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The Sony WH-1000XM4 has arrived: Near-identical looks, but with some subtle upgrades

Finally. We’ve all been waiting for a successor to the critically-acclaimed Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones, with leaks promising a bunch of new features for Mark 4. Now, Sony has announced the launch of the WH-1000XM4 headphones, and a lot of the rumours have been confirmed—including a design that looks identical to the WH-1000XM3.

One of the bigger upgrades that Sony has included on its new over-ear headphones is the improvement of the already-impressive noise cancelling capabilities on the XM3. While the WH-1000XM4 uses the same Q1 chip, Sony says that a new Bluetooth chip helps to adjust the level of ANC based on the music and noise—at over 700 times per second. This, along with a tweaked algorithm, supposedly provides Sony’s “best ever noise cancelling performance” by reducing high and mid frequency ambient sounds.

As previously rumoured, the Sony WH-1000XM4 also comes with DSEE Extreme, which uses Edge-AI tech to “rebuild” audio that has been lost during the compression process. By analysing the instruments, genres, and elements of individual songs, this supposedly restores a “full fidelity” experience for listeners.

Other notable new features include wearing detection, which basically pauses (and resumes) playback whenever you remove the WH-1000XM4 headphones from your head. If they’re off for an extended amount of time, you can also set for the headphones to turn off automatically.

Perhaps one of the only complaints that users had with the WH-1000XM3 was the quality of calls, with the microphones letting down those who regularly use the headphones as video call headsets. Now, Sony says that new technology, Precise Voice Pick Up, works along with give microphones to pick up voices “clearly and precisely”—although we’ll only be able to know if this is an upgrade by testing it out ourselves.

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The headphones will also pause playback whenever you start taking, and resume when you’ve finished, as part of the new “Speak to Chat” feature. Additionally, multi-point Bluetooth pairing now means that you’ll be able to switch between two connected devices seamlessly, although this will only be available via a future firmware update. This is something that has certainly been requested, so it’s good to see Sony including subtle, but important features that users want.

The rest of the WH-1000XM4 should be pretty much identical to the WH-1000XM3. We’re talking about the same 40mm drivers, the same 30 hours of continuous playback, and the same touch controls as well. As such, we’re expecting sound quality to be the more-or-less the same—which isn’t a bad thing at all, of course.

Overall, I’d say that the upgrade isn’t as revolutionary as some were hoping for, although perhaps this is a case of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The WH-1000XM4 is available in Black and Platinum Silver colour options, and Malaysian availability has been confirmed for August 2020. Retail pricing is RM1,599—the same as the launch price for the previous generation—and there’s an early bird promotion until the 31st of August 2020 to receive a 1000X limited edition headphone stand and a Starbucks gift card (RM50). For a full list of specifications, click here.