-to-Chat is an exciting new feature which instantly pauses your music when speaking, allowing you to have a conversation without needing to take off the headphones or press a button. Overall, the WH-1000XM4s are the perfect companion when on the go or working from home,” adds Makhraz.

All users have to do is say something and the headphones will recognise your voice, stop music, and let in ambient background sound so you can continue the conversation.  The music will start again 30 seconds after users have last spoken.

This voice recognition is thanks to Precise Voice Pickup technology. This controls five microphones in the headphones optimally and performs advanced audio signal processing to pick up voices clearly and precisely for hands-free calls and Speak-to-Chat.

Alternatively, quick attention mode enables users to listen to an announcement or say something briefly by placing their right hand over the earcup to decrease volume and let ambient sound in.

Sony’s is also renowned for noise-cancelling technology. The WH-1000XM4s feature two microphones on each earcup. Dual noise sensor tech captures sounds, a Bluetooth Audio System on Chip can also sense and adjust to music and noise, and the QN1 noise processor filters all of this and blocks unnecessary noise in real time.

There are a few other smart noise cancelling functions: Adaptive sound control learns where users are and what they’re doing, so it can adjust ambient sound settings for a better listening experience. Over time, it can recognise frequent locations like work, cafes, or gyms, and tailor ambient sound accordingly. This can all be set up through the Sony Headphones Connect app.

Sony explains what this means: “If you’re travelling you can lose yourself in your journey with no background noise to interrupt your favourite tracks. Or if you’re walking you can be aware of everything around you while still enjoying your music.”

To save battery life, the WH1000XM4s feature wearing detection that knows whether you’re wearing the headphones or not, thanks to a combination of a proximity sensor and two acceleration sensors. They can stop music when users put headphones down, and start music when users put their headphones back on again.

The WH-1000XM4 can be paired with two Bluetooth devices at the same time. When a call comes in, the headphones detect which device is ringing and connect to the right one automatically. Users can switch your headphones to either of the two devices with a single tap. The headphones also support Google’s Fast Pair feature.

The WH-1000XM4 headphones can also work with NFC. Battery life is around 30 hours with noise cancellation turned on. Quick charging can provide 5 hours of playback in a 10-minute charge. The headphones have the same touch panel controls as the WH1000-XM3 predecessor.

The WH-1000XM4 headphones will be available in New Zealand from September for $599.95. Colour options include black and platinum silver.

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