WH-1000XM3 is so outstanding that many people have even forgotten that it is a Sony product launched in 2018. In the next two years, although we have seen many excellent head-mounted noise-canceling headphones being introduced to the market, the word “benchmark” has been firmly held in the hands of 1000XM3.
However, after August 6th, the title of the head-mounted noise reduction headset benchmark will officially change. The replacement is the fourth-generation head-mounted product WH-1000XM4 of the Sony 1000X series. Affected by the epidemic, the WH-1000XM4, which was supposed to meet with you a few months ago, came a little later. So, is it worth the wait?
“Visible” Changes and Unchanged
For the product lines that have formed a series, most of the manufacturers’ update strategies are to retain the advantages of the previous generation products, and then make new attempts in other areas where there may be room for improvement. With the continuous update and iteration of products, this continuation has become a more recognizable place for the brand or product series itself.
Left: WH-1000XM4 Right: WH-1000XM3
Sony also retained the NFC module in the left ear of the WH-1000XM4. Compared with the smooth logo on WH-1000XM3, the NFC logo on WH-1000XM4 has pits. The user can probably feel the approximate location of the module without taking off the headset, and blind pairing can also be more convenient.
However, this sign is not large, and the pit pattern does not actually bring much effect. So if you want to really achieve fast pairing and reduce unnecessary friction between the playback device and the headset, it will be more convenient to take the headset off and pair.
In terms of interaction, WH-1000XM4 with wearable monitoring will be a bit smarter than the previous generation.
After getting started, you will find that in addition to the product model identification on the head beam, in fact, many details of the new and old products are different. The more obvious place is that this time it uses an integrated matte design, while improving the connection structure, and the intuitive visual effect is more textured, and the touch is also very delicate (feeling somewhat similar to the skin-like coating).
The weight of WH-1000XM4 is about 254 grams, which is a bit lighter than WH-1000XM3, and the head beam is slightly thinner. Personally, there is not much difference between the two in actual wearing experience, and they have good comfort. But the big ear bag is really not suitable for outdoor use in summer, of course, if you are going to buy it for commuting, it is actually good.
The endurance level remains the same as before. Sony officially stated that the WH-1000XM3 has a battery life of up to 30 hours and still retains fast charging. It can support 5 hours of continuous music playback for 10 minutes of charging. Even if the active noise reduction is turned on, there is no need to worry about battery life in most cases.
Both the 3.5mm interface and the two physical buttons at the bottom of the headset are there, but some changes have been made to the functional logic. The previous noise reduction button now supports custom functions. You can use the Headphones Connect app to choose to wake up the voice assistant or switch to ambient sound control, which has a higher degree of freedom.
It is worth mentioning that WH-1000XM4 has a true in-ear detection function. Like many true wireless earphones, it can automatically pause and resume music according to the wearing state of the earphone. In addition, while the hardware provides support, Sony has also optimized the algorithm. If you don’t actually wear it, even if you completely cover the earmuffs with your hands, the function will not be triggered.
what Are the Differences with the Previous Generation?
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, WH-1000XM4 can be regarded as a small improved version of WH-1000XM3s, and this small improved is mainly reflected in the interaction.
Such as noise reduction, battery life, headphone unit configuration, operating modes and technical support, WH-1000XM4 and WH-1000XM3 have almost no major changes. It seems that the purpose of Sony’s updates this time is just to further polish the interaction of the WH-1000XM3, as much as possible to make the texture and experience of the headset more refined and pleasant.
Although the parameters have not changed much, the core configuration of the two generations is almost the same. In this way, it seems that WH-1000XM4 and WH-1000XM3 have not changed much.
However, subtle changes on the headset, changes in sound and noise reduction algorithms, will actually affect the overall performance of the headset. The configuration of the slightest difference between the two may have a different performance under the influence of Sony.
With this question in mind, we also conducted a comparative test on WH-1000XM3 and WH-1000XM4 to see what are the differences between the two in terms of wearing, operation, connection performance, noise reduction and sound performance:
Since WH-1000XM3, Sony has used a new head beam design.
This head beam will shrink at the ends of the top end. This design can make the earphones more compact to wear, and the ears and the upper part of the head will be pressed closer, which improves the earphones and improves the sound insulation of the earphones.
This design will also continue to other Sony headsets. WH-1000XM4 also inherits this design. With this adjustment, the ear cotton has become closer to the ear. The sound insulation effect of WH-1000XM4 will be better than WH-1000XM3.
At the same time, ear cotton is also softer than WH-1000XM3. Although the earphones are made close to the ears, it will increase the pressure on the ears, but the WH-1000XM4 earphones also have a good cushioning effect to relieve pressure. Therefore, the wearing of this part is actually quite comfortable.
However, the narrowed head beam still retains the problems of the previous generation.
Faced with a wearer with a larger head size, the pressure at both ends of the head beam will still be pressed on the fixed two points on the top of the head. Although the buffer band of the headset is relatively soft, Sony also made the WH-1000XM4 lighter than the WH-1000XM3, but if the headset is still tightly worn, the pressure problem still exists, whether it is WH-1000XM4 or WH-1000XM3. There is not much difference.
If you want to relieve the pressure on the top part of the head, I personally suggest to extend the length of the earphones moderately. This will make the earphones more comfortable to wear and the wearing time can be longer.
At present, Sony’s touch operation mode is already a common solution in the industry, and Sony still has the touch block of the headset on the right headset.
As long as users have used other similar Sony headsets before, they can get started quickly and easily.
When the headset detects a change in the wearing state, it can control the wearing status. To put it simply, in the state of playback, the headset will pause when you take off the headset, and the playback will continue when you take it on. Moreover, the response of WH-1000XM4 is more sensitive, and the action of taking it off to the belt can also respond quickly. This is a convenient and battery-saving feature for people who often need to take off their headphones to communicate, or who often put down their headphones but forget to turn off the music.
Of course, WH-1000XM4 also supports smart hands-free function.
As long as it is monitored that the wearer is talking and communicating, the smart hands-free function will be turned on, so that you can talk to others without taking off the headset. Sony also adjusted the sensitivity of WH-1000XM4 this time to reduce the probability of false triggering, and the usability is a little higher than that of WH-1000XM3.
In addition, the quick reminder function of WH-1000XM4 has also been adjusted. When the headset detects that the palm is covering the earmuffs, it can quickly switch the ambient sound mode, and it will also reduce the music playback volume to facilitate quick and short-term communication with people around you.
Compared with WH-1000XM3, Sony has improved the response of WH-1000XM4, the switching speed will be faster than WH-1000XM3, the accuracy of operation will also be higher than WH-1000XM3, fast switching is more reliable.
As for other aspects, the operation of WH-1000XM4 and WH-1000XM3 is the same.
Both can be adjusted through Sony’s official Headphones Connect headset function and noise reduction mode. The custom function keys of WH-1000XM4 can also be modified here. Compared with the fixed operation mode of WH-1000XM3, WH-1000XM4 is here It will be more intuitive.
- Connection Performance and Battery Life
In terms of wireless transmission and configuration, the biggest difference between WH-1000XM4 is that it is replaced with a transmission scheme that supports Bluetooth 5.0. Compared with WH-1000XM3, which only supports Bluetooth 4.2, the wireless transmission of WH-1000XM4 should be more stable.
It’s just that for the headset, the transmission stability and delay have not always been the scope to be discussed. The WH-1000XM3 also had a good performance on the wireless connection before, and there are no major problems with general games, videos and music.
Even if it is connected to an earlier machine such as NW-ZX300A, the headset can maintain stable playback in the LDAC sound quality priority mode in scenarios where the interference is not too large. For WH-1000XM3, the wireless chip and configuration at the time were actually sufficient.
Sony replaced the WH-1000XM4 with a chip that supports Bluetooth 5.0, which is undoubtedly the icing on the cake. If it encounters an environment with greater transmission pressure, the WH-1000XM4 can also guarantee the experience. But under normal circumstances, the difference between WH-1000XM4 and WH-1000XM3 is actually not big.
Battery life is also an item with the same score.
Both WH-1000XM3 and WH-1000XM4 can achieve 30 hours of playback. WH-1000XM3 also provides a fast charge mode of “10 minutes of charging and 5 hours of playback”, which is suitable for urban residents who commute to work or need to fly long distances. In fact, it is enough for business travelers. At the same time, the 30 hours of playback is also the pinnacle of the current flagship wireless noise-cancelling headset. So, Sony did not make further improvements here, but it is understandable.
- Noise Reduction Performance
difference between WH-1000XM4 and WH-1000XM3. In the default settings of the headset, the wearer can still feel some noise reduction effects, and the pressure has a certain sense of existence, but it does not have much effect on wearing fatigue.
If you have been used to WH-1000XM2, WH-1000XM3 and other strong noise reduction headphones before, WH-1000XM4 will not make you feel too uncomfortable.
In terms of environmental sound, the sound simulated by WH-1000XM3 and WH-1000XM4 through an external microphone is actually very natural. In the restoration of the fan and part of the sound, the WH-1000XM4 is actually a bit more realistic than the WH-1000XM3. The digital flavor from the microphone is less and it will not sound so “awkward”.
- Sound Performance
In terms of sound, WH-1000XM4 still uses a 40mm moving coil unit equipped with LCP aluminized liquid crystal molecular diaphragm.
According to the previous experience, the effect of this unit can further improve the resolution of the headset, and the processing of the details, thickness and fullness of the sound will also be improved, which is also helpful to the overall performance improvement.
In addition, the HD noise reduction processor QN1 uses 32-bit audio signal processing technology, and the integrated digital-to-analog converter and analog power amplifier enable the headset to achieve excellent signal-to-noise ratio and low distortion to bring excellent sound quality. For WH-1000X3 and WH-1000XM4, which support high-standard transmission coding such as LDAC, it can also improve the sound performance of the headset.
In terms of sound hardware configuration, WH-1000XM4 and WH-1000XM3 are basically the same. Therefore, the two headphones have roughly the same sense of hearing, which is actually a natural performance.
In fact, the sound tendency of WH-1000XM4 is the same as that of WH-1000XM3. The earphone sound has enough thickness to maintain low frequency elasticity while also making a relatively round package, so that the drums sound full enough, and the whole environment is also sufficiently packaged without obvious dryness.
In terms of vocals, the performance of WH-1000XM4 is also outstanding, and there will be no awkward mixing between the singer and the background. If you listen carefully, you can find that the human voice of WH-1000XM4 is not loose, and the listener can also identify the booth of the singer, and there will be no obvious forward or backward feeling. The transition of the human voice is also natural, and there is no dryness, and the sound is comfortable to the ear.
Strictly speaking, the new generation 1000XM4 should be regarded as a “small change”, and there are no major changes overall, and the appearance design, sound unit, battery life, etc. are basically the same as the previous generation.
Perhaps the starting point of 1000XM3 is already very high. It is indeed not realistic to realize technological innovation and large-scale upgrades in a short time.
But in my opinion, it is precisely because of the excellent performance of the previous generation that the “small change” of the 1000XM4 has more gold content; whether it is a further improvement in the noise reduction effect, a lighter wearing experience, or a new addition Intelligent Pick-Free Dialogue. These functions bring users a better experience in terms of product performance. Of course, the follow-up market performance of the 1000XM4 that has undergone a “small change” is still left to time to test.