WF-1000XM4 review: Sony's wireless earbuds are brilliant but are they worth the price?


Sony is no stranger to releasing market-leading audio products with its sublime WH-1000XM4 cans one of our favourites of the year. Now the Japanese firm is back with some new wireless earbuds and the imaginatively named WF-1000XM4 certainly tick all the right boxes.

These buds feature a long list of upgrades over their WF-1000XM3 predecessor including a new design, better sound and improved noise cancelling which means you should only hear your music and nothing else.

The big question is, are these now the wireless earbuds to beat and is Sony set to get another cabinet full of awards at the end of the year? has been putting the WF-1000XM4 to the test and here is what we think of these latest Sony buds.


Right out of the box the new WF-1000XM4 instantly look much better than before with a charging case that’s now smaller and much easier to handle. Sony has clearly worked hard to make its new buds more pocket friendly and has somehow managed to shave 40 percent of the plastic away from this latest product.

It’s an important design change that brings these buds more in line with its ever-growing list of rivals who all supply music makers with neat and compact cases.

This problem was highlighted further when using them in the gym as we had no confidence that one of the £250 buds wasn’t suddenly going to fly out of our ear hit the treadmill and be flung across the floor.

Although the size and fit of Sony’s new buds has left us a little less than impressed one thing you simply cannot fault is the way the WF-1000XM4 sound. These things have blown our mind with an audio quality that’s packed with detail, rich bass and crystal clear highs.

The WF-1000XM4 are possibly the best buds we’ve heard this year with a sound that genuinely immerses you. Even when the audio is pumped up to the max, things don’t distort and your brain shakes with the bass that’s propelled into your ear canal.

It’s very impressive stuff and if audio quality is top of your wishlist then the WF-1000XM4 won’t disappoint. Sound is made even better thanks to an improved Processor V1 which provides some truly excellent noise cancelling.

We’ve tested these new buds in numerous scenarios with our music experience always staying noise and distraction-free.

Other audio features that are worth a mention include full compatibility with stunning High-Resolution Audio music tracks and there’s a technology inside called Digital Sound Enhancement Engine which upscales compressed digital music files in real-time to make everything sound better.

When you head into a coffee shop to buy your morning brew, the WF-1000XM4 now feature Sony’s Speak-to-Chat technology which cuts off the sound the minute the earbuds hear your voice. That means you can talk to people and hear their responses without needing to take the buds out of your ears.

It works well although can get a little annoying as even a slight cough will keep stopping the music. Luckily, it’s easy to switch things on and off via Sony’s dedicated app with this software also letting you customise the touch controls and tweak the sound settings.

If you love listening to endless playlists then these new buds have around eight hours of battery life with a total of 24-hours available via the charging case. That’s impressive as many of Sony’s rivals, including Apple’s AirPods, only last for around 5 hours before needing a refill.

There’s also another nice boost as a quick 5-minute quick charge gives you up to 60 minutes of playtime.

As you might expect, the WF-1000XM4 are fully compatible with Alexa and Google’s Assistant plus they should survive the British weather thanks to an IPX4 water resistance rating.


PROS • Great sound • Excellent ANC • Strong battery life • Smaller charging case
CONS • Struggled to get a good fit • Very expensive • Buds are bigger than its rivals

If you want the best sounding earbuds of 2021 then you can’t go wrong with Sony’s WF-1000XM4. The audio quality is truly epic with tracks full of detail and booming with rich, powerful bass.

The noise cancelling is first class and means you get a fully uninterrupted music experience. Battery life also impresses and there’s plenty of added treats such as Speak-to-Chat and the ability to upscale compressed digital music files.

Our only issue with the WF-1000XM4 is their large size which won’t suit some ears and the fact we simply couldn’t get the right fit.

At over £250 they are also very expensive and this is a crowded market with plenty of rivals now offering similar features at a much lower price. If you’re a fan of Sony’s audio kit and want some of the best-sounding buds on the market then you won’t be disappointed.

We’re just not sure they’ve done quite enough for us to give them the full five stars.


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