They had been rumoured for months, but Sony finally unveiled its long-awaited WH-1000XM4 last week. These new headphones replace the award-winning WH-1000XM3s wireless headphones and, although they look pretty much identical, there are a number of new features that should take the audio experience to an all-new level.
Perhaps most important of all the new improvements is the boost to the noise-cancelling technology, which has made this range of headphones so popular.
Sony says its WH-1000XM4 wireless headphones will offer its best-ever sound blocking system, which should mean you’ll be able to hear every note of your favourite track without any distractions regardless of whether you’re in a packed train, plane carriage, or sat next to the photocopier in the office.
Along with the improved active noise-cancelling, there’s also a clever new Adaptive Sound Control system, which is able to sense where you are and what you’re doing. Once the headphones has worked out your location, your sound settings are adjusted automatically for the ideal listening experience.
What makes this more impressive is that, over time, Adaptive Sound Control learns to recognise locations that you frequently visit, like your office, the gym, or favourite café, and tailor the sound to suit them. It sounds great on paper, but we’ll have to see how well it actually works when we bring you a full review.
Another new addition on the WH-1000XM4s is called Speak-to-Chat. This feature lets users have short conversations without taking the headphones off.
The idea is that it makes things, such as ordering a coffee, possible without needing to take off your headphones. To do this, the software feature kicks in as soon as you start speaking. The headphones will recognise the sound of your voice, automatically pause the track or podcast you were listening to and let-in some ambient sound. The music automatically starts playing again 30 seconds after you’ve last spoken.
Like its predecessor, the new WH-1000XM4 has a Quick Attention mode, which lets you hear background audio by simply placing a hand over one of the earcups.
Once fully-charged, you’ll get around 30 hours of battery life. Sony says it has been able to boost battery life thanks to its new wear detection smarts. Using the proximity sensor and two accelerometers, the headphones will automatically pause the music playback whenever you remove them and resumes playing when you put them on again. That means you won’t be able to leave the WH-1000XM4s on the seat next to you on the train – quietly playing music and draining the battery when not in use.
Something else that will please owners is that you can now pair the headphones with two devices at the same time. This means you can use them with a smartphone then switch to a tablet without having to start digging around in the settings menu.
Finally, there’s the introduction of Precise Voice Pickup technology. This controls five of the microphones in the headphones optimally and performs advanced audio signal processing to pick up voices clearly and precisely for hands-free calls.
Sony says the WH-1000XM4 will be priced at around £350 and will be available later this summer in black and silver.
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